Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In the prison valley on Crete on 21 May 1941

Colonel Heidrich was the airborne division commander on Crete on 21 May 1941, after the general commanding the division was wounded. Colonel Heidrich was on the scene, directing operations in the prison valley on that day. He fully expected to face a British counter attack, but none arrived. The British defence of Crete was in great disarray, despite the presence of good men who were in charge, such as General Freyberg, the overall commander of the defence. The great majority of the troops on Crete had been dumped there after the withdrawal from Greece at the end of April 1941, and they had never really recovered from that experience. As well, British communications gear was so bad that Freyberg was often totally out of touch with developments on the island. The two paratroop companies that General Student had dropped near Platanias area ran into trouble. They were again dropped on defenders who were waiting for them and lost heavily. Of these, only 80 men were able to land and occupied a farm near the beach at Pirgos. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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