Tuesday, November 22, 2022

More action from 21 to 22 May 1941

 The Germans in the Prison Valley stayed in position for all of 21 May. They had expected a British counter attack, but there was not one. The paratroops who jumped into the area near Platanias, they took heavy losses. 80 men, though, took a farm that was near the beach. This was near Pirgos. 

The group of small ships was transporting a mountain battalion, an antiaircraft regiment, and groups with heavy weapons. They turned back because of the British warships. They made another attempt at midday. They encountered British warships again, and scattered with heavy losses. A relatively small number of ships were lost. Italian motor boatsand destroyers were able to rescue many men. 

On 22 May the Germans in the assault regiment were to hold their ground. The mountain troops would assist in holding the air field. The Germans planned to bring in more mountain troops during the day. They were to make an attack "through the hills". The general commanding the mountain troops was put in command of all German troops on Crete. He was to "clear the island from west to east". 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Cemeterry Hill and 21-22 May 1941

 The events of 21 May were relativeey favorable. At Retimo, the Australian 2/1st Battalion had captured the high ground southeast of the air field. The Germans were sitting on the road West to Canea and east to Heraklion. 

The Germans at one point had taken the harbor at Heraklion. It was eventually recaptured by the "British". The British were able to hold the airfields at Retimo and Heraklion. 

British ships were in position south of Crete on 21 May. They hoped to be able to conduct sweeps north of Crete. The Germans bombed one group of ships and sank the destroyer Juno.  i n another group of ships the cruiser Ajax was bombed and damaged. Small German ships were seen sailing towards Crete. They were attacked sinking or damaging some of the ships. An Italion destroyer Lupo was damaged.

General Student decided to drop his last two parachute companies east of Pirgos. The assault regiment would attack to the east. Air power would bomb the artillery that was firing on the field. Mountain troops would be brought in after 4pm. Some 20 transport aircraft were lost in the process. 

By morning German troops had crossed the airfield and had a line in position at the eastern edge. They attacked and took Maleme and Pirgos. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

More action from 21 May 1941

 Early on 21 May unarmed men were moving to the east, moving through the New Zealand battalions. Some o the men wereRoyal Air Force some were anti-aircraft gunners without guns. Others were from Royal Marine artillery. During 21 May the 5th New Zealand Brigade was under attack from the air. German ground forces were also pressing the brigade. The mortars and machine guns kept firing on German aircraft until they ran out of ammunition. In a meeting at the 23rd Battalion headquarters, they decided that the 23rd Battalion should attack with the goal being to recapture lost ground. 

German transport aircraft were now able to land, unload and take off from Maleme. They were able to do that while under artillery and machine gun fire. After a while, transport aircraft were landing and taking off from the west end of the field at Maleme. By 4pm there was a steady traffic of transport aircraft arriving at Maleme. They had not taken secure control of the airfield. To the east, New Zealanf forces were in a stronger position. At about 3:40pm, many German paratroops had landed near the Maori battalion. The Maori's were able to clear most of the paratroops, except near the New Zealand engineers.

Thisis based on theaccount in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The situation on Crete from 21 May 1941

 By the morning of 21 May, General Freyberg was infirmed about the situation that the 22nd Battalion found itself. He was told that their machine guns and artillery kept the Germans from using the air field. The truth was that more German para troops were landing and that German transport aircraft were landing in the river bed and on beaches on the west of the area. The areawas also under dive bombing attack. 

New Zealand Division intelligence recognized that two German regiments had landed at Maleme and to thesouth of Galatas. The Germans were moving east. The division commander thought that the needed to recapture the air field Maleme. The process of retaking theair field was moving very slowly. A meeting was held at the 23rd Battalion headquarters. They decided that the 23rd  Battalion should hold its ground. The remnants of the22nd Battalion should pull back withthe21st and 23rd Battalions and reorganize. By dawn, the 22nd Battalion was aligned with the21st and 23rd Battalions and the were situated to provide fire to cover the air field. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

The fight near the prison

 The II/3rd Battalion had come down between the reservoir and the prison. They were also between the prison and Galatas. They were fighting with the 10th New Zealand Brigade. The German pioneers were on high ground to the north of Alikianon. They took the power station and were involved with fighting Greek soldiers from the 8th Regiment. 

Colonel Heidrich landed by the prison at 9am. He had almost three battalions under his command. They occupied an area near Alikianon Prison, and Perivolia. Troops high up near Galatas kept the Germans under fire. Colonel Heidrich sent a company to attack the heights. He added another company, so that they captured the heights. In some confusion, the heights were abandoned. They finally formed a front defending against Galatas. "During the night, Heidrich had the pioneers arrived at the prison. Heidrich had what remained of his regiment formed a front "from the heights west of Perivolia to the Alikianon area on the left." Colonel Heirich believed that his remaining force was strong enough to survive being counter-attacked the next day.

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Generals on 20 May 1941

 The IV Battalion was to land west of the bridge at Tavronitis. One company was to go across to Selino Kastelli. They had to fight to move southward. The rest of the battalion was to move to the east to help the glider-borne soldiers. General Meindl had landed about 8:30am. The glider troops were engaged in heavy fighting. By then, the General had most of two battalions under his command. He could see strong defenses about the airfield. The general hsd four companies attack across the bridge. Two more companies made a flanking attack to the south. General Meindl was badly wounded. Major Stenzler took command at the front. At the evening, the Regiment had captured the west side of the airfield and the center of the 22nd New Zealand Battalion on Hill 107. Some German companies sat on the south-east side of Hill 107. 

General Sussman was part of the group that was to land near Canea-Suda Bay. The general's glider crashed on the island Aegina near Athens. Everyone including the general was killed. That left Colonel Heidrich in command of the division. The 1/3rd battalion landed by the prison. They re-grouped and took the heights. They reached Perivolia.

This is based on the account in "Greece Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Thursday, November 03, 2022

The initial attack, how they did

 The Weat Group gliders landed according to plan. They were able to capture a camp of tents. They were able capture anti-aircraft guns "at the mouth of the Tavronitis" and captured the bridge over the river. The plan had been for the III Battalion to land along the road from Maleme to Plantanias. After landing the plan had been to capture the airfield facing west. 

Because the aircraft crews were concerned that the men might have dropped the men into the sea. The men were actually dropped south of the road. Many men were shot in the air, as they dropped. Some were caught in trees or were shot on the ground. All the officers were killed or wounded. The battalion had 600 men, but only 200 survived. 

The IV Battalion was supposed to land west of the bridge over the Tavronitis. The 16th Company was planned to move across the island. The goal was to arrive at Selino Kastelli. The company found itself fighting Greek guerillas. The rest were to attack to the east, hoping to help "glider troops". 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long. 

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

More German plans as of 20 May 1941 at Crete

 As we mentioned the 7th Air Division and the assault regiment would be drpped. They hoped that there would airfields captured so that troops from the th Mountain Division could be landed from transport planes. More of the mountain division would be brought by sea. that all would give70 men landed from gliders, and 10,000 by parachute. 000 men would be flown in by transport aircraft. The plan was to bring in some 7,000 men on ships. 

There were to be somewhere between 70or 80 gliders. They expected to have 600 t0 70 Ju-2 transport aircraft. The transports would bring in five thousand to six thousand men with equipment in one trip. Air support would include 430 dive bombers, 180 fighter aircraft, with about 40 reconnaissance aircraft. The British knew of these numbers but did not believe that the numbers were accurate. In fact, the estimates proved to be good.

The attackers would be divided into west, center and east groups. The western group was to capture Maleme air field and hold it so that it could be used to land transport aircraft. They were also supposed to scout to te west.This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

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