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.

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