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Documents Relating to New Zealand's Participation in the Second World War 1939–45: Volume I

402 — General Freyberg to Lieutenant-General Arthur Smith, General Headquarters, Middle East

General Freyberg to Lieutenant-General Arthur Smith, General Headquarters, Middle East

9 May 1941

Your letter of 5 May.1 By now you should have received full details of all British units in Crete. The Australian and New Zealand figures have been sent to their respective headquarters.

The following is a summary of the troops organised: three British battalions of 14th Brigade; four weak and improvised battalions from Rangers, Northumberland Hussars, 7th Medium Regiment, 106th Royal Horse Artillery; five Australian battalions; seven New Zealand battalions and two other improvised units. As guns arrive I am forming artillery batteries. In addition there are some 10,000 British and Imperial troops and 10,000 Greeks without arms, 800 Greek airmen without aeroplanes, and 15,000 Italian prisoners of war.

The Greeks are pressing me to raise a Cretan militia but, however desirable this may be, it is dependent on the receipt of arms and the settlement of the policy for the future of the Greek Army. I am impressed with the Greek rank and file but a great deal of dead wood must go, especially officers. However, the King of Greece and the Prime Minister and senior officers are willing at the moment that Greek troops should be put under British officers. As far as manpower is concerned, I am certain that one division could be

1 Not traced.

page 296 raised at once, and two divisions eventually, if the problem is tackled at once before they become despondent from lack of equipment and employment. The problem of officers and instructors will not be so easy and they will require help. There is great scope here for a really live commander, but the man you ask about is not the right man.

Until the Greeks are equipped and trained, four brigade groups is the minimum garrison required for the island. Further details have been given to your Brigadier General Staff.1

1 Brigadier A. Galloway. See page 190, note 2.