Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–45


by D. M. Davin

War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs

Wellington, New Zealand


Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Crete till the Evacuation of Greece

Chapter 2: British and German Preparations, 25 April–19 May

New Zealand Arrivals from Greece – Dispositions of New Zealand Force – Defensive Decisions – General Freyberg Takes Command – Preparations of 2 NZ Division: 30 April–19 May – German Preparations

Chapter 3: First Day of Battle: 20 May

Maleme and 22 Battalion – the Other Battalions and 5 Brigade HQ – Canea-Galatas Sector – Retimo, Heraklion, and Creforce

Chapter 4: The Second Day: 21 May

The Maleme Sector – Galatas and Canea Fronts – Retimo, Heraklion, and Creforce

Chapter 5: The Third Day: 22 May

The Counter-attack at Maleme – the Canea-Galatas Front – the Decision to Withdraw 5 Brigade – Retimo, Heraklion, and Creforce

Chapter 6: The Fourth Day: 23 May

The Withdrawal of 5 Brigade – the Canea-Galatas Front – Retimo, Heraklion, and Creforce

Chapter 7: The Fifth Day: 24 May

The Canea-Galatas Front – Other Fronts and Creforce

Chapter 8: The Sixth Day: 25 May

The Attack on Galatas – the Counter-attack for Galatas – the Decision to Form a New Line – Other Fronts and Creforce

Chapter 9: The Seventh Day: 26 May

The Line East of Galatas – the Decision to Withdraw – the Withdrawal of the Brigades and the Movement of Force Reserve – Other Fronts and Creforce

Chapter 10: The Eighth Day: 27 May

Force Reserve and 42nd Street – Behind 42nd Street

Chapter 11: Withdrawal and Evacuation

The Ninth Day: 28 May – the Tenth Day: 29 May – the Eleventh Day: 30 May – the Twelfth Day: 31 May – the Capitulation: 1 June

Chapter 12: Conclusion


Appendix 1: ‘Crete News’

Appendix 2: Escape of the King of Greece

Appendix 3: German Attacks on 7 General Hospital and 6 Field Ambulance, 18 and 20 May 1941

Appendix 4: Summary of Strengths of all British and Greek Forces in Crete, 20 May 1941

Appendix 5: Casualties

Appendix 6: Unit Casualties in NZ Division

Appendix 7: Escapes

Appendix 8: Evacuations from Crete

Appendix 9: Return Visits to Crete





Landing stores for the British garrison in 1940: British Official – Lewis gun overlooking Suda Bay: British Official – General Wavell, GOC-in-C Middle East, during his visit to Crete in November 1940: British Official – New Zealanders from Greece enter Suda Bay: NZ Army – March to the transit camp: C. R. Ambury – Meal-time under the olives: E. K. S. Rowe, D. M. Burns – Cleaning up: E. K. S. Rowe – Men of 19 Army Troops Company resting: E. K. S. Rowe – Group of 20 Battalion on day of arrival: C. E. Thomas collection – 5 NZ Infantry Brigade HQ at Platanias: New Zealanders in a village street: NZ Army – 7 General Hospital, showing Red Cross ground sign: A. H. Thomas – German paratroops on a Greek airfield: Dr K. Bringmann – Wrecked Junkers 52 troop-carriers at Maleme: German source – ‘For each man dangling carried a death, his own if not another’s.’: Dr K. Bringmann – Crashed German glider: NZ Army – Junkers 52s dropping paratroops: E. K. S. Rowe – A dead paratrooper in 19 Battalion area: N. E. Andrews – Looking towards Canea from the west: NZ Army – Smoke clouds over Canea: NZ Army – Smoke pall over Suda Bay: S. B. Cann, AIF – General Freyberg watches the landing from his Battle Headquarters: J. C. White – Troops of 5 Mountain Division ready to embark from Greece: Dr K. Bringmann – Aerial photographs of Maleme area and airfield: British Official – Infantry counter-attacking Maleme airfield: I. E. Dawson – Junkers troop-carriers burning at Maleme: E. K. S. Rowe – Crete News – Ack-ack fire scores a hit at Heraklion – Bombing at Heraklion – Ay Marina: E. K. S. Rowe – A German machine-gunner covers the advance: German source – ‘the Galatas Heights’ from the Alikianou-Canea Road: E. A. Vedova – the Church at Galatas: German source – Farran’s disabled tank in a Galatas street: German source – Germans enter Galatas after the attack: German source – British destroyer hit by a bomb – Brigadier Hargest during the battle: from an 8-mm cinematograph film by John Gray – Brigadier G. A. Vasey after his return from Crete: Australian Official – the withdrawal from Stilos: W. W. Mason collection – Askifou Plain from the north: NZ Army – Filling a water-bottle from a well: R. T. Miller – Pushing a truck over the bank at the end of the retreat: from an 8-mm cinematograph film by John Gray – Sappers after the march over the mountains: P. B. Wildey – Ravine leading down to Sfakia: NZ Army – Moving down towards the beach: N. E. Andrews – Sfakia – Sfakia from the air: RAF Official – the village of Sfakia at the time of the evacuation – Creforce HQ cave at Sfakia – Inside the cave, General Freyberg in centre: J. C. White – HMAS Nizam returns to Alexandria: British Official – On board a destroyer: V. C. Gordon collection – Back in Egypt: British Official – Vice-Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham and Rt. Hon. Peter Fraser meet returning troops: NZ Army – Brigadiers E. Puttick and L. M. Inglis – Staff-Sergeant T. Moir, who returned to Crete in February 1943 to help escapers: J. McDevitt collection – Ravines in mountainous country crossed by escapers: J. McDevitt collection – Cove where Royal Navy picked up Moir’s party: J. McDevitt collection

List of Maps

Eastern Mediterranean

Crete, topography and Allied dispositions, 20 May

Maleme, intended and actual landing areas of Assault Regiment, 20 May

Maleme, 5 Brigade, 20 May

Galatas, intended and actual landing areas of 3 Parachute Regiment, 20 May

Suda Area, enemy landings, 20 May

New Zealand Divisional Area and enemy landings, 21 May

Maleme counter-attack, 21–22 May

Galatas, 25 May

Beritiana-Stilos, 28 May

Withdrawal routes to Sfakia

Naval operations, 20 May to 1 June

Maleme, 22 Battalion, 20 May

Galatas, Composite Battalion, 20 May

Retimo, 20 May

Georgeoupolis, 20 May

Heraklion, 20 May

Canea-Galatas sector, 22 May

Platanias and Stalos, 23 May

Galatas, 24 May

Kastelli, 20–26 May

Counter-attack at Galatas, 25 May

Canea, 26 May

Force Reserve, 27 May

42nd Street, 27 May

Babali Hani, 28 May

Withdrawal, 29 May

Sfakia, 30 May

Sfakia, 31 May

Naval Operations, 20 May to 1 June