Sir John Valentine Carden survives.

Trying to hold it might commit some (all?) of the available German airborne force to hold a bridgehead to allow a decent bridge to be bullt. That wouldn't help Crete
Don't you mean "would?" If lots of paratroopers die early they won't be able to land on Crete in May.
 
Annoying but doable with effort and Germany has air superiority by this point so disrupting the engineering team will be hard. Probably slow them a day or so even if the bridges have been blown.
It will delay them as long as it takes to get enough bridge parts to make a rigid span to cross a 27m chasm (plus enough extra to act as a counter-balance).

Part of the problem with defending that canal would be where you actually defend it from. Presumably there were no fortifications at that point, so anything attempted will be pretty roughshod at best by the time the Germans arrive with their air superiority and such.
True. But if the bridges are out, it will still take a not-insignificant amount of time to build a bridge, especially one capable of sustaining an advance.

Trying to hold it might commit some (all?) of the available German airborne force to hold a bridgehead to allow a decent bridge to be bullt. That wouldn't help Crete
Indeed. the loss of troops before Crete certainly wouldn't help their chances.
 
I stayed in Corinth several years ago and was quite excited when we left to go to Athens to look at the canal, but foolishly hadn't anticipated that driving across it on a motorway would mean I didn't see much for long. Had we not been en route to the airport I would have turned around.

Anyway, nice place. First and last time I will ever do gin shots at a nightclub (they ran out of vodka and my Russian pal thought he'd try his luck).
 
Looking at that, with some proper fortifications set up on one side of it, it would be hell to cross. I suppose the reason the Greeks never built any was because if somebody got that far it was all over anyway?
That, and/or they thought that any enemy coming that far would be so exhausted they wouldn't have the forces?
 
All good points, but an `bridge` is never something of an stand alone, more important is the road network from and to the bridge. Tactical you could have a bridge build inside of an week, but when you build it in the middle of nowhere (zilch defenders), you have lot of trouble with your logistics if they have to travel over goat paths.....
 
NB Obviously this is about a month ahead of OTL schedule. I am using this quote from here as the basis for the speeding up:
If twelve tanks shortened the campaign by many weeks, then 30 should hopefully do even more so.
Makes sense. So, Italy is going to get kicked out of East Africa much sooner.

What does this mean for prince Amedeo, I wonder? OTL, he had caught TB and malaria during the campaigns and died in a POW camp shortly after the fighting was over, but from what I recall, he was already very ill when taken prisoner. Might getting caught earlier actually save him?
 
Having transited the corinth canal i can tell you it is one very deep ditch!!! Our ship had approximately one meter clearance either side.
If I recall correctly there was a small area of low land that could be used for a pontoon bridge at the western end of the cannal.
 
Defending the Corinth Canal - means that the campaign has gone very badly and is effectively lost and therefore any such action should be considered a rear guard action while the allied forces are evacuating everything they can rather than an opportunity to wrest victory from the jaws of defeat.
 
Having transited the corinth canal i can tell you it is one very deep ditch!!! Our ship had approximately one meter clearance either side.
If I recall correctly there was a small area of low land that could be used for a pontoon bridge at the western end of the cannal.
This website mentions a 'substantial' tidal current in the canal due to differences in tide times between the two ends: https://www.maritimeprofessional.com/blogs/post/corinth-canal-13392
Mind you, it doesn't give a figure for the currents, so I'm unclear on if it would be something pontoon bridge engineers wouldn't normally encounter on rivers.
 
10 March 1941. Athens, Greece.
10 March 1941. Athens, Greece.

The arrival of the forward party of 1st Armoured Brigade had reinforced for the British Military Mission in Athens the problems of Operation Lustre. Sending a British Expeditionary Force to Greece was looking more and more difficult. The mining of the Suez Canal had closed it again, so that some of the ships necessary to bring the troops from Egypt weren’t able to enter the Mediterranean. This would slow the planned build-up of the forces.

The reconnaissance troops from 1st Armoured Brigade, working in civilian clothes and borrowing civilian transport, reported that the roads up to the Aliakmon Line would be almost impossible for the cruiser tanks to use. They asked explicitly if anyone in General Wilson’s command had actually looked at the situation? It seemed to the men on the ground that the planning had been done using large scale maps, and possibly some aerial photography. Not only were the roads unsuitable, it was noted that the passage of tanks would likely destroy them more or less completely for anyone following them.

The alternative was to move the tanks by rail to Larissa, but the Greek railway was already under a great deal of pressure. It wasn’t clear whether the railway had enough flat cars to be able to move the tanks. Worse was the news that far fewer of the promised Greek Battalions were actually manning the Aliakmon Line. There were some Greek troops there, and since the rest of the promised forces would be marching, it wasn’t looking as if the Greek promises would be kept, at least to the timescale agreed. It also seemed that the idea of withdrawing troops from the Albanian front to reinforce the Aliakmon Line wasn’t happing with any rapidity.

