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'This report on the Air-Borne Invasion of Crete is believed


to be of such importance to the Armed Forces of the United States that
iis
t
reproduced in its entirety and given a wide distribution. It
amplfief
Special Bulletin No. 35, subject: "The Battle of Crete,
May 20 - June 1, 1941", issued October 15, 1941.
Much of the material in this report was gained from persons
Generally their names
haei:beendeleted.

*ho

were on Crete at the time of the attack.

Attention is invited to the classification, "Secret".


must be closely guarded.

'ontents

Its

SHERAN MILES,
Brigadier General, U. S. Army,
Acting Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2.
Copy No.

3istribution:

'Secretary of War
Under Secretary of Var
Assistant Secretary of War
Agut. Secretary of Jar for Air
;Secretary General Staff
Aest. Chief of Staff, , PD
Asst. Chief of Staff, G-1

Asst. Chief of Staff, G-2


Asst,

Chief of

Staff,

to 17 incl.
to 20 incl.

G-3

Asst. Chief of Staff, G-4


to 36 incl.

(General Arnold
(AFCC
(ADC

40
42
46
50
54

(Chief of Air Corps


The Chief of Cavalry
The Chief of Field Artillery
The Chief of Infantry
Th:Chief of Coast Artillery
'The Chief of Engineers
uhEChief Signal Officer

incl.
incl.
incl.
incl.
incl.

58 incl.

62 incl.
66 incl.
70 incl.
72 incl.
74 incl.
76 incl.
86 incl.
91 incl.
96 incl.
98 incl.
100 incl.

The Chief of C.W.S.

Quartermaster
Surgeon General
Chief of Ordnance
Hq. Cri 1bean D. C.
Philippir..e Department
Hawaii Department
Command & General Staff School
Office of Naval Intelligence

ih:;i-1 F~la;D
U.i~I1 --li
~i

MILITARY

'

iID, 3~70 (3 Germany 9-8-41

WAR DEPARTMENT GENERAL STAFF

MILITARY ATTACHE REPORT:


SUBJECT: AIR-BORNE INVASION OF CRETE.

I.

G. No.

EGYPT.
9900.

SOURCE AND DEGREE OF RELIABILITY:


Attached appendices; personal conversation with numerous participants; conferences with Gen. Freyberg,
various members Army and RAF Intelligence Division; official files,
Middle East. Sources: Original. Reliable.
SUMMARIZATION OF REPORT. :This is a narrative of the Air-borne Invasion of Crete with certain conclusions and recommendations.

INTRODUCTI ON:
The concept
The drama of CRETE marks an epic in warfare.
Combat
of the operation was highly imaginative, daringly new.
elements drawn from Central EUROPE move. 'with precision into funnel
shaped GREECE.
Here they re-formed, took shape as a balanced force,
were given wings. The operation had the movement, rhythm, harmony
of a master's organ composition. On 20 May and succeeding days this
force soared through space; its elements broke over CRETE in thundering crescendos - all stops out. For the first time .in history airborne troops, supplied and supported by air, landed in the face of an
enemy, defeated him. For the first
time an air force defeated a firstrate Navy, inflicted such staggering losses that the fleet was ordered
back to ALEXANDRIA three days after the battle started.
In the spring of 1941 the British forces in Middle East
were spread too thin. With inadequate means to justify the expedition,
Great Britain made a valiant attempt to carry the war from AFRICA to
EUROPE. In GREECE this attempt failed. Lack of sea transport and
force of naval circumstances dictated that evacuees from GREECE be
taken to CRETE rather than EGYPT.
At CRETE, with time and means limited, defenses were
stiffened. But effective preliminary effort and superb hand-to-hand
fighting were not enough. CRETE fell because the British had no air
power to oppose the German air invasion.

From M. A.

C~

IeDate:
er

-1-

..

9.

8 September 1941.

In GREECE the RAF strength had been


i
e.
Yet
in view of Axis success in CYRENAICA, possibly more aircra
had been
sent to GREECE than was justifiable.. Few of those planes returned.
At the end of April there were 43 fighters and. 90 bombers operational
in EGYPT and CRETE.. Obviously no amount of spade work at CRETE could
off-set this hopeless deficiency in air power.
Middle East was aware of the difficulties of defending
CRETE.
On 28 April, the day of his arrival in CRETE, General Wilson
cabled Middle East that unless the three services were prepared to
maintain adequate forces, the holding of CRETE was a dangerous commitment.
He asked for an immediate decision. The RAF admitted its CRETE
air force was impotent and that it would be some time before additional
aircraft could be sent. The Navy realized that without fighter support
it was madness for them to attempt operations in CRETE waters.. General
Freyberg reported he would fight but had no hope of being able to repel
an invasion without full support of Navy and Air Force. Appreciating
Freyberg's position, General Wavell sent all available materiel to
CRETE, continued his efforts to secure additional means from GREAT
BRITAIN.
Because of the Nazi Air Force the problem of moving evacuees
from CRETE was a task the Navy was loathe to undertake.
Moreover the
Navy wanted CRETE, the key to the AEGE N, to be made into a second
MALTA.
CRETE gave Britain air bases from which Roumanian oil could be
bombed; from which the CORINTH CANAL, useful to Axis supply, could be
controlled; from which RAF fighters could strike Nazi long-range
bombers, based on GREECE and DODECANESE, destined for RED SEA service.
It gave Britain a toe-hold for anticipated operations on the Continent.
The War Ministry was anxious to hold CRETE as a seat for the Greek
Government.
Holding CRETE denied the German Air Force bases complementing those to the south in CYRENAICA; it prevented him from freedom of
action in the AEGEANT; it precluded use of CRETE airdromes for attacks
on British bases in EGYPT and. shipping in the RED SEA.
In early May the fleet was engaged in important MEDITERRANEAN
convoy duties which precluded its use for evacuation before the attack
came. There was no alternative other than to defend CRETE.
An almost unlimited number of airdromes, situated in depth
and extending from the DODECANESE through GREECE to SICILY gave the
German Air Force dispersion advantage and permitted a three-way converging attack. CRETE is snall; rugged terrain restricts its landing
areas. Since aircraft based on CRETE could not be widely dispersed,
obviously they could not survive a major attack. Due to distance such
support from aircraft based in EGYPT as was available proved ineffective.
However, given the most advantageously located bases, the entire
RiF in Middle East was so depleted that it could have done little
more
than delay the final capitulation.

From M.A. Cairo, Egypt.

Report No. 1987.

-2-

8 September 1941.

No one envisaged

was

arch

the intensity

launched against CRETE.


With bomb proofs, ample 25-pou
, AA guns
and mechanized units, with the New Zealand Division fresh as it was
when it went to GREECE, heavier losses would have been inflicted upon
the enemy, but more likely than not the outcome would have been the
sane.
Moreover, so devastatingly effective was the Nazi air force--on
shipping that CRETE could not have been supplied.
Unless Britain could
neutralize the German Air Force, loss of CRETE was inevitable. The
responsibility must rest on those whose decision it was to carry the
war to EUROPE.

PLAN OF ATTACK:
The reason for the German attack on CRETE was not entirely
clear until she disclosed her intent toward U.S.SR.
CRETE is the
keystone of the island barriers to the AEGEAN.
A Nazi AEGEAN lends
itself
to possible combined operations against TURKEY from the
BOSPHORUS and from the west. With German control of the AEGEAN, only
the U.S.S.R. is in a position to challenge Axis vessels in the BLACK
SEA.
The capture of CRETE was not regarded as a major operation
for the Gernan intelligence on 19 May published:
"There are no Greek troops in CRETE.
The British troops are
a permanent garrison. British troops which fled from the PELOP1NESE
have been brought to ALEXAI\TDRIA."
The Nazi listed British forces on
CRETE as "3 battalions of infantry, 30 light tanks, 30 AA guns, 40 AA
machine guns, 9 coast defense guns".
The German estimate was grossly
inaccurate; their losses the first
day were so appalling that on the
second day of the battle the High Command was forced either to give up
or launch a full scale attack. They chose to hurl 35,000 air-borne
troops and their whole available air striking force against CRETE.
The German made the most of the twenty odd Greek airdromes
which he found available. In addition many landing areas were prepared
in the southern part of PELOPONESE.
The advantages which forward
landing fields offered ldive bombers and fighters were exploited to the
limit.
At tines from positions off the northwest coast of CRETE the
Royal Navy could see dive bombers take off, proceed to their target,
return for more bombs.
It was the most rapid, damaging, ghastly air
shuttle service imaginable.
Fighters and dive bombers used newly constructed landing
fields on the southern PELOPONESE and airdromes at MOLAOI, MILOS,
COPRIiTH, ARGOS, SCARPANTO.
Transport planes cane generally from the
ATHENS-CORINTH area; some came from SEDES and MIKRA airports at
Si~0ONIKA.
Long-range bombers took off from airdromes in the vicinity
of THEBES and SALONIKA.
Italian bombers from RHODES and German
bombers from SICILY operated against shipping.

From. M4.A

CaiyQ

Re

s,

Uo
I

%tiY

'

September
8fSete-e

ew

19

1941.

The mission assigned Fliegerkorps XI was to capture the


island of CRETE and hold until relieved by the Army.
Fliegerkorps XI,
which controlled the operation, had under its commnnand the parachute
and glider troops of Fliegerdivisions VII. Also attached were the 22nd
Air-borne Division, the 5th and 6th Mountain Divisions, the fighters
and bombers of Fliegerkorps VIII.
It was intended for the air-borne forces to capture CRETE,
then to be relieved by the sea-borne 5th Mountain Division which was
to garrison the island. As the attack developed the defenses proved
stronger than was expected.
Effective fleet action disrupted two seaborne expeditions.
Consequently it became necessary for Fliegerkorps
XI to send the greater portion of the 5th Mountain Division and two
regiments of the 6th Mountain Division to CRETE by air.
During the first
few days of the attack 35,000 troops fully
equipped for battle were flown into CRETE (X).
For the initial
attack
this force was divided into three groups:
Western - Storm Regiment, reinforced; objective MALEME airdrone.
Central - 7th Air Division (less Ist Parachute Regiment and
2n1i Battalion of 2nd Parachute Regiment), 100th Mountain Regiment, two
companies Storm Regiments, Parachute Battalions of Pioneers, AA, Machine
Gun and a Medical Company, objective for first
wave CANEA, for second
wave RETIMO.
Eastern - 1st Parachute Regiment,
objective HERAKLION.
(Map 1)

85th Alpine Regiment;

These initial
attacking forces were about 15,500 strong,
with 799 light machine guns, 48 anti-tank guns, 81 mortars, 37 75-milineter cannon.
The War Office appreciation of 29 April to General Freyberg
must have stunned him.
Based on most reliable sources it claimed a
The estimate
simultaneous air and sea-borne attack was imminent.
reckoned three to four thousand air-borne troops in the first sortie,
two or three sorties per day from GREECE, three or four from RHODES.
All sorties would have fighter protection.
Preceding troop invasions
heavy bombing and machine gn preparations on troops could be expected.
There were available for the operation 315 long-range bombers, 240

(X)

The troops flown into CRETE were as follows:

5th Mountain Division, 9000;


6th Mountain Division, 7000;
Fliegerkorps VII - Storm Regiment glider troops, 1000 - 1st, 2nd,
3rd Parachute Regiments, 5400 - Special Troops - Machine Gun Bn., AA
Machine Gun Bn., Motorcycle Bn., Engineer Bn., Medical Company, Antitank Unit, Battery of =Artillery, 3600; 22nd Air-borne Division - 16th,
47th, 65th Regiments, 9000.
Total 35,000.

Fron M.A.

.98.

Cairo,

-4-

8 September

1941.

dive bombers,

6~~o

reconnaissance planes.:

otor fighters, 40

t
e

s 1,200 transport

planes were used. Since attack developed into an all-out performance,


doubtless all available aircraft were used.
The scale of the sea-borne attack which General Freyberg
must meet would depend on ability to evade British Navy.
PROBLEM OF DEFENSE:
General Freyberg disposed his troops in four self-contained
Force
groups, one each at MALEME, SUDA BAY, RETIMO, HERAKLION (X).
Headquarters was near CANEA. One Battalion, Welch Regiment, two
depleted British Battalions constituted the reserve.
Defending troops had 49 pieces of captured Italian field
artillery - some without instruments, some without sights, each with
only three or four hundred rounds of ammunition - ten 3.7 inch, fourteen
3-inch AA guns, 34 Bofors, a few AA machine guns and Pom Poms, twentyThere were also eight Infantry tanks, 16
four 36-inch searchlights.
Most of the Australian and New
light tanks, a few troop carriers.
Zealand Infantry Battalions arrived in CRETE with their rifles, Bren
guns, anti-tank rifles, machine guns. There was no other equipment.
Most had lost their
None had b:ding.
Fe't of the men had overcoats.
toilet kits. There were no mess facilities.
CRETE forces were divided into three components: 3500 of the
original garrison of the 14th Infantry Brigade, with attached naval,
artillery, infantry units; evacuees from GREECE of British, Australian,
10,000 Palestinians, Cypriots,
New Zealand units totaling 14,000;
odds and ends of British units who had- lost their organizations. Only
the original garrison and the infantry of the Australian, New Zealand
All others had lost their
for combat.
and British units were fit
weapons or their units and were not trained in infantry minor tactics.

(X)

Disposition by units:

jLEMiE Sector; H.Q., N.Z. Div. with 2 Brigs. and 1 improvised Brig.
including 3 Gk. Bns.; 2 "I" tanks and 10 light tanks; Artillery 10 captured Italian 75 mm. guns, 6 Howitzers, AA and C.D. artillery.
(Map 2, Photo 2)
SUDA BAY: Mobile Naval Base Defense Organization with AA and C.D.
artillery and 1 Bn. Royal Marines; 3 British Bns. (depleted), 2
Gk. Bns.; Reinforced by arrival of 1"Layforce" -. Commandos - toward
end of battle.
(Maps 2, 3, 6; Photo 3)
4 Aust. Inf. Bns. (2 Bns. moved to CANEA Sector during battle);
RETIMO:
(Map 4AA, Photo 3)
2 "I" tanks; C.D. and captured field artillery.
14 Inf. Brig. (British); 4 Gk. Bns.; 2/4 Aust. Inf. Bn.,
KERHPLION:
7 Medium Regt. R.A. (less one bty Rifle Bn.); 2 "I" tanks and 6
light tanks; AA and C.D. and captured field artillery; Reinforced
by Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders from EGYPT during battle; also
(Map 4, Photo 5)
2 "I" tanks.

From M.A. Cairo,

gip.

Report No. 1987.

-5-

8 September 1941.

It is easy now to criticize the British for not using local


material and labor to prepare better defensive positions. But no
material for construction was available. Steel and concrete for pill
boxes
not availabls.. There were few shovels, little
transport.
Not only were CRETE supplies depleted but also its young and vigorous
man power had been taken to GREECE during the Greek-Italian war.

-were

There is criticism that the road net from south to north was
not developed so that southern ports, which required less daylight
exposure of incoming and outgoing vessels than northern ports, might be
used. However, it was only a few minutes further by air to the southern
ports and any active harbor there would have received the same treatment
accorded SUDA BAY.
But had the road net been perfect, had southern ports been
used exclusively, it would not have solved the supply problem. Waters
about CRETE were untenable. CRETE'S supply line was vulnerable to air
On the open sea the Nazi air attack on
attack all the way to EGYPT.
shipping was vicious; some ships were sunk, others were set on fire.
The only way ships could unload at SUDA docks was to enter
after dark and leave before daylight.
Only destroyers were fast enough
to slip in and out with any degree of safety. They arrived at 11:30
p.m.; were compelled to leave at 3:00 n the morning. Maximum accommodation was two vessels and by fast work 100 tons could be unloaded
during this period. For days no ships at all arrived. Since the forces
required six hundred tons per day heavy inroads had to be made on the
reserves.

Out of 100 field pieces sent from Middle East only 49 arrived.
In an attempt to create a twenty-day reserve stock for 20,000 troops,
21,000 tons were transported to CRETE but sent back because they could
not be unloaded; 2,700 tons were unloaded; 3,400 tons were sunk. Since
CRETE'S normal population of 440,000 had been augmented by 14,000 Greek
soldiers, 15,000 Italian prisoners and 27,550 British troops, obviously
CRETE could not have been supplied under existing air conditions.
Lack of roads, location of landing fields and possible
landing beaches complicated the defense.
Machine gun and bombing
attacks from the air and vertical envelopment by air-borne troops
offered the defender slight opportunity to take advantage of terrain.
Since air attacks made movement by day impossible, concealment became
more important than position. Because there were very few suitable
landing grounds it was possible to defend all of them.
Consequently
air-borne troops were compelled to land in defended, areas.
Air photographs, constant reconnaissance, retention of the initiative, gave the
Nazi every other advantage.
In spite of the fact that they were inadequately equipped,
without air support, their supply, reinforcement, evacuation problems
unsolved, most of the troops were in good spirits. Although they had
already had enough in GRIECE, the war-weary troops steeled themselves

Fron M.A. Cai


,,

.p 1987

;p

-6-

8 September

1941.

for the first Air Army invasion in h


&t
4 I
performance against great odds goes, no forces

as individual

PRELUDE TO AIR ARMY ATTACK:


A month prior to the main attack there had been a general
movement south. Transport planes, gliders, gathered in the region of
ATHENS and CORINTH; special troops came by air, sea, road, rail.
Supplies and enormous stocks of munitions were piled well forward (X).
Landing fields were hastily constructed in Southern GREECE; AEGEAN
Islands offering landing facilities
were seized. At MILOS British
officers and men were captured, put to work constructing landing grounds.
There were three phases to the preparation prior to the
attack by air-borne troops.
The first
ten days of May was a period of thorough reconnaissance accompanied by light dive bombing and machine gun attacks. The
Nazi plan for the main attack was based on the extensive series of air
photographs taken at this time.
In the second phase daylight bombings and machine gun attacks
of increasing scale, frequency, and intensity began. Vicious thrusts
at' communications, probing attacks to locate AA, troop concentrations,
defensive positions, were launched.
Fighters struck the few remaining /
RAF planes, forced a decision on the 15th to withdraw all aircraft to
EGYPT.
The third phase was a series of fierce attacks against sea
communications to interrupt supplies. One night, operating singly,
planes bombed SUDA BAY continuously for seven hours.
On the 17th
seventeen JU 88' s, escorted by ten ME 109' s, dive bombed SUDA BAY.
The day following, after four reconnaissances, SUDA BAY caught seven
heavy attacks supported by fighters.
Unloading was continued while
ships were on fire and sinking.
SUDA anchorage became a graveyard for
vessels.
(Map 6 and Photo 1) On MiLEME and HERAKLION airdromes
bombing and machine gun attacks were heavy and frequent. There was a
general intensification of all attacks to break down morale.
Throughout the month preceding 20 May there was a constantly
rising tempo in the preparation for the air-borne invasion.
The
method of attacks varied; their intensity progressively increased.
Daily reconnaissance and air photography enabled the Nazi to study
defense disposition of troops, location of guns, slit
trenches.
Having
completed thorough reconnaissance, having beaten down resistance, having
interrupted supply, the Nazi air army was ready to attack.

(X)
When the British evacuated GREECE they left 67,000 tons of
gasoline at PIRAEUS.

From M.A.

Ept.
t

8 September 1941.

AIR AMY ATTACK:

Soon after dawn 20 May the Luftwaffe struck h MALEME-CANEA


area. The objective was to silence AA batteries and to prevent use of
the roads between SUDA and MALEIE. At MA~IE the attack was especially
heavy.
The New Zealand 22nd Battalion guarding MALEME airdrome was
heavily bombarded and machine gunned for ninety minutes by JU 87t's,
JU 881s, ME 109's, ME 110's. The intensity was so terrific that everyone was driven to slit trenches; some participants claim the severity
of the attack exceeded the heaviest artillery preparations of the
World War. Before the dense cloud resulting from this attack lifted,
fifty gliders had landed in the dry river bed directly in front and to
the west of the 22nd Battalion.
(Map 2)
The big scale BLITZ was an awful spectacle,
General Freyberg
relates how he stood on a hill
watching the attack over MALEME enthralled
by the magnitude of the operation.
While he was watching the bombers
he suddenly became aware of a greater throbbing, or overtone, during
the moments of comparative quiet. Looking to sea he saw hundcreds of
planes, tier upon tier, coming toward him. They were huge, slow-moving
troop carriers with the air-borne troops he had been expecting. They
circled counter clock-wise over M LEME airdrome and then, only 200
feet above the ground, as if by magic white specks suddenly appeared
beneath the planes.
Colored clouds of parachutists floated slowly to
earth.
The dry stream banks afforded shelter to the glider-borne
troops who landed there. Fully armed and organized as combat teams,
troops poured out of gliders, took up positions facing the 22nd Battallion so as to cover their parachutists landing west of the stream bed.
Flying at low altitude in circles whose center was about a half mile
west of the 22nd Battalion position, Nazi fighters covered the descent
of the parachutists by continuous murderous straffing of ground troops.

(Map 2)
Most of the parachutists who landed near defending troops
were killed.
Some who landed on the MALEME-CANEA road interrupted
On the airdrome defending troops were overwhelmed by
communications.
parachutists who, with stores and equipment, actually landed on top of
then.
To the east and west of the airdrone JU 52's crashlanded on the
beaches, disgorged troops.
The eastern group threatened the rear of
The
the 22nd Battalion; the western group joined those in the wadi.
wadi troops forned the nucleus of the forces which eventually captured
the island.
The day of bitter fighting was replete with intense
bombardments and straffing. The New Zealanders made eight successful
bayonet charges; murderous air attacks forced then to relinquish their
gains. During the night, the 22nd Battalion withdrew a half mile to
the east. MVLE~4
E airdrome, however, was still held under artillery
and machine gun fire.

From M. A.

Cairo,

Egypt.

Report No. 1987.

-8-

8 September 1941.

Simultaneously with the


i .800 gliderborne and parachute troops had landed southwest of CANEA near the 4th
New Zealand Brigade.
A Ranger Company and the Royal Perivolians, with
Bren carriers mopped up all parachutists except those in the prison of
AGYA area. At the close of a day of heavy fighting the 4th Brigade
held its position.
(Map 2 and Photo 4)
On the AKROTIRI Peninsula eleven gliders landed soon after
dawn.
These troops, as well as those who landed about SUDA BAY, attacke8
AA gun crews. Few gunners had rifles; their losses were heavy. The
Northumberland Hussars and a Ranger Company, who were defending the
peninsula, promptly wiped out all glider troops except some who took
cover in an abandoned gun position.
Throughout the day at RETIMO there was spasmodic bombing and
straffing. At 1600 hours one hundred seventy troop carriers appeared;
1,700 parachutists floated to earth, landed about the airdrome, on the
high ground to the southeast.
Most of them were killed but those on
the high ground captured some field pieces, two infantry tanks, held
their position. A small group of parachutists landed at the road fork
between RETIM O and the AIRDROME, blocked the road, cut the communications. Fighting continued throughout the night.
(Map 4A)
During intermittent air activity KERAKLION defended itself
remarkably well. Simultaneously with the RETIM0O parachute attack two
hundred troop carriers appeared from the north in two great waves;
two thousand parachutists were dropped west and south of the town and
about the airdrome. All who landed within the perimeter were killed.

(Map 4)
In the first
day of attack the 22nd New Zealand Battalion
was forced from 4LEMZE airdrome; the airdrome remained under fire;
SUDA BAY area, RETIMO, HERAKLION still
held;
all communications were
badly interrupted; British believed they had destroyed eighty per cent
of the parachutists.
Wednesday 21st - Day 2 - Artillery fire from captured
Italian pieces destroyed numbers of planes as they landed on ML~M E
airdrome, several crash-landed on the nearby beaches.
Those wrecked
were dragged off the landing ground to make room for more.
It is
estimated that 600 transports landed during the day.
Motorcycles,
grans, troop carriers were landed.
The Nazi took heavy losses. Dive
bombers struck back at the artillery which covered the airdrome, put
themn out of action. At 1615 hours five hundred parachutists landed
behind airdrome defenses, rendered the MALJIE position still
more precarious.
(Photo 2)
From AGHYA prison area a three-hour German attack on
GALATOS was repulsed.
Invaders about SUDA BAY were well mopped up;
all day the situation was completely in hand.
The RETIMO forces counter-attacked, retook their field guns
and tanks, cleared the airdrome of parachutists.
Parachute forces
which remained on either side of the airdrome were reinforced.
By

From M.A. Cairo,

e;ort

-9-

'.

8 September 1941.

yV

cutting comunications

from

ACATETA

played a vital part in the ultimate fate of the

these forces

IMO troops.

After a day of bitter fighting E3RAKLION town and airdrome


remained in the hands of the British. (Photo 5)
At the close of the second day of the attack only ALEIX
seemed insecure; disrupted by the Navy, the Nazi sea-borne invasion had
failed.
Thursday 22nd - Day 3 - At dawn two battalions of the New
Zealand Division attacked with bayonets, reached 1MALEME airdrome. The
fierceness of the fighting was not surpassed by anything the participating officers had seen at GALLIPOLI or in FRANCE in the first World
War. But during daylight no troops could hold the airdrome. Under the
murderous fire power which four hundred unopposed fighters delivered,
troops were dive bombed and machine gunned off the airdrome, driven
back, held in cover positions.
During this moriing there was a slight lull in CRETE bombing
while the Luftwaffe struck and decisively defeated the fleet in the
KYTHERA CAVSANNEL.
Losses were so heavy the battle may some day be known
as Britain's greatest naval disaster.
Throughout the entire day air-borne troops poured in, quickly
building fresh formidable forces.
Although the troops had counter-attacked with the bayonet
some twenty times, General Freyberg determined to reinforce his 4th
Brigade, make one last desperate attack for the airdrome. But before
the counter-attack could be launched, from the vicinity of AGHYA prison,
the Nazi drove a wedge between the 4th Brigade southwest of CANEA and
the 5th Brigade at MALEME.
The MALEME garrison was in danger of being
cut off; counter-attack had to be abandoned.
At the close of the third day HERAKLION and RETIMO could
control their respective areas provided their enemy was not reinforced.
The threat to rear of the MALEME troops forced them to seek security
MALvEME
by establishing a northwest-southwest line through GALATOS.
became an enemy operational airdrome only eleven miles from SUDA BAY.
Freyberg cabled Wavell situation at MALEV
very critical, to send all
available AIR help.
Friday 23rd - Day 4 - The final part of the withdrawal of
the 5th Brigade had to be made during daylight; it was tough fighting
to reach the GALATOS line.
Fortunately the German air forces were
occupied on the roads between CATWEA and SUDA and on CANEA itself
and
the withdrawing units escaped air attack. Air-borne troops continued
to arrive; the New Zealand forces had lost half their strength. It
was clear the German objective was SUDA BAY.
Throughout the 23rd RETIMO held. Bombing was heavy; there
were many British and German wounded; medical supplies were insufficient.

From M.A. Cairo,

wi.

8 September 1941.

-10-

heavily bombed, held. The supply situation was cau


xiety.
Ammunition and medical stores were desperately needed. Acute ration shortage forced a thirty per cent cut. On this day Churchill cabled Freyberg
that great things turned on the splendid CRETE battle which the whole
world watched. However splendid the battle appeared in the eyes of the
world, Freyberg knew CRETE was lost.
Saturday 24th - Day 5 - The German intensified his air
attacks, strengthened his forces with fresh, newly arrived air-borne
troops, prepared to attack the New Zealand position. All British troops
were very tired. Fighting had been savage; man to-man British forces
were superior. But unfortunately this was not a man-to-man battle. Air
support gave the German tremendous advantage.
Sunday 25th - Day 6 - The night of 24/25 May part of the
Layforce - a Commando group commanded by Brigadier Laycock - arrived by
destroyer at SUDA BAY. It had been intended to use the Layforce for a
landing behind the enemy position but the situation had deteriorated so
badly that it had to be used as a rear guard. Vicious bombing, straffing, arrival of heavy reinforcements, pressure from German ground
troops made it clear that the men could not hold out much longer.
At eight in the evening the German broke through the New
Zealand position, captured GALATOS; the tired 18th and 20th Battalions
counter-attacked with the bayonet, re'ook the village.
General
Freyberg rates this bayonet attack one of the great efforts of the
CRETE defense. It is reported the Germans have erected a joint GermanNew Zealand memorial at GALATOS.
At HERAKLION the situation was unaltered. Part of the
Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders had arrived from TYMBAKI.
The German
was amassing his troops for an attack. RETIMO, heavily bombed throughout the day, was holding.
Monday 26th - Day 7 - There was bitter fighting all day in
SUDA area; bombing and machine gunning were continuous. Bombers
lashed unmercifully at SUDA base. All telephone lines were destroyed;
communication was possible only by runner.
The Force Reserve, consisting of the Northumberland Hussars,
Welch and Ranger Regiments, was on the neck of the AKROTIRI Peninsula
between SUDA and CANTEA.
Southwest of CANEA the depleted New Zealand
Division and other units were hard pressed. From the front troops
were pouring back toward SUDA. (Map 3).
In a desperate attempt to stabilize the situation General
Freyberg ordered his Force Reserve to move forward at midnight and
relieve the pressure on the New Zealand Division.
At all costs the
base at SUDA had to be covered so that essential supplies and reinforcements due by destroyer that night might be unloaded. By late
afternoon, however, the New Zealand position deteriorated rapidly. It
was necessary to withdraw.
Every effort was made to inform Force Reserve of the withdrawal but the message could not be delivered. At midnight Force
Reserve went forward to CANEA-MALEME road not knowing the New Zealand
Division had withdrawn.

From M. A.

ro,

gpt.

Report No. 1987.

-11-

8 September 1941.

During the day German pressure from' to


ncreased
materially, air attacks intensified. On SUDA BAY no vessel could
remain afloat; except at night no troop movement was possible. Although withdrawal to the south would force units off their supply
line, there remained no other alternative. This day the War Office
cabled Freyberg that his glorious battle commanded admiration in all
lands; that the enemy was hard pressed; that all aid in "our powert"
was being sent.
Tuesday 27th - Day 8 - At dawn the Welch Regiment was in
position a mile west of CANEA. Patrols were sent out to the west and
south; none returned. What had happened tas the bulk of the British
forces had withdrawn to 42ND STREET and the Welch Regiment had marched
into ene.y territory. On the AKROTIRI Peninsula, parachutists and
caique-borne troops moved south, covered the CAkA-SUDA road with
mortars. (Map 3)
Du.ing this afternoon orders to evicuate were received. The
forces at RETIMO had fought exceptionally well. The escaped prisoners
fromn CETE have since revealed that up until the 27th their garrison
reckoned it had won its battle. RETIMO was completely cut off from
General Freyberg' s Headquarters. A mazsenger attempted to reach
RETIMO by boat and a plane was sent from Middle East. Both failed to
deliver the word to evacuate. Most of the RETIMO garrison was forced
to surrender; some escaped to the hills eventually made their way to
EGYPT. At HERAKLION the German strengthened his position and reinforced heavily.
Wednesday 28th - Day 9 - During the night of 27/28 the 5th
New Zealand and the 19th Australian Brigades withdrew to STILOS where
they were heavily attacked. Two Commando groups under Brigadier
Laycock, which occupied a position east of SUDA, formed the rear guard
for the withdrawal.
At EERAKIION two more battalions of parachute troops and
materiel were dropped. HERAKLION forces received orders from Middle
East that the Navy would evacuate them the night of the 28th. At ten
o t clock embarkation commenced. At 3:00 a.m. the ORION, PHOEBE, PERTH
and IMPERIAL moved out with the entire force. The loading had been
uneventful. But all day the 30th the convoy was dive bombed. The
ORION received three direct hits from 1000-pound bombs. Over four
hundred were killed, the force of the explosion imprisoned many; it
was days before the bodies could be removed from the ship. The other
ships were dive bombed with varying degrees of damage. From the start
of the attack until the vessels arrived in ALEXANDRIA the troops never
saw an RAF plane.
On the 29th from his Headquarters at SPHAKIA General Freyberg
reported to Middle East that the strength of units still capable of
organized resistance in the withdrawal was less than 2,000. They had
140 rounds of artillery ammunition and three light tanks.
A thousand troops were evacuated from SPHAKIA the 28/29 May;
the night of 29/30 seven thousand were evacuated. On the 30/31 two
destroyers and two Sunderlands took off 1,400. (Map 5)

From M.A. Cairo, Egypt.

Report Now 1987.

41

8 September 1941.

Fighting troops had f ir'!r


A a
portionment
among British, Australian, and New Zealand ro
a
worked out
for the evacuation. Although some Palestinians and Cypriots were out
of control enroute SPHAKIA, considering the difficulties, the withdrawal and evacuation were both well executed. Unfortunately not all
could be embarked (W). The last load was taken out the night 31 May 1 June. The senior officer remaining behind was instructed to surrender on the morning following.
During the evacuation operation the German air force action
was greatly reduced. Had the attack tempo of MALEME continued possibly
no one would have escaped. While it was not known at the time, the
Nazi air force had a yet heavier assignment:
to move north and in
three weeks to strike the Red Army.
NAVY:
Before the Greek invasion Admiral Cunningham made his daring
and successful sweeps through the MEDITERRANEANT in complete disregard
of the Italian air force. When Italian fliers did attack, the fleet
put up an AA barrage; the Italians took avoiding action. The fleet
was lulled into a false sense of security by the mediocrity of these
air attacks.
But over CRETE waters Germrn pilots came out of the sun in
steep power dives, utterly disregarded AA fire, released their bombs
close over the target. At KYTHERA Straits dive bombing was accompanied by high level bombing and torpedo attacks.
Often the bombs struck
before the bomber was seen. The fleet AA could only fire barrages
into the sun, hope for hits.
The operations about CRETE not only demonstrated the complete
inability of a fleet to operate without fighter support in waters over
which the enemy had air superiority, but it disclosed the ineffectiveness of Naval AA. Shadows on the screen of the magical R.D.F. gave
ample warning of the approach of aircraft. Yet throughout the action
our American Naval Observer had knowledge of only two planes shot
clown (My cable No. 1950. B.F.F.); our American war correspondont on
the VALIAINT off KYTHERA Straits saw only seven shot down (Appendix 1,
page 5).
In some cases of major damage or sinking the air attack had
been of such intensity and duration and the naval barrages put up had
been so wasteful and ineffective that the vessels were out of annunition long before the bombing ceased.
The German Air Force paralyzed naval operations. Supply
delivery was insufficient for continued support of the garrisons; many
of the necessary reinforcements from ALEXANDRIA had to turn back or
were sunk; evacuation from SUDA BAY was impossible. Evacuation from
HERALION was costly; from SPHLKIA part of the garrison was evacuated
in the dead of night.
In addition to maintenance of sea communications the mission
of the Royal Navy was to protect all sea flanks about CRETE.

