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The Battle for Greece & Crete

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The Italian and German Invasion in Greece and Crete on 1940-1941

Text of The Battle for Greece & Crete

Page 1: The Battle for Greece & Crete




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Table of content

Topic Page Preface Background The Greek approach The British perspective -What was originally agreed - What was provided The Australian view Dissentions about the Campaign The German reasoning Operation Marita The build-up by the Allies The Australians

- The Anzac Traditions - Volunteers

The Invasion The Greek involvement

- Recollections of a Greek Youth - The Evacuation - Casualties

Diary of a Greek Tragedy How the situation developed The Players - The Australians - The New Zealanders - The British - The Greeks - The Germans - The Italians A brief history of the Greek Forces 1940-1944 - The Greek Sacred Middle East Raiding Company - The Hellenic Navy - The Royal Hellenic Air Force Map of Greece April 1941 German Aircraft Greece 1941 The RAAF in Greece The Battle for Crete

- The importance of Crete - The Battle was unique

The plan to capture Crete - The attack on Crete Defence of Crete - Order for Capitulation - Evacuation The British perspective for Crete The Navy Casualties The German perspective - Operation Merkur (Mercury) The Invasion of Crete

1 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 4 4 4 4 4 5 6 7 8 9 9 10 10 10 10 10 11 11 11 11 11 12 12 12 12 13 14 14 15 15 15 16 18 18 19 19 20 20 20 20

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The German Invasion Force - Strengths & Casualties - Ju 52 and paratroopers

The Players - Australia - New Zealand - Britain

The Cretans - Cretan Casualties The Preveli Monastery The unacknowledged - The Military Police (Provost) - Military Police and the evacuation - Military Police casualties - The Military Police & their relationship with the Digger - Rearguard action - War Diary of 7th Division Provost Company - Award of Military Cross to Captain John Grimshaw - New Zealand Military Police – Sgt Clive Hume VC - Nurses - Weary Dunlop - Recollections of a Greek Nurse Australian Corps of Signals Profile on Major Paul Cohen (Cullen) The kidnapping of General Kreipe 42nd Street The aftermath - Phaleron War Cemetery – Athens - Sunda Bay War Cemetery- Crete - Australian-Hellenic Memorial – Canberra Australian Units engaged in Greece and Crete Units/Formations other than Australian engaged in Greece and Crete Ships involved during the Battle for Greece and Crete Royal Air Force Service details of Military Police in Greece Casualties – Australian Military Police buried Phaleron War Cemetery Athens Greece Plaques in Memorial Walkway Australian War Memorial Canberra Nominal Rolls of Provost Corps Greece/Crete - 1st Australian Corps Provost Company - 6th Division Provost Company - Colour Patches worn by Provost Companies Greek/Crete Campaign - 7th Division Provost Company - Recruiting Poster by Sir William Dargie of Sgt. Tom Osborne MM The Recollections of Sgt. Mick Doulis Bibliography The author

21 22 22 23 23 23 23 23 23 24 25 25 26 27 28 28 29 31 32 32 33 33 34 34 35 36 37 37 38 38 39 40 41 44 45 45 47 48 48 48 48 49 49 50 51 52

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This booklet is an initiative of the Defence Reserves Association (NSW) Inc. and the Military Police Association of Australia Inc. as part of their Schools Military History Program. Written and compiled by Matt Walsh JP MLO ALGA (MCAE) Dip Bus & Corp Law (CPS) © 2005: second edition 2006: third edition 2007. Published by Matt Walsh 115 Leacocks Lane Casula 2170 Australia

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Preface If one wishes to examine particular campaigns or battles a large amount of information can be found in the histories of the various units involved or from the sanitised official war histories of the times. Unfortunately, but understandably the unit histories concentrate on the activities of that particular unit and therefore it can be difficult to obtain an overall view of a battle or campaign. In many instances the social aspects and impacts are not discussed, nor the interrelationships of the personalities and other units involved and the overall statistics of a campaign. It is also sometimes difficult to ascertain the initial reasons for the campaign as often this can go back in history and relate to a political or other event. The following is an attempt to bring together in one place some of the many facets of the battle for Greece and Crete and its impact on those involved and finally to hopefully encourage further research and therefore an understanding of all the aspects of this campaign. Background In September 1940 Hitler achieved the bloodless seizure of Romania which gave him access to the oilfields at Ploesti. It was these oilfields which were to be part of the catalyst for the future invasion of Greece and Crete. This success by Hitler encouraged his cohort Mussolini on the 28 October 1940 to order the invasion of Greece he saw this action as a way of showing Hitler that he was an important part of the Axis Alliance. Fortunately for Greece they were able to defeat the Italians however the loss did not go well for Mussolini as Hitler was not impressed with the Greek victory that as a result of the unsuccessful attack by Mussolini the Greeks had now entered into an agreement with the British to send troops to support Greece particularly as they had rejected an earlier offer in January 1940 by the British to provide similar support. The Greek approach In early 1939 both Britain and France foresaw the possibility of Germany attacking Romania followed by Greece. If occurred then it was possible that Turkey would be next. To prevent this form occurring Winston Churchill in January 1940 offered to provide Greece with a small number of troops to be stationed in Greece to assist in the defence of the country should that become necessary General Metaxas (Greek Prime Minister) and General Papagos rejected the offer for two reasons. Firstly, it could provoke the Germans into an attack on Greece, secondly if an attack did occur the force would be too small to prevent or repel the attack. It is understood that General Mextaxas was sympathetic to the Germans. This decision was to change in 1941 and allied troops were sent to defend Greece. The British perspective Churchill in one of his many ‘flashes of brilliance’ saw the stationing of troops in Greece as a way of commencing a second front in Europe. Like many of his ideas, it had no substance and this can be seen by comparing what was originally agreed too and what was eventually sent. As was usual with Churchill his enthusiasm faded and he passed the buck to some one else.

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What was originally planned The British War Cabinet and the Greek Government agreed that an ‘Expeditionary Force’ to be known as ‘Lustre Force’ would be provided and would consist of: Three Infantry Divisions, one Armoured Division (maybe a second), a Polish Brigade a total of about 100,000 troops. The troops were to be supported by – 240 Field Guns – 32 Medium Guns – 192 AA (anti-aircraft) Guns- 202 Anti- Tank Guns- 142 Tanks- 5 RAF Squadrons These troops were to consist of: 1st Australian Corps HQ – 6th & 7th Australian Divisions – 2nd New Zealand Division- a British Armoured Brigade- a Polish Brigade. The force was to be under the command of General Sir (Jumbo) Maitland Wilson, who was General Wavell’s trusted ‘Right Hand Man. Wilson was known for his dislike of the Australians and they in turn were not impressed with him. General Blamey thought that he lacked ‘enough grey matter – unintelligent’ and Robert Menzies the Australian Prime Minister described him as ‘tall, fat and cunning’. What was provided Initially on the 1st November 1940 a British Battalion landed on Crete, this was followed on the 3rd November by eight fighter bombers at Eleusis near Athens. By the 15th November some 4,247 troops were to be stationed in Greece, these numbers included three Air Squadrons. Some of these units were medical units – 26th British General Hospital- 189th Field Ambulance- 48th Field Hygiene- 168th British Light Field Ambulance – 4th British Light Field Ambulance. By the 11th February 1941 “Lustre Force” consisted of 1st Australian Corps HQ- 6th Australian Division – 2nd New Zealand Division- a British Armoured Brigade and A number of British Medical Units.. The Polish Brigade remained in Egypt and the 7th Australian Division in Africa as a result of Rommel’s invasion of Cyrenaica. No one seems to know what happened to the five RAF Squadrons. The Australian View General Wavell informed General Blamey of the raising of ‘Lustre Force’ on the 18 February 1941, the Australian Government agreed to the concept on 26 February 1941. The first allied troops reached Greece on the 7th March. Blamey argued with Wavell that as the ‘Force’ consisted mainly of Dominion Troops (Australia and New Zealand) the force should be commanded by a Dominion Officer. Wavell commented that only 42,000 troops would be Australian and New Zealand. When ‘Lustre Force’ was actually raised and sent to Greece it consisted of: 17,125 Australians and 16,700 New Zealanders, and they in fact made up the actual combat Infantry in ‘Lustre Force’ yet he still persisted in appointing a British Officer to command the Force.

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Dissentions about the campaign Many of the Senior Officers involved, particularly the Australians thought the concept to be a ‘strategic blunder of the first magnitude’. This feeling can be seen from the actions of the British Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham the Commander of the Mediterranean Fleet, and General Blamey who was actually planning the evacuation of Greece even before the campaign had started. The arrival of the troops in Greece was directed by Lt Gen. Wilson from his HQ Jerusalem, Palestine and when thing started to go bad in Greece Blamey was made Field commander. Many of the Commanders involved thought that the concept was inviting disaster. They likened it to Gallipoli- It appeared that Churchill had not learned his lesson at Gallipoli and he was trying to prove that his strategies were right by using them again in Greece. Prime Minister Menzies was always concerned about the operations and he was the only person to question Churchill- all the others (the British War Cabinet) simply agreed with him. (Menzies Diary 24 February 1941 P.66). Apparently Menzies believed that the concept only had a reasonable chance of success. One can only believe that this action by Menzies was only for show as he tended to go along with the British and later he was to describe himself as ‘British to the boot heels’. In his memoirs “Afternoon Light” he tries to justify his and his Government’s decision in respect to Greece, when he says “My Australian Colleagues still adhere to their (and my) belief that the decision to send our troops to Greece was strategically correct”. Whilst it was apparent from the start that Blamey was opposed to the campaign, like any good soldier he did what he was told by his superiors but took every opportunity to voice his opinions. He believed that the allies should not have tried to defend Greece, but rather concentrated on defending Crete and Rhodes. By March 5, Blamey had summed up the situation and advised Menzies that it was only the Australians and New Zealanders who were supplying combat troops (infantry) and that the British were only providing the Lines of Communication (L of C) roles. He informed Menzies that he had grave doubts about the whole venture. He was later to say “The Greek expedition hadn’t a dog’s chance from the start. The Greek plan was a bad one and our plan to support them was equally bad.” This assessment was proved to be correct. Blamey was ordered to leave Greece against his wishes. However if he expected his troops to obey orders then he must also do so. Blamey left Greece on the 23rd April by flying-boat for Alexandria he also took with him his senior staff. Brig. S.I Rowell; Lt Col. Henry Wells; Lt Col. Eric Woodward; Lt Col. Cyril Elliot; Capt. N. D. Carlyon (Blamey’s ADC) and Major T.R. Blamey (Blamey’s son) this caused some problems with other senior officers. The German reasoning There are a number of reasons why Hitler decided to invade Greece and Crete. One was the defeat of the Italians by the Greeks this in conjunction with the advice of General von Greiffenberg that the British had used Salonika (Thessalonika) in 1915 to develop a strategic thrust against the Germans in 1918. It was this fear that the British would send troops and set up a base in Greece, rather than his wanting to occupy Greece caused Hitler to commence the invasion of Greece. If Britain was to establish bases in Greece it would make the German oilfields at Polesti in Romania open to attack.

