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Battle of Crete 1941

Discussion in 'Naval War in the Mediterrean, Malta & Crete' started by Erich, May 11, 2002.

  1. stevenz

    stevenz Member

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    Check out www.nzetc.org the Official history of the battle for Crete is available to read it explains everything that happened at malame and the screw up made by the commander of the 22nd battalion and the other commanders in the area.

    It makes Anthony Beevors book look like joke i have read both.
     
  2. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Steven;
    Thanks for the link! An interesting thing I found in Beevor was the fact that Spanish Republicans were fighting in the British forces in Crete. A link; Spanish Republican Exiles in Britain

    JeffinMNUSA
     
  3. stevenz

    stevenz Member

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    No worries hope you enjoy the book my grandfather was at malame with the 22nd he was in the headquarters company fighting in and around Pirgos village.
     
  4. stevenz

    stevenz Member

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    Also on the same website you can check out the battalion histories they are excellent and will provide additional information.

    It is also important to read the history of the petrol company and divisional cavalry who fought in Prision valley as infantry the petrol company who were only truck drivers who no infantry training repulsed repeated attacks by third parachute regiment and they did it with hardly any machine gun support and no mortar or artillery support it was a great effort.

    The engineer units also fought as infantry in the malame sector and did a great job.

    The battalions involved were

    18th
    19th
    20th
    21st
    22nd
    23rd
    27th machine gun
    28th maori

    There is one more piece that you should read it is excellent and it is about the fight for galatas if you go onto the website and scroll down you will see it.
     
  5. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Steven;
    Thanks again-fascinating story and it is interesting that General Student played a role in the Allied defeat at Arnhem some three years later; Military History Online - Momentum Lost: The Battle for the Arnhem Startline
    JeffinMNUSA
    PS. I lived on Crete for a while in 1973 and the place was still buzzing with stories of the battles and resistance. There were some gentlemen from all over I took to be veterans on tour, but I never managed to strike up conversations with any of these. I should have.
     
  6. Lost Watchdog

    Lost Watchdog Member

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    I remember being in Crete about 20 years ago with a copy of the British official history and another book (by a New Zealand doctor who's name I cant remember) and actually standing in the places described in the books. An Amazing and humbling experience.
     
  7. stevenz

    stevenz Member

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    The Germans had the benefit of being able to learn from our mistakes there commanders were a lot quicker at reacting than ours and they were lucky they also found the whole allied battle plan i think in a glider.
     
  8. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Hi Steve,

    it was a great present that the allies gave to the Wehrmacht. I suppose without it, it would have been much harder and maybe impossible to beat your troops.

    Regards

    Ulrich
     
  9. stevenz

    stevenz Member

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    Hi geb you have to wonder what the hell they were thinking carrying the whole battle plan with maps into battle with them it,s hard to believe they did it it,s so dumb.
     
  10. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    We made the same mistake with the Netherlands but they won´t believe that´s true!
    Bad luck for them.

    Regards

    Ulrich
     
  11. stevenz

    stevenz Member

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    The Germans lost all there battle plans.?
     
  12. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Yes, i have to look in my books. Somewhere it was descriped how this happened.

    Regards

    Ulrich
     
  13. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Steven;
    The Wehrmacht of 1941 was the first modern army; complete with effective comm, land/air coordination, automatic weapons and a leadership that was not burdened with WWI tactical doctrine. Our guys found the fighting easiest when they were still parachuting down from the sky-Beavor relates how they made quail hunting references to the numbers of enemy bagged. Once the Fallschrimjaegers were on the ground the game got much rougher.
    JeffinMNUSA
    PS. A link to books; http://www.hellenicbookservice.com/Kriti/cretan_books____world_war_ii.htm
     
  14. stevenz

    stevenz Member

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    Thats true but it is also true that all the rifle companies in the 5th brigade area held there ground and none were defeated in the first 24 hrs.

    The 22nd battalion withstood a huge air bombardment and they didn,t take this bombardment in bunkers or caves they were in slit trenches they hade dug for the most part with bayonets and helmets because they didn,t have shovels the dust hadn,t even cleared from the bombing and the german gliders were landing our guys didn,t collaspe from the bombing they were heads up and firing and they took on the equivilent of two full strength parachute battalions and fought them to stop and these battalions were not destroyed in the air they were landed safely out of range of our defences.