(X) Note: The T


am reliably in
ELIZABETH rena
From M. A.

stifi ein b
poh
l

pdt

Cairo, Egypt.

e .un
ohy

i-

urther evacuation.
I
o ers and the QU1.E

h
Report No.

-13-

1987.

8 Septer.ber 1941.

of

PL

arrw

The night of 21/22 May, the Ro


a sea-borne
expedition enroute from GREECE to CRETE. Twelve caiques and two small
steamers were sunk. There were many casualties in other caiques which
the Navy attacked off the north coast.
Elements of the 5th Mountain
Division, detachments of parachute AA, anti-tank, artillery, and nmachine
gun units were lost. The night of 22/23 May the KELLY and the KASE~IIR
sank many caiques full of soldiers and munitions. This sea-borne expedition, after suffering heavy losses, turned back to MILOS. So far
as is now known only one caique load of German troops landed prior to
28 May. On this date, however, the Nazi landed sea-borne troops and
tanks and the Italian landed troops at SITEIA BAY. (Map 1)
But the fleet paid dearly for its success in breaking up the
sea-borne expeditions. On the morning of 22 May in the Straits of
IYTH tA the entire battle fleet was attacked by high level and dive
bombers, torpedo and nine dropping aircraft. At one time during the
engagement 320 planes were attacking. Two cruisers, at least three
destroyers were sunk, all vessels badly damaged. A 2000-pound bomb
fell ten feet off the super dreadnaught VALIANT'S port bow, "holing
the ship very badly beneath the water line and literally picking her
bows out of the water and shifting her course by more than ninety
degrees".
(Appendix 1, Page 3) It was the first engagement of a
first-rate fleet without air support with a first-rate air power. The
battle ended in a complete and undeniable air victory.
Deeply concerned Churchill cabled Wavell on the 26th that
a CRETE victory was essential, to keep hurling in all aid. Wavell
replied:
"Reinforcements have steadily become more difficult on
account increasing enemy air attacks and may now be considered impossible".
During these operations the Navy considered all CRETE
missions madness. There were instances when Commanders demanded
fighter escort before they proceeded to CRETE.
Such planes as the
RAF was able to provide however, due possibly to lack of training,
were often unable to locate the ships they were assigned to escort.
With their gasoline supply limited they were forced to return to
EGYPT. There was never greater need for long-range fighters.
So far as heroism is concerned possibly there are no more
valiant deeds in British history than those of the Navy in attempting
to supply, defend and evacuate CRETE. But the fact that in eight
days the Nazi attack drove the Navy to EGYPT, forced an evacuation
which left more than half the garrisons behind, testifies to the total
inability of a Navy to operate in waters over which the enemy controls
the air.

Note:
No official reports of CRETE naval operations were ever made
available, although my request for them was pressed as far as it
could tactfully be done. I have complete confidence in the data
submitted in Appendix 1, pages 1 to 6. The damage inflicted on the
ships which remained afloat may still be seen. I personally saw the
signal ordering the fleet back to ALEXANDRIA 23 May 1941.
B.F.F.

From M.A.

Cairo, E 't t

t"

-14-

eptember 1941.

ROYAL AIR FORCE:


During the

period

General Frey

as

ng CRETE for

attack the RAF shot down twenty-three aircraft conic


and possibly
another nine. Many others were damaged. Due to the great numerical
superiority of the enemy, by 19 May the RAF on CRETE was reduced to
three Hurricanes and three Gladiators. No replacements being available
for Middle East, these planes were returned to EGYPT the day before the
attack.
On 23 May, however, being desperate for air support and
possibly as a gesture, two flights of six Hurricanes each were sent to
CRETE from EGYPT.
The first
flight flew over the Royal Navy whose
gunners, being justifiably afflicted with "windiness", put up an unusually effective barrage, shot down two Hurricanes; three returned to
EGYPT, one reached HERAKLION. The second flight sustained damage in
landing so that out of the twelve planes dispatched only two were serviceable. On 24 May one of the two remaining Hurricanes was burned
on the ground.
During the campaign the RAF made many night sorties from
EGYPT on military targets in GREECE and CRETE.
But the Nazi had phased
his CRETE attack in the dark of the moon so that the RAF retaliatory
night attacks against enemy airdromes was relatively non-effective.
Although losses were inflicted there is nothing to indicate they had
the slightest influence on the outcome of the operation.
ANTI-AIRCRAFT:
Because the German attack was successful one is likely to
gather the impression that little AA fire had to be silenced. About
the two by six mile horse-shoe shaped SUDA BAY the British placed
four batteries, each with four 3.7-inch AA guns; five sections each
with two 3-inch AA guns; 16 Bofors; two 50-caliber four barrel machine
guns and a number of .303-caliber machine guns (Map LA).
In spite of
this impressive air defense SUDA BAY was untenable for vessels.
At
MALEME airdrome two 3-inch AA guns, 10 Bofors, were put out of action
quickly on the 20th. At IERAXLION airdrome were four 3-inch AA guns,
10 Bofors, 2 Pom Poms.
Each airdrome had about forty machine guns.
RETIMO had no AA protection except machine guns.
No complete data is available showing the losses AA guns
inflicted. Lieutenant Hughes, who commanded the Bofors at SUDA BAY,
reports hits were numerous. But reading of reports available discloses
only a few planes were shot down.
On 10 May a Bofors shot down two
bombers at HERAKLION.
On the 16th AA at ~HERAKLION shot down three
aircraft and destroyed three others. AA fire on the 17th drove off
thirty ME 109' s from MALEM airdrome and shot down one DO 17.
The 18th
AA shot down one plane.
On the 20th at HERAKLION AA shot down sixteen
out of 130 troop carriers. Due to extraordinary battle confusion no
list
of planes shot down after the 20th exists.

From M, A.FromCairo

M.

or
or~or

1iB4
o;---~-

-15-

8 September 1941.

TECHNIIQUE

AIR:

Before the air-borne attack the German Air Force objective


was reconnaissance, liquidation of AA guns, crews, aircraft.
For the
air-borne attack the objectives were AA guns, airdromes, vessels,
communications, supply dumps. The air force also gave close support
to their attacking units. Transports and gliders placed troops
tactically.
Before the attack instructions to troops were clear cut,
pictured their objective in detail. Preliminary reconnaissance of the
objectives was thorough. Every unit commander was required to know his
objective from map study, air photographs, sketches. Non-commissioned
officers were required to make their own pencil sketch of their objective.
After the initial attack which started at dawn, Nazi airmen
did little between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. Daily at dawn a low
altitude reconnaissance was made to note changes in dispositions of
defending troops and guns. As soon as this information was imparted to
But reconnaissance
fighter and dive bomber aircraft the attack began.
continued throughout the day. After an air attack had died down, the
slightest ground movement brought back almost immediately a murderous
ground straffing.
Communications between ground and air were effective at all
times. After their initial landing air-borne troops directed aircraft
On CRETE wireless was used
to specific targets by panel, pyrotechnics.
at all points for ground to ground messages.
Ground stations worked
German ground Headquarters in CRETE; CRETE Headquarters worked Headquarters Fliegerkorps XI, GREECE. Fliegerkorps XI communicated with
aircraft in flight. All messages went in the clear but four hours were
added to time and code names were used for things and places.
On the other hand the three garrisons which the British
established at CRETE soon had their communications interrupted by parachutists, dive bombers, ground straffers. In forward areas double lines
and laddering to provide for breaks did not insure communications.
An airdrome attack began with neutralization of its defending
AA. From two or three directions fighters often dived simultaneously
and lower than 1,000 feet on AA gun crews. The crew was able to engage
one target, not two or three. Consequently they fired a few shots, took
In the
cover.
Two fighter attacks were usually made on an airdrome.
first attack the planes were shot full of holes, the gasoline allowed
to

spread;

the

second attack

usually started

fires.

Once

low over

MALEME

airdrome airmen staged daring acrobatics so as to draw men out of


As the men were watching ME 109' s
slit
trenches to watch the show.
suddenly arrived, machine gunned spectators before they could dive in
Machine gunning was more effective against troops than
the trenches.
bombing.
In dive bonbing

AA positions,

planes at 10,000 feet appeared,

circled, selected their target, went into steep, sometimes almost


vertical dives. At about 3,000 feet they released the bomb, then turned
slightly, pulled out, disappeared flying at sea level and at right
Stukas dived with machine guns in action.
angles to their dive.

From

M. A.
ACan,

e.
e:

-16-

8 September 1941.

A#8's

High level bombing agamThab


unusually accurate.
Planes operated sig
tion.
Occasionally a JU 88 flew around and
fire,

was
i
around

then JU 87's followed with dive bombing.

oose formaleet to draw

Dive bombers came

directly out of the sun, dropped their bombs, pulled back into the
sun again. Approaching vessels aft, planes frequently dived in
threes;

at the
beginning of the
dive planes were widely separated.
Their traces converged on the target.
To give the vessel hard right
or left rudder was futile for in either case one of the planes was
diving directly into the ship longitudinally.

The

Gliders were directed primarily against heavy AA gun positions.


sketch opposite is a copy of an original taken from a captured

glider pilot.
Only five companies of fifteen gliders each were used.
Three companies were scheduled to land in the
wadi west of MALEME,
one company on the AKROTIRI Peninsula, one company on the heavy AA

positions about SUDA BAY.


fifteen

minutes

Gliders were never used after the first

of the attack.

Air bombardments of great intensity preceded glider landing.


While heads were down in slit trenches the gliders arrived.
Parachutists followed the gliders at a very short interval.
Gliders
were released
at
high altitude,
came in with air
escort,
placed
combat teams tactically.

Machine

In the forward part of the glider ammunition was carried.


gun fire
from the ground occasionally
was effective
in ex-

ploding this ammunition.


After landing the troop passengers, who
had been helpless in the air, became immediately a formidable combat
team.
One glider company landed in CAEA area had a whole flight
of Stukas,
twelve ME 109' s and six
ME 110' s scheduled to support it.
Stukas bombed AA artillery; the MiE's neutralized AA and ground troops.
Coordination of glider-borne
troops
on the ground with air
force
of the perfection
of this
particuIn spite
lar glider-borne attack, the British defending troops succeeded in
destroying
the unit.
appeared to be perfect.

The JU 52 transport planes flew in "! formation carried


parachutistApeplane. Four JU 52's transported a
fifteen
twelvej
platoon. Troops jumped first, then the ammunition canisters were
tossed overboard.
Each air-borne trooper carried food and alnunition
for

two days.

Ground troops

requisitioned

food,

ammnunition,

medical

supplies by panel and verey signal.


Air deliveries were prompt.
Low flying
fighters
protected
the transport
freighters.
Air-borne troops.

supplied and supported by air

new and baffling problem to the defenders.

offered

Troops were free from

the restrictions inherent in ground movement, supply and reinforcement.


T
attacker of CRETE offered no supply line.to be sverae,

no reserve to be cut off;

supplies and reserves came in

via vertical

supply line
which only air
power can sever.
Reinforcements were
never tired from marching, were landed exactly where and when needed
fresh
for
combat.
But the Luftwaffe offered
still
more assistance.

After it

had transported,

supplied, and reinforced units dive bombers

and fighters

prepared the way for


them to move forward, silenced
defending artillery, interrupted communication, denied maneuver to

the defender during daylight.

From M.A.

Caio;

Eot.0

7.

-17-

8 September 1941.

,, _

to

the
using
The CRETE defenses were laid out with the
General Freyberg' s disairdromes and. denying their use to the enemy.
positions were so well selected that to reach their objectives promptly
The British had. no
parachutists were forced to land near his troops.
trouble in destroying most of these parachutists but the delay caused
by disposing of then enabled other troops to land upon the dcefended
areas. The defener 'problem, therefore, became one involving movement
into a position to attack the troops which were forming outside his
defended area. The complete domination of the air by fighters and dive
bombers precluded such movement. Being tied to the ground by fire
power from the air the British could only move by night. Night operations became habitual and these had to be completed in time to dig in
again before dawn.

Among the officers I spoke to there is the feeling that for


the CRETE operatio6'the RAF role of bombing strategic targets by night
.eimportance. Although well aware that fighter aircraft
wa"of 'Ti'
er CRETE would be almost negligible, recent experience
r:tte
v
taught them the necessity for close air support for the Army. They
endorse the attack of trategic ._objectives but believe no:matter how
sfo_ i is no answer to the ,German air-army cooperation which
ef
was so brilliantly

demonstrated

in GREECE and CRETE,

Shortage

of air-

craft most certainly dictated, RAF tactics. They had no fighter and
dive bomber aircraft; they had lost their air bases within fighter
range of the enemy; they had no long-range fighters capable of operating
from Egyptian airdromes.
Strategic bombing by the RA possibly at the expense of close
support of troops dealt a blow to the morale of the Army. Very few
soldiers who fought at CRETE saw the RAF in the role of close support.
Day after day British troops saw the Nazi enjoy direct, effective air
support while they had none. To tell men a certain bridge is gone,
or ten enemy aircraft have been burned on the ground is no consolation
whatever while they are being dive bombed and machine gunned. Strategic bombing has its place but it is not a great morale factor. The
Army favors strategic bombing but wants its own air arm for close
support.
German air operations in CRETE clearly demonstrated the
Air power as delivered at CRETE
effectiveness of air power.
terrific
But RAF operations
is the greatest striking force known to warfare.
in the same theatre demonstrate just as clearly that air power can be
as fragile as it is strong.
Overriding all
The German presented his air force in mass.
resistance regardless of cost it inflicted tremendous destruction.
All barriers broke before it - aircraft, AA and field artillery, fleet,
defending troops. On every mission more than enough aircraft to accomplish the desired destruction were sent. Thirty Stukas dived on a
single gun position; a dozen fighters escorted one glider flight to
Operating only a few miles from their bases, hundreds
its objective.
of fighters and dive bombers put down continuous fire. It is estimated
that 1,200 planes, unopposed by British Air Forces, participated in
the attack against the Battle Fleet off KYTHERA Straits; 320 were over
the fleet in one attack.

From M.A. Cairo,

88

-18-

September

1941.

By necessity RAF s
1 for mass.
With
inadequate - often without - fighter p
b
ers flew day missions
over enemy territory. Single Hurricanes on comrn
issions often drew
out an entire Nazi squadron; a few fighters sometimes were forced to
engage a like number of squadrons. Odds against the RAF were always-high.
Failing to shoot the British out of the air, the German would follow to
the airdrome, destroy the aircraft on the ground.
In each air engagement the RAF pilots invariably shot down
more planes than they lost. But in the long run RAF air power petered
out, while the German had lost but a fraction of his force.
MEDI CAL:
No medical report on CRETE was made available. Numerous dispatches, however, list heavy casualties and eye witnesses claim local
losses at times were heavier than any they had ever seen in the World
War. Proportion of killed was low but proportion of serious and walking cases was high.
There was no transportation for the evacuation of
the wounded and all except walking cases were left behind. On 22 May
medical supplies at RETIMO were exhausted. An attempt was made to drop
some from the air but they fell in the BAY.
Two days later the RETIMO
garrison had lost communications by road with the other British forces.
At that time they had four days' rations, 450 wounded and no medical
supplies.
Due to enemy sinking of supply vessels, throughout the CRETE
action medical supplies were scarce. During the CRETE operation complaints against short trousers were replete. Possibly it was because
of changing temperatures, more likely from minor injuries to exposed
legs due to night movements and lying in slit trenches.
LOSSES:
The 27,550 troops on CRETE 20 May were reinforced by about
1,500 troops from EGYPT.
Only 14,850 of this total were evacuated. All
heavy and most light weapons, including rifles, were left behind.
Naval officers estimate 75 per cent of the entire battle
fleet's

effectiveness was lost in

the

CRETE operation.

Twenty-five

per ceat of. these dmages ere repairable within a few months; 25 per
cent more coldbe repaired in six or more months; the remaining 25
per c.ent was a total loss.
In the CRETE operation every ship except
the QUEEN ELIZABETH was struck, suffered varying degrees of damage.
Loss of three cruisers, six destroyers and the greater portion of their
crews has been announced. Four hundred soldiers were lost on the ORION.
British estimate the German lost 2,000 men sunk in caiques,
4,000 killed in battle, 8,000 wounded. German losses in planes were
low considering the abandon of the attack.
In any event, the Nazi paid a small price for CRETE and the
destruction and defeat he inflicted on the Royal Wavy.

From M.A. Cairo, Egypt.

Report No. 1987.

-19-

8 September 1941.

C0NCLUSIONS:
1.

That

I
there were ample British troops to hold CRETE against

the German land attack by air-borne troops;

British troops were

properly
disposed, well led,
fought desperately;
it
and air support which enabled the German to win.

was air

supply

2.
That sites for airdromes must be selected with a view to
defense against
air
and land attacks
and that,
at
airdromes of
importance, defenses must be prepared as thoroughly as are modern
harbor defenses.
their

3.
is

established,

That when overwhelming air superiority over ground troops


no movement is possible
during daylight and troops
are

relegated. to night
4.
to

insure

That

operations.

close

their

support

for

field

freedom of maneuver

forces

by air

and success

in

power

is

essential

attack.

That during CRETE operations the German Air Force performed


normally assigned Services and other
Arms:
That of transport;
of supply; of communications by signals,
radio,
liaison;
of field,
medium, and heavy artillery by bombing; of Infantry by machine gunning
arid tactical
placement of troops;
of Cavalry by reconnaissance,
counter5.

roles

reconnaissance,

harassing, delay, follow-up, pursuit, providing the

highest possible degree of mobility, delivering automatic fire power


heavier than heretofore known; of Coast Artillery by denying vessels
access to harbors; of Navy by its
thorough defeat
of the British
Fleet.
6.

That

the

numerical

pressive;
the handling
to the task
allotted.
7.

That

from the

strength

of the German Air Force was

of it was superb:

standpoint

im-

the types of planes were suited

of ground

defense

the CRETE opera-

tion cannot be considered abnormal. Anywhere overwhelming air superiority is established even temporarily a similar victory over the best
ground troops is possible.
8.
That both
Army and Naval AA failed
to inflict
desired but as a deterrent are absolutely necessary.

destruction

9.
That without taking unjustifiable losses a Navy cannot operate
in waters over which the enemy controls the air.
10.
That operations against the Royal Navy in CRETE waters cannot
be considered abnormal in that
similar
losses
can be inflicted
on any
navy which, without adequate
land-based dive bombers.
11.
fighter

That

fighter

combined operations

support,

are possible

ventures

within range of

only when

land-based

cover can be assured.

12.
That sea superiority
without air
support is insufficient
to
insure success of joint overseas operation; conversely, a chain of
strategically
located
air
bases and a strong, balanced, determined air
force
is the best
initial
defense against
landing operations.

From M.A. Cairo,

Egypt.

Report No. 1987.

-20-

8 September 1941,.

13.
That based on the expernidhS
rring
the CRETE
operation it is clear that no island, or cana ,
tegic area can
be considered secure until all bases within effective Air Force range
can be denied the enemy.
14.
That the signal success of the German Air Army in CRETE has
demonstratt
clearly a practical solution to our problem of Hemisphere
defense.
15.
That the overwhelming defeat inflicted by the German Air
Force on the British Fleet of KYTHERA Straits is conclusive proof of
the total inability of the naval forces from one continent to dominate
the territorial waters of another continental power when this second
continental power has a strong air arm.
RECOMiEi\DAT IONS:
1.
That the results of the German Air Force operations against
the Royal Navy off CRETE be considered by the War and Navy Departments
as a solution to the defense of the UNITED STATES against a coalition
of naval power superior to our fleet.
2.
That the War Department consider the air logistics of the
CRETE operation as a practical solwtion to the..supply and rei nforcement
of our continental and. insular~ field forces.
3.
That the War Department study the German Air Army and its
operation against CRETE with a view to creating an American Air Army
of sufficient strength to uphold our Western Hemisphere interests and
on a scale commensurate with the talent and genius and productive
capacity peculiar to America.

Bonner F. Fellers
Major, G.S.
Military Attache

From M. A. Cairo, Egypt.

Report No. 1987.

-21-

8 September 1941.

APPENDIX

TITLE

1.

KYTHERA CHANNEL AIR-NAVAL BATTLE

2.

DEFENSE OF MALEME AIRDROME

3.

THE GERMAN ATTACK ON CRETE


Headquarters, Royal Air Force,
Middle East. August, 1941

4.

5.

SERVICES CCMITTEE ON TIHE CAMPAIGN


IN CRETE.

PAGES

1-6
7-10

11-59

60-133

REPORT ON AIR OPERATIONS IN CRETE


17th April - 21st May, 1941

134-187

EXTRACTS FROM ROYAL AIR FORCE


INTELLIGENCE SUIIM'ARIES
May 14 to May 21, 1941

188-211

HEADQUARTERS, ROYAL AIR FORCE, M:IDDLE


EAST OPERATIONAL SUMMARY - CRETE

212-218

8.

AIRDRONES IN CRETE

219

9.

DIARY AND STATISTICS COMPILED FROM


OFFICIAL SOURCES

220-234

10.

BRIEF GENERAL SUhARY OF OPEPRATIONS

235-238

11.

BRITISH LOSSES IN GREECE AND CRETE

2.39

12.

TRANSLATION OF AN ARTICLE FROM "DER


ADLER" ON THE CRETE CAMPAIGN.
(Decorations awarded Germans, Crete)

240-243

REPORT FROM I.M.S.


May 20, 1941

244-246

6.

7.

13.

14.

"GLENGYLE"

REVISED TRANSLATION OF GERMAN


DOCUMENTS, PROVIDED BY ARMY
INTELLIGENCE DIVISION, MIDDLE
EAST.

247-258

APPEIDIX 1O. 1

KYTHERA CHATHNEL AIR-NAVAL BATTLE

Appendix No.

Kythera Channel

Pages 1-6

oI8

The following notes were dictated by


witnessed the
naval engagement with the German Luftwaffe off the northwest coast of
CRETE.
Having previously witnessed three other engagements of a
similar but vastly smaller nature, he is probably in a position to
picture accurately the destruction inflicted on the fleet, the intensity of the attack, and to evaluate correctly some of the major
features.
The major battle fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean moved
from ALEXANDRIA harbor on the night of 18 May (Sunday) for an unknown
destination in the Central Eastern Mediterranean.
On the morning of
the 19th the battle fleet was engaged at about 7:30 a.m. by a small
squadron of German bombers escorted by long-range fighters for
approximately one hour.
No damage was done to the fleet during this
attack but within an hour and a half it was followed by a heavier
attack in which torpedoes were fired at the two battleships, VALIANT
and WARSPITZ.
Simultaneously high level bombers operated against
the fleet. Again there was no damage and only one German aircraft
was shot down.
The following day, 20th May, as the fleet proceeded in a
more or less northwesterly direction we were attacked seven separate
times by squadrons of German high level bombers, mostly JU 88's,
until approximately 6:30 in the afternoon when we approached the
northwestern corner of CRETE.
In a rather daring sunset attack five
dive bombers of the Stuka variety dropped out from behind a small
cloud formation, attacked our escorting cruisers, the ORION, AJAX
and PERTH.
The first
Stuka peeled off its formation and dropped a
large caliber bomb within a few feet of the ORIONI 'S starboard bow.
Three other Stukas in rapid succession were shot down and the fifth
did not press home its attack.
Only two of the five escaped.

dednesday,

21 May, was M day for the fleet.


After several
destroyers and two cruisers left their formation with the battle
fleet late on Monday night, 19 May, they were ordered through the
KYTIHRA Channel to break up by any means possible the German seaborne invasion of CRETE.
This they successfully did on 21 Hay,
although I did not see any of the operations.
On the morning of 22 May the destroyers managed to get
through the very narrow entrance of the KYTIE-RA Straits and rejoined
the fleet at about 5:00 a.m. At 6:30 a.m. the first
major attack by
the German Air Force occurred.
The main battle fleet was attacked
by what appeared to be 24 JU 881s, some of which were carrying
torpedoes.
This early morning attack was beaten off by extremely
heavy AA fire of the fleet but as yet we had seen no defending aircraft of the RAF.
The 6:30 a.m. attack was followed almost immediately by a squadron of dive bombers operating from the southern-most
islands of GREECE.
Their attack was not so violent as was anticipated and although they scored several near misses there was little

.H"~'

Sporadic attOi:,f
this kind,
damage done to any of the vessels.
receiving ever increasing support from fighter aircraft, continued
At that time word was received by the acting
until about 9:30 a.m.
flagship, WARSPITE, that two of the cruisers which had entered the
Straits to smash the German sea-borne attempted invasion
KYTI
were unable to reach open sea again because one had been damaged and
the other could not leave its wounded partner without serious trouble
The Acting
for both in view of their limited aircraft defenses.
Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Rollins, then ordered the entire battle
fleet, consisting of two battleships, four cruisers and appromimately
After consixteen destroyers, to proceed to their assistance.
tinuous attacks from German high level bombers operating presumably
from Southern G,ECE the battle fleet reached the mouth of the
IYTIERA Channel at 12:15 p.m.
Aircraft continued to shatter the movements of the fleet,
dropping bombs occasionally but with no damage until the battle fleet
arrived near the two stranded cruisers. At approximately 1:20 p.m.,
with air attacks continuing constantly, the battle fleet, escorting
the two cruisers, turned westward to pass through the Straits and
into the open Mediterranean.
At 1:30 p.m. scores of German planes
appeared out of the haze, which offered them first-class opportunity
to hide themselves until attack was propitious.
ship to be struck was the leading battleship,
The first
i-ARSPITE, which was attacked by three j 109's which dived from
approximately 5000 feet, not pulling out of their dive until they were
These planes were not observed
about 300 feet above the WARSITE.
making their attack until it was too late to open effective AA fire
time in modern
This was true because for the first
against them,
warfare high level dive bombing and torpedo bombing were combined in
Dive bombers swooped down upon ships of the
simultaneous efforts.
fleet simultaneously as heavily loaded high level bombers were
dropping loose tons and tons of bombs at all ships in the area.
WARSPITE suffered one direct hit on her starboard mid-ship-, preThe resultant explosion destroyed
sumably of about 500 to 750 pounds.
her engine ro m air ventilating system and caused considerable damage
She was then an easy target
to the blower :Iystem of her engines.
Making
for the hundreds of planes which by this time had appeared.
great clouds of black smoke, WARSPITE called upon all ships of the
fleet to put up what is known as an "umbrella barrage" to protect
her from approximately 35 to 40 dive bombers which then made for her.
None of these found its target. In the meanwhile additional planes
appeared from the Greek islands which could be easily seen off our
By 2:30 in the afternoon it was estimated that 320
starboard bow.
planes were over the twenty or so odd ships in the Straits.
Next ship to suffer a direct hit was the destroyer GREYHOUD, operating a short distance in the destroyer screen off
VALIAITtS port bow., She received one direct hit, whether from a dive
The bomb
bomber or a high level bomiber it was impossible to say.
penetrated her aft deck, exploding in the aft magazine which, in turn,
exploded with terrific force almost simultaneously with the forward

a'

h_%

magazine.
The blast from this ship blew
o
my ship, the
VALIANiT, off their feet and several were injured a a result of
blast effect and being thrown against the armor plate of the ship.
Very few of the GREYHOUNID crew could possibly have been alive but
some, perhaps forty, were clearly visible struggling in the water.
Immediately after the ship disappeared and her fuel oil began to
spread over the nearby surface of the Straits, other German planes
arrived firing incendiaryr bullets and dropping incendiary bombs on
the water, setting fire to a large patch in which all hands apparently were burned to death. Another destroyer, whose name I do not
know, was dispatched to GREYUDITS assistance but before she could
arrive also was hit directly with a small caliber bomb which prevented her from engaging in further operations.
To the rear of VALIANT was a portion of the cruiser
FIJI, which had been
flotilla
including the new AA cruiser, FIJI.
engaged in steady firing of her main armament as well as smaller
AA pieces, was attacked several times by dive bombers and at about'
3:30 in the afternoon she ran out of ammunition.
German reconnaissance planes, which kept constant vigilance over the operations
of their own aircraft as well as the fleet, spotted FIJI'S inA number
activity and reported immediately to the bombing command.
of German planes, estimated to be not less than sixty, then concentrated on FIJI with the result that she was struck perhaps eight
After reeling dizzily,
or ten times in a matter of a few minutes.
with smoke pouring from her decks and funnels, FIJI capsized and
The number of her
sank with a struggle of less than ten minutes.
German planes again swooped down on
not known.
survivors is still
whatever men were in the nearby waters and machine gunned them for
several minutes.
Either simultaneously with or within a few minutes after
the cruiser GLOUCESTER was struck by a heavy caliber bomb which penetrated her aft magazine, exploding the ship in one great burst.
GLOUCESTER burned for about half an hour before she finally went down.

She had no survivors.


The Tauftwaffe, although still
overhead in numbers exceeding 150, then returned to their attack on the capital ships, WARSPITE and VALIANT.
VALIANT moved alongside UARSPITE in an attempt
to protect the crippled sister ship which we learned at this time had
bomb, killing 87 men and
had one of her AA guns eqploded by the first
wounding well over one hundred.. VALIAIT, carrying considerably more
By this
AA fire power than WARSPITE, took the brunt of the attack.
time the sky had gotten considerably more .murky but not sufficiently
bad to completely destroy visibility from the air although from sea
it was nearly impossible to spot a plane until it was on top of us.
At 4:20 p.m. one bomb of approximately 2000 pounds fell ten feet
from VALANT' S port bow, holing the ship very badly beneath the water
line and literally picking her bows out of the water and shifting
As VALIANT attempted to
her course by more than ninety degrees.
fall back into battle line she was struck twice more directly by
lighter caliber boms which penetrated her uarter deck on the port

R ,*N t

side. The external damage to VALIANT appeared insignificant but her


Chief damage, however, was done by
interior was quite badly gutted.
the near miss which shook loose hundreds of her plates as well as
destroying a considerable portion of her under-water armor.
Casualties in VALIANT amounted to about 67 fatalities to over 230
wounded, of which an additional 50 are supposed to have died since.
major
Throughout this engagement, which was the first
battle in history between unopposed air force and sea power, several
attem pts were made by the fleet to force their way through the narrows
of the Strait.
These were foiled largely as a result of torpedo
bombers dropping hundreds of torpedoes in the narrow waters and
simultaneously releasing what are believed to have been high explosive mines.
At 5:00 p.m. another of the "K" class destroyers received
two direct hits from light caliber bombs across her forward deck,
one of which seemed to have ricocheted through several bulkheads beThis
fore exploding and finally making contact beneath the bridge.
destroyer, badly crippled. and unable to keep up the rapid maneuvering of the remainder of the fleet, was deserted and left to her own
devices.
When last seen she was attenmting gamely but feebly to
beat off the attacks of an unestimated number of planes.
The skirmish, with the German air strength never seeming to
diminish, continued incessantly until 8:30 p.m. when the main battle
fleet, at great risk because of torpedoes and mines, finally pushed
At 6:30 the next morning we were again
its way out of the narrows.
attacked by JU 88ts which not only dcive bombed but dropped torpedoes
and unleashed heavy loads from altitudes beyond the range of our AA
guns.
At 7:15 a.m. we received word from the destroyer, K LLY,
that she was in a crippled condition just southwest of CRETE and
Again the battle fleet turned back
required immediate assistance.
Straits in the direction given by the KELLY.
towards the KYTiR
Continuous attacks were carried out for more than five hours during
our return but no direct hits were scored and damage was caused only
by near misses which holed AJAX, PERTH and 0RION and further loosened
Upon our arrival at the destinathe armor plating of the VALIANT.
From one of
tion given by IKELLY' S S.0. S. the ship had disappeared.
her very few survivors it was learned that she went down in about 45
seconds and had only time to send the one signal previously mentioned.
Again the battle fleet turned westward and it was constantly shattered by reconnaissance planes but only one major attack was
At three o'clock several large
pressed home during the afternoon.
formations, perhaps totalling 75 to 100 planes, closed in from all
No dive bo.bers were indirections and bombed from high level.
cluded in this operation. Whatever damage, if any, was sustained by
the fleet in this last attack resulted from bomb splinters and further
However, it was noticeable that
loosening of the ships' structure.
despite the urgent necessity to get out of range as soon as possible

B~leqffl
'IF~b

the speed of the fleet was materially lessened and finally, two days
later,. limped into ALEXAiDRIA harbor at less than 11 knots.
Naval Intelligence estimates which I have seen say that
not less than 1200 of the German aircraft participated in the action
against the fleet. What their losses were is apparently not known but
throughout the entire action I saw only seven shot down,
Practically
the entire 1200, according to the same reports, operated from bases
in Southern GREECE and were able in a matter of less than two hours
of dropping their bombs or carrying out their torpedo attacks to
return to their base, refuel, reload and return to the engagement.
Following is a report on other ships which were engaged
in the battle of CRETE, all of which I have personally been on and
seen since their return to ALEXANIDRIA harbor.
It is based on the information given me by their officers and members of the crews, plus
what I personally could witness.
The cruiser ORION received two direct hits by medium
caliber bombs.
The first
bomb penetrated her foremost (or "A")
gun turret exploding in the forward magazine.
The second, striking
her chart house atop the bridge, p-enetrated six decks and exploded
on the mess deck.. Her total casualties - more than 750 of which 450
were fatalities.. This high casualty list
is due largely to the fact
that she was crowded with 1100 troopers being evacuated from CRETE.
The interior of the shin from well forward to as far aft as her
second aft, or "X" gun turret, on two decks was burned out and
practically no bulkhead was left without either being blown completely out or badly bulged by heat and blast.
The blast on her forward
gun turret was so great it not only destroyed the two 6-inch guns in
the destroyed turret but blew the top of the turret with such force
against the two guns above her on the "" turret as to bend the muzzle
of one by nearly 45 degrees.
All hands in both forward gun turrets
were killed instantly.
Bits of bomb.splinter penetrated through four
or five different layers of armor plating and killed several persons,
including Captain Back on the bridge.
The cruiser PERTH received one direct hit approximately
amidships on her port side which penetrated three decks and exploded,
killing 27 with the injured amounting to about 40.
Damage to this
ship was at first
thought to be superficial and she was placed into
service within less than a month and participated in action around
the SYRIAN coast, being stationed at HAIFA.
However, she proved in
two engagements that she participated in off SYRIA to be unfightworthy and has since been sent home to SYDNEY for repairs. Although
her decks were straightened out and repaired very rapidly, she shook
badly and shipped water when she fired her own guns, thus indicating
that her plates were badly sprung and that she is not expected to be
a fight-worthy ship again for at least six or eight months.
The cruiser DIDO was of the same class as the FIJI, built
expressly for AA action. After picking up about six hundred troops

'

iC

'

k t

ui

in CRETE she was attacked by a large squadron of J''T)s


and
Dorniers.
The Dorniers participated in high level bombing while the
JU 881s attacked her in what has become to be known as the "glide
bombing operation".
She was struck directly in almost the same
position as ORION except that the bomb penetrated her "B" turret,
exploding in her magazine.
Casualties amounted to about 150.
The
number of dead has never been made known but presumably amounted to
nearly half that number.
I boarded the ship on her return to
ALE:XADRIA and, as in the case of ORION also, acetylene torches were
needed to cut away scores of sections of her interior bulkheads to get
at the bodies of the dead and wounded.
This was not completed for
at least two days after which only high naval officials and personnel
engaged in the actual work were allowed to approach the ship. Ker
gun muzzles also were bent and two of her forward guns were blown
away by the blast of what was officially described as only a medium
caliber gun.
The craft carrier FORMIDABLE was sent out two days before
the major battle fleet put to sea. At that time, on highest
authority, I know FORMIDABLE was carrying only six fighter aircraft.
Two of these were Fulmer two-seat fighters with a top speed of 237
knots and four of them were "Swordfish", out-dated biplanes with a
maximum speed of 120 miles an hour.
On her second day she was attacked
by 64 dive bombers and an escort of at least that number of iE 109
fighters.
Her first
hit was a 1500 pound bomb which penetrated her
port beam a few feet below the flight deck.
It smashed through
six or eight bulkheads before exploding just as it was penetrating
the starboard bow.
The resultant hole in her starboard bow was about
29 or 30 feet in diameter but was all above the water line. More
than 50 new plates were required on her starboard bow replacing
those which had been destroyed before she could put to sea for a
Her casualties were small as the bomb did not export of repair.
plode actually within the ship but many men suffered severely from
a form of shell shock or from blast.
The destroyer iUBIAN, also engaged in the evacuation of
troops from CRETE, received a direct hit on her stern with approxiThe bomb penetrated several decks and in
mately a 1200 pound bomb.
exploding set off NUBIAN'S depth charges, located on racks at the
stern. The combined explosions blew out the entire rear section of
JU:BIAN and actually gave her the appearance of a fan-tail ship since
her plates were so badly blown outwards and bent that she was broader
The rudder was lost but inexat her stern than she was amidships.
plicably her two screws remained intact aic! she returned to port under
her own power, although she had to be towed the last 15 or 20 knots.
Her total casualties were about fifty.
Battleships WARSPITE, after a month in ALEXANDRIA harbor
being made ready for sea, sailed for the UNITED STATES via SUEZ
CANAL.
While she was somewhere between PORT SAID and SUEZ German
high level bombers encountered her and scored another direct hit also
amidship on her port side in relatively the same position as the hit
which she had received in the battle of CRETE.
Her dead were
authoritatively reported at 27 mad her wounded 74.

