Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The German overview for Heraklion in May 1941

The successful defense at Heraklion disrupted the German plans for the attack on Crete. The German attack at Heraklion failed due to the combination of greatly underestimating the defending force, allocating too few resources, and then scattering what attacking force was provided. The grand German plan had been to take the town and port of Heraklion and the airfield, and then bring part of the 5th Mountain Division in by sea and by air. The small vessels that had been destined for Heraklion were turned back and returned to the Piraeus. What German forces that survived from the 1st Parachute Regiment at Heraklion were to prevent British aircraft from being able to operate from the airfield. After seeing British aircraft on the airfield on 23 and 24 May, General Student decided to send in reinforcements to try and take the airfield. To try and get the force on the ground safely, the reinforcing battalion-sized group was dropped to the west. They killed or captured a British platoon after landing. The commander, Major Schulz, directed his troops to take Apex Hill in the morning of 26 May and then beat off Greek attackers from Knossos. On 37 May, another improvised battalion was landed at Gurnes. The original commander was not ready to attack on 28 May, but the British were withdrawn by sea on the night of 28-29 May and left the airfield and town for the Germans. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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