Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

To Greece

The Artillery prepares to Cover the Withdrawal

The Artillery prepares to Cover the Withdrawal

The artillery units with Allen Force had now to prepare for a series of rearguard actions. In the morning there had been sixteen1 25-pounders, but after midday three guns from A Troop 5 Field Regiment had been sent back to Larisa, two of them with faulty tell-tale valves. One from F Troop 4 Field Regiment and one from A Troop 5 Field Regiment were in anti-tank positions near Evangelismos and the other eleven had been giving supporting fire across the six-mile front.

In the early afternoon the artillerymen were well aware of the changing front. Stragglers had reported that 21 Battalion was pulling back, in the central sector Germans could be seen to have crossed the river and from the west reports had come in of the enemy about Parapotamos. Every effort had been made to halt these movements but the targets had been too numerous for the limited number of guns, and now that the front was disintegrating it was difficult to get accurate information. By 2 p.m. the only observation post functioning was that of Captain Bliss on the ridge of A Company 21 Battalion and the signals from him were becoming increasingly faint. The shelling of the river crossings was then directed by Lieutenant Hanna,2 who had scaled a tree at the command post. The same officer, when news came through of the tanks entering Tempe, suggested that the guns should be moved to positions better suited for anti-tank warfare, but permission was refused.

Shortly afterwards, however, probably because of Hanna's representations, D Troop 4 Field Regiment was recalled by Lieutenant Carson,3 the acting4 command post officer. As it was moving back through the other two troops, Stukas bombed the guns and caused much confusion and delay but no casualties. At the end of the raid Major Stewart, on orders from Lieutenant-Colonel Parkinson, instructed Clark to place his troop in a rearguard position. On the way Clark met Brigadier Allen, explained his task and was left to select the positions for himself. The guns were eventually in page 335 position east of the road and behind Point 214, a good observation point.

The other troops, E and F, remained in their original positions to oppose the German advance towards Evangelismos and to cover the inevitable withdrawal.

1 26 Battery 4 NZ Field Regiment and A Troop 5 Field Regiment.

2 Lt-Col G. P. Hanna, OBE, m.i.d.; Auckland; born Auckland, 21 Apr 1916; solicitor; BM 2 NZ Div Arty May–Nov 1942; GSO II 2 NZ Div Nov 1943–Jun 1944, Oct 1944–Feb 1945; GSO I (Ops) NZ Corps 9 Feb–27 Mar 1944; CO 5 Fd Regt May–Sep 1945.

3 Maj W. N. Carson, MC, m.i.d.; born NZ 16 Jul 1916; warehouseman; died of wounds 8 Oct 1944.

4 Lieutenant Clark, the troop commander, returned from the left flank just as the troop was moving out. See p. 330.