Thursday, September 28, 2023

From the night of 20-21 May at Retimo

The Germans on Hill A expected that the Australians might attack, so they went after the few Australian posts. They over ran part of one group. The remainder moved into the company headquarters, The Germans moved onto the Retimo airfield. They took the crews of the disabled tanks prisoner. Most of the Germans eft the airfield by dawn, but about forty men sheltered behind the bank at the beach. At dawn, there was one section from Channel's company still holding on. They were surroundedm but the Germans seemed to have overlooked them. They were on the forward slope of Hill A. Channel's company was reinforced by two platoons. They occupied the narrow part of Hill A.

Channel led the men in an attack at dawn. The Germans seemed to attack at the same time with a mortar barrage, Channel planned to go around the sides of Hill A as well as over the top. While under fire, Channel's men moved forward some sixty to 100 yards. Channel and a lieutenant were wounded,  Channel's men were pushed back until they held a line on the western edge of the narrow part of Hill A. 

Moriarity's company and the carrier platoon, without their carriers appeared at 6am. They came from Hill D. They learned that the dawn attack had failed. They arrived at the narrow part of Hill A. Moriarity took command of the men left, which was a lttle less than half of Campbell's unit. 

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

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Reinforcements were needed at Retimo on 20 May

 The 2/11th Battalion withdrew all of its men into the wired perimeter for the night. They did send patrols out to prevent the Germans moving in the direction of Retimo. At 10:30pm, the Australians had taken 84 prisoners and a great number of arms. The Australians had trouble finding Germans hiding in the dark. The 2/11th Battalion commander, Sandover, spoke German, so he questioned prisoners. Sandover also translated German codes, so the Australians were able ask for more mortar bombs, which were delivered by air. 

Overnight, Campbell asked Freyberg for reinforcements. Campbell gave orders for attacks in the morning. He wanted the 2/1st Battalion to eliminate Germans from Hill A. He ordered the 2/11th Battalion to get rid of Germans from Hill A and the sea. The Australian battalions would attack tpwards the north with help from Greek battalions. They would be attacking the southern side of the German forces that were in combat with the Australians. Campbell sent Major Hooper with the Greek battalion on the east. He sent Major Ford from the Welch Regiment with the Greeks on the West. Major Ford was already a liaison to the Greeks.

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

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Further fighting on 20 May

 Campbell ordered a platoon to Hill A. They were supposed to clear out the vineyards. They were located on the northwest of Hill A. At 6:30, platoon first went to Campbell's headquarters. The paratroops firing kept the Australians from moving over the northwest slopes. Since the paratroops were mixed with Australians, German aircraft were not attacking, 

 Campbell sent the two tanks down the Wadi Pigi. The tanks were supposed to go across the airfield and turn to move along the road so as to attack Germans on the east side of Hill A. Both tanks had mishaps that stopped them. 

Some paratroops landed on the left, in front of the 2/1st Battalion and the 4th Greek Battalion where they were all killed or made prisoner. The same thing happened to paratroops that landed, the 2/11th Battalion wire on Hill B. In one case, a group of paratroops were killed while they were still in the air. There were other groups of paratroops, totaling as many as 599 men, yhat were advancing on Perivolia. 

Sandover ordered his men to move forward to the north to get rid of Germans who were on the lower ground. He wanted that done before it became dark. 

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

German paratroop action at Retimo on 20 May

 A second group of German paratroops landed along the coast from yhe west end of the atr field up to the town of Retimo. The landing was finished in 35 minutes. The transport aircraft were an obvious target or the British force on the ground. Seven troop carrying aircraft along with two other aircraft were shot down. Most of the aircraft that were shot down crashed near Perivolia. 

Many paratroopers landed on Hill A. The hill was about 200 by 300 yards. One company of infantry occupied Hill A. There were six field guns and four machine guns. There were a series of intense fights between units of Australians and the small numbers of paratroops that were able to be organized. At the east end, paratroops landed on an infantry platoon and the machine guns and field guns. The crews were killed while mortar fire disabled the guns. Surviving gunners moved up the hill to the battery headquarters. The gunners only had pistols, but they were able to capture some weapons. They kept fighting until the Germans overran them at 9pm. The Australians were taking losses. Three posts held out on the northern slope. The remainder of the defending company was stretched across the narrow part of the hill. The Germans has most of the top and east part of Hill A. The Germans could not move out from the vineyards, Campbell had sent reinforcements to help contain the Germans.

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

Thursday, September 14, 2023

May 20 at Retimo

 14 German transport aircraft flew towards Retimo, but they turned towards Canea. This was at 9am on 20 May. This was apparently the start of the attack on Retimo. At noon, 20 Gernan troop-carrying aircraft fkew towards Heraklion. At 4pm, some 20 German fighters and bombers attacked positions around the airfield. British camouflage was proving very effective against air attacks. The 4th Greek battalion started to move back up the ridge, even though they had not been attacked from the air. Australiin NCOs were sent to the Greeks. The were a steadying factor, and they led the Greeks back to theie positions. One Australian corporal took a Greek patrol to the main road, where they took some 20 prisoners. 

After the strafing ended, about 24 troop-carrying Ferman aircraft flew from the north. They flew towards Refuge Point, which lay to the east. Once there, they turned west, and flew along the coast. More troop transports came along until they saw 161. One group of paratroops jumped east of the airfeld. The landed in an area that was three miles long and a half mile wide. This was east of the olive oil factory and to the east end of the airfield. 

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

19 May at Retimo

 The 2/11th Battalion was positioned on the ridge from the Wadi Adhele to Hill B Three of the battalions companied were "forward". The original plan was for the 2/11th Battalion to act as a reserve for the 2/1st Battalion. Their mission was to defend the Retimo airfield. One company from the 2/11th Battalion was in the rear, ready to reinforce the 2/1st Battalion. The reserve for the 2/11th Battalion was its transport platoon. Hill B stuck out towards the sea. Hill B had two 100mm guns and one platoon of machine guns except for one section located at the Wadi Adhele. There were two tanks sitting in the olive trees by theWadi Pigi. The tanks would be used if Germans were in position on the landing field. Infantry were located in "weaon pits" in the olive trees. They were hidden from view from either air or ground. 

A German reconnaissance aircraft crashed on 16 May. There were photographs dated 8 May that showed that the Germans had only seen one of the defenders' positions, After seeing the photographs, the positions were altered.  

Campbell ordered the men to stay out of Retimo, because some men had become drunk from the local wine. Campbell wanted to have a good relationship with the local residents, Provosts were positioned in Retimo and in the villages to enforce the ban on British soldiers. 

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

Thursday, September 07, 2023

More about Retimo on 29 May

 The two Australian battalions defending the airfield at Retimo were the 2/1st and the 2/11th Battalions. The situation was such that the battalions communicated using runners. There was a lot of barbed wire so the airfield and battalion fronts were covered by barbed wire. 

There had been rations for ten days, but four days supply had been moved to the road that led to Mesi. The men were able to by from the local inhabitants. They were able to buy pigs, eggs, and goats milk. Thr men of the 2/11th Battalions were used to having goats, so they "hired milking goats" and kept them in their positions.

Olive trees masked fields of fire from the ridge, the ield guns and most of the medim machine guns were put on hills A and B.  Two machine guns were put on the ridge above Hill B. One company of field artillery was put on Hill A. They had 2-100mm and 4-75mm guns with a platoon of machine guns. The rest of the field artillery battalion was on Hill B and on the slopes above the airfield from the south. The field artillery headquarters operated as a rifle company. Canpbell put his headquarters on a spur of Hill D so he had a good view. There was also a Greek battalion, the 4th, on the ridge that ran between the Wadi Pigi and the Wadi Adhele. There were three Greek battalios in reserve in olive trees south of the Pigi village. 

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

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Fighting at Retimo

 Australians had reached Retimo on 30 April. They were in the 2/1st Battalion with Lt-Col. Ian Campbell in command. The Australians were to defend the airfield. The airfield had been defended by Greek forces orior to the arrival of the Australians. More men had arrived until by 18 May there was a brigade strength present. The Australians were equipped with small arms but they were short of ammunition. They had rifles, ant-tank rifles, four 3-inch mortars, and some Vickers medium machine guns.  Their uniforms and boots were worn, and they were not replaced as long as the men were in Crete. 

Unlike at the other airfields, there were no ant-aircraft guns at Retimo. The defenders also had no armor-piercing ammunition. That meant that German fighters and bombers could fly low over the battle ground because their armor could not be defeated by the small arms ammunition. Only the transport aircraft were vulnerable to small arms gunfire. The 2/1st Battalion had no wireless communication equipment. They only had telephones connected by wire that had been supplied by the gunners. Campbell could talk by telephone from his headquarters with Hills A and B. The 2/11th Battalion had a telehone for each company but they had little cable. 

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

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Fighting on 27 May

 At 10am on 27 May, the 3rd Parachute Regiment had reached the wireless station. By 2pm, the had taken Canea, along with the 100th Mountain Regiment and Ramcke's unit. They had captured about 40 guns and some 1,000 prisoners. By the evening, the 85th Regiment of mountain troops had advanced to the heights to the west of Stilos. During the 27th, the 5h Mountain Division commander and a battalion from yhe 6th Mountain Division landed at the Maleme airfield. 

The British rearguard consiste of the 5th and 19th Brigades and the commands of Layforce were lucky to have arrived at the road over the mountains that led to Sfakia. They were now sitting alomg the road that led from Stilos to Bbali Inn. They were ready to protect the column that stretched to the South. We will eventualy write about the "retreat and embarkation of the Maleme-Suda force", we will describe the events involving Retimo and Heraklion.

Near Retimo, the mountain slope down to the sea. The coastal shelf varied from 100 to 800 yards in width. The mountains have gullies that occur every mile or so. An airfield lay about five miles east of Retimp. The town of Retimo had about ten thousand people. The airfield paralleled the beach and was about 100 yards from the beach. 