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To prevent this from happening Hitler ordered the preparation of the plans for “Operation Marita” which was a plan to invade and occupy Northern Greece commencing on the 26 March 1941. “Operation Marita” This invasion was to be undertaken by the German 12th Army which consisted of 14 Divisions commanded by Field Marshal von List these troops were currently engaged in nearby Yugoslavia. The build up by the allies On the 1st March 1941 Bulgaria agreed to allow the Germans to occupy their country. It was during March that the allies began to move troops into Greece. Between the 4th and 18th March, 58,000 troops arrived in Greece and thereafter continued to arrive on a regular basis. Over 68,000 troops were to be transferred to Greece without loss. The Italian Navy consisting of a Battleship, eight cruisers and thirteen destroyers under the command of Admiral Angelo Iachino attempted to disrupt the landing of the allied troops and on the 27th and 28th March the Italian fleet was engaged by the British and Australian Navies in the Battle of Cape Malapan with the Italians being soundly defeated. The Australians The first contingent of troops of “Lustre Force” to arrive in Greece numbered 756 included 89 men of the 3rd Australian Casualty Clearing Station (ACCS). These troops had left Alexandria (Egypt) on HMAS Perth and arrived at the port of Piraeus on the 8th March 1941. Australian troops continued to arrive regularly and were initially camped in the village of Dafni (the camps were named Daphne 1 and Daphne 2) which is between Piraeus and Athens before they moved north. Australia’s first casualty of the campaign occurred on the 1st April 1941 when Sgt. Alec Moodie of the 2/6th Infantry Battalion, whilst carrying out Anti Aircraft (AA) duty aboard the MV Delos was killed during a German Air attack. The Anzac Tradition On the 12th April General Blamey reformed the Anzac Corps with the troops of the 1st Australian Corps and the New Zealand Division becoming known as the Anzac Corps thus reigniting the spirit of 1915. Volunteers When they arrived in Greece the Australians were greeted by the local population in a very unusual manner, who had lined the roadside or leant out of their windows of their homes to wave to the Aussies and they also gave them the ‘thumbs up’ which had been adopted by them after seeing the RAF use it to indicate “V for Victory”. The Greeks readily adopted this gesture and apparently it is now accepted as part of a normal greeting in Athens. Of course the Australians had a rather different meaning for this gesture. However, the ‘Diggers’ quickly realised that the Greeks saw the gesture as a sign of welcome and support. It would appear that this was another example of the easy going nature and larrikinism of Australians, as we were able to change what was considered to be an insult into a compliment. The Greeks were quite surprised to find that both the Australian and New Zealand troops were all ‘volunteers’, because they had a difficulty in understanding the concept of ‘volunteerism’ in respect to the military they believed that the Australians and the New Zealanders had volunteered to fight for Greece – they considered them as ‘their soldiers’ and treated them as such.

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This bond which developed between the Greeks and the Australians during the time of war in 1941 still remains as strong to-day. Just as Australians are honoured and welcomed to-day in Villers-Bretonneux for defending the village during World War I a similar feeling prevails in Greece and particularly in Crete to day. Every year in May a Senior Hellenic Armed Forces Officer of three or four star rank (Deputy CDF or CDF) visits Australia to take part in the Commemoration Services. The Invasion The German 12th Army of fourteen divisions under the command of Field Marshal von List at 5.30 am on the 6th April crossed the border from Bulgaria and Yugoslavia at Thrace breaching the Metaxas Line and occupying Salonika (Thessalonika). At this time the British and New Zealand troops were in place and being supported by about 2/3rds of the Australians, with balance still en-route to the front line. The Allies were also being supported by three Greek Divisions along the Bulgarian Border (unfortunately these troops were considered inexperienced) together with three other divisions assisting the British at Salonika. The first contact with the Germans by the Australians was made on the 8th April at Thessaly as the SS. Adolf Hitler Division (considered more elite and fearsome than the Waffen SS) advanced through the the Monastir Gap. As the Germans advanced through the Vardar Valley from Yugoslavia they captured Salonika and on the 9th April the Greek Eastern Macedonian Army was surrounded and surrendered. On the afternoon of the 10th April Australian and British Artillery engaged the Germans at Vevi. Due to the rapid advance of the Germans it was decided to withdraw the allied troops to a defence line through Mount Olympus and the Pindus Mountains. To achieve this withdrawal the Australian 19th Brigade and the British Armoured Brigade fought a rearguard action to allow the rest of the troops to withdraw to the Olympus- Aliakmon Line. On 13th April, Easter Sunday, the Germans launched a major attack against the Anzacs on the Olympus- Aliakmon Line, it became apparent that the allies would not be able to hold back the Germans and by the 14th April it was decided that it would be necessary to withdraw to the ‘Thermopylae Line” which extended from Lamia to Athens. On the 16th April General Papagos the Commander in Chief (C.I.C) of the Greek Forces stated that the British should leave Greece. It was decide the evacuation would be from various ports and six cruisers, twenty four destroyers and a number of landing craft would be used. In fact many other craft were also used including a number of merchant ships. On the 16th April during the withdrawal to ‘The Thermopyale Line’ Brigadier Vasey is reported to have said after the battle for the town of Lamia as they moved towards the Brallos Pass. “Brallos Pass will be held to the last f-----g man and the last f-----g round, and if you can’t shoot them in the bloody stomach shoot them in the f-----g arse”.

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Vasey was known for expressing himself very plainly and colourfully. The message was translated by one of his Staff Officers to read as “Brallos Pass will be held come what may” Brallos Pass

The troops continued to withdraw and by the 24th April they had reached Thermopylae, where Vasey issued another of his statements: “Here we bloody are and here we bloody well stay”. Maybe it was the inspiration of Leonidis and his band of Spartans in 480BC in their stand against King Xersies Persian Army which prompted Vasey to make his statement. Unfortunately, history repeated itself and for all the bravery of these modern Spartans they also lost the battle. The Thermopylae Monument and Pass With only 46 aircraft operational it was necessary to abandon the two airfields near Larrisa, thus resulting in two Australian Battalions being cut off and eventually having to surrender. The Greek involvement Whilst the Greeks fought gallantly the inevitable occurred – defeat. Prior to the capitulation a number of actions occurred. On the 18th April General Tsolakoglou supported by the Bishop of Yanni wrote to the German High Command offering to surrender the Greek Army if he was to be made Governor of Athens, this was all without the knowledge of the Greek Government or the Greek Commander in Chief Field Marshal Papogos. Tsolakoglou surrendered his Epirus Army to the Germans and became a puppet ruler for the Germans during the occupation. On the same day the Greek Prime Minister Alexander Korizis committed suicide. As a result the Greeks were disarmed and sent home all this occurred without the knowledge of the Allies. After the War General Tsolakoglou was charged as a traitor and sentenced to be hanged. He died before the sentence could be carried out. The 23rd April saw the King of the Hellenes King George II and Prime Minister Emmanuel Tsauderos leave Athens and set themselves up in Hania to continue the battle from Crete. Whilst they were in Crete German paratroopers actually landed in the grounds surrounding the house occupied by the King and his Ministers, after this close call they were evacuated by destroyer from Crete on the 22nd May. On the 24th April the Greek Army capitulated, but General Pagagos ordered his men to keep the roads open to enable the Anzac Force to reach the various evacuation points at Megra, Nafplion and Kalamata. - 6 -

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Recollections of a Greek Youth a Partisan a Heroine Without the assistance and tenacity of young Greeks, like Suzan Tsirekas (now an Australian) life would have been difficult for the Greek and allied Partisan in their fight against the Nazi’s. “ I was born in Northern Greece in the village of Ano Komi about 10 kms from Kozani. I lived with my widowed mother and three younger brothers.

The author in the village of Ano Komi and properties

still with links to the Tsirekas family

Towards the end of 1940 the German Government requested they be allowed free passage through Greece. This was declined and on the 28th October, 1940 a day still commemorated in Greece, on each hill and mountain top large signs were erected stating the Greek word “Ohi” meaning No. ……… I remember on the 14th November 1940 Kozani Airport was bombed, our first contact with the war and the next day, as I was fetching water from the village well, a wave of bombers flew over to again attack Kozani. By this time the Greek men were fleeing ahead of the invading army and many passed through our village, some lost with little in the way of clothing. We still had my father’s clothes so these were provided to those men. In April 1941 we were told the Germans were coming to occupy our area and we were instructed we must purchase and fly a German flag to show our support. We did not wish to comply with this order and besides we were too poor to do so. In some surrounding villages there were followers of the Nazi Party who collaborated with the enemy but in our village I think there were only two collaborators who were taken care of by the Partisans that were now forming and hiding in the mountains in dangerous and adverse conditions. These were very hard times as the Germans confiscated the farmers stock and crops and we had to forage for wild vegetables in the fields. In September 1942, while looking for Partisans, German soldiers came to our house and after searching it, set our house on fire, One Greek man who was accompanying them pleaded as it was a Widow with small children and the fire was put out but many houses in the village were destroyed. In Kozani was a very large house belonging to a rich family which was taken over by the Germans as headquarters with the family forced to live in the servant’s quarters. Two of the daughters understood the German language and were able to convey information to the leaders of the partisans to be passed on to the men in the mountains. As a very young girl, being able to get passed the Germans without arousing too much suspicion, a friend and I were used to take messages. We did this by walking back and forth from the village to Kozani with notes tied into our pigtails. Whenever we heard a vehicle we would hide in the wheat fields until they passed. In these years many terrible things happened and in one case 18 partisans were coming from the hills along a creek in a valley. About 20 yards up the hill in a railway cutting, hidden from below sat a machine gun nest. No one survived. Also in Kozani, on a hill overlooking the town is a Church where there is a memorial to some Australian and New Zealand soldiers. At the time of liberation these men were parachuting in but hidden in the Church was a lone Machine Gunner and they were killed before reaching the ground.

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Evacuation The actions of the Greeks allowed for 50,662 of the 62,600 allied troops sent to defend Greece to be evacuated, with 26,000 being sent to Crete and the remainder to Egypt. The evacuation was successful due to the actions and the excellent work by the members of the Provost Corps (Military Police) in keeping the vehicles moving at night and on very dangerous roads just ahead of the German advance troops. This same efficient work also enabled the troops to assemble and be loaded on board the evacuation ships in an orderly and safe manner. Unfortunately, the effort and work of the Provost Corps in both Greece and Crete is very poorly reported or acknowledged. Ask any member of the 6th Division for a comment on the work of the Military Police during this campaign- the common statement will be; ‘only for the MPs I would be either dead or a POW’. The evacuation took place over a number of nights and from a number of beaches commencing on the night of the 24th April and completed by the 29th April. The evacuations encountered some difficulties such as German Paratroopers capturing the Corinth Canal.

Corinth Canal Unfortunately, some troops were left behind these were predominately Base Troops and the Cypriot and Palestinian civilian labourers and a large amount of equipment. The evacuations took place at a number of beaches over a very large area. The embarkation points were at Rafina designated as “C Beach”, Porto Rafti “D Beach”, Megra “P Beach”, Theodora “J Beach” this was not used and was replaced by Kalamata, Navplion “S & T Beach’s”.

The evacuation beaches

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April _____________ 20th

Athens Beaches___ Nurses

Megra ‘P Beach’

Navplion ‘T Beach’

Tolos _________

Kalamata ‘S Beach’

24th-25th 5 Brigade 2/7th Field Amb

Corps - Nurses & R.A.F

Nil Nil

25th-26th 19 Brigade & part 1 Armd Bde

Nil 2/3rd C.C.S. Nil Nil

26th -27th 6 Bde & remainder of 1 Armd Bde. 2/1st Field Amb

4 Bde Base Troops 3 Royal Tanks 4 Hussars

Base Troops

16 Bde & 17 Bde 4000 Base Troops 2/2nd Field Amb

Casualties During the eighteen days of the Greek Campaign large numbers of casualties occurred.