AcE
As'~;E
a

APP ENT IX NrO. 2

DEFENSE OP ]viLEME AIRDl0M

Notes taken by Major Perrin, .A..

Appendix

No.

Appendi
i~o.
2Malemne
Airdrome

7-10
Pgs71

Pages

4(ifi:
.

,.

'
r

., .

"

,'

DEFIN

Summarization of Re

__

OF MJALEME AIRDROME

e
, ,

tort:

Ground defense was laid out assuming adequate air support.


The intensity and violence of the German air attack had not been
visualized.

The following comments regarding the defense of Maleme


airdrome were obtained from an officer present at the attack.
The 5th New Zealand Brigade had been in Greece in the Mt.
Olympus area defending passes.
It was withdrawn without having been
engaged during the general evacuation.
Although no personnel were
lost most of the heavy equipment was left behind.
Rifles and small
stocks of ammunition were brought.
The Brigade arrived in Crete approximately 28 April.
On arrival the British told the New Zealand troops to "scatter" or
do anything they wanted for a day or two to relax. As a result it
took two or three days to reassemble the troops.
At this time no comeand had been set up on Crete.
Brigadier Harcourt, being the highest ranking New Zealand officer,
assumed command of New Zealand troops and elected to defend the
Maleme area with his Brigade.
During the three weeks prior to the Blitz, the Brigade
prepared their position around the airdrome; one company dug in
around the airdrome, one on the south as immediate reserves and a
third south east as a tactical reserve.
Deep shelters were not dug
since "they never dreamed that they would not have adequate air
support".
In other words, the defenses were based on the assumption
that sir support would be furnished.
A few supplies and armament were brought to Crete during
the lull.
Several Bofors anti-aircraft guns, two 3-inch anti-airy
craft guns, some captured Italian 75 mm. guns and a few mortars were

'

0&ASSIFIED
The Bofors and 3-inch guns were placed around the airobtained.
drome, the mortars and 75ts ]placed so as to cover the beaches.
Apparently no definite plan was evolved for a coordinated
Commanding officers were changed each time
defense of the island..
someone with higher rank showed up until General Freyberg was named
His arrival was quite late and his staff
as Commander-in-Chief.
was never adequate.
Small amounts of ammunition andc supplies continued to
The German air attacks on
arrive but never in sufficient quantities.
Suda Bay were more or less continuous and increasing in intensity.
The delivery and unloading of supplies became more and more diffiDuring the latter part of the period ships were unloaded
cult.
One highlight of the
.uring bombing raids and while sinking.
occasion occurred about 17 May when, with the need for supplies and
ammunition critical, the British sent a military band, complete
with instruments, to bolster the morale.
All of the troops in the Brigade were not trained infantry.
About 500 service corps troops and a considerable number
of artillery troops were given rifles and organized in the re-

serves.
Immediately on the west of the Maleme airdrome is the
Due to the lack of adequate
Tavronitis River and a wooded section.
Some Australian and
personnel no troops were -laced in this area.
Greek troops, however, were placed on a flat plain and prison camp
These troops were
about four or five miles inland from Maleme.
never engaged.
The RAF had some personnel, a few Gladiators and HurriAll of these were destroyed, the majority
canes on the airdrome.
German attacks on Maleme, howwhile on the ground, prior to 19 May.
Daily reconnaisever, were not particularly intense until 20 May.
sance had been made and, as it turned out, extremely accurate information regarding the Mew Zealand troop and gun positions had been
gotten.
At about 6:30 on the morning of 20 May the Blitz began.
a half hours the attack by JU 871s and 88ts,
Forabout oean
E 109's and. 1101 s was continuous.
The airplanes, flying low,
attacked gun positions, grouiind roopi positions and buildings.

and
The

crew of the anti-aircraft guns went to their slit trenches at the beginlnning of the attack and never returned., iot over two or three antiaircraft shots were fired. Upon evacuating the area of Mialeme airdrome, nothing was destroyed and later the Germans used. the Bofors

against the British.

-8-

wi.

9r

Lieutenant Mason described the attack as an "intense


artillery bombardment carried on by aircraft".
After this one and
a half hours preparation the intensity of the Blitz lessened and
parachute troops were dropped.
German fighters covered their descent
by continuing the strafing of the ground troops.
The parachute
troops were landed on the airdrome and in the river bed and w oods
to the west.
Six hundred to eight hundred parachutists were dropped
the first
day.
The airdrome was captured together with some RAF
secret codes.
The New Zealanders counter attacked and succeeded in
killing most of the Germans on the airdrome.
Those in the river bed
and woods were not destroyed and during the night consolidated their
position.
Immediately upon landing the Germans set up a radio and
were able to contact their aircraft to ask for andc direct operations
against 3New Zealand strong points and gun installations.
On the 21st the Germans started pouring troops into the
Maleme area. Miore parachutists were dropped.
Gliders were towed in,
the majority landing along the river, and JU 52'1s were landed on the
airdrome and beach. Lieutenant Mason did not know the number of
gliders used but fated
that six hundred air transport loads of
troops were landed. Landings were accomplished under fire of the
New Zealand 751s and mortars.
Almost each German section leader had a small map of the
Maleme area showing the New Zealand positions, areas in whid parachute troops were to land and the direction of effort each one of
the groups of troops were to make.
As a result of the German reinforcements the New Zealanders
withdrew from their positions immediately adjacent to the airdrome to
their reserve defenses.
On the 22nd the number of transport troops decreased,
gliders were not used and only a few parachute troops were landed.
These latter, however, were dropped. in strategic points.
Brigadier Harcourt decided to withdraw from the Maleme
area entirely.
Ammunition and supplies were running low and the New
Zealanders were outnumbered.
They withdrew during the night toward
Canea. From the night of the 22nd until the final evacuation from

Sphakia the story was the same, withdrawal by night, digging in and
fighting rear gu.ard action by day.
On one occasion they found it
necessary to withdraw by day,
The Germans had gone around their
flank during the night and set up machine guns covering the line of
retreat.
Two comupanies of Uauries
were sent out to silence the
.machine guns (which they did, losing only two men) while the re-

A
.

,ED

mainder withdrew.
On several occasions the Germans partially flanked
the New Zealanders and groups were sent out to silence them. The
majority of these groups never returned to the main body and it is
doubtful if they ever managed to leave the island.
The Brigade reached Sphakia the night of 30 May with less
than half of the troops they had at Maleme, no food and no ammunition, Until they reached Sphakia they did not know whether they
would. be evacuated or not.
During the entire battle and withdrawal there had been no
Communications were practically
coordinated action with other units.
nonexistent.

U AB
{E

-10-

APPENDIX NO.

THE GERMAN ATTACK ON CRETE


Headquarters,

Royal Air Force,


August,

Appendix

Middle East

1941

German Attack on Crete

No. 3

} !

,:

hi

,i

Pages

Yf",i
i
y1

.. t ,I

,
R

5
4

~~67r~
.7

'

l~

11-59

THE GERMAN ATTACK

FORENOTE

object

The
tained

report

of this

with regard

is

to German plans

the information

to assemble

and methods

in the

attack

ob-

on CRETE,

with particular reference to parachutists and glider troops.

The material
tured

documents,

used

to

were

these

the attack

included

on CRETE

and parachutes
documentaiate

and signals

for

a number

Br-itish

Personnel

however,

original

obtained

to

form, with the actual attack.


gether

the information

details

relating

of gliders
captured

report.

from captured

documents

reports.

As

has

far

been comfrom

reports

of war,

as possible,

have been used.

The report is divided into two parts.


the German preparations

examination,

documents

orders,

this

Unfortun-

very small pro-

intelligence

from prisoners

sources

CRETE.

The more important

CRETE and official

(German)

in

and only a

of most useful

organization.

obtained
in

lost

trained

reproduced ias appendices

by intelligence

deals with

of cap-

by personnel from

reports

including Regimental

The information
pleted

subsequently

available

were ultimately

Fortunately,

principally

were captured

number of documents

the major part

portion

consists

reports.

A large
ately,

the report

of war statements,

prisoner

Greece and official

in

Part I

and plan of attack

(Operational)

and in

summarised

Part 2 (Tactical and Technical) puts to-

obtained regarding

parachutists.and air-borne troops in

the

CRETE,

employment

of glider

and the Signals

troops,

organization

employed.

Appendices

includes

captured documents,

gether with reference maps..

H.,Q.,
gi

l~

maps

and photos,

R.A.F.,

ugust 1941

M.E.,

'I

to-

SECTION I

The decision to attack CRETE by air and the choice of units


to be employed had already been made by the middle of April, i.e., during the early part of the campaign in GREECE.

Captured diaries and

prisoner of war reports show that preparations were already under way in
the third week of April.

Many of the air landing troops ultimately employed in the


capture of CRETE were already in the BALKANS in March,

and took part

in the operations in YUGO-SL VIA and GREECE during April, but the parachute and glider troops of Fliegerdivision VII were apparently brought
down specially for the CRETE operation.

The move was made during the last week of April and the first
fortnight of May.
SALONIKA;

Some units travelled by rail

direct from GERMANY to

others travelled part of the distance by rail

the journey by road.

and completed

The movement of these units was given special

priority everywhere, indicating a high degree of urgency.

In spite of

this, traffic on roads and railways was so congested that units took
10-14 days to make the journey to Northern GREECE.

Some of the glider

units flew down all the way from GERMANY to SALONIKA in easy stages of
200 kms. a day.

The gliders were concentrated originally in

the SALONIKA ar.ea.

No. 1 Coy. of Storm Regt. I, 15 gliders, together with pilots, fitters


and riggers arrived at SALONIKA by rail on May 10th.

The gliders were

unloaded on the following day and by May 15th were all fitted and rigged,
On May 14th a further 60 gliders arrived by air.

This completed the

glider force and on May 16th the entire regiment flew down from SALONIKA
to TANAGRA, the distance of approximately 150 miles being covered in 1
hour, 25 minutes.

The parachute units are believed to have been concentrated in


th e

first

in.s

were moved do
of May.

PLOVDIV

Ld

ite
t e

r
4

areas.

They

road in the second week


continued ...

SECTION I

The JU.52 transport aircraft ne


to have moved down to the BALKANS
been held in readiness

operation appear

in the second half

of April,

in the SOFIA, PLOVDIV and BUCHAREST

SALONIKA areas

few days before the

actual

and other stores were for-

bombs

warded urgently to the ATHENS area by road, rail and sea.

made.

were being

preparations

By the middle of

GREECE and final

in

had been assembled

and stores

gliders

troops,

May,

until re-

operation.

supplies of petrol,

During May,

areas

have

the ATHENS and

They only moved down to the operational bases in

quired.

and to

Security
,

Stringent

Parachutists

security

were

measures

remove badges;

ordered to

exchange driving licences

cards;
parachutist's

papers;

to

other distinctive
(supreme

they were

for

exchange pay books

identit

forbidden to

sing

etc.;

parachutist's

discard
carry
and

crests

battalion

or letters;

markings were to be removed from M.T.

indignity)

journey.

they were forbidden to

cards

or post

purchase

during the

for provisional driving permits;

the journey;

uniform during

private

were enforced

finally
songs.

doctor attached to the 2nd Battalion Storm Regt. (Glider troops) notes
in

his

diary

that

of

details

ing that

on April

18th he was

the

middle of

preparations,

addfor

by teleprinter

be sent

to

were

inoculations

in

greater

secrecy.
The general
spite

of the fact

dreds

of persons

despite

the

the secret

GREECE,
area,

the last

few

days before the

of troops,

aircraft

to have been well

and gliders

for

in

some hun-

operation

at least must have known of the intended operation,

appears

the

and

operation,

kept.

of Bases
By the

long

in

concentration

Preparation

for

that

as

must have been very good,

of security

level

range bombers
THEBES,

but for

short

of GREECE the Germans

capture

ENIDI,

and transport
ELEUSIS,

range

fighters

have bases nearer to CRETE.

SALONIKA

TANAGCRA,
and

HASSANI

aerodromes

and LARISSA

in

and CORINTH in

dive bombers

suitable

Northern
the

ATHENS

it was necessary to

Immediately after the capture of GREECE, even


ull

before our forces had


for suitable sites in

at

obtained

moped up, reconnaissance was started


a

SSECTION

of the PELEPPONNESE and on the Islands of the Sout ern AGEAN.


found at MULOIA in Southern GREECE and was in

A site was

use within a week.

staff for work on this aerodrome were flown down in

four JU

5 2's.

Ground
Another

site was found on MELOS Island which was occupied on April 10th and work
was begun the same day, British prisoners and local labour being employed.
The existing landing ground on SCARPANTO Island was .enlarged and improved.
By the middle of April the Germans had at least three aerodromes within littie more than 100 miles of CRETE.
DISPOSITION OF AIRCRAFT
The final disposition of aircraft in preparation for the attack
was as follows:Germans

Dive Bombers

MOLAOI, ARGOS, CORINTH,


SCARPANTO, MILOS

Single-engine fighters

MOLAOI,
ARGOS

Long range fighters

ARGOS,

Long range bombers


and recce.

ATHENS (ELEUSIS and MENIDI),


SALONIKA (SEDES and MIKRA),
BULGARIA (KROMOVO and PLOVEIV),
RHODES

Transport aircraft

ATHENS (ELEUSIS, MEIDI),


NEGARA, CORINTH, PERIVALI,
TANAGRA, TOPOLIA, SALONIKA

MILOS,

CORINTH,

CORINTH and ATHENS area

(SEDES and MIKRA).

Preliminary Recces and Air Attacks over CRETE


In the meantime the objective was being targetted with Teutonic
thoroughness.

In the first half of May German aircraft reconnoitred the

island practically daily.

Photographs captured later show that very

thorough photographic reconnaissance was carried out of our positions and


defences during this period.

The target maps of HERAKLION

(See Appendix

" ") appears to have been taken about 2 weeks before the invasion.

Captured

photographs and maps bore markings indicating our gun positions and defences, and in some cases arrows indicate the line of approach and the point
of attack

(see Appendix " ").


In the first half of May attacks were maintained against our

UN 1iFIl
shipping and sea communications
became almost

impossible.

~SECTION

around the Island.

Of 27,700 tons

The landing

of supplies

sent

to

of supplies

the Island,

21,600 tons were turned back, 3,400 tons were sunk and only 2,700 tons were
A number

unloaded.

of ships were sunk

attack the supply problem was acute..


decided to

In the middle

forces

our fighter

neutralise

SUDA BAY harbour..

in

on the

Even before

the

of May it was apparently


which had been bat-.

island,

tling bravely against great odds.

From May 13th, systematic attacks were

carried out against our aerodromes

and fighter

forcements

were not at

the

time available

in EGYPT,

tance, fighter support from our bases in


May 15th after heavy losses
the

remaining

fore

the

aircraft

to

invasion),

and owing to

Reinthe dis-

North AFRICA was impracticable.

EGYPT.

This was effected

on May 19th

only seven fighters

remained

before the attack,

During the last:.few days

our A.A. positions

(the day beserviceable.


intensi-

the Germans

and batteries, with the double

day, with a

attacks were usually carried cut at intervals throughout the


"hate"

at

dawn

High level

and dusk.

ground strafing tactics were employed


in particular against gun

bombing,

caused by these

preliminary attacks were not heavy, but the continued strain


crews had its
eliminated

the

vasion,

upon their

effect

enemy became

aircraft

morale.

bolder.

came down as

low as

As

our fighter

During the last


500 feet

and

being directed

and casualties

The damage

crews.

dive bombing

in turn, the attacks

ob-

These

ject of probing our defences and reducing the morale of our troops,

special

On

had been sustained it was decided to withdraw

by which date

fied their attacks on

aircraft in CRETE.

aircraft

on the gun
were

few days before

the in-

over the aerodromes.

By the middle of May, all major preparations had been made and
final

details

of the

attack

were being worked

out.

Final Preparations
On 16th May, glider units left SALONIK
the gliders

flying

with their

On 17th May

pilots

for TANAGRA

(ATHENS area);

and riggers.

the pilots were told their objective

their exact position in the attacking force.

(CRETE) and

In the evening General

WUF

STUDENT arrived and spoke with each g


On 18th May,

SECTION I

a conference of platoon leaders,

parachute units, JU.52 and glider pilots was held.

senior N.C.q 's

The objectives

of

were

discussed in detail and each glider pilot was told his line of approach
and the exact point at which he must land.
was spent in loading preparations
explosives.

The following day (19th May)

and in the priming of hand grenades and

In the afternoon the attack was discussed once more.

Detailed

target maps and photographs were studied and final details decided.
Simultaneously, parachutists and air landing units were receiving
their final instructions and making final preparations.

All units partici-

pating were issued with orders indicating their exact part in the operation.
(Several of these orders, including Regimental Battalion and Company Orders
of the 1st Parachute Regt. were later captured in CRETE.
of thoroughness and detailed preparation).

They are a model

(See Appendix ").

Other preparations included the issue of a phrase sheet of useful


sentences in German and English (with phonetic spelling), the first sentence
being "If yu lei you will bi schott (If you lie you will be shot) ..."Wenn
Sie lugen werden Sie erschessen".
As a final preparation before the attack, Me.109ts and dive
bombers made repeated attacks on MkLEME aerodrome on May 19th (zero day
minus one).

le:

Dive bombers attacked shipping in the harbours and recce air-

craft covered the whole of the Island, paying particular attention to the
possibility of dispersed troops or aircraft in the olive groves in the
North-West part of the Island.
Parachutist's equipment and containers for the first

wave of

parachutists were loaded into the transport aircraft on the 19th, ready for
the following day..
20th.

The embarkation of parachutists started at 0445 on the

SECTION II
PLAN OF ATTACK

"Fliegerkorps XI will capture the Island of CRETE and hold it


til

relieved by German army troops of the 5th Mountain Division."

un-

(Extract

from captured German operational order).


For the capture of the Island O.C.,

Fliegerkorps XI (General

Student) mas allocated glider troops. and parachutists from Fliegerdivision


VII and air landing troops (including a proportion of parachutists) from 5th
Mountain Division and 22nd Division.
Air support was to be provided by Fliegerkorps VIII.
The plan on broad lines was to land glider troops and parachutists
at selected points along the north coast of the Island,
dromes and ports at MALEE,

CA.NEA,

capture the aero-

RETIMO and HERAKLION and prepare the way

for the arrival of air landing and sea-borne troops who were to complete the
capture of the Island and provide a garrison.
The forces originally allocated for the operation are estimated
to have been as fellows:750

Glider-borne troops
Parachutists

10,000

Air-landing troops

12,000
7,500

Sea-borne troops

30,250
In view of the fact that the Germans believed that we had only
5,000 British troops on the Island,

and that the Islanders were friendly,

these forces must have appeared ample.


The attacking forces for the initial

attack were divided into

three groups, named respectively the Central, Western and Eastern Groups,
the most important being the Central Group which was to attack the CANEA
area where the bulk of our forces were believed to be concentrated.

M-1'..

U~rpA*44h a

1.diI

SECTION II

Objective

0. C.

Group

rNUl

Central Group Maj. Gen. Suessman

CANEA-RETIMO area

Western Group Maj. Gen. Meindl

MALE E

Eastern Group Gen. Ringel

HERAKLION

Maj. Gen. SUESSIMAN was 0.C. 7th Fliegerdivision.


in

(He was killed

a glider crash in the attack).


Maj.

Gen. MEINDL is reported to have been in

charge of all gliders

in GREECE and CRETE.


At a later stage in the operation, on the arrival of 5th Mountain
Division, it was provided that O.C., 100 Mountain Rifle Regt, should take
over at MALEME and 0.C.,

85 Mountain Rifle Regt. at }HRAKLION,

This is in

accordance with the general principle that 5th Mountain Division would take
over from XI Fliegerkorps.
The operation was given the code name "MEfRKUR"

(Mercury;)

On the

day of the attack zero hour was to be indicated by the signal "1\RKUR"
which would be given when the first

glider was over its objective.

The plan of attack as revealed by captured documents was as follows:(a)

Preliminary air attack for one hour before zero on our positions

south and west of CANEA,


(b)

on the AKROTIRI Peninsula and at MALEME.

Landing of gliders at zero hour as follows:Central Group.

Peninsula.

Objective:

One Company (15 gliders,150 troops) on AKROTIRI


to destroy all A.A. batteries, occupy the Royal

Villa and high ground in the south-west of the AIROTIRI Peninsula.


One Company (lr gliders, 150 troops) South and West of CANEA.
Objective:- to destroy all AA batteries in the area South of CANEA

-18-

SECTION II
and put the wireless station out of action.
Western Group,
valley west of MALEM

Three companies (45 gliders,

aerodrome.

Objective:

450 troops). in river

to occupy the area west of -the

aerodrome and to provide covering fire for the arrival of parachute troops.
(c)

Landing of Parachutists.

This was to take place in two waves:-

(i) The first wave in the morning, starting at zero hour - 15 minutes,

as follows:-

Central Group.

Three battalions Parachute Regt. 3 and Regimental H.Q.,

together Parachute Engineers Unit, A.A. M.G. Unit, Parachute Medical and
Signals Units to be dropped west and south of CANEA.
Number of troops (estimated) 2,500.
south of CANEA bounded by AG.

Objective:

to occupy the area west and

MARINOS to the west, ALIKIANOU to the south-

west and TSIKALARIA to the southeast.


Western Group.

Time of landing 1 hour.

All communications

One battalion Parachute Regt.

to be cut.

2 to land at RETIMO.

Objec-

tive: to capture the aerodrome and town and cut communications.


Eastern Group.
Objective:

Three battalions Parachute Regt. 1 to land at HERAKLION.

to seize the town and aerodrome and cut communications.


It is estimated that 750 glider troops and 4,500 parachutists

were to be dropped in the morning, and a.further 3,000 parachutists in the


afternoon on the first day of the attack.
As soon as possible after capturing their local objectives,

these

forces were to throw out patrols and endeavour to join forces until a continuous link was established along the north coast from HERAKLION to

S19-

AILEME.

SECTION II
It was anticipated that the glider and parachutust attack would
result in the capture of aerodromes, beaches and ports which would enable
further troops to be ferried over by air and sea.

These comprised elements

of Fliegerdivision VII (2,500 troops), 5th Mountain Division (10,000 troops)


and 22nd Division (7,500 troops) a total of 20,000 troops,
(d)

Air Landing troops were to follow as soon as aerodromes had been

captured.

In the MALEME area it was intended to land air landing troops

shortly after the first

wave of the attack,

on the first

morning and to fol-

low up with the landing of three battalions of Mountain Rifle Regiment 100
in the afternoon.
(e)

Sea-borne troops.

Two sea-borne expeditions were prepared, a

"light" convoy and a "heavy" convoy.

These were to bring over the heavier

units of Fliegerdivision VII, (Parachute Artillery Battery, Parachute Antitank Unit,

Parachute A.A.

Artillery Unit,

Parachute Motor-Cycle Battalion,

Parachute M.G. Battalion, Parachute Signals, Medical and Supply Units),


elements of 5th Mountain Division and (probably) 22nd Division.

It

was

anticipated that sea-borne troops and equipment would be landed within 48


hours of the initial

attack.

and 85 Mountain Rifle Regt.

100 Mountain Rifle Regt. was to land at MALEME


at HERAKLION.

The information available regarding the units to be carried over


by sea is
it
first

not complete.

On the basis of such information as is

available,

may be estimated that some 7,500 troops were intended to be carried in the
two convoys.
Assuming that no further convoys were intended, this would leave

a further 12,500 troops to be ferried over by air.


been the intention of the German High Command to use

~M6

IFIL

It

may, however,

have

Uo
more sea transport and correspondingly less air transport.

SECTION II
In actual fact

when the time came, the two sea convoys were intercepted and broken up with
heavy loss.

For several days during the most critical part of the campaign,

the Germans had to rely entirely upon air transport.


Air support was to be provided by Fliegerkorps VIII and a force
of 280 bombers, 150 dive bombers, 90 twin-engined fighters, 90 singleengined fighters and 40 Recces was concentrated in GREECE, BULGARIA and
the AEGEAN Islands.

The tasks allotted to Fliegerkorps VIII included

tactical reconnaissances,

fighter protection to troop carrying aircraft,

attacks on our positions before and during glider and parachute descents,
co-operation with ground forces, protection of sea-borne convoys and attacks on our naval and supply shipping.

U
SECTION III
FORCES ENGAGED
1. Forces originally provided:
The forces originally provided for the attack are estimated
to have been as follows:Troops

(a)

Units.

Elements of:-

XI Fliegerkorps
VII Fliegerdivision
5th Mountain Division
22nd Division

(b) Numbers
Glider troops

750

Parachutists

7500
12500

Air-landing troops

7500

Sea-borne troops

30750
Transport Aircraft
Number

Type

Units

Gliders DoF.S. 230

Storm Regt. I.

75

Glider towing JU.52's

Luftlandungs Geschwader

75

Troop Transport Aircraft

K.G. Z b V

Air Support.

2
40
60
101
102
105
106
172

500

Fliegerkorps VIII

Bombers

DO. 17, JU. 88, He.:11

280

Dive Bombers

JU. 87

150

Twin-engined fighters

1,E110

90

Single-engined fighters

ME. 109

90

Recce

DO. 17, DO. 215, He S111


JU.

88, ME. 110

40
650

22

SECTION

Modification during the


During the course
were

III

of the opera

ing modifications

made to the attacking

and supporting forces as

1.

(and much material) were lost at sea and

Some 2500 troops

originally planned:-

never reached CRETE.


2.

Elements

of an additional division,

believed to include MT;

6th Mountain Division,

Rifle Regts.

141 and 143 were added

as reinforcements in view of the unexpected strength of our


opposition.
3.

As the result of the

interception of the

first two

sea convoys,

the Germans had to rely entirely upon air transport to


reinforcements

and supplies to

re-established until May 28th,

CRETE.

send

Sea transport was not

by which time our evacuation

had already started.


4.

Reinforcements
and bombers

of dive bombers

from SICILY

were brought down from Germany

and LIBYA were

ations in North Africa to CRETE.


the course

It

diverted

is

of the operation 120 bombers

added to the air forces

from oper-

estimated that during


and dive bombers were

attacking CRETE.

supporting aircraft engaged was therefore

The total number of


(excluding losses)

770.
Forces employed
It is

estimated that from the

start

of the operation

(May 20th)

to the commencement of our evacuation (May 28th) the following forces


were actually landed in CRETE.
estimated lost at

sea.

<I IE

Deduction has been made of

2,500

Q Ig

~SECTION

III

Troops:
Glider troops
Parachutists
Air-landing troops
Sea-borne troops

Total

750
10,000
23,000
250

34,000

On May 28th and following days, sea-borne forces landed


together with tanks, artillery and other heavy equipment.

It is

estimated that the number of tanks landed by sea probably did not exceed
5,000.

The campaign was already in its closing stages and the Germans

were already beginning to move troops northwards towards the Russian


frontier.
Air Forces;
Gliders

75

Glider tugs

75

Transport aircraft

500

Bombers, fighters
and recce.

770

24-

WJ

SECTION IV
THE, A

The

attack

began on May 20th.

from Greek aerodromes


bombers
to

and fighters

at first dawn.
which

Gliders

chutists took

They were preceded by bombers, dive

subjected

our

positions

at

MALEME

an attack of terrific intensity for an hour before the

arrived.

The

bombardment began at 0700 hours.

batteries,

and was

in the area were


An hour later,

fighters
South

and dive

The attacks were of such intensity that

driven to ground.

at 0800 hrs.,

bombers.

Three

the gliders

companies

landed

arrived escorted by
at

IMALEIE;

a fourth

In the meantime

and machine gun attacks had scarcely slackened, and the

area around each landing place was

covered by waves of continuous attacks.

It had been expected that the barrage would


glider

attention to A.A.

of CANEA and a fifth on the AKROTIRI Peninsula.

enemy bombing

air-borne forces

apparently designed to put the gun crews out of action

rather than the guns themselves.


all troops

and CAlEA

It was directed particu-

and positions, with special

larly against gun crews

troops began to

attack, the landing

of gliders was

The majority

and CA.JEA where

at

aerodrome.

river bed was protected from the direct

ALEiE
It

came down

in

the dried

line of

The

sunken

fire from the aerodrome,


descending forces.

The

rocks and the troops took positions on

high ground to the West of the valley overlooking the aerodrome.


our defenders in that area were aware

of their presence,

able to give

fire

parachute troops.

25

the

Before

and could take

action against them, they were in a strong position with formidable


They were thus

up

is estimated that 45 gliders

gave cover to the

gliders crash-landed among the

our

sustained intensity of the air

were used in this area, each glider carrying 10 troops.

and boulders and rocks there

or

effected unperceived and unopposed.

of the 'gliders

river bed to the West of the

lift before parachutes

and both at MALEME

descend,

troops had been driven to cover by the

power.

off

cover to the arrival

of the

fire

SECTION
In

the AKROTIRI Peninsula

at about 0800 hrs.

11 gl

iter

IV

the objective

(One report states that gliders

arrived in the dark

at 0300 hours, but there is no evidence of this in the plan of attack or


from other sources).

Several crashed on landing, killing

number of the personnel;


of the

three or

later exploding in the

ammunition

store

four were

air as

in the forward

shot down by our troops,

A few were

(one group

able to

compartment of the glider.

themselves

install

one

a result of a direct hit on the

part of the glider-borne troops were killed or


ing.

and wounding a

in

The greater

captured soon after landpositions

strong defensive

occupied a disused battery position) and to hold out.

In view

of their heavy fire power the nuisance value of these groups was out of
all proportion to their numibers.
The 2nd Company Storm Regt. was ordered to destroy ALL enemy
A.A. batteries
on May 20th,

in the

this

area south of CANEA.

area was dive bombed

after which gliders

landed all round

crews had been driven to

by a thermite

and machine-gunned

for

air attack and the

landing of the

The guns were then put out of action

were killed.

troops having thus prepared the way for the arrival


latter

The gun

Complete surprise was effected and

preparation applied to the breach mechanism.

able to give the

an hour,

and on our gun positions.

shelter by the

gliders were effected unperceived.


the gun detachments

0800 hours

From 0700 hours to

The glider

of parachutists,

covering fire support on their arrival a

were

few

minutes later.
The landing of parachutists on the first day of the attack took
place in two main waves.
against CANEA and MALEL{E
second was

in

the

The first wave in the morning was directed


where parachutists

afternoon,

aimed at

the capture

ERAKL ION.

2i

followed glider troops.

M~i

of RETIMO

and

The

IV

}ateSECTION

In the CAI\TEA area,

thefirst

tists began to

arrive according to plan at 0815 hours, fifteen intes after the gliders.
During the next two hours, 3 battalions of parachute troops together with
H.Q. signals, engineers and medical units were dropped west and south of
the town.

Some temporary success was achieved and during the morning the

enemy succeeded in capturing the General Hospital and occupying one of the
beaches.

Vigorous counter measures on our part, however, re-establishing

the situation in our favour.

The hospital was re-taken and before the end

of the day most of the troops had been cleaned up, with the exception of a
force which succeeded in establishing itself in a valley some two miles
southwest of CAIEA, and of scattered groups holding strong local positions.
During the morning,

GENERAL SUESSLAN, 0.C. Fliegerkorps VII who was 0.C.

in the wadi Central Sector was killed,

together with a number of members

of his staff, when the glider in which they were traveling crashed.- In
the MALE"ME area,

parachutists were dropped to west of the aerodrome,

on and near the aerodrome itself.

also

Those who dropped on or near the aero-

drome were rapidly liquidated but the others who landed to the west of the
aerodrome were protected by the covering fire of the glider troops already
landed and were able to consolidate their position.

