Waiting to surrender on Crete

British prisoners of war on Crete, pictured after the surrender, later in June, 1941

R H Thomson was a New Zealand soldier amongst the 5000 troops who were forced to surrender at Sphakia after the evacuation was halted.

The British Navy, and some of the British Army, left the island of Crete – but I didn’t. Nor did several thousand other dejected lads. Sunday, June the first, was a black day indeed for many assorted British huddled in valleys back from the beach at Sphakia, a small village on the south coast.

They were faced with the alternative of swimming two hundred and fifty miles to Egypt, or of just waiting. So they just waited – quietly, reflectively, unhappily. No one even spoke. Everybody was too dispirited.

We all knew we should not have been in this plight. Although we didn’t have nearly enough gear to match the German’s airborne equipment, we did have the human qualities needed to outlast any enemy soldiers, crack Austrian alpine troops though they be. We hadn’t come ten thousand miles just to be discarded as obsolete; German High Command-for the use of-or misuse of. They just couldn’t do this to us. But they had.

I have never felt so terribly as I did at that moment. In fact, I don’t think that I had ever really felt at all till then. Any troubles I had had in the past were mere ripples compared with this tidal wave. I was disgusted; I was deeply disappointed; I felt frustrated and shamed – above all, ashamed.

See R H Thomson: Captive Kiwi

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Db October 18, 2018 at 1:08 pm

The man on the far left with the hanky on his head is I believe Tex Banwell he was part of the special forces put in to slow the retreat, he escaped on a German boat they stole, he has a lot of history, you can Google him, Sgt Keith dreamer Banwell

Mike Eastwood June 9, 2013 at 8:50 am

Great tweet and very emotive testimony.

A lot of good men were left stranded on Crete

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