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Sir John Valentine Carden survives.

Since Crete seems to be coming up a lot, here is maybe the best source I have found on it:

It basically includes analysis of the operation by various allied intelligence agencies and officers after the fact. Its pretty comprehensive and includes what they knew (a surprising amount by the time the reports were created) about the German preparations, deployment and equipment, the same for the Allies and what went wrong, including lessons for next time.

The Problems with Crete go beyond armoured forces but it was also a close run thing, so a few armoured forces may make a difference. Hopefully you find it useful.

Before we get to Crete, there is still Greece. The attack on Crete depended on having sufficient airfields within range of Crete. IIRC most of those for the fighters and some of those for the transports were on Greek islands between the mainland and Crete. I believe Rhodes was used as well. If the Germans suffer heavier losses in Greece, and the Allies (including the Greeks) less, it might be possible that some of those airfields are not available, or not available in time. Likewise if the occasionally mentioned idea of invading Rhodes goes ahead before the fall of Greece (which I think is unlikely, but still) then there is one less airfield available and one more priority for the Axis to try and take.
Having checked the source I posted earlier, I found this on the German airfield deployment:
Fighters and dive bombers used newly constructed landing fields on the southern PELOPONESE and airdromes at MOLAOI, MILOS, CORINTH, ARGOS, SCARPANTO. Transport planes cane generally from the ATHENS-CORINTH area; some came from SEDES and MIKRA airports at SALONIKA. Long-range bombers took off from airdromes in the vicinity of THEBES and SALONIKA. Italian bombers from RHODES and German bombers from SICILY operated against shipping.
The final disposition of aircraft in preparation for the attack was as follows:

Germans Dive Bombers: MOIAOI, ARGOS, CORINTH, SCARPANTO, MILOS
Single-engine fighters: MOLAOI, MILOS, CORINTH, ARGOS
Long range fighters: ARGOS, CORINTH and ATHENS area
Long range bombers and recce.: ATHENS (ELEUSIS and MENIDI), SALONIKA (SEDES and MIKRA), BULGARIA (KROMOVO and PLOVEIV), RHODES
Transport aircraft: ATHENS (ELEUSIS, MENIDI), MEGARA, CORINTH, PERIVALI, TANAGRA, TOPOLIA, SALONIKA (SEDES and MIKRA).
Molaoi, Corinth and Argos are all on the mainland, and unless the British can do significant damage to them in the retreat, they are likely to be available. Scarpanto was in Italian hands before the war. Milos was a Greek held island, but I don't know how feasible denying it to the Germans would be. I can't find any references to Allied troops there prior to the German invasion.

Eleusis (and presumably Menidi) was used by the RAF, and I think that it was captured by the Germans intact with all fuel and stores. If it is properly destroyed in the retreat (possibly with the explosives taken off the Clan Fraser) that could inconvenience the Germans a little as they repair it. I am not sure it would do much to delay the operation to Crete though. Even taking Rhodes doesn't seem like it would significantly torpedo the operation if the Germans decide to go ahead with it.
 
Having checked the source I posted earlier, I found this on the German airfield deployment:


Molaoi, Corinth and Argos are all on the mainland, and unless the British can do significant damage to them in the retreat, they are likely to be available. Scarpanto was in Italian hands before the war. Milos was a Greek held island, but I don't know how feasible denying it to the Germans would be. I can't find any references to Allied troops there prior to the German invasion.

Eleusis (and presumably Menidi) was used by the RAF, and I think that it was captured by the Germans intact with all fuel and stores. If it is properly destroyed in the retreat (possibly with the explosives taken off the Clan Fraser) that could inconvenience the Germans a little as they repair it. I am not sure it would do much to delay the operation to Crete though. Even taking Rhodes doesn't seem like it would significantly torpedo the operation if the Germans decide to go ahead with it.
The slower and more bloody the attack on Greece is, the longer the Allies on Crete are given to prepare.
 