Country Killed Wounded POWs Missing Australia New Zealand British -Army RAF Palestinian/Cypriots German (12th Army)

320 291 146}

110} 256 36 1160

494 599 87} 45} 132 25 3375

2065 1614 6480} 28} 6508 3806 -

- - - - - 345

Diary of a Greek Tragedy

October 1940 Event 7th Germans invade Romania 28th Italians invade Greece from Albania March 1941 7th Allied Expeditionary Forces Arrive in Greece April 1941 6th Germany invades Greece 22nd Greece surrenders to Germany 27th /28th 43,000 allied troops evacuated from Greece May 1941 20th ‘Operation Mercury’ – German invasion of Crete

Germans repulsed at Heraklion and Retimo 21st Maleme taken by Germans 27th/28th Evacuation of Crete by Allies commenced 31st Last Allied Forces leave Crete

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How the situation developed

October 1940 Event 28th Declaration of War between Greece and Italy November 1940 Decision taken for the defence of Greece and Crete by the British April 1941 15th Germans decide to invade and occupy Crete 15th The movement of Allied and Greek troops from Greece to Crete planned 23rd Greek Government moves to Crete 25th First New Zealand Troops land on Crete 29th General Freyberg assume command of the troops on Crete May 1941 14th Germans commence air attacks on Crete 18th/19th German paratroopers prepare for attack on Crete 20th Attack on Crete begins at 6.30am –heavy bombardment of Chania, Retymnon

prior to landing by paratroopers 21st Germans concentrate attack on Maleme. British fleet attacks German convoy

heading for Crete. Heavy losses on both sides. 23rd Greek Government leaves Crete on HMS Decoy- Churchill sends message to

HQ. “The Battle of Crete must be won.” 25th Germans resort to reprisals- mass executions and destruction 27th Commander in Chief Middle East orders evacuation of troops 28th Evacuations of Allied Troops begin 28th German troops reinforced by Italian Troops from Dodecanese land at Sitia 31st The last allied forces leave Crete from Sfakia

The Players The Australians General Sir Thomas Blamey (later to be promoted Field Marshal) Major General Iven Mackay Brigadier A. S. (Tubby) Allen -16th Brigade (later to be promoted to Major General) Brigadier Stanley G. Saviage -17th Brigade (later promoted to Lieutenant General and Knighted the founder of Legacy in Australia) Brigadier George Vasey -19th Brigade (later promoted to Lieutenant General) Brigadier S.F. Rowell Brigadier Lee Lt. Col. Henry Wells Lt. Col. Cyril Elliot Lt. Col. Eric Woodward (later Knighted and appointed Governor of New South Wales) Major Edward (Weary) Dunlop (later Sir Edward (Weary) Dunlop The New Zealanders Major General Bernard Freyberg VC (later Lord Freyberg of Wellington) Brigadier Barrowclough 6th Brigade The British General Sir Archibald Wavell (later Lord Wavell) Lieutenant General Sir Henry (Jumbo) Wilson Brigadier Charrington Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham

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The Greeks General Alexander Papagos Commander in Chief of Hellenic Forces General Tsolakoglou Macedonian (Empirus) Army The Germans Field Marshal von List 12th Army General von Greiffenberg Chief of Staff 12th Army The Italians Admiral Angelo Iachino German Troops in Greece at the time of the evacuation Pelopennese - 5th Armoured and Adolf Hitler Infantry Division Athens- Lamia- 2nd Armoured and 5th & 6th Mountain Divisions Thessaly- 9th Armoured Grevena-Yannina- 73rd Infantry Division Katerini- 72nd Infantry Division Salonika – 50th Infantry Division Eastern Macedonia and the Aegean- 164th Infantry Division In support in Bulgaria and Yugoslavia if needed- three Divisions of the 12th Army (46th, 76th and 198th) A brief history of the Greek Forces during the period 1940 to 1944 World War II commenced in Greece on the 28th October 1940 when the Italians launched an attack on Greece. By the 29th October the Greek Government commenced a ‘General Mobilization’ within the country. In February of 1941 the 1st Battalion of Greek volunteers who were living in Egypt was formed. Unfortunately, with the commencement of the German Campaign (Operation Mercury) the fall of Greece occurred in 1941. However, the Greeks were not about to accept defeat and those who were able to escape from Greece and Crete in May 1941 through Turkey and Palestine and were able to reach Egypt formed the 1st Greek Brigade. Between 1942 and 1944 a general mobilization of Greek living in Egypt and they were to form the 2nd Greek Brigade. In 1942 the 1st and 2nd Greek Brigades were sent to North Africa to relieve the Scottish Brigade and they took part in the Battle of El-Alamein, under the Command of General Montgomery, they remained in North Africa until December 1942. During this time they lost 517 killed and wounded. In January 1943 they returned to Alexandria. By April 1943 the 1st & 2nd Greek Brigades were reformed into the 3rd Greek Mountain Brigade and received further training in Palestine and Lebanon. In August 1943, they came under the command of a soldier well known to the Greeks, General Bernard Freyberg VC who been in command of the allied troops in Crete in 1941 and was now the Commander of the New Zealand division. The Brigade took part in the Battles of Calolika, Ricione, Roubicona and Rimini. On the 23rd October 1944, the 3rd Greek Mountain Brigade was ordered to Torento and they returned to Greece on the 7th November 1944.

The Greek Sacred Middle East Raiding Company On the 6th September 1942 we saw the formation of ‘The Greek Sacred Middle East Raiding Company’ (S.M.E.R) the unit consisted initially of 210 men. The unit took part in guerrilla attacks in North Africa, Libya ad Tunis between the 15th February and 17th April 1943.

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By late 1943 its strength exceeded 420 men and it took part in the attacks on the Dodecanese Islands. By 1944 its strength had grown to 1016 men and the S.M.E.R Company joined a British Brigade under the command of Major Turnbull and they took part in the liberation of the Aegean and Dodecanese Islands.

The Hellenic Navy The Royal Hellenic Navy saw action in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Air Force The Royal Hellenic Air force was formed in Egypt and trained in South Africa and they took part in in actions in support of the Allies in Italy.

Greece April 1941

Map of Southern Greece showing the airports with the types and numbers of the military planes based there in total 1180.

1100 of which took part in the Battle of Crete. - 12 -

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The RAAF in Greece Very little information will be found in regard to the Royal Australian Air Forces involvement in the Greek/Crete Campaign for the simple reason that any Australian Air Force Personnel were attached to RAF Squadrons. This apparently was the situation in Europe and the Middle East Campaigns. The following is a brief outline of the involvement of three of the seven Australian Pilots who saw service in the Greek Crete Campaign whilst serving with RAF Squadrons. In the beginning When Italy invaded Greece on the 28th October 1940 the Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas sought help from the British. Unfortunately, the British response was not what was expected due to their commitment in North Africa. They were only able to provide a small number of obsolete Fighter and Bombers Squadrons. Notwithstanding this lack of support the RAF and the Greek Army defeated the invading Italians. Unfortunately, the Australian Pilots involved were fighting with the equivalent of one hand tied behind their back, as they were using antiquated Gladiator bi-planes against the more modern Fiat CR-42s of the Italians and later the ME-s and Junkers of the Germans. A Gladiator flown By Hickey in Greece In the early stages of the campaign Australian Sqn Ldr. W.J. Hickey the Commanding Officer (CO) of No.80 Squadron (Fighters) in one action with six Gladiators took on twenty Fiats and managed to shoot down seven enemy planes with no losses to his Squadron. Hickey was shot down during an engagement on the 21st December 1940 when ten of his aircraft engaged six enemy bombers protected by fifty four Fiat fighters. Another Australian Pilot of note during this campaign was Flt. Lt. Richard Cullen who was also part of Hickey’s No.80 Squadron. No112 Squadron also included an Australian Flt. Lt. Charles Fry. In February of 1941, No. 80 Squadron was provided with Hurricane Fighters. Unfortunately Cullen was lost in action on the 27th February 1941. Fry continued to serve on in Crete and was shot down and captured, he finished the war as a POW in Oflag 21B in Posen, Poland. Charles Fry and an other British Airman in Oflag 21B POW Camp.

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The Battle for Crete

Importance of Crete Crete is a small mountainous island approximately 260 km (161 miles) long and 64 km (40miles) wide with mountains up to 2500 metres (8000ft) however, its strategic position was recognised by both the Allies and the Germans. For the Allies it was seen as a base for the Mediterranean Fleet to support its campaign in Africa and it would also deny the Germans a forward base from which it could also support its troops in Africa. It would also provide the Allies with a base to bomb the German oilfields at Ploesti in Romania. The Germans saw it as a necessary step to protect these oilfields. The importance of Crete was recognised very early when General Blamey expressed the opinion that the Allies should concentrate their efforts on defending Crete and Rhodes and not Greece. British troops were sent to defend Crete immediately following the Italian attack on Greece in October 1940. Because of its deep anchorage at Sunda Bay it was ideal for a naval base. By 1941 a substantial Naval Base was established.

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Crete was considered to be of strategic importance to the Allies in the Eastern Mediterranean as a base for as it supported its base at Alexandria. The Battle for Crete was unique The Plan to capture Crete The plan to capture Crete was the idea of ‘Luftflotte 4,’ under the command of General Alexander Lohr, who had convinced Goring of the plan, but they met opposition from the Armed Forces High Command. Eventually Hitler was convinced – and gave the order for “Operation Merkur (Mercury) [The invasion of Crete] under the direction of the Luftwaffe. Firstly; it was the first battle to be won exclusively by air- Paratroopers and heavy bombing Secondly; the Allied Commander had access to German Wireless Communication relating to the attack. The allies were aware of the exact date of the attack and the exact time bombing of the island would commence. Thirdly; no where else in World War 2 did the enemy meet so much civilian resistance. The attack on Crete 1st attack – Morning 20th May The first Gliders landed near Maleme Airfield at 7.15 am eventually succeeding in capturing the airfield.

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2nd attack- Morning 20th May Was to be against Heraklion and Retimo areas these area were defended by the 19th Australian Brigade under the Command of Lt. Col I.R. Campbell the two Australian and four Greek Battalions were more successful in their defence of this area than those defending Maleme. The Australians and Greeks prevented the Germans from taking the airfield and they were required to dig in. during the Battle for Heraklion – the Fallschirm- Jager Regiment 1 were wiped out to a man.

The Battle for Heraklion May 21st – 22nd To support the air attack and landings it was planned to land seaborne reinforcements of the 5. Gebirgs-Division on board 63 ships- 25 boats (caiques-fishing boats) were intended to land 2,250 Mountain Troops to support Maleme and 38 were to bring 4,000 troops to Heraklion, this second group were then order to land a Maleme. The British Fleet managed to sink the first flotilla and forced the second to return to Greece. No further seaborne reinforcements were attempted until Crete was stablised. Defence of Crete Prior to the evacuation of the troops from Greece the defence of Crete was the responsibility of: 14th British Brigade (under strength) Royal Marine Naval Base Defence Organisation (MNBDO) of about battalion size. 60 anti-aircraft guns RAF – 6 Hurricane Fighters and 17 other miscellaneous aircraft. In the event of an attack on Crete it was to be defended by the troops who had been evacuated from Greece, they would be known as ‘Creforce’. This force would consist of about 21,000 troops from Australia, New Zealand and Britain consisting of: 7th Infantry Battalion of the 2nd New Zealand Division 4 ½ Infantry Battalions of the 6th Australian Division 1 Machine Gun Battalion Part of the 1st British Armoured Brigade with very few tanks 4 Composite British Battalions acting as an Infantry Brigade 1100 poorly armed and untrained Irregulars and Reservists 800 Cretan Police The troops responsible for the defence of Crete were to be under the command of Major General B.C. Freyberg of the New Zealand Army.

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Troops were to be dispersed to the following areas: Maleme (Brigadier Puttick) 5th New Zealand Brigade (21st, 22nd, & 28th (Maori) Battalions and N.Z.F. Composite Infantry Unit – Total strength 3,156 10th New Zealand Brigade (20th Battalion, Composite Battalion, detachment of New Zealand Cavalry, 6th & 8th Greek Regiments Total strength 6,503 Support: Artillery-10 x 75mm guns and 6 x 3.7inch howitzers 10 light tanks Reserve Force 4th New Zealand Brigade (18th, 19th Battalions), 1st Battalion Welsh Regiment – Total strength 2,417 Kastel Sector 1st Greek Regiment –strength 1,030 Sunda Bay (Major General Wilson) M.N.B.D.O. – 1st Rangers New Zealand -102nd Anti-Tank (in role of Infantry) 106th Royal Horse Artillery (in role of Infantry) Cremor Force 2/2nd Field Regiment (in the role of Infantry) 16th Australian Composite Battalion- 17th Australian Composite Battalion- Group “A” R.A.A. [strength 600], Group “B” R.A.E. [strength 600], 2nd Greek Regiment. Equipment: 16 x 3.7 inch, 10 x 3 inch and 16 Bofors guns and 8 various calibre costal defence guns Retimo (Brigadier Vasey) 19th Australian Brigade (2/1st, 2/7th, 2/8th, 2/11th Battalions) 3 Greek Regiments (each of Battalion strength) 1 Battery of 2/2nd Field Regiment with 14 guns of various makes and size. 2 Infantry Tanks Heraklion (Brigadier Chappel) 14th British Brigade (2nd Leicestershire & 2 Yorks & Lancs Regiments, 2nd Black Watch, 7th Medium Regt (Artillery being used as Infantry) 2/4 Australian Infantry Battalion, and 13 Greek Regiments (each of Battalion strength) supported by 10 light and 4 heavy anti-aircraft guns, 4 Infantry Tanks and 6 Light Tanks Timbakion 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in support of Heraklion

Unfortunately, these troops were to have very little equipment to help in their defence of the island. The equipment available to them was: Artillery: 49 French and some captured Italian Field Guns and 68 Anti Air Craft Guns (Bofors and Pom Poms) Armour: 9 Tanks – 6 being light tanks Aircraft: 30 planes comprising of Blenheim Bombers; Hurricane Fighters; 12-Gloster Gladiators (Bi-planes) and assistance from Flumes & Swordfish (Bi-planes) from the Fleet Air Arm Small Arms: The Greeks and Cretans were equipped with a mixture of British; Canadian; American and Italian rifles of various calibres this mix of rifles and calibres created problems for the Greek and Cretan troops.