By mid-day, enemy

troops were established on the western fringe of the aerodrome.


During the morning, some 24 Ju.524s crash-landed on the beaches
east and west of MALEME, and landed two companies of troops.

In the

afternoon, despite the fact that our forces were still in position round
the eastern end of the aerodrome, troop-carrying aircraft began to land
near the western edge of the landing ground under cover of protective fire
from troops established in that area.

The operation must have been

extremely hazardous: the landing area was under both small arms and
artillery fire from our troops only a few hundred yards away, but action
on our part was nullified by enemy air forces which maintained continuous
attacks on our forces and pinned them to the ground.

During the afternoon

three battalions of Mountain Rifle Regiments 100 were landed.

SECTION

4W

Towards

evening, the Germans,

reinf

rivals began to

intensify their pressure on our position eas


hours under
to retire,

At 2000

Urodrome.

the double pressure of air and ground attack, we were


leaving the aerodrome

In the meantime,

IV

obliged

in German hands.

during the afternoon, the

second wave of para-

chutists had been landed, this time at RETIMO and HERAKLION.


At

RETIMO,

two battalions of parachute troops were dropped, for

the most part near the eastern boundary of the aerodrome.

They were

immediately attacked and heavy casualties were inflicted.

By the

the situation here was well


At IHERAKLION,

in hand.

following the usual preliminary "blitz"

Parachute Regt. began to arrive at 1800 hrs.


in two
For

groups,

one round the aerodrome

a few minutes of landing.


attempted to capture

The parachutists

the town, but were

the evening, the position in this

other west of the town.

follows: At MALEME,

and rifle

fire

in German hands,

from our troops.

who

arms and bayonet within


dropped near HERAKLION

driven back by the Greeks,

By

the position was briefly as

some 750 Glider troops,

air landing troops had been landed,


aerodrome was

small

and on the aero-

area too, was well in hand.

At the end of the first day,

the

and the

large number were killed by tanks,

No. 1

Parachutists were dropped

some time after landing they were very vulnerable

drome a

evening

some

7,500 parachutists

success had been achieved and

though it was

In

and 2,000

the CANEA,

still under artillery

RETIMO

and I-HERAKLION

areas

on the other hand, the parachute landings had failed to achieve their
object and heavy casualties had been sustained by the

attacking

force.

On the second day, the remaining parachute troops were dropped,


chiefly in the
RETIMO,

CANEA

area, where the

situation remained confused.

At

successful attacks by Australian and Greek troops drove the enemy

out of the defended area round the

aerodrome.

"8.
T

SECTION IV
At HERAKLION,

the

ing enemy forces were mopped

greatt:

up.
The main interest of the

aas

campaign,

already centring

During the morning troop landing aircraft began to arrive

round MALEMIE.

at the aerodrome.

In spite

small

artillery and, at extreme range,

aerodrorne was

fact that the

of the

arms

fire, they continued to arrive


In the meantime

throughout the day with almost clock-like regularity.


enemy air forces maintained
positions.
sought out

under

unceasing attacks

on our troops

and gun

But one by one our gun positions were

It was a grim battle.

and bombed into silence, while more and more troop carriers

came and disgorged their troops

and supplies.

Sea-borne Forces
On May 22/23rd, two German sea-borne
in CRETE bringing reinforcements,
The first was

probably tanks.

convoys were

artillery, motor-cycles,

sunk by our naval forces

May 21/22, the 2nd was scattered the following day.

cars

and

in the night

None

ships

of the

Much equipment and 2,500 picked troops are believed to

reached CRETE.

With the exception of one caique

have been lost.


loads

arrive

due to

and a few small boat

of survivors from the wrecked convoy, no enemy sea-borne troops

reached CRETE

until the 28th May, by which time the operation was

virtually over.
At this point the

enemy must have been obliged rapidly to re-

HIe did so, as always, by reinforcing success.

cast his plans.

The local

success at MALEME was exploited until MALEME rapidly became the key point
of the campaign.
used instead.

Transport by sea had failed -

Throughout the

so air transport must be

following day, May 22nd, troop carriers

continued to land in an unending stream.

Our guns were

still

shelling

the aerodrome but our batteries had been seriously weakened, and the
enemy air attacks against the remaining positions never slackened.

- 29

.SECTION

As the German forces were strengthene


increasing pressure eastwards

IV

y exerted constantly

against our forces who were holding a ridge

two miles to the east of the aerodrome and overlooking it.


evening, we were forced to retire from the ridge.
uninterrupted use of the

Day after

plies, guns,
the

The enemy had gained

aerodrore.

The action now developed rapidly to


clusion.

Towards

an almost inevitable

day the Germans poured in by air more troops,


The forces

motorcycles, ammunition.

units

Transport aircraft now landed 3 at a time,

complete with equipment.

constant activity and patrol.

and obliged to operate

of reasons,

bringing

Every movement was harassed, every

from bases

the air support which alone

6th

In the air enemy aircraft maintained

our air force,

On our side,

exposure was dangerous.

sup-

originally chosen for

operation were reinforced by elements of a further division -

Mountain Division.

con-

limited in numbers

in North Africa was unable to provide

could have turned the

scales.

For a variety

the strength of our air forces in North Africa was at a


But even if much larger air

particularly low ebb just at that time.


forces had been available,

they could not have

overcome the

fact that German Fighters and Dive Bombers were operating

geographical

from aero-

dromes almost within sight of CRETE, while our nearest bases were in
North Africa 300 miles

away.

During the whole

of the CPRETE campaign, the


superiority.

Germans had complete and practically undisputed air


this air superiority, the
With

attack would have failed

it the Germans had been able to

obtain a

Without

in its early stages.

foothold on the

island.

They were now in a position to pour in reinforcements and supplies as


required, while

denying to

us the possibility of receiving either.

such a position was established, the ultimate result

could no longer be

in doubt.
During the following
MALETE never relaxed.

air

days

broke through to CANEA.

enemy pressure eastwards

Day by day further reinforcements

to strengthen the

rdeposiiion

30 -

from

arrived by

Germans

c".
9

Once

'ated and

Y#
preparations

SECTION IV

began to be made for

eat difficulty SUDA

BAY was covered for a night to enable a small


be

landed, but from the 28th,

it was

remedy and the evacuation began.

to

realized that the situation was'beyond

The enemy air force now transferred its

attention to back areas and bombed the


other ports on the South coast.

freinforcements

roads to the

Their scale

South,

and SPILAKIA

of air attack in this

phase was not, however, as heavy as might have been expected.

and

final

It is

some of the units were already being transferred northwards

probable that

to the Russian frontier.

Evacuation from SPIHAKIA took place on the

and June 1st, without serious

nights May 30th,.31st

interference from the

enemy.

While
sector,

the main German effort was concentrated

operations

in the

HERAKLION the survivors


themselves in two
aerodrome, the

other sectors developed more slowly.

of the

groups

on the 1MALEM1iE

original parachutist

At

force established

outside the defended area, one to the east of the

other to the west of the town.

During the next few days

these two groups were supplied by air, and some reinforcements were
dropped.
of the

On May 22nd,

in the evening parachutists were dropped to the east

aerodrome and a ridge

2 miles east

From this ridge the Germans were able

of the aerodrome was

occupied.

to cover the aerodrome with fire from

heavy machine guns and mortars vhich had been landed by parachute earlier
in the day.

On May 23 further parachutists were dropped

day the

of

town

BIERAKLION was bombed.

gradually built up his


place

on the beach near MALEA,

the 2 forces
circle

forces.

the

following

days

Troop-carrying aircraft found a


15 miles east

of HERAKLION.

Patrols

the

enemy

landing
from

east and west of HERAKLION pushed forward through a wide

south of our positions,

and cut

off our coma final assault.

of parachutists

were landed east

inland.

On May 28th

in the evening,

aerodrome.

established contact

The position was now judged ready for

munications

of the

During

and on the same

The

a large number

intended attack was forestalled, however, by the

evacuation by sea of our garrison the

same night.

It

SECTION IV
At RETIMO,

after

Germans contented themselves by taking up p s

attack,

the

ast of the aero-

drome and west of the town, thus cutting communications with HERAKLION
and CANEA.

All land lines were cut and as the W/T was out of order, the

garrison was completely isolated.

On May 22nd a company of parachute

troops was dropped and established itself to the west of the aerodrome.
During the next few days German operations in this area were on a very
limited scale.
On May 28th, a German convoy arrived by sea at CANEA, bringing
reinforcements and tanks.

The arrival of this sea-borne force had little

effect on the main operations, as our forces were already in retreat,


but on May 29th German forces supported by tanks attacked RETIIKO.

At

first the garrison thought that these were our own tanks that had
broken through, and it was not until they were among them that their
mistake was discovered.

The entire garrison was either killed or

captured.
Italian participation
The Italian share in the campaign was limited to recce flights
east of HERAKLION and attacks on our shipping east and south of the
island.

On May 28th, when the campaign was all but over, one or two

regiments of Italian troops landed at SITEIA on the northeast coast.

In

the following days they moved across the centre of the Island westwards
and joined up with the German forces in the rear of our troops on the
last day of our evacuation from SPHAKIA.

32. -

R
TACT

V.

&SECTION

AGLIDERS

Organization of Glider Units.


The Glider units
Regt.

employed in CRETE belonged to No.

This regiment consists of 2 battalions

of 4

companies,

1 Storm
each com-

pany having 145 to 150 men, and being divided into 5 sections or platoons
Each section is carried by 3 gliders

of 30 men each.
is

seater glider

standard equipment) and each company by 15 gliders.


operation all 4 companies

In the CRETE

of No. 1 Battalion were

The Storm Regt. was under the command of Fliegerdivision VII

employed.
which,

(D.F.S. 230 ten-

in turn, was under the operational command of Fliegerkorps XI.


References to a Glider geschwader have been received from

prisoners of war and other sources.

A German Glider pilot killed in

CRETE is known to have belonged since September,


Gruppe 2 of Luftlandungs

geschwader 1.

1940 to Staffel

5 of

It may therefore be tentatively

accepted that at least 2 Gruppen of a Glider Geschwader (Luftlandungs geschwader) exist.

Information from prisoners of war and captured documents


establishes the

Gliders to a Staffel,
glider company

in the Luftlandungs geschwader there are 15

fact that

The glider Staffel

in the Storm Regt.

No direct evidence
Storm Regt.

is thus equivalent to the

is available

and the Luftlandungs geschwader

of the connection between the


1, but it seems probable

that Glider Staffeln allocated to the Storm Regt. are drawn from L.
1. i.e.,

that the Luftlandungs

1, G.

geschwader is the training unit and the

Storm Regiment the operational unit.


Qualified glider pilots are given the title L.S. Fuhrer
i.e.,

(Lastensegelflugzoug fuhrer),
Load carrying glider

load carrying glider pilot.

(L.S.

is apparently the name given to weight carrying

gliders capable of transporting men and/or materials, to distinguish

Yj

3g.

r"

am

or

them from single-seater gliders with no transport capac

Glider troops count with parachutists' as "Fliegertruppen,"


but glider troops are never used as parachutists and parachutists are
never carried in gliders.
Training
The main training center is at HILDESIEIM, where a Deutsche
Ferschungsanstalt fur Segelflugzeuge (German Glider Experimental and
Research Establishment) has been in operation since before November 1939.
There is evidence that in the autumn of 1940 a reorganization of Glider
Units in the Storm Regt. took place, and volunteers from A.A. and
Intensive training of both

Infantry units were gathered at HILIESI EIM.

glider pilots and glider-borne troops of the Storm Regt. has been in
progress since that date.
WICK-WAGGUN,

MUNSTER-WALDE,

Training schools for pilots exist at BRUNSROHN and (unconfirmed)

at EIALIERSTADT.

Of three glider pilots captured or killed in CRETE,

two held

long term commissions in the German Air Force and the third (killed) had
a civil flying licence, and had transferred from a Flak Unit to Gliders
in July, 1940.
fifteen.

The first two had been flying gliders since the age of

All three had non-operational experience of power-driven air-

craft, and one had even completed a course on heavy power-driven aircraft
after he had joined his glider unit.
ranked as G.A.F. pilots.

Glider pilots, however, are not

In fact some of them appear to be men who have

been unable to complete successfully the full training course of G.A.F.


pilots.
Some of the glider pilots employed in the CRETE operation
claim to have completed 8,000 kms. in gliders.
Glider-borne troops of the Storm Regt. were gathered originally at HILDESHEIM and HALBERSTADT, but they completed their training
at SEeNE. and BERGEN (near HANOVER).

evidence that Gruppe 1 of

There is

Luftlandungs geschwader 1 is based at HILDESIHILI and that Gruppe II


possibly be based at IHALBERSTADT or GOSLAR.

-34

:'

T -

may

SECTION V
Their training,
of war glider pilot,
leaving the

of W.

nurd to a prisoner

consisted in practice

Wig

of
A

aircraft with full equipment.

after which the


P.

accor

ering and

short flight was

then made
One

glider was released and landed on the aerodrome.

stated that in these practice flights

sometimes towed,

On

landing,

the pilot joining them.

No

the

3 gliders

glider troops

details

of these

deplaned

at a time
and

exercises are

are

attacked,

available,

but it appears that elaborate practice manoeuvres were held involving


inter-unit cooperation and the use
communication to

aircraft,

of Ground strips

in addition to

lessons

and light

signals for

in defensive circle

formation.

carried in

the

gliders,

special

to the

nature

stated that ordinary infantry troops are

of war

One prisoner

and that

of the

no

special

tasks

training

allotted to

is

glider

given.

units,

concentrated fire power placed at their disposal,

in mind the
that this

small number of glider-borne

information was

given either

troops employed,

in ignorance

view of

In

however,

and

and also bearing


it would appear

or intentionally to

mislead.
Previous

Operational Experience.
Many of the glider pilots who

taken part in the

BELGIAN and NORWEGIAN

for their part in those


1st Coy. Storm Regt. was
over the Albert

campaigns

and had been decorated

A prisoner of war

decorated for a successful

Canal in May,

unit of 21 gliders,
D.F.S.

actions.

operated in CRiETE had already

from the present


attack on a bridge

Another had been to NORrAY with a

1940.

15 of which ultimately returned.

230 troop carrying Glider.


The

glider used in the

Forschungsantalt

fur Segelflugzeug) 230.

monoplane with a single


elevator.

The length
The

CRETE campaign was the D.F.S.

fin and rudder,


50 feet,

is about

fuselage

35

a high winged

10 seater

and monoplane tailplane and


and the wing span about 80 feet.
the

ttion,

This is

(Deutsche

wings of wood.
the

use

The

whole

is fabric covered.

on training flights,

jettisoned and the

but on operational

landing is made

No auxiliary engine
Flying

ovided for

flights they are

on a skid.

is fitted.

Instruments.
Airspeed Indicator.

Altimeter

Turn and bank indicator

)
)

These are illuminated


by dashboard lamps.

)
Compass

Rise and fall indicator

Lighting and Electrical Equipment


Two aerial navigation lights
A

landing light

lamps

is placed under the

are fitted for night

port wing,

The electrical equipment

are provided.

stowed in the nose of the aircraft.

No b'1/T.,

flying.

and cabin and dashboard


is worked by an accumulator
is carried.

Diving Brakes,
Flaps
wards to
glide,

are fitted to upper trailing edge of wing,

steepen angle

the nose does

of glide.

When

the flaps

opening up-

are closed during the

not drop suddenly as with power

driven aircraft.

Assembly.
of W.

According to a F.
their wings

and flying wires

arrived by train.

the 15 Gliders

had one fitter

and rigger.

Performance.
Towing

speed

105 mph.

(with Ju.52.)

Optimum gliding speed.

70 mph.

Hold-off speed.

55 mph.

Landing Speed.

35/40 mph.

36

Staffel had

in one day at SALONIKA after having

rigged

Each glider

of his

JI

SECTION V

Take-off run and Landing area.


The take-off run required is the normal take-off run of the

Ju. 52 plus the length of the tow rope used and glider.
a run of at least 800 yards

is required.

Normally speaking

longer run enables a longer

tow rope to be employed.


The glider can be landed in any field or area where 20-50 yds.
reasonably flat surface can be obtained.
ground are required, barbed wire

When

short.landings on smooth

is sometimes wrapped around the skid.

Range after Cast-off


The following figures are taken from a captured report
by the

Government

report is

Testing Station

at

IiECHLIN in

March 1940.

issued

(The

full

given at the end of this Section).


D.F.S. 230.

Cast-off Height.

Head Wind Speed

Range

20 mph.

3,000 ft.

72 miles

10,000 "

20

"

25

"

16,000 "

20

"

44

"

Tail Wind Speed.

10,000 "
"

16,000

Note:
above

122 miles

20 mph.

3,000 ft.

20

"

44

"

20

"

75

"

No provision has been made for oxygen to be


10,000 ft.

carried,

Heights

are therefore unlikely to be used.

Capacity.

The weight

of the machine is 1716 lbs., and its maximum carry-

ing capacity (pilot, passengers and goods) is 2900 lbs.


in various ways according to the requirements

This is made up

in each particular case.

Seating accommodation is provided for 10 persons


9 passengers)

seated in

single row one behind the other.

an average weight of 140 lbs.,


1,400'lbs.,

(1 pilot and
Assuming

per person, this gives c total of


)

and

37 -

ht again of equipment

SECTION V
to be carried.
The equipment is
under the seats.

carried

The last four seats are removae

used, if required, for equipment or supplies.


the

and

rpartments

space can be

In planning the loading of

glider, the weight of each man and his equipment is carefully noted.

The loading is arranged so that the total weight carried is divided in


certain proportions throughout the machine.
of weight fore and

aft

In particular, the balance

is carefully considered.

One captured loading

sheet indicates that the loading was arranged to give 800 kgs. fore and
450 kgs. aft of seats 6/7.
The weapons and ammunition carried by each section of three
Gliders are to some extent complementary and are designed to be used
together for the particular objective which it is proposed to attach, but
as far as possible, each individual Glider is self-contained and carries
very considerable fire power.

This, one Glider carried four toimmy-guns,

with 48 magazines, ten pistols, 92 hand grenades and 12 kilos of exAnother Glider carried a light machine-gun with 3,000 rounds,

plosives.
10

.08 pistols, 3 tommy-guns, 81 hand grenades, 9 rifles and 26 kilos of

explosives.
Further details of actual equipment carried, as shown by
captured documents in CRETE are given at the end of this section.
Armaments.
Sometimes an M.G. 34 (rifle bore) machine-gun is clamped outThis is operated through a slit

side the starboard side of Glider.

(normally closed by zip fastener) and can only fire in the direction of
flight.

It is usually used mainly for moral effect just before landing.


Gliders do not carry any protecting armour.

Towing
In operational
He.

46

and Hs

.126 have

flights
sometimes

Normally onl
two may be towed,

52's are

Ju.

been used

re

in

invariably employed.
training

flights.

52 though
nyas three

and

38

SECTION V
have been towed during training.
In

the

actual

attacks

towed by each aircraft,

on CRETE

and it is

the general

The length of cable is 40,


aerodrome

The towing

only 9Rdlider

was

opinion of Glider

Pilots

it is not practicable to tow more than onee.

that for operational purposes

cording to the

however,

space

60,

80,

100, or

120 meters ac-

available.

cable is normally released by the Glider pilot,

in emergency, may be released by towing

aircraft.

bu t,

The release mechanismm

consists of a simple parrot beak hook.


When more than one Glider
to a

separate hook on the towing

is towed,

aircraft, as

each aircraft

is

attached

follows:52.

Ju. 52.

Ju.

Two Gliders.

Three Gliders.

The longer the cable the better the behaviour

of the Glider

the air, but a long cable requires a correspondingly long take-off.


P.

in CRETE

of W.

stated that they took off from TANAGRA.

in
One

Owing to the

limited space available the shortest tow rope (40 Metres) was used.

As

a result, they had a bumpy passage, and on approaching CRETE the tow rope
broke,

Cases also occurred of tow ropes

tow rope

snapping during a turn when the

suddenly tightened after the turn.


Glider troops going over to GREECE, all carried gas masks and

Losantin,

and each man wore a life belt.


Glider-borne troops do not carry parachutists.
Only one pilot is carried in each Glider.

There

is no

The pilot is given exact instructions

reserve Pilot and no observer.

regarding the point at which he is to land, and it is his duty to land


the Glider as near as possible to that point.

captured hand-drawn

sketch in CRETE showed by a red dotted line and arrow, the course to
be taken by the Gl
(See Appendix

to

he

"

39-

it

was to

land.

SECTION V
The glider pilot is
has landed the Glider he joins the othe:

s.part in the

attack.
Ammunition and equipment, is stowed on both sides and beneath
the seating, and in additional storage space fore and aft.

The spare

ammunition is stored in containers just behind the pilots seat, and


a direct hit on this point may blow up the whole glider.
glider was destroyed in this way when descending in CRETE.
was blown up intentionally by its crew.

:
4

rE

At least one
Another

SECTION V
Tactical
In CRETE gliders we
attack.

tt

15 minutes of the

They did not appear again.


Their arrival in the BALKANS had been a closely safeguarded secattack would be

ret, and the GERMANS believed that the


More

than one prisoner of war was furious because he

a complete surprise.

considered that the

plan for the use of Gliders had leaked out through the GREEKS.
Gliders flew by platoons in sections

near together as possible.

to land as

stage of the journey.

of 12 Ie.

109s

and 6 Me.

company of 15 gliders was

the landing

support until the

first fighting was

point

on the AKROTIRI

(MALEME and south of

PENINSULA and give

settled.

cases, objectives were

the arrival of the gliders.


cessful

given an escort

110s, which were detailed to accompany them from

KYTHERA ISLAND to

In all

110s was provided on the

and Me.

109s

Fighter escort of Me.


final

each Glider being

They maintained formation throughout the

towed separately by a Ju. 52.


flight and attempted

of three,

bombed and machine-gunned prior to

In the two places where the gliders were sucCANEA)

air

the

attack

continued all

round the

area while the gliders were landing and the actual landing was effected
unperceived.
Many gliders crashed on landing.

In one glider three of the

occupants were killed, and four injured, leaving only three ready for
action.

In another,

four of the occupants were killed, and the heavy

machine-gun was broken in the crash.

In a third case, the tow rope

snapped before the glider had arrived at its destination.


the glider broke
mildly shaken.
prisoners.

its back, and the wings

On landing,

fell off, but the crew were

only

immediately surrounded by GREEKS and taken

They were

These crashes occurred on rough hard ground.

On softer

ground, they would not have happened.


On landing,

the glider troops

carrying with them the weapons

deplane as quickly as possible,

and tools they require

for immediate use.

Reserve ammunition and equipment was left in the glider until required.
Each man carried with him a very considerable weight of ammunition,
weapons and equ

41 -

SECTION V
Glider troops oper

4oGliders,

each pla-

toon being alloted a specific objective.


Altmann Company)
were captured.

ec

company orders giving detailed orders


One platoon was to

of position and then support the

and fourth platoons were


nearby houses

battery, put

obstruct the road just north


second platoon on a group

attack of the

1,000 metres west of the

r each platoon

occupy a specified A.A,

the remaining guns in order ready for firing,

of houses,

e company (the

gun position.

Similarly, the third

to attack a specified gun position and groups

in the same neighborhood.

to land and take possession of the

of

Finally, Headquarters Platoon was

captured houses west

of the battery po-

sition and cover Company Battle Headquarters from east, north and south.
Incidentally, the

attack at this point was not a success.

ground was very rough and many of the gliders


the troops were killed or wounded in the
killed or captured by our troops.
appear to have received air support

crashed on landing.

crash, the

Many of

others were rapidly


in this

The glider troops


on the same

The

scale

area do not

as in other sectors.

If opposition was met with on landing, the Glider troops formed


themselves immediately into

a defensive circle, taking advantage of any

cover available from rough ground.

A P.

of W.

from one Glider which crash

landed stated that his Glider was wrecked on landing,


tarily dazed, and the P.

To their amazement

gun nests.

ed with laughter.
been killed.

hours,

himself was winded, but none of them was

They found themselves

badly hurt.

circle,

of N.

the crew were momen-

surrounded on three

sides by machine-

our men got out of their trenches

and roar-

Apparently they thought that all the Glider crew had


and formed a defensive

However, the Glider crew disembarked,

getting some

cover from the bumpy ground.

They held out for four

at the end of which they had all been killed except the prisoner of

war and two other men who were wounded.


amazed that our men did not use
the Glider

The P.

of W.

grenades or mortars.

said that he was


Had they done so

crew would have been killed within a few minutes.

SECTION V

To Summarize:Tactically,
1.

gliders

were employed for

To destroy A.A. gun positions

in the

afllowing purposes:
line of approaching trop

carrying aircraft.
2.

To seize positions

and give covering fire to the arrival of

parachutists.
3.

To cut communication,

seize wireless

stations, cut telephone

lines.

4.

To seize important personages.

5.

To provide heavily armed storm troops for the capture of key

points.
In every case, glider troops were used in the first wave of
the attack.

They preceded parachutists

just as parachutists

frequently precede air landing

The particular advantage


that glider-borne troops
immediate

action,

and prepared the way for them,

of glider troops over parachutists

land complete with equipment


parachutist

whereas the

has

to

collect

and form up with his comrades before they can take


A further advantage
parachutists,

and,

troops.

is that they have more

and ready for


his

equipment

effective action.

control over flight than

subject to ground conditions being suitable,

can

land at a given point, ex.,

alongside or behind a battery position,

with considerable accuracy.

This combination of concentrated fire

power and spot landings allied to the element of surprise,


be most deadly in at least one case

in CPRETE.

in the air,

glider is very vulnerable while

proved to

On the other hand, the

and if the element of

surprise is missing or if the terrain is unsuitable, the glider may be


shot down or the troops put out of action before
part is possible.

1:

rytt

43

kf'

" t"1

any action on their

is

SECTION V
Ca ture

The "CZEINSKI"' Glider.


Crew

?
?
3
3

Pilot.
Section Leader,
Deputy Section.
Rifleman.
:men-crew of light machine-gun.
men-crew of light mortar.

Equipment
4
1

1
10
2
12
92
2
2
1
1
1

Tommy guns and 48 magazines.


light machine gun with 2 drums and 8 boxes
of amm: at 300 a box, and 1,200 rounds with
No. 3 of crew.= 3,600 and
light mortar and 9 boxes ammunition
Pistols
Rifles with 200 rounds SS.
Kilos balsting charge.
Hand g eride s
Spades.
wire cutters.
binoculars
axe with claw
set spare parts.
=

Total weight, crew and equipment


2.

The "ORTH"

1,285.4 kgs.

Glider

Crew

4
1

Pilot.
Section Leader.
Troop Leader.
Mortar Crew Leader.
Riflemen
M.G. Crew.

Equipment
1
15
9
5
1
3
30
3
8
1
3
1
1
1
2

Mi.G. 34 with boxes. Single & twin barrel containers,


base plate, bipod, aiming posts, dial sight.
Boxes heavy mortar amunition
.08 pistols - 18 magazines.
Tommy guns - 30 magazines.
Carbine and 1 rifle with telescopic sight
and 200 rounds.
Heavy calibre pistols (Kampf Pistols).
Hand grenades.
Pairs binoculars.
short spades.
long spade
wire cutters.
cutting saw
Engineer's outfit (Pionier Gerat).
axe with claw.
tool kits.
=

Total weight, crew and equipment

'g

3X47

1,285.4 kgs.

Ulf
3.

The

"NAGEL"

SECTION V

Glider.

"Stabsmaschine 2?".
Crew of 8 including:-

3
2

Pilot.
Deputy Leader.
Heavy mortar leader.
Riflemen.
others.

Equipment
1
3
3
8
45
35
2
3
3
7
8
5
1
1
1

Heavy mortar with trolley and 19


boxes ammunition.
Carbines.
Tommy guns with 1,280 rounds.
.08 pistols with 704 rounds.
Egg grenades.
Stick grenades.
Explosive charges.
Pairs binoculars.
Marching compasses.
Folding spades.
Jackknives.
Pocket torches.
Axe with claw.
First Aid knapsack.
Bread bag with rations.

Total weight, crew and equipment


4.

1,266 kgs.

The "RUIM JLER" Glider.


Crew

3
3
1

Pilot.
Section Leader.
Deputy Section Leader.
Riflemen
Crew of light M.G.
Medical orderly.

Equipment
1

3
10
6
4
5
81
7
7
1
1

Light M.G. and 10 boxes of ammunition


(3,000 rounds) with barrel container,
barrel protector, tripod, 2 drums.
Tommy guns and 960 rounds.
Pistols and 880 rounds.
Rifles (one with telescopic sight)
Carbines and
Bandoliers with 500 rounds.
Hand grenades.
Explosive charges.
Flags.
First Aid knapsack
Field Dressing.

Total weight, crew and equipment

- 45 -

1,132. kgs.

UNCLASSIFIED
SECT ION VI
PARACHUT ISTS
Forces Employed
Parachutists employed in the attack on CRETE were drawn mainly
from Fliegerkorps VII.

Smaller numbers were probably also supplied by

5th Mountain Division and possibly also by 22nd Division and 6th Mountain
Division, but these units are designed to provide air landing troops
rather than parachutists and are therefore dealt with in the next section.
Fliegerdivision VII as employed in the CIRETE operation consisted
of one Storm Regt. of glider troops and the following parachute units:Parachute Regt. I
Parachute Regt.

II

Parachute Regt. III


Parachute M.G. Battalion (3 companies)
Parachute A.A. M.G. Battalion (3 companies)
Parachute Anti-tank Unit (3 companies)
Parachute Artillery Battery (3 troops, each of 4 guns)
Parachute Pioneer Battalion.
Parachute Signals Unit
Parachute Motor-Cycle Battalion
Parachute Engineer Unit
Parachute Medical Unit
Parachute Supply Unit
It is interesting to note that in the original plan it was
proposed to send the heavier units including parachute artillery battery,
parachute anti-tank units, parachute A.A. artillery units, parachute
motor cycle battalion, parachute machine gun battalion, by ship.

Owing

to our naval opposition, however, elements of these units had perforce


to be carried by air.
Organization
The organization of parachute units is very flexible and the
composition of units can be easily and rapidly varied in accordance

- 46

Ut

SECTION VI

with the operation which is

For the CRETE operation, Parachute Regts.


gether

with ancilliary units were employed.

The

I,

II,

and III,

to-

capture of CRETE re re---

sented a complete large scale parachute operation, calling for uniformly


well armed forces
reorganized to

over a considerable

give approximately

area,

equal

and the parachute units were

fire power throughout.

With this

object one platoon of each machine gun company was transferred to each
rifle company and replaced by an equivalent number
Each parachute regiment
talions;
the

each battalion with

organized

considerably;
had 240

17

one
22.

on the basis of 3 bat-

four companies numbered consecutively as

13th Infantry gun company and 14th


Company strength as

M.T.

is

of riflemen.

anti-tank company.

shown by captured company lists

company had 144 men shown on the company


Another

list

company

showed

225 men,

varied

list;

another

of which 27 were

drivers and only 196 were parachutists.


A

of N.CO's.
Warrant

feature

One company of 144 men,

Officer,
Other

company as

of parachute units

128 N.C.O's

is the

abnormally high per cent

in CRETE had 4

and only 11

officers,

one

(soldaten) men.

captured loading lists practically every member

of the

an N.C.O.

Uniform
The familiar parachutist!s uniform was worn, consisting of
knickerbocker trousers,

open neck tunicwith wide pockets,

belt with flat rectangular buckle,


rubber
a loose

grey-green combination type

landed in New Zealand

who had

When

overall with short wide

Reports were

received that

from the
,l

fact

that

47

legs

incorrect.

on the first

day

ove their

jumping,

parachutists

uniform, but these proved to be

They probably originated


parachutists

non-lacing boots with thick

soles and round steel helmet with narrow brim.

was worn over the tunic.

leather

SECTION VI
before

prisoners

them as

On the other hand, a clear

earing

foreign uniforms had been considered is given by

of

d order in

which it is specifically stated "British uniforms will not be worn."


This would appear to show not only that the possibility of such action
had been considered, but that British

uniforms were

actually in

possession of some of the parachutists.


Equipment

carried by Parachutists
It has been said that a parachutist has no less than 47

separate pockets

and containers.

Whether this is

not yet been established, but it is


of parachute troops
order

true or not has

certain that the battle

equipment

is very comprehensive, as the following captured

shows:-

48

LSSECTION
When going
with them.

into action parachutists ta.2

Special parachute rations

carried in a

special haversack.

full of water was

tablets

days rations

(Sprungverpfegung) were

These are reported to have

included biscuits, hard bread, chocolate,


fruits, Vitamin "C"

dates,
A

and cigarettes.

sausage,

dried

large water bottle

also carried, and parachutists were ordered to

drink the water sparingly and avoid drinking water in the


as

VI

Island

Further food supplies were dropped as requested

far as possible.

by the display of appropriate

ground strips.

Dropped Equipment
Equipment
himself was

in addition to that carried by the parachutist

dropped separately in small containers.

bore colored markings to indicate the


ed.

They varied in size

even larger.

section to which they belong-

from approximately 2t x

Bigger containers were

The containers

1' to

6' x 4',

fitted with wheels

or

on which

they could be hauled.


Small containers were

containers were dropped with 2,

but bigger
A

dropped with a single parachute,

prisoner of war has

3 or even 4 parachutes.

stated that sometimes the parachutes

used

containers were bigger than those used by parachutists.

for dropping

As a general rule the parachutes


in color, but containers

attached to

carrying medical

containers were white

supplies had pink

parachutes.
The number,
with the type

size and contents of the containers varied

of company.

complete list of containers

by the 2nd Platoon of a machine gun section was


is

given at

the

section.

end of this

Each container

with a distinguishing color and markings,


contents

to

149

and weight in each case.

KgSIJ

I A

d a

49

dropped

captured and
was marked

and the list

gave the

The weight varied from 76- KIgs.

m...a
a

SECTION VI
ar

Specimen contents

2 Machine pistols,
2 Rifles -

4 Machine

5 rds heavy pointed Amms,

1 pick-axe,

1 long

handgrenades,

2. cartridge belts,

1 hacksaw, 4 handgrenade bags,

14 egg bombs, 3. smoke bombs,

.9 detonators, 7

(32 rds),

spade, 2. short spades, 1 wire cutter,

1 Bangalore torpedo,

Another

pistol magazines

smoke detonators,

2 smoke

2 smoke

9 stick
candles,

candle lighters.

container held:

1 complete mortar,

1 folding

spade,

1 hatchet, 1 long spade,

1 pickaxe, 1 folding hatchet, 2. bandoliers,


ration bags,

3 parachute

2 tent canvasses.