Eleusis (and presumably Menidi) was used by the RAF, and I think that it was captured by the Germans intact with all fuel and stores. If it is properly destroyed in the retreat (possibly with the explosives taken off the Clan Fraser) that could inconvenience the Germans a little as they repair it. I am not sure it would do much to delay the operation to Crete though. Even taking Rhodes doesn't seem like it would significantly torpedo the operation if the Germans decide to go ahead with it.
Start with more basic questions. The West Macedonia Army Detachment of the Greek army frex is 5 infantry and 1 cavalry divisions. Veteran formations that in the two engagements they actually had with the Germans, (the Cavalry division stopping the German 73rd Infantry cold at Pisoderi) and then XIII Infantry against Leibstandarte at Lake Kastoria did rather well.

Every single additional day the Germans are delayed at Monastir allows more of it the retreat and join up with the allied forces in Macedonia, besides the Greek divisions further west retreating to Epirus without the threat of German encirclement. It's probably too late to hold the Olympus line but its not too late to cause additional delays to the German advance south allowing you to evacuate to Crete and Egypt both more men from the training centres in south Greece (about 40,000 recruits of which roughlt a quarter was evacuated OTL) and the fighting army (The Cavalry division and at least elements of XIII infantry seem pretty likely, as do from the forces pulling back into Epirus the V Cretan division and elements of other units)
 
Start with more basic questions. The West Macedonia Army Detachment of the Greek army frex is 5 infantry and 1 cavalry divisions. Veteran formations that in the two engagements they actually had with the Germans, (the Cavalry division stopping the German 73rd Infantry cold at Pisoderi) and then XIII Infantry against Leibstandarte at Lake Kastoria did rather well.

Every single additional day the Germans are delayed at Monastir allows more of it the retreat and join up with the allied forces in Macedonia, besides the Greek divisions further west retreating to Epirus without the threat of German encirclement. It's probably too late to hold the Olympus line but its not too late to cause additional delays to the German advance south allowing you to evacuate to Crete and Egypt both more men from the training centres in south Greece (about 40,000 recruits of which roughlt a quarter was evacuated OTL) and the fighting army (The Cavalry division and at least elements of XIII infantry seem pretty likely, as do from the forces pulling back into Epirus the V Cretan division and elements of other units)
That is an earlier question, but I don't know that it is more basic. If you are referring to the West Macedonian Army Section (which seems to have a different composition than you mention so maybe not the same thing) they were deployed in Albania. Though commanders in it had apparently advised retreat before the German invasion, afterword they considered that the retreat would lead to a disintegration. Something that did start to happen as they pulled back. The corps commanders eventually negotiated with the Germans without their commanders knowledge to keep the army out of Italian hands. I am not sure if the British holding longer at Monastir would keep this formation together.

If you mean the East Macedonian Army Section, my understanding is that they were encircled by 9 April by the drive on Thessalonica, separate from the thrust on Monastir:
1621173963728.png

Without this force abandoning the Metaxas line and retreating to the Aliakmon line or the British putting a lot of troops up to the Metaxas line I don't think this formation can be saved.

If you mean the Central Macedonian Army Section it was only two divisions, and was deployed with W force already.

So long story short, I am not sure which formation you are referring to. Could you give some detail of where they were while Monastir was ongoing and how fast they can fall back?
 
That is an earlier question, but I don't know that it is more basic. If you are referring to the West Macedonian Army Section (which seems to have a different composition than you mention so maybe not the same thing) they were deployed in Albania. Though commanders in it had apparently advised retreat before the German invasion, afterword they considered that the retreat would lead to a disintegration. Something that did start to happen as they pulled back. The corps commanders eventually negotiated with the Germans without their commanders knowledge to keep the army out of Italian hands. I am not sure if the British holding longer at Monastir would keep this formation together.

If you mean the East Macedonian Army Section, my understanding is that they were encircled by 9 April by the drive on Thessalonica, separate from the thrust on Monastir:
View attachment 651150
Without this force abandoning the Metaxas line and retreating to the Aliakmon line or the British putting a lot of troops up to the Metaxas line I don't think this formation can be saved.

If you mean the Central Macedonian Army Section it was only two divisions, and was deployed with W force already.

So long story short, I am not sure which formation you are referring to. Could you give some detail of where they were while Monastir was ongoing and how fast they can fall back?