The commander at Retimo of the men defending the airfield was Lt-Colonel Ian Campbell. A ridge ran along next to the airfield. There was a "spur" called "Hill A" by the Australians. About a thousand yards to the east of Hill A was a village named Stavromno. The min building there was an olive oil factory. The factory had a chimney that was 50 feet tall. We will continue this discussion later. 

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Alleged British atrocities

A German thought that 121 casulties were more than would have been killed in the battle. He thought that the British must have shot or stabbed all the wounded men. There were about 20 dead Australian and New Zealand soldiers and none had bayonet wounds or injuries from a rifle butt. 

LieutennantWalker replied to the charges o atrocities in 1952. He wsaid that the Germans had grought forward large numbers of automatic weapons. The British had captured many of these and had turned them on the Germans. The fighting took place in olive  trees. At close range the captured automatic weapons had killed many Germans.The British had capture three wounded Germans and it is likely that many wounded Germans had reached the German lines. Walker stated that no wounded. No wounded German offering to surrender or unwounded German offering to surrender was shot. 

Walker spoke about an incident where Germans were shot at a wall. The Germans were unarmed. Walker thought that the men were running away, and were delayed by the wall. If someone did not offer to surrender, it was acceptable to shoot them. 

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

Friday, August 25, 2023

More action on 27 and 28 May on Crete

 The German plan on 27 May was to complete encircling Canae and then send multiple columns towards Retimo. One of the columns would move east along the coast. The regiment of Jais  was the unit that fought the intense battle at 42nd Street that was very costly. It was at 6:45am that they were ordered to move to the head of Suda Bay with the intent to block any British retreat. I Battalion was in the lead. From 11am and for another half an hour, they heard nothing from the leading battalion. Jais thought that the lead battalion must have been dispersed, so he halted the following III Battalion until they could learn more about the situation. It was about 2:30pm when the I Battalion commander arrived at Jais' headquarters. He reported that they had been surprised to run into British positions some 2.5 kilometers to the west of the Suda Village. This was in the middle of very thick olive country. The leading company of the I Battalion had run onto a minefield and had incurred heavy losses. It looked like the english might surround the battalion, so yje "fighting troops were pulled back" and lost more men in the process. Most of the officers and other men were killed or wounded. The I Battalion was withdrawn to the west on the high ground. 

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

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Evacuate Crete?

 The first step seemed to be to withdraw to Sfakia. The Greeks situation was difficult and their forces were at the point of disintegration. Wavell finally ordered Freyberg to evacuate his men  from Crete. They were not able to tell Colonel  not able to tell Colonel Campbell because they did not have ciphers at Retimo. Navy Lieutenant Haig was going to Retimo with ten tons of rations, Haig left without knowing about the order to withdraw from Crete. Freyberg was traveling to Sfakaia and didn't  know that Haig did not know about the evacuation order. Freyberg then asked the Cairo headquarters to dro a message to Campbell from an aircraft. 

The Germans were having  great deal of success on 26 and 27 May. the assault regiment had moved towithin two kilometers west of Canea. The 196th Mountain Regiment had captured Karatsos. From the Prison Valley, the 3rd Parachute Regiment had captured Perivolia. Still, the Germans were tired and had taken heavy losses. The 3rd Parachute Regiment had the strength of a weak battalion. During the day reinforcement landed at Maleme. 

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

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Weston personally inspected the withdrawal route

 Weston travelled south to see the withdrawal route. He found that the traffic along the road to the mountains made the route impassible, The traffic was from Suda, including gunners, base troops, men and from "improvised" infantry units that had been near Suda. While there were units with their weapons marching as units, the traffic was mostly a disorganized mass of men who qite often had disgarded their weapons. There were many thousands of unarmed men, including Cypriots and Palestinians. Freyberg seems to have been shocked by the complete disorganization. 

Lieutenant Stephanides wrote later that it was obvious that he was in a retreat. He thought that it bordered on being a route. There were discarded rifles and uniform pieces along the road. You could see open boxes with rifle ammunition and even grenades. Occasionally you would see officer valises and a few open suitcases. 

Eventually, Cairo replied to Freyberg's message about the situation being hopeless. The message from Cairo said that Major-General Evetts would be arriving to function as a liaison. They suggested that the units fron the Suda-Maleme area should moce to Retimo with the plan being to hold the eastern prt of Crete. Freyberg thought that the Cairo group had no idea of the situation on Crete.

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Weston out of touch on 27 May

 While Weston was to command the rearguard, communication had failed. Neither Vasey nor Hargest ever received any orders from Weston on the 27th. Given that, Vasey and Hargest worked together to cooperate on executing the withdrawal. That day, a battalion commander of commandos from Layforce met with Vasey and Hargest. Weston had ordered this commando battalion to take up a holding position on the road to Sfakia. After this, Casey and Hargest decided that their units would travel to Neo Khorion. This was south of Stilos. They thought that they would be protected by Layforce in this position. They decided to move the 5th Brigade to Stilos. The 19th Brigade would take position in Neo Khorion. The 2.8th Battalion would sit at the connection of the road to Kalives and the 2/7th would connect with the New Zealand force in Stilos. It was at 9pm that the rearguard at 42nd Street would move to Stilos. Stilos was 14 miles away. The front of the column reached Stilos by 3:30am which was now on 28 May. 

Meanwhile, Weston ordered Laycock to occupy a position at Babali Inn more to the south and to act as a rearguard. Laycock would use his D Battalion. Laycock had just landed from a ship. 

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

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Continued actionon 27 May

 The New Zealand charge may have begun before the Australian charge. The Australian charge carried them forward for about a mile. The New Zealand charge included the Maoris, the 21st Battalion to the right  and the 18th Battalion to the left. The New Zealand force moved forward some 600 yards. Most Germans were in flight from yhe location. The Maoris thought that about 80 dead Germans on their front.  The Australians counted about 200 dead Germans while the Australians too three German prisoners. The Australian casualties included ten killed and 28 wounded in the 2/7th Battalion. 14 of the Maoris were hit by gunfire. 

The Australians were stopped when there was no cover from air attack. Lt. Bolton brought forward a Vickers machine gun. He fured on the Germans as they ran. He fired with some good results. The Germabs were shocked by the charge. The Germans didn't attack on the 27th, although they stayed "in contact" with the Australian and New Zealand units. During the day, they could see "hundreds of Germans" movig akong the hills to the south. They seemd to be trying to suuround the Australian and New Zealand units.

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

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Further events on 27 May

 That night, General Freyberg paid a visit to the Australians. He was impressed by their confidence. After that, Freyberg watched 80 tons of supplies being unloaded at Suda Bay. 

The commander of the Maoris was visited by other battalion commanders, namely Colonels Walker and Allen, He told them if the Maoris were attacked by Germans, his men would open fire and charge. Walker and Allen told the Maori commander, Colonel Dittmer that they would cooperate with the Maoris. 

The Australians observed some 400 Germans moving along the Suda Bay road. The Australian 2/7th Battalion was sitting with two companies ay the front. The company on the right sent out a patrol to watch the Germans. They were planning a counterattack. He informed the commander of the company on the left of his plan and invited him to join the attack. He also sent a runner to inform his battalion commander.

The Germans were going into an abandoned supply depot. They were surprised and ran, The two companies charged the Germans who were running away. Yhere was eventually a bayonet charge. A private came up and fired a submachine gun. He chased away some Germans who had been in a wadi. The Germans threw away their weapons and ran.  

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

Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Action from 27 May

 Duncan, the commander of the Welch, chose to move to the Kladhisos Creek. When the Germans tried to "encircle" the left flank of the Welch, the two rear companies were ordered to go to the west side of Suda to provide cover to the rest of the battalion. That group could hear a heavy fight at 42nd Street. 42nd Street was some five miles behind their original position. The two rear companies of the Welch were commanded by Major Gibson. They managed to travel to Suda. A small group from the Welch held a position on the coast until the morning on 28 May. That was when the Germans learned that a small group had held a position for 18 hours against a strong German force. 

When the Australian and New Zealand forces reached 42nd Street, General Weston was not there. Since Weston was not there, Puttick and Vasey chose positions for their brigades along 42nd Street, a straight dirt road that ran through the olive groves. Holding the line were the Australian 2/8th Battalion (on the main road) and the 2/7th Battalion, and 21st, 28th, 19th, and 22nd New Zealand Battalions. The line was dense, with the 28th Battalion with a 250 yard front. The weak 21st Battalion covered a very short front. 

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

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

More about 26 May to 27 May and events

 The Suda Brigade with drew after the 5th and 19th Brigades. The "Suda Brigade" was actually the S Battalion of the Royal Marines,  the Australian 2/2nd Field Regiment, the "Royal Perivolians", and the 106th Royal Horse Artillery. The Composite Brigade had been ordered to advance had been ordered to move forward to a spot about a mile west of Canea. 

During the night, the 5th and 19th Brigades moved back to a position just to the west of Suda. The A Battalion of Layforce was located naer the "Suda village". While on the move, withdrawing, the Australians looked for the British brigade that was supposed to be the rearguard and did not see it. The British must have been traveling along the coast road. The Australians were moving along the inland road. Also, during the night, you had the 4th Brigade miving to Stilos. Since Brigadier Inglis could not find the Composite Brigade, he reverted to being 4th Brigade commander while Kippenberger was 29th Brigade commander.

At around 1am, Weston realized that the Welch were in danger, so he ordered the Welch to withdraw. The Welch didn't receive the order on time. The Germans launched an attack at dawn. By 9a, one forward company had been surrounded while another had heavy losses. 

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Plans for 26 May on Crete

 Freyberg tpl Puttick that Wesyon would be giving him orders Puttick checked with the Australian Vasey and that was when he decided on the move we already mentioned to move tp the head pf Suda Bay. Puttick had told Weston about this move. The 5th Brigade would be in position on the left side. They would send the 4yh Brigade to Stilos along the road to Sfakia. The orders were given at 10:30. Vasey ordered his men to withdraw. Vasey tol the Greeks and nearby British of the planned moves. 

