The Battle of Crete, codenamed Operation Mercury, was a battle fought between Fallschirmjäger (German paratrooper) forces and supporting Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica units against British Commonwealth ground forces, Greek militias and the Royal Navy. Over 12 days in May 1941 a mixed force of New Zealanders, British, Australian and Greek troops desperately tried to fight off a huge German airborne assault. Their situation was worsened by German airborne doctrine, which called for their personal weapons to be dropped in a separate container. During the withdrawal from Greece the British had been forced to abandon their heavy equipment and transport. In the fighting for Crete, the Allies suffered around 4,000 killed, 1,900 wounded, and 17,000 captured. In one notable stand, the 8th Greek Regiment held back the Germans at Alikianos for a week, allowing Allied forces to move to the port of Sphakia. Later in the day, paratroops dropped into the area around the airfields at Retimo and Heraklion. This crucial mistake effectively sealed the fate of Creforce. On 30 April command of ‘Creforce’ – the designation for the Allied troops on the island – was entrusted to Major-General Bernard Freyberg, who led the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF). 30 Squadron RAF (Squadron Leader RA Milward/Sqn. The Battle of Crete was fought from May 20 to June 1, 1941, during World War II (1939 to 1945). Many paratroops died before they could reach the ground; others were mown down after landing as they struggled to release themselves from their parachutes. The Battle for Crete. In preparation for the invasion, the Luftwaffe began a concerted campaign to drive the Royal Air Force from Crete and establish air superiority over the battlefield. Heavy weapons – tanks and artillery – were few and far between. The majority would spend the rest of the war in prisoner of war camps – initiallly in Italy and later in Germany and Poland. We have 2 events in history, 10 biographies, 16 articles, related to The Battle for Crete. Under increasing pressure, the 5,000 men protecting the port were forced to surrender on June 1. As a result, the Germans occupied the hill and swiftly gained control of the airfield. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany launched an airborne invasion of Crete under the … Most of the Allied troops evacuated from Greece were sent to Crete. Because of the occupacion of Crete (Kriti) was considered an unrealistic military obsective, no significand … Its capture would give them a useful base in the eastern Mediterranean and deny its use to the British. Conversely, many Allied leaders were impressed by the airborne's performance and moved to create similar formations within their own armies. The Battle for Crete As a result, Freyberg was forced to deploy troops along the coast that could have been used elsewhere. Pushing forward a plan calling for the mass use of airborne forces, the Luftwaffe gained support from a wary Adolf Hitler. New Zealand at War Attention now turned to Crete. the commanding views and where the German War cemetery is now located with over 4,000 war. Dubbed Operation Mercury, the invasion plan called for Major General Kurt Student's XI Fliegerkorps to land paratroopers and glider troops at key points along Crete's northern shore, to be followed by the 5th Mountain Division which would be airlifted into captured airfields. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, World War II in Europe: Blitzkrieg and the "Phony War", World War II: Operation Market-Garden Overview, World War II Pacific: The Japanese Advance Stopped, M.S., Information and Library Science, Drexel University, B.A., History and Political Science, Pennsylvania State University. In the course of the world, over 17,000 Australian soldiers, airmen and sailors served, with 1,001 being wounded, 5,174 taken prisoners and 646 now resting in the Commonwealth War Graves at Phaleron (Athens), Rhodes and Suda Bay, Crete. These were unable to dislodge the Germans and the Allies fell back. Despite suffering appalling casualties, the parachutists and glider-borne troops who led the invasion managed to secure a foothold on the island and eventually gained the upper hand. The battle of Crete was a costly battle for both sides, and for the people of Crete. sector during the battle for Crete – the small airfield at Maleme and Hill 107 where you can appreciate. On the morning of May 20, 1941, Student's aircraft began arriving over their drop zones. A New Zealander, Freyberg possessed a force consisting of around 40,000 British Commonwealth and Greek soldiers. The BCMC WA is seeking to erect a designated war memorial in Kings Park to recognise the sacrifices made by ANZACs and Greeks in the