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The situation was not helped when it was estimated that it would need 650 tons of supplies each day to support the troops and only about 80 tons per day was being delivered. The fact that what supplies were being delivered could not be unloaded during the day because of air attacks did not assist the situation. To speed up the unloading in the short time available about 400 Australian and New Zealanders volunteered to form working gangs to unload the supplies under the difficult condition which prevailed. By the 24th May General Freyberg realised that Crete could not be saved and on the 26th May he advised General Wavell that a decision should be made to immediately to evacuate if there was to be any chance of saving the bulk of the troops. On the 26th May two British Commando Units were landed at night at Sunda Bay to support the existing troops, unfortunately it was too late. On the 27th May General Wavell decided to abandon Crete and to evacuate the troops over the next four days. Order for Capitulation of Crete Second/7th Infantry Battalion and Second /8th Battalion 31st May, 1941 Lieutenant Colonel Colvin, In view of the following facts, my orders direct me to give precedence in evacuation of fighting troops.. This has reduced the active garrison below what is required for resistance for the possibility of evacauation. I therefore direct you to collect such senior officers that are available in the early hours of tomorrow and transmit these orders to the senior of them. These orders are to make contact with the enemy and to capitulate. “A copy of surrender Document at Spharkia Crete May 1941” Evacuation It was decided that the evacuation would take place from two points. One would be Heraklion, with the 2/4 Infantry Battalion the first to leave from this point on the 29th May. The other being at Sfakia (Stakia) on the southern coast this required the troops to cross the White Mountains. It would appear that this was another command blunder due to the height of the mountains and the narrow tracks the troops would have to negotiate. During the period 28th to 31st May about 18,000 troops were evacuated. One of the last Australians to be evacuated was (later Major General) Paul Cullen AC. OBE. DSO* ED and just as well as his birth name was Cohen and being Jewish he changed his named in June/July 1941in case he was caught by the Germans. The change was promulgated in all unit routine Orders. Paul was part of the 16th Brigade Composite Battalion which was made up of troops from 2/2 & 2/3 Battalions. Unfortunately, Retimo was over run following additional German troops being landed by sea. On the 31st May the 2/1st Battalion surrendered. About 6,000 troops did not get off Crete including many of the 2/7th Infantry Battalion who had been acting as a rearguard with the Royal Marines. A number of those who were left behind fought with the partisans in the hills, about 600 managed to escape to Egypt and unfortunately the rest were captured by the Germans and spent the rest of the war as POWs in Germany and other occupied countries.

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The evacuation Beach at Sfakia (Stakia)

The British perspective for Crete Churchill advised General Wavell on the 28th April that an attack on Crete would be made and that it was to be held. It would appear that Churchill’s decision had been based on British Intelligence advice that any attack on Crete would be by 5/6000 paratroopers. When in fact it was made by:

• 750 Glider troops • 10,000 Paratroopers • 5,000 Troops delivered by transport aircraft. • 7,000 Troops by boat

in total 22,000 German troops landed on Crete supported by 430 bombers and dive bombers and 230 fighters. This underestimation and lack of truthfulness in respect to the campaign can be seen by Churchill’s statement to the British House of Commons on day two of the attack, when he informed it that the greater part of the Germans had been wiped out in the landing. This was another example of the incompetence of the British High Command, particularly when the British were in possession of the ULTRA system ‘the British had been provided with a the German Cipher Machine ‘the Egnima” provided by the Polish which allow the British to decode information on “Operation Mercury.” On the 6th May 1941 the British were in possession of the information relating to the invasion of Crete, this include the date and the exact time that the air attack on Crete was to take place. Instructions were given to General Freyberg, to defend Maleme Airfield notwithstanding that the British High Command were aware that the Germans would use Paratroopers and failed to inform Freyberg, who based his defence on the Germans landing by sea. It can easily be seen why the British incompetence of the Somme in World War I is compared to their handling of the Greek and Crete campaign in 1941. The Navy The British Mediterranean Fleet was involved on two occasions during the Battle for Crete. During the period 21st – 23rd May the Germans attempted to land reinforcements by sea, the British Fleet intercepted them about 30 miles from Crete and sunk all the ships with no survivors. It was again involved in the evacuation of the troops between, the 27th and 31st May whilst engaged in the evacuation it lost 2,000 men, three cruisers, six destroyers and an Aircraft Carrier was badly damaged.

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Country Killed Missing Wounded POWs Australia New Zealand British (Army) Royal Marines RAF Total Greeks German

274 671 612 114 71 1,742 592 1,990


507 1,455 244 30 9 1,737 2,594

3,109 1,692 5,315 1,035 228 11,836

500 German aircraft were destroyed. The German perspective It would appear that Hitler was not keen to invade Crete however two of his Generals thought that it was important for Germany to control Crete. General Halder in 1940 in his concept for controlling the Eastern Mediterranean considered that it was necessary for Germany to gain control of Crete. General Kurt Student of the XI Corps had similar views and after discussing the concept with Reichmarshal Goering he was encouraged by Goering to place his case before Hitler. Student was successful in convincing Hitler and the fate of Crete was sealed. Operation Merkur (Mercury) The plan to invade Crete was given the code name ‘Operation Merkur (Mercury) ‘. It was decided there would be a simultaneous attack by air on the towns of Maleme, Canea, Sunda Bay, Retimo, and Heraklion. This initial plan was later changed to an attack on Maleme and Canea in the morning and Retimo and Heraklion in the afternoon with the airborne attack to be supported by two seaborne landings at Maleme and Heraklion. This seaborne support did not occur as the invasion fleet was completely destroyed by the Royal Navy. Lord Haw-Haw (William Joyce) the British traitor used by the Germans for propaganda called Crete the “Island of Doomed Men”.

The Invasion of Crete Air attacks began on the 14th May to soften up the defence for the airborne landings to take place on the 20th May – by the 19th May all the airfields on Crete had been destroyed and all British aircraft had either been destroyed or departed. The German planned to take Crete by the use of airborne landings on the 20th May at Maleme using Assault Regiments and then one Parachute Rifle Regiment of the 7th Air Division at Canea – Sunda; Retimo and Heraklion. Maleme airfield was captured on the 20th May and the Germans then commenced landing troop carrying aircraft on the 21st May. German plans for the invasion of Crete

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At 6.45 am on the 20th May 1941 the Germans began the bombardment of the defences on Crete, at 8.00 am the invasion commenced with the arrival of 3,000 paratroopers, 750 by Glider and eventually 5000 by transport aircraft and 7000 by boat in all a total of 22,000 troops. German Paratroopers landing on Crete The invasion of Crete was to be the first airborne invasion in history and its impact on the Germans was to be horrific. The casualties were so high that Hitler declared ‘that the day of the parachutist is over’, which is understandable when an examination of the casualties is made. This resulted in a planned airborne invasion of Cyprus being cancelled. Retimo: 700 killed and 500 taken prisoner (for a short time) Heraklion: 1000 killed out of 2000 dropped. In total the invasion of Crete resulted in 6000 killed and 200 Aircraft destroyed and 150 damaged. The German Invasion Force The German invasion force was to consist of 22,000 troops under the command of General Lohr and was to consist of the following:

Formation Commander Remarks IV Air Fleet General Lohr VIII Air Corps 120 Dornier 17s 40 Heinkel 111s 80 Junkers 88s 150 Junkers 87b Stukas 90 Messerchmitt 110s 90 Messerchmitt 109s

General Freiherr Von Richthofen Based at Tatoi Based at Eleusis Based at Eleusis Based at Mycenae, Based at Argos Based at Molaoi

XI Air Corps 3 Transports Groups -500 Junkers 52s Glider Wing- 70 DFS 230 Gliders Squadron –Fiesceler Storch Reconnaissance

General Kurt Student

Storm Regiment HQ 1st ; 2nd ; 3rd ; 4th Battalions

Brigadier Meindl

7th Parachute Division HQ Parachute Engineer Battalion

Major General Sussman Major Liebach

Killed during invasion replaced by Colonel Hadrich

1st Parachute Regiment 1st; 2nd; 3rd Battalions

Colonel Brauer

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Formation Commander Remarks 2nd Parachute Regiment 1st Battalion 2nd Battalion 3rd Battalion

Colonel Sturm Rethymno Heraklion Rethymno

3rd Parachute Regiment 1st ; 2nd ; 3rd Battalions

Colonel Heidrich

5th Mountain Division 95th Mountain Regiment Mountain Artillery Pioneers Reconnaissance

Major General Ringel Lt. Colonel Wittmann Major Schaette Major Count Castell zu Castell

Divisional Troops

85th Mountain Regiment 1st; 2nd ; 3rd Battalions

Colonel Krakau

100th Mountain Regiment 1st; 2nd 3rd Battalions

Colonel Utz

141st Mountain Regiment Colonel Jais From 6th Mountain Division

Strength Landed by Parachute & Glider Number Landed by troop-carrier Maleme Ayria Valley & Canea Rethymno Heraklion

1,860 2,460 1,380 2,360


Total Troops landed 22,040 Casualties

Killed and Missing Wounded POW Paratroopers 3,074 Mountain Troops 580 Air Crew 312

2,594 17 Officers XI Air Corps

• Air Assault Regiment (3 Parachute Battalions & a Glider Battalion) • 7th Air Division (3 Parachute Rifle Regiments each of 3 Battalions) • 3 Rifle Regiments from the 5th & 6th Mountain Divisions • A Panzer Battalion • A Motor Cycle Battalion

VIII Air Corps

• 228 Bombers • 205 Dive Bombers • 114 Twin Engine Fighters • 119 Single Engine Fighters • 50 Reconnaissance Aircraft • 700 Junker Transport Aircraft {able to carry 5,000 troops • 70 Towed Gliders on each flight}

A Ju 52 with Paratroopers in position

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The Players Australia Brigadier George Vasey Lieutenant Colonel Ian Campbell -2/1 Infantry Battalion Lieutenant Colonel Ray Sandover -2/11 Infantry Battalion Lieutenant Colonel Wellman Australian Corps of Signals Major Paul Cohen (Cullen) -2/2 Infantry Battalion New Zealand Major General Bernard Freyberg VC Brigadier Andrews Brigadier Inglis Brigadier Howard Kippenberger Brigadier J Hargest Brigadier (Acting Major General) Puttick Lieutenant Colonel Gentry Britain Major General E.C. Weston Royal Marines Lieutenant Colonel Wills Capatain Morse RN Brigadier B.H. Chappel

The Cretans The Cretan Resistance Motto (or Battle Cry) during the period of the invasion and occupation was “Death or Freedom”. Cretan Partisans The 800 Cretan Police Force, together with the Greek and Cretan Irregular Troops with the support of the Allies joined together to defend their homeland. During the invasion and occupation over 50,000 Cretan’s died and in the village of Misseria only two were to survive.