Freyberg and Weston met twice. That was at 7:30pm and 10:15pm. In the earlier meeting, Weston informed Freyberg that the New Zealand Division would not be able to hold their positions for one more night. Freyberg then ordered the Composite Brigade to relace the New Zealand Division. The Comosite Brigade was told to be ready to move by 8:30pm. Weston gave inaccurate information about the Australians. Hs said that the Australians were pulling back, which was wrong. Freybergordered Vasey to hold avposition in the wadi until nightfall on 27 May. Vasey received thev order too late, He had already ordered a withdrawal. H learned that the New Zealand Division had not been ordered to hold and the division was moving back. Vase decided that his units would be captured if they did not also pull back. 

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Events on 26 May

 The New Zealand Division was to proceed to a position along the creek that was located something like 1.5 miles to the west of Canea. the 21st Battalion group would be on the right side of the line. The center was held by the 19th Battalion. The left end was held by the 28th (Maori) Battalion. They would connect with the 19th Brigade, which was just a battalion and a half. The boundary between brigades would be the Prison Road. The 5th Brigade was on the new line by dawn. By then, yhe men were saidvto be "tired, hungry, and jaded". There were many small groups of stragglers. With men concealed by the olive groves and hiding from air attack, getting organized was nearly impossible. 

There were base unit men moving along the roads from Suda. They were joined by the large numbers of stragglers. By 9:30am, there was a meeting that included Freyberg, senior nval, irf force, and army officers. Freyberg sent Wavell a message indicating that he beloeved had been pressed to the limit of their endurance. Freyberg wrote that the situation was hopeless. He thought that Germans would be firing on Suda Bay as soon as in 24 hours. 

When Weston returned to Canea, he had to leave due to the heavy bombing that Canea was enduring, Plans were made and were being executed to withdraw to the "head" of Suda Bay.

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

Thursday, July 20, 2023

New Zealand fighting on 25 to 26 May

 While the Greeks were doing well against Germans, the New Zealand Division was not doing so well. The Greeks had forced the Utz Group from the area around Aliakianon. The Greeks had also out-fought the mountain regiment commanded by Krakau. General Student landed in Crete on 25 May. Airborne troops took the "heights" to the southwest of Galatas. German mountain troops actually took Galatas. More German units landed at Maleme on 25 May.  

It was 25 May that Puttick informed Freyberg that the Germans had penetrated the line at Galatas. Puttick said that he was trying to form a new line "running north to south" from the right side of the 19th Brigade.  Puttick expressed doubts that he woud be able to "hold" the Germans on 26 May. During the night, a liaison officer to the Greeks told Freyberg that the Greeks could be ready to break. 

At around 1am on 26 May, an order was issued that the New Zealand Division might be ready to withdraw. The division would move to a position along a creek west of Canea by a mile-end-a-half. The 21st Battalion would be on the right with a cavalry detachment., with an engineer company, along with a company from the 21st Battalion. 

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

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

More action on 25 May

 The 19th Brigade was the next unit on the left of the line. The 19th Brigade was not attacked on 25 May. There had been a plan for the Australian 2/8th Battalion to move forward about a thousand yards, The success of the New Zealand operation meant that the proposed Austrlian move was not needed. Men from the New Zealand 4th and 5th Brigades were mixed into the front line. Both Brigades had taken heavy losses. The men were very tired because the pace of the action had left little time for sleep. As we had mentioned, the constant air attacke wore down the men's spirits. 

Puttick decided that they would benefit by shortening the line. This would involve withdrawing from the area  around Galatas. They would move to a line through Karatsos, the line running north to south "from the right flank of the 19th Brigade". 

Fortunately, the 8th Greek Regiment was holding their position. The New Zealanders did not realize that the Greeks were reinforced by men from the villages. They were holding on against an attack by men from the 85th German Mountain Regiment. The Germans wanted to surround the British forces. The Greeks had also had sucess against German airborne troops. 

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

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Kippenberger's plan on 25 May

 The 23rd Battalion had just reached the critical area. Kippenberger ordered two companies from thc 23rd Battalion to recapture Galatas. The companies would move forward, one om each side of the road. Two light tanks would be in the lead. The tanks drove forward, followed by the infantry, now including groups from other units, The infantry "cheered and shouted". They arrived at the narrow, cobble-stoned area of the tow. They could see traces coming from Galatas, and there were mortar bombs fired as weel. One tank lost a tread, but the other continued forwaed. Some Germans threw grenades feom window in upper stories. The infantry oved forward to the town square. The front tank was disabled while there was an intense hand-to-hand fight in the square, The infntry were firing their rifle and Thompson sub-machine guns "from the hip". It waas the sort of fighting where rifle butts and cayoneta were used.  The Germans were forced back, which stopped their advance decisively.

The 19th Brigade was located on the left. They were not attacked on 25 May.  An advance by the Australian 2/8th Battalion was considered, but this was cancelled after the New Zealand attack had been successful. Even so, the situation still seemed serious. They had increasing casualtes hile the men were very tired. The scale of the German air attacks sapped the men's spirits.

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

The situation seems desperate

 Kippenbergersent his brigade major to see Brigadier Inlis. Kippenberger had sent a request for help. &he regimental aid station had almost 200 wounded. Two trucks were busy transporting wounded men to the Advancecd Dressing Station. There were many men with serious wounds. Men were hard-pressed and were abandoning positions without orders. An example was Wheat Hill abandoned without authorization. The abandonment of Wheat Hill left the center company of the 18th Brigade without support so they dropped back.

Suddenly many men were moving to the rear. There signs of paic among the men. Kippenberger walked among the men, asking them to "Stand for New Zealand" and other words of encouragement, as he thought of them. Kippenberger plugged the gaps with the men semt by Inglis. The 4th Brigade Band lined up along a wall. The defensive linev was extended on the right side by the 20th Brigade Pioneers and the Kiwi Concert Party. One company from the 20th Brigade extended the line further to the right. The main part of the 20th Brigade were told to move back and line up with the other groups. 

The 23rd Battalion had just arrived in the area that was threatened. Kippenberger thought that patching the line would not help. They needed to attack the enemy. 

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

Thursday, July 06, 2023

Attack on May 24

 On the morning of May 24, The enemy was gathering in front of the 18th Battalion.  This was on the west side of the New Zealand position. The 18th Battalion was involved in heavy fighting. The company on the right was overrun while the cebyer company was surrounded. Colonel Fray, the battalion commander led a group from his headquarters to try and restore the battalion position, but the German attackers were too strong. 

Brigadier Inglis sent two 20th Battalion companies to help the 18th Battalion. Howard Kippenberger was in charge of the men in the forward area. He ordered the two companies to the right on the ridge next to the Composite Battalion. When they reached their assigned position, the Composite Battalion "was nearly all gone". The two companies managed to stop the Germans from moving through the gap on the right. The Germans were now oushing along the Prison-Galatas Road.

The situation was now seeming very difficult, Kippenberger kept a diary that later used to write about the battle. There were numbers of men leaving the fighting and heading to the rear.

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

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Events on 24 May, including at headquarters

 Freyberg thought that Blamey "must be officiating", based on the last communication Freyberg had received. Blamey had shown in Greece that he was more capable than you might have thought, based on his "resume". Freyberg described the communication as "clear and direct".  Headquarters was working to help the forces in Crete. Freyberg heard that the Rangers had failed to clear the road. He also learned that German paratroops had landed "west of Heraklion" and blocked the Argylls from coming from Timbakion. On the plus side, three destroyers had set sail from Alexandria with two commando battalions. The first commando battalion ("Layforce") had already landed at Suda from the fast minelayer Abdiel.

The New Zealand Division now faced two German airborne regiments and one mountain regiment,  Another mountain regiment was travelling over hills towards Suds Bay. The Germans on the north were organized into three groups. More German units were flown into Maleme. 

The New Zealand Division expected that the German attack that started on 24 May would peak on 25 May. Inglis was granted authority to pull in the reserves, the remnants of the four weak battalions of the 5th Brigade. They had been reduced to less than 1,400 men. 

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

Friday, June 30, 2023

Action on 24 May

 The Germans from Maleme reached the force near the prison. On the 23rd, more units had landed at Maleme. They were "two mountain artillery units, one mountain armored unit and most of a motor cycled battalion". 

The British force on Crete was situated with the west end located in an arc to the southwest of Canea. It was a circle with a radius of about three miles. They faced a German a German group from Maleme and from near thye prison. More German mountain troops were moving to the east over the hills towards Suda Bay, moving north. They hoped to encircle the British. The 8th Greek Regiment was in front of this German group. The Greeks had been isolated when the German paratroops had landed near the prison. 

In the afternoon of 24 May, patrols of Germans investigated the 4th Brigade position. The Germans seemed to be getting ready to attack the 4th Brigade. Arpund 4pm, a strong attack hit the 18th Battalion. They were initially pushed back, but they regained their position with a counter attack. Ther was more back and forth action at dusk. During the afternoon, Canea was heavily bombed, as if to try and level the town. 

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

23 to 24 May and earlier news on Crete with reinforcements

 Two infantry tanks arrived at Heraklion on 23 May after being landed at Timbakion. They also told  that the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were travelling to Heraklion. Those tanks, wiyh one that had been at Heraklion, were loaded on a lighter (presumsably a landing craft) which took the tanks and two 75mm guns to Suda. 

There were more attempts to send help to Crete. Glenroy had been sent, but turned back, probably to Alexandria. The fast minelayer Abdiel departed from Alexandria with a commando unit (soon to be called "Layforce). Abdiel also brought supplies and ammunition. 

The German staff attributed the British pull back to the move by "the Utz Group" to envelope the British force, The Ramcke group followed the British pull back and fought the rearguard troops. General Ringel sent the 85th Mountain Regiment east through Alikianon, traveling through mountains in the direction of Suda Bay. They hoped to "outflank the British in the Galatas-Suda area" The plan was to continue on to Retimo. 

