Thursday, April 24, 2014

Losses in the Battle for Crete in 1941

When we look at the strength of the forces defending Crete on 20 May 1941, we immediately notice that the majority were British:
British:    17,000
New Zealand: 7,700
Australian:  6,500.
That totals to some 31,200 men. Of that total, about 16,500 were evacuated by ship. The total losses were about15,900 men, of which most were prisoners. The British lost mostly men from "base camp", the New Zealanders lost the most wounded: 1,455 men, and the Australians lost 3,102 men as prisoners. The Royal Marines lost 1,055 men as prisoners. The evacuation was attempted by the navy, and they paid a dear price in ships lost for the men that were evacuated. The defense of Crete was largely disorganized and everyone's favorite, General Freyberg never really had any positive influence on the defense. When we see the success achieved at Heraklion, we see what a better organized defense might have looked like. They held their ground and then were safely evacuated from the island. The defense at Retimo was in vain, as most of the men ended the battle as prisoners. Where the battle went poorly was at Maleme and Suda Bay. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.

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