Battle of Crete campaign. During the last week of April more than 50,000 Allied troops were evacuated from the mainland, including most of the 2nd New Zealand Division. The Battle of Maleme was one of three main battles that occurred in the Battle of Crete against the Fallschirmjäger, in the Nazi German Mediterranean campaign in 1941. Though aided by the arrival of a commando force under Colonel Robert Laycock, the Allies were unable to turn the tide of the battle. All non-text content is subject to specific conditions. With the situation desperate, King George II of Greece was moved across the island and evacuated to Egypt. Further reading. As in the west, losses during the opening engagements were high. Determined that the Royal Navy would rescue the men on Crete, Cunningham pushed forward despite concerns that he might sustain heavy losses. Departing their aircraft, the German paratroopers met fierce resistance upon landing. Though he shifted many of his troops to guard the northern airfields, intelligence also suggested that there would be a seaborne element. This force included the bulk of the New Zealand Division (7700 men). Though a victory, the Battle of Crete saw these forces sustain such high losses that they were not used again by … Planning for the invasion was permitted to move forward with the restrictions that it does not interfere with Barbarossa and that it utilizes forces already in the region. The battle began in the morning of 20 May when German paratroopers began Operation Mercury. Ammunition and stores were in short supply, and a lack of tools saw troops digging defensive positions with steel helmets. The soldiers left behind – around 6500 – formally surrendered to the Germans on 1 June. See more ideas about Battle of crete, Crete, Wwii. In May, Freyberg was informed via Ultra radio intercepts that the Germans were planning an airborne invasion. On the morning of 21 May it became clear that the New Zealand infantry battalions defending the airfield and the key high ground overlooking it had withdrawn. All were located on the northern coast and faced German-occupied Greece – at its nearest point little more than 100 km away. German forces had surged into the Balkans, quickly defeating Yugoslavia and outflanking Greek border defences. The confrontation began on May 20, 1941 and ended on June 1, 1941, resulting in a German victory. Yet the British were unwilling to destroy them – the port at Suda Bay was essential to the supply of Creforce, and it was still hoped that the RAF could operate from the island in the future. Defence of Maleme Airfield Crete May 1941. Crete. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. The overall plan was to conquer Crete as part of Operation Merkur, with German Paratroopers landing in three main areas, Heraklion, Maleme and Retimo.The operation relied on German airborne troops, both paratroopers and in gliders. Second World War But faced with shipping shortages and the threat of German attack, the British decided to use the men already on the island for its defence. There are two nations in the game presents - British Commonwealth and Germany. One brigade had gone directly to Egypt and it was expected that those on Crete would quickly follow. Nazi Germany launched an airborne attack called Operation Merkur or Operation Mercury on the island of Crete.This battle will be important because it will hold great influence over the course of the war in the means of power. It began just after dawn on 20 May 1941. Of those left behind, many took to the hills to fight as guerillas. It would both give the Germans a good base in the eastern Mediterranean and prevent the British using it to mount operations in the Balkans. There were 671 New Zealanders among the dead, and 2180 Kiwi prisoners of war. This doctrinal change ultimately aided American airborne units once they reached Europe. Student's attack force planned to land the bulk of its men near Maleme in the west, with smaller formations dropping near Rethymnon and Heraklion to the east. No. The 28th (Maori) Battalion also performed heroically in covering the withdraw. Battle of Crete Memorial Committee Perth WA Battle of Crete Memorial Committee The Battle of Crete Memorial Committee WA (BCMC WA) was established in 2016. (2014). As fighting continued ashore on May 21, the Royal Navy successfully dispersed a reinforcement convoy that night. He faced a daunting task. Narvik. The invading force suffered badly during the first day, with a company of III Battalion, 1st Assault Regiment losing 112 of 126 men. MT StJ Prattle/Sqn.Ldr. The Battle of Crete was the first occasion where Fallschirmjäger (German paratroops) were used en masse, the first mainly airborne invasion in military history, the first time the Allies