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

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Action on Crete from 23 to 24 May

 During the night, the soldiers in the Platanias area withdrew to the area behind the 4th Brigade. The uninjured infantry were on foot. What vehicles that were available carried the wounded and towed heavy weapons. 

The units at Retimo lacked ciphers,so messages from Freyberg were sent in the clear. The ciphers at Heraklion were destroyed because of the paratroop landing on 20 May. There was a submarine cable which allowed secret communication. 

Freyberg ordered a 1/Rangers company, with two anti-tank guns, to travel east from Suda. They were ordered to open the road to the Retimo airfield. They arrived at Retimo by 8pm. Captain Lergessner met them when they reached the town of Retimo. Colonel Campbell ordered Captain Lergessner to go to Suda to pass information to Freyberg and to ask for instructions. When Captain Lergessner  heard that the Rangers were coming, he tried to convince them to not attack the Germans. The Rangers company attacked without success. Captain Lergessner then travelled to Suda, eventually followed by the remains of the Rangers unit. 

The two ninfantry tanks that had been landed at Timbakion arrived at Heraklion during the night of 19-20 May. 

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

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

More action against Germans from 23 May

 12 British bombers attacked the Maleme air field. There were some 130 German transport aircraft sittimg on the field. Six transports were seen burning after the British bomber attack. The 5th New Zealand Brigade was being pressed by Germans from the "Prison area". A group of about 150 Germans at Stalos, had been sitting on the heights since 6am. They were commanded by Major Heilmann. They were attacked by a patrol from the New Zealand Army Service Corps. 15 Germans were killed in the attack. A platoon from the 18th Battalion then attacked the German group. Tey took all the German post except one. The New Zealand company commander mistakenly recalled the platoon, because he thought that the heights were stronger tan they actually were.  

The New Zealand Division had moved into a defensive position after they had given up trying to prevent the Germans from taking Maleme. There were  good reasons to pull back so as to shrink the area to defend. Puttick met with Freyberg at aboutt 11am. The decided that the 5th Breigade should be moved into reserve. The 4th Brigade, commanded by Inglis, would absorb the 1oth Brigade units. Inglis would be in charge of the right side of the front line. Asey, with the Australian 19th Brigade, would be in position west of Perivolia.

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

Thursday, June 15, 2023

More action from 23 May on Crete

 On 23 May, the Maori Battalion was back in the position where they had been. The New Zealand 23rd Battalion looked to the north. They were next to the Maori Battalion and the Ayia Marina. The remains of the 21st, 22nd Battalions, ann the New Zealand Engineers also looked north. They were the connection between the 23rd Battalion and the 4th Brigade. Everyone was in their position by 10am. Air attacks were not much of a factor. 

German aircraft were active against roads from Canea to Suda and against Canea. Freyberg commented on the "viscious bombing". The 27th Battery had only been able to withdraw two French 75mm guns. When they arrived in their new spot, they had 8-75mm guns from the 27th Battery and from the Australian 2/3rd Fielf Regiment. They also had two Bofors 40mm and teo 2-pounders. 

The Germans pressed against the withdrawing units. There was heavy fighting along the road near the bridge that crossed the Platanias River. The artiilery was able to shell the attackers and managed to knock out the German light guns.

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

from 23 May near the olive oil factory

 General Freyberg  sent Campbell a message that praised his group. Later, Campbell was told that a company from the 1/Rangers were moving forward from Canea. They would try to clear the road through Perivolia. Berfore this, Campbell had sent Capt. Lergessner towards Suda.. He was to drive a mule train to Retimo to collect food. He was unable to get the mules over the hills, as the hills were too steep. Captain Lergessner was able to reach Retimo. He tried to talk the Rangers out of attacking, but failed. 

East of the airort, the Australians had taken the German medical post. Australian and German medical fficers and orderlies worked together. The Australians told the Germans to move their wounded to the Australian dressing station in the valley. They proposed a three hour truce shat both groups culd collect wounded.

They were surprised to see a blindfolded German officer from the factory, demanding that the Australians surrender. Campbell refused to surrender and had their artillery fire on the factory after the truce ended.

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

Thursday, June 08, 2023

22 to 23 May on Crete

 The afternoon of May, the left Australian company moved forward past Cesmes, without having to fight. They made it to the wadi that passed through Platanes. Germans in houses to the west fired on the Australians. The West Australians had access to German signals,  so they asked for German aircraft to bomb Perivolia., which was done. Sandover told Capt. Honner to move forward, blocking the road. Honner's men had a German and Australian mortar. They attacked the houses "on the small ridge" and took them. Past the houses, the ground sloped down, so they could not go further without being exposed to enemy fire. There were Germans in buildings near Perivolia. The Germans were also in the "Church of St. George", which had a stone wall that provided cover. 

In late afternoon, Capt. Jackson's company moved forward to support Honner. As it became dark, Jackson's men moved forward to the second of three ditches. Honner's men followed, as Sandover arrived on the scene. Sandover had the two companies to stop and dig in. They could hear a firefight around Perivolia. It seemed that the Greeks had attacked Perivolia in the night. They took some Germans as prisoners and then pulled back. 

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

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

An attack was planned on the olive oil factory

 Moriarity's company moved along the ridges towards the olive oil factory. Campbell ordered an attack at 10am. The plan was for an artillery bombardment. The attack would be made if the bombardment seemed to be effective. Captain Killey decided "how much ammunition" the could afford to fire. 

While moving forward, Moriarity was shot and killed by a German rifleman. Lt. Savage was wounded while moving forward. Because of those reasons, there was no attack at 10am.

Campbell's next plan was for an attack at 5pm. The attack would be made after an artillery and mortar barrage. They would send some 200 Greeks down one wadi. At the same, about forty Australians would move down another wadi. Once in place the two groups would charge. The rest of Capt. Travers' company, on the heights, would fire on the factory at a range of 100 t0 200 yards. 

The Greek troops did not move when they were supposed to. The Australians ran forward from the wadi. Many were hit. Those not hit sheltered behind a bank some forty yards from the factory. Campbell was near to the Australians, and he told them not to move.

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

Thursday, June 01, 2023

the situation in the balance on late 21 May

 The Australians of the 2/11th Battalion did not know that the Greeks would be travelling to the west. Because of that, some Greeks and Australians fired at each other. The other Greeks to the right chased small groups of Germans out of the village, to the south of the olive oil factory. By night, the Greeks stll had not reached "the crest of the ridge". 

Campbell sent Capt. Embrey's company to replace Channel's company on Hill A. The field gunners were able to return to their guns. The gunners were now well- supplied with German small arms. Campbell thought that the situatin was better and messaged Freyberg to say that opinion. 

The truth was that there were two strong groups of Germans. One group was in the east, near the olive oil factory. The second group was ar Perivolia, blocking the road to Suda Bay. Campbell ordered that both groups needed to be attacked and should be driven out. The attacks were to happen on 22 May. The 2/11th Battalion was to push west to Perivolia. Two companies from the 2/1st were to push east to the olive oil factory. Greeks joined the 2/1st companies attacking towaeds the factory. They found Germans in strong positions in the strong buildings at the factory. 

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Fighting Germans from 21 May

 Some German groups got into the Australian rear. One group of 20 Germans captured the dressing station at Adhele. They told everyone to surrender and then headed north towards the 2/11th. They ended up being captured by Australians. Two of these Germans were seen changing into Greek uniforms, and were shot. Other Germans headed East. They moved through Pigi and then on the road towards the air field. They took Lt. Wilmott as a prisoner. This group of Germans were ambushed and captured. they rescued Lt. Wilmott. 

During the 21st, the 2/1st and 2/11th Battalions Got brid of the remaining Germans in the Coastal Plain between Hills A and B. These Germans had been pinned down by Australian machine gun fire. The 2/11th had captured Colonel Sturm, The German commander of the attacking force. They had gotten his orders and saw the plan. They had wanted to land battalions east and west of the airfield. They would have had some 1,500 men. They seem to have been planned to be paratroops. 

Greek battalions were on the flanks. The battalion with Major Ford had pushed to the ridge to the south of Perivolia by the time that night fell on 21 May. There was a considerable German group near Perivolia. The Germans faced by the 2/11th Battalion on Hil B, and a strong group of Police from Crete. They had driven all Germans out of Retimo. They blocked the road between Retimo and Perivolia.

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

Friday, May 26, 2023

Attack at about 8am

 Captain Moriarity had a mixed group under his command. They were platoons from four different companies. He made them into four groups. At around 8am, he led an attack to the north. They were well-led, and had success. On the right, they moved forward "along the eastern slope of the hill". They then moved east, and went down the slope. They took 25 Germans prisoner and went to the hill to the east of Hill A. One platoon pushed north to the road. The center, with four platoos, moved forward and took possession of "the eastern and northern face of Hill A." They took possession of the 75mm guns that had been lost. 

At the left, Lt. Mann took his men around the west side of the hill, on the terrace. They took 34 Germans as prisoners. The reached the road and joined with Savage's men. Lt. Craig, from the Wadi Bardia, led his men to the main road. The surviving Germans escaped to the beach. 

Of the paratroops who had landed, there were only small groups left on the coastal plain. Some of those that remained were "enterprising and aggressive". 

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Attack at Dawn on Hill A

 The Australians attacked the Germans at dawn. They hoped to move over the hilltop and around the sides. The Australians thought that the Germans attacked at the same time as the Australians, with a heavy mortar barrage. The Australians moved forward some 60 to a 100 yards. The officers were wounded while the company was pushed gack , leaving them defending on the west edge of the "neck of the hill". 

Another Australian company with a carrier platoon that lacked carriers arrived in support at about 6am. They had come from Hill D and saw that the attack "had failed". At 6:15am, Australians were on "the neck of Hill A". Captain Moriarity had taken command of the force that was present. Almost half of Campbell's battalion was there. They were being hard-pressed by the Germans. Moriarity called Campbell's headquarters to let then know that they were "desperate".