40 mortar bombs.
1 bandolier with 100 rds,
pistol
3

stick grenades,

smoke handgrenades,

98K with 5 rds,


Altogether

was

368 rds

ammn,

1 Rifle

of a

heavy pointed Ammn.,

parachute

6 egg grenades,

heavy pointed.

14 containers were dropped for the use

formation of about

40 men.

dropped to each 4 men, but in some

dropped to 3 or even 2 men.

Usually one

cases

container

one container was

Each section had its own container.

The container was dropped with or immediately after the section,


so that they could pick
possible delay.

it up and make use of it with the shortest

In view of the fact that each container bore

mark indicating the particular


it may be assumed that

Reference

in other

section for which it was intended,

containers are not interchangeable,

that each section must use

its own containers and no

captured documents

and

others.

is made of sections packing

containers ready for use,


Containers
dropped in

the

HTERAKLION area

motor transport,

types: tr8

5 feet long and 2 feet

of~

including

contained

spare parts

in diameter
and tools

for

spare parts for British and American

50

SECTIOT
It

wass
mo

medical equipment was

Very complete high' grade


The cases

dropped.

MALELE

opped at

included a number of heavy (80 mm.)

VI

opened up to form complete operating units.

It is reported that test tubes full

of blood for transfusion

were also dropped.


It
parachute

is known that motorcycles were

and a fairly well substantiated report

tanks,

either

light or heavy were dropped.

Tactical:
ELEUSIS,
wave

states that

however, no evidence that

is,

There

light cars were dropped.

dropped by

Parachutists were embarked in JU-52's


TMEiIDI,

CORINTH and TOPOLIA

airdromes.

at TANAGRA,

For

the first

of the attack, supplies were embarked the previous

embarkation began at 0445 hours.


arrived

over their

0815.

In the

objective

Central

The first wave of parachutists

CRETE,

in

day and

some

Sector a parachute

force

complete regiment and other units totalling


parachutists were expected to drop

200 miles

distant,

at

consisting of a

approximately 2,500

in one hour.

The aircraft

carrying the first force were to return to Greece and bring the
during the

2nd wave of parachutists

afternoon.

The time

allowed

for the return journey, loading and trip back to CRETE was 8 hours.
The number

of parachutists

craft varied according to the unit


rule,

12 parachutists

and 4

carried in each air-

involved, but as

containers were

carried.

a general
Each

container held equipment for a section of 3 men, and was


same time

thrown out at the


jumped.

or immediately after the

as,

One captured loading sheet

showed 12

In another

carrying 12 parachutists.

section

aircraft, each

case the captured load-

ing sheet showed 12 aircraft, each carrying 12 or 13 parachutists


in addition to
list

of 7th Ca

pilot and observer.


5

,,

ELM19f

51

This was the

loading

SECT IOT VI

Then

list

13 parachutists were carried the lastl

the "reserve."

Reports from observers in CRETE stated that

particularly in the

later phases of the attack,


carried in one

18 or 20 parachutists were

not possible to confirm these reports


visual

was

observation, but it is

as many as
It is

aircraft.

vhich were

based on

of course possible

that larger

numbers were carried at this later stage in order to make up


for the lack of sea transport.

One thing, however,

appears

certain, the parachute regiments operating in the first wave


of the attack did not exceed 12 parachutists

per aircraft,

and in the case of some of the heavier units only 8 parachutists were carried in each JU-52,

the additional weight

being made up by extra containers.


Company loading
divided into

sections,

carried

"Kette"

by a

usually of 36 men,

of 3

aircraft.

by one "Kette"

of

of units,

One

parachute
4

divided into

each

sections

JU-52's.

Every effort was made


power

each section being

A typical

of 144 troops

company consisted
carried

sheets show that troops were

interesting

to maintain maximum fire

example

of this is

a captured

loading order for a platoon of an Artillery Battalion,

sisting of 32 men, 3 guns and 3 machine guns.


doubt
craft,

whether
and the

this platoon could have 3


loading sheet gave

If 4 aircraft were available,

8 men were

There was some

or 4 transport air-

alternative loads

for them.

each aircraft was to carry 8

men together with guns and equipment.


available, however,

con-

If only 3 aircraft were

to be left behind, but the full

number of guns and machine guns were to be taken.


The aircraft

departed in

flights

of 3.

On

arriving over their objective, the aircraft circled around,


then flew-at a height of 200-500 feet across the area where

the parachuokB~.YB~%Wl~e

-52

s~a~

carried out in

ilSECTION
formation.

The "Absetzer"

(.0C.

Jump

the

VI

leading

aircraft of the "Kette" showed a yellow flag 2 minutes before


jumping

as a sign to get ready.

he showed a red/white flag.


pulled in the red/white

When the target was reached he

flag, which was the

If he waved both flags ecross,


jump."

Half a minute before the jump

signal to jump.

this was the signal "Don't

At night signals could be given by colored torches,

in which case red meant "Get ready,"

green meant "Ready to

jump" and white meant "Jump."


In individual aircraft the signal to jump was
given by the leader by sounding the klaxon.

A wounded para-

chutist stated that 12 men left the aircraft in 9 seconds.


Before

jumping the parachutists

attached the ring of their

parachutes to a wire running along the length of the


inside,

and as they moved forward towards

ring along the wire.

aircraft

the door slid this

On jumping the ring actuates the opening

of the parachute, which then opens automatically, the maximum


drop before opening being 180 ft.

(Casualties from failure of

the parachute to open are estimated by a prisoner of war to be


about 1%).

Parachutists. left the plane by the door on the left

hand side of the

aircraft;

the door on the right hand

side being

used to throw out equipment containers, etc.


A
tommy guns
provide

certain proportion of the parachutists

ready during their descent to

and revolvers at the

covering fire for the arrival of their unit.

carried handgrenades which they threw in


sition

being present

in

D 'r

-53

Others

the event of oppo-

the area where they were

carried

about to land.

IA ,A~
SECTION VI
As a general rule,

mottled

green and brown parachutes, which rendered them inconspicuous


on the ground, and could be
motor vehicles,

etc.

Equipment containers

had white parachutes.


as a distinguishing

used for camouflage of captured

In this case the parachute would serve

feature to help the troops to locate the

spot where the container had fallen.

pink parachutes.

on the other hand,

Medical

supplies had

One report was received to the effect that

different units had different colors of parachutes in order


to help them to assemble, but this report has not been con-

firmed and is discounted, if only for the reason that parachutists

disengage themselves

from their parachutes as soon

as possible on reaching the ground.

54 -

SECTION
VII
-i
Air Borne Troops.
Units involved.
The following units are believed to have
supplied air landing troops in the CRETE operation.
Elements of 5th Mountain Division comprising
Nos. 85 and 100 Mountain Rifle Regiments and
No. 95 Signals Unit.

Elements of 22nd Division comprising (probably) Nos. 16, 47 and 65 Infantry Regiments.

Elements of 6th Mountain Division comprising


(probably) Nos. 141 and 143 Mountain Rifle
Regiments.

Of the above Nos.

85 and 100 Mountain Rifle

Regts. and 95 Signals Unit of the 5th Mountain Division were


definitely allocated to the operation from the start and
were placed under Fliegerkorps XI.

A captured code list of

units under Fliegerkorps XI for the CRETE operation includes


these three units.

It is believed that they were attached

to Fliegerkorps XI for the purpose of this particular operation, but it is of interest to note that captured personnel of these units in CRETE had German Air Force pay books.
On the other hand they retained their army numbers.

The part played by 22nd Division in the


operation is still obscure.

It is known that 22nd Division

were in the Balkans at the time when the operation was


being planned, and a captured document in

CRETE which un-

fortunately was later lost indicated that Nos.

16, 47 and

65 Infantry Regiments were to take part in the attack on


CRETE.

(These three regiments provided air landing troops

on the attacki

55

-.

VII.

.SECTION
A prisoner of war has

vision was
On the

to participate in the attack.

there is

no record in captured documents or from other sources of the


actual part played by any of these units in the operation.
It is true of course that few documents were captured in the
later phases of the attack, and that our knowledge of the
forces engaged at that time is incomplete.

It would appear

probable that elements of those three regiments were among


the troops ferried over by air to

between May 23rd

LIOLF

and May 29th.


6th Mountain Division was originally intended,
so far as can be ascertained, to be employed in the CRETE
operation, but there is evidence that Nos. 141 and 143
Mountain Rifle Regts, together with (probably) ancilliary
units of the 6th Mountain Division were engaged in the later
phases of the operation, and it may be concluded that in view
of the unexpected strength of our resistance, those units
They stayed in CRETE only

were added as reinforcements.

just long enough to complete the operation, after which they returned to GREECE.

By the middle of June they were already on

their way to the RUSSIAN frontier.


100 Mountain Rifle Regiment was to land at
It

MALEME, and 85 Mountain Rifle Regiment at HERAKLION.

was originally intended to send heavier elements of these two


regiments including Artillery and Anti-Tank Units, A.V.S.
and M.T. by sea, the other units to be ferried over by air.
So far as can be ascertained, it was not intended to drop
large numbers of troops from these units by parachute.

Their

function was to provide air landing and sea-borne troops to


follow the parachutists, who, in the meantime, were expected
to have captured airdromes and landing areas.

"

is

known,

these units have

..

thowever,
t

It

could be, and

possibly were, employed as parachutists.

The bulk of the

had ta

h:

56 -

Section VII.
forces, however, were ultimately landed by

-carrying

aircraft, chiefly at 4ALEME.


On the first morning of the attack, even before
the airdrome at MALEME had been captured, two companies of
air-landing troops believed to belong to 100 Mountain Rifle
Regiment, were landed on the beaches at MALEME in the teeth
of opposition.

It is probable that these troops were sent

off at a predetermined time after the first wave of parachutists with the intention of landing on the airdrome, and
that when it was realized that the airdrome was still in our
hands, they were crash landed, regardless of risk, at the
nearest suitable point, which in this case happened to be
the beaches east and west of the airdrome.

A number of the

aircraft crashed, and considerable casualties were caused


among the troops both by crashes and by our fire, but some
of the troops were able to disembark and take up positions.
During the afternoon, despite the fact that the
airdrome was still partly in our hands, aircraft began to
land with troops on the western side of the landing ground
where they could get some covering fire from their troops
established on the western fringe of the airdrome.

This

landing must have been an extremely hazardous operation, as


the incoming aircraft were well within range of our Artillery
"From a distance," reports one

and even small arms fire.

observer, "It appeared as if they were sailing into certain


death."

In the meantime, however, our troops and batteries

were under constant bombing, dive bombing and ground straffing attacks from the enemy air forces, and this air support
enabled the landing to be made, though considerable casualties
are believed to have been inflicted.

It is estimated that

during this afternoon, three battalions of troops were landed


byairt AL-

-.

57

Section VII.
Using the reinforce
supported,

as always,

d, and

from the air,

the GERMA\NS brought in-

creasing pressure to bear against our forces to the east of


the airdrome, and just before dusk we were compelled to
evacuate the airdrome.

A counter-attack during the night

had some measure of success, but at dawn the following


morning our troops were attacked from the air before they
were able to dig in.

This was followed by an enemy counter-

attack which drove back :our forces to a ridge some two miles
east of the airdrome.

This gave the GERIANS full use of the

airdrome, though it was still under fire from our Artillery,


and, at extreme range, from small arms.

In spite of this,

GE ,tAN troop-carrying aircraft began to arrive during the


morning and continued to arrive throughout the day.
The troop-carrying aircraft arrived in groups
of three, and were obviously timed to follow each other at
short intervals so that a continuous stream was maintained.
3 or 4 personnel already on the spot, rushed to the aircraft
and helped to unload it, and aircraft left with very little
delay.

Timed over a period of one day, aircraft landed and

took off at an average rate of 12 per hour.

When three air-

craft landed together, two of them took off again very


shortly afterwards, the third leaving about 10 - 12 minutes
later.

It appears probable that the third aircraft carried

heavier equipment which was unloaded by the personnel who


had been disembarked from the first two aircraft.

In this

way each section could be landed complete with both heavy


and light equipment with a minimum of delay, and a maximum
of concentration.
The transport aircraft landed and took off in an
incredibly short spice, estimated by observers at 400 - 500
yds.

They re

eeding at a

low height on a course parallel to that of the incoming

58

Section VII.

aircraft.

The

stream of aircraft bringing in enemy reinforcements was most


demoralizing to our troops;
Little or no fighter protection was provided,
presumably in view of the fact that for some days at least
there was no fighter opposition, but continuous reconnaissance was maintained overhead, and non-stop bombing and
machine gun attacks on our troops and positions.

In

particular enemy air forces methodically located and destroyed our batteries firing on the airdrome and incoming
aircraft.

59 -

APE DIX

Appendix No. 4

Iso.

Services Committee on Crete

Pages

-o3

UNCL~FE
SERVICES COMMI~ITTEE ON TC

CAMPAIGN IN CRETE

-wu

UNCS. FIED
OPENING REMARKS

Page

Period covered by the Report ......


Arrangement of the Report...

...

......

1
*"0"
1

The Background..
CRETE...

....

...

......

......

......

...

...

..

PART I
THE PREPARATORY PERIOD
(1st November,

1940,

Outline of Events...

.....

to 28th April,
. ..

1941.)

.........

2-4

......
...

The Naval Aspect

..

The Air Aspect..

......

...

..

..

...

...

.....

...

...

...........

...........

Opening remarks

,......................

Aero rones............................

Aircraft pens........................
Petrol and Anmunition stocks..............
Intercomranicatioi.......................
Operations Room Staff...................
Evacuation from GREECE..................
Fighter protection.......................

PART II
THE PERIOD IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING TE ATTACK
(30th April to 19th May, 1941.)
......

and Dispositions..

for Defence,

Preparations

The Naval Aspect .....................


The Air Aspect..

...

..........

0""

8 -

"!"

.....

13

.......

14

13

PART III
THE ATTACK AND EVACUATION
(30th May to 31st May,

1941)
.

.......

The Fighting on May 20th ...............

MALEME sector............................
SUDA BAY sector.....
.................
HERAKLION sector..........................
RETIMO sector,............................
The Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force

15
16
17
17

17

The German Pl

fihting...........
.

.....

..

...

15 -

18

17

(ii)
Continuation f the fighting Tn
and SUDA BAY AREAS

...

..

l
.. *

.. *

General Freyburg moves his Headquarters...

i20

General WESTON appointed to command all


forces in the SUDA-CA1EA area .....

.""

"

"""

The Critical 26th of May.. ............

20
21

The Withdrawal from the SUDA-CANA area to SPEAKIA

23
....

The Decision to withdraw......


Difficulties of command.......
Withdrawal to the "Saucer"....
Withdrawal from the "Saucer" to.........................
Shakia and Evacuation......
r

De.COC

i@

oo

...

".

...

""

o.

.""""

24

oo

"

Events at

IERAKLION.................

Events at RETIMO........
The Naval Aspect..
The Air Aspect

...

...

...

..-

...

...

23
23
23

"

"

26

......

28
...

...

...

...

"

"""

.......... .....

28
30

................

PART IV
SUTMMRY OF LESSONS
GENERAL REMARKS .....

..............

..............

32

Ambiguity as to the role of Garrison..........


Failure to prepare defences..................
The Air Factor..............................
Enemy air action and the Supply Problem. ......
Problem of Fighter Aircraft .................
Intercommunication...........
.........
Discipline and Miorale .........................

32
33
34
34
35
35
35

Army Lessons
Defence against Glider borne attack and parachutists
Enemy tactics. ................................

36

General measures recommended to meet


such attacks...............................

The Immediate Counter Attack........


Use of Light Tanks..........................
Defence of

Aerodromes.

..

...

....

.....

Field Works...

...................

Camouflage...

.....

0....

...

Anti-Aircraft Defence ... ...


Night

Operations..

Artillery

..

......

Lack of Transport

...

......

..

...............

...
...

6';

...
...

I3

...

...

...

...

...

39
40

...

........

...

38
39

......

...

......

...

..........

......

36
37
37
37

........

...........

..
.

............

...

40

...

41

(iii)
Evacuation ...

... .

....

Need for decentra


.......
Necessity for early ori
aches...
Need for fresh troops to form
ad..... .
Intercommunication between beach
assembly area
Necessity for cordon on beach...................
...***

@ *

Naval Lessons
Docks Organization ... ... ...

...

...

..

...

... ... ...

Port Control Committee......


..................
Hiding of light craft............................
Merchant shipping crews.........................
etvacuation

4. 0..
.a
.

...

.&.

.&

...

...

Beach organization............
Number to be embarked.........
Camouflage ... ..

Various... ...

...

.......

"

000

.00

.0.

"

"

..0

00

4"

"O

43

o0*

43
43

"

..........

. ...

. .

43
. ...

...

..

""

...

"..

Discharge of portable cargo....

Royal Air Force Lessons


Aieroclrorres

"""

"""

""Y

"

..

"""
,,..

"".

"

""

"

"

""

Reconnaissance and Selection..........


Demolitions.........................
Construction and design of L.Gs.......
Obstruction of ground suitable for use by aircraft
Petrol and ammunition dunps..........
Protection of aircraft on the ground..
.

Aerodrome

defence..........

........

......

...........

44
r44
45
45
46
46
46

Royal Air Force Uniforms.. ......

....................

46

Lessons learnt from Germans..

... ......

47

......

... ... ...

Introduction..... .....................
r
.
Enemy air force........................ r
Direction of enemy low flying aircraft.
Provision of landing grounds............ .~
Attacks on A.A. gun positions..........
~
Size of bombs........
...
..................
Screaming bombs.......................
Supply dropping......................
Gliders...............................
Parachutists...........................
Employment of troop carrying aircraft..
CONCLUDING REMAAKS ................

.....

UNCLaiiI9E

.....

"0

09*50
S....

......

47
47
48
48
49
49
49
50
50
50
51
52

Appendix "A" - Adrinistrative Narrative and Lessons


Appendix "3" - Order of Battle
Appendix "C" - Coast Defence and Anti-Aircraft Artillery

MAPS

Map 1 - CRETE
Map LA- AREA SUDA-MALEME
Map 2-

Dispositions New Zealand Division a.m.20/May

Map 3-

General WESTON'S Dispositions a.n. 26th May

Map 4-

Dispositions HERALION a.m. 20th May

Map

Dispositions P3TIMO a.m. 20th May

Map

5-

Withdrawal to SPH4KIA

- 64 -64!

i.
1940,
A

This Report covers the per


until 31st May, 1941.

ANGEIv

2.

d e~

iovember,

TT OF THE REPORT
The Report will be divided into four parts as under:-

- The Preparatory Period


(1st November, 1940, to 29th April, 1941.)
Part II
- The period immediately preceding the
attack.
(30th April to 19th May, 1941.)
Part III - The attack and evacuation
(20th May to 31st May, 1941.)
Part IV - Summary of Lessons
Part I

An ad&inistrative narrative and lessons will be found at

Appendix "A".
Th

BACKGROUJTD

In order fully to understand the account of the


3.
fighting, the disadvantages under which the defenders were
labouring should be stressed at the outset. Enemy air
superiority was complete.
If casualties were not always
heavy, bombing and machine gunning were almost continuous
throughout the d.ay.
Movement was limited. to an extent
unknown before. Meanwhile, wave after wave of aircraft
continued unmolested and within.sight of our troops to
bring reinforcements to the enemy. Furthermore, the greater
part of the garrison had taken part in the withdrawal from
G.EEC.
Battalions were battalions, in name only; they
were weak in numbers; they had little signal equipment,
little or no transport, few tools, and no cooking utensils;
bully beef and cigarette tins replaced plates and mugs,
These factors had a cumulative effect on morale and the
measure of the resistance offered should be judged thereby.
In contrast to this, on the other side of the hill, the
enemy was free to move as he wished, while his heart was
continually gladdened by the sight of his own aircraft.
4.
few weeks
weapons.
onslaught

The Greek battalions were but raw recruits with a


training. Some had just been issued with modern
That they should have been able to face the
at all will redound to their undying credit.

CRETE

(Map 1,)

5.
Map 1 shows the physical features of the island.
The main points to note are:(a)
In the main the island forms a continuous mountain
range from east to west.
(b) Roads are few. One skirts the northern coast.
There are others linking this to the south coast from CEAI
to SPLAKIA, RETIMO to PLAA BAY, and EtiAKLION to TYMBAKI.
(c)
Landing grounds for aircraft are few, but the
IESSARA PLAIN offers facilities in an area about 14 miles
by 2 miles.
(d) The length of the coast line and the number of

nossjL E

possible 1

he

plicate the defence problem.

(Ist November,
19PREPAA0,
to 28RYth April
(1st November,

1940,

to 28th April

1.
The task given to Brigadier TIDBURY, the first
British commander in CRETE, was to defend the Royal Naval
refuelling base at SUDA BAY and, in co-operation with
local Greek forces, to prevent and defeat any attempt by
a hostile force to gain a foothold in the island.
2.
At the outset, the forces placed at Brigadier
TIDBURY'S disposal amounted to a brigade group (less two
battalions). In addition, there was on the island the
Cretan Division, and it was hoped that this would remain
to participate in its defence.
3.
At this time there was little reason to believe
that a serious attack was imminent. Brigadier TIDBIUY,
however, in his first appreciation, did envisage the
possibility of an eventual attack on a large scale,
including airborne attempts against HERAKLION, RETIMO and
CAN'EA. He therefore urged an intensive night and day
digging programme with a view to strengthening the refences
of the island.
From the evidence available, this appears
to be the only serious effort that was made to tackle the
task in hand and it is to be regretted that his example was
not followed.
4.
Towards the Middle of November, owing to the
situation in ALBANIA becoming serious, the Greek Commander
in Chief urgently requested that the Cretan Division might
be despatched to the mainland. This materially affected
the capacity of the island to resist, but although the
Commander in Chief Middle East opposed the request, he had
eventually to agree. Three Greek battalions were, however,
left behind and the Greek General Staff agreed to raise a
reserve division, requesting us to provide the equipment.
The provision of complete eauipment was, of course,
impossible, but it was agreed that 10,000 rifles should be
provided.
5.
The Commander in Chief Middle East at this time
already had in mind the possibility of a division being
required for the defence of the Naval and Air base in CRETE
in the event of GREECE being overrun, and on the 24th of
November the Officer Commanding the troops in CRETE was
instructed to prepare a base to receive and maintain one
He was also informed that the allotment of antidivision.
would ultimately be increased. The
artillery
aircraft
basic garrison of CR7;TE was to be one infantry brigade
headquarters, two British infantry battalions, two British
Commandos, four Greek battalions, seven heavy A.A. batteries
and six light A.A. batteries. A plan was to be put in hand
to reinforce the island with one division if necessary. No
defence scheme, however, for the defence of the island by one
British division would appear to have been drawn up.
At the beginning of April, after British Forces
6.
had moved to GREECE, the importance of CRETE increased and
it was decided to develop SUDA BAY as a Fleet Base as
opposed to a refuelling base. It was therefore decided to
send the M.
C

66-

7.
Meanwhile the
1ent change of
command in the island and the
s}
ity as to
what the defence plans should be. t
e
commanders were appointed within a per
o
nths.
General GAMBIER-PARRY had succeeded Brigadie
JRY;
Brigadier GALLOWAY, who succeeded General GA1BI "-PARRY,
was instructed to be responsible for the defence of SUDA
BAY only. It will be noted that these instructions
conflicted with those given to the first commander. At
the end of March, Brigadier CHAPPELL succeeded Brigadier
GALLOWAY and immediately pointed out that he was in some
doubt as to what defence plan was intended. He realised
that the garrison might eventually be increased to one
division but he did not understand whether he was to make
plans for the defence of the limited area which included
RETIMO, SUDA and CANEA, or whether the division was to be
split up into brigade groups and to include in its task
the defence of HERtKLION.
8.
Towards the end of April, Major General Weston,
Royal Marines, Commanding M.N.B.D.O., was sent out to CRETE
with instructions to make a report. He appreciated that
he had to contend with two possible sets of circumstances,
viz.,
(a) those obtaining at the time he arrived when he
considered his main object to be the security of the
Fleet base, and
(b) those that would obtain if the situation on the
mainland deteriorated and a serious attack on Crete
became imminent.
In the latter eventuality he appreciated that his task
would include the defence of the island against invasion.
9.
General WESTON thought it necessary to consider
the defence of the important areas of SUDA BAY and HERAKLION
as separate and self-contained problems. He also pointed
out the inadequate harbour facilities at STUDA BAY and stated
his intention of developing HERAKLION.
10.
With regard to the possible scale of enemy attack,
General WESTON appreciated that the enemy might disembark a
lightly equipped brigade of approximately 3,000 men covered
by the necessary air support including parachutists at
either or both ends of the island, or at ETIM0. To meet
this threat he considered that an infantry brigade group with
a detachment at RETIiAO would be reauired. to secure HERAKLION
and that another infantry brigade group would be required
for the area SUDA - L LEME.
If Greek troops were available,
they were to be primarily responsible for the defence of
the eastern end of CRETE which would become another selfcontained area. He considered also that they might be of
use in the defence of the area PTIM0.
11.
The General, in his appreciation, envisaged the
location of fighter and bomber aircraft in the island and
he favoured the construction of further full scale onerational aerodromes provided their location was related to
the limitations of ground. defence and available troops.
12.
arriv-.

.
iH.D

sed that on the


Infantry Brigade

e
P~ e
r

shoul

comrise

s0own

FORCE which would

gade

should be

separately organized and be prepared to operate as a Brigade


Headquarters in the field. The Brigade should also have

additional

responsibili

ss

rhroughout

island, such as reconnaissanc

the

ions of the

division on arrival and co-operation


Greek military
authorities. On the arrival of the KHERA I(
Brigade
Commander, the latter would take over responsibilities in
respect of that area.
13.
Shortly after General
been written, it was decided to
PISTON was therefore ordered to
25,000 evacuees and he arranged
following three localities:(a)
(b)
(c)

WESTONtS appreciation had


evacuate GREECE. General
be prepared to receive about
reception areas in the

East of SUDA POINT


Area CiNEA
Area 9 miles west of CAN1A

THE NAVAL ASPECT


14.
Many of the naval questions are covered by the
Administrative Narrative and Lessons at Appendix "A".
15.
The defences of SUDA BAY against seaborne attack
were brought up to the standard required for the scale laid
down by the Joint Planning staff and during this period the
harbour was used as an advanced fuelling base for the Fleet.
Lighters for the disembarkation of large quantities of stores
were not made available as there was no immediate need, but
there were at all times adeauate facilities for the comparatively small quantity of stores and equipment to be disembarked.
During the next phase when the "Eleventh hour
supply rush" commenced, sufficient lighters were quickly made
available by using some of the "A" lighters, M.L.C.s and
A.L.C.s which had been used for the evacuation of GREECE.
THE

AIR ASPECT

16.
During this phase no Royal Air Force operational
units were located permanently in CRETE until the evacuation
of GREECE began. The Fleet Air Arm maintained a fighter
squadron, 'To. 805, at i vLLEMZ for the defence of the Fleet
anchorage at SUDA BAY, and the Royal Air Force used SUDA BAY
as an advanced base for the flying boats of No. 230 Squadron.
17.
In December, 1940, No. 252 A.M.E.S. was established
at i LE~ as part of the defence system for SUDA BAY, but
until April of 1941, the Royal Air Force was chiefly concerned with administrative problems. These were principally
the improvement and construction of aerodromes and the
building up of petrol,bomb and ammunition stocks.
18.
Soon after the occupation of the island a Flight
Lieutenant was appointed first Senior Air Force Officer CRETE.
His duties were to supervise and watch over Royal Air Force
interests on the island and to act as immediate air advisor
In view of the
to the General Officer Commanding CRETE.
seniority and experience of these officers it is considered
that the instructions issued to them were inadequate. Royal
Air Force interests in CRETE were not clearly defined, and
the officers appear to have been given no guide regarding air
In consequence these Senior Air
policy or requirements.
advisors and the
d
Force Of
manner i
r
aeier
air force
i
dual imagination
interest
and initiative.

Aerodromes
19.
The principal task undertaken during
period of
occupation was the improvement of existing aerodrone facilities at HERAKLION and the construction of additional
aerodrones at YMALEMJ. and RETIMO, PEDIADA, KASTELLI, IESSARA
PLAIN and KASSAIMOS KASTELLI,
20.
Shortage of constructional equipment, tools, and
particularly of lorries, reduced the rate at which work was
done. The fact that only one Works Directorate engineer
was available to supervise the working parties was an additional handicap.

hen the offensive began only MALEME, RETIMO and


were virtually completed. The landing ground
at PEDIADh .KASTELLI had been partially completed, but on
the 12th of May the G.O.C. CRETE decided that his force was
insufficient to provide protection for it. The work was
abandoned and the site permanently obstructed.
21.

EERAKLION

22.
Little effort appears to have been made to find or
construct satellite landing grounds for MALEM , RETIMO or
HERAKLION.
That provision of such landing grounds was possible was shown by Group Captain G. R. BEA;ISH within a few
d.ays of his arrivl
on the island on 17th April, as S.A.F.0.
He at once found a suitable site at DERES some 5 miles south
east of MALEi.
This site was never developed because it
represented an additional defence commitment for the garrison.
Similarly it is considered that dispersion of aircraft at the
completed aerodromes would have been improved by the construction of tracks leading off them, although this might
have further complicated the question of anti-aircraft
defence.
Aircraft Pens
On the 17th April the only pens which had been
23.
These had been designed for
constructed were at "ERA.KLION.
Wellington aircraft and were modified to accommodate two
fighters. By this means, and by additional construction,
nine pens were ready for use when the offensive began. At
the same date no pens were available either at MALEME or
RETIMO. Construction at MALEME was initiated by Group
Captain BEAMISH, and at RETIMIVO arrangements were made to hide
aircraft in the adjacent olive groves owing to the lack of
suitable building material.
It is considered that construction of these pens
24.
should have been undertaken concurrently with the other work
Protection for aircraft would
done on the landing grounds.
the aerodromes were fit
immediately
then have been available
that much more could
of
opinion
are
for use. The Committee
had been
construction
of
policy
this
if
have been done
start.
adopted from the
Petrol, Bomb, and Ammunvition Stocks
Adeauate stocks were despatched to CRETE before the
25.
German attack began. Their disposition, however, was left
largely to the discretion of S.A.F.O. CRETE, and it is considered that instructions in this respect should have been
t
e Est.
issued by Headquarters,
ited outside the
t
sea
HERAKLIO1N
f..
initiative on
d
defence per
i:' yicommand ers.
the part of 1!
-:

question
At MALEME some cont
26.
They
of providing units of the Fleet ir
the most
were in fact supplied from Royal Air Fo
s of the
economical method of doing it - but the requi
two Services were not well co-ordinated and night have
resulted in shortage of petrol, etc. In order to remove
any doubt regarding the supply of petrol and bombs, a definite policy concerning their provision, at times when
should
units from both Services are using the same aerodrome,
be laid down.
Inter-co mmunication
Little was done to improve telephone communications
27.
during the period of occupation and this is examined in full
detail in Appendix "A". Communications between the aerodrones operations rooms and the A.M.E.S. was all done by a
single cable. Operationally these became useless as soon
as the attack developed, and the value of the A.M.E.S. nullified. It is clear that if A.M.E.S. are to be of any value,
sufficient lines must be laid to ensure that the information
they obtain can be passed with a high degree of certainty.
The efficiency and value of both fighter and anti-aircraft
defences depends largely upon the warnings given by these
stations. Therefore, the provision of adequate and protected
telephone lines between A.M.E.S. and operation rooms must be
given very high priority in any future system of defence.
Royal Air Force arrangements for point to point
28.
W/T communication were satisfactory, the main station being
at "HER KLION.
Operations Room Staff
Although No. 252 A.M.E.S. was established on the
29.
island in December, 1940, no proper operations room staff
was provided at CANEA. In fact the operations room staff
for iN'o.252 A.M.E.S. and No. 220 A.M.E.S. at ~ERAKLION were
only completed between 18th and 25th April, from personnel
evacuated from GREECE. The efficiency of an operations
room depends upon team work, and this cannot be obtained
It is considered that the staff at CAA
without practice.
should have been placed on an operational basis as soon as
No. 252 A.M.E.S. had been properly established, and certainly
not later than the entry of Germanyinto GREECE.
Evacuation from GREECE
With the evacuation of GREECE, CRETE at once became
30.
an active operational base. The duties of S.A.F.0. CRETE
were taken over by Group Captain G.R. BEAiVIISH on the 17th
of April and he e stablished his Headquarters at CAl~EA.
The main tasks undertaken during the ensuing period
31.
were the provision of fighter protection for convoys to and
from GREECE and the reception and transfer to EGYPT of Royal
In addition a
Air Force personnel arriving from GREECE.
W/T station had to be established at CA7A.
The evacuation of personnel from GREECE to CRETE
32.
and later to EGYPT was assisted by ITo. 230 Squadron operating
from SUDA BAY, and bomber transport aircraft from HRAKLION.
UL13

L~~nE

Fighter Protection

'

"5

1111

33.
In the vicinity of GREECE, convoy pro ec
n was
provided by Blenheim aircraft operating in patrols of six.
On approaching CRETE and during disembarkation at SUDA BAY
convoys were covered by fighter aircraft.
As far as possible all convoys were provided with a measure of protection during daylight.
34.
Most of the protection was provided by remnants
These
of those units which had flown to CRETE from GREECE.
were supported by No. 203 Squadron from EGYPT, which was the
only squadron not in a low state of serviceability. In
fact, on the 24th April, although three squadrons of Blenheins and two squadrons of fighters were in CRETE, the nunber of serviceable aircraft was no more than fifteen Blenheims and twelve fighters.
The evacuation from GREECE continued from 21st to
35.
29th April and fighter escorts were provided throughout the
On the 30th April/lst May No. 203 Squadron returned
period.
in CRETE were No. 30
to EGYPT and the units then left
Squadron at MALEME, Nos. 33 and 80 Squadrons at MALEME,
No, 112 Squadron at HPERKLION, and No. 805 (F.A.A.) souadron
The combined strengths of these units now
at MALEME,
amounted to 36 aircraft, but operationally only half that
for use.
number were fit

->

%i~

ll~@e~r

- 71 -

Page

THE PERIOD IIEDIATELY


(30th April

PRECEDING THE ATTACK

to 19th May,

On the 28th of April,

1.