    One of our platoons 23 men were asked to hold a front of 1400m directly in the face of the german attack and they fought till they had 100% casulties our machine gunners from 27th machine gun battalion had enough bullets for 7mins of rapid fire and that was all a lot of our people didn,t even have proper grenades they were throwing jam tins packed with concrete and gelignite yet our people still held on and at the end of that fight the germans were shot to pieces there own commanders have admitted they only got through the first night because of the failure of our senior leadership to carry out there orders to counter attack.

    In prision Valley where large numbers of germans were able to form up on the ground and attack our petrol company as they tried to capture galatas and cut off the coast road they were again shot up badly.

    Our petrol company was exactly that a company of drivers with no infantry training and listed as being 5 short of there allot men of rifles,and they had one bren gun,one lewis gun and one boys anti tank rifle and they had one pick and shovel for the whole company as well as no mortar or artillary support yet they were able to repulse repeated attacks and at the end of that days fight the para had failed to take any of there objectives.

    Not bad going for a company of truck drivers and General Heydrich in Command of 3rd para said if we had counter attacked on the first night in his words they would have been in the cart but our two brigade commanders frim 4th brigade and 10th brigade asked to counter attack and we turned down by senior leadership.
     
  15. stevenz

    stevenz Member

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    The failure to carry out the orders to counter attack after the enemy had been heavily engaged and smashed is what turned the battle and the germans para only played a secondry role from that point it was the germans mountain division that was brought in that provided the bulk of the numbers.

    Once the germans got a foothold and were able to bring in big numbers of reinforcements with the shortages of equipment and ammo and with no air support the allied forces were never going to win a battle of attrition.

    The germans had weight of fire in there favour machineguns,mortar,artillary airpower ammuntion supplies radios to communicate and they could just advance down the Island behind that firepower forcing our forces to engage then hitting them with dive bombers and starfing them them from the air.

    The situation we faced on Crete was no different to what the germans faced on Normandy if we wanted to win with the shortages we faced we needed to hit them immediatly with full force and deny them a foothold and smash them in the first 24hrs the fight had to be short and sharp when our commanders failed to do this they threw away our chance of winning.
     
  16. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Steven,

    good points! I read a war diary from an german Para in that he wrote of the problems to take a small hill with a farm on it. They neede the whole day and lost completely their officers. There was no chance to move in the open ground and he said their opponents didn´t waste ammo. They only shot at clear visible targets which means Para´s that wanted to move.
    The reason why your troops lost this battle is in my opinion are the old fashioned senior leaders which learned their work in the WWI era.
    Ah, and here is the info about the unlucky german officer who lost the assault plans for the French war. It were Major Hellmuth Reinberger and a commander of the Luftflotte 2 Major Hönmanns who had to transport the plans from his place to Cologne. But after an party with lot of alcohol they flew with their Me 108 "Taifun" through bad weather in the wrong direction. And after an emergency landing they met an farmer, but he was an Belgian and immediately some belgian soldiers captured them and Reinberger tried to throw the plans in a fire but the Belgians got them and so they knew the plan. But they thought it was a trick and didn´t reacted right. And the starting assault of the Wehrmacht could go on. Hitler wasn´t amused and said the two Majors should be killed.

    Regards

    Ulrich
     
  17. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    It did take our guys several sharp defeats before they figured out that their WWI field manuals were obsolete. A failure of doctrine on the German side was the new NAZI practice of taking mass reprisals on the civilian population. German Army Atrocities in Crete - Resistance in Crete It seems that everywhere the Wehrmacht went insurgency was bound to follow.
    JEffinMNUSA
     
  18. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Jeff,

    i agree that it was a giantic mistake to do such reprisals. But most times it wasn´t the Wehrmacht or better said it wasn´t started by the Wehrmacht. Such atrocities were started by SS and Gestapo. But you´re thats no the way to find new friends. But you have to admit that the Brit´s told the Crete people that the all the Germans were monsters and they have to kill them. So there happened some bad things made from the farmers and other civilians. And you now a reaction will follow an action.
    Not correct solved by the Wehrmacht!

    Regards

    Ulrich
     
  19. JeffinMNUSA

    JeffinMNUSA Member

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    Ulrich;
    Well Hitler being Hitler-a sort of"Charlie Manson with absolute power"-it really could have been no other way. The fact that these iron fisted occupation policies blew up in his face every time did not seem to phase the dictator. Fanatics are like that...
    JeffinMNUSA
     
  20. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Ace

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    Jeff,

    you´re so right!

    Ulrich
     

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