Campbell led a force past the Wadi Bardia. They left some men at the Wadi and took the rest onwards. They reached ?Moriarity at about 7am. Campbell ordered Moriarity to "maneuver the enemy off of Hill A as soon as possible". Soon after, the Australians watched a German bomber dropping bombs on the front of the German line. 

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

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Late on 20 May and beyond

 The commander at Retimo did not what the situation was on Crete. He sent a wireless message to General Freyberg requesting reinforcements for Retimo. He also ordered attacks at dawn. The 2/1st Battalion would attempt to rid Hill A of Germans. The 2/11th would attack Germans in the area between Hill A and the sea. Greek battalions would help the Australians. Campbell, the Australian commander at Retimo, sent Major Hooper with the Greek battalion on the east side. Major Ford, from the Welch Regiment, would be with the group on the west side. 

The Germans on Hill A attacked the Australian posts during the night. They overran part of the "isolated platoon". The rest traveled to the company headquarters. The Germans pushed onto the airfield at Retimo.

Tthey captured the men from the stranded tanks. Most Germans pulled back by dawn, but forty soldiers were sheltering behind the "bank of the beach". By dawn, when the Australians had planned to attack, there was only one section still "holding out". 

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Fighting in the afternoon of 20 May

 Germans were located on Hill A, on the top and east. The Germans were unable to leave the vineyards and move down the slopes because Australians were bringing accurate fire on the Germans. German paratroops had landed in Australian positions, so German aircraft had to be careful not to attack their own men. 

The Australian battalion commander sent two tanks forward, but they were soon out of action. Towards tyhe left, the 2/1st and the 4th Greek Battalion had killed or captured paratroops that were near by, as well as the paratroops in the 2/11th Battalion on Hill B. 

There were some German paratroops, perhaps 500 or more, traveling to the west towards Perivolia. They were beyond the range of Australian machine guns. Before it became dark, Australians tried to finish off the Germans nearby. By 10:30pm, the Australians took 84 prisoners and took a considerable supply of German weapons. 

Sandover, an Australian officer, could speak German, and he interrogated the prisoners. Sandover also translated coded messages, so they were able to tell aircraft to drop mortar bombs.

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The attack began on 20 May

 German aircraft carrying troops flew over Retimo and turned towards Canea. This was at 9am on 20 May. At noon some 20 more transports flew overin the direction of Heraklion. At 4pm, a German air attack hit Retimo near the air field. The defenders had excellent camouflage, so the attackers hit only two or three men. The almost untrained 4th Greek Battalion started back up the ridge although they had not been attacked. Some Australian NCO's were sent from the two battalions to "steady the Greeks". The moved the Greeks back to the starting position and stayed there to reassure the Greeks. One Australian cporporal led a Greek patrol to themain road, where they took some 20 prisoners. 

After the air attack, about 24 transport aircraft were seen. Eventually, they saw as many as 161 transports. They flew south and then flew east. Some paratroops jumped east of the airfield. They landed in an area from the olive oil factory to the east end of the airfield. A second group landed along the coast from the west end of the air field to the edge of Retimo. The paratroops all had landed in 35 minutes. 7 troop transports and two other aircraft were shot down by ground fire. There were some intense fights between Australians and German paratroops. The Germans took most of Hill A. The German paratroops were under cover from the "vines and terraces".

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

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

The situation at Retimo

 The other airfields had ant-aircraft guns , both heavy and light. They also had no armor-piercing capability. Cerman aircraft could fly low over Retimo fairly safely. They could shoot at German soft vehicles. The Australian 2/1st Battalion had no wireless and only had three telephones. Tgeir cables were supplied by the gunners. Campbell used the telephones to connect with hills A and B. Some signallers were used to run the telephones and as runners. The rest became riflemen. The other Australian battalion, the 2/11th, had telephones for each company, but had very little cable. The two Australian battalions communicated by runner. They were well-equipped with barbed wire, so they had barbed wire for the whole front and the airfield.

Food could be an issue. Tthey had enough fot ten days, but enough for four days had been sent to Mesi at the end of the road. If the Germans took the ridge above the airfield, they would withdraw to Mesi. The soldiers also bought food locally, such as pigs, eggs, goats milk, and vegetables. Aswe mentioned, the 2/11th Battalion hired goats to milk and kept them in their positions. 

Because olive trees blocked the slopes of the ridges, the field guns and most machine guns were positioned on hills A and B so they were able to fire to the north, east,and west. Two medium machine guns were sitting on the ridge above Hill B. 

Hill A had a company from the 2/1st along with 2-100mm, 4-75mm, with one platoon "of machine gunners". 

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

Thursday, April 27, 2023

The terrain at Retimo

 The area near Retimo  had olive trees with many leaves. This gave the defenders good cover. The sides of the hills were terraced with the steps being as high as 20 feet, Someone higher up would notbe able to see men "moving around". The 2/1st Battalion had arrived at Retimo on 30 April. The took the place of Greek soldiers, More British soldiers arrived over time. On 19 May, the defense of Retimo was equivalent to a brigade group. The Australians were equipped with "small arms" but they were short of ammunition. They had about five rounds per anti-tank rifle and some 80 mortar bombs per 3-inch mortars. Tthe Vickers machine guns were limied o 16-belts of ammunition per machine gun. Uniforms and boots wee showing wear. There were no anti-aircdaft guns at Retimo. They also lacked armor-piercing ammunition for small arms.

The 2/1st Battalion had but three telephones and some cable that the gunners had brought to Retimo. The 2/11th Battalion had a telephone for each company but little cable. Communication relied on runners. They had about ten days of food. The 2/11th Battalion relied on goats milk from goats they had hired. . The men were Weat Australians. so they were apparently used to living that way and kept goats in their positions. The also bought "pigs, vegetables, and goat's milk from nearby farms and villages, 

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

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Defending Retimo from 19 May

 Retimo had an airfield. Retimo was a town of some ten thousand population. The airfield was about five miles to the east and ran along the beach. behid the air field was a ridge that varied from 100 to 200 feet. 

Lt. Col. Ian Campbell had been appointed the commander of the soldiers defending Retimo. What the Australians had named "Hill A" ran from the ridge to within 100 yards from the sea. "From one thousand yards east of Hill A lay "a small village named Stavromenos". Stavromenos was home to an olive oil factory with a tall chimney. Between the ridge and the mountains was a valley. The valley had the villages Pigi and Adhele. To the west, the ridge ended at the village Platanes. To the east, the ridge joined the mountains. At Platanes, the roaqd that ran from Kirianna through Adhele connected to the coast road. 

On the south, Hill D overlooked the air field. Hill D lay "between the Wadi Bardia on the east and the Wadi Pigi on the west. The ridge continued on from the Wadi Pigi and another wadi, the Wadi Adhele. Hill B was past the Wadi Adhele. Hill B was wider at the west and overlooked Platanes. 

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

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Continued German action on 27 May

 A German soldier climed that ever German wounded soldier ha]d been killed by being shot or stabbed. There was a report that some German dead had been stabbed or had "broken skulls". A German officer had reported not seeing any Australian or New Zealand soldiers that had been stabbed or hit in the head by a rifle butt. 

Lt-Col. Walker wrote about this incident in 1952. He said tat the Germans had a large number of "automatic weapons forward.".These were overrun and captured and used against the Germans.  There had been a wall that been rushed by Germans who were not able to climb the wall, but they were running away and did not surrender. Col. Walker thought that could be an explanation.

There was "close fighting in the olive trees". Any machine gun fire would be fatal as would bayonet wounds. The New Zealanders only captured three German soldiers. You would imagine that many wounded Germans escaped to the German lines. Cpl. Walker said that no wounded German soldiers or unwounded Germans trying to surrender were shot. 

At 10am on 27 May, the 3rd Parachute Regiment had reached the "wireless station". The entered Canea at 2pm, along with 100th Mountain Regiment, along with Ramcke's unit. They captured some 40 guns and a thousand prisoners.

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

German plans on 27 May

 General Ringel lntended to keep trying to surround Canea. After that, they would push east towards Retimo. There wee now five German columns moving East. One column that was the furthest south was moving towards the Ayia Marina. Tis was to the south of 42nd Street. The 141t Mountain Regiment was the next column to the north. North of that was the 3rd Parachute Regiment. North of that was the 100th Mountain Regiment. Finally, on the coast, was Ramcke's group. 

The 141t Mountain Regiment "had fought the 19th Brigade in Greece", which had been acting as a rearguard. This was at Brallos. in Greece. They were also the unit which had been engaged at 42nd Street. At 6:45am, they were ordered to move to "the head of Suda Bay". The idea was to block the British retreat. J Battalion had been at the front. After 11am, the commander had the impression that the lead battalion had been scattered by a counter-attack. The  commander ordered the following battalion to stop. 

The 1st Battalion commander came to the regiment headquarters and reported that had been surprised by British soldiers some 2.5km west of the village at Suda. WThis was in a rather thick olive area. The Germans had run into a minefield and had taken casualties.The British were close to surrounding the battalion.He ordered the German soldiers to pull back.

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

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Freyberg reacts to advice from Cairo

 Freyberg sent a message to Wavell about the real situation. He informed Wavell that Retimo was almost out of food. Retimo was almost out of ammunition. They had lost all the guns from Suda and Maleme because they had no gun tractors. They desperately needed food. Freyberg asked food to be sent to Sfakia at once. They needed to send the fighting force to Sfakia so it could be withdrawn. The Greek army commander sent a message to Freyberg saying that the Greek army was starting to "disintegrate". 

In the afternoon, Wavell ordered Freyberg to "abandon Crete". That morning, Wavell had asked the commanders in London for guidance, but had not received any by 3:50pm. At that point, Wavell tld Freyberg to leave Crete. Some hours later, the commanders in London agreed with that plan. Colonel Campbell at Retimo was without ciphers, and an alternate plan failed. They were forced to ask Cairo to have a plane drop the message to Campbell. 