Per the map, can anyone give any insight into the composition of 2nd army in OTL and its supporting air power? I'm just curious if there was an equipment mismatch (Panzer 3's and large air wing versus limited anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns) that would have kept the Greek/UK force on their back foot regardless of greater infantry numbers? Cheers!
 
That is an earlier question, but I don't know that it is more basic. If you are referring to the West Macedonian Army Section (which seems to have a different composition than you mention so maybe not the same thing) they were deployed in Albania.
Depends on how you translate ΤΣΔΜ into English. I tend to prefer detachment to section but both are usable. Either way not having my copy of the Greek Army History directorate handy, but from memory aside from the Cavalry division (with 21st brigade attached) and XIII infantry, IX, X and XVI infantry. I may be misremembering XV Infantry, early in the war it was part of WMAS in the battles of Korytza and Pogradec.

Though commanders in it had apparently advised retreat before the German invasion, afterword they considered that the retreat would lead to a disintegration. Something that did start to happen as they pulled back.
That's not quite correct. Army units retreating into Epirus did start to disintegrate yes. But after their lines of communication were cut off by the German advance in Macedonia (and Wilson had retreated on his own that has been a subject of recriminations for the past 80 years so will leave it aside). Either way the WMAS primary line of supply was the Florina-Thessaloniki railroad and the easiest line of retreat was avoiding to be thrown into Epirus, which both compicates the retreat of the Epirus army section and forces it into longer marches over mountains with limited supply and few roads but instead retreat either along Korytza-Florina towards Ptolemaida, or if that's not available towards Kastoria.

Which in both cases ideally means someone, holding the Germans off north of Florina. The map below illustrates things a bit better. In effect as soon as the Germans are at Kastoria anything to the west and north of it is lost. OTOH any units that have made it to the south of Kastoria in time still have their chances...

1621179445567.png
 
Depends on how you translate ΤΣΔΜ into English. I tend to prefer detachment to section but both are usable.
Certainly. Not trying to dispute the translation of a language I have zero authority on, just trying to clarify which force we are talking about.

And to that end, just to be clear, we are talking about the force that was deployed on the Albanian front, not the one holding the Metaxes line, correct?


That's not quite correct. Army units retreating into Epirus did start to disintegrate yes. But after their lines of communication were cut off by the German advance in Macedonia
Fair enough, my only source is Wikipedia and the Kings and Generals YouTube episode.

However, according to Wikipedia, the order to retreat was only given on 12 April. Already by that time the Australians and the Dodecanese regiment are being pushed back at the Klidi pass. Now a good British armoured force at the right time could maybe have allowed for more time, but AIUI it was only ever meant to slow the Germans down. So I wonder if the order to retreat would have been given to the WMAS(D?) if the British had actually managed to hold the Germans on the Vermion line? If it had, how quickly could troops be moved along a single track like that?

Personally I don’t think the Vermion line can be held indefinitely. And I can’t really fault Wilson’s decision to pull back. But, let’s say we look at a compromise position? If the decision is still made to pull back to the Kleisoura pass as OTL, but a better prepared British force held Kilda pass until the 15/16 rather than to the 12/13 IOTL, allowing 12 and 20th division to pull back in good order, how much of the WMAD do you think could get out before the Germans broke through and cut the line?
 
Certainly. Not trying to dispute the translation of a language I have zero authority on, just trying to clarify which force we are talking about.

And to that end, just to be clear, we are talking about the force that was deployed on the Albanian front, not the one holding the Metaxes line, correct?
Of course. The 3 divisions in East Macedonia were lost the moment Papagos left them there and Yugoslavia went down. Probably they could had held out a few more days if so ordered and some men might have escaped by sea but that's about it.

Fair enough, my only source is Wikipedia and the Kings and Generals YouTube episode.

