Site Overview
Home Site Overview Build Up Invasion Naval War With hindsight Resistance New Bookstore Site Updates Crete Today D-Day & Arnhem

 

 

Because the site is about more than just the battle itself, which took place over some 10 days in May, 1941, I thought it might be as well to give a brief textual overview of the site contents.  There is a Site Map, but for those not familiar with the events in the area around Greece and Crete in 1941, the map may not be sufficient.  I have plans for other events, not directly related to the Battle of Crete, but taking place around that time, which I would like to include on the site, in time!  In the text below, I will include links to the relevant pages as they are mentioned.
Build Up

This covers the period prior to the action on Crete.  The German move against the island followed the activities in the Balkans which then led to the Allied forces going into Greece to assist the Greeks against a German invasion.  At the same time the Royal Navy fought and won a large fleet action against the Italian Navy, the Battle of Matapan.  Unfortunately the Germans won against the Allies in Greece, and so the Allied forces withdrew to Crete.  The island was very poorly prepared for the coming invasion, and the commander of the Allied forces was General Freyberg, a New Zealander who had been in Greece.  The German plan for the invasion of Crete by airborne forces was the brainchild of General Student.

Invasion

There is a large scale map of the island, with sections for Maleme, Rethymnon and Iraklion.  There is also a page showing the Allied and German Cemeteries.  The Germans invaded in waves, and in three main groups; Group West against Maleme/Hania, Group Centre against Rethymnon and Group East against Iraklion.  The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders as well as the 2nd Battalion the York & Lancaster Regiment were part of the defence around Heraklion.  The main elements of the battle from the 20th May to the 28th May are included on these pages.  There are also pages on the Ju52 transport aircraft and the Ju87 Stuka bombers that were used so effectively.  I will be including a section on the value of ULTRA, but that will come later.  The activities of the Navy are covered separately (see below).  When the battle was deemed lost around the 27th May, plans were made for the retreat and evacuation from Chora Sfakia on the south coast.  Lew Lind, an Australian, wrote a short book about his escape, and a section on this is included.

The Resistance

The Allied forces did not fight alone on the island, they were supported by the very brave Cretan resistance, who then fought on with British assistance.  One well known resistance member was George Psychoundakis, 'The Cretan Runner' as his book was titled.  One exploit that was celebrated in both a book and film was the kidnap of General Kreipe, 'Ill Met by Moonlight'.

Naval War

As at Dunkirk the Army was saved from both Greece and Crete by the Royal Navy, who had to evacuate them from the beaches in both these instances.  While the German airborne forces were en-route to the island, the supporting German ground forces were to be landed from a sea invasion.  The Navy made them pay a very high price.  A listing of the ships involved in the actions around Crete are included, as well as a separate page for each of HMS Gloucester, HMS Juno and HMAS Stuart.  The Navy discovered a very hard lesson off Crete, without air cover, capital ships are relatively easy targets for the bombing technique of the Stuka dive-bomber.  Many ships and men were lost assisting the Army.  But the Navy stuck with their task, and evacuated a great deal of the Allied force from the south coast of the island.