Thursday, December 28, 2023

Germans near Retimo from 27 to 29 May

 The Germans from Suda arrived at Retimo in the afternoon on 29 May. They pushed back police from Crete and Greek infantry. They joined Wiedemann's men at Perivolia. In the evening, the group from Suda was joined by two tanks. On the 30th, they attacked Australians to the east of Perivolia. In the battle, the Germans claimed to have captured about 1,200 Australians. The Germans spoke with Campbell after the battle. Campbell had been intent on surrendering before any more fighting. 

Two German parachute battalions had landed on the positions held by the two Australian battalions. Some 3,000 Greek soldiers and aunit of some 800 police from Crete supported the Australians. The German parachute drop did not go as planned. The Germans were in a confused state on the early part of the second day. Colonel Sturm and his plans were captured. Many of the paratroops were killed or taken prisoner. That left two groups of Germans. The group in the east was on the defensive. The other group was caught between an Australian battalion and the police from Crete. 

The Australian historian suggests that there was a missed opportunity on the afternoon and night on 21 May. The Australians and Greeks might have been able to defeat the Germans at Perivolia. He also suggests that Campbell should have had a brigade headquarters and should have had someone else command his battalion. 

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

More German action from 21 May

 Men with Colonel Sturm landed among strong Australian positions. They were "completely destroyed". Kroh's group on Hill A was hit by a strong attack that came from the west. They managed to beat the attack back. This was the attack by Channel's men. Moriarity's group attacked at around 9am. Kroh's men were pushed back. They went to the Olive Oil Factory. They were able to hold out against more Australian attacks. They managed to free 56 parachute riflemen who had been taken prisoner. On the other hand, there is no Australian record of such a rescue. Wiedemann's men had been bombed by German aircraft. His men had managed to extend their position at Perivolia. 

The survivors of the III/2nd Battalion were stuck in sturdy houses in Perivolia. The survivors of the I/2nd occupied the strong Olive Oil Factory. A supply depot for the men in the factory was set up in the hills some five miles to the east. The depot had a defensive force to fight off Greek soldiers and guerillas. German records did not mention that Kroh's men were pushed out of the Olive Oil Factory with most of them being taken prisoner.

During the night of 27-28 May, left the Suda bay area, headed towards Retimo. They broke through rearguards on the way. They were slowed until mountain troops took Vamos. 

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

Thursday, December 21, 2023

The German situation as of 29 May

 Colonel Sturm was a 52 year old had commanded the 2nd parachute Regiment during the attack on Corinth. The regiment had three groups. Major Koch was to land to the east side of the airfield. His assignment was to capture the airfield. Colonel Sturm planned to land in between the airfield and the Wadi Platanes. Capitain Wiedemann "would come down in between the Wadi Platanes and Perivolia". His assignment was to take Retimo. 

The Germans did not land as planned. Major Koch's group landed east of the airfield. Major Koch and his immediate companions were landed some three miles east on very rocky ground. Many men were injured on landing. One group that landed close to the airfield. Australians on Hill A fired on these Germans. One company lost all their officers. The group took heavy losses before the had gotten their weapons. The men of this group had landed in strong enemy positions. Major Koch joined them and was in place on Hill A. He hoped to stage an attack against the airfield by the next day. of Wiedemann's group, two companies with the artillery crews and the heavy weapons landed as planned. Wiedemann pulled what he had together and moved west. He took Perivolia and reached the edge of Retimo. He held a perimeter around Perivolia. The police from Crete kept the Germans in Perivolia. 

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Events at Retimo after men left the 2/11th battalion area

 Wen Captain Honner's group jponed the lager group from the battalion, they found that Honner had the only map, a Greek map. It was a good thing, because they used the map as they traveled during the next three months. Lt. Murray joined the group with his pioneer platoon. When he saw the German attack, he led his men over the hills until he joined the battalion group. Murray had heard from a naval officer about landing craft being at Ayla Galini, which was on "the south coast". 

Sandover passed out money along with a few biscuits. The battalion was divided into two groups. WSandover leed one group and Honner led the other group. 

Campbell was still intent on surrendering, seems strange, because the Australians were typically energetic and were not given ti giving up. Campbell was on Hill D. Campbell had a white flag made and sent runners to the various groups, telling them that he intended to surrender. They were to go to the "north-west corner of the airfield and show white flags. The Australians turned their some 500 German prisoners loose. The Australians lost about 120 men killed. They had buried about 550 dead Germans. 

The Australians had captured the German commander, Colonel Sturm. They heard that they had been attacked by the 2nd Parachute Rifle Regiment, which had just two battalions. 

