battle of crete map

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He had been hampered by a lack of modern equipment, and the lightly-armed paratroopers had about the same firepower as the defenders, if not more. On 1 June, the remaining 5,000 defenders at Sfakia surrendered. WWII – The Battle of Crete Day Tour cancellation policy: For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience. Naiad was damaged by near misses and the cruiser HMS Carlisle was hit. The Battle of Greece (also known as Operation Marita, German: ... Italy and Bulgaria, with Italy occupying the bulk of the country (see map opposite). [42] Major-General Kurt Student wanted to disperse the paratroops more, to maximise the effect of surprise. Following this communication, King issued an order to recall both Gloucester and Fiji at 14:57. [50][53] The Germans quickly exploited the withdrawal from Hill 107 to take control of Maleme Airfield, just as a sea landing took place nearby. [50] Captain Campbell, commanding the western-most company of the 22nd Battalion, out of contact with Andrew, did not learn of the withdrawal of the 22nd Battalion until early in the morning, at which point he also withdrew from the west of the airfield. The unit was attached to 10th New Zealand Infantry Brigade (Brigadier Howard Kippenberger), who placed it in a defensive position around the village of Alikianos where, with local civilian volunteers, they held out against the German 7th Engineer Battalion. The Greeks lacked equipment and supplies, particularly the Garrison Battalion. 30 & 33 Squadron RAF Memorial ... Strategic importance of Crete in World War II map.jpg 2,100 × 1,563; 277 KB. At the evening of 20 May, the Germans slowly pushed the New Zealanders back from Hill 107, which overlooked the Maleme airfield. After a day of battle, Laycock ordered a night retreat to Beritiana, where he was joined by Royal and the Māori, who managed to fight their way out, but Layforce was cut off near the village of Babali Khani (Agioi Pandes). Oct 26, 2020 - Explore Andy Edwards's board "Crete", followed by 104 people on Pinterest. The delay of Operation Barbarossa was caused by the late spring and floods in Poland. With German air superiority assured, an airborne invasion was chosen. Cretan civilians joined the battle with whatever weapons were at hand. On the 27th of May General Wavell ordered the evacuation of the island. [114], Hinsley wrote that it was difficult to measure the influence of intelligence gained during the battle, because although Ultra revealed German situation reports, reinforcement details and unit identifications and although more intelligence was gleaned from prisoners and captured documents, it was not known how swiftly the information reached Freyberg or how he used it. Parcourez notre sélection de battle of crete : vous y trouverez les meilleures pièces uniques ou personnalisées de nos boutiques. Upon nearing the shore on 28 May, the lighter was positioned ahead of the tug and firmly beached. On several occasions, villagers were rounded up and summarily executed. [78] Fighting with the remnants of the 1st Greek Regiment continued in the Kastelli area until 26 May, hampering German efforts to land reinforcements. Greek and other Allied forces, along with Cretan civilians, defended the island. (By the end of the operation about 600 of the 800 commandos sent to Crete were listed as killed, wounded or missing; only 179 men got off the island. By 5 May, it was clear that the attack was not imminent and next day, 17 May was revealed as the expected day for the completion of preparations, along with the operation orders for the plan from the D-day landings in the vicinity of Maleme and Chania, Heraklion and Rethymno.[37]. After air attacks on Allied positions in Kastelli on 24 May, the 95th Gebirgs Pioneer Battalion advanced on the town. On the afternoon of 27 May an Italian convoy departed from Rhodes with the intention of landing a Brigade, supported by 13 L3/35 light tanks. While emphasis was placed on the airborne assault, the German messages also mentioned seaborne operations; Freyberg, expecting an amphibious landing, garrisoned the coast – which reduced the number of men available to defend the airfield at Maleme, the principal German objective. [111][112] Many gliders following the paratroops were hit by mortar fire seconds after landing, and the New Zealand and Greek defenders almost annihilated the glider troops who landed safely.