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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