Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The naval defence of Crete: 21-22 May 1941

After destroyers had bombarded Scarpanto airfield during the night of 20 to 21 May 1941, they withdrew to the south. They came under heavy air attack and "the destroyer Juno was sunk and the cruiser Ajax damaged". A Maryland maritime reconnaissance aircraft from No.39 Squadron saw destoyers escorting small vessels approaching Crete from the direction of Milos. They were attacked around midnight of 21-22 May by Dido, Ajax, Orion, and four destroyers. The Italian torpedo boat Lupo was damaged and 10 caiques carrying German troops were sunk. The British force then withdrew to the west. During daylight on 22 May, Admiral King's force swept to the north. He had Naiad, Perth, Calcutta, and Carlisle, with four destroyers. They found some stragglers and sank them. As they were running out of AA ammunition, they were forced to retire, even though there were obviously more small vessels with German troops. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Official History.

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