made significant use of intelligence from decrypted German messages from the Enigma machine, and the first time German troops encountered mass resistance from a civilian population. With the help of Cretan civilians, a handful of men eluded capture on the island for years and took part in resistance fighting. dead. Parts of Creforce pulled back to Sfakia on the south coast, and from here about 10,500 troops left the island over four nights. For the Greek Secretary Tsouderos, still on the spot, the situation is catastrophic and there are troops. Air support was also scarce as the Royal Air Force (RAF) was preoccupied elsewhere in the Mediterranean. Though a victory, the Battle of Crete saw these forces sustain such high losses that they were not used again by the Germans. After their successful conquest of Greece in April 1941, the Germans turned their attention to the island of Crete . The Germans planned to begin the invasion on the 15th, but supply problems in Greece delayed the assault by a week. Mod based on real historical event during WW2 between May 20 and June 1 1941 as known as "Operation Mercury". Page 2. 33 Squadron RAF (Sqn. Others took to the hills, some later escaping to Egypt by submarine or fishing boat. On May 14th, Luftwaffe bombards relentlessly airports and ports of the island to deprive the allied troops of any provisioning and especially any reinforcement from North Africa. Ordering troops towards the southern ports, he directed other units to hold open key roads south and prevent the Germans from interfering. Outgunned and outnumbered, it was forced to conduct a fighting withdrawal south through Greece. German forces had surged into the Balkans, quickly defeating Yugoslavia and outflanking Greek border defences. Air Officer Commander-in-Chief, Middle East - Air Chief Marshall Sir Arthur Longmore 1. It was decided to throw all available resources into an attack on Maleme the next day. The Luftwaffe lost more than 350 aircraft. Edward Howell, OBE, DFC) - Gloster Gladiator, Hawker Hurricane … The decision to concentrate on Maleme paid off for the Germans. More than 6000 Germans were killed or wounded. Many of the 7700 New Zealand soldiers stationed on Crete were finishing breakfast when hundreds of German transport aircraft – some towing gliders – rumbled in over the Mediterranean island. Hundreds of planes lumbered through the sky, dropping German paratroops into the area around Maleme and the township of Canea. Photos and a little of what hapen in 1941 in Maleme Airport with the Germans and the British Commonwealth - Newzeland - Australian. He has appeared on The History Channel as a featured expert. Though a large force, approximately 10,000 lacked weapons, and heavy equipment were scarce. Shannon) - Bristol Blenheim 1.2. During the last week of April more than 50,000 Allied troops … The Battle of Crete was fought from May 20 to June 1, 1941, during World War II (1939 to 1945). Allied troops arrive in Crete, April 1941. The Battle of Crete is considered one of the most sensational events os t he Second World War (in 1941). May 1941 and is an inseparable continuity of both the Greek-Italian and Greek-German wars and the activity of the British Expeditionary Force in the wider region of Greece. This information was derived from deciphered German codes, dubbed ULTRA intelligence by the Allies. This operation was championed by the Luftwaffe as the Wehrmacht sought to avoid further engagements prior to commencing the invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) in June. The Battle of Crete was a battle fought in World War 2 between the Nazis and British Commonwealth soldiers with Greek support. Battle of Crete is a modification for Company of Heroes. In studying the German experience in Crete, American airborne planners, such as Colonel James Gavin, recognized the need for troops to jump with their own heavy weapons. The British expected the Germans to launch their attack on the island in mid-May 1941. Crete became a German target following their rapid occupation of the Greek mainland in April 1941. The Battle for Crete, updated 5-Aug-2014. The Battle of Crete was one of the most dramatic battles of the Second World War. 1834, Colenso arrives with a printing press, Home Battle for Crete- situation report by the Luftwaffe Fuhrungsstab IC, 19 May 1941 (26945403846).jpg 3,089 × 5,099; 1.76 MB Battle of crete-es.svg 1,156 × 880; 752 KB Battle of crete.svg 1,156 × 880; 1.03 MB Outgunned and outnumbered, it was forced to conduct a fighting withdrawal south through Greece. Luftwaffe. Though the New Zealanders were able to hold the hill through the day, an error led to their being withdrawn during the night. Battle of Crete summary. 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