Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The British presence on Crete

Early in the war, the British and French had contingency plans for French troops from Syria to occupy Suda Bay in Crete, as soon as Greece was attacked by Axis forces. After the fall of France, the British were hard-pressed to find the resources to defend Suda Bay. The issue became critical after Italy had invaded Greece in late October 1940. Once they went to Suda Bay, a natural refuelling spot, the Royal Navy provided a few defenses and the army stripped Malta to provide a weak brigade along with 8 Heavy AA and 12 Light AA guns. A landing strip was built a Maleme so that fighters could defend the harbour. The only available aircraft were from the Fleet Air Arm. The Greeks withdrew their troops to the mainland when they assessed that the Italians were unlikely to attack Crete. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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