...

19l1.)

General 7WILSDN reached CRETE from

GREECE and submitted an appreciation in which he pointed out that it

for the enemy to launch'a seaborne attack as he


would not be difficult
would be able to provide air protection for it, and that it would be
The distance was
difficult for the Royal Navy seriously to interfere.
short,
forces
could be landed in twelve hours and ships
withdrawnm.

When the Fleet arrived it

would be attacked with the maximum concen-

tration of aircraft and as soon as it retired, as eventually it must,


the enemy would be able to land reserves
of anmunition and stores.
There

would be little

subsequent

chance of the Fleet interfering and the

Meanlanding.
with which to follow up the
forces
enemy had unlimited
while few reinforcements would be able to be sent to the British gar-

rison in CRETE.
General WILSON recommended that the HERAKLION and CANEA

2.

areas should be

held at all

costs since

each had one aerodrome

of which would seriously jeopardise subsequent relief if

the loss

German forces

landed in the island.


He considered that the minimum force required
would be three brigade groups each of four battalions, and one motor
battalion.
This was over and above the K.N.B.D.0
required for the
defence

of SUDA.

He

also urged air protection

for vital points and

that further anti-aircraft artillery was necessary.

He concluded by ex-

pressing the belief that unless the three Services were prepared to face
the situation
and maintain adequate forces
up to strength,
the holding
of the island was a dangerous commitment and he asked for an immediate
decision.
3.
Meanwhile, instructions were received that the island should
be denied to the enemy, but it was pointed out that the Royal Air Force

would be able to send no reinforcements for some time.

At this juncture Major General FREYBURG was appointed Com-

mander-in-Chief

of the
Graeco-British
Forces in CRETE.
Warning had
already been received from Middle East that an airborne attack was
imminent and that it might be carried out by a German air division, a
German mountain division
and an Italian infantry
division.
This warning

was repeated on the 29th and the scale of possible attack mentioned as
being in the neighbourhood of 3,000 or 1.,000 parachutists in the first
General Freyburg protested that he had insufficient forces with
flight.
which to meet the scale
of attack
mentioned.
Furthermore they were ill
and that
increased
greatly
be
aircraft
fi
hter
He urged that
equipped.

naval forces be made available to deal with seaborne attack.


He concluded by saying that he would fight, but gave out no hope of being
invasion.
If
the aircraft
he demanded could not be made
able to repel
available, he requested that the decision to hold CRETE should be re-

considered.

The Commander-in-Chief replied that although the possible

scale of attack might have been exaggerated, serious attack was never-

theless likely.
was difficult,
from home.

Although the situation as regards fighter aircraft


every effort

was being made to


acquire reinforcements
He fully appreciated General FRYI3URG'S difficult situation
but was confident tha
h
equal to the task.

-72-

"

i ... c

Page ...

5.
Before the arrival of troops evacuated from GREECE, the
garrisa n of CRETE consisted of:
14th Infantry Brigade
The greater part of M.N.B.D.O.
The anti-aircraft and coast defence artillery
Troops reaching the island from GREECE included:
hth New Zealand Brigade
5th New Zealand Brigade
19th Australian Brigade (which included parts of
five Australian battalions.)
A mixed party of British troops including gunners aid
others without their equipment.
The state of these troops was stressed at the beginning of this Report
and should be again mentioned.

6. In accordance with arrangements already made by General


JESTON, the above troops on arrival were located in three areas as under:
Australians
- East of SUDA
- In area SUDA - CANEA
British
New Zealanders - In area about five miles west of CANEA.
7..
In addition, there were on the island three Greek garrison
battalions comprising reservists and partly fit men, and eight recruit battalions composed of men with anything from one week to one
These troops were equipped with no less than five
month's training.
different types of rifle and, on an average, thirty rounds of ammnunition per rifle only were available. Brigadier SALISBURY-JONES was instructed to assist in their re-organization. Although hardly in a
position to face a modern European army, every effort was made to fit
this force for a defensive role and British and Imperial officers were
attached to each battalion.
8.. General FREYBURG 'S plan was to dispose his troops into four
self-contained sectors as under:
HERAKLION

Commander - Brigadier CHAPPELL,


Commanding 14th Infantry Brigade.
2nd Black 'atch
2nd Yorks and Lancs.
300 of 1 Australian Battalion
250 of 7 LIedium Regiment R.A. armed as infantry.
Three Greek battalions.

RETIMO

Commander - Brigadier VASEY,


Australian Brigade.

Commanding 19th

Two Australian and three Greek battalions holding


the aerodrome
Two battalions at GEORGOPOULIS.
One battalion area STYLOS.
Some Greek troops and police at RETIMO.

(IGS.

NCL AS IFIE
Page

SUDA BAY

...

10

Commander - Major General IESTON, commanding


SUDA BAY sector.
Northumberland Iiussars (100 rifles).
106 R.H.A. (improvised rifle battalion).
1st Rangers (400 rifles).
700 rifles PERVOLIA Transit Camp.
(known as'8oyal Perivolians" composed of
details of various British units).
16 and 17 Infantry Brigades (very weak).
Two Greek battalions.
Personnel of base installations, etc.

MALEME.

Comnmander - Brigadier PUTTICK,


Zealand Division

commanding New

New Zealand Brigade in area 3 miles west of


CANEA.

5 New Zealand Brigade in


Three Greek battalions.

area

ALE:E.

9.
As regards air forces in the island, the Air Officer Commanding in Chief had informed Group Captain BEAMISH on the 24th of April
that he proposed to retain one Blenheim fighter squadron for convoy
duties in the SUDA area, to build up one fighter squadron the same area,
and to keep one fighter squadron for the time being at HERAKLION.
In
spite of the lack of preparation for protecting and concealing aircraft,
it was apparently hoped at this stage that notwithstanding enemy air
superiority these squadrons would survive.
10.
Feverish preparations were now put in hand, but the defenders
were severely handicapped by lack of tools and transport.
Luch was sent
from EGYPT during this period, including Italian and various other types
of guns. liuch, however, was sunk.
Colonel i'REWIN, C.R.A. for the New
Zealand Division, wasted no time in organizing instruction and when
the attack started all guns were capably manned. A brief account of
the defence measures taken in each sector is given below.
HERAKLION SECTOR

(Map

h)

11.
The problem was to protect the town and harbour of HERAKLION,
the aerodrome which lay about three miles to the east of the town, and
the beach on which seaborne landings or crash landings by aircraft might
be attempted.
12.
Ten Bofors guns of which six were static and four mobile were
located around the aerodrome.
Two sections each of two field guns were
sited to the west and southwest of the aerodrome to cover the aerodrome
and harbour. Two companies of the Black patch, with one platoon and a
section of carriers dug in, were located for the close defence of the
aerodrome. Two 'I tanks were also concealed nearby. The remainder of
the Black *4atch were dug in covering level ground adjacent to the
aerodrome, and one company was given a counterattack role. Nine 100 mm
and four 75 ml guns, together with six light tanks were located southwest
of the aerodrome.
13.

The remainder of the brigade occupied areas facing outwards

'

OWN
IM

Page ...

11

about 2,000 yards from the aerodrome.


The town was defended by one
trained Greek battalion and two battalions of Greek recruits.
1i.
The Brigade Commander imposed no restrictions on opening fire
by A.A. guns but all else was to be concealed until the preliminary
bombardment was over. Each unit was made responsible for immediate
counterattack against parachutists in itsown area. Tanks and reserves
as ordered by the Brigade Commander were to emerge and deal with parachute landings and troop carriers. The field guns were not to open
fire on the aerodrome until ordered. The intention of the Brigade
Commander was to give this order only if troop carriers landed in numbers or the anti-aircraft guns were knocked out.

15.

Rations for five days were issued to each unit and detachments
were told to hold water on the scale of one gallon a day for six days.
RETIMO SECTOR
16.

ha).

At RETIJO there were two problems:


a.

the defence of the RETIMO area proper, which included


the defence of the town and harbour, the aerodrome and
a stretch of beach to the east upon
ich sea landings
might take place or crashed aircraft land, and

ih

b.

the prevention of a seaborne landing in the area


GEORGOPOULIS.

Brigadier VASEY therefore allotted two Australian battalions-and two


Greek battalions for the defence of RETIMO and the aerodrome, and two
Australian battalions for the defence of the GEORGOPOULIS beaches.
Similar dispositions for the protection of the aerodrome were taken up
A few Greek reservists
as in the case of the aerodrome at IPAKLION.
only were in RETIMO.
SUDA BAY SECTOR
17.
The problem at SUDA BAY was to protect the harbour and base
installations in the area CANEA.
Two Australian battalions were located
east of SUDA POINT with a view to preventing any enemy advance on SUDA
from the east.
A general line was also taken up south of CANEA to prevent any enemy parachute troops who might land in the olive groves south
of that area advancing into CANEA.
Finally, a detachment was located
on the peninsular with a view to preventing anyi parachutists landing
in that area advancing across the neck of the peninsular into CANEA
and the area occupied by Force Headquarters.
MALESi SECTOR

(Map 2)

18.
The essence of the problem in this sector was the defence of
the aerodrome and of the long stretch of beach, at any point of which
a sea or airborne landing might be effected. Brigadier PUTTICK therefore disposed his forces so as to cover to the best of his ability the
whole length of beach.
The 5th New Zealand Brigade were located in the
area ~iENB and were responsible for the protection of the aerodrome
and beaches.
The
New Zealand Brigade were in the area west of
GALATOS.
It was hoped to make this Brigade mobile and to keep it in

4th

UNLL

I E 0E

,..

hand as a force reserve.


19.
Since the
brunt
of the
fightinjbo
Brigade, an outline of the instructions issued by
will be of interest.

12

h Infantry
ommander

20.
The Brigade was ordered to maintain a defensive position
running east and west from PLATANIAS to the TAVRONITIS river with
In the event of
to the defence of MALEiE aerodrome.
special
regard
the enemy making an airborne or seaborne attack on any part of the
area the Brigade was to counterattack immediately.
21.

The role of the 28th (Maori) Battalion was to prevent an

enemy advance towards CANEA or on the heights south of PLATANIAS,


and to be available for counterattack.
22.
The role of the New Zealand Engineers was to patrol the
beach and road and to hold their
position
by fire.
23.
In the event of an enemy attack from west of the TAVRONITIS
river, the 21st Battalion was to move and hold the line of the river
facing west on the left of the 22nd Battalion.
In the event of the
23rd Battalion being ordered forward, it was to be prepared to occupy
that unit's position and to launch a further counterattack on the
beach or aerodrome.
2L,.
The 22nd Battalion was primarily to defend the aerodrome.
The Battalion was instructed to cover the whole area of the aerodrome
and the approaches to it by fire.
The fire of mortars was to be held
until an actual landing had taken place on the beach or aerodrome..
In the event of a landing being made on the aerodrome, support and
reserve companies were to be utilised for immediate counterattack
under cover of mortar and machine gun fire.

'I' tanks would assist.

25.
Three platoons of machine guns were available to support
the Brigades
26.
Artillery were to bring fire to bear on the aerodrome and
beaches.
Bren carriers were to search areas in the immediate vicinity
of the brigade and to counterattack.
27.
Controlled fire was to be directed against low flying aircraft only after it had become obvious that landings by parachutists
or airborne troops were to be made. The greatest volume of fire was
then
to be delivered.
28.

While the above preparations were being put in

came increasingly evident that the scale of air

hand it

be-

attack that the enemy

was preparing
would exceed anything that
had hitherto
been experienced.
The enemy's first
efforts
were concentrated on shipping in SUDA BAY
harbour, and mnany who had seen the PIRAEUS become a graveyard for
British
shipping were to witness a similar
scene at SUDA BAY.
Indeed, before
the attack materialised the possibility of being able to continue to

supply the garrison already caused anxiety. Many ships were-sunk bringing vital stores. Those that reached harbour in safety were unlikely to
survive the
29.

period required for unloading.

While

attacks against shipping continued, enemy air action

K
k

4J

II
1
ly:

y,4#

13

e.

was also directed against anti-aircraft gun positions and communications.


Eventually, from the 18th onwards, systematic attacks were directed
soon clear that it would be

against our aerodromes and it was

impossible

After many had been destroyed-on


to operate any of our own aircraft.
the ground it was decided to withdraw those that remained.
Meanwhile,

30.

reinforcements were sent from Middle East in an en-

deavour to meet the imrpending threat.


The 2nd Leicesters disembarked at
HERAKLION and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were also warned to

sail..

A number of guns,

were also

31.

together with a few 'I' tanks and light

tanks,

sent.

The supply situation was becoming increasingly difficult.

Important stores had to be rushed across in destroyers

only be done during moonless periods.

and this could

In order to be well clear of

the island by daylight, they had to sail by 03.00 hours.


In view of
these difficulties hurried reconnaissances were made of the southern

beaches with a view to studying the possibility of getting stores


across from that side of the island.
NAVAL ASPECT

32.
In face of incessant enemy air activity the question of supply
via southern beaches was carefully considered.
There was no lack of
beaches to suit any weather conditions but road access to and from all
except
transport

and required

SELINOS KASTELLI and TY1BAKI was difficult


for
the southern five
or six
miles.

mule

In order to accelerate the discharge of cargoes at SUDA to


33.
compete with the "Eleventh Hour Supply Rush", an organization was set
up to coordinate the berthing and unloading of ships and transport to
clear the dock area.
(The first rule of the port was that discharged
This organizacargo must not be left on the pier or in the dock area.)
tion, known as the Port Control Staff, produced results, but some time
elapsed before these results reached the level which was vital to the
maintenance of our forces on the island.
The composition of this Port
Control Staff was as follows:
King's Harbour Master
Sea Transport Officer

(Chairman)

Naval officer
in charge of caiques
Greek Naval Liaison officer

and local

craft

for Dock Labour


Transportation
Movement Control
and all other necessary Army Services

Army representatives

Royal Air Force representative.

3..
The tort Control Staff met daily at 17.00 hours to plan
the
next day's w ork and once this
was established and understood by all
authorities
the work progressed with greatly
increased efficiency.
35.
It was definitely established that in the dock area there
must be a Senior Military officer with a competent staff to administer

the whole of the personnel employed.

He is

responsible

for the

routine, accommodation, discipline and feedina of the dock labour.


He provides guards, sentries, military police and patrols.

t
{
!!

Ff!
{

1
{QIi:r

1
11

He requires

NC

a security staff and the whole dock area

IED
0...

1L

and accommodation area for

the dock personnel must be kept under most careful supervision.


provision of canteen facilities, tea, latrines,

The

cover, fire parties

and first aid posts are most important and it is essential that the
system of air raid warnings is suitable to the scale and type of
appliances
of fire-fighting
attack.
A.P.A.D. scheme and provision
must be decided upon in cooperation with the local

Naval authorities.

AIR ASPECT

36.

From the 1st to the 12th of May the enemy made constant

attacks upon our shipping going to and from CRETE and while
Protection

at SUDA

sea was provided mainly by Blenheims of No. 30


Squadron, some of which continued operating in CRETE until the 1Lth
of May.
The actual withdrawal of the Squadron to EGYPT began on 7th
May
as aircraft became unfit for operations and convoy duty diminished.
BAY.

at

37.
During the same period a number of attacks were made on our
aerodromes in CRETE, the scale of these attacks showing a steady inThese attacks and the operations in the first
crease after 13th May.
half of the month imposed such a heavy strain on our small fighter force
that by the 19th May only seven fighter aircraft were fit for operations.
In fact it had become clear that if our remaining fighters were not removed from the

island
they would either
be destroyed on the
ground or
No large scale fighter reinshot down by sheer weight of numbers.
forcements were available in EGYPT.
It was therefore decided by the
S.A.F.O. CRETE in consultation with the G.O.C., to fly the remaining

serviceable aircraft back to EGYPT on the 19th May until the scale of
enemy attack lessened or reinforcements became available.
During the
period they were operating in CRETE these fighters had destroyed at

least

23,
38.

and probably 31 enemy aircraft.


Early in

May it

had become known that the enemy was collecting

large airborne forces for an attack on CRETE, and an endeavour was made
to interfere
with his
air
concentrations
in GREECE.
From the 13th to

the 19th of Iay Greek aerodromes were attacked nightly by wellington


aircraft
operating from EGYPT, and on the morning of 17th May Beaufighters made an attack

aerodrormes.

on German aircraft at MOLAGI, ARGOS and HASSANI

MARITZA and GALATO in

RHODES were also attacked by

Wellingtons.
39.

The full extent of the damage caused by these attacks is not


a number of enemy aircraft
were definitely
destroyed.
The
operations were particularly difficult owing to the mountainous nature
of the country round the Greek aerodromes and the absence of any moon.
Moreover lack
of sufficient
long range aircraft
made it
impossible ever
to develop these attacks on a scale likely to cause any major alteration
known,

but

of the enemy plan.

~S

(20th

THE FIGHTING ON MAY 20th.


MALE2E

Sector (Maps 2,

(Maps 2,

2a,

3,

May

May, 1941)

4.)

and 3.)

Soon after dawn on May 20th, the fringe of the aerodrome at


1.
MALEMA and the greater part of the area occupied by the 22nd Battalion
was subjected to a heavy air attack. At 07.45 hours this became intense
In the words of the Officer Comand continued for more than an hour.
manding the 22nd Battalion, who had won the V.C. in the last war, "The
Somme, Messines and Passchendael were mere picnics compared to the bombardment on this morning.", Visibility was obliterated by the clouds of
dust and smoke that resulted and under cover of the effective screen a
number of gliders, estimated at between 50 and 100, landed in the river

bed to the west of the aerodrome.

This achieved a measure of surprise,

for it was generally expected that the bombardment would lift and that
parachutists would then descend. Many heads were therefore still down
when the gliders landed and literally swamped the defenders in the area
of the river bed.
22nd Battalion express the
opinion that the area chosen for glider landings was bombed until the
last moment when the barrage shifted for sufficient distance to make a
clearing for the gliders, at the same time giving the impression that
2.

from the

Independent witnesses

the whole area was still being bombed.

Heads were thus effectively kept

down.
3.

The result was that by the time the parachutists descended,

glider borne troops were already organized and able to give them
covering fire.
It should be noted that whereas the glider borne troops
arrived complete, parachutists required time.to collect their arms and
equipment, which arrived in
4.

The success

up a firm base in the


debouched.

separate parachutes.

of the glider
river bed,

attack enabled the enemy to

from which their initial

build

soon

Meanwhile wave after wave of troop carriers flew over the


It was an
area disgorging their contents with clocklike precision.

5.

uncanny sight.
Soon the sky was thick with great umbrellas floating
The main areas selected for descent were the river bed to
earthward.
the west of the aerodrome, east of MALEMv
village, in the valley
between GALATOS and the prison, and near the hospital.
Some troop
carriers also crash landed on the beach.
6.

In all cases where parachutists landed in the vicinity of


Indeed, the defenders have
immediately dealt with.

troops they were

little to fear in such cases, but the few who survived caused confusion. Even the odd sniper made intercommunication difficult, for
when the telephone lines had been cut, orders could only be sent by

runner and in some cases it became necessary to use officers in


The enemy was quick to exploit his footing in the river
carriers.
bed and throughout the day exerted heavy pressure against the
The
western portion of the sector held by the 22nd Battalion.
infiltration
the
by
increased
were
Battalion
the
of
difficulties

&yJ1 iiJ

VY

%I

7
_

ear MALENE
southwards of troops who had crash landed o
by 'I' tanks the
In spite of gallant counter attacks assiste
village.
situation became grave and at nightfall the Commanding Officer con-

sidered his Battalion in danger of being cut off.

He therefore decided

to withdraw to the general line occupied by 23 and 21 Battalions.


tanks employed in these
7.
It was unfortunate that the 'I'
counter attacks broke down, for it had been intended that they should
be kept in hand and concealed until troop carriers attempted to land.
In the area occupied by the 4th New Zealand Brigade the
The enemy had been ejected from
situation was in hand at nightfall.
No. 7 General Hospital and from GALATOS, both of which he had captured
during the day.
He was, however, in considerable strength in the area
8.

of the prison and to the west of

SUDA BAY Sector.

it.

(Map 3)

9.
South and southwest of CANEA, landings by parachutists followed by gliders took place at the same time as the attack on MALES.
The main objective of the gliders appears to have been the heavy antiaircraft batteries in that area.
Partly owing to surprise and partly
owing to the fact
that
very few gunners had rifles,
the enemy wiped
out at least one gun crew.
10.
A company of the Rangers and the Royal Perivolians were
thrown into some confusion by this attack.
The latter were ably
rallied by Captain PAGE, their commander, and by noon the enemy had been
Bren carriers were used to
mopped up.
strength in the prison area.

assist.

The enemy remained in

11.
Many parachutists landed within a few hundred yards of the
house occupied by His Majesty the King of Greece.
Escorted by
Colonel BLUNT, the Military Attache, and a small party of New
Zealanders, the King made a perilous escape over the mountains, partly
on foot and partly by mule.

He reached the south coast safely and was

rescued by a British destroyer.


12.

After depositing their loads, many into the

jaws of death,

the grim procession of troop carriers moved slowly out to sea.


They
flew very low and had chosen a corridor where they would be immune
Concealed or mobile
from our located anti-aircraft gun positions.
They used the same corridor on the
guns might have wrought havoc.
following day.

13.

On the AKROTIRE Peninsular about eleven gliders landed soon

Again, their objective appears to have been the antiIn one case they landed on an
aircraft gun positions in the area.
Survivors were unfortunately able to make use of
abandoned position.
The Northumberland Hussars and a company of the
the gun pit as cover.
Rangers, who were defending the peninsular, took heavy toll of the
after dawn.

Snipers, howgliders and only a few scattered survivors remained.


ever became tiresome during the day, particularly in the neighbourMost of the glider troops were killed
hood of Force Headquarters.
It was found that the ammunition was stored
before they had emerged.
in the forepart of the glider and that if fire was directed against
this there was a good chance of the glider blowing up.

In one case

a grenade was used with good effect against the enemy after they had
got out of the glider and were standing around it.

KERAKLION Sector. (Map 4)


14.
Meanwhile the defences at IIERAKLION had been subjected to
a heavy bombardment from 16.00 hours to 17.00 hours and it is estimated
that about four battalions of parachutists were then dropped on the
areas west and south of the town,-north and south of the road leading
along the aerodrome, and in the valley east of the aerodrome. In
accordance with the Brigade Commander's plan, immediate counterattacks
were launched by all, including Sector Headquarters, tanks, and Greeks.
All areas inside the British perimeter were clear of the enemy by
21.30 hours and extremely heavy casualties had been inflicted on the
enemy. Fighting continued in the town and on the outskirts throughout
the night.
TRETIMO Sector.

(Map

4a)

A similar attack was delivered against RETIMO about the


15.
same hour, Although the aerodrome remained intact and the bulk of
the parachutists were destroyed, parties of the enemy remained in
strength to the southeast and a party about 100 strong were able to
install themselves in the neighbourhood of a church between RETIMO and
This party severed road communication both between
the aerodrome.
Force Headquarters and the forces protecting RETIMO aerodrome, and
between Force Headquarters and HERAKLION. The Greeks fought hard
and were warmly praised by Brigadier VASEY.
16.
It is estimated that on the first day of the fighting the
number of enemy troops which landed from the air was as follows:CANEA
MALENE
RETIMO
HERAKLION

1,800
1,700
1,700
2,000

Few invaders can have received a hotter reception than German parachutists received on this day and survivors will not lightly embark
again on such exploits.
The Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force take part in the land
fighting.
17.
No account of the fighting on this day would be complete
without reference to the gallant fight put up by many sailors and
airmen who unwittingly and suddenly found themselves acting as
infantrymen. One Naval officer in his report gives a vivid account
of his impressions:"We were a motley collection about 200 strong. We didn't know
where our own people were; we didn't know where the enemy were; many
people had no rifles. Many people had rifles and no ammunition.
Everyone was desperately tired, thirsty and hungry. We had no food
and no water; we had no objective to make for. If anyone fired at
you, he might be
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)

an enemy,
a friend who thought you were an enemy,
a friend or an enemy who didn't know what the hell you were,
someone not firing at you at all."

Indeed, obscurity seems to be characteristic of most land battles.

r'J3

hPt

TIHE GERM N PLAN


It may be well at this
p
consider the
German plan for the capture of CRETE, the o t
which is clear
from captured documents. The task was to be carrie out by the
XIth Flying Corps which was to be divided into three groups:18.

Eastern Group - Objective HERAKLION


Central Group - Objectives RETIO, CANEA and SUDA.
Western Group - Objective iALE1iE
The Western Group had orders to establish contact with the Central
Group.
19.
Detailed orders for the taking of CANEA were captured and
it may be of interest to consider these in some detail.
20.

The forces detailed for this task were to coiaprise:7 Air Division (less one parachute regiment and 2 Bn.,
2 parachute Regiment).
100 Mountain Regiment.
Two companies Storm Regiment.
Parachute Pioneer Battalion.
Parachute A.A. and M.G. Battalion.
Parachute Medical Battalion.

21.
One parachute regiment was to be in the second wave which
was due to capture RETILIO eight hours after the time fixed for the
capture of CANlA. Fighting units of this Regiment, as soon as the
situation permitted, were to capture British .. T. with a view to
enabling them to move to CA]NEA.
22.

Part of the division was to be landed by sea near fALEE.

23.
Two companies were detailed to clear the area west of CANEA
as far as GALATOS, south Qf CANEA as far as the mountains and eastwards
as far as the western point of SUDA BAY.
This detachment was then to
capture CANEA and to put the military and civil authorities out of
action.
Previous to the landings either by glider or parachutes,
24.
strong enemy fighter aircraft formations were to attack identified
British objectives and in particular the anti-aircraft batteries
round SUDA BAY and south of CAN\EA, the barracks in CAN-A and identiGALATOS
fied encampments west of CANEA and southeast of ALIKIANU.
was to be kept under observation.
One company Storm Regiment was to land at Zero on the high
25.
ground in the southwestern part of the AKROTIRE Feninsular east of
CANLA; another company of the Storm Regiment was to land in the area
between the southern outskirts of CANEA and northeast of PERIVOLIA.
26.
At Zero plus 15 one battalion and one company parachute
A.A. and Mi.G. battalion was to land between the road ALIKIANU-CANLA
and the road CAI EA-GALATOS just east and northeast of GALATOS.
It should be noted in passing that the gliders appeared
27.
to carry the Storm Troops which landed .fifteen minutes before the
parachutists. A similar timetable was reported by our troops at
ALEIE and it was this
t
as.be
inted out above, which

- 82 -

contributed

largely

to

the surprise

ac

e='

ans.

28.
The Storm Company landing at AKROTIRI was to destroy antiaircraft batteries on the high ground to the southwest of the
peninsular as well as other positions, occupy the Royal Villa and
hold the high ground (it is thought that the Germans were under the
impression that Flagstaff House, where General FREYBURG was installed,
was occupied by the King of Greece.) Subsequently this company was
to prevent enemy attacks from CANEA towards the southeast and from
SUDA towards the west as well as any enemy disembarkation in SUDA BAY.
29.
The Storm company landing south of CANEA was given the task
of destroying anti-aircraft batteries, the wireless station south of
CAIEA and the supply dump southeast of CANEA. Subsequently it was to,
push forward towards the company on the peninsular.
30.
The parachutists were to make an attack on the enemy encampments west of CANEA and block the roads CANEA-ALIKIANU and CANEAGALATOS with a view to preventing the British attacking from CANEA.
The coastal road was also to be blocked. Reconnaissances were to
be carried out up to AY MIARINA. 4hen the situation in their area
had been cleared up the battalion was to occupy the southwest
boundary of CAIEA and prevent any enemy advance from CANEA to the
southwest or west. If the situation permitted the battalion was to
advance into CAiEA and secure the centre of the town and the port.
31.
One battalion was to destroy the supply dump on the
ALIKIANU-CALEA road. As the situation cleared, the battalion was
to post a covering party to its rear and move forward between the
mountains and PERIVOLIA eastwards with its centre of gravity to the
right. Eventually it was to reconnoitre as far as SUDA BAY and
prevent the advance of enemy forces from SUDA to the west. The road
SUDA-CANEA was to be blocked.
32.
The reserve was to be located in the olive groves immediately southeast of the supply dump on the ALIKIAITJ-CANEA road and to be
prepared to attack in the general direction of PERIVOLIA on CANEA
as well as in the direction of SUDA BAY.
CONTINUATION OF TIE FIGHTING IN TIE MALEM

AND SUDA BAY AREAS

33.
Throughout the next two days the enemy continued to land
reinforcements from the air, and independent-witnesses state that
on one day alone no less than 600 German troop carriers landed on
MALEMIE aerodrome. Tribute must be paid to our opponent who continued to land on the aerodrome although it was constantly under
the fire of our artillery. From a distance they appeared to be sailing into certain death. They paid a heavy price.
34.
On the 21st it was still hoped to recapture the aerodrome
and restore the situation. Enemy air action made movement virtually
impossible by day and it was therefore decided that a counter attack
should be made by night.
Orders were issued for the 20th Battalion
to be brought up and the general plan was for the attack to be made
astride the road with the 20th Battalion on the right of the road
and the 28th (Maori) Battalion on the left. Battalions formed up
west of PLATANEAS and were ordered to pause about four miles to the

$ 83 -

west before delivering the final assault.

The attack was made in the

face of great difficulties and great credit is due to the 20th Battalion which had to evict Germans from the maze of houses along the
coast into which they had infiltrated before the Battalion reached
its

final jumping-off place.

The enemy showed little inclination to

But
fight and ran, leaving machine guns and mortars in our hands.
daylight had now broken and the enemy air force intervened to save
the defenders.
Even if they had possessed the tools, consolidation
by the attackers in daylight would have been impossible in the face
of this new found defensive barrage, deadly in its accuracy.
The
battalions were therefore forced to withdraw after so nearly accomplishing their mission.
Indeed, under conditions where the
enemy is completely superior in the air, it would seem that the only
real chance of success for ground troops is to operate by night and
to complete operations in sufficient time to allow of digging in
before daylight.
35.

Throughout the 22nd troop carriers continued to land.


Our
guns were still shelling the aerodrome, but they had suffered many
casualties.
Under normal circumstances they would not have been in
action.
It was only owing to the fact that number of gunners
evacuated from GREECE were serving as infantry that casualties could
be continually replaced.
On the same day the enemy attacked against
GALATOS and drove in the defences, but the situation was eventually
cleared.
36.
During the nights 21st/22nd and 22nd/23rd, the Royal Navy
intercepted and sank many enemy small craft transporting troops and
on the second night bombarded IMALEIE aerodrome.
The knowledge that
the Fleet was operating close at hand had a most heartening effect
on our troops.
The price that was being paid was not realized.
37.
Meanwhile enemy troops who had landed near the prison
began to infiltrate northwards towards AY MARINA.
The fact that
the 20th Battalion had been sent forward to counterattack left a
dangerous gap on the coast and there was a risk that communications

with the 5th Brigade might be cut and that the situation of that
On the 23rd, therefore, with a
Brigade might become difficult.
view to closing this gap, the 5th Brigade was ordered to withdraw

west of AY MARINA to a position formerly occupied by the 28th


(Maori) Battalion.
The withdrawal was carried out in daylight
with little interference from the air, but the Germans attacked
heavily in the afternoon and the situation became critical.
The
line was now held by the 4th Brigade, but throughout the next two
days the.Germans continued to exert pressure against them and they
were forced to withdraw on the night of 25th/26th leaving the 5th
Brigade again to hold the line which was now withdrawn
the hospital.

just west of

38.
It should be mentioned here that the movements of the New
Zealand Division at this juncture were being carried out under conditions of extreme difficulty.
Apart from the heavy pressure of the
enemy both from the air and on the ground, there were
intercommunication except by runner.
Furthermore,
in

few means of
the absence of

tools, positions had to be chosen where the minimum amount


would be required.

of digging

GENERAL FREYBURG MOVES HIS HEADQUARTERS


39.
On the 24th and 25th, CANEA was heavily bombed and virtually
destroyed.
It
was therefore
considered advisable for
Force

\Bi$~.n-

84 -

Headquarters to move to a position a f3


coastal road.

on the

gA

the east

The previous Headquarters on t e h

of CANEA had the advantage of a commanding view over t e whole


battlefield, but this advantage was outweighed by the depressing view
that unfolded itself. The continuous stream of troop carriers pouring
was clearly visible. Furthermore the whole sky to the
into MALE
west was clouded with enemy aircraft continually diving, bombing and
machine gunning our troops. In the immediate foreground CANEA was
at intervals subjected to the heaviest bombing, the blast of which
shook Headquarters. Over the hills to the east and southeast lay a
It was a dispall of black smoke from burning ships in SUDA. BAY.
FREYBURG
and his staff.
for
General
tracting and unhealthy atmosphere
Signals unfortunately received short notice of thernve and
40.
communications were handicapped on the critical day which followed.
MAJOR GENERAL ?ESTON APPOINTED TO COivMAND ALL FORCES IN AREA
SUDA- CANEA
It will be appreciated that the withdrawal of the New
41.
Zealand Division was about to cause a most confused situation round
CANEA. The Division was withdrawing on to the CANEA garrison, which
was under the command of Major General iVWSTON. Command of this
garrison, composed mainly of improvised units of all natures was
already proving to be no mean task. In face of this situation it
was considered essential to have only one commruander in the area and
on the morning of the 26th, General FREYBURG appointed General
V'ESTON to command, placing Brigadier PUTTICK under his orders.
General WESTON's forces were at this time disposed on a
42.
north and south line through MOURNIES. A mixed brigade had been
formed under Lieutenant Colonel HELY, 106 R.H.A., and held the line
as under:Right
Centre
Left
Reserve

Royal Perivolians (Captain PAGE)


"S" Battery, Royal Marines
2/2 Australian Field Regiment
106 RoH.A. (250 rifles) and
a Greek Battalion

The Rangers were in reserve on St. John's Hill and were subsequently
withdrawn, together with the Northumberland Hussars, to form a Force
Reserve with the 1st Welch.
Meanwhile the improvised 19th Australian Brigade under
43.
Brigadier VASEY, who had been placed under the New Zealand Division,
This added still
was holding a creek a mile west of MOURNIES.
situation.
the
of
confusion
the
to
further
TIHE CRITICAL 26th of MAY
General FREYBURG informed General ESTON in the morning of
44.
the 26th that he proposed sending up the Welch Regiment, the Rangers
and the Northumberland Hussars to relieve the New Zealand Division.
It was General FREYBURG's intention to hold the position at all costs
and in particular with a view to covering the arrival of a destroyer
which was due that night with the bulk of LAYFORCE and certain
essential stores.
45.

