Heraklion
Home Up Into Battle Heraklion Pull Out Maj. Macalister Hall

 

 

The Argyll's in the Heraklion sector

Site map

Lt. Hamilton wins M.C.

The map below shows the Argyll's in the sector, with the three companies near Apex Hill.  "C" Coy. is attached to the York and Lancs.
The Battalion arrived to take over the forward positions from the 2nd Leicesters but there was insufficient time for a detailed recce, and there had been no contact with the Australian Battalion on their left or the 2nd York and Lancs on their right.  When they took over the position the Battalion was much weakened, indeed "D" Coy. could only muster 31 all ranks and "C" Coy. was under the command of 2nd York and Lancs.
In the early morning of the 26th there was a strange incident.  Some 200 - 300 Germans were coming from Heraklion led by an officer on a white horse.  they were allowed to come close before opening fire "this was about the only pleasing incident to record during our fighting in Crete."  At the same time there was an attack on the leading section of "A" Coy., which found itself surrounded and eliminated.  The following is an extract from the article covering this action.
"While our attention was diverted by this episode (the officer on the white horse), an attack developed against the front and right flank of "A" Coy.  It was still only half light and the attack was entirely unexpected, as the nearest German posts were supposed to be around Apex Hill.  The leading section of "A" Coy. found itself surrounded and was quickly eliminated.  This section was in a very isolated position, some 800 yards from the nearest post, and its encirclement in the dark was a comparatively easy task.  Lt. J.W. Hamilton, M.C.  who commanded the platoon to which this section belonged, had elected to spend the first night in these new positions along with this isolated section, and when it was still dark had gone forward on a personal recce with his orderly.  When the attack on his post started, he found himself in the middle of the attacking German troops.  With great presence of mind he managed to crawl unseen to an adjacent ditch, where he was concealed from view.  He was not content to just lie doggo and wait until the attack was over before making his way back to his own lines.  He was armed with a rifle and 50 rounds S.A.A., so, with great courage and at the very considerable risk of giving away his own hiding-place, he fired into the backs of the attacking Germans until his ammunition was exhausted.  The number of Germans destroyed by Hamilton is not known accurately, but he told the C.O. later that the range was very close and it was extremely difficult to miss.  This action of Hamilton's caused some confusion and ill temper in the German ranks, as very naturally those in front were under the impression they were being shot up by the carelessness of those behind.  For this courageous and single-handed action Lt. Hamilton was awarded a very well- merited Military Cross.  At Battalion H.Q. he and all the men of that section had been reported as lost, but at 1600 hours Lt. Hamilton had found his was back to Battalion H.Q., where he told the story of what had happened.  This post was never again occupied at night, owing to its isolated position."
While "A" was being attacked the Germans aimed another attack at the gap between the Argylls and the York and Lancs.  At that time Lt-Col Cox who was the C.O. of 2nd Leicesters and knew the ground was at the Argyll's Battalion H.Q. and decided to counter attack with two companies.  The attack stopped the German penetration, but suffered heavy casualties.  By mid-day on the 26th all attacks had petered out and the men could get some rest.
On the 27th they had a quiet day but did manage to capture a small German hospital and release some of their own men who had been captured in the fighting between the 23rd and 26th of May.  Also on the 27th it was decided to send some supplies back to those at Ay Deka via Knossos and Praetorius, and at the same time the opportunity could be taken to rest 25 of the men, replacing them with some from Ay Deka.  The column came under German machine-gun fire and while the men got through, the supplies were destroyed and the road was cut.
The time to pull out was approaching.