On patrol in Crete, 1941


Captain Fred Baker gives an account of a patrol taken on May 20, 1941 in Crete. This is taken from a full report given by Captain Baker on the Greece/Crete Campaign March - June 1941.

At approximately 0630 hours on the 20th May enemy aircraft were again heard over the Maleme ‘drome.  Activity appeared to be increasing but at first we were not worried.  However, at approximately 0715 hours, while the small Company Headquarters group were breakfasting we were strafed by planes which concentrated on our area.  Everyone immediately rushed to his weapon pit while the Company Commander, Major Dyer, took up his position in the look-out in the poplar tree.  He was there when the first of the parachutists were dropped over the Aerodrome area.  I relieved him there at approximately 1000 hours.  In the meantime some very useful equipment including enemy rifles, ammunition, bombs etc. were dropped by mistake in our areas and enabled us to fit out all members of the Company a few of whom until then had been short of weapons.  At about this time also a large troop carrying plane which had evidently dropped its load landed in flames on the edge of D Company area.

In the period 0900 hours to 1100 hours approximately, the number of enemy dropped in the aerodrome area considerably increased.  We were able to obtain a good view of the parachutists leaving the planes and floating down and also of the flights of gliders which were at this stage coming in large numbers.  The enemy, both parachute and glider, destined for the Galatos/Canea area passed either over us or slightly south of us but appeared to lose height considerably as they passed over the hills immediately behind Platanias.

At approximately 1130 hours a fully laden glider landed approximately 600 yards west of the outer defences of D Company.  Leaving the glider on the beach its occupants made for a house near the beach some 200 yards further away from D Company.  Here they joined up with a few other stray enemy personnel including the pilot of a fighter plane which had also made a forced landing in that area.  At 1430 hours acting on orders received from the C.O. through Major Dyer, I led two platoons in an attack on this house (Note: I notice in the chronology it is stated that these were 2 platoons from C Coy.  This is wrong.)  One platoon from C Coy. under 2/Lt. Reedy moved with myself while the second platoon being No. 17 D Coy. led by 2/Lieut. F. R. Logan was on our left.  The area between D Coy. and the house occupied by the enemy was for the most part quite bare and therefore considerably exposed to any likely attack from the air.  To minimise the risk I instructed all men and their section commanders that they were to keep at least 15 yard intervals between them and in the event of enemy air attack were to lie on the ground until the planes were actually above them.  We had not covered the first 100 yards when the first enemy fighters commenced to machine-gun us and by the time we were within 250 yards of the house we were receiving some attention from approximately twelve planes, which continued to circle and machine-gun us each time they came round.  However we pushed home the attack which was contested by the glider troops, the platoon from C Company moving in very extended order along the beach area while 2 Liet. Logan with his platoon on the inland side swung in an arc and finally captured the house.  The enemy who were located in patrols in the sandy ara around the house having lost some seven or eight men in the fighting and realising that their case was hopeless surrendered.  Prisoners taken comprised two officers including the fighter pilot, and eight other ranks.  These men were marched back immediately to Company H.Q.  and finally to Brigade, and it gave a great fillip to morale of the men with me to see the terror exhibited by these Germans when they commenced to receive attention from their own fighter aircraft while they were marched along the beach.

After stripping the enemy dead of fighting weapons bombs, binoculars etc. and after an examination of the plane in which I located certain maps and documents which were afterwards handed to Brigade Headquarters and after an inspection of the glider the patrol returned to D Company's area.  I reported in there at 1800 hours after having received continuous attention from enemy aircraft during the return journey also. Note: total number engaged in this operation were 45.  Two casualties - slightly wounded.  There was no further activity in D Coy. area that evening although through out the night a third of the Company remained on duty at all times, ready for any emergency.


Archives New Zealand = Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Ref:  2NZEF 28 NZ (Maori) Battalion - Report on Activities During Greece and Crete Campaigns - F Baker. 
WAII 1 181 DA 68/15/3, pp 11-13.



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