General WESTON visited BrigadaIirp.e

and informed him o~

I iq .4 1"s

epase

85 -

about 18.00 hours

'' enemy pressure

continued and Brigadier PUTTICK'tbjmIl

y that

his troops

would be unable to hold out another day.

WJESTON

stated

the decision was of such importance that he mus


Officer Commanding in

that

refer to the General

Chief.

46.
In the late afternoon the situation deteriorated rapidly.
The enemy had penetrated on to some high ground to the north and, the
2nd Greek Battalion to the south having been overwhelmed, he was also
In the absence of orders from
making progress around that flank.
General

and although no relief had yet arrived, Brigadier

oLSTO,

PUTTICK, in consultation with Brigadier VASEY, appreciated that the


risk of encirclement was real and decided to withdraw at once to a
new line along 42nd Street, immediately west of SUDA.
Mean47.
The above decision was reached about 22.00 hours.
while General FREYBURG had issued an order that the line was to be
held, but the order was only received when the withdrawal had
started.
It was unfortunate that the Rangers, the Welch Regiment
48.
and the Northumberland Hussars did not move till midnight.
They
had received orders to be ready to move by 20.30 hours.
If they had
moved at that hour they would have realized that the New Zealand
In the event, they went forward
withdrawal had become inevitable.
expecting to find New Zealanders
on their left.
49.
line about

CANEA.

in front and the Royal Ferivolians

Before dawn the Welch Regiment was in position in the old


one mile west of the bridge on the western outskirts of

They sent out patrols both to the west and to the south

contact with the New Zealanders and the


None of these patrols returned and it became evident
Perivolians.
The
soon after daylight that they were in a difficult position.
enemy appeared to have broken through the centre of the Welch

with a view to getting

Regiment

and to be

steadily working round the

southern flank.

Several attempts were made to get messages back to Force HeadIn view of the ever-increasing threat
quarters but none got through.
he must withmidday that
decided soon after
the Commanding Officer
draw and he therefore issued instructions for both battalions to
move back and reorganize west of SUDA.
The battalions had already
suffered very heavy casualties in the fighting while holding the
line forward and they were faced with still greater difficulties in
The Germans had already nearly encircled
their efforts to withdraw.
them by a wide movement round their southern flank.

Furthermore,

since there were no troops in the neck of the peninsular, the


German troops in that area were free to move forward with mortars
and effectively to impede
50.

the withdrawal.

Before participating in

the above fighting, the Welch

iussars had been fully employed


Regiment and the Northumberland
to the
where in addition
ANROTIRI peninsular,
mopping up the
gliders which had landed on the first day a caique had also sucA large scale sweep was carried out
ceeded in reaching the shore.
by two companies

rounded up.

of the Welch Regiment and many of the enemy were

But the small forces available made it

impossible

It is unfortunate that the confusion


completely to clear the area.
Their efforts,
described above resulted in such heavy casualties.
ESTON had
General
tide.
stem the
however, may have done much to
made every effort to send orders to these units to withdraw.

UNCLA3Ii

>IL

THE WITHDRAWAL FROII THE SUDA-CAIEA AREA


The decision to withdraw
51.
By the morning of the 27th, General FREYBURG realized that
evacuation had become inevitable. He therefore reported the situation
to Middle East, and although no decision was received until the evening,
his hand had been already forced. He ordered General WESTON to
organize the rearguard while his own Headquarters moved to SPIAKIA
with a view to organizing the evacuation.
Difficulties of Command
52.
The difficulties which confronted General 7ESTON were great.
Many of the few despatch riders with which he started had their motor
bicycles stolen by retreating troops. Liaison officers, even if they
existed, lacked transport. As a result, General WESTON found himself
unable to exercise control during the first two days of the withdrawal.
During this period it became a Brigadiers' battle. Close collaboration
between Brigadiers IHARGEST, commanding the 5th New Zealand Brigade,
VASEY, commanding the 19th Australian Brigade, and Colonel LAYCOCK,
commanding LAYFORCE alone enabled the initial part of the withdrawal
to be conducted in security.
Withdrawal to the "Saucer"
53.
The 4th New Zealand Brigade had been withdrawn on the night
of the 26th/27th to STYLOS and later ordered to move back to the
ASKIPHIO PLAIN, known as the "Saucer", with a view to preventing a
possible enemy parachute descent in that area. A detachment of this
Brigade was also sent to the area VRYSES to prevent any enemy threat
from GEORGOPOULIS.
54.
The early rearguard fighting was therefore left to LAYFORCE,
5th New Zealand Brigade, and the 19th Australian Brigade. The 5th
and 19th Brigades were working together as one force. Colonel
LAYCOCK had been ordered to find the rearguard on the 27th, and continued to do so until ordered by General WESTON to withdraw on the
29th. During the same period, however, the 5th and 19th Brigades
made their own protective dispositions. In fact there were two
independent forces leap-frogging through each other, each finding
its own protection.
55.
Disembarking on the night of the 26th/27th, LAYFORCE, who
had left ALEXANDRIA under the impression that the situation was in
hand, were immediately placed under General "E STON and ordered to
take up a rearguard position east of SUDA. A part of LAYFORCE
which had landed earlier was already assisting on the 42nd Street
line.
56.
The position east of SUDA was held by LAYFORCE until after
dark on the night 27th/28th, when the 5th and 19th Brigades withdrew
through them. Leaving a small party near the fork where the STYLOS
road breaks off from the coast road, Colonel LAYCOCK, with the bulk
of his force, moved back to a position in the area BALALI INN. The
detachment left near the coast was unfortunately overwhelmed, the
enemy having moved round their southern flank across country.
Indeed the enemy appears to have made a serious effort to place
himself astride the road STYLOS - SPHAKIA with a view to cutting off
the withdrawal. Later he also made contact with the left of Colonel
off.
~en
ta
~
ALI
LAYCOCK's new po

- 87

57.
By arrangement with Brigadier VASES, CoC1oClKiY
had
been reinforced on the above position by 2/3 Aust j
Battalion.
Three 'I' tanks had also been placed under this command. These did
invaluable work throughout the withdrawal, keeping the enemy at a
respectful distance. At one juncture Colonel LAYCOCK himself owed
his own escape to an 'I' tank that came to his rescue in an very
exposed position.
58.
Certain demolitions were to be carried out under Colonel
LAYCOCK's orders, but one was blown prematurely without his orders
and considerable delay caused to retreating troops who were still
on the enemy side of the obstacle.
59.
LAYFORCE was eventually withdrawn by General 1STOI s orders
to IiLfROS.
60.
Meanwhile the 5th New Zealand and 19th Australian Brigades
had withdrawn from the 42nd Street position during the night of 27th/
28th. They moved to STYLOS which they reached about 03.30 hours,
having left a company of Maoris south of the coastal fork road in
the same area as the detachment of LLYFORCE. At 06.30 hours their
left was attacked by a strong force of Germans who had made their
way across country. Presumably this was the same force which
attacked LAYFORCE later in the day in their position further to the
south.
61.
In face of the above threat, although his brigade had been
on the move most of the night, Brigadier IARGEST decided to continue
the withdrawal by day at the risk of interference from enemy air
action. A long and gruelling march followed. M(oving off at 10.00
hours on the 28th, the brigade halted at 15.00 hours for three hours
at VRYSES and was on the move again at 18.00 hours. There were still
twelve miles to cover up a winding hill to the top of the pass. The
endurance and discipline displayed on this march was a credit to all.
Fortunately enemy air attacks were not on the scale that might have
been expected. The brigade reached SYNKARES about 03.00 hours on
the 29th, having left 23 Battalion in position at the top of the pass.
The enemy made contact with this battalion but did not press home an
attack.
62.
By the morning of the 29th therefore, the bulk of the 4th,
5th and 19th Brigades had reached the ASKIPHIO plain or "Saucer".
The withdrawal from the "Saucer" to SPHAKIA and Evacuation.
63.
As soon as the bulk of his force was concentrated in the
"Saucer", General VESTON was again able to assume control. He
assembled commanders of 4,5, and 19 Brigades at a conference in the
afternoon of the 29th when orders were given for all to move to an
assembly area on the escarpment that evening. The 4th Brigade were
to hold the ASKIPI-IO plain that evening until nightfall.
64.
The intention was that all should be within reach of the
beach in time for evacuation on the following night. Rearguard duty
now fell to the 19th Australian Brigade, to the Royal Marines, and
to LAYFORCE. The Royal LMarines were placed under Brigadier VASEY
who was also given two 'I' tanks and three Bren carriers. Brigadier
VASEY disposed the bulk of his force on the high ground about
VITSILOKOUMOS detaching 2/8 Battalion to watch the ravine west of
KOMITADES.
LAYFORCE was ordered to watch the ravine to the northeast
of KO8ITADES.=

88 -

65.
The move started at 18.00 hours. TIt iy
with the 4th Brigade about 16.30 hours and brough

Id made contact
4ar machine gun

fire to bear upon their positions.


The Brigade still had retained a
Indeed the enemy showed
few guns and these were used at nightfall.
consistent lack of enterprise in operating by night.
Troops reached
their allotted assembly area about 22.00 hours.
66.
The difficulties of the evacuation were increased by the
nature of the country.
It will be noted on Map 5 that the road to
SPAKIA ends in a series of hairpin bends which lead abruptly down
from a height of about 2,000 feet to the plain below. The lower
half of the road being unfinished was covered with rough stones and
came to an abrupt end about 400 feet above sea level.
The plain
below was of the roughest scrub and covered with loose boulders, and
was crossed only by a few ill defined tracks.
It is to be regretted

that many of the more ill-disciplined troops in their anxiety to


reach the beaches

had jumped lorries and cars, which they had in

many cases abandoned in the middle of the hairpin portion of the


road.
These vehicles, apart from precluding any possibility of
hiding our intentions from the enemy, became the object of continuous attacks from enemy aircraft.
Soon the road was littered
with burning vehicles and became blocked.
There being no signal
communications, touch between the beach area and the top of the
escarpment had to be maintained on foot.
The climb required at
least two hours to complete and was always hazardous in the face
of enemy air attack,
67.

The first evacuations had taken place during the nights


of the 28th/29th and 29th/30th, when wounded and mostly non-fighting
It will be appreciated that walking wounded
troops were embarked.
alone could be embarked, but determination not to fall into enemy
hands impelled many of the more seriously wounded to attempt the

difficult journey down to the beach.

It would be difficult to

describe the hardships these men endured.


The movement by night over
this rough country demanded superhuman efforts.
Scarcity of water,
only to be found in a few wells,

added to their sufferings.

68,

At dawn on May 30th the enemy made contact with the rearand three carriers of Brigadier VASEY's force
fought a most successful rearguard action. At this juncture, under
cover of the retiring
tanks, Major PARIKR of the 42nd Field
Company
guard.

The two tanks

personally supervised the blowing up of many demolitions.


A party of
Royal Marines also, who had taken up a position well in advance of
the main rearguard position, effectively delayed the enemy with
their bren guns.
The Germans only felt their way cautiously forward
and although making contact later with Brigadier VASEY's force they
were easily driven off. A small party of the enemy, however, broke
through

along the ravine to the west of KOITADES.


attacked and driven off by 4 New Zealand Brigade.

They were

69.
All troops
now had to be embarked on the nights
30th/31st
and 3st/lst which was the last.
The 5th New Zealand Brigade and
such of Brigadier VASEY's force as could reach the beaches in time
were the

last
to
embark.
Major General WESTON also
himself stayed
until the last night, General FREYBURG having been ordered to go
back to Middle East
the previous night.

70.

The main difficulty now was to collect troops from their

scattered hiding places in the assembly area, move them to the beach,
Many administrative troops had
and arrange priority of embarkation.

rrrrr~d

nor,
~B1~M i~R ~4~

&ago

embarked on the first two nights.


Gener
that
during the
last
two nights
fighting
troo

+YBTf G

In the event many skilled personnel, particularly


Ordnance Corps were

efore decided
e priority.

sh

48

oyal Army

left behind.

71.
The difficulties during the last days were increased by the
shortage of rations and water problems.
The Royal Navy landed rations
on the beach, but the task of man-handling them to the troops in the
assembly area up the escarpment and to the rearguard proved almost
Many rations fell into wrong hands as the neighbourhood
insuperable.
of the beaches was filled with ill-disciplined individuals who had
made their own way down without orders.
A few wells existed but the
difficulty again was distribution, partly owing to lack of containers.
The importance of early and adequate measures being taken for strong
beach control cannot be exaggerated.
A strong cordon was eventually
established.

72.
As there would be no room for all troops remaining to embark,
Major General WESTON detailed Lieutenant Colonel COLVIN of LAYFORCE
to remain in charge of those who were to

be left on the island.

In

view of the

state of the men and the difficult ration situation,


General YESTON considered that no useful purpose could be served by
continued resistance.
He therefore gave Lieutenant Colonel COLVIN
written orders instructing him to collect all senior officers and
come to terms with the enemy.
73.

Many perforce had to be left behind.

It was unfortunate

that the 2/7 Australian Battalion did not reach the beach in time.
Brigadier VASEY had already continually had his Brigade split up to
meet varying situations and the loss of this battalion came as a final
bitter blow.
The bulk of LAYFORCE were also left behind through a
misunderstanding.

But the difficulties were great

and there was no

means of intercommunication between the beaches and the assembly


Good signal communication between the beaches
area except by runner.
and assembly area is

all important.

Those who were able to leave the island were

74.

indeed fortu-

nate, for the enemy were given a heaven sent opportunity of closing
The dropping of only a few parachutists either in
the back door.

the area of the "Saucer" or the beaches might well have sealed the
fate of the retreating and exhausted garrison who, with an enemy on
their heels, were in no state to fight on equal terms.
Furthermore,
the comparatively feeble efforts of the enemy air force to interfere
with our withdrawal were in marked contrast to the magnificent cooperation which had been displayed during the

earlier fighting.

EVENTS AT HERAKLION AND RETIMO

While

75.
defence

the events described above were taking place a gallant

was being conducted

both at

HERAKLION

and at

RETIMO.

IERAKL ION
Although the cipher was destroyed at
HIERAKLION during the
first day's fighting, intercommunication was facilitated by the
This
existence of the submarine cable between SUDA and HERAIKLION.
76.

only became unserviceable on the 25th, after which, except in clear,


it was only possible to communicate through Middle East by the cable
between EGYPT and RERAKILNI,
_

77.
Brigadier CHAPPEE's disposi
6tnce
of the
aerodrome had proved remarkably effective, ~4~M
succeeding
the attack were mostly occupied with mopping upo eions. In
these the light tanks were particularly effective. Luring the
early period, when parachutes were descending, they found their
main difficulty was to traverse the turret with sufficient speed.
Many eventually stood up in the open and used revolvers. Tommy guns
would have proved invaluable, Many of the enemy were run over. As
in other sectors, the 'I' tanks broke down.
,

78.
But meanwhile the enemy was continually being reinforced.
Our troops, as at IALEdE, could see the continual arrival of troop
carriers to the east. They were powerless to intervene, Many
aircraft appeared to be landing on MALEA beach.
79.
During the first few days of the fighting, the situation
in the western portion of HERAKLION was cleared by the gallant
efforts of the Greeks, including militia, helped by about 50
British troops. But the enemy had meanwhile strongly entrenched
himself to the west of the town.
80.
On the 23rd two 'I' tanks reached the garriscn, having
broken through a part of the enemy who were established south of
HERAKLION near the Th'IBAKI road. These tanks also brought news
of the approach of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders from the
IESSARA PLAIN. On the same day an ultimatum was received from the
enemy calling for IRAKLION to surrender and threatening heavy
bombing in the event of refusal. The Greek commander agreed to
fight on and orders were issued for the complete evacuation of
the civilians.
81.
On the following day the town was heavily bombed and more
parachutists were landed in the west. with the help of these
reinforcements, on the 25th, the enemy delivered an attack on the
town from the west but was repulsed by a successful counterattack
staged by the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment. The enemy suffered
heavy casualties in this engagement.
82.
During the night of 25th/26th the Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders who had succeeded in reaching the perimeter, relieved
the Leicestershire Regiment who were withdrawn into reserve for
mobile operations.
83.
On the same night the German forces west of HERAKLION
moved across south of the British perimeter with a view to joining
up with the remainder of their force in the area AY LYAS. At dawn
the Germans were still moving across and an attack was delivered
by the Leicestershire Regiment. Initially successful, the attack
was finally held up by an Australian patrol of the 2/11th, which
had been cut off, fought its way back, killing 20 Germans at the
cost of three casualties to itself.
84.
Vigorous and successful patrolling was carried out on the
27th. On the 28th further reinforcements were seen to land to the
east. It was now clear that it was only a matter of time before
a major attack was delivered from that area.

f1

85.

Orders

of the

ing the

for evacuatione

Very careful

18th.

arrangemen

te
weapons and Verey lights by the rear parties u
moment and embarkation was carried
out with little
the

part

of the

early hours

for
the firing
of
il the last possible
interference
on

enemy.

RETIMO
86.
Unfortunately the complete story of events at RETIMO is
When no
missing since there are few survivors to tell the tale.
threat materialized against GEORGOPOULIS, Brigadier VASEY and the

Lieutenant

two battalions there were ordered to the area CAINEA.

The aerodrome
Although it is understood that the
never fell into enemy hands.
Greek battalion which had been placed between the two Australian
battalions was overwhelmed, the Australians successfully kept the
Colonel

CAIPBELL then

assumed command at

RETIMIO.

enemy at bay.
87.

Intercommunication between Force Headquarters and the


since they had no

garrison was only possible by W(/T and in clear,

The establishment of the enemy in the area of the church

cypher.

east
of RETIMO
serious effort
of the Rangers
with orders to

town had cut

all

other means

of

communication.

was made to dislodge them on the 24th.


A company
supported by two 2 pounder guns was sent from CAIEA
attack from the west.
Meanwhile one of the

Australian battalions

from the

aerodrome was

simultaneous attack from the

east.

attack did not materialize.

The Rangers

ordered to deliver a

Unfortunately a

co-ordinated

failed to make contact

with the Australians

and the attack failed.


The enemy had been
established for four days and a day attack with inadequate s.ipporting fire was perhaps a hazardous operation.

Meanwhile the enemy continued to reinforce the area to


the southeast of the aerodrome and it was clear that a heavy attack
The situation of the garrison.was
would eventually be launched.
also becoming serious owing to the shortage of rations and medical
This, however, was alleviated by the Royal Navy who at
equipment.
great risk and in the face of an obscure situation, sent out an
88.

M.L.C.

from SUDA with rations

and medical stores

on the night of

the 27th/28th.
the anxieties of General FREYBURG's staff were
by the problem of communicating the viithdrawal order to
Middle East were
Obviously it could not be sent in clear.
An
therefore asked for the order to be dropped from the air.
Meanwhile

89.

increased
PRETILO

aircraft was
again.

sent but

it is understood that it was not heard of

The intention was for the garrison to embark at PLAKA BAY.


It is not yet known whether the

90.

order was

ever received

and the full story of RETIMO remains still to be told.


TIE NAVAL ASPECT
91.

The Naval problems

during this phase may be stated briefly

as follows:(a)

To keep the Commander in

Chief lEDITERRIIAIEA

of the local situation.


(b)

To ma

92

fully

informed

(c)

To unload damaged shg

(d)
To arrange for eleventh hour
essential stores and equipment.

(e)

ipof

To arrange for the re-distribution by water of tanks,

food and ammunition.


(f)
To inform Commander in Chief 1EDITERRBIEAN of numbers
for evacuation when this had been decided upon.

(g)

To evacuate Naval personnel.

(h)

To maintain communication with Commander

in

Chief

IED ITERRAMEAN.
92.
Before the attack started, alternative arrangements for
external communications had been considered. W/T sets manned by
Naval personnel were installed
at
HERAKLION, RETIIO and at Force
A fourth set was put on board a motor
Headquarters at CANEA.
Unfortunately this craft was bombed
launch for passage to SPEAKIA.
and sunk on the way there.
93.

Arrangements were also made for a portable set at the


Naval W/T Station to be placed quickly in a lorry for transport to
Fortunately the Naval W/T Station remained
any place required.
intact until destroyed by us just before the departure of the Naval
Staff by road to SPHAKIA, and it was therefore possible to keep the
Comrmander

in

Chief MEDITERRAIEAN informed of the

right up to this time.

local

situation

There was then a period of about twelve

hours when external communication was not possible as, owing to the
bad roads, the portable

/T

set in the lorry would not work.

When it

arrived near SPHAKIA next morning all the valves were found to be
broken.

Communication was eventually re-established by means of a


Royal Air Force set which had previously been sent to SPHAKIA and
was maintained until the departure of the Naval Staff.
94.

Normal patrols of the harbour were maintained during the


early stages of this phase, but when deliberate attacks on them by
day became heavy they were withdrawn by day and ordered to tie up
in "hide outs".
The maximum possible patrols were maintained
throughout by night.
Even so the majority of the patrol craft were
sunk before the actual evacuation was ordered.
95.
The unloading of damaged ships by night was continued for
as long as possible.
As these ships could not produce their own
steam or lights, another vessel had to be placed alongside for this
One of the patrol craft was used for this and after the
early teething troubles had been overcome a reasonable measure of
success was achieved.
Unloading by day was by this time quite out
of the question.

purpose.

96.
The supply of vital
stores,
was arranged with the Commander in
arrived at about midnight and in

food and ammunition by warship


Chief MEDITERRANiEAN..
The ships
order to be well clear of the

island by daylight they had to leave again by 02.30 hours.


Rapid
unloading was therefore essential and a careful organization was
required to ensure that the pier and jetty were cleared by daylight.
Navigational aids were required to assist the ships in coming
alongside and parties of men to take their wires were organized.

19~7p

97.
Some days before evacuatiohn
bf~~
ded upon the
situation appeared to the Naval Staff to be bec
ng critical.
The
Naval Officer in charge therefore sent a personal note to the Chief
of Staff to the Commander in Chief MEDITERRAN'EAN giving his appreciation of the situation and outlining a plan for evacuation should it
become necessary. This plan had been discussed previously with the
D.A. & Q,I, G.
98.
When it became obvious that SUDA harbour would shortly be
overrun by the enemy, which was before Force Headquarters received
orders to evacuate, it was decided to send away all Naval personnel
in H.M. ships which were arriving with stores that night, with the
exception of a skeleton Naval Staff, W/T staff and Cypher staff.
Arrangements were subsequently made for any Naval personnel who
missed this passage to have a high priority for evacuation later on.
Under these arrangements the great majority of the Naval personnel
were evacuated and orders were received for the skeleton staffs who
had remained behind to embark on the night of 30th/31st May.
99.
During the actual embarkation at SPHAKIA, the maximum
number of troops was not always taken off. This was in part due to
lack of facilities for intercommunication and partly to the difficult
access to the beach, which made it impossible to get people down in
a hurry at the last moment.
100.
The numbers to be taken off each night were communicated
to the Naval officer in charge by the Commander in Chief MEDITERRANEAN.
Arrangements were made for that number, plus some spares, to be handy
to the beach.
These numbers had been decided upon by the Commander
in Chief TEDITERRANEAN as he knew his ships would have to fight their
way out against heavy air attacks and that an overloaded ship is
unmanageable. On every night except the first when wounded only were
being embarked and only ships boats were available, the numbers given
by the Commander in Chief iEDITERRAINEAN were exceeded.
This led to
to
the
beach
which
a frantic rush of men down the steep approach
allowed numbers of disorganized troops to be embarked before well
disciplined troops who had borne the brunt of the fighting. This
caused bitter disappointment and a sense of insecurity amongst the
good troops and might well lead to ugly scenes on a beach if disorganized troops get left behindst the last moment.
TIM

AIR ASPECT

With one exception, aircraft which took part in the battle


101.
of CRETE were operated from EGYPT.
102.
Attacks against enemy aerodromes in GREECE and the
DODECANESE were continued after the invasion began, and on the
night of the 20th/21st May, TOPOLIA, SENIDI, ELEUSIS and MOLASI
were bombed. On the night of the 22nd/23rd May bad weather in the
Western Desert made flying impossible and a plan to attack ALIEME
aerodrome had to be cancelled. These conditions persisted in the
Desert for two days. The CANEA area, however, was clear on the
night of the 22nd/23rd and three VWellingtons dropped medical stores
Unfortunately, at RETIMO the
and rations at RETIiMO and HERAKLION.
supplies fell into the sea.

94 -

rj oade

to
On the morning of h
103.
Unsend two flights of six Hurricanes each to
fortunately aircraft in the first flight were damaged by a Naval
Of the
anti-aircraft barrage and only one landed at HERAKLION.
remainder two were shot down and three returned to their base.
The
second flight arrived safely at HERAKLION, but four aircraft had to
be returned to EGYPT on 24th ivay owing to damaged tail wheels.
One
of the other two was damaged on the ground by enemy action and
rendered unserviceable. Thus of the twelve Hurricanes originally
despatched to CRETE on the 23rd May, only two were serviceable on
the 24th May.
104.
On the afternoon of the 23rd, twelve Blenheims made the
first
attack on MALENE aerodrorne.
A second attack was delivered by
Blenheims and Marylands later in the afternoon and two long range
Hurricanes also machine gunned aircraft on the ground at MALEi;LE.
In these attacks a number of enemy aircraft were destroyed and others
damaged.
105.
On the night of the 24th MALEvME was bombed by eight
Wellingtons while, during the day, five long range Hurricanes
Medical stores
attacked enemy positions in the IERAKLION area.
were dropped by Wellingtons at RETIMO on the night of the 24th/25th
May.
On the 25th IMay, Hurricanes and fighter Blenheims des106.
patched to attack M ALELE aerodrome at dawn were unable to find the
target owing to low cloud and heavy mist. One Hurricane forced
landed at HERAKLION. Later in the morning a combined force of
Marylands, Blenheims and Hurricanes made a successful attack on
One Hurricane shot down a JU 88 over SUDA BAY
MALELE aerodrome.
In the afternoon MALEE was twice more attacked,
and damaged another.
and three Blenheims making the second of these raids did not return.
The same day reconnaissances for enemy shipping were made in the
Aegean Sea.
107.
Four Wellingtons again bombed I.IALEMJE on the night of the
25th/26th and a separate attack was made by Wellingtons on SCARPANTO.
During the 26th, six Hurricanes attacked MALEME and shot down five
JU 52s and damaged others in the air and on the ground. A further
attack was made on MALEME at dusk.
During the night of the 26th/27th aircraft on the ground
108.
were again bombed. During the 27th May three JU 88s were shot down
by a Hurricane fighter patrol. A force of Blenheims despatched at
dusk to bomb enemy troop concentrations at CANEA failed to find the
objective and bombed the aerodrome at MALEME causing much damage.
The same night the same objective was attacked by Wellingtons and
another force of four aircraft attacked SCARPANTO.
On the 28th and 29th Hurricanes and Blenheims maintained
109.
patrols over H.M. ships en route from EGYPT to CRETE. At night on
the 28th a heavy attack was made on SCARPANI\TO and repeated the
following night.
During the night of the 29th/30th MALEME aerodrome was
110.
again attacked by Welligtons and the next night both iMALEME and
Fighter protection was again provided for
I ERAKLION were raided.
H.M. ships on the 31st May and 1st June. During these patrols at
least 18 enemy aircraft were destroyed and many others were either
damaged or driven off. On the night of the 31lst/lst, HERAKLION and
' es were dropped
g
MALEIe were again att
on the beach

at

SPHAK

95

LASuSIFIE P

111.
In paragraph 103 reference was made to the Hurricane
operating from HERAKLION.
The pilots of these aircraft were despatched from EGYPT with instructions to attack enemy transport aeroplanes approaching or landing at MALEIM.
On arrival at IHEP KLION,
however, these instructions were countermanded by the local military
commander and the pilots ordered to act in direct support of our
defence forces in that area.
112.
The number of fighter aircraft concerned in this incident
was small, and the fact that they were not employed as was intended
could in no way have affected the outcome of the operations in CRETE.
The principle involved however is of first importance, and the action
taken sets a dangerous precedent. In other circumstances, interference with the instructions given to pilots sent on a specific
mission without reference to the officer sending them on that missicn
or to the senior Royal Air Force officer in the actual sphere of
operations, might jeopardize the outcome of an entire campaign.

SUMMARY

OF

SS 1S

GENERAL REMARKS
It should be emphasised that many of the lessons .set out below
1.:
are solely applicable to conditions where the enemy has the complete air
superiority which characterised this campaign.
Ambiguity as to the role of the Garrison
2.
garrison.

From the outset there was ambiguity as to the role of the


Brigadier TIDBURY was given the task of:-

(a) defending the refuelling base in SUDA BAY, and


(b)
in co-operation with the local Greek forces,
preventing and defeating any attempt by a hostile
force to gain a foothold in the island.
Whether the task given to Brigadier TIDBURY was practicable with the
forces at his disposal is beyond the scope of this Report to say.
Four
months later, however, when Brigadier GALLOWAY assumed command, the task
was modified, and limited solely to the defence of SUDA BAY.
3.
Brigadier GALLOWAY' s reign was short.
Brigadier CEAPPEL, on
succeeding him, asked for guidance from Middle East. Major General WESTON,
who arrived shortly after, gave as his opinion that the defence of the
SUDA BAY and HIRAKLION areas should be considered as self-contained and
n
il 3th,
the role of thearriproblems.
F
separate

s
C

was defined.a

a'

a,-to:

enemy the

The appointment of five commanders in


4.
produce the best results.
5.

se of aix

bases in

The object was at last clear, but time was moving on.

Broadly,

six months could hardly

there were two alternatives before General FREYBURG:-

Partially to disperse his force with a view to protecting both


(a)
the aerodromes against an airborne and the beaches in their vicinity
against a seaborne attack.
(b)
To concentrate his force in four self-contained groups for the
immediate defence of the three aerodromes and the base area at SUDA.,
General FREYBURG adopted the first
course.
In order to meet the sea
threat considerable dispersion was necessary west of CA;LA where the enemy
might land at any point on the 12 miles stretch of beach. Dispositions of
The Comnander of
the New Zealand Division were influenced by that factor.
M
the 5th New Zealand Brigade was very anxious about the area west of MALE
aerodrome and it was unfortunate that his intention to place a Greek battalion there had not been put into effect before the attack cane..
6.
It is interesting to speculate as to whether the adoption of
LMALIE aerodrome
the second solution night have been more profitable.
might have remained intact and the rapid reinforcement by airborne troops
greatly delayed.
It is even possible that the enemy night have been disION
couraged from continuing his attempts. But the aerodrome at HERAI
remained intact and yet the enemy were able to land troop carriers to the
east and out of reach.
The rarrion wltse
have been pinned

-97-

under the combined efforts of the encircling apnedSL


ts and the permanent
air threat overhead. Other landing grounds would soon have been prepared
by the parachutists. They had started to prepare one in the valley behind
the prison. Furthermore, the Navy was powerless to stop an eventual landing
by sea.
Indeed, according to the German accounts, the Italians landed in
the east of the island, on the 28th; nor had General FRYBURG the resources
with which to form a mobile reserve to meet such a threat. The vast length
oa Qoo.st
line and the number of possible landing beaches should const 1ye
ne in min.
Moreoveri the means for reconnaissance seaward
were lacking ad the garrisonwas virtually blind.
Itis noteworthy that as
a result of the disposition adopted, nearly all the parachutists that landed
could not fail to descend near some of the defending troops.
7.
Further speculation as to the courses open to General FREYBURG
either at this juncture or later when the decision was made to withdraw
would be unprofitable.
Perhaps the major lesson of this campaign was that
to defend with a relatively small force an island as large as CRETE, lying
under the permanent domination of enemy fighter aircraft and out of range of
our own was impossible.
Failure to prepare defences.
8.
With notable exceptions, six months of comparative peace were
marked by inertia for which ambiguity as to the role of the garrison was
in large measure responsible.
If the ultimate result of the fighting could
not have been altered in the absence of air support, the difficulties of
the enemy could at least have been multiplied if full advantage had been
taken of this period to convert the island into a fortress.
If engineer
resources were lacking, the island had a population of 400,000 inhabitants,
the majority of whom were determined, as was shown in the event, to defend
their homes. A hive of industry should have been created. Although it was
realized that the garrison would ultimately be increased to a division, no
defence plan was prepared. There was a marked tendency at one time to regard CRETE as a base for offensive operations without any apparent regard
to the advisability of being able to operate from a secure base.
9.
Field works, including pill boxes, should have been built in
all areas where static defence was required. Possible landing beaches
should have been obstructed both against amphibian tanks and crash landing
Similar steps should have been taken in all areas where aircraft
aircraft.
might have landed. The task may have been Herculean; but in the face of an
industrious opponent Herculean tasks must be faced.
10.
One of the few commanders who appears to have realized the
importance of digging, and who had even planned an intensive night and day
At least a sufficient
digging programe was discouraged in his efforts.
reserve of tools and defence stores should have been built up in the island.
Desperate efforts were made at the last moment to nmake amends, but it was
too late. Much was lost at sea through enemy air action.
11.
The Royal Air Force cannot claim to have shown greater foresight or energy than the Army. A secure base is as important to them as
to the Army.
From the day the island was occupied, the efforts of every
available man, including the civilian population, should have been directed
to the preparation and camouflaging of satellite landing grounds, the construction of pens with overhead cover and even in the digging of underground
hangars let into the hillsides. The effort required may have been stupendous, but the results
might have been far-reaching.

UNG S1FIE
The Air Factor
12.

Until the power of the air arm as a weapon of close support

conthe army will


and exploited,
fully
appreciated
is
on the battlefield
tinue to labour under a severe handicap and will be prevented from developGerman methods must
in attack or defence.
ing its full force either
be seriously studied and applied.
a seto concentrate quickly at
ability
by their
Aircraft,
13.
lected point, can provide the heaviest and most effective supporting
In effect they can provide the equivalent of an
barrage yet devised.
artillery and machine gun barrage with the added advantage that the target
is under constant
observation,
so that
the fire
can be switched immediately
was this
concentrated inferno
Indeed, it
at will.
There is no escape.
that enabled a comparatively small force to blast its way through our defences.

