Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Jackson's company withdraws

 Jackson's company moved out at 9pm. They carried one wounded man on a stretcher. Other wounded men were walking along in the group, in the middle. They managed to reach the beach without being seen. The Gerans were using a wrecked aircraft for cover for machine guns. Two machine guns started firing at the Australians. The men lay in the water behind "a slight bank". 

After fifteen minutes, the machine guns stopped firing. Jackson realized that they could not keep moving east because of the machine guns. He decided to back through the German rear. They walked to the west until they reachedv the edge of Retimo. By now, the men were very tired. The entered a substantial villa and spent the night there. Two wounded men who could not travel were left in the villa "with a medical orderly". 

The rest of the men crossed the road. They moved up into the foothills. They crossed behind the Germans. They rejoined their battalion on the middle of 29 May.About seventy men had attacked the Germans. Of those, some twelve men were wounded. 

Campbell decided they were not strong enough to make another attack. They needed to cocentrate on defendin the airfield at Retimo.

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Action on 28 to 29 May

 By the time that the Australians moved into houses, the Germans had withdrawn from them. After dawn, they had captued a German who ran into one of the houses. The Germans fired an anti-tank gun at one house. That caused the Australian platoon to move to another house. By early afternoon, the Germans bombed one house but did not attack it. 

The Germans constantly fired machine guns at the houses from the church and from the side towards the sea. No one was hit, but the houses had many bullet-holes. That created a good deal of dust. Jackson planned to pull out that night. They would follow the wadi to the beach. Once they were on the beach, they would push through the enemy line to the east. 

Jackson had no way of sending a message to battalion headquarters. He thought that the headquaters would know where they were by the gunfire. The battalion commander, Sandover, Sandover thought Jackson would try to breakout during the night, under cover of the darkness. He had the artillery fire on the German positions as soon as darkness fell. The Australian artillery fired most of their ammunition at that time. 

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

Thursday, November 23, 2023

The attack on 28 May

 Captain Wood's company would try and take the houses. These were to the east from where the rads joined. A platoon was to follow Wood and cover their left. The companies of Honner and Gook were to send out patrols and stage attacks on German machine guns. Those companies were to withdraw at dawn.

Jackson's company moved forward at 3:29 under cover of darkness. Despite a request not to shoot while the Australians moved forward, the Greeks fired at St.George's. The Australians faced heavy German fire.  They took the crossroads and followed the Wadi in the direction of the sea. Wood's company moved forward and fired mortars at the houses. They ran into grenades and mortar fire. Wood and two platoon commanders were wounded. Wood was mortally wounded. At Wood's direction, Lt. Scott fired the Very light signal that they would withdraw. 

The Australian companies east of Perivolia were taking German machine gun fire. The companies were able to withdraw before dawn, but Wood's company had only 43 men left. 

Men from Jackson's company had seen the Very lights, Jackson and his officer's had not seen the signal. He decided to move into houses in Perivolia, which were in German occupied territory. There were no Germans there, and the Australians would stay in the houses during the cday on 28 May.

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Thinking about attacking Perivolia from 27 to 28 May

 Captain Honner decided to personally take a message to Campbell and to receive new orders. He had a written message stuck in his waist. He had two men follow him, about five minutes apart. If he was hit, one of them could carry the message to Campbell. Honner essentially crawled across the half mile where there was no cover. Germans in Perivolia were firing at him. Honner was not hit, but both men following him were hit. 

They had no smoke available to provide cover. medical officer Ryan spoke with Sandover. Flying a red cross flag, the medical officer took stretcher bearers with him. The used German wheeled stretchers. Ryan was worried about getting so close to the German positions to retrieve their casualties. Willoughby's men were all dead. The Germans were pointing their machine guns at them and they motioned for them to move away. They were able to bring back the Australian wounded.

Since they had lost both tanks and had little artillery ammunition, Campbell ordered them to attack Perivolia at night. It would be the next night.

Another factor was that the 2/11th Battalion had run out of mortar bombs. Many Australians were using captured German weapons. Sandover's plan was to send two companies along the road into Perivolia. Sandover wanted Captain Jackson's company to take the crossroads and then push to the sea.