Freyberg moved his headquarters to Sfakia. He only learned later that his attempts to communicate had failed.

From another source, we were under the impression that Freyberg was exhausted after leaving Greece, but he seems to have done well as was possible in Crete. 

The Germans were having a lot of success on 26 and 27 May. The Assault Regiment reached a point about 2 km to the west of Canea. The 100th Mountain Regiment captured Karatsos while the 3rd Parachute Regiment captured Perivolia. The Germans flew in reinforcements to replace some of their losses.

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

The move to the south a retreat or a rout

 General Freyberg described the situation. There were units of soldiers that stayed to gether and marched with their guns. They were from composite groups that withdrawn from the line. Mostly it was a mass movement of men not organized imto units. They dominated the ruad and slowly moved to the south. 

There were thousands of unarmed soldiers on the road to the south. They were very diverse, as there were Cypriots and Palestinians. There were no leaders and they were without discipline. They largely were untrained as soldiers. Men had heard Sfakia mentioned and that gave them direction. Lt. Stephanides later wrote that he was aware that they were part of a retreat. He thought that it bordered on a rout. Soldiers moved quickly along the road. Many soldiers had dropped their rifles. The road and ditches had items abandoned by their owners. You would occasionally see officers valises and open suit cases.

Someone Cairo replied to Freyberg's pessimistic message from 26 May. Yhe reply said that General Evetts would arrive to function as a liaison officer. Te reply suggested that force from Suda and Maleme should travel to Retimo with the aim of holding the eastern end of Crete.

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

Wednesday, April 05, 2023

Continuing events on 27 and 28 May

 During the 27th, Hargest and Vasey had met with one of Laycock's battalion commanders, as we had already said. That was when Hargest and Vasey had decided to move toNeo Khorion during the night. They hoped that the commandos of Layorce would cover them. They decided to send the 5th New Zealand Brigade to Stilos. They would send the Australian 19th Brigade to Neo Khorion, alon with the 2/8th Battalion to occupy the road junction at Kalives with the 2/7th Battalion in contact with the New Zealand force at Stilos. At the 42nd Street, the rearguard was supposed to pull out and start the march to Stilos. At 9pm, it was light,so they waited until 10pm. The lead soldiers had marched the 14 miles to arrive at Stilos. They reached Stilos at 3:30am on May 28th. 

Weston ordered Laycock and his D Battalion to the Babali Innin the south. They would function as a rearguard. Laycock had only recently landed. added two infantry tanks along with three carriers. 

It seems that General Weston had traveled south to see the route that they would use to withdraw. Weston had tried to turn back, but the route was crowded by vehicles, soldiers, and civilians moving along the road towards the mountains at Sfakia.

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

Monday, April 03, 2023

More charges on 27 May

 The Maori's, along with the 19th and 21st Battalions, charged the Germans as had the Australians. The New Zealand charge went for about 699 yards. The Germans ran when faced with the charge. The Maoris saw about 80 German dead. Tghe Australians counted some 200 German dead and they had captured three Germans. The Australian 2/7th Battalion had ten men killed and 28 men wounded. That was from the charging. 14 Maori's had been hit in the charge. 

The Australians were stopped because of the scarcity of cover from air attack. Lt. Bolton brought a Vickers machine gun forward. He fired on the retreating Germans and caused casualties. The Germans did not attack on the 27th. In the afternoon, the Germans were close by along the whole front. DCuring the 27th, they could see Germans around the hills in the south. They were effectively encircling the Australian ans New Zealand soldiers. 

Weston was nominally in command of the rearguard, but no one had any communication with him. May, they were in contact with a battalion commander from Laycock's group. Weston had ordered him to sit on the road to Sfakia. After hearing that, Hargest and  Vasey decided to move to Neo Khorion. That was south of Stilos. 

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

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Action during the night on 27 May

 Some 80 tons of supplies were unloaded on the pier at Suda. The Maori battalion was commanded by Col. Dittmer. He spoke with Col. Walker and Col. Allen. Col. Dittmer told them that if the Germans came in close, his men would fire on the Germans and charge them. Allen and Walker agreed to support the Maoris. 

  GThe Australians saw about 400 Germans moving forward on the Suda Bay road. The 2/7th Battalion had two companies in front. The company on the right sent a patrol forward to watch the Germans. Gthey were planning an attack. Major Miller was moving forward when gunfire started. Two platoons came up next to the patrol. The Germans were intent on looting a unmanned depot, so the Germans were surprised.

After a few minutes fight, the Germans "broke and ran". The two companies charged the escaping Germans. The Germans were pushed out of the depot. On the left, a charging private armed with a sub-machine gun, Caused Germans in a wadi to run. Gthe Germans threw away their guns as they ran. The Australians were able to move forward more than a mile. 

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The battle continuing on 27 May

 The Gernans attacked the Welch, starting at dawn. Of the two front companies, one had been surrounded while the second had heavy losses. Lt-Col. Duncan decided to withdraw the Welch to the KIadhisos Creek. He ordered the two companies at the rear to move to the west of Suda to provide cover to the rest of the battalion. From there, they could hear "heavy firing" near 42nd Street. This was some five miles back from their original location. The two rear companies commanded by Major Gibson were successful in reaching Suda. A snall group from the Welch, commanded by a sergeant, managed to hold out until the morning on the 28th. When the Germans realized what a small group they were, they were captured.

When the Australian and New Zealand soldiers arrived at 42nd Street, General Weston was not there. Outtick and Vasey decided where to position their brigades along 42nd Street. 42nd Street was a dirt road than ran straight through the olive groves. The line was held by Australian and New Zealand soldiers. The Australians included the 2/7th and 2/8th Battalions. The New Zealand battalions included the 19th, 21st, 22nd, and 28th. Fretberg paid a visit to the Australians overnight, and saw they were in good spirts.

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The battle from 27 May

 The Composite Brigade seems to have been commnded by Lt-Col Duncan of the Welch. He did not know that the Suda Brigade had pulled out and had left them with no one on the left. During the night, the 5th and 19th Brigades past the wreckage in Canea. They were now just to the west of Suda Bay, One battalion of Layforce was nrar Suda village, As the Australians withdrew, they saw mothing of the British brigade which was supposed to be the rearguard. "It seemed that the British had been on the coast road while the Australians had been on the inland road". In the nght, the 4th Brigade travelled to Stilos. Inglis was not able to find the Composite Brigade, he decided to go back to commanding the 4th Brigade. Howard Kippenberger was back to commanding the 20th Battalion. 

By 1am, Weston realized that tht Welches' position was in danger, so Weston ordered Lt-Col Duncan to withdraw. By the time Duncan got the order, it was too late. The Welch were on the left with the Rangers and the Northumberland Hussars. The Germans attacked at dawn and surrounded one company while an n another company took losses, 

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The withdrawal from early 27 May 1941

 The older commanders seem to have a more negative view of the situation than the men in thr battalions. Weston had said that he had forces on the new line and did not want Hargest and Vasey's brigades in that line. Puttick then informed Weston that his brigades would hold the "new line" until Weston ordered them to leave. At thes point, communications were difficult and moving slowly. The command structure was making things worse, because if the need to ask permission. Apparently, orders went from Freyberg to Weston, and then to Puttick and then to Vasey. 

Weston had gone from Puttick at 6:10pm. By 11:15pm, Puttick got an order from Weston. Weston sent an order to Vasey with out tellinf Puttick. seven hours passed where Puttick had ordered a withdrawal without informing Weston. That withdrawal was carried out while the men in the rear areas were shaken. When the 5th and 19th Brigades were known to have withdrawn, the Suda Brigade was ordered to withdraw. The Suda Brigade had "S Battalion from the Royal Marines, the 2/2nd Field Regiment, the Royal Perivolians, and the 106th Royal Horse Artillery". They had been in reserve at Mournies. At the same time, the Composite Brigade was moving to a new spot something like a mile to the west from Canea. 

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

26 to 27 May on Crete

 Freyberg seems to actually have been in charge on 26 May. Freyberg and Weston had met twice in thr evning, at 7:30 and 10:15. At the earlier meeting, Weston told Freyberg that the New Zealand Division could not hold any longer. Freyberg ordered the Composite Brigade to move in. At 830, the composite Brigade were told to be ready to move. 

At this time, Weston told Freyberg wrong information. He said that the New Zealand troops were holding their position but that the Australians were moving out. Freyberg responded by sending the Australian Vasey a message saying that he needed to keep holding a line some one thousand yards to the east in the wadi in the morning where they had been until it was dark on 27 May. . 

Vasey on learned this by 11pm, after he had ordered his men to withdraw. When Vasey contacted Puttick, he found that they had not gotten orders to hold. Puttick had ordered the New Zealand Division to withdraw. Vasey had just two battalions. With the Greeks in disarray and the New Zealand Division gone on the right, his battalions would be taken. Vasey contacted Puttick, who approved his withdrawal. Vasey learned that the 2/7th Battalion had started to move back with Germans following. 

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

Monday, March 13, 2023

Action late on 26 May

" Weston had returned to Canea, heavy bombing forced him out of the town. Puttick had expected to hear from Weston. When time had passed withot any communications frum Weston, Puttick tried contacting Freyberg's headquarters. 

Finally at 10:10, Puttick received a message from Freyberg saying Weston would be giving him orders. After that, Puttick talked Vasey. Puttick then decided that they should move to a position to defend at the "head of Suda Bay" as he had suggested to Weston. The Australian 19th Brigade would be ro the right and the 5th New Zealand Brigade would be to the left. He would have the 4th Brigade move to Stilos, which was on the way to Sfakia. 

Puttick issued orders that included all these actions. Puttick sent an officer to inform Freyberg and Weston. In response, Vasey ordered his battalions to pull back and informed the nearby Greeks and British.

We are left with the impression that there was a political explanation for Freyberg wanting Weston to issue orders. Weston seems tolack the information and the expertise neededfor him to be acting as commander.