[46]. The British and their allies did not possess sufficient Universal Carriers or trucks, which would have provided the mobility and firepower needed for rapid counter-attacks before the invaders could consolidate. Discover and book WWII – The Battle of Crete … [40] Anti-aircraft defences consisted of one light anti-aircraft battery equipped with 20 mm automatic cannon, split between the two airfields. General Alexander Löhr, the theatre commander, was convinced the island could be taken with two divisions, but decided to keep 6th Mountain Division in Athens as a reserve. [41], Hitler authorised Unternehmen Merkur (named after the swift Roman god Mercury) with Directive 28; the forces used were to come from airborne and air units already in the area and units intended for Unternehmen Barbarossa were to conclude operations before the end of May, Barbarossa was not to be delayed by the attack on Crete, which had to begin soon or would be cancelled. In Greece, Fallschirmjäger had been dispatched to capture the bridge over the Corinth Canal, which was being readied for demolition by the Royal Engineers. On 3 June, the village of Kandanos was razed to the ground and about 180 of its inhabitants killed. German forces occupied the strategically more important areas of Athens, Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia and several Aegean islands, including most of Crete. The 8th Greek was composed of young Cretan recruits, gendarmes, and cadets. [34], In May, Fliegerkorps XI moved from Germany to the Athens area, but the destruction wrought during the invasion of Greece forced a postponement of the attack to 20 May. Map of Allied Gains in Europe - December 15, 1944-May 7, 1945. One transport pilot crash-landed on a beach, others landed in fields, discharged their cargo and took off again. [43], The invasion force was divided into Kampfgruppen (battlegroups), Centre, West and East, each with a code name following the classical theme established by Mercury; 750 glider-borne troops, 10,000 paratroops, 5,000 airlifted mountain soldiers and 7,000 seaborne troops were allocated to the invasion. The Germans suffered many casualties in the first hours of the invasion: a company of III Battalion, 1st Assault Regiment lost 112 killed out of 126 men, and 400 of 600 men in III Battalion were killed on the first day. The lack of communication was assumed to mean that the battalion had been overrun in the west. German engineers landed near the bridge in gliders, while parachute infantry attacked the perimeter defence. The garrison had been stripped of its best crew-served weapons, which were sent to the mainland; there were twelve obsolescent St. Étienne Mle 1907 light machine-guns and forty miscellaneous LMGs. The garrisons at Souda and Beritania gradually fell back along the road to Vitsilokoumos, north of Sfakia. Find local businesses, view maps and get driving directions in Google Maps. Allied forces withdrew to the south coast. [105][106] Only six days before the initial assault, the Vice Chief of Air Staff presciently wrote: "If the Army attach any importance to air superiority at the time of an invasion then they must take steps to protect our aerodromes with something more than men in their first or second childhood". Paratrooper German Soldiers Ww2 German Army Ww2 German Military Photos Military History Battle Of Crete. The German parachute warfare manual had been captured in 1940, and after the war, Student said that he would have changed tactics had he known this. [39] The Germans used colour-coded parachutes to distinguish the canisters carrying rifles, ammunition, crew-served weapons and other supplies. Battle of Crete. [64][65], While Force C made its attack on the convoy, Force A1 (Rear Admiral H B Rawlings), Force B (Captain Henry A Rowley) and Glennie's Force D converged west of Antikythera. The Cretans also used captured German small arms. Civilians also checked the Germans to the north and west of Heraklion and in the town centre. When the main unit was safely to the rear, the Māori retreated 24 miles (39 km), losing only two killed and eight wounded, all of whom were recovered. The Germans quickly exploited the withdrawal to take control of the Maleme airfield. The Greeks put up determined resistance, but with only 600 rifles and a few thousand rounds of ammunition available