Monday, March 04, 2013

Naval support at Crete early in the attack

Admiral Cunningham, the Mediterranean Fleet commander, had a plan in place to keep seaborne invaders of Crete at bay. He had three cruiser-destroyer groups with supporting battleships to their westward. There were more ships at Alexandria, including the aircraft carrier Formidable (with only four aircraft) and two more battleships. On the evening of 20 May-21 May 1941, one cruiser-destroyer group fired on Italian motor torpedo boats and damaged four. The British had expected to see German troops brought to Crete by sea in caiques, but they were absent in the first day or two. So, the initial German attack was left to airborne troops supported by land-based aircraft from the Balkans. General Lohr commanded both the airborne troops and their transports and supporting fighter and bomber aircraft. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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