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

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

The situation is worsening on 26 May

 Puttick's trip to Freyberg's headquarters and back took about three hours. The Germans continued to move around the left. While Puttick was still traveling, Vasey went to see Hargest. Vasey told Hargest that Germans were surrounding his left flank. There were German machine guns to his rear, firing at his position from behind. Vasey asked Hargest when he thought that he would need to withdraw. Vasey expected that he would also need to withdraw. Puttick joined them quite soon. Puttick considered that the situation was getting worse. They had talked about Inglis providing relief, but that now seemed not possible. Puttick decided to meet with Weston to discuss the situation. Puttick suggested that the Welch provide cover in position from Kristos to Tsikalaria. The commandos would add to the line to the south at Ayia Marina. At about 6pm, Weston visited Puttick. Weston wanted to talk with Freyberg before allowing a withdrawal. At 6:10, Weston left to visit Freyberg. 

When Weston arrived at Canea, German bombing caused him to abandon the town. Puttick had expected to hear from Weston, but he heard nothing. Given that, Puttick sent messages to Freyberg. Freyberg replied that uttick would receive orders from Weston.

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

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

More action from 26 May

 Puttick's New Zealand Division headquarters was moving to a position about a mile south of Canea. While the headquarters was moving, Puttick got a letter from Freyberg saying that he and Weston were to have a joint headquarters. Somewhat later sent Inglis a message appointing him as commander of a "Composite Brigade". Te new brigade would have 1/Welch, the Northumberland Hussars, and the 1/Rangers. These had all been commanded by Weston. After dark, the Composite Brigade would replace the 5th New Zealand Brigade. Puttick expected that the 5th Brigade would be forced to withdraw before there was time for the replacement, Puttick thought that the men were close to being worn out. The battalions had taken losses that left them as company size. They were now under constant air attack. Vehicles that tried to drive on the road were strafed. They had no working communications. Puttick walked over to talk with Freyberg. At 3:15pm, Freyberg told 

puttck that they had to hold teir positions, because there were two destroyers heading to Suda Bay that  night carrying commandos and some 80 tons "of food and ammunition". With the New Zealand Division near Canea and Suda Bay, they would be under commad of Weston. 

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

26 May while the situation deteriorates

 Engineers and cavalry were used to help hold the line. The Germans succeeded in pushing back the engineers with the 21st Battalion. They were able to counter-attack and retakethe ground that had been lost. The Germans continued to attack. The 21st Battalion lost 80 men

The 19th Battalion was hard-pressed. Two platoons had to pull back. A new line was formed about 150 yards back. They were abe to retake posts that had been lost by 5pm. The 28th Maori Battalion was able to hold their position. Starting at 10:30 German infantry attacked the Australians on the left and made a gap and pushed into the gap between the Australians and the 2nd Greek Regiment. 

Two Australian platoons were forced to pull back a ways towards Perivolia. The were able to hold in this new position. During the afternoon, the battle became more intense. The Australian 2/8th Battalion was ordered to move to its previous position near Mournies. The 2/7th Battalion got similar instructions. At 5pm, they moved to Mournies and joined Royal Marines near Mournies. 

On the morning of 26 May, Vasey felt sure that his line could hold both on the 26th and 27th. By 5pm, he changed his mind and thought that the condition of the left was at a critical point. 

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

26 May the updated situation

 After a meeting about the situation at Suda Bay General Freyberg sent a message to General Wavell. The commander had told Freyberg that the situation at Suda Bay was untenable. If the were given permission at least part of the troops at Suda Bay coulbe embarked. Once this has happened, similar moves needed to be made at Retimo and Heraklion. At Suda the only effective combat troops were the Welch Regiment and Commandos. If the overall situation in the Middle East required that they continue to defend Suda Bay the defenders will keep fighting. They would need to see what to do to be able to keep fighting. The commander expected that within 24 hours the Germans would be firing on Suda Bay. The defenders have taken heavy casualties. Most of the defenders static guns had been lost. 

At this point, General freyberg met with Inglis. He told Inglis that they must stabilize the line. Inglis would be appointed to command the Reserve. They needed to move to "Relieve the New Zealand Division". Kippenberger would take command of the 4th Brigade (which had just two battalions). 

Both brigades closest to the Germans had been fighting. The 5th Brigade had five weak battalions. The battalions had been reduced to company size. 

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

Monday, February 20, 2023

More from 25 to 26 May 1941

 Puttick told Freyberg on 25 May that the line at Galatas had been broken. Puttick wanted to form a new line that would "rn north and south on the right of the 19th Brigade. Puttick tld Freyberg that did not expect to hold a defensive position on 26 May. Late on 25 May, a liaison officer told Freyberg that the "Greeks were about to break."

Around 1am on 26 May the New Zealand Division needed to pull back to a new line. The new line was next to a creek that lay west of Canea. The creek was about a mile-and-a-half west of Canea. The new line would have the 21st Battalion on the right. They would also have some of the cavalry, some engineers along withone company from the 20th Battalion. The center of the new line would have the 19th Battalion. The Maori Battalion would hold the left. They would connect with the 19th Brigade which was very weak. The prison road would divide the two brigades. 

By dawn, the 5th Brigade was in position. The men were very tired. There were many groups of men in the olive trees. The air attacks didn't help. There was little chance of any re-grouping. Men from base units from Suda Bay had been ordered to make their way to the south coast. Scattered combat soldiers joined the movement on the road towards the south. This is based on the account in "Greece Crete and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

During the night of 25-26 May the situation worsened

 During the night, the defenders were taking more casualties. The men were getting more tired. They were becoming dispirited due to the contant air attacks. One result of the way the battle played out was that the units of the 4th and 5th Brigades were in a mixed line. Both brigades had taken heavy losses. Puttick wanted to shorten his line. He thought he could do that by leaving Galatas and moving to a new line that would include Karatsos. /the new line would run north and south and would touch the 19th Brigade on the right. 

Fortunately the Greek 8th Regiment was holding their ground. The regiment was actually strengthened by villagers. The regiment was holding on while fighting a German mountain regiment. That regiment was trying to surround the British group. Over the most recent few days, the Greeks had driven out "the Utz Group of airborne soldiers from the area near Alikianon. That group had formed a line to the south of the reservoir. They were causing trouble for the German mountain regiment that was moving over the hills southwest from the current position. The German airborne commander, General Student, reached Crete on 25 May. The II and IV Battalions of the Assault Regiment were able to capture the high ground on the northwest of Galatea. It was the 100th Mountain Regiment that finally took Galatea. On that day, reinforcements landed at Maleme. The reinforcements were two mountain battalions and one motor cycle company.

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The situation 25 May

 An order was sent to the 20th Battalion to pull back and line  up on the right of the other groups that were present. The 23rd Battalion was just arriving at the battle scene. Kippenberger thought that needed to strike the Germansnnot just keep adding units to the line. He sent two companies from the 23rd Battalion to retake Galatas. The companies would advance on both sides of the road. Two light tanks would lead the advance. The infantry followed the advance with the men giving cheers and shouts. The men advancing could see flares and tracers. The streets of Galatas had cobble stones. The front tank lost a track. The other tank kept moving forward. Germans in second stories threw grenades. The attacking men reached the city center. In the square, the leading tank was disabled. The attackers were in an intense battle with hand-to-hand fighting and shooting from rifles and submachine guns. The were able to drive out the Germans. The Germans retreated into olive groves west of Galatea. 

The 19th Brigade was just to the west. There were no attacks against them that day. The Australian 2/8th Battalion were to move forward as much as a thousand yards. This was cancelled since the New Zealand attack seemed to be successful. The situation seemed worse during the night. 

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

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

The fight on 25 May

 Kippenberger was present and in command. John Russell was the leader on the spot, reporting to Kippenberger. They were all New Zealand soldiers. Russell reported that the Germans were pressing hard. There were a line of stragglers moving past. This was when Kippenberger had sent his brigade major to let Inglis know that they were outmatched by the Germans. Casualties were mounting. The Regimental Aid Post had some 200 wounded. The had two trucks carrying men to the Advanced Dressing Station. This is when things got worse because the defenders of Wheat Hill without permission. This put Lynch's company in the center of the 18th Battalion line. They were forced to fall back, but were putting up a good fight. In a sudden change, there were now a large stream of stragglers, many almost in a panic. Kippenberger tried to stop the stragglers, saying "Stand for New Zealand" and other words of encouragement.

Kippenberger filled in new men as men sent by Inglis arrived.. The 4th Brigade Band manned a wall about 100 yards in front of his headquarters.

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

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

New Zealanders fighting

 The 18th Battalion was very hard-pressed. The company on the right was over-powered. The centr company was taking fire from all sides. The battalion commander was carrying his rifle with the bayonette fixed. He yelled "no surrender". With men from his headquarters, he tried to restore the line, but the Germans were too strong for them. 

Brigidier Inglis tried to help by sending two 20th Battalion companies. Howard Kippenberger commanded soldiers in the "forward area". He ordered them to head to the ridge held by the composite battalion. The composite battalion was just about destroyed, but the new men succeeded in stopping the enemy forward movement. 2nd Lt. Upham showed great courage. The Germans were now pushing forward along the Prison-Galatas Road. Kippenberger later wrote that the situation seemed critical. There were now men retreating past Kippenberger. Kippenberger sent his brigade major to tell Inglis that he needed help. Wounded were transported by truck to the Advanced Dressing Station. The situation deteriorated further when men abandoned the Wheat Hill without orders.

