Wednesday, August 03, 2022

An airborne attack on Crete seems more likely

 Towards the end of April 1941 the Greek government was located at Canea in Crete. The Greek Prime Minister met with senior British officials. Greece had some 2,500 police, 7500 soldiers, and one thousands reserves. The men  were grouped into 11 battalions which were not well-equipped. The Greek government asked that a British general be in charge of defending Crete. The Greek government asked that the British arm the Greek defenders. 

In London, on 28 April, the Joint Intelligence Committee thought that the Germans had enough aircraft to put three or four thousand airborne soldiers on Crete for an initial attack. The Germans "were thought to be capable of conducting two or three sortees a day from Greece and three or for from Rhodes.

Churchill sent Wavell a message that they should expect quite soon an airborne attack on Crete. There were about 30,000 men from Greece on Crete. Wavell thought that there could be a surprise attack on Syria or Cyprus. 

Churchill liked Bernard Freyberg and wanted to put him in charge of defending Crete. Freyberg only arrived on Crete on 29April along with his staff and the 6th New Zealand Brigade. This is based on the account in "Greece, Crete, and Syria" by Gavin Long.

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