Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I feel a personal connection to the German attack on Crete in 1941

In Vol.II of the British official history of the war in the Mediterranean and Middle East, there is a picture showing ships burning in Suda Bay. Another picture below that shows German paratroopers in the air, landing near Suda Bay on 20 May 1941. Suda Bay is the farthest East that I have been, in the Mediterranean Sea. We anchored in the bay, with the same granite cliffs that I had seen in photographs. Suda Bay is in far Northwest Crete, facing North, as I remember. I think that we were there to take part in wargames with the the John F. Kennedy (CV-67). Part of that was to simulate launching "Alpha Strikes" on the Southwest USSR, I believe. While in the far Eastern portion of our cruise, we had a Soviet Petya class frigate as our constant companion. In the Western Med, we had a minesweeper. We also saw various Soviet warships, including Krivak class destroyers.

I was an ensign in Operations Dept. on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42). I actually don't remember the date we were there, although I would guess it to be in late 1976. I say that because we had our collision in the Straits of Messina in January 1977, and spent the rest of the cruise in the Western Med.

The German attack on Crete is noteworthy as a disaster to the British navy. Many destroyers were lost to air attack, including Lord Louis Mountbatten's flotilla leader the Kelly. The Kelly had survived near loss in 1940, having been torpedoed, only to be bombed and sunk in 1941.

Lord Mountbatten, Prince Charles' favorite "uncle", survived, only to be killed by the IRA. Prior to World War One, the family name had been Battenburg. Lord Mountbatten's father, Prince Louis of Battenburg, changed their name to "Mountbatten" after 1914. They were descendents of the Stuart family. King James' daughter Elizabeth Stuart had married Frederick V, Elector Paletine and sometime King of Bohemia, about 1613. Their daughter Sophia married an Hannoveran nobleman. The present royal family is descended from her, as her son George succeeded Queen Anne, when she died of smallpox with no surviving heirs.


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