Cretan Casualties

Location: Killed in Battle or Executed: Orphans: Houses destroyed:

Men Women Children Fatherless Motherless Both Parents Total Partial Chania 2,200 480 418 3,338 1,098 380 2,669 4,562 Rethymnon 1,897 405 403 3,320 848 528 2,338 1,300 Heraklion 2,045 185 129 3,840 1,772 484 6,968 4,942 Laithi 431 50 20 2,017 739 549 938 714 Total 6,593 1,120 970 12,515 4,457 1,941 12,913 11,518

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The bond that developed between the Cretans and the Allies can be seen on a building at Retimo where a farmer has placed a plaque which says: ” in memory of the soldiers from far away whose blood is now part of the sacred soil of Crete”. A sentiment similar to one expressed by Attaturk, at Gallipoli which also relates to the Anzacs troops. Cretan Youth at the Commemoration for Battle of Crete Cenotaph Sydney The Preveli Monastery The Monastery in the village of Preveli played an important part in the battle for Crete. The Monastery was seen as the rallying point for the allied troops who had been left behind after the evacuation.

The Monastery at Preveli The troops were made welcome by the Monks who would then arrange for small groups of about twenty to be hidden and looked after by the various villages in the area, whilst their evacuation by submarine was arranged.

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On one occasion on the submarine HMS Thrasher about 70 troops were evacuated from the beach of Limni just below the Monastery.

Map showing the location of the Preveli Monastery The efforts of the Monks was not forgotten, one of those they assisted Geoffrey Evans of the 2/11 Battalion arranged for the building of ‘The Chapel of St. John the Theologian’ at Margaret River in Western Australia and named his Caravan Park “Prevelly Park” a fitting tribute to the Monks and villagers around Prevelli. The unacknowledged When the details of a campaign are recorded they usually refer to the actions and exploits of the major units, those that are usually seen as the fighting (or glamour) units and very little is recorded about those small units or corps many of whom are in the front line with the fighting troops and are also an important part of the campaign. In fact without these units the others would have a very difficult time. In Greece and Crete there were a number of these units, two in particular are deserving of recognition, they were the members of the Australian Army Provost Corps (Military Police) and the Nurses who were members of the Australian Army Nursing Service. The Military Police Reference is rarely found of the involvement of the Military Police in any campaigns. It is believed (wrongly) that their activities only occurred in the rear echelon and involved such activities as –checking leave passes, maintaining discipline and escorting VIPs. This is far from the truth. There were some three hundred Military Police (Provost) who served in the Greek and Crete Campaign. The 6th Division Provost Company were the first Military Police to be designated as ‘Combat Military Police’.

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The first Military Police to land in Greece arrived as the 1st Australian Corps Provost Company with the 2/3 Infantry Battalion on the 18th and 19th March 1941, they were to be followed by the 6th Division Provost Company and the 7th Division Provost Company and on Crete they were joined by the Ordnance Provost Section. In this campaign the Military Police certainly lived up to their Motto:

“First in Last Out” They were highly involved in the campaign from the start, taking part in the following engagements:

• 14th April at Ellison and Portas Pass • 19th April at Larissa and Thebes • 18th - 23rd April at town of Lamia • 24th April at Brallos Pass • 26th April at Megra (one of the evacuation ports)

Brallos Pass Part of the old Road at Brallos Pass The Corps involvement was recognised very early in the campaign with Sgt. Tom Osborne receiving a Military Medal (MM) for his actions at Portas Pass, with a second Military Medal being awarded to S/Sgt. Edward Trench (later promoted to Lieutenant) who unfortunately was killed on the 12th January 1943 and is buried in Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery. During the actions of the 18th to 23rd April at Lamia, Capt. John Grimshaw was awarded the Military Cross (MC). During the campaign other members of the Corps were also to receive five, Mentioned in Dispatches (MIDs) one of these being awarded to Lt. John Hazel, (later Captain) not a bad record for a Corps who many believe were supposed to only be working in the rear echelon ‘Checking Passes and kicking arses “. The Evacuation The evacuation of so many troops required a co-ordinated plan and strict control. This fell in part on the Military Police, they were required to keep the roads open and flowing event though they were continually under attack to ensure that as many troops and as much equipment as possible reached the evacuation points which were spread over many areas of Greece. Whilst the troops withdrew it is reported that the members of 6th Division Provost whilst reinforcing the order that all vehicles were required to travel with dimmed lights, they carried out a very remarkable performance considering the heavy traffic on the road and the evacuation was successful entirely due to the good traffic control of the MPs. By the 19th April the 7th Division Provost were still ‘coolly’ directing the stragglers vehicles at Larrisa knowing that the German Advance Guard could arrive at any time. During the evacuation to Kalamata 600 vehicles containing 6000 troops were moved of 90 miles of narrow winding mountain roads to the evacuation point Brigadier Allen said:

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The march throughout was an exceedingly good one and the M.T. drivers are to be commended for their sterling work. In the darkness driving from dusk to daylight, using only dim lights, it was no easy task…….6 Aust Div Provost gave valuable assistance. The admiration and respect for the Australian MPs is recorded in the comments of a ‘digger’ from 2/5 who had been left behind at Delphi to undertake some demolitions prior to leaving for the evacuation point. The movement from then on was blind; we proceeded on, asking the MPs for the embarkation beach; they sent us on towards Corinth where we were sent on again. We me officers from other units, they could give us no information. They did not know where they were going. We continued on the road and occasionally met MPs who sent us on in the right direction. This respect by the diggers for the Provost can be seen from the comments of Pte. Wal Gudgeon of the 2/8 Battalion when he said: “ I reckon the 6Div Provost were heroes right through because it wasn’t spur of the moment to them Greece was a continuous job. And these 6 Divvy Provost, they were magnificent they really were.”

Casualties For a small Corps its casualties were very high.

Location Killed Wounded POWs Greece 1st Australian Corps Provost Company 2 2 - 6th Division Provost Company 2 3 7th Division Provost Company 3 8 Crete 6th Division Provost Company 1 13 7th Division Provost Company 2 35 Ordnance Provost Section 9 The Corps endeared itself to the Greeks and during the campaign they referred to the Australian Military Police as “English Cowboys” because of the way they rode their motorcycles on the mountain roads. Two Australian MPs in Greece 1941 Whilst the role of the Military Policeman in Greece and Crete was mainly that of traffic control an important part of any campaign, it became highly important during the evacuation of Greece as its was necessary for the roads to be kept open and the vehicles and men moving to avoid being captured by the Germans. This often meant that the Military Police were the ‘last to leave’ and therefore they were all that stood between the evacuating troops and the Germans. They therefore became highly involved in the rearguard action. It is a matter of record that it was the work of the Military Police in carrying out their role of “traffic control” so efficiently and other duties not necessarily expected of Military Police that the evacuation was so successful. It is reported from numerous sources that the Military Police in this campaign were highly regarded by the troops (diggers) for their actions in making sure that they were not captured (refer to comments by Frank McManus of 1st Australian Corps Signals below), and the fact that they engaged in many activities that were normally outside their designated role and therefore played an important part in the rearguard action in Greece, particularly in the battle for Lamia.

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The current Barracks of the Military Police at Holsworthy, New South Wales is named Lamia Barracks in recognition of their involvement at the Battle for Lamia in 1941. Recollections of Frank McManus 1st Australian Corps Signals (age 92) “ Kalambaka (Meteora) – The Germans came across from Servia. We moved to Larissa on the 20th April to be told by the Military Police to keep going or the Germans would get us. The Australian Signals were digging in on one side of the road and the New Zealanders on the other. Heading the advice given by the MPs we moved down to the Corinth Canal where the Germans eventually blew the bridge across the Canal. The German Paratroopers landed prior to our evacuation to Crete on the British Anti Aircraft Ship HMS Hermes. Only for the advice from the Military Police we might have ended up prisoners of war. The Australian Provost (Military Police) and their relationship with the Digger The Aussie ‘Digger’ of the 6th & 7th Divisions developed a high regard and respect for the MPs of the 6th & 7th Divisions and it is surprising to many soldiers that they regarded them as part of the ‘family’ they saw a clear distinction between “Provost and Military Police”. A Div Provost was seen as part of the Division as they took part in all Division activities and exercises. However the troops were aware that they were “Cops” and treated them with respect which was reciprocated by the MPs. The term MP to the Digger, meant the Command Provost and to a lesser extend the Lines of Communication (LOC) who were responsible for looking after the “leave towns” and who were the “Bastards” who made a soldiers life miserable. This feeling of respect for the MPs by the Aussie digger can be summed up in the words of Henry Gullet MC [(the son of Sir H.S Gullet – Military Historian) Major H. Gullet MC was also one of the Australians to be involved in the Normandy Landing] when he said of the work of Provost in Greece “as a decent bunch of chaps doing a damn difficult job under most trying circumstances…. A number of fellows owe their lives to our Div Pro Companies …..they stayed back at each of the defiles to ensure all got through, and at the beaches they were the last to embark”. The MPs in Greece shared the same difficulties as the fighting troops and during the withdrawal they continued to carry out their designated role and may others not expected of MPs. A member of the 2/5th Battalion said about the work of the MPs- “we wouldn’t have known where to go if it was not for the Provost fellas standing there with ‘hurricane lamps’ and telling us where to go”. In support of the comments made by Frank McManus of Aust Corps Signals when he encountered the MPs at Larissa, it is also reported that the MPs of 7th Div Pro ‘were still coolly directing the stragglers vehicles even though the Germans could arrive at any time’. These actions by the MPs endeared them to the other troops as they were exposing themselves to the same dangers as themselves and in fact were prepared to place themselves between the enemy and the withdrawing diggers to ensure they avoided capture. Rearguard action On the 18th April the men of the 2/1st Field Ambulance were bringing back wounded from Larissa and had this to say about the MPs. - ‘we got through the roads with the wounded, due to the fine work being done at great personal risk by the Provost, without their tireless efficiency many men and vehicles could not have reached safety’.

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Extract from the War Diary of 7th Australian Division Provost Company Greece 1941. Setting the scene “ The withdrawal of 16 Australian Infantry brigade during April 1941 involved some 600 vehicles and 6000 men moving south over winding mountain roads for three consecutive nights. The 250 mile axis was under constant enemy air attack and 7 Div Pro Coy earned great praise for unstinting efforts which contributed to the success of the mission. The effectiveness of the control measures was in contrast with the chaos that existed in other formations. It is also recorded by the Historian’s that on the 19 April 1941 that elements of 7 Div Pro Coy (1 Offr and 18 Ors) were still coolly directing the few vehicles straggling behind the main columns. This took place near the town of Lamia where 7 Div Pro Coy were part of the rear guard of the short lived ANZAC Corps at the time when the enemy advanced guard was on the Northern outskirts of the town” War Diary Lamia 11 April 1941: Fine. Routine patrols Lamia 12 April 1941: Fine and Warm. Convoy patrol duties. First of units to retire. Lamia 13 April 1941: Fine. Routine patrols. Lamia subjected to bombing. Lamia 14 April 1941: Fine. Windy. Routine patrols. Lamia 15 April 1941: Fine. CO and party proceeded to Volos to find alternate route from Larissa via Pharsalos for retirement. While at Volos, subjected to aerial bombing and assisted in removal of wounded. Volos evacuated. Lamia 16 April 1941: Fine. General retirement information received, Pharsalos-Volos road impassable, use alternate route, via Lamia then on to Volos. Lamia 17 April 1941: Fine. All Coy en convoy, from Pharsalos to Thebes. Volume of traffic increasing in density. Ocs of convoys advised to increase speed. Roads bombed and machine gunned continuously. Members performed their duties under trying circumstances. Severe blockage of traffic on North Pass near Lamia due to enemy severely bombing and machine gunning the roads. Ammunition truck set on fire and with the assistance of CPL Pearce ammunition removed. Lamia received a severe bombing attack at 1415hrs also straight road from Lamia to Bralos Pass received severe bombing and machine gunning and as a result causing congestion of convoys on the road. Exceptionally fine work was performed by Sgt. Harris. Lamia 18 April 1941: At 0100hrs L/Cpl Barnes reported the presence of enemy troops, 15 miles along Volos road. Instructed Cpl Pearce and party to investigate; and returned at 0415hrs. No presence of enemy. Cpl reported that he had travelled 37 miles. Fine but windy. 0530hrs enemy planes overhead. Patrols visited, convoys passing through township via Bralos Pass moving South, also coast road. At 0545hrs enemy launched severe bombing attack. In Lamia, this continued until 1030hrs. Roads through town impassable. Members of Coy clearing roads, and could not obtain no assistance from Greek Military authorities. Traffic diverted to alternative routes. Town burning fiercely. 0715hrs Col. Rogers 1 Aust Corps, visited bivouac, seeking information as to whether the 21st BN, NZ Forces, had retired along Volos Road to Volos.

