Military history

Crete: The Airborne Invasion 1941

Crete: The Airborne Invasion 1941

The invasion was launched to round off Hitler’s Balkan Campaign against Crete in May 1941. The Island was important to Britain’s control of the Eastern Mediterranean and Churchill was determined that the Island would be held.

The British garrison was largely made up of New Zealand and Australian troops who had been evacuated from Greece, with little more that what they stood up in. On the other hand the German Commander, Kurt Student, had overwhelming air superiority, which negated the Allied naval superiority. But the Germans had almost fatally underestimated the number of Allied troops.

While British, New Zealand and Australian soldiers, however, showed what they were capable of, the battle for Crete was eventually won through sheer nerve, the confidence of the German soldier in his superiority and the power of the Luftwaffe. That said, the cost in killed and wounded was such that Hitler would never again contemplate another large airborne operation.

Introduction and Acknowledgements

Chapter 1. Crete and the Mediteranean

Chapter 2. Fallschirmjäger and the Invasion Plans

Chapter 3. The Fly-In

Chapter 4. The Maleme Drop

Chapter 5. The Prison Valley Drop

Chapter 6. The Defence of Rethymno

Chapter 7. The Defence of Iraklio

Chapter 8. Reinforcements and Counter-Attack

Chapter 9. The Battle of Galatas

Chapter 10. Souda Bay and 42nd Street

Chapter 11. Withdrawal and Evacuation

Chapter 12. The Abduction of General Kreipe

Chapter 13. The Airborne Invasion Tours

Appendix I. Victoria Cross Citations

Appendix II. The Cemeteries

Appendix III. Orders of Battle

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