The two VIB's raced ahead in a cloud of dust, the infantry companies began to chant Hakka's as they charged towards the nearest houses. Most were empty, and clearing them was losing the charges momentum. So the decision was made to not clear the houses and continue the advance. Ahead the machine guns from the two light tanks could be heard.
LT Farran had raced to the main square. Lt Farran describes what happened next:
"There was a blinding flash inside the tank and my gunner sank groaning to the bottom of the turret. He said that he had been hit. I felt a sort of burn in my thigh and thought it probable that I also had been wounded. I told the driver to turn round, but as he swung broadside to the enemy we were hit again. My driver was wounded in the shoulder and in consequence pulled the tiller too hard, putting us into the ditch. We sat there, crouched in the bottom of the turret, while the anti-tank rifle carved big chunks out of the top. I was hit twice more - in both legs and in the right arm. Stannard, my gunner, was in a bad way, having stopped one in the stomach. I pushed them both out through the driver's hatch and crawled out myself. I pulled myself along on my elbows until I was under cover of a low stone wall. There I lay in the infernal din (for the Germans were still shooting bits out of the tank), praying for the New Zealanders."
Upon seeing the tank knocked out and in a very unfamiliar and frightening experience (being inside a tank in a street fight for the first time) the other MKVIB turned and ran. As it fled down the narrow streets it came across a platoon led by Lieutenant W.B. 'Sandy' Thomas. He leapt out in front of the oncoming tank and caused it to halt. After an argument with the commander Lt Thomas pulled out his pistol and threatened the driver with it. The driver, the only original tank crew member in the crew replied:
"I'm game sir, there's no need for that. It’s the bastard above who needs the pistol!"The driver immediately began to rotate the tank, smashing the walls on either side of the road out of the way. The infantry man acting as the commander is reported to have clambered from the tank and fled screaming, only to be shot by a private.
As the second MKVIB advanced, a German NCO, leader of the HMG platoon, lurked in a doorway with a bundle of grenades.
|Picture from Galatas|
The MKVIB halted his tank about five meters away from the building and began to saw it into chunks with both machine guns blasting away, while return fire sparked off his tank. As the Maori infantry rushed up behind him the Germans fell back from the position.
Eventually all the wounded were evacuated back to a hospital, LT Farran was rescued by one of his own squadron's tanks. Whilst in the hospital Crete fell and LT Farran was captured. But for Lt Farran, the war was not over!
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