However, according to Wikipedia, the order to retreat was only given on 12 April. Already by that time the Australians and the Dodecanese regiment are being pushed back at the Klidi pass. Now a good British armoured force at the right time could maybe have allowed for more time, but AIUI it was only ever meant to slow the Germans down. So I wonder if the order to retreat would have been given to the WMAS(D?) if the British had actually managed to hold the Germans on the Vermion line? If it had, how quickly could troops be moved along a single track like that?
The order for general withdrawal from Albania was on the 13th. The order to withdraw the WMAS was in the night of April 8th on the other hand along with the order to Wilson to push his armoured force into the Monastir gap to conduct a delaying action. Still to quote from Swastika over the Acropolis

"Such moves, of almost 160 kilometres for some divisions, were to commence on the night of 12-13 April. Meanwhile, it would be absolutely essential that the CMFAS divisions deploying onto the Siatista-Klisoura Passes, and the Greek Cavalry Division at Pisoderion Pass, hold on until at least 16 April, when the WMFAS should be clear of Grevena. If the Germans broke through these passes and took Kastoria, they would be in the rear of the WMFAS and would cut off its line of retreat in direction Koritza-Kastoria-Grevena."

"As a further indication of the dire risk posed to the safe withdrawal of the Greek Albanian armies by the German 40th Corps’ advance, especially if the Siatista-Klisoura-Pisoderion Passes fell, during the day Papagos also ordered the 11th Greek Division to redeploy from Leskoviki to Metsovon Pass, to protect the rear of the Albanian armies, just in case the Germans broke through. Importantly, Papagos requested from W Force’s rear headquarters in Athens an assurance that the 1st (UK) Armoured Brigade
would be available to operate in the Florina Valley to cover the withdrawal of the CMFAS and Greek divisions in Albania. The British headquarters readily agreed—apparently ignorant of Wilson’s unfolding plan at the front to withdraw this formation, along with the rest of Mackay’s force, south into the Olympus-Aliakmon Line during 12 April.
"

Emphasis mine above because this is both critical for the battles and where the POD has an obvious effect since the TTL 1st armoured brigade is a rather more powerful and effective force compared to OTL.

How much is practical to save if we assume the whole force cannot retreat in time? The Cavalry division seems a reasonable minimum. At least part of the XIII infantry is likely doable as well. Elements of the XII and XX infantry can retreat along with the British if they are doing better. In Epirus there is the interesting V Cretan to consider its men pouring south in near mutiny... in hopes of reaching Crete with their weapons and fight on.
 
I was once standing beside the WO^1 of the Australian Army (it was both a rank and an appointment) when a young female digger asked him what he got that particular medal for, pointing to his chest. Now, it is a naughty no-no to ask such matters and he took one look at her and said, "years of not getting caught." She jumped back when she realised she had made a big mistake and he and I just laughed at her reaction. ;)
Long service NCO's are the same the world over.
 
"As a further indication of the dire risk posed to the safe withdrawal of the Greek Albanian armies by the German 40th Corps’ advance, especially if the Siatista-Klisoura-Pisoderion Passes fell, during the day Papagos also ordered the 11th Greek Division to redeploy from Leskoviki to Metsovon Pass, to protect the rear of the Albanian armies, just in case the Germans broke through. Importantly, Papagos requested from W Force’s rear headquarters in Athens an assurance that the 1st (UK) Armoured Brigade
would be available to operate in the Florina Valley to cover the withdrawal of the CMFAS and Greek divisions in Albania. The British headquarters readily agreed—apparently ignorant of Wilson’s unfolding plan at the front to withdraw this formation, along with the rest of Mackay’s force, south into the Olympus-Aliakmon Line during 12 April.
"

Emphasis mine above because this is both critical for the battles and where the POD has an obvious effect since the TTL 1st armoured brigade is a rather more powerful and effective force compared to OTL.

Another interesting tidbit again from Swastika over the Acropolis:

"Papagos later wrote in scathing terms concerning the withdrawal of Mackay’s force and its ‘failure’ to hold long enough to cover the withdrawal of the 12th and 20th Greek Divisions properly. He considered that Mackay’s losses did not warrant such a retreat during 12 April—he should have held longer. Moreover, although Papagos stressed that—contrary to later W Force conclusions—sizable elements of both CMFAS divisions did indeed make it to their new positions, he observed that the fighting strength
of both formations was badly reduced by the need for haste. This rush was necessitated, he argued, by Mackay’s premature withdrawal. Furthermore, no warning of the early retreat was provided to the Greeks on the western flank, or to Greek General Headquarters. While there were certainly additional reasons for the difficulties faced by these Greek divisions during their redeployment, Papagos’ criticism has never been refuted."
 
