Thursday, September 28, 2023

From the night of 20-21 May at Retimo

The Germans on Hill A expected that the Australians might attack, so they went after the few Australian posts. They over ran part of one group. The remainder moved into the company headquarters, The Germans moved onto the Retimo airfield. They took the crews of the disabled tanks prisoner. Most of the Germans eft the airfield by dawn, but about forty men sheltered behind the bank at the beach. At dawn, there was one section from Channel's company still holding on. They were surroundedm but the Germans seemed to have overlooked them. They were on the forward slope of Hill A. Channel's company was reinforced by two platoons. They occupied the narrow part of Hill A.

Channel led the men in an attack at dawn. The Germans seemed to attack at the same time with a mortar barrage, Channel planned to go around the sides of Hill A as well as over the top. While under fire, Channel's men moved forward some sixty to 100 yards. Channel and a lieutenant were wounded,  Channel's men were pushed back until they held a line on the western edge of the narrow part of Hill A. 

Moriarity's company and the carrier platoon, without their carriers appeared at 6am. They came from Hill D. They learned that the dawn attack had failed. They arrived at the narrow part of Hill A. Moriarity took command of the men left, which was a lttle less than half of Campbell's unit. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Reinforcements were needed at Retimo on 20 May

 The 2/11th Battalion withdrew all of its men into the wired perimeter for the night. They did send patrols out to prevent the Germans moving in the direction of Retimo. At 10:30pm, the Australians had taken 84 prisoners and a great number of arms. The Australians had trouble finding Germans hiding in the dark. The 2/11th Battalion commander, Sandover, spoke German, so he questioned prisoners. Sandover also translated German codes, so the Australians were able ask for more mortar bombs, which were delivered by air. 

Overnight, Campbell asked Freyberg for reinforcements. Campbell gave orders for attacks in the morning. He wanted the 2/1st Battalion to eliminate Germans from Hill A. He ordered the 2/11th Battalion to get rid of Germans from Hill A and the sea. The Australian battalions would attack tpwards the north with help from Greek battalions. They would be attacking the southern side of the German forces that were in combat with the Australians. Campbell sent Major Hooper with the Greek battalion on the east. He sent Major Ford from the Welch Regiment with the Greeks on the West. Major Ford was already a liaison to the Greeks.

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Further fighting on 20 May

 Campbell ordered a platoon to Hill A. They were supposed to clear out the vineyards. They were located on the northwest of Hill A. At 6:30, platoon first went to Campbell's headquarters. The paratroops firing kept the Australians from moving over the northwest slopes. Since the paratroops were mixed with Australians, German aircraft were not attacking, 

 Campbell sent the two tanks down the Wadi Pigi. The tanks were supposed to go across the airfield and turn to move along the road so as to attack Germans on the east side of Hill A. Both tanks had mishaps that stopped them. 

Some paratroops landed on the left, in front of the 2/1st Battalion and the 4th Greek Battalion where they were all killed or made prisoner. The same thing happened to paratroops that landed, the 2/11th Battalion wire on Hill B. In one case, a group of paratroops were killed while they were still in the air. There were other groups of paratroops, totaling as many as 599 men, yhat were advancing on Perivolia. 

Sandover ordered his men to move forward to the north to get rid of Germans who were on the lower ground. He wanted that done before it became dark. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

German paratroop action at Retimo on 20 May

 A second group of German paratroops landed along the coast from yhe west end of the atr field up to the town of Retimo. The landing was finished in 35 minutes. The transport aircraft were an obvious target or the British force on the ground. Seven troop carrying aircraft along with two other aircraft were shot down. Most of the aircraft that were shot down crashed near Perivolia. 

Many paratroopers landed on Hill A. The hill was about 200 by 300 yards. One company of infantry occupied Hill A. There were six field guns and four machine guns. There were a series of intense fights between units of Australians and the small numbers of paratroops that were able to be organized. At the east end, paratroops landed on an infantry platoon and the machine guns and field guns. The crews were killed while mortar fire disabled the guns. Surviving gunners moved up the hill to the battery headquarters. The gunners only had pistols, but they were able to capture some weapons. They kept fighting until the Germans overran them at 9pm. The Australians were taking losses. Three posts held out on the northern slope. The remainder of the defending company was stretched across the narrow part of the hill. The Germans has most of the top and east part of Hill A. The Germans could not move out from the vineyards, Campbell had sent reinforcements to help contain the Germans.

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long

Thursday, September 14, 2023

May 20 at Retimo

 14 German transport aircraft flew towards Retimo, but they turned towards Canea. This was at 9am on 20 May. This was apparently the start of the attack on Retimo. At noon, 20 Gernan troop-carrying aircraft fkew towards Heraklion. At 4pm, some 20 German fighters and bombers attacked positions around the airfield. British camouflage was proving very effective against air attacks. The 4th Greek battalion started to move back up the ridge, even though they had not been attacked from the air. Australiin NCOs were sent to the Greeks. The were a steadying factor, and they led the Greeks back to theie positions. One Australian corporal took a Greek patrol to the main road, where they took some 20 prisoners. 