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Informed the Colonel regarding Cpl Pearce’s patrol in the early hours of that morning and there had been no contact with NZ or any other troops on that road. Informed from NZ BHQ Volos, Col Rodgers concurred and requested that such intelligence be sent to Brig. Lee. Sgt Finch, Cpl Pearce left at 0730 hrs for Volos BHQ with instructions to proceed to Brig. Lee, Domokos. Sgt Finch, Cpl Pearce returned, their task completed. Lamia 18 April 1941: The volume of traffic from North to south very light. Members of Company patrolling roads from Domokos to South side of Bralos Pass. At all times being subjected to machine gunning. Received intelligence from Brig. Lee that he expected to retire from his position between midnight and 0300hrs on 18/19th. At 1745hrs head of, Lee Force, column passed through Lamia township on way South. 1810hrs straight road from Lamia town to Bralos Pass subjected to intense bombing and machine gunning attack. Several vehicles damaged and slight delay. OC of convey instructed that under the circumstances continue whilst being attacked by enemy. All vehicles of Lee Force were cleared of the township of Lamia and the straight road without further loss. At 1900hrs vehicles of Lee force, successfully negotiating roads at the Bralos Pass. At 1905hrs contacted Brig. Lee, who reported all his men were clear. At 1915hrs, L/Cpls Swinfield, Hurst, Clarke, Laughton, and McPherson reported, that all troops and vehicles were clear from the pass, North of Lamia, through Lamia, and along the straight road. At 1920hrs members of this Coy, present when air bridge along the road from Bralos Pass to Lamia was destroyed. Liaouklade Railway Station and AuSup seen to be on fire, several culverts and a bridge on coast road rear Lamia destroyed. At 1930hrs two very light lights were observed, South of the Lamia township, signifying the arrival of the German troops along the Volos Road. At 2015hrs Capt. Grimshaw, Sgt Harris, Finch, Walton,, Cpl Delaney, Swinfield, Pearce Hurst, Barrington, Smith left position at foot of Bralos Pass on way south to locate Corps or force HQ. At 2025hrs and anti-tank gun opened fire, from a position half way up the Bralos Mountain in the direction of Lamia. From Bralos Pass proceeded to Thebes, stayed overnight. Thebes 19 April 1941: Fine. Windy. Contacted Force HQ 12 miles from Thebes along Chalkis Road. Moved entire Coy to camp site adjoining Force HQ. Chalkis Road bombed and machine gunned. Coy wear, rested remained of the day. Thebes 20 April 1941: Fine. Convoy and Point Duty Patrols on duty all day and night. Roads continuously bombed and machine gunned throughout day. Thebes 21 April 1941: Fine and windy. Convoy and Point duty Patrols day and night. Chalkis bombed daily. Thebes 22 April 1941: Remainder of Coy and camp moved to pine forest, one kilometre from town at 2330hrs. Thebes 23 April 1941: Fine and Windy. Patrols and Point Duty Men posted. Delayed action and HE bombs dropped on Thebes Railway Station. Took over complete traffic control from CMP at 2030hrs RSM and remainder of Coy, not detailed on duty, sent to evacuation point, “D” beach. Capt Grimshaw, Sgt Harris, Cpl Finch, Delaney, George,, Sgt Maddern, Cpl, Pearce, Batenby, L/Cps Potts and McEvoy, Mallyon and Barnes. These are the men who remained on duty in and around Thebes, until all troops and convoys had been safely conducted through the town. Delayed action bombs exploding throughout the night. The party left Thebes at 0230hrs for evacuation point, “D” beach. April 24 1941: Made camp in Olive Grove, 12 miles from evacuation point. Porto Rafts “D” Beach. Remained hidden all day. Too late for evacuation that night.

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April 25 1941: Fine. Remained hidden all day. Informed no evacuation that night. April 26 1941: Fine and windy. Remained hidden till 1600hrs, then removed remainder to a spot about three miles from beach. 1730hrs took over custody of two prisoners suspected of fifth column activities. Three men detailed for duty on beach. At 2115hrs remaining personnel and prisoners moved down to the beach. April 27 1941: Still on beach, prisoners handed over at 0100hrs FSP. Embarked 0230hrs on HMT “Salween” and moved from “D” Beach at 0300hrs. Award of Military Cross It was during the withdrawal at Lamia where Provost Officer Captain J.S Grimshaw won the Military Cross for his part in this action. It was conferred by Major General Herring Commanding 7 Australian Division.

The Citation of Award for NX12506 Captain John Spillard Grimshaw reads as follows:

“During the period 16-17 April at Lamia and 24-26 April at ‘C’ and ‘D’ beaches to the east of Athens Captain Grimshaw, by sheer force of character, calm efficiency and personal example was a source of inspiration for his own men. At Lamia he imposed discipline and orderly continuous movement of

vehicles within the area under his control, whilst directing traffic during periods of heavy air attacks. At ‘C’ and ‘D’ beaches his direction of traffic was of a high standard and materially affected the

number of vehicles which were evacuated from these beaches”.

Map showing area described in War Diary of 7th Division Provost Company

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New Zealand Provost (Military Police) Let us not forget our Kiwi Military Police brothers who worked closely with the Australian Military Police. Sergeant Clive Hume VC Sgt. Hulme a member of the New Zealand Provost corps attached to the 23rd NZ Battalion Field Punishment Centre in Crete was to be awarded one of the three (3) Victoria Crosses awarded during the Battle for Crete. During the attack Sgt Hulme was placed in charge of the allied prisoners who had been issued with rifles to defend the island. During the next eight (8) days Sgt. Hulme became alegend- he freed a number of New Zealanders who had been capture by the Germans – took part in the charge at Galatas and he is credited with killing 33 Germans during this time. Nurses Australian Army Nurses served in all the campaigns in which Australians were involved during World War II, Greece and Crete were no exceptions. Nurses were generally attached to Australian Casualty Clearing Stations (ACCS) which are usually positioned close to the front lines one such CCS was established at Larissa this enables injuries to be treated quickly and an assessment make for transfer back to an Australian General Hospital (AGH), where nurses and doctors are able to provide more intense or specialised medical services. The Australian General Hospital in Greece was 15 miles outside Athens at Kephissa.

As the situation was deteriorating in Greece action was taken on the 19th April to evacuate all the nurses of the 2/6th AGH in conformity with Australian Governments direction that Australian Nurses were not to be left in Greece. They were placed on 24hours notice to leave. Unfortunately the ship they were to board did not arrive when another ship arrive it was unable to take all of the nurses. Australian Nurses Col. (Matron) awaiting evacuation Kathleen Best from Greece 1941 OBE RRC (AWM 087663)

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On the 20th the Hospital ship Oba arrived and again all the nurses could not be taken aboard due to a German air raid, only twenty four nurses and Matron J.S. Abbot were able to leave. It required a number of attempts to evacuate all the nurses. On the 23rd forty three nurses and nine masseuses were evacuated the next group to be evacuated included 42 British and 40 Australian Nurses with Colonel (Matron) Kathleen Best OBE RRC of 2/5 AGH was to be awarded the Royal Red Cross Medal for her work. The Royal Red Cross Medal The last group to be evacuated required a trip to the evacuation point at Nafplion which was not easy and on reaching Argos they were subject to an air attack and had to take refuge in a cemetery for nearly the whole day. Typical Australians, they boiled the billy on a tombstone and had themselves a cup of tea. The Australian Nurses were accompanied by their sisters from New Zealand and 400 walking wounded. On reaching Nafplion they boarded HMAS Voyager which took them to Crete, where they continued to look after the casualties before being evacuated to Alexandria in Egypt before the fall of Crete. Unfortunately for the nurses those doctors and other members of the Medical Corps they had worked with at the 2/5 AGH were captured by the Germans on the 27th April 1941 and spent the rest of the war as POWs During their captivity they made a Australian Red Ensign Flag and it was signed by 55 of those who became POWs, the flag is now on display at the Australian War Memorial. The Australian Red Ensign

Weary Dunlop It is little know that Major Edward (Weary) Dunlop was highly involved in the organisation of the Medical Services for the troops in Greece and Crete even though he did not go ‘in the bag’ with the Germans he was not so lucky in Singapore. Weary Dunlop arrived in Greece at 4.30pm on the 27th April 1941 with the 2/3 CCS (Casualty Clearing Station) and also served with the 2/5 AGH & the 2/6 AGH (Australian General Hospital). He was evacuated to Crete and served with the British 189 Field Ambulance and was evacuated from Crete before it fell to the Germans. It is reported that he carried a .45 Pistol and on occasions threatened to use. Recollections of a Greek Nurse (Zoe Tscukala Kakatoika) In 1940 I was asked to serve in an English Hospital in Athens because I could speak some English. I was asked to look after English and German soldiers. Unfortunately the English sisters some 231 left soon after I arrived so as not to be captured by the Germans. They sailed on the Ionia on the 29 April 1941as part of Convey G.A. 15 for Crete. The building which was being used as the hospital had been a luxury Hotel in the town of Kifissia before the war. Even though I was only 25year old at the time the soldiers would call me “Mama Mana” - Nurses have mothers’ instincts.

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Eventually German Nurses arrived at the hospital – what a shock; they were fat, very huge and rude, something Greek Nurses could not understand as we were trained to be graceful and light movers and charming. Australian Corps of Signals The Australian Corps of Signals sailed for Greece on the 1st April 1941 on the Pennland, which was unfortunately sunk during the evacuation. On their arrival they were moved to Perdikka (Florina Gap) and like most of the troops involved in the campaign they were continually on the move. As the Germans advanced they moved to Kozani then to Larissa (refer to comments by Frank McManus) then to Brallos Pass before being evacuated to Crete. The members of the Signals Corps were evacuated from Crete (Sunda Bay) on 18th May 1941, their casualties numbered 75 most became POWs. Troops being evacuated from Canea (Sunda Bay) Crete Major Paul Cohen (Cullen) 2/2 Australian Infantry Battalion Paul Cullen is an example of a ‘true blue Aussie’ and exemplifies the culture and character so well known of Australians. Major Paul Cohen (Cullen)

Whilst engaging the Germans during the early days of the invasion and during the evacuation he and some of his troops were cut off from the rest of the allies near Pinos Gorge. Showing initiative and determination he marched his small group of 12 Officers and 140 Other Ranks which included 21 New Zealanders to the coast near Karista to locate a boat to escape from Greece. Paul Cullen divided his group into small parties and he divided 200,000 drachma from the Regimental Funds to each of the groups to assist with their escape. On the 25th of April PAC and his group were ferried by the Greeks to Skialos and then by lugger to Chios. Whilst at Chios Paul Cullen obtained a loan of 150,000 drachma from a Greek Ship owner, N.G. Lemos to assist with their escape. Whilst they were only ten miles from Turkey it was decided it might be dangerous to head in that direction as they were not sure if they might be handed over to the Germans. On the 29th April they sailed for Crete arriving in Heraklion on the 5th May.

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The route taken by Paul Cullen during his escape from Greece to Crete Whilst in Crete Paul Cullen was again involved in the rearguard action and was the last Australian to be evacuated to be evacuated from Crete having to swim to the last ship HMAS Nizam which was evacuating the troops from Sfakia Beach. He had a number of near misses during his time in Greece on one occasion his uniform was holed by German Machine Gun fire during the Battle of Temple Gorge in Greece. After these near misses and being aware of how he might be treated because of being Jewish if he should be captured by the Germans he changed his named to Cullen the name by which he is still known by to-day. The kidnapping of General Kreipe One of the little known actions which took place in Crete was the kidnapping of General Kreipe by the British (SOE) {Special Operations Executive} and a group of Cretan Partisans. The details of the kidnapping were restricted until 1950 when a movie “Ill Met by Moonlight” the story of the kidnapping was released by the BBC. The original target was to be General Muller the brutal commander on Crete- his luck changed briefly and he was transferred and replaced by General Heinrich Kreipe. Unfortunately for Muller his luck ran out and he was captured and executed by the Greeks in Athens on 20th May 1945.