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

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Captain Honner's fight late on 29 May

 Captain Honner's company was very weak. He had a little more than forty men. He was reinforced by the men of the anti-aircraft platoon. He was told to move into place on the west ridge. Sandover told Honner to retreat if they were attacked by a large force of Germans. Honner still had men in the Platanes wadi with a Bren gun. They in place to protect Honner's "line of withdrawal". Honner took the rest of is men and occupied houses on the ridge in positions between the ridge and the sea. After an hour, German infantry and tanks attacked. The Australians waied  while the tanks got close and then opened fire with the Bren gun. The heavy Bren gun fire caused the tanks to drive onto the hill on the south side. There were already men with machine guns on motor cycles there. The Germans then drove south of the road in the direction of the wadi Platanes. Honner ordered his men to withdraw to keep from being cut-off. Honner ahd his headquaters men and the antiaircraft platoon away, along the beach. Honner ordered Corporal Cunningham with his twelve men to rejoin the main part of the company. Cunningham leap-frogged while firing at Germans that were south of the road on the hill.  

After Cunningham and his men arrived at the Wadi Platanes, Honner' company pulled out towards Sandover's battalion headquarters. Sandover had just called Campbell and told him that he wanted to take his men to the hills. Sandover told his men that they could surrener or move into the hills. Sandover led a group of officers and enlisted men. There first move was to a gully that was behind the Greeks. 

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

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The situation at Retimo as of 29 May

 As of 29 May at Retimo, they only had a day of food left. Campbell had men patrolling the geach at night. The patrol was to signal the letter A, presumably in Morse code. This was to get the attention of any British ships. So far, they had never gotten a reply. In the morning, Honner reported that he could hear many motorcycles "warming up" past Perivolia. The ridge where Honner's company was located was taking mortar and artillery fire. At 9:30, they saw three tanks with about thirty motorcycles behind them. This group had some light field guns with them. Later, Campbell was told that there were German tanks in back of the 2/11th Battalion. There were also German tanks "in the valley behind Hill D."

Campbell decided that given what was happening, they would only be able to protect the Retimo airfield for another hour. Campbell thought that since the navy Lt. Haig was ordered to Sfalia, that Sfakia must be where they would be evacuated. It would take three days to reach Sfakia. The men at Retimo could not travel to Sfakia. They could not just move into the mountains and expect Crete villagers to feed them. 

Campbell decided that they should surrender. Campbell called Sandover and told him what he thought. Sandover did not want to surrender. He would tell his men to destroy theie weapons and take to the hills.

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

Thursday, December 07, 2023

From 29 May

 Major Hooper had been with the Greek forces. He informed Campbell that the Greeks were reporting that there was a large German group approaching from the east. They seemed to be coming from Heraklion. The Greks heard that the Germans had occupied Maleme and Heraklion. There were four Greek battalions seeking refuge in the mountains. Campbell still believed that he was to keep protecting the airfield at Retimo. Campbell told the whole 2/11th Battalion to occupy the positions where the 4th Greek had been. Sandover asked that Honner's company be ale to stay where they were, looking down at the Germans in Perivolia. He wanted to keep the artillery where they were on Hill B. During late afternoon, the Germans had started firing at the road junction at Platanes road junction, to get the range. By midnight, the Greeks reported that Germans were coming from the west. Some 300 Germans on motorcycles were now in Retimo.

Campbell was reduced to listening to the BBC for news about events in Crete. The BBC characterized that Crete was shakey. There was only enough food at Retimo for one day.

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

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Events from the night of 27 to 28 May

 Lt. Haig arrived with a lighter that carried "two days rations for Retimo". Haig had left Suda before he had gotten Freyberg's message to Campbell. The message was about the pending withdrawal of the entire force. They plan was to leave Crete during the night of 28 to 29 May. Small groups would provide cover for the withdrawal and try to mislead the Germans. The men should move at night and lay still during the day. The men should embark from the east end of Plakias Bay during the night of 31 May to 1 June (the anniversary of the Battle of Jutland). The location should be hidden from the enemy. The men need to arrive at "firat light" on 31 May and need to take cover. They needed to figure out to handle the wounded men. They were to give their prisoners to the Greeks. Freyberg had decided that the German air superiority meant that they needed to leave Crete.

Food and ammunition were dropped at Retimo from the air. They may have dropped Freyberg's message, but it was not seen. A message was dropped at Retimo on the 29th, probably in the dark. The message used Australian slang, trying to be secure if the Germans found the message. The message told the men at Retimo to fight their way down to the coast in the south. The men at Retimo never saw that message or a  second message. 

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

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