Saturday, February 04, 2006
The cost of capturing Crete
The Official History suggests that the cost to the Germans of taking Crete were such that they never again attempted an airborne operation of this scale. The attack came within a narrow margin of failing on the first day. It was only once that transport aircraft brought in the mountain troops that the balance shifted in their favor. That was made possible by landing the transports in the face of artillery fire on the field. From the German perspective, Operation Merkur needed to be over as soon as possible, due to the pending attack on Russia. They had hoped that Barbarrosa would start on 15 May 1941, but it was delayed about five weeks, which meant that instead of possibly succeeding in the fall, the Germans becamed engulfed in the Russian winter before reaching their goals. The delay required because of Balkan operations probably affected the outcome of the war. The Yugoslav coup d'etat was also a wild card. That forced the German hand in the Balkans, and forced them to intervene.