Saturday, May 28, 2011

Day 636 May 28, 1941

Crete. Overnight, Allied troops retreat South from Canae and Suda Bay to evacuate from Sphakia on the South side of the island, while Colonel Laycock’s commandos fight a rearguard action. At dawn near Stylos on the route to Sphakia, ANZAC troops ambush German 85th Mountain Regiment, ending a week of bravery that wins the VC for Sergeant Clive Hulme, New Zealand 2nd Division. Evacuation of Crete begins. British cruisers HMS Ajax, Orion & Dido and destroyers HMS Decoy, Jackal, Imperial, Hotspur, Kimberly & Hereward leave Alexandria, Egypt, to evacuate troops from Heraklion. German bombing damages HMS Ajax (turns back with 6 killed, 18 wounded) and HMS Imperial (1 wounded). They reach Heraklion at 11.30 PM and embark all 3,486 troops there by 2.45 AM next morning. Simultaneously, destroyers HMS Napier, Nizam, Kelvin & Kandahar (from Alexandria) embark 608 troops at Sphakia, bringing food and water for the large numbers expected to arrive.

Low on fuel after the hunt for Bismarck, British destroyers HMS Tartar and HMS Mashona return slowly to Scapa Flow, Scotland. In the morning 100 miles West of Ireland, they are attacked by German Focke-Wulf bombers. A bomb penetrates Mashona’s deck near the funnel and explodes in the boiler room, blowing a hole in her side underwater (36 killed). Mashona capsizes within an hour but does not sink and Tartar rescues 184 survivors. Destroyers HMS Sherwood and HMCS St. Clair sink Mashona with shellfire.

Iraq. Indian troops continue advancing on the capital, Baghdad, from Basra. 20th Indian Brigade reaches the ancient city of Ur on the Euphrates, 110 miles from Basra.

At 4 PM off Sierra Leone, U-107 sinks Greek SS Papalemos with a torpedo and the anti-aircraft gun (2 killed). 27 crew abandon ship in 2 lifeboats.

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