One part of the reconnaissance had gone all the way to the Yugoslav border to look at what was known as the Monastir Gap. Here, it became clear that this was the fundamental threat. While, with enough time and enough troops and anti-tank guns the Aliakmon position could be a strong position it had a very clear Achilles heel.

When Brigadier Harold Charrington looked over the reconnaissance report with General Wilson, the British commander of the Greek operation, it became clear that there was a lot of wishful thinking and not a great deal of actual planning going on. Charrington had been hearing whispers from General Wavell’s staff that there was a team working on a plan for evacuating the British force, almost alongside the team planning the arrival of the same forces.

Knowing what had happened in the fall back to Dunkirk, Charrington made the suggestion that his Brigade, with the elements of the Support Group he had, should be based at Vevi. If the Germans did attack through the Monastir Gap, then his 150 tanks had the best chance blunt that attack, allowing the infantry forces to pull back from the Aliakmon Line to the south. There was the chance that he could leap-frog his three Regiments back through a serious of rear-guard positions all the way to Larissa.

General Wilson, who had been attempting to keep a low profile since arriving in Greece, was aware that he hadn’t walked the ground that the men under his command would be expected to fight on. The reports he was receiving were painting an ever-blacker picture.

The original plan for Charrington’s Brigade was to out in front of the Aliakmon Line, covering the demolitions and slowing down the expected thrust coming from Bulgaria. The problem with that, like everything else, was the danger of attacks by the Luftwaffe. There were too many choke-points and vulnerable bridges or gorges, where a well-placed Stuka raid could cut off or slow down a retreating force. On the other hand, one Regiment of Cruiser Tanks might slow a German attack, giving the New Zealanders and Australians a bit more time to get organised.

General Wilson and his RAF liaison had already had various conversations about the air cover needed for the disembarkation from the ships and then for the troops travelling to their positions. The problem was that the RAF was really short of effective aircraft. The Gladiators were holding their own against the Italians, but they would be sitting ducks for German fighters. The Hurricanes were better but they weren’t really front-line aircraft anymore. While the nation was grateful for the RAF’s victory in the Battle of Britain, it had given a false impression that the RAF would be able to do wonders. General Wilson was constantly being told that his hopes for continual and effective air cover were always going to be dashed.

The Quartermasters were looking at building up Field Supply Depots, as they had in the Western Desert, but they were faced with a very different set of circumstances. The numbers of actual roads in Greece suitable for heavy vehicles were few and far between. The spring rains had made anything else that might be described as a road to be little more than a mud track. Many of the ‘roads’ were steep and winding, needing a very different set of driving skills from that of the desert. The real needs were for pack animals, something that the British army didn’t have, and the Greeks had none to spare.

Charrington’s plan for preparing for a withdrawal made Wilson look again at the plan. The first New Zealand Brigade to arrive was still getting itself sorted out before heading towards the area around Mount Olympus. Because of the problems of shipping, the equipment was coming by merchant ship, and the men being carried in Royal Navy cruisers and destroyers. Anthony Eden had quoted Churchill’s remarks about another ‘Norwegian fiasco’, and General Wilson could see the potential of that being the case. He therefore agreed with Brigadier Charrington’s assessment of the Monastir Gap, but decided that only two of the armoured regiments would be based there, with one more out ahead of the Aliakmon Line. He would however, reinforce the 2nd Support Group to give the Vevi force a more rounded balance of tanks, infantry and artillery. He also urged Charrington to reconnoitre, and prepare, his fall back positions to Larissa and beyond.
 
Anthony Eden had quoted Churchill’s remarks about another ‘Norwegian fiasco’, and General Wilson could see the potential of that being the case
Yes quite, though how Britain hopes to avoid it without months of preparation remains to be seen.
On the other hand, one Regiment of Cruiser Tanks might slow a German attack, giving the New Zealanders and Australians a bit more time to get organised.
I take it that permission has been given for the Australian troops to be used then? Have to say i'm slightly surprised.

All in all another grand update. The potential for disaster is plain to see, the only question is will Britain be able to get enough done to prevent it. The combined arms Vevi force should be a nice addition. I look forward to finding out how events unfold.
 
Why not just cancel the whole thing? I thought churchill had delegeted the authority to withdraw/cancel the whole operation to the theater commander?
 
Why not just cancel the whole thing? I thought churchill had delegeted the authority to withdraw/cancel the whole operation to the theater commander?
If the theatre commander wants to end his career.

It's a lose-lose decision. Withdraw before you lose your command and be sacked. Lose your command and be sacked.
 
If the theatre commander wants to end his career.

It's a lose-lose decision. Withdraw before you lose your command and be sacked. Lose your command and be sacked.
If your career is in the bin whatever you do then why not preserve the forces to defend Crete (etc).
 
Top