Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Heraklion, leading up to the attack on 20 May 1941
The defense of Heraklion seems to have been well-organized and was on alert, expecting a German attack by air. They had a "heavy tank", presumably Inf.Mk.II Matildas, at opposite ends of the airfield. The six light tanks, presumably Lt.Mk.VIb tanks, were sited to the southeast. The artillery was not to fire on the airfield until ordered to do so. The anti-aircraft guns were allowed to fire as they thought necessary. The other troops were to stay hidden, so as to not disclose their positions prior to the attack. The Germans launched bombing attacks on Heraklion starting on 12 May 1941. A very small number of British aircraft, a Gladiator and several Hurricanes, occasionally operated from Heraklion. The defending troops were dug in and had overhead protection. The air attacks helped to build confidence that they were well-protected. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.