Monday, April 5, 2010

German Assault on Crete

When I was in junior high I purchased my first two wargames on clearance from a Kay-Bee store. One was Struggle of Nations and way over my head (still is...). The other was Air Assault on Crete. I played Crete game several times and enjoyed it immensely.

This map details that fateful battle. Actually, as I learned from playing the game and is illustrated on the map, it was three separate battles. The forces defending the island were a mix of Australians, New Zealanders, British and Greeks. Though superior in number to the Germans, many of the Allied soldiers belonged to support units, not combat. 
The German assault was the first battle where the Fallschirmjägers ("hunters from the sky") were used as the primary attack force. Losses were heavy and the Fallschirmjägers were never used in a major role again. However, their display of power so impress the Allies that they stepped up their plans to develop airborne capability.The airborne troops had one mission, capture the three airfields and hold long enough until reinforcements could be flown in. On may 20th, the Germans suffered heavy causalties as they landed. Crete civilians joined in the fight and provided stiff resistance. The battle lasted ten days but finally the Germans prevailed. Over 16,000 of the Commonwealth forces were evacuated to Egypt. The remaining 5,000 defenders at Sphakia surrendered on June 1st. Many took flight to the hills, causing the Germans problems for many months.This map is from of Wikipedia. The is from the caption from the Wikipedia site reads:
In keeping abreast with today's technology, the Department of History is providing these maps on the internet as part of the department's outreach program. The maps were created by the United States Military Academy’s Department of History and are the digital versions from the atlases printed by the United States Defense Printing Agency. We gratefully acknowledge the accomplishments of the department's former cartographer, Mr. Edward J. Krasnoborski, along with the works of our present cartographer, Mr. Frank Martini.

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