Naval War
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British Ships
Sea Invasion
Air attacks
The Naval role was essential in Greece and Crete

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While it is easy to move around Western Crete and still see the areas fought over by the land forces, and the cemeteries where many of the men are now buried, we should not forget the courageous part played by the Navy.  In the military actions in Greece and then Crete the Allied armies became tremendously reliant on the British Navy.  The Navy delivered the men to these theatres of the war, and then had to evacuate them from both.  In the support and evacuation of the forces on Crete, many naval personnel would die.  A hard lesson was also learnt by the Allies.  Naval warships cannot operate effectively in an environment where the enemy has total air superiority.

I have spilt this section into three.

1. The period up to the end of the 21 May (sea invasion)

2. The period 22 May to the 27 May when the order was given to retreat (air attacks)

3. The evacuation

The changes in force composition during the naval action is not gone into in detail, but a listing of the forces available to Admiral Cunningham, Commander in Chief, is given on the page British Ships.  There is an excellent book giving great detail for those who are interested, by David A Thomas   "Crete 1941, the battle at sea"

Use this link to order from the bookstore.

 Crete 1941 T

The map above shows the area of naval operations with some of the individual casualties.  From