Wednesday, December 18, 2013
21 May 1941 at Heraklion
At the start of 21 May 1941, the main concerns at Heraklion were the Germans in the town and the Germans to the east of the defended area by the airfield. The Germans had attacked with four battalions of paratroops, but they were inadequate to deal with a larger Allied force. The Australian Official History refers to the defended area around the town and airfield as a fortress, and this was a very strong defensive area, if not a fortress. General Student later complained that his intelligence unit greatly underestimated the strength of the defenders. During the course of the day, the British had helped the Greeks to clear most Germans out of the town. The Greeks had to rearm themselves with captured German weapons, because they were running out of ammunition for what they had prior to the attack. We can see that Heraklion was the most strongly held of the airfields in the north of Crete. That was largely due to the presence of Brigadier Chappel and the 14th Brigade. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.