Are there any Cretan forces available to be "trained up" by the Commonwealth to supplement their numbers?
 
Long service NCO's are the same the world over.
Indeed. I served with a WO^1 who had joined as a digger in BCOF (British Commonwealth Occupation Forces - Japan) and done his time in Korea. He went on to serve in Malaya, Vietnam (Twice) and when I encountered him he had officially just "retired" from the Regular Army into the Reserves. He was a nice bloke. I only ever once earned his ire and I knew it, in a big way. He's now dead from "Jimmy Dancer". He commanded from respect of his men and his men respected him.
 
Papagos requested from W Force’s rear headquarters in Athens an assurance that the 1st (UK) Armoured Brigade
would be available to operate in the Florina Valley to cover the withdrawal of the CMFAS and Greek divisions in Albania. The British headquarters readily agreed—apparently ignorant of Wilson’s unfolding plan at the front to withdraw this formation, along with the rest of Mackay’s force, south into the Olympus-Aliakmon Line during 12 April.
"
Again, I am only working from Wikipedia but :
TSKM, taking knowledge of the situation, ordered the 20th Division to counter-attack and retake its lost positions. Such a mission however was beyond the capabilities of the scattered division. With the permission from GHQ, the commander of TSKM (Mj. Gen. Karassos) asked W Force commander, Lt. Gen. Wilson, to commit Brig. Charrington's 1st Armoured Brigade for a counter-attack. Although Wilson gave the order, Charrington interpreted it as a "suggestion" rather an order, and ignored it.
Not sure if it’s the same instance, but if it is the decision may not have been Wilson’s.

Ok, so the more time bought in the North, the more troops may be saved. Conversely, the greater requirements on the transports getting them to Crete.

Would be interesting to have the Cretan Division fighting on Crete.
 
Hm, with fewer ships lost, and less damage to Pireaus, plus a possibly slower German advance, I suspect rather more Greek and Allied troops can be evacuated. This bodes well for the defence of Crete, and operations in the theatre later in the war.

There also then presents the question of, are the any of the other Aegean Islands it might we worth taking a shot at trying to defend? Specifically, I was thinking of Antikythera, as it's slightly closer to the mainland, and although under-developed, might, with a little work, be made suitable to operate light aircraft (eg, the Westland Lysander, often used by the SOE).

I also wonder if, with the potentially less panicked retreat, someone might get the idea to not just blow the bridges across the Corinth Canal, but actually try to wreck the canal itself, via sunken ships, landslides, etc.
 
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perfectgeneral

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Kastellorizo (18) and Karpathos (12) can both support an air base. The former is halfway to Cyprus and the later halfway to Crete. Both make controlling Rhodes airspace (larger island between them) more achievable. These islands mentioned all form a southern chain of airbases to protect sealanes into suez and the eastern Med. As Italian islands they are legitimate targets for invasion so would be garrisoned.
 
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Well you might be able to seize (and hold) Kastellorizo with a small force, but I'm not so sure about Karpathos. In addition, going for the ancillary island first might tip the Italians/Germans off that you're going to make a play at Rhodes, and so cause them to reinforce it.
 
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Well you might be able to seize (and hold) Kastellorizo with a small force, but I'm not so sure about Karpathos. In addition, going for the ancillary island first might tip the Italians/Germans off that you're going to make a play at Rhodes, and so cause them to reinforce it.
This, Karpathos could probably be taken cheaply but then Rhodes becomes much more expensive. If you take Rhodes first then Karpathos becomes pretty cheap as you make the island position effectively untenable and almost impossible to reinforce.
 
9 April 1941. Cairo, Egypt.
9 April 1941. Cairo, Egypt.

Although the invasion had only begun a few days before, to General Wavell it was already clear that the Greeks were doomed. Despite their excellent efforts at the Metaxas Line, the chances of holding back the Germans at the Aliakmon Line were diminishing by the minute. The news that the German mountain troops had managed to get behind the Greek Line was an obvious sign that the Greek’s ability to resist would be undermined. This, with the news from Yugoslavia that the Germans had already taken Skopje, hopes that the Yugoslav army would hold up the German invaders for any length of time seemed to be fading.