After the strafing ended, about 24 troop-carrying Ferman aircraft flew from the north. They flew towards Refuge Point, which lay to the east. Once there, they turned west, and flew along the coast. More troop transports came along until they saw 161. One group of paratroops jumped east of the airfeld. The landed in an area that was three miles long and a half mile wide. This was east of the olive oil factory and to the east end of the airfield. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

19 May at Retimo

 The 2/11th Battalion was positioned on the ridge from the Wadi Adhele to Hill B Three of the battalions companied were "forward". The original plan was for the 2/11th Battalion to act as a reserve for the 2/1st Battalion. Their mission was to defend the Retimo airfield. One company from the 2/11th Battalion was in the rear, ready to reinforce the 2/1st Battalion. The reserve for the 2/11th Battalion was its transport platoon. Hill B stuck out towards the sea. Hill B had two 100mm guns and one platoon of machine guns except for one section located at the Wadi Adhele. There were two tanks sitting in the olive trees by theWadi Pigi. The tanks would be used if Germans were in position on the landing field. Infantry were located in "weaon pits" in the olive trees. They were hidden from view from either air or ground. 

A German reconnaissance aircraft crashed on 16 May. There were photographs dated 8 May that showed that the Germans had only seen one of the defenders' positions, After seeing the photographs, the positions were altered.  

Campbell ordered the men to stay out of Retimo, because some men had become drunk from the local wine. Campbell wanted to have a good relationship with the local residents, Provosts were positioned in Retimo and in the villages to enforce the ban on British soldiers. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long

Thursday, September 07, 2023

More about Retimo on 29 May

 The two Australian battalions defending the airfield at Retimo were the 2/1st and the 2/11th Battalions. The situation was such that the battalions communicated using runners. There was a lot of barbed wire so the airfield and battalion fronts were covered by barbed wire. 

There had been rations for ten days, but four days supply had been moved to the road that led to Mesi. The men were able to by from the local inhabitants. They were able to buy pigs, eggs, and goats milk. Thr men of the 2/11th Battalions were used to having goats, so they "hired milking goats" and kept them in their positions.

Olive trees masked fields of fire from the ridge, the ield guns and most of the medim machine guns were put on hills A and B.  Two machine guns were put on the ridge above Hill B. One company of field artillery was put on Hill A. They had 2-100mm and 4-75mm guns with a platoon of machine guns. The rest of the field artillery battalion was on Hill B and on the slopes above the airfield from the south. The field artillery headquarters operated as a rifle company. Canpbell put his headquarters on a spur of Hill D so he had a good view. There was also a Greek battalion, the 4th, on the ridge that ran between the Wadi Pigi and the Wadi Adhele. There were three Greek battalios in reserve in olive trees south of the Pigi village. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Fighting at Retimo

 Australians had reached Retimo on 30 April. They were in the 2/1st Battalion with Lt-Col. Ian Campbell in command. The Australians were to defend the airfield. The airfield had been defended by Greek forces orior to the arrival of the Australians. More men had arrived until by 18 May there was a brigade strength present. The Australians were equipped with small arms but they were short of ammunition. They had rifles, ant-tank rifles, four 3-inch mortars, and some Vickers medium machine guns.  Their uniforms and boots were worn, and they were not replaced as long as the men were in Crete. 

Unlike at the other airfields, there were no ant-aircraft guns at Retimo. The defenders also had no armor-piercing ammunition. That meant that German fighters and bombers could fly low over the battle ground because their armor could not be defeated by the small arms ammunition. Only the transport aircraft were vulnerable to small arms gunfire. The 2/1st Battalion had no wireless communication equipment. They only had telephones connected by wire that had been supplied by the gunners. Campbell could talk by telephone from his headquarters with Hills A and B. The 2/11th Battalion had a telehone for each company but they had little cable. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Fighting on 27 May

 At 10am on 27 May, the 3rd Parachute Regiment had reached the wireless station. By 2pm, the had taken Canea, along with the 100th Mountain Regiment and Ramcke's unit. They had captured about 40 guns and some 1,000 prisoners. By the evening, the 85th Regiment of mountain troops had advanced to the heights to the west of Stilos. During the 27th, the 5h Mountain Division commander and a battalion from yhe 6th Mountain Division landed at the Maleme airfield. 

The British rearguard consiste of the 5th and 19th Brigades and the commands of Layforce were lucky to have arrived at the road over the mountains that led to Sfakia. They were now sitting alomg the road that led from Stilos to Bbali Inn. They were ready to protect the column that stretched to the South. We will eventualy write about the "retreat and embarkation of the Maleme-Suda force", we will describe the events involving Retimo and Heraklion.

Near Retimo, the mountain slope down to the sea. The coastal shelf varied from 100 to 800 yards in width. The mountains have gullies that occur every mile or so. An airfield lay about five miles east of Retimp. The town of Retimo had about ten thousand people. The airfield paralleled the beach and was about 100 yards from the beach. 

The commander at Retimo of the men defending the airfield was Lt-Colonel Ian Campbell. A ridge ran along next to the airfield. There was a "spur" called "Hill A" by the Australians. About a thousand yards to the east of Hill A was a village named Stavromno. The min building there was an olive oil factory. The factory had a chimney that was 50 feet tall. We will continue this discussion later. 

This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long

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