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The Kidnap Plan

The kidnap was planned for April 26 and carried out successfully. The General and his abductors travelled across Crete for seventeen (17) days where he was finally taken from Crete by launch from Rodakino about nine miles from Sphakia the beach used for the final evacuation of the allies from Crete. In the group travelled 75 miles across the mountains of Crete in seven days to the beach from which the General was to be removed from Crete. 42nd Street In 1940 as part of the defence of Crete a small group of Royal Engineers (42nd Field Company) arrived at Sunda Bay and set up camp in a dirt lane not far from Sunda Bay. They christened the area where they were camped ‘42nd Street’ after the Ruby Keeler and Ginger Rogers Film 42nd Street which had been made in 1933. Map showing 42nd Street location British Military Maps recorded the Sappers sense of humour and showed 42nd Street on all future maps issued to arriving troops in the future which included some 10,00 Greeks, 6,500 Diggers and 7,700 Kiwis and 17,000 British who were to form ‘Creforce’ to defend Crete from invasion.

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42nd Street gained importance in the first week of May 1941 when the Australians and New Zealanders commenced their withdrawal towards Canea. By the 27th May the weakened battalions occupied a line south from Sunda Bay to the foothills of the Malaxa escarpment [42nd Street]. They were to be the rear guard for the evacuating troops to the beaches at Sfakia. A view along 42nd Street May 1941 The Australian Troops waited in the ‘Olive Grove’ of 42nd Street and attacked the advancing Germans and caught them by surprise inflicting heavy casualties on the 141st German Regiment [killed 200 by the Australians the Maoris killed a further 80 and 4 Australians lost their lives]. 42nd Street can still be found to-day if one knows where to look – To day it is known as Chickalarion Street it is no longer dirt but paved and now includes a cold storage warehouse and a Peugeot dealership and the dirt embankment and olive grove are still there after 60 odd years. The aftermath One of the by- products of any military campaign is the death of a number of those involved. In actions which have involved Australians who have given their lives, their remains where ever possible are honoured and remembered by being brought together and buried in War Cemeteries. These Cemeteries which are in many countries are looked after by the Australian War Graves part of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Phaleron War Cemetery Athens The Phaleron War Cemetery is on a sloping hill looking towards the Gulf of Saronika and the sea and the Port of Piraeus, an area many of the Australians laying there at rest would remember. There are 2,028 Commonwealth serviceman of World War II buried or commemorated in the cemetery. Unfortunately like many War Cemeteries it also includes 596 burials who are unidentified and Commemorative Plaques for those whose individual graves cannot be precisely located. It also contains “The Phaleron Cremation Memorial” to the 74 men of the Indian Army who were committed to fire according to their religious rites. The Athens Memorial commemorated approximately 3,000 members of the Commonwealth Forces who lost their lives during the campaigns of 1941, and 1944/45 and in the Dodecanese Islands in 1943/45 and in Yugoslavia in 1943/45 and who have no known graves.

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Location of Phaleron War Cemetery- Athens Sunda Bay War Cemetery –Crete Sunda Bay War Cemetery is located on the northern coast of Crete and is situated on a slope with views of the sea and is located in an olive grove. The cemetery is now the resting place of 1,502 Commonwealth Servicemen who died defending Crete. The site was chosen after the war and enabled the transfer of remains from their original burial grounds at Iraklon, Rethymnon, Galata and Chania.

Sunda Bay War Cemetery Crete

Also in Crete about 85 km from Sunda Bay on the coastal road in Stavromenos is a Memorial to the Australian, British and Greek Serviceman and the Crete Partisans who help defend Crete. Australia –Canbera In Australia the deeds of the Australians and Greeks in defending Greece and Crete is commemorated by the Australian- Hellenic Memorial adjacent to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Australian- Hellenic Memorial- Canberra

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Australian Units who served in Greece and Crete

Greece HQ 1 Aust. Corps HQ RAA 1 Aust. Corps 1 Aust. Corps Field Cash Office 1 Aust Corps Signals 1 Aust Corps Salvage Unit 1 Aust Corps Postal Unit 1 Aust Corps Troop Supply Column 1 Aust Corps Ammunition Park 1 Aust Corps Petrol Park 1 Aust Corps Anti Tank Regiment 6th Division HQ 6th Division 6th Division Cavalry Regiment Artillery HQ 6th Division RAA 2/1; 2/2; 2/3 Field Regiments 2/3; 2/4; Light A.A Regiments; 2/7 LAA (Battery) 2/1 Anti Tank Regiment 16 Anti Tank Company Engineers HQ RAE HQ Corps Tps Engr. 2/1; 2/2; 2/8 Field Companies 2/2 Field Park Company Signals 6th Division Signals Infantry HQ 16th Infantry Brigade 2/1; 2/2; 2/3 Infantry Battalions HQ 17th Infantry Brigade 2/5; 2/6; 2/7 Infantry Battalions HQ 19th Infantry Brigade 2/4; 2/8; 2/11 Infantry Battalions 2/2 Machine Gun Battalion 18th Infantry Training Battalion Service Corps HQ ASC 6th Division Supply Column 6th Division Ammunition Company 6th Division Petrol Company Medical 5th ; 6th ; 8th Aust General Hospitals (AGH) 2/1st Motor Ambulance Convoy (MAC) 2/1st ; 2/3rd Casualty Clearing Stations (CCS) 2/1st & 2/3rd Field Hygiene Sections 2/1st ; 2/2nd ; 2/7th Field Ambulance Provost 1 Aust Corps Provost Company 6th Division Provost Company 7th Division Provost Company Support Units 2/2 Aust Field Workshops 80 Light aid Detachment (LAD) 6th Division Salvage Company 6th Division Field Cash Office

6th Division Postal Unit 2/2 Ordnance Store Company 6th Division Employment Platoon 6th Division Reception Camp 7th Division Reception Camp HQ Guard Battalion AIF Adm. HQ Aust. Army Canteen Service

Crete HQ 16th ; 17th ; 19th Brigade Artillery 2/2; 2/3 Field Regiments 7th LAA Battery Engineers 2/1Field Company; 2/8 Field Company (strength of 150) 2/2 Field Park Company Signals 1 Aust Corps Signals 6th Division Signals Infantry 2/1; 2/2; 2/3; 2/4; 2/5; 2/6; 2/7; 2/8; 2/11 Battalions 2/1 Machine Gun Battalion Medical 5th Aust General Hospital 2/1; 2/2 2/7 Field Ambulance Provost 6th Division Provost Company 7th Division Provost Company Ordnance Provost Section Ordnance 2/1 Ordnance Store Company 2/2 Ordnance Store Company 40 Base Ordnance Depot (BOD) Support Units 2/2 Aust Field Workshops 40; 80 Light Aid Detachments (LAD) HQ AIF Postal Unit 6th Division Postal Unit HQ 6th Division HQ 1 Aust Corps 6th Division Field Cash Office HQ Base Area Unit Finance Section 16th Brigade 2/2 & 2/3 Composite Battalions 17th Brigade 2/5 & 2/6 Composite Battalions

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Units/Formations other than Australian involved in the Greek and Crete Campaign

Country Greece Crete New Zealand

4th Brigade 5th Brigade 6th Brigade 27th Machine Gun Battalion 1st New Zealand Hospital 4th, 5th & 6th Field Ambulance 4th Field Hygiene Sec.

4th Brigade – 18th & 19th Infantry Battalions 5th Brigade – 21st & 22nd 28th (Maori) Infantry Battalions NZF Composite Infantry Battalion 10th Brigade- 20th &23rd Battalions Divisional Cavalry Regiment. 4th Field Regiment 1st Battalion Rangers. Engineers Detachment Provost – 23rd NZ Battalion Field Punishment Centre


1st Armoured Brigade 2nd Armoured Brigade 3rd Royal Tank Regiment 2nd Royal Horse Artillery 64th Medium Regiment Kings Royal Rifles 26th British General Hospital 189 Field Ambulance- 4th & 168th Light Field Ambulance 24th Casualty Clearing Station. 48th Field Hygiene 7th Advanced Depot Medical Stores Ambulance Car Company RAF Units

14th Brigade – 4 Battalions; Kings Royal Rifles 2nd Battalion Black Watch Regiment 2nd Battalion Yorks & Lancaster Regiment 2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment 1st Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders 1st Battalion Welsh Regiment 2 Commando Units Royal Marine Detachment ( 2 Sections) 1st Armoured Brigade 3rd Hussars (13 light Tanks) 7th Royal Tank Regiment (8 Matilda Tanks) Northumberland Hussars 106th Royal Horse Artillery (used as Infantry) 7th Medium Regiment RA (used as Infantry) 102nd Anti-Tank (used as Infantry) 234th Medium Battery; 156th Light Anti Aircraft Battery; 5th Coastal Defence Regiment 42nd Field Company Royal Engineers 187th Field Ambulance

Greek 12th Division, 19th ; 20th Division 21st Regiment West Macedonian Army Central Macedonian Army (22 Divisions) Epirus Army Dodecanese Regiment 5th Cretan Division Palestinians & Cypriots (4,670)

Cretan Gendarmerie [Police Force] (800) 1st Greek Regiment (Kastelli Kissamou) 2nd ; 3rd ; 4th Greek Regiments 5th ; 6th ; 7th ; 8th Greek Regiments ‘Royal Perivolians’ Composite Battalion Cretan Irregulars

German 2nd Armoured Division 9th Armoured Division 112th Reconnaissance Unit Kleists’ Panzer Group 40th Corps SS Adolf Hitler Division

1st Assault Regiment -5 Battalions 7th Air Division -1st,2nd & 3rd Parachute Regiments (each 3 Battalions) 4th & 5th Mountain Divisions 11/100th Mountain Regiment 31st Armoured Regiment – 1 Battalion 5th Gebirg Division – a Panzer Battalion & a Motorcycle Battalion

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List of some of the ships involved during the Battle of Greece and Crete


Battleships HMS Barham (damaged) HMS Warspite (Flagship) HMS Valiant (damaged) Heavy Cruisers HMS Ajax (sunk) HMS Calcutta; HMS Carlisle; HMS Coventry HMS Gloucester (sunk) HMS Hermes HMS Orion HMS Phoebe HMS York (sunk) Light Cruisers HMAS Perth Aircraft Carriers HMS Formidable HMS Illustrious (damaged) Minesweepers HMS Flamingo (sunk) HMS Hyacinth (sunk) [Corvette] HMS Muroto HMS Salvia (sunk) Hospital Ships Oba ; Dorsetshire Armed Merchant Vessels MV Delos Transports (HMT) HMS Glenearn (damaged) HMS Glengyle HMS Glenrey HMT Pentland (sunk) HMT Ulster Prince (sunk) Landing Craft LCT- Landing Craft Tank LCA- Landing Craft Assault/Troops LCM- Landing Craft Mechanised/Vehicles Naval Oil Tanker RFA Brambleleaf Unknown designation HMS Bonaventure (sunk) HMS Auckland

Destroyers HMAS Stuart HMAS Vampire; Vendetta; Voyager HMAS Waterhen HMS Decoy; Defender; Diamond (sunk) HMS Griffin; Grimbsy HMS Hasty; Havock; Hereward; Hero; Hotspur HMS Isis HMS Kandahar; Kimberley; Kingston HMS Nubian HMS Wryneck (sunk) HMS York (sunk) Transports MV. Cameronia SS Ardybank SS British Lord (damaged) SS British Science [oiler] (sunk) SS Cherryleaf SS City of London SS Clan Frazer (destroyed) SS Costa Rica (sunk) SS Cyprian Prince (sunk) SS Delane SS Devis (sunk) SS Dilwarra SS Itria SS Ionia ( evacuated nurses) SS Kirkland SS Khendive Ismail SS Northern Prince (sunk) SS Port Halifax SS Rocos SS Runo SS Salmat (sunk) SS Salween SS Scottish Prince (damaged) SS Teti SS Thermoni SS Thurland Castle SS Zealand

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Naval Battle Maps

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Cruiser Helle (sunk) Submarine Papantkolis Transports SS Bantia; SS Salmat (sunk) all on board lost. MV Hellas (sunk)

Destroyers Hydra (sunk) Oilers Nicholas Embririos (sunk); Solheim Koulanders Xenos ; Homefield (sunk) Peridies (sunk)

Other Nations

Danish Oilers Marie Maersk (sunk) E. Lonora Maersk

Italian Battleship Vitoria Vineto (Flagship) (damaged) Cruisers Flume (sunk); Pola (sunk); Zara (sunk) Angelo Cabrini Destroyers Alfieri (sunk); Carducci (sunk); Tullis Tedeschi; Garibaldi Alruzzi; Trento; Triestes; Bolzano Torpedo Boat Lupo


Battleships HMS Valiant (damaged) HMS Warspite (damaged) Heavy Cruisers HMS Ajax (damaged) HMS Calcutta (sunk) HMS Carlisle (damaged) HMS Coventry HMS Dido HMS Fiji (sunk) HMS Gloucester (sunk) HMS Naiad (damaged) HMS Orion (sunk) HMS Phoebe HMS York (sunk) Light Cruisers HMAS Perth Aircraft Carrier HMS Formidable(damaged) Submarines HMS Thrasher; HMS Torbay Sunderland Flying Boat.

