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.

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