AFTER THE BATTLE ISSUE 175
MATILDA TANKS ON CRETE
During the battle for Crete, which lasted from May 20 to June 1, 1941, the British, Dominion and Greek forces defending the island had very little armoured support. Jeffrey Plowman, Michael Grieve and Mark Wilson tell the story of how six and eventually nine Matilda Mk II tanks were used to defend this key strategic position in the eastern Mediterranean
THE BATTLE OF SALAMAUA
Right on the other side of the globe, in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, our Australian contributor Phil Bradley has – at least so we think – accomplished a similar feat of amazing After the Battle work. His story on the 1943 battle of Salamaua recounts how a small detachment of Australian troops first managed to prevent the Japanese invader from advancing inland from this small port town on the Huon Gulf and how, later in the campaign, Australian and American units managed to tie down a large Japanese force so that it could not interfere with the Allied invasions further up the coast. Most of these battles took place in incredibly difficult jungle country inland from the town, yet Phil – who has tramped the battlegrounds of New Guinea numerous times – has found that even the jungle can produce meaningful Then and Now coverage.
WELLINGTON’S WWII HARBOUR DEFENCES
It is not often that an author contributes two articles to the same issue but Jeff Plowman gains the honour with his story on the wartime defences of Wellington harbour. The capital of new Zealand, with its large shielded bay, constituted one of the country’s five designated Fortress Areas and was therefore fitted out with a whole series of coastal gun batteries, anti-aircraft batteries and radar stations, most of them on the Miramar peninsula at the entrance to the harbour. Although the defences were never put to the test, and few of the guns ever fired a shot in anger, many of the installations remain virtually intact today, offering perfect Then and Now opportunities.
MASSACRE AT HANNOVER
Concluding this issue is the story of a little-known war crime committed in the city of Hannover in north-west Germany in early April 1945 – another of the ‘final hour’ killings of which there were so many during the last days of the Third Reich. On April 6 the local Gestapo murdered 154 Soviet POWs and slave labourers, just four days before the Americans captured the city. Only one prisoner managed to break away from the mass execution and it was this survivor who later warned the Allied authorities, which led to the discovery of the unmarked mass grave. Today the victims lie in a special cemetery of honour.