Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The battle for Crete was really lost on the second day

Informed opinion says that the battle for Crete was lost on the second day, 21 May 1941. By then, the Germans had secured the airfield at Maleme, west of Suda Bay. Having the airfield allowed the Germans to fly in the mountain troops from the 5th Mountain Division. The mountain troops overwhelmed the defenders and ultimately captured Crete. The original German plan may have been to bring the mountain troops in by sea, but the Royal Navy had maintained control of the seas around Crete, although at great cost, so that the mountain troops arrived by Ju-52 transport aircraft at Maleme. Maleme had been a problem since the first day, when the New Zealand battalion designated to protect Maleme had collapsed. The battalion commander, Colonel Andrew, was a Victoria Cross recipient from the Great War, but that did not guarantee success. The remnants of the 22nd Battalion straggled away from the Maleme area leaving the Germans in possession of the landing field. The 21st and 23rd battalions had done better and were left to oppose the Germans.

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