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

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