for 1,000 ill-trained men, they were unable to repel the German advance. [45] (The Germans were able to land reinforcements without fully operational airfields. [24] The desire to regain prestige after their defeat by the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the Battle of Britain the year before, may also have played a role in their thinking, especially before the advent of the much more important invasion of the Soviet Union. Hotels near Memorial Greek Cadets Battle of Crete: (1.10 mi) Avra Imperial Hotel (0.97 mi) Giannoulis - Grand Bay Beach Resort (Exclusive Adults) (1.65 mi) Euphoria Resort (1.98 mi) Villa Filira (1.85 mi) Alonia Apartments; View all hotels near Memorial Greek Cadets Battle of Crete on Tripadvisor [60] Only one caïque and one cutter from the convoy reached Crete. Fighting against a constant supply of fresh enemy troops, the Allies began a series of retreats working southward across Crete. Plan, map the battle of Crete a Pierrot by the French army. Writing in despatches after the battle, Cunningham stated that King was unaware of the shortage of anti-aircraft ammunition in Gloucester and Fiji. [81] One of Richthofen's liaison officers had returned from the island on 26 May; the paratroopers were in poor condition, lacking in discipline, and "at loose ends". London: P. Efstathiadis & Sons S.A. ISBN 960-226-041-6. Freyberg, informed of the air component of the German battle plan, had started to prepare a defence near the airfields and along the north coast. Between the 28th and 31st of May 16,000 troops were evacuated to Egypt by ships. For the German occupation of Crete, see Fortress Crete. King sent HMS Kandahar and HMS Kingston to pick up survivors, while the cruisers Fiji and Gloucester were ordered respectively at 14:02 and 14:07 to provide anti-aircraft support. A smaller number were withdrawn from Heraklion on the night of 28 May. At Maleme, blast pens were built for the aircraft, and barrels full of petrol were kept ready to be ignited by machine-gun fire. Equipment was scarce in the Mediterranean and in the backwater of Crete. Davin, p. 486. Amongst this group was New Zealander Pte Willy Falconer of the Maori battalion, a hero of 42nd Street and Galatas. harvnb error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFBeevor1991 (, harvnb error: multiple targets (2×): CITEREFBrown2002 (, Germany and the Second World War, Volume 3, Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt, p. 546, Oxford University Press, 1995. [119], Exaggerated reports of German casualties began to appear after the battle had ended. The 2/7th Battalion was to move 18 miles (29 km) north to relieve the 20th Battalion, which would participate in the attack. [62], The defending force organised for a night counter-attack on Maleme by two New Zealand battalions, the 20th Battalion of the 4th Brigade and the 28th Maori Battalion of the 5th Brigade. King's ships, despite their failure to destroy the convoy, had succeeded in forcing the Axis to abort the landing by their mere presence at sea. The 8th Greek Regiment was under strength and many soldiers were poorly trained and poorly equipped. [71] Royal Navy AA gunners shot down five Junkers Ju 87s and five Ju 88s and damaged sixteen more, some of which crash-landed upon their return to base on the night of 21/22 May. ed.). [41] The tanks were in poor mechanical condition, as the engines were worn and could not be overhauled on Crete. As the weeks passed, some 3,200 British, 2,500 Australian and 1,300 New Zealander troops were evacuated to Egypt, but it became evident that it would not be possible to remove all the unwanted troops. Force A1 headed east into the Kythera Channel, rendezvousing with Force C between 13:30 and 14:00. The bold plan to attack in four places to maximise surprise, rather than concentrating on one, seemed to have failed, although the reasons were unknown to the Germans at the time. (The Noël Coward film In Which We Serve was based on this action. 