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. 

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