Monday, December 16, 2013

The initial attack at Heraklion on 20 May 1941

The air attacks started on the defenders of Keraklion on 19 May 1041. A group of German aircraft made a strafing attack in the morning with another attack with fewer aircraft in the evening. On 20 May, the air attacks started early and continued. Word arrived at 11am of paratroops being dropped near Suda Bay. A heavy bombing attack began at 4pm. By 5pm, the defenders could see Ju-52 transports approaching from "the north and north-east". The men counted 240 transport aircraft dropping paratroops and supplies. The aircraft approached at about 100 feet over the water and then climbed to 250 feet to drop their cargo. The defending anti-aircraft artillery shot down at least 15 transport aircraft. There were mishaps such as the paratrooper caught on the tail and carried out to sea behind the aircraft. There were also cases where the parachute failed to open and the men fell to their deaths. The defenders thought that they had killed at least 200 men either as they descended or as they hit the ground. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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