Destroyers HMAS Napier; Nestor (sunk); Nizam (damaged) HMAS Stuart HMAS Vampire; Vendetta; Voyager HMAS Waterhen HMS Decoy; Defender HMS Greyhound (sunk) HMS Hasty; Havock; Hero; Hereward (sunk); Hotspur HMS Ilex; Imperial (sunk) HMS Jackal; Jaguar; Janus; Javlin; Jervis; Juno (sunk) HMS Kandahar; Kashmir (sunk); Kelly (sunk); Kelvin; Kimberley; Kingston; Kipling HMS Nubian Minelayer HMS Abdiel HMT Glengyle Transports SS Cossiebank SS Corinthia SS Rawnsley (sunk)

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Naval Casualties

Type of Ship Sunk Damaged Killed Wounded Aircraft Carrier 1 Battleship 3 Cruisers 3 6 Destroyers 6 9 Crew 2000 500

Military Casualties Crete

Killed Wounded POW Evacuated 1742 1737 11,833 7,000 British

3,000 Australians 4,500 New Zealanders

* The Greek casualties are unknown.

Royal Air Force 30 Squadron – Blenheims 203 Squadron – Blenheims 33 Squadron – Hurricanes 80 Squadron – Hurricanes & Gladiators 112 Squadron – Hurricanes & Gladiators Sunderland Flying Boats

Fleet Air Arm 805 Squadron – Flumes & Swordfish

Blenheim Bombers used during the Battle for Crete

Hurricane Fighter used during the Crete Campaign - 44 -

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Service details of some of the Military Police who served in the Greek and Crete Campaign

Casualties- Australian Army Provost Corps buried Phaleron War Cemetery Greece Rank Surname Forenames Regiment Service No. Age. Date of Death Commemoration

Lance Corporal JERROM Roy Matthew Australian Army Provost Corps VX15471 24 27th May 1941 ATHENS MEMORIAL Greece Face 12

Rank Surname Forenames Unit Text Regiment Service No. Age Date of Death Commemoration

Lance Corporal BARNES Albert George Ashworth A.I.F. 1 Corps Pro. Coy Australian Army Provost Corps VX36662 29 29th March 1941 Phaleron War Cemetery Greece. 3.A.20

Additional Information

Son of Roy Clarence and Ida Louise Jerrom

Additional Information

Son of George & Margaret Barnes Husband of Moira Evelyn Barnes

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Rank Surname Forenames Unit Text Regiment Service No Age Date of Death Commemoration

Lance Corporal MONK Hance Robert A.I.F. 1 Corps Prov. Company Australian Army Provost Corps VX43784 27 23rd April 1941 Phaleron War Cemetery Greece. 3.B.11

Additional Information

Son of Hance & Alice Monk of Talbot Victoria.

Phaleron War Cemetery Athens

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The grave of L/Cpl Barnes

Plaques in the Memorial Walkway Australian War Memorial Canberra

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Nominal Rolls Provost Corps

1 Australian Provost Company

Personnel Remarks Captain Henry Lewis Officer Commanding VX7482 Captain John Hazel MID 2IC – former 7939- CSM 18th ASC WWI VX36662 L/Cpl Albert George Barnes KIA 29/3/1941 SX5599 Sgt (Capt) Thomas Blackmore Sgt Goss VX31217 Cpl John Graham VX6009 Cpl (Lt) James Grey Trans to14 Ind Bde GP Provost Platoon VX40256 Lt Lester Gaffney VX15471 L/Cpl Roy Matthew Jerrom KIA 27/5/1941 L/Cpl McGregor L/Cpl Moon VX43184 L/Cpl Hance Monk KIA 23/4/1941 VX25038 Cpl (Lt) Bernard Patton Trans to LHQ VX26543 Cpl Thomas Peterson L/Cpl Rousel VX24444 Cpl (Lt) James Preece VX30911 Cpl Ira Vender Smith VX26035 Capt Aubrey Smith Trans to 9 Div WO I.F. Harris Dave Prion Fred Munday Robert (Bob) Jones Charles (Charlie) White L/Sgt Jon Hurford 6th Division Provost Company

Personnel Remarks SX4121 Capt (Maj) William King Officer Commanding VX9778 Maj Thomas Duncan Cunningham Enlisted Militia V81362)- Vic Police Officer Capt (Major) Godfrey Hawker DAPM 6 Division Capt Robert Forsyth WX1501 S/Sgt (WO1) Thomas Osborne MM Sgt Hicks Sgt Kerr Sgt Phillips Dvr Nott Sgt John Taylor Colour Patches worn by Provost Companies Greece/Crete Campaign 1st Australian Corps Provost 6th Division Provost Company 7th Division Provost Company Company

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7th Division Provost Company

Personnel Remarks NX12506 Capt. (Lt Col) John Grimshaw MC Officer Commanding SX5597 Lt Stewart M Jones L/Cpl Batenby L/Cpl Barnes Cpl Barrington L/Cpl Clarke Cpl Delaney Sgt Finch Sgt George Sgt Harris L/Cpl Hurst NX18016 L/Cpl Kenneth Laughton Cpl Robert McPherson Cpl McEvoy Cpl H.J Murray Sgt Maddern NX27366 L/Cpl Harvey William Mallyon Taken POW Cpl Pearce L/Cpl Potts L/Cpl Swinfield NX14771 Sgt (Lt) Edwin Trench MM KIA 12/1/1943 New Guinea Sgt Walton NX21614 Cpl Norman Mc Farland

Other involved in the Campaign Major E. J. Lane DAPM VX29226 Major Alexander Forster

Recruiting poster painted by Sir William Dargie of Senior Sergeant Tom Osborne MM directing traffic at Lamia during the withdrawal from Greece the picture depicted

the Military Police in their combat role.

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Recollections of an Australian/Greek Veteran –Sgt Michael (Mick) Doulis 2/1st Field Company Engineers In the words of Mick Doulis as a boy growing up in Australia I thought that the learning of Greek ‘was a waste of time’. He was to find that his ability to speak Greek would be most helpful during his service in Greece and Crete during the occupation of these countries during World War II. Mick was to remain behind in Crete after the withdrawal of the 6th Division in 1941 and was to earn the distinction of being one of the few Australian soldiers to remain on active duty during the occupation. During his thirteen months on Crete he was working for the British Intelligence Service one of his roles was liaising with the Cretan Resistance. Whilst the locals were able to tell he was not a local due to his accent the Germans were unable to tell the difference when he was dressed as a Greek and was able to produce Greek identity papers. He was able to achieve his function of obtaining information for British Intelligence by volunteering to work for the Germans when other Greeks would not the Germans thought that he was pro-German. One of his roles was to locate the German ammunition and fuel dumps pass the information on to the British. The Resistance would then blow them up using their own explosives. During his time in Crete he was captured twice and escaped both times. When he was finally evacuated to the Middle East he realise how valuable he was as the Germans had placed a bounty of one million Marks on his head.

Mick Doulis

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Bibliography Australian Corps of Signals – Story of the Australian Corps of Signals – AWM 1953. Baker Kevin- Paul Cullen – Citizen and Soldier Rosenberg Publishing 2005 Beevor Anthony – Crete the Battle & the Resistance – Penguin Books Australia 1991 Department of Veterans Affairs A Great Risk in a Good Cause- Australians in Greece & Crete April & May 1941 – DVA 2001 Hellenic- Australian Memorial Park Rethymno-Crete DVA 2001 Edwards Geoffrey. The Road to Prevelly – E.G. Edwards- 1989 Firkins Peter. The Australians in Nine Wars- Waikato to Long Tan – Rigby Ltd 1971 Johnstone Norman. ‘Dearest Geraldine’- Letters from a soldier. – Norman Johnstone -2003 Kokanas N.A. M.D. - The Cretan Resistance 1941-1945 - The Official British Report 1945 N.A Kokanas Crete Laffin John. Anzacs at War –Castle Books 1982 Liddel-Hart B.H. History of the Second World War - Pan Books 1973 Long Gavin, Australians in the War of 1939-1945, Greece Crete & Syria- Australian War Memorial 1953 Macdougall G. K. Australians at War – Pictorial History – Five Mile Press P/L 2002 Odgers G. Army Australia – an Illustrated History - Childs & Associates 1988 2/4 Aust Infantry Battalion Association White over Green – A History of the 2/4 Battalion. Angus & Robertson 1963 Wahlert G. The other Enemy? – Australian Soldiers and the Military Police. Oxford University Press Melbourne 1999. Walsh Matthew – Personal Oral Interviews conducted with Veterans. After the Battle No 47 Battle of Britain Prints International Ltd. London 1985 Wartime – The Australian Experience of War- Issue 15- The official magazine of the Australian War Memorial 2001.

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The author Matt Walsh JP. MLO ALGA (MCAE), Dip Bus & Corp Law (CPS) was called up for National Service in 1957 and received a deferment, by late 1958 he had become tired of waiting and enlisted in the local Citizen Military Forces (CMF) Unit, 19 Company (Tipper) Royal Australian Army Service Corps (RAASC) at Ashfield. He was to later find out that this was the same unit that his grandfather had served in during World War I. In 1959 he was finally called up for National Service serving with the 13th National Service Training Battalion at Ingleburn on completion of his full time service he was posted back to 19 Coy RAASC, until the cessation of National Service in 1960. In 1961 he re-enlisted in the CMF with 5 Field Squadron Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) in 1963 transferred to 1 Division Provost Company (Military Police) and then to 2 Division Provost Company, he took his discharge in November 1969 with the rank of Sergeant. He has served on the Executive Committee of the Defence Reserves Association (NSW), the Military Police Association of Australia and the NSW Military Police Association, the Joint Committee for the Commemoration of the Battle for Crete and the Greek Campaign, the Reserve Forces Day Council, the Ashfield RSL Sub Branch and the NSW National Serviceman’s Association and is a Director of The Army Museum of New South Wales Foundation. He has been awarded the ’Australian Defence Medal‘ and the ‘Anniversary of National Service Medal’ in January 2006 he was awarded the ‘Australia Day Achievement Medallion by the National Australia Day Council in 2007 he was appointed a “Member of the Order of Liverpool” by the Council of the City of Liverpool. . In 2002 he wrote the “History of Ingleburn Military Camp” which now forms part of a Schools Military History Program which he developed and is being used in the New South Wales Schools and in England (City of London) the Canadian Education system and two Schools in Greece and Schools on the Somme in France..

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