12th Army Intelligence painted a less optimistic picture, but also underestimated the number of British Commonwealth forces and the number of Greek troops who had been evacuated from the mainland. •Maps •Monsters •Thanks •Updates •Walkthrough •Weapons: Maps. [49] Brigadier James Hargest denied the request on the mistaken grounds that the 23rd Battalion was busy repulsing parachutists in its sector. Troops were stationed about its perimeter, to prevent a landing that might block the retreat. The total number excludes several hundred RN PoWs. The United States Army Center of Military History, citing a report of the Historical Branch of the British Cabinet Office, concluded that military historians accept estimates from 6,000 to 7,000 German casualties. [citation needed], British and Commonwealth troops used the standard Lee–Enfield rifle, Bren light machine gun and Vickers medium machine gun. The defence of the 8th Greek Regiment in and around the village of Alikianos is credited with protecting the Allied line of retreat. [76] German search-and-rescue aircraft and Italian motor torpedo boats, spotted and rescued the 262 survivors from the German light convoy sunk off Cape Spatha. Greek police and cadets took part, with the 1st Greek Regiment (Provisional) combining with armed civilians to rout a detachment of German paratroopers dropped at Kastelli. Hitler, believing airborne forces to be a weapon of surprise which had now lost that advantage, concluded that the days of the airborne corps were over and directed that paratroopers should be employed as ground-based troops in subsequent operations in the Soviet Union. Map of Maleme area, 20 May 1941. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany began an airborne invasion of Crete. Map of Central Europe 1945: Allied Occupation Zones . Geoffrey Cox. The next day, Heraklion was heavily bombed and the depleted Greek units were relieved and assumed a defensive position on the road to Knossos. In 1956, Playfair and the other British official historians, gave figures of 1,990 Germans killed, 2,131 wounded, 1,995 missing, a total of 6,116 men "compiled from what appear to be the most reliable German records". 7 and No. Operation Barbarossa made it apparent that the occupation of Crete was a defensive measure to secure the Axis southern flank. The Royal Navy retained control of the waters around Crete, so an amphibious assault would have been a risky proposition. Near Souda, the 5th New Zealand Brigade and the 2/7th Australian Battalion, held off the 141st Mountain Regiment, which had begun a flanking manoeuvre, and on 28 May, at the village of Stylos, the 5th New Zealand Brigade fought a rearguard action. Around each ground, a few field guns, anti-aircraft guns, two infantry tanks and two or three light tanks were sited. Shocked and disappointed with the Army's inexplicable failure to recognise the importance of airfields in modern warfare, Churchill made the RAF responsible for the defence of its bases and the RAF Regiment was formed on 1 February 1942. [72], Fighting against fresh German troops, the Allies retreated southward; the 5th Destroyer Flotilla, consisting of HMS Kelly, HMS Kipling, HMS Kelvin, HMS Jackal and HMS Kashmir, (Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten), was ordered to leave Malta on 21 May, to join the fleet off Crete and arrived after Gloucester and Fiji were sunk. The Italians were repulsed, but the subsequent German invasion of April 1941 (Operation Marita), succeeded in overrunning mainland Greece. Defence of Maleme Airfield Crete May 1941. Luftwaffe:[9], The Battle of Crete (German: Luftlandeschlacht um Kreta, also Unternehmen Merkur, "Operation Mercury", Greek: Μάχη της Κρήτης) was fought during the Second World War on the Greek island of Crete. Only about 3,500 trained British and Greek soldiers were on the island, and the defence devolved to the shaken and poorly equipped troops from Greece, assisted by the last fighters of 33, 80 and 112 Squadrons and a squadron of the Fleet Air Arm, once the Blenheims were ordered back to Egypt. [96][e] Immediately after Crete fell, a series of collective punishments against civilians began. 