Friday, December 28, 2012
The plan for the invasion of Crete in 1941
Prior to 20 May 1941, the Germans had greatly underestimated the British forces on Crete. The Germans had expected to take Crete cheaply in preparation for the invasion of Russia, since Crete was well-positioned to threaten Turkey. The Germans hoped to capture Crete with a small effort by paratroops. They were shocked by their losses on the first day. They might have responded in many different ways, but their actual response was to throw their entire airborne force against Crete. The Germans were able to make good use of the Greek landing grounds and airfields near to Crete. They were able to make shuttle runs with Ju-87 and Ju-88 bombers and had negligible air opposition from the British. The British did make a strong effort at sea that prevented the Germans from sending the 5th Mountain Division in by sea as planned. They were flown in by air instead and were a key factor in overcoming British resistance, where by British, we mean New Zealand, Australian, and British forces. This is based on the American military attache's report on the battle for Crete.