Generals Wilson, Blamey and Freyberg were pushing as hard as they could to get their units into position, but it was becoming clear that some of the New Zealanders and nearly all the Australians weren’t going to have enough time to settle themselves in good defensive positions before they were confronted by the German advance. The A13 tanks of the 4th Hussars were working between the Aliakmon Line and the Axios River in conjunction with the Greeks, and were tasked with slowing the German advance to the Aliakmon Line as much as possible. The previous day they had supervised the destruction of bridges over the Axios River. The reports mentioned some long-ranged sniping by the British tanks, but no clear outcomes were observed. The tanks were supporting the Greek 19th Division (barely a Brigade by British standards), but it was feared that the German advance towards Salonika would have little or nothing in its way to stop it. Wavell was reassured that the 4th Hussars had clear orders to fall back to the Aliakmon Line rather than get involved in any futile effort to prop up a Greek failure.

General Wilson had already asked General Blamey to hold the Australian Brigades, not yet in position on the Aliakmon Line at the Servia Pass. This bent the planned Aliakmon Line out of shape, but provided some degree of protection from a thrust down the Monastir gap. The other two tank regiments of 1st Armoured Brigade (1st Kings Dragoon Guards, 3rd Hussars), along with the other forces working around Vevi were to play a similar role of trying to blunt a German attack from that direction. A reconnaissance force had reported that there was a build up of German tanks on the north side of the River Crna, north of Monastir. The bridge there had been destroyed, but it couldn’t be long before the Germans would resume their advance. Brigadier Charrington had the route the Germans were likely to take well reconnoitred, and had set the 3rd Hussars, with elements of 2nd Support Group, the task of slowing the German advance, withdrawing back to the main positions at Vevi. General Blamey had ordered the incomplete Australian 19th Brigade to reinforce this position, but only the 2/4th Battalion were in position, the 2/8th Battalion were still arriving.

General Wavell didn’t want to second guess Wilson, but he wondered if it would be better for those forces not yet in their designated positions to begin fortifying the narrower positions at Thermopylae. Air Chief Marshall Longmore pointed out that holding a line at Thermopylae, the RAF would lose most of its airfields in the Plain of Thessaly. Wavell agreed that this would be a significant problem, but already the RAF was struggling to keep any kind of umbrella over the lines of communications. Wavell suggested that Longmore began to look seriously at his plans for withdrawing the bulk of his command to Crete, and possibly back to Egypt. One of the staff remarked that it would be wise to prepare demolitions so prevent the Luftwaffe from using them too quickly once they were overrun. This was noted to be passed on the RAF Commander in Athens.

There were obviously problems of communication in Greece, and Wavell was disturbed at the way General Wilson was organising things. He judged it would be better if Wilson stayed back in Athens, with the Air Force and Naval Commanders in a joint headquarters, leaving Blamey as 1st Australian Corps Commander to command the units of W Force. Instead, Wilson had split his HQ into two, and more often than not he was incommunicado because of failures in the Signals Corps capacity to deal with multiple Headquarters. This also impacted on the time it took for the British and Greeks to communicate with each other, and there was a dearth of translators. The British officers were using their best public-school French to try to bridge the language gap, a recipe for disaster. It also seemed to Wavell that Wilson and Blamey could be at cross purposes, especially if Wilson agreed to change things to suit the Greek Army without consulting Blamey.

Wavell also noted that the Luftwaffe raid on Piraeus the previous night, which had sunk some ships, but thankfully not affected the port’s capacity too much, would likely be repeated. He was conscious that more of Blamey’s Australians (four Infantry Battalions and one Artillery Field Regiment) and their equipment had just put to sea from Alexandria that morning, and he had expressed the view that these would be better sent to Crete, rather than Greece. The chances of holding a position on mainland Greece, with the Greek army already exhausted was too much to ask the Australians and New Zealanders alone. Re-routing the last of the 6th Australian Division would leave Blamey shorthanded, but the chances were that they would otherwise be fed piecemeal into the ongoing battle. Strengthening the British 14th Brigade in Crete with a reinforced Brigade of seasoned Australians might be a better use for them.

