Military History Tours On Tour - Greece and Crete Tour 8 May 2013
This morning we followed the evacuation route of those heading to Sfakia. We drove up the mountain over the route of the withdrawal from the Chania area to the evacuation beaches at Sfakia. The country that they travel up and over was rugged indeed. We drove in a a/c coach where most of our force walked.
A few shots show the terrain and the difficulties they must have had as there were no prepared food or water dumps and they were fighting rear-guard actions as they went. The more you walk the ground where this campaign was fought, the more you realise that General Freyberg and the Brigadiers from his Division were culpable in creating this nightmare for the men. Some officers certainly get promoted beyond their ability, they were brave men but not able to cope with decision making at this senior level.
Just outside the Askifou Plain we stopped at a café that is located at the start of one of the major bushwalking ravines and had a local delicacy, goat cheese pancake with special mountain herbs and local honey washed down with herbal tea.
Finally arrived a Sfakia where we discussed the evacuation assembly area and marvelled how on such a small beach they could take off 6,000 in one night and 15,000 overall. Unfortunately 5,000 were left on the beach including the 2/7th Battalion.
On the way to the Preveli Monastery we had our lunch stop near a Venetian Castle from around the 13th Century. Well preserved and worth a visit.,
After lunch we moved on to the Monastery which had helped over 5,000 people during the German occupation starting with the 600 or so Australians and New Zealanders that it hid prior to them being picked up by submarines, such as the HMS Thresher, who came in over many nights for months to gather escapees who without that help would have been picked up by the Germans.
We viewed the Monastery, the church, museum and memorial and finally headed back to Rethymon.