Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Summary of the German situation at Retimo
The Allied defenders at the Retimo airfield at the time of the attack on Crete on 20 May 1941 were two Australian battalions and about 3,000 Greeks. The best of the Greeks were an improvised battalion of Cretan police. They acquitted themselves well during the battle. The Australians were good troops, although they had taken some losses in Greece. The Germans dropped two veteran parachute battalions commanded by what they described as an elderly commander (Colonel Sturm). The parachute drop was poorly executed by the German air force, as they did not execute the planned drop. The failure to execute left the attackers in disarray, so that by the second day, the commander was captured, and many men were killed or captured. There were two groups of paratroops left. One on the east was on the defense, and would eventually be overcome. The other group in Perivolia were also on the defensive, but they managed to hold out until a relief column arrived from Suda Bay. Of the Australians at the Retimo airfield, 13 officers and 39 men from the 2/11th Battalion and 2 officers and 14 men from the 2/1st Battalion were able to eventually reach Egypt. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.