13 A. Beevor, Crete: the Battle and the Resistance, London 1991, p.231 14 S. Linardatos, The War of 1940-41 and the Battle of Crete, Athens 1977, p.455 10 In spite of this decision, no attempt was made to create a new division. It is not clear whether Canaris, who had an extensive intelligence network at his disposal, was misinformed or was attempting to sabotage Hitler's plans (Canaris was killed much later in the war for supposedly participating in the 20 July Plot). [44] Freyberg knew this after studying earlier German operations and decided to make the airfields unusable for landing, but was countermanded by the Middle East Command in Alexandria. A second wave of German transports supported by Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica attack aircraft, arrived in the afternoon, dropping more paratroopers and gliders containing assault troops. Alikianos, located in the so called Prison Valley, was strategically important and it was one of the first targets the Germans attacked on the opening day of the battle. [77] These air attacks enabled the escape of German paratroopers captured on 20 May; the escapees killed or captured several New Zealand officers assigned to lead the 1st Greek Regiment. Davin, p. 486 and Playfair, p.147, for RN Casualties. [41], The Matildas had 40 mm Ordnance QF 2 pounder guns, which only fired armour-piercing rounds – not effective anti-personnel weapons. Troops of the German 141st Mountain Regiment blocked a section of the road between Souda and Chania. [19] This arrangement suited the British: Crete could provide the Royal Navy with excellent harbours in the eastern Mediterranean, from which it could threaten the Axis south-eastern flank,[20] and the Ploiești oil fields in Romania would be within range of British bombers based on the island. Cunningham, Section 1, paragraph 8, and Section 2, paragraphs 30-35. The delayed counter-attack on the airfield came in daylight on 22 May, when the troops faced Stuka dive bombers, dug-in paratroops and mountain troops. Counter attack at Maleme airfield. The Bf 109s and Stuka dive-bombers were based on forward airfields at Molaoi, Melos and Karpathos (then Scarpanto), with Corinth and Argos as base airfields. Crete, 20 May 1941: the first campaign-sized airborne assault is launched. Many Greek soldiers had fewer than thirty rounds of ammunition but could not be supplied by the British, who had no stocks in the correct calibres. During the previous day, the Germans had cut communications between the two westernmost companies of the battalion and the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Andrew VC, who was on the eastern side of the airfield. The British had nine Matilda IIA infantry tanks of "B" Squadron, 7th Royal Tank Regiment (7th RTR) and sixteen Light Tanks Mark VIB from "C" Squadron, 3rd King's Own Hussars. A second wave of German aircraft arrived in the afternoon dropping more paratroopers along with several more gliders containing heavy assault troops, with one group attacking Rethimnon at 16:15 and another at Heraklion at 17:30. [25] Before the invasion, the Germans conducted a bombing campaign to establish air superiority and forced the RAF to move its remaining aeroplanes to Alexandria in Egypt. About halfway there, near the village of Askyfou lay a large crater nicknamed "The Saucer", the only place wide and flat enough for a large parachute drop. [87] The escort was made up of the destroyer Crispi, the torpedo-boats Lira, Lince, and Libra, two MAS motor torpedo boats, while the amphibious force comprised four fishing vessels, two steamships, one river boat, two reefer ships, three tugs and three tankers. The Lost Battle: Crete, 1941 C. A. MacDonald. On 24 May, Oberleutnant-zur-See Österlin, who had led the Maleme Flotilla, was given the task of transporting two Panzer II light tanks to Kastelli Kisamou. As the more senior admiral, King took command, with air attacks now inflicting damage on both forces. Ultra intelligence was detailed but was taken out of context and misinterpreted. [119] Of a force of more than 10,000 men, 5,255 Greek troops were captured. In 1987, Shores, Cull, and Malizia recorded losses of 220 aircraft destroyed and 64 written off due to damage, a total of 284 aircraft between 13 May and 1 June: 147 in combat, 73 non-combat, 64 written-off, and 125 damaged but repairable. [109]), The Germans captured a message from London marked "Personal for General Freyberg" which was translated into German and sent to Berlin. The next day, through communication failures, Allied tactical hesitation, and German offensive operations, Maleme Airfield in western Crete fell, enabling the Germans to land reinforcements and overwhelm the defensive positions on the north of the island. Schmeling survived the battle and the war. [13] For the British, the Battle of Crete was the costliest naval engagement of the entire war. A party of engineers then blew the lighter's bow off using demolition charges and the two tanks rolled ashore. 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