Battlefield History Tours

Battlefield History Tours
Incorporating History and Heritage tours

On Tour - Greece and Crete Tour 19 April 2023


After the very nice breakfast that we always get here each year, we started our day by heading east to Rethymon to go through the details on the ground of the excellent defence by Colonel Campbell and the men of the 2/1st and 2/11th Battalions and the supporting arms. This was an active Defence that never let the German Paratroopers gain the initiative. Even through the Germans actually landed in numbers on the vital ground and captured the artillery that Campbell had and some of his machine guns, Campbell had taken back that position before the end of the first day.

The Battle went on for 8 days and with many German prisoners being held by his force, after Chania fell at the Western end of the island and the general evacuation had begun, Campbell had to surrender his force and release the prisoners, over 300, that he was holding. Major Sandover of the 2/11 did not surrender his men but allowed any who wanted to run for the hills, do so. Eventually a number of officers and 39 men avoided capture and were picked up by submarines and taken to Egypt.

We left the memorial where we had conducted a small service in recognition to those brave men who had fought, won but had to surrender and made our way into the hills to visit the Army run Museum high above Rethymon. The Museum is located in an old Venetian summer chalet that had been built in 1620 by one of the richest men in Rethymon at the time. Over the years, the chalet had been owned by the Ottomans until their expulsion in the late 1800s and the local village and community but after many years of neglect the Army bought the site and refurbished it for their Museum. The building has been restored to a fine standard and it is back to as it was when first built with some modifications. After our visit to the Museum we returned to the city of Rethymon where Elena took us on a walking tour of the old city. Following our tour we had free time in the town to further explore and to have lunch.

Tomorrow we head back to Rethymon to trace the route taken by our force to the evacuation beaches that will allow us to fight again.

Graham Fleeton.


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