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The attack at Perivolia on 27 May

 Honner decided that they could not afford to wait, even though he expected to lose men. Honner sent a section of nine men to a low stone wall, about 50 yards forward. The wall surrounded a well. The wall was about 25 yards from the Germans. They had a Bren gun to cover the larger attack across an open area. The section men moved along a hedge towards the wall. The leader was shot right before reaching the wall. The man with the Bren gun was also shot. When a man carrying the Bren gun was shot, another man would pick it up. The last man with the Bren gun was shot short of the wall. A strecher bearer went out and went to the first man shot. that man was dead and the stretcher bearer thought that they were all probably dead. The stretcher bearer stayed low and waited to be rescued, which was about an hour later. Honner's men then were going to try "the other side". Lt. Bayly led a group forward along a dich leading to the main ditch. Everone but Bayly in the front group was hit by fire. Capt. Gook's runner "was also hit". He told them that Roberts and his men were lying low at he end of the ditch. There were snipers in houses. It seemed to be too difficult to leave the ditch, but if they stayed there, they could wait indefinitely.

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Action at Retimo on 27 May

 On 27 May, at dawn, the two tanks arrived at the scene. Each of the tanks had an Australian infantry officer as commander. As the left tank approached the German position, a shell hit the tank and set it on fire. The men in the other tank did not know that Australian infantry had crawled to the farthest ditch, and the tank fired on them "causing two casualties". The infantry waved to the tank, showing themselves to the Germans. After driving forward some thirty yards the tank hit a land mine. The exploding mine caused the tank to lose a track. After moving forward a few more yards, the tank was stuck in sand. A mortar bomb hit opened the turret hatch. Another mortar bomb hit blew the fingers off the tank commander's hand as he tried to close the turret hatch. Another mortar bomb hit "disabled his guns". The commander and one crew member, both with wounds, crawled to a safe position. The commander and crew of the other tank stayed in the tank until it was night. 

Honner decided that with both tanks disabled, he did not want to attack. Captain Gook reached Honner and told him that he could not find his most forward platoon. Gook looked around and decided that his forward platoon must have attacked and had gotten into Perivolia.Honner decided that he needed to attack and rescue Roberts' platoon or tack advantage of his success.

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

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Continued action at Retimo from 26 May

 At Retimo, the Australians had some 500 German prisoners. The were penned in a cage on the south side of Hill D. 

One major issue was the lack of ciphers at Retimo. Freyberg had to send unencrypted messages by radio. If they needed to send sensitive information they would need to use some other means of communication. The main possibility was news about loading the men at Retimo on ships for a withdrawal. One major event on 26 May was the arrival at Retimo of Lergessner. He came from Canea and told about the failed action by the Rangers. He told Campbell that they were not talking about a withdrawal as of yet.

Another major accomplishment was that they got the second tank working. Campbell took the second tank to Sandover. They planned another attack on Perivolia. This attack would be made by two companies. Honner's company was reduced to 60 men, but they planned to give him some transport drivers as reinforcements. They managed to sneak forward to "the farthest ditch". They were abot 75 yards from the German positions. 

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

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Action at Retimo from 26 May

 On the morning of 26 May, the tank was moving towards the St. Georges Church. As it advanced, the tank turret was hit by a German shell. The turret was jammed and the tank commander was "stunned". That caused the church attack to be cancelled. 

The 2.1st Battalion had a captured German mortar. Using that mortar they fired on the house at the right and caused the thirty German occupants to leave. The nearby Greeks were happy to see the Germans leave and the Greeks moved into the house. The Germans near the olive oil factory were "well-arned" and kept firing on the Australians. 

Early on 26 May, Campbell sent a tank and a platoon out, as he heard the firing slow. He wanted themto scout in that area. The infantry reached the edge of Stavromenos. The men had support from the tank and from 75mm gun fire from Hill A. Captain Embrey decided to attack the factory, since he had so easily moved forward. The Australians captured some 42 wounded and 40 unwounded Germans. From the prisoners, they heard that three German officers along with 30 men had moved to the east. 

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

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