Official Histories – Second World War

Volume II – Greece, Crete and Syria (1st edition, 1953)

Gavin Long

This second volume of the army series of the official history of Australia in the war of 1939-1945 describes the campaigns in Greece, Crete and Syria in 1941. In Greece the main British force in the field was the Anzac Corps, commanded by Sir Thomas Blamey and including the 6th Australian Division, the New Zealand Division, and a British brigade. A number of Australian units took part in the fight for Crete in May 1941. The 7th Australian Division and some units of the 6th fought in Syria as part of the I Australian Corps commanded by General Lavarack. Examination of German and French documents has made it possible now to tell what was happening on “the other side of the hill” in these operations. It is now possible to examine the decision to send all available forces to the aid of Greece and the decision to invade Vichy–French Syria with full knowledge of the plans and deployment of the enemy forces.

These campaings raised new problems of wartime cooperation and consultation between the British Government and the Australian Government, and in this period Australian Ministers and Australian commanders were required to take greater strategical and tactical responisbilities than at any earlier time.

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Title Page
Contents, Illustrations, Maps, Sketch Maps, Preface, and List of Events i
Chapter 1 – Britain and Greece 1
Chapter 2 – The German Attack Opens 29
Chapter 3 – The Rearguard Actions in the Florina Valley 53
Chapter 4 – The Olympus–Aliakmon Line 72
Chapter 5 – The Critical Days 95
Chapter 6 – The Thermopylae Line 131
Chapter 7 – The Embarkation From Greece 160
Chapter 8 – Escapes to Crete and Turkey 185
Chapter 9 – Retrospect 191
Chapter 10 – The Problem of Crete 197
Chapter 11 – The Loss of Maleme Airfield 221
Chapter 12 – Defence of Retimo 256
Chapter 13 – Heraklion – Defence and Embarkation 279
Chapter 14 – Retreat and Embarkation 295
Chapter 15 – Political Decisions 320
Chapter 16 – The Syrian Plan 333
Chapter 17 – The First Day 345
Chapter 18 – Across the Litani 360
Chapter 19 – Pressing On: To Sidon, Merdjayoun and Jezzine 375
Chapter 20 – The French Counter–Attack 393
Chapter 21 – Damascus Falls 415
Chapter 22 – More Attacks Round Merdjayoun 443
Chapter 23 – Hard Fighting at Jezzine 452
Chapter 24 – Preparing a Final Blow 467
Chapter 25 – The Battle of Damour 482
Chapter 26 – Administering the Armistice 515
Chapter 27 – Debit and Credits 523
Chapter 28 – On the Northern Flank 530
Chapter 29 – The End of a Period 551
Appendix 1 – Abbreviations 563
Index 565