When this idea had been communicated to General Blamey, along with the information that due to shipping problems, the 7th Australian Division and the Polish Brigade were being held back in Egypt, it had left the Australian General furious. In his cable to Wavell, he noted that this decision would put the 6th Australian and 2nd New Zealand Divisions in grave peril. The task given to him, as Corps Commander, would barely be achievable, even with if he had a full Corps of troops. To have just five Infantry Brigades and one Armoured Brigade to attempt to do the job was impossible. Wavell relented and the rest of the Australian battalions were routed to Pireaus rather than Crete. The Polish Independent Brigade Group was currently in Haifa, awaiting transport to Greece. One of staff suggested sending this unit to Crete, if Wavell wanted to reinforce that island. That would give CreForce two Brigades, without giving General Blamey the extra headache of another language barrier. It was clear that this would depend on the Royal Navy and their timetable, but Wavell agreed.

The 7th Australian Division, like the 9th in Cyrenaica, were still short of equipment, training and transport. Wavell felt that if he sent the whole 7th Australian Division to Greece, they would be in danger of hardly having arrived before it would be necessary to evacuate them. Wavell still was concerned with the German build up at Tripoli. Intelligence had confirmed that the German General commanding the ‘Afrika Korps’ was Erwin Rommel, formerly commander of 7th Panzer Division. There was a surprising number of clashes in the area between the British and Italian/German main positions, with mixed results. For the most part these were being described as ‘reconnaissance in force’ running into the British positions. Wavell had supposed that it would take time for the Germans to acclimatise and train in desert warfare, but it seemed that the new German commander wasn’t keen on sitting around waiting for something to happen. Therefore, Wavell wanted to keep the 7th Australian Division was part of his strategic reserve, until the 4th Indian Division arrived from Abyssinia and had time to rest and refit.

General Hutchison reported on the timetable of the expected unloading from the convoy which was just beginning to arrive at Suez. There were enough Infantry Tanks to re-equip the 7th Armoured Division. The arrival of the 9th (Highland) Division to take over responsibility for the Canal Zone, would free up the newly reformed 22nd Guards Brigade and three more Regular Battalions to reform 23rd Brigade, these two would join 16th Brigade in a fully established 6th Infantry Division. This would give General O’Connor a full Regular British Infantry Division to be used offensively, along with 7th Armoured Division, even if it was equipped with Infantry Tanks. With the 9th Australian Division, an Armoured Brigade and the Indian Motorised Brigade, Wavell believed that O’Connor would have a strong enough force to finish the job.

The three Landing Ship Infantry conversions, HMS Glengyle, Glenroy and Glenearn, with the Commando force under the command of Colonel Robert Laycock had arrived in the Great Bitter Lake. Wavell had earmarked these for another attempt at mounting an offensive with Rhodes as its main goal. The problem was that the Royal Navy was over-stretched already protecting the convoys to Greece, that getting Operation Cordite up and running would have to take a back seat for the moment. These three ships however would be handy, even if it was just to transport the Poles to Crete quickly. The Royal Navy’s representative took a note of it and agreed to look into it.

Wavell could see that come May, General O’Connor should have everything he needed to knock the Italians and the Germans out of North Africa, whatever happened in Greece. However, things in Iraq were beginning to deteriorate, and the Vichy French in Syria were something of a distraction. If the situation in Iraq continued as it was, then he would need at least a Brigade, preferably from India rather than his own command, to keep a lid on it. The situation in East Africa continued to improve, with General Cunningham’s long march north from Kenya being something of a masterstroke. The sooner that was wrapped up the better. Having both the South African Division and the 5th Indian Division would give Wavell a degree of flexibility that he hadn’t had before.
 
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Sorry it's taken so long to get another update written, but I've been having trouble planning out the Greek campaign ITTL. The situation above is about the same as OTL, with the main difference being First Armoured Brigade having a full compliment of Cruiser tanks that are in reasonable shape mechanically.
Allan
 
So Greece will hopefully go a bit better than OTL (fewer men captured, and a slower advance), and Crete will almost certainly hold, plus maybe taking Rhodes a little later in the year too. Add to that North Africa, and the entire Mediterranean area of operations is looking overall fairly positive.
 
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