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

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Commandos landed at Suda Bay

 It was at about 930am on 24 May that commzndos were landed at Suda Bay. They were brought by three British destroyers from Alexandria. More of the commandos arrived at Suda Bay on the fast minelayer Abdiel. As we had  already mentioned, the New Zealanders expected that the German movements started on 24 May would result in attacks by 25 May. The New Zealanders noticed  the build up near the 18th Battalion. The afternoon saw a GGerman dive bomber attack  against the 4th Brigade, This was followed by an infantry attack covered by strong mortar and machine gun fire. The 18th Battalion was engaged in an intense fight. The company on the right collapsed under the strong pressure. The company in the ceter was fired upon from all sides. The company commander led a group that attempted to restore the situation, but the Germans proved to be too strong. Brigadier Inglis sent in two 20th Battalion companies. Kippenberger provided guidance to soldiers in the ront. The men were sent to the ridge occupied by the composite battalion. They succeeded in stopping the enemy from moving forward.

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

Monday, January 30, 2023

More action from 24 May

 By 24 May there were three German regiments in position against the New Zealand Division. One of those was a mountain regiment and two were airborne. Ther was another mountain regiment moving towards Suda Bay. This was moving south through hilly country. The Germans in the north consisted of three groups getting ready to attack the Galatas area. The assault regiment was to attack on the northwest of the Galatas area. There was also the 100th Mountain Regiment that would directly attack Galatas. After Galatas was captured, the 3rd Parachute Rifle Regiment would movr onto the Alikianon-Canea Road. More units landed at Maleme on 24 May. 

The New Zealand Division thought that the attack launched on 24 May would hit a peak on 25 May. Inglis would be able to call on the reserves. The reserve consisted of four weak battalions of the 5th Brigade. The 5th Brigade at this pont had fewer tan 1400 men. In the morning they were hit by air attacks as well as well as fire from mortars and machine guns. They could see Germans in position to attack the 18th Battalion near the coast. During the afternoon the wholeth Brigade was bombed. After the bombing was over machine gun and mortar fire covered an advance by German infantry. There was intense fighting aimed at the18th Battalion.

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

Thursday, January 26, 2023

The situation on Crete deteriorates from 24 May

 The defenders of Crete were pressed hard by the combination Germans from Maleme and the prison. There was also a group of German mountain troops moving over the hills against Suda Bay moving north. The goal was to form a circle around the defending orce. The Greek 8th Regiment was the only unit in the path of the advancing Germans. The Greek regiment had been isolated since paratroops had landed near the prison. 

During the afternoon of 24 May, Germans had tested the 4th Brigade front. The expectation was that the Germans were getting ready for a major attack. At about 4pm, an attack hit the 18th Battalion. Some forward positions were pushed back, but the were restored by a counter-attack. Around dusk some posts were pushed back but were retaken. The Germans launched a substantial air attack on Canea. It seemed that they were intending to flatten the town. 

The cable received by Freyberg on 24 May seemed to indicate that General Blamey was in charge. They thought that theGermans were having difficulties. Thedefenders of Cretewere being praised. n the 24th Freyberg learned that the Rangers had failed "to clear the road to Retimo". Greece Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

German thoughts about British operations

 The Germans thought that the British pulled back in response to movements of the Utz Group. Ramcke's Group was chasing the withdrawing British forces They fighting the British rearguards. The Germans respected how well the British rearguards were fighting. During the night mountain troops were sent through Alikianon going through the mountains towards Suda Bay. They hoped to outflank the forces in the area near Galatas and Suda Bay. They wanted to reach Retimo to help the 2nd Parachute Rifle Regiment. The Germans seem to be focusing on Suda Bay. German air units were targeting Suda Bay. This reduced the pressure on the 5th New Zealand Brigade. 

Major Heilmann's force was strengthened by a mountain battalion. A group fron Maleme was part of a concentration near the prison. During the day more units were flown into Maleme.

Early on 24 May, the western end of the forces defending Crete ("Creforce") formed a curve around Canea. The curve radius was about three miles. The defenders were pressed by a strong force at Maleme and the prison. 

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

Friday, January 20, 2023

Reinforcements for Crete

 The Rangers company arrived at Retimo on the 23rd. Captain Lerggessner met them at Retimo. Captain Lergessner had been sent by Coloneel Campbell . He had been told to travel through the foothills to Retimo. He was supposed to go to Suda Bay and pass on information to Freyberg. He was supposed to ask for instructions. 

Captain Lergessner knew how strong the Germans were on the road. He tried to persuade the Rangers from attacking. He spent the night with the Rangers and then witnessed their unsuccessful attack. The captain moved to Suda Bay. He was followed by the remaining men of the Rangers company. 

Two infantry tanks had been trported to Heraklionon 23 May. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were also moving to Heraklion. The newly arrived infantry tanks with one survivor were taken to Suda Bay on a "lighter" (which could be a landing craft. They also took two 75mm guns. 

They continued to try and send reinforcements to Crete. The Glenroy had turned back, but the fast minelayer Abdiel left Alexandra with commandoes of "Layforce". 

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

23 May on Crete

All hope of holding the airfield at Maleme was given up. Once that had been decided, the men of the New Zealand Division had moved into a defensive posture. Freyberg and Puttick met at 11am. They decided that the 5th Brigade would be in reserve. The 4th Brigade would have the units of the 10th Brigade. They would now hold the right oh the new lime. The Australians of the 19th Brigade would hold the left of the line. They would be west of Perivolia. In the aternoon, the 2/8th Battalion move forward to the creek on the west of Perivolia. The 2/7th was there already. The 2nd Greek held a line to the southwest. They were the left flank. 

All the soldiers near Platanias pulled back behind the 4th New Zealand Brigade. The few vehicles carried the hravy weapons and the wounded. The isolated force at Retimo were handicapped by the lack of ciphers. The ciphers at Heraklion had been destroyed on 20 May. On 23 May, Freyberg ordered one company of the 1st Randers to take two anti-tank guns to the road to Retimo. That did not work well because there was a strong group of Germans on the road. 

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

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Crete from 22 to 23 May

 You might almost say that Freyberg received a typical message from Churchill. Churchill was writing from his fantasy world. Feeyberg wrote that the reality was that the situation in Maleme was getting worse all the time. The Maori's were back in position. The 23rd Batting to the North. alion were in their position. They occupied high ground in between the Maori's and the Ayaia Marina. The 21st and 22nd Battalions were greatly reduced. You had the New Zealand engineers also faced to the northgade." . They linked "the 23rd Battalion and the 4th Brigade.

The units were all in their positions by 10am. So far, air attacks had been fairly light. German air attacks focused on Canea and the roads from Canea to Suda Bay. Freyberg wote that the bombing was viscious. The 27th Battery was only able to withdraw two French 75's. In the new spot, they only had 8-75mm guns. The guns were from the 27th Battery and the Australian 2/3rd Field Regiment. For an-aircraft, they had 2-Bofors and 2-3pdr. 

The Germans stayed close to the withdrawal. There was intense fighting  near where the roads crossed the Platanias River. The British artillery were able to bring accurate fire on the Germans and knocked out the German light guns.

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Rapidly deteriorating situation at Maleme

 During the night of 22 May Wavell sent a message that indicated that Wavell was out of touch with the current situation. That was due in part to Freyberg's messages but also to a lack of understanding at the Cairo headquarters. 

One issue with Crete was there were not enough vehicles to transport large groups of men. Freyberg wrote that the enemy held the roads from Suda to Retimo and probably the road from Retimo to Heraklion. Freyberg wrote to Wavell that there were no vehicles at Retimo. Freyberg had ordered the Argyll and Sutherland to put the infantry and tanks at Heraklion with the aim if reinforcind Suda by road. Freyberg let Wavell know that the soldiers at Maleme were isolated. They needed to reorganize their position so it was more defensible. Freyberg wrote that he could not keep risking rear areas and coastline. The men will need to be able to rest, They will need to adjust the line to reduce the area needing to be defended. This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

from 22 to 23 May 1941

 By 23 May 1941, there were only wrecked or disabled ships remaining in Suda Bat, Back on 26 March an Italian MTB had torpedoed HMS York a small heavy cruiser. By 23 May, there were the York, there were "two destroyers, perhaps six merchant ships, 0 to 12 other vessels."

On 22 May, several more German mountain battalions wew floen into  Maleme. The airfield had wrecked aircraft which the cleared with British tanks used as tractor. General Ringel, now in command on Crete, had orders to clear Maleme, clear Suda Bay, help the troops in Retimo, move forward to Heraklion take the entire island of Vrete.  The immediate priority was to move on Canea. The British attacked towards Maleme with tanks. A German counter attack, the British were ushed back tnto Pirgos. 

The Germans were attacked by Greek snipers, who were accused of atrocities. The situation was escalated by German reprisals. A New Zealand officer guarded German prisoners. It seems that all mutilations were done by radical civilians. British and New Zealand soldiers protected Germans from mobs. 

The incidents tended to be exaggerated, the reprisals were bad, Australians and New Zealand soldiers were later accused. We would have to judge events in light of wahring the night of 22 May, General Wavell sent a messdae to General Freyberg that it was nt possible to land solgiers at Suda Bay. The defenders would have to stick it out. They were going to send Commano's to the south coast. 

Wavell suggested sending soldiers from Retimo to Canea. 

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

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

At sea 23 to 23 May

 A cruiswe-destroyer force sank a Caique loadrd with soldiers. The fight took place between Hof Milos.eraklion and the island of Milos. Admiral King ordered his force to withdraw. Weston persuaded the civilians togo to the hills. During Colonel Campbell's men attacked the enemy on the road to the east and west. They heard that the Germans were on the road to Timbakion, an ideal location to land troops. 

On 22 May, Ships were low on antiaircraft ammunition. Heavy air attacks sank the cruisers Fiji and Gloucester. A mistaken report made the battleships seem to be low on low on light ant-aircraft ammunition. 

on 23 May Lord Louis Mountbatten's destroyers were withdrawing to Alexandria when divebombers attacked them. Kashmir and Kelly were both sunk. Kipling rescued survivors. 

During the night of 22-23 May, two destroyers unloaded ammunition at Suda Bay.Fast minelayers were also carrying supplies annd ammunition to Crete. 

While protecting Crete, many ships were damaged. 

This is based on the account in "Greecen Crete, and Syria".

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