It may be argued that the scale of enemy air superiority obtaining


in CRETE was abnormal, but the nobility of the air force, assisted by interior lines, should always enable the attacker to concentrate a.mass of
aircraft at the chosen point and achieve the requisite

air superiority

locally, even though it be only for a short time.


of this
As an example of the strength
14.
detail with which its preparation is worked out,

close

support and the

the following may be

One glider company that landed in the CANEA area had a whole

instanced.

The task given to the flight was to bomb


flight of Stukas to support it.
anti-aircraft and artillery positions and a group of houses which was the
In addition, this company's operacompany's objective for three minutes.
tion was covered by twelve Me. 109 and six Me. 110 whose task was to
neutralize anti-aircraft batteries and enemy ground troops.
15.

If support of the nature described above is to be effective,


constant training and standardized method, particularly as regards intercommunication between ground and air, are required. Hasty improvisation
to meet the demands of particular operations cannot give the some results.
Enemy air

action

and the

Even if

16.

Suply Problem

no attack had developed,

the

continued supply of the,

Small,
disastrous
shipping losses.
fast craft capable of discharging their load on the southern beaches and
the hours of darkness would have reduced losses.
again within
sailing
lack of study in peace time of the
That they were not available betrays
island

garrison

would have incurred

problems of combined operations under modern conditions. During the


earlier period, the existence of freight carrying aircraft on a large

scale might 'have eased the supply situation.

Although, in

the face of

enemy air superiority, their use would have been precluded by day, the
had
to use then
if
the aircraft
facilities,
flying
development of night
that
It
is regrettable also
might have been well repaid.
been available,
the
parachute equipment for
of war, sufficient
two years
nearly
after

dropping of supplies on a large scale was not available.


The Problem of Fighter Aircraft
The inability to provide fighter protection in CRETE deprived
airmeans of defence not only against
of the most effective
the garrison
borne, but also against seaborne attack.
If the Royal Navy successfully
17.

prevented one seaborne

attempt,

it

could not,

- 99 -

in

the face

of enemy air

superiority,

have

continued.permanently

to operate

in

Aegean.

Many

enemy ships
would eventually
have reached CRETE unnolested.
Furthermore,
as has been shown, the land forces would have been incapable of protecting
the lengthy coast line.
It is considered that CRETE could only have been defended if

18.
at

least

six

fighter

squadrons

In

view of the

this possible?

it

period,

preparatory

could have been kept up to strength.


lamentable

lack
not possible

was certainly

of preparation
at
the last

the
problen had been tackled
if,
fron the outset,
might have been achieved.

Was

during the
But
noment.

with vision,

something

Intercommunication
19.
Intercommunication between Force Headquarters and EGYPT worked
well throughout, but although handicapped in CRETE through lack
of equipment,

the British Army is painfully behind the


German Army in the development of signals communications.
A copy of the very thorough Signal arrangements made for the invasion of CRETE was captured and will repay study.
Some of our W/T sets appear to have been designed solely with a view to
transporting them by car.
The possibility of ever having to operate off a
road does not appear to have struck the designers.
Many sets had to be

abandoned because they could nbt be manhandled and it is recommended that


in so far as is practicable,
small to be manhandled.
If

20.

all sets be made in

some of our difficulties

sections sufficiently

can be attributed

to unsuitable

on
Lines laid
of imagination.
and lack
laziness
much is due to
telegraph poles down a main road were not likely to survive when enemy
The burying of at least some cable might have
air action became serious.
been attempted during the
six
months of the
preparatory
period.
equipment,

Discipline

and Morale

Such
has permeated many units.
lax
discipline
21.
Unfortunately,
Scenes were witnessed
test
of hardship.
discipline
will
not stand the acid
dluring the withdrawal which could only be attributed to a low standard of
else.
of self-preservation
overrode all
discipline.
The instinct
failed to exert the control that might have been expected of them.

effect

on morale of enemy air

Officers
The

superiority has been mentioned above.

Up to

but the
effects
would have been reduced by a
this
was inevitable,
During the withdrawal, on occasions when
standard of discipline.
enemy aircraft were inactive, any movement on the part of individuals
a point
higher

by a lull

trying to profit
crouched

in ditches

on the lights
bullets.
22.
from enemy

of a

and

was greeted by panic shouts of "Lie down".


seemed paralysed.

car would be

greeted

At night,
by abuse

any attempt
and,

in

some

take cover and to conceal


troops'to
The need for
alertness.
aircraft
must not override the need for

Men

to put

cases,

by

themselves
However

A
some men must permanently be on the look out.
attack,
heavy the air
testiCommittee
the
before
sergeant in the Black Watch who gave evidence

fied. to the excellent

effect on morale of men judiciously putting their

heads up and keeping their eyes on enemy aircraft


continually at the bottom of their slits.

-100--

instead

of all

crouching

23.
Although the above touches upon certain aspects of discipline
only, discipline generally needs tightening. Drill still has its place,
and should not, as it is by some, be associated solely with bows and
arrows.

ARMY LESSOTS
DEFE1CE AGAINST GLIDER-BOPTE ATTACK AD PARACHUTISTS
Eneny Tactics
24.
follows.
(a)

The tactics omployed by the enemy in

CRETE were broadly as

Intense bormbing of the area chosen for landing.

(b)
Bombing continued, but lifts
chosen for landing.

from the actual corridor

(c)
Gliders land under cover of above and overwhelm surprised
defenders.
If attack is to be followed by landing of troop
carriers, main objective of the glider troops will probably be
anti-aircraft batteries.
(d)

Paraclhutists land about fifteen minutes later.

(e)

Re-organization.

It should be noted that whereas tie glider-borne troops arrive complete


with arms and equipment, parachutists need time to unharness and collect
them as part is carried in a separate parachute.
Parachutists are therefore very vulnerable immediately on landing.

General Measures reconnended to meet such Attacks


essential.
A proportion of men, even
25.
Alertness is the first
at the height of the bombing, must be on the look out to guard against
surprise.
A supply of periscopes with all round. vision would be invaluable.
round defence more than ever essen26.
The new danger nakes all
tial. Furthernore, owing to the danger of detachments being monentarily
isolated., the smallest posts should! be self-contained as regaris amunn nition, foodc and water for at least a week.
27.
In towns it is advisable to have a number of rallying points
or keeps to which isolated parties or individuals should move in the event
of being overtaken by airborne attack while away from their units.
28.
In the field also rallying points are useful either preIn the latter case a system of whistles
arranged or fixed as required.
or visual signals is recommnended, similar to the signals used by GenIan
piarachutists.

The Immediate Counter Attack


29.
Owing to the vulnerability of the parachutists upon landing,
units should be trained to counter attack within fifteen minutes of the
landing. Counter attacks later should only be undertaken with strong
fire support. The enemy is quick to dig in and will not be dislodged by
ill-prepared attacks.
Use of Light Tanks
30.
Light tanks were highly successful in these immediate counter
attacks but they must attack before the enemy anti-tank weapons are in
position. After delivering their attacks they must be withdrawn and held
in reserve to meet further attacks. They should be well dug in and concealed beforehand. Owing to the slow operation of the hand traverse on
the turret, it is recommended that tank commanders should be provided with
Tommy guns and grenades to enable them to deal with parachutists landing
behind them. In the event, revolvers were used with good effect. Many
enemy were slow while descending. To deal with snipers, the light tanks
covered the area with machine gun fire and then charged and ran over the
enemy, finishing him off with revolver or Tommy gun.
31.
Parachutists appear to carry two grenades sewn into the
bottom of their trousers. This is important to bear in mind when searching prisoners. As regards gliders, their inmates are most vulnerable
before they emerge. Since ammunition is carried in the forepart of the
machine, this may prove a profitable target. Grenades are useful after
the crew have emerged.

THE DEFENCE OF AERODROMES


32.
The decision as to whether aerodromes should be permanently
obstructed or not had been left to General FREYBURG. He decided against
permanent obstruction as he hoped to defend them. If.effective mining
had been possible at the last moment, delay might have been imposed on
the enemy but not his ultimate success averted. The question is further
discussed under "AIR LESSONS".
33.
dromes.

Army officers should give tactical advice in siting aero-

34.
It is well to be clear whether the aerodrome is being used
operationally by us, in which case aircraft on the ground have to be
protected, or whether it has been vacated and only has to be defended
against an enemy airborne attack. Although the infantry problem remains
the same in either case, the anti-aircraft problem is different.
This
aspect will be discussed in the anti-aircraft paragraph below.
35.
It is recommended that the aerodrome be defended by two
perimeters, an inner and an outer. The role of troops holding the inner
perimeter is to bring fire to bear on the aerodrome itself, either
against parachutists or aircraft. They must also be able to fire outwards and deal with any parachutists between them and the outer perimeter.
The role of troops holding the outer perimeter is to deal with any parachutists landing in their area and broadly to prevent the enemy bringing
his mortars within range of the aerodrome, particularly if our own aircraft are still using it. As the Gernan mortar has a range of about 4,000

k 0O1

IUNCLiA
SSIFIEG
yards, the outer perimeter should be at least 3,500 yards from the centre
of the aerodrome and should include in its garrison mobile troops ready
to move out and deal with landings beyond the perimeter. The disposition
adopted by Brigadier CHAPPEL at HERAKLION, (vide Map 4) proved very
effective.
36.
The use of light tanks has been referred to above.
It was
the intention also on each aerodrome to have two "I" tanks dug in with
a view to dealing with landings by enemy troop carriers. In the event
troop carriers only landed at IMAIME aerodrome and both "I" tanks in that
area had broken down beforehand.
The effectiveness, therefore, of the
"I" tank in this role has still
to be proved.
37.

The question of field works is

discussed below.

38.
Field guns and mortars should be sited to bring fire on to
the aerodrome, but they must be within the perimeter of infantry defence.

FIELD WORKS

39.
The British Army has always been reluctant to dig until compelled to. The air menace has increased the value of field works. A
different story might have been told if during the preparatory period
strong defence works including well camouflaged concrete pill boxes had
been constructed.
40.
A difference of opinion exists as to the type of field
works best calculated to give protection against bombing. Brigadier
CAPPEL strongly advocated a system of bays, alternate bays having overheoad cover.
Lieutenant Colonel ANDREWS who was conmanding the battalion
at VtALEME aerodrome advocated the slit
trench.
He maintained that men
wore less likely to get buried and that the blast effect of the bomb was
better obviated.
He also maintained that overhead cover made the men
too fond of going to ground.
Both have their merits.
If time is available probably the system advocated by Brigadier CHAPPEL is best. An
enemy constantly flying over the area at 100 or 50 feet may eventually
locate slit
trenches, when he will attack then individually.
If, therefore, they are used, a number of alternatives should be dug, and no
effort spared to make them realistic.
Dummies should be put inside then,
The system of bays has the advantage that the enemy cannot tell
in what
bay the occupants are.
Furthermore, intercommunication is facilitated
and this is a major consideration.
All are agreed that strong, well
camouflaged pill
boxes would have been invaluable.
41.
The Commnnittee agree with those who advocate the re-introduction of a suitable entrenching tool.
In theory the platoon truck brings
up the tools, but in the face of complete enemy air superiority it has
been shown that movement on roads can be completely paralysed by day.
Furthermore, all troops, whether in the front line or the back areas there is little
difference when the enemy can plaster both with his flying machine guns - constantly need to dig in.
Many counter attacks
failed because the attackers had not the means to dig in and consolidate
before being counter attacked and mowed down themselves by machine guns
from enemy aircraft.

- 103 -

'

42.
Field works should not only
r
hes and slits.
Obstacles of all natures have become increasing
ortant and the
organization and planning of their construction must be tackled on a
very much larger scale and with greater vision than is our wont.
Beach
obstacles against amphibian tanks, road obstacles and obstacles to prevent the landing of enemy aircraft must all be considered.
Vast labour
will be required and we must be less shy than hitherto in the exploitation of civil labour. British lives are concerned and no half measures
can be justified.

CAMOUFLAGE
43.
The value of camouflage under the conditions of this campaign
needs no emphasis. Effort and ingenuity in this respect would have been
well repaid, particularly in so far as the camouflaging of anti-aircraft
gun positions was concerned. This aspect will be developed below.
ATTI-AIRCRAFT DEFENCE
44.
The British soldier lacks cunning. In no field is there more
spope than in the layout of anti-aircraft defences.
It is realized that
if the anti-aircraft gun is to have a 3600 arc of fire, the question of
camouflage becomes difficult, but under the domination of a powerful air
force who daily can photograph unmolested our positions, the most strenuCamouflage covers all
ous efforts have got to be made to deceive him.
methods of deception, including the construction of alternative gun pits.
These must be dug untiringly.
In principle all guns must be mobile and
continually moved from one alternative position to another.
A proportion
of guns should be silent.
These in turn must become mobile when they
have disclosed their positions.
45.
The layout of the Bofors guns protecting MALEME aerodrome
was too orthodox. They were all easily located and if few were destroyed,
Gunner N.G.O.s interviewed by the Committee
their teams were neutralized.
complained that if guns were given a complete 3600 are of fire, there was
no protection anywhere. While firing at an aircraft to their front there
was the continual threat of another one diving at them from behind.
It
is strongly recommended therefore that part of the are of fire be reduced
so that in principle guns only take on aircraft to their front. This will
enable cover to be built over the rear portion of the gun.
Guns should
be so sited that the blind arc of one is covered by another.
In addition
to giving a measure of security to the crew that will at least obviate
their complete neutralization. Furthermore, it would facilitate camouflage.
The Committee also recommend the provision of a shield to give
added protection to the team.
46.
For the Bofors gun in particular, too many alternative
positions cannot be dug and no effort should be spared to deceive the
attacker.
The digging of dummy pits and the construction of dummy guns
and crews is quite practicable and must be attenpted. Mobility again
must be aimed at and silent guns should be camouflaged completely.
47.
It should be noted that the original layout of the guns protecting MALEME aerodrome was designed on the assumption that we should
be using it and therefore that our aircraft on the ground would have to
be protected.
Since the effective range of the Bofors is little more
than 800 yards, the gun positions were of necessity near the fringe of

- 104-

the aerodrome, and in consequence, most conspicuous and vulnerable. As


soon as we no longer were able to operate from the aerodrome, the role of
these guns had changed.
Their primary task should then have been to
deal with troop carriers trying to land. They would have fulfilled this
task much more effectively if they had been disposed irregularly at a
distance from the aerodrome.
48..
The gun teams were already tired after incessant bombing
during the week preceding the attack.
The question of reliefs assumed
capital importance.
49.
All gunners must be armed with rifles or Tommy guns, and gun
positions must be within the perimeter of an infantry post.
Many casualties were suffered through lack of small arms and through the exposed
position of certain guns.

iIGHT OPERATI ONTS


50.
Enemy air superiority virtually paralysed movement on roads
by day. Even if movement across country, where cover existed, was possible,
intercommunication which entailed the use of roads was only practicable
under great difficulty.
The successful conduct of an attack was impossible,
except for the immediate counter attacks to deal with parachutists.
At
this moment only were our infantry immune from the constant threat overhead. But the moment was fleeting.
51.
Increasing attention should therefore be given to night
operations, and any night attacks should be so timed that consolidation
and digging in is completed by daylight.
If not, the enemy 1 s flying
machine guns will now our infantry down before they are under cover.
52.
The fact that the enemy appeared himself to show lack of
enterprise at night gives reason to hope that any skill which we can
develop in night fighting nay produce profitable results. Even bayonet
attacks by day were highly successful. By night success should be even
greater.
53.
It is
habit of yelling
most successful,
reco.maended.
It
is probably more
British soldier.

interesting to note that some units emulated the Greek


when they charged.
This tine-honoured practice was
and provided it is not premature at night, is to be
is an answer to the whistling dive bomber and the Gernan
susceptible to these psychological tricks than is the

ARTILLERY
54.
Many of the lessons applicable to anti-aircraft artillery
apply equally to field artillery. The ability of the enemy to fly unmolested, skimming the gun positions themselves, will result in very
Alternative
few escaping detection and heavy casualties were suffered.
Camouflage must reach a high standard.
positions must be dug unceasingly.

-105 -

'ru~i

55.
Although comparatively few guns were des rany
gun
sights were damaged by the bombings and it is recomricnded that sights be
removed except when the guns are actually firing.

LACK OF TRANSPORT

56.
The task of the garrison was complicated in every sphere by
lack of transport.
From the tactical point of view the relatively small
size of the force compared with the size of the island which it was called
upon to defend, could only have been compensated for by mobility.
This
it lacked through want of transport. In the adainistrative sphere, the
vast labour programmes which have been envisaged in this Report could only
have been attempted half heartedly without additional transport.

EVACUATIOTC

57.
tions.

Exerience has almost perfected the procedure for such operaA few points only need be mentioned.

Need for decentralization.


58.
It would be impossible for a commander successfully to control the rearguard fighting and the organization for evacuation. General
FPEBURG therefore wisely entrusted the conduct of the withdrawal to
General WESTON.
Necessity for early organization of the beaches
59.
Foresight is necessary if the beach organization is to work
smoothly. A few, and only a few, must be constantly planning ahead. If
too many are acquainted with the possibility of an eventual evacuation,
defeatism may set in.
In the event, someone prematurely breathed the
word "SPHAKIA".
Iundreds beat the gun at the start and broke all records.
Confusion therefore set in on the beaches before any organization had been
established.
eeood for fresh troops to form a bridgehead at the point of
embarkation.
60.
The failure of the enemy to land parachutists in the SPHAKIA
area has been remarked upon.
In the early stages of the withdrawal
SPHAKIA was undefended and the troops that eventually arrived were exhausted.
If we are again faced with an evacuation problem, it seems
reasonable to suppose that the enemy may be more enterprising and may endeavour at an early stage to. land parachutists at the point of embarkation.
It is therefore strongly recommended that fresh troops are early in position. On occasions it may even be practicable for the Royal Navy to bring
them.
Intercomnrmnication between beach and assembly area
61.
It is essential that a good system of intercommunication,
preferably by telephone, be organized between the beaches, control posts,
assembly areas and rearguard. Guides also in sufficient numbers are
essential.
Failure to make the most careful arrangements will result in
many being left unnece
in
'Inun&

- 106--

Necessity for a strong cordon on the beach


62.
On such occasions a number of ill-disciplined men will always
be among the first
to reach the beaches.
Very strong cordons are therefore required close to the actual beaches.
These should be supplemented
by strong control posts further back.

NAVY LESSONS
DOCKS ORGANTIZATION
Port Control Committee
The composition of the Port Control Committee has been given
63.
in paragraph 33, Part II, above. The functions of the organization are
dealt with in Appendix "A".
The following are a few additional Naval
points.
64.
As such an organization may again be required,
are deductions based on the Naval experiences.

the following

65.
The work of the port must be carefully planned.
This begins
with the question of priorities of unloading for which directions must
The
come from Headquarters.
Given priorities, planning can commence.
first
requirement is information, which in this case is:(a)
(b)
(c)

Timely warning of the arrival of shipping


Nature and distribution of cargo
Loading data of individual ships

To be of any real use this information must be accurate and must be communicated to the Services concerned.
66.
In a port where normal facilities such as cranes, transit
sheds and sorting areas do not exist, it is essential that uneconomical
loading is accepted. On many occasions stores urgently required were
found to bo buried under bulk supplies of other natures.
Priorities of
requirements cannot be laid down for long period ahead as they must vary
with the military situation and therefore cargoes must be stowed so that
they can be unloaded selectively.
67.
The question of transport on shore is vital to the safety
and efficiency of the port.
In theory, a vehicle arrives on the quay,
is loaded, proceeds to its destination, is unloaded and returns to the
quay. Unloading parties at destinations do not normally cone under the
port organization and during the journey to and from the destination the
It is clear
vehicle is not entirely under the control of the port staff.
therefore that co-operation with the destination staff is essential and
rigid control of drivers must be exercised. In addition, consideration
must be given to the servicing of vehicles and the relief, feeding and
accommodation of the drivers.
Finally, there must be close liaison between the loading
68.
and unloading ports, which requires the early arrival of a Sea Transport
unloading facilities are
Officer. At coasting ports where
non-existent and the servicing and supplying of merchant ships is out of
the question, the arrival of a convoy of large heavily loaded ships is
neost unpopular and hazardous as it is only a question of time before some
or all of them are sunk unless air protection can be provided. Ports
ships with water
"]hant
such as these must not be expected to,

107-

and provisions.
there was a

Labour i

In the early stages

ortant question.

consilerable

ee

attack increased, the supp


was employed next but proved unsa

labour, but

as the scale

decreased.
h.e

sane reason.

the Australian and Now Zealand Briga


gave

69.

excellent

service

under

the most tryi

Action to be taken during air raids i

Cypriot

of air

labour
Finally

Cormpany whichl
n

with in Appendix

Hiding of Light Craft


70.
Unloading craft when not in use should be dispersed as widely
as possible and if time permits camouflaged "hide-outs" should be constructed for them.
At SUDA dispersal was the policy used and we were
lucky in not losing any of the landing craft, but one or two motor boats
The Comand a caique were destroyed at the same time as the M.T.B.s.
mander in Chief MEDITEP rANI has been fully informed of the circumstances
under which the M.T.B.s. were destroyed and so it is not proposed to remark on that subject in this paper.
Merchant shipping crews
71.
The control of Merchant shipping crews should be considered.
With frequent bombing and machine gunning the crews will not remain in
their ships whilst lying in a vulnerable port.
The alternatives appear
to be:The crews to be enrolled into the Navy under
(a)
some special arrangement. (T.124.)
(b)
Place strong military guards on board to force
the men to remain in their ships.
(c)
Place Service personnel on board for working
the ships for unloading and for their security.
EVACUATI ON
Beach organization
72.
The need for good communication between the beaches and
assembly areas has been touched upon above.
An officer should be
appointed with full knowledge of the local situation on shore to act as
Beachnaster.
He should get in touch with the Naval Beachnaster as soon
as he lands and co-operate with him during the embarkation.
Numbers to be enbarked.
73.
To ensure an orderly embarkation the figures given by the
Naval C. in C. must be the basis on which to work and these figures
should not be exceeded, it being understood that the maximum number of
available ships will be sent and that each ship will be allowed to embark the maximum number of men, taking into consideration the conditions
under which they have got to withdraw.
CAMOUFLAGE
The camouflage and disguise of Merchant ships does not appear
74.
to have been considered in any detail so far during this war.

108-

UNCLASS!FI-ED

CONCLUDING REMARKS

1.

The planning of operations such as the defence of CRETE


demands exceptional foresight and the most intimate co-operation between
the Services if due weight is to be given to the many factors involved.
The Committee are of opinion that until the eleventh hour no Service
gave due weight to the preponderating factor affecting this problem,
which was the overwhelming superiority of the German Air Force.
2.
The campaigns in NORWAY, FRANCE and GREECE had produced a
wealth of lessons; they had been ill-digested.
Committees also have sat,
but their labours appear to have been in vain.
3.

The Army will not soon forget the help rendered at great sacrifice by the Royal Navy during these difficult days; nor will it forget

the valiant struggle which a handful of young pilots


against

an

overwhelming

enemy air

were asked, to face

force.

UNCASIFIED
-109-

JCf

IFIEU
APPENDIX "A"

ADMINISTRATIVE
PART I.

NARRATIVE

(October 1940 up till the arrival of If Force)

1.
The development of the maintenance problem in CRETE has been
treated in chronological order.
A short description of the work done
by certain services during the period is also given.
On 28.10.40 SUDA BAY was selected as being the advanced re2.
fuelling base by C-in-C Mediterranean, certain troops were despatched

for its protection, and the following scales of reserves were laid down
for

the force:
Supplies
Amn. except A.A.
Amn. A.A.

45 days
45 days at
550 r.p.g.
650
"

F.F.C.

wastage

rate

with unit)

reserve)

8Y

400 r.pig. with unit)


Lt
)t
15,200 rds reserve
Petrol

30 days at 4 galls

per day per


vehicle

3.
On 2.11.40 the maintenance reserves were ordered to be increased
to a total of 90 days, the Force Commander being authorized to buy locally

supplies and M.T.

and to arrange for the assistance of local labour as

required.
4.

On 8.11.40 the maintenance reserve figure was reduced to 60 days.

5.
On 9.11.40 a report was received from CRETE that progress in
development was hindered by lack of civilian labour and civilian transport.
6.

On 12.11.40 a questionnaire was despatched to CRETE demanding


information in regard to water, cold storage, fresh meat, local supplies,
labour and acommodation.
It was noted that answers must depend largely
on tactical considerations, and a discussion with the B.G.S., who was
in CRETE, was advised.
7.

On 14.11.40 the W.O. were informed that "a small force is quite
sufficient for CRETE at present and larger force would cause inconvenient
and unnecessary commitment from both military and naval point of view."
8.
was

On 10.11.40 an estimated labour shortage of all services of 800


reported, and military parties were used to help unload ships.

9.

On 31.12.40 as a result of a personal visit by D.Q.M.G. ALMYRO,


were reported
as areas
suitable
for
the reception
of one
Bdc Gp to each area,
and complete plans
for
the
first
two areas
were
to be drawn up immediately.
In the event of troops being placed at
CAN1DIA, the necessary reserves could be placed there with them, but the
main base would remain at SUDA.
CANDIA and ALIKIANU

10.
On 29.1.41 General Gambier Parry forwarded a report agreeing
with 1st Key plan on the assumption that one of his roles was to establish

a Base Area for a force of one Division in the Area SUDA BAY-CANEA, and
emphasized the need for more M.T.

110-

ns.

i'DI

11.
On 15.4.41 General Weston forwarded a report stating his
intention to establish two main defended areas at SUDA and HERAKLION
demanding further aerodromes for the construction of which the R.A.F.
were responsible.
12.
By 16.4.41 stocks were 60 days for 20,000 for everything
except ammunition and petrol, and on that date an increase to 30,000
was ordered.
13.
On 18.4.41 orders were issued for the stocking on a basis of
30,000 for 90 days with supplies, P.O.L., Tentage scale A., blankets 2
per man, K.D. and reserve of cookers, cooking utensils, water bottles
and water containers. Maximum use was to be made of unit transport.
Supplies and essential R.E. Stores were also to be delivered to HERAKLION,
and requirements in Defence stores were to be submitted by G. No P. and
L. units were to be despatched, but Nava Landing Coy and unit labour to
be used.
14.
On 21.4.41 two additional Q staff officers and representatives
from the services were sent to CRETE to assist in organising the reception
of troops from GREECE. On 25.4.41 a.Q Liaison Officer was also despatched
from G.H.Q., M.E.
15.
On 27.4.41 reconnaissance of the southern posts was ordered.
Field Depots were to be disposed, with supplies and P.O.L., in areas in
which troops were stationed. A report on Greek requirements was also
called for.
16.

On 6.5.41 the following M.N.B.D.O. vehicles arrived in CRETE:

8 cwt.
15 cwt.
Matadors
Gun transporters

24
15
10
2

Ambulances
5
3-ton lorries 10
W/Shop "
2
S/L trailers
3

Staff cars
2
Recovery trailers 1
M/Cs.
50

In addition, the following vehicles were despatched:


O.S.

S.T.
Lorries
Amb. cars

94
6

15 cwt
Bren carriers
M/Cs

86
60
76

17.
The following stores were despatched to CRETE:-to increase
reserve above 60 days for 20,000
Arrived
Tons

P.O.L.
Supplies

920

Ammunition
0.S. Stores
R.E. Stores

600
368
812

Turned back as
could not be
unloaded. Tons
15,000
(2,480
(1,980
400
6358
1,125

Sunk
Tons

1,580
436
842
545

UNCLASSIFIl
-111i

e.
Works.
42 Fd Coy R.E. was included in the first order of a
18.
As no C.R.K. Works accompanied the original force, the following tasks
were undertaken by the unit, assisted by local labour: Development of
roads in the Dock, Base and Defence Areas, the laying of the Decauville
railway from the Docks to CANEA, and the erection of steel hutting in
the B.O.D. and B.S.D.
Assistance was given in building defence works at HERAKLION.
There was no scarcity of unskilled labour for this work. Base Depots
were planned on the basis of one Division to be ready by end March.

19. Medical. Medical reconnaissances were made in Nov. of all areas


on the island that were likely to prove malarial, and work on draining,
ditching and later oiling was started in February. Trained inspectors
and gangs were brought over from GREECE, and were still working when the
island was evacuated. As a result of this work cas es of malaria wre
very few.
20. Movement Control. As a result of the small amount of tonnage to be
moved into CRETE, no Docks personnel were despatched there, and Movement
Control organized and supervised all port working. As Greek conscription
for military service increased, assistance had to be sought to augment
the skilled local labour available, and Arab stevedores were accordingly
despatched.
Tonnages into HERAKLION were dealt with by local personnel completely.
No S.T.0. staff arrived in the island until 19 April.

UB~kVINE

-112-

PART 2.
1.

of W Force up till

(After the arrival

the-

General State of the Garrison at the Outset

The original garrison of one Inf. Ede. plus some C.D. and
A.A. tps and small ancillary services were more or less equipped to W.E.

and Layforce
The reinforcements of M.N.B.D.O., two regular Ihs.
scales.
elements arrived with G.1098 equipment but M.N.B.D.O. was actually the
only formation which brought any transport at all with it, with the exception of a few trucks.
The bulk of the garrison was made up of W Force troops which
by force of Naval circumstances had arrived from GREECE in CRETE instead
Fram the point of view of readiness for war in CRETE the best
of EGYPT,
of these W. Force troops were N.Z. and Australian Inf. Bns. which had
succeeded in bringing with them practically all their rifles and Bren
The best
guns, some A.T. rifles and a few M.Gs., some without tripods.
equipped of these men had a greatcoat and their personal equipment.
However, many of even these infantry men had not got greatcoats
or personal equipment. No unit had any unit equipment whatsoever or any
transport.
This meant that even in these best W.Force units for example
m any men had to cook their

food in

some kind of ration

tin

having no

mess tin, and eat it with their fingers until they improvised or borrowed
a spoon or fork. The worst equipped W Force men had nothing at all except
some form of clothing. Moreover, a large proportion of these W Force men
were sappers, gunners and members of all ancillary services as well as
Cypriots and Palestinian A.M.P.C. elements.
Some of these were led by
their officers and in some cases by more or less complete unit H.Qs, but
a considerable number were leaderless and remained so for a considerable
time. Many were armed with rifles - some had personal equipment but some
only a bandolier of S.S.A.
Even some of the best formed of these W. Force
elements necessarily arrived in small parties or as individuals; some had
even been shipwrecked on the way.
As regards reception, H.Q. CREFORCE had done the best they
could, considering they had no transport available, no stocks of unit equipment, only a few accommodation stores and no personnel available to staff
reception camps. They had selected areas where there was water and olive
tree cover to which all arrivals were directed to make their way on foot.
The first
of these was about 2 miles from SUDA port where hot tea and
tinned rations were obtainable. Thence men were directed on to separate
areas for Australians, N.Z. and other British troops.
It was naturally therefore rare to find formed bodies of men
led along the road to their appropriate camps by their own officers.
In
general it was a stream of tired human beings wanting to rest and recuperate from the last conditions in GREECE and in many cases with a tenIn a
dency to "windiness" vis-a-vis observation by enemy aircraft.
proportion of cases of the toughest and least trained men, there was an
active revulsion against military discipline and advantage was taken of
the opportunities offered to avoid being brought under control. In con10 days at least, there were a number of men at
sequence, for the first
large, many armed with rifles, living as tramps in the hills and olive groves
2.

Immediate steps taken to improve conditions

Camp staffs were appointed; in the case of British camps these


were from among artillery units from T Force for whom there were then no
guns.. Appeal was made to all original CREFORCE units to hand in as much
as they could of their cook pots, etc. on the principle that all
troops
should have their share of what there was. The scale of blankets was reduced from three to one per man, and in this way, sufficient were just

ti

obtainable for every man to have one.


The problem of bringing all loose elements under control however,
was much more difficult,
largely
owing to the
impossibility
of giving the
military police any transport for rounding up.
A curfew for troops at

1800 hrs daily was introduced in the SUDA-CANEA area, and it was promulgated that all men not in formed units or camp control would be treatedas deserters.

Moreover,

the gradual organization of some gunners into

gunner units, and of others into improvised units armed with rifles helped
procedure
up.
Everything possible
was done to
simplify the
to clear
things
for disposing of serious cases amongst N.Z.,
A

Australian and other troops

However, even F.G.C.M. procedure proved very slow.

respectively.

census was

taken of every vehicle in the island.

Unit trans-

port particularly in the case of original CREFORCE units, A.A. & C.D. and
M.N.D.B.0. was reduced to the minimum laid down by the G.S. Vehicles so
thrown up, driven by unit personnel, were placed in a composite R.A.S.C.
company, to provide a pool for port clearance, and for troop carrying of
a reserve Inf. Bde.
This was achieved with difficulty, and not fully.
For

port clearance,

anything up to 40 lorries

This

daily was really required.

number was seldom available because other priority requirements such as


moving guns and ammunition by road had so often to be ruled as essential
by the G.S.
Moreover, as was only natural, units parted with their vehicles
with great
reluctance.
For the first
fortnight the
commanders of the
MALE
and RETThI0 sectors could not even be provided with a vehicle each for
their
3.

sole use.
Evacuation

of surplus

personnel

The policy
was to get rid
as soon as possible
of all
surplus
personnel to ease the maintenance problem as much as for any other reason.
Some were despatched to EGYPT but not as many as was desired at the outset.

To some extent this was due to lack of escorted shipping and partly to a
fair proportion being equipped with guns or turned
units.
Opportunities were missed in the
early
part
reception was the main concern.
4.

into improvised rifle


of this

period,

when

Strengths to be maintained

As a result the total strength of British troops to be maintained


remained till the end in the region of 30,000 although the fighting
strength was actually less than that of a division at W.E. and equipment
and transport for even the fighting portion of the force was lacking.
In

addition, there were the following to be maintained:-

Greek Army
Prisoners of War
Greek population

14,000
15,000
400,000

It
was apparent at
the outset
that
all the needs of these must
be imported through the medium of one machine and that,
although there
of needs, "Q" Branch Force H.Q.
might be committees to discuss details

would have to act in a most direct manner with G.H.Q., M.E. if

there was

to be any hope of a successful solution of the problems.


The Greek Army had no transport, practically no arms or equipment and no resources of food at all.
In fact they were merely recruit
A successful meeting was held between
units and there was no organization.
the D.A. &

Q.M.G.

and the Greek Army Chief of Staff, as a result of which

a simple organization of Greek Armny ancillary services was to result.


A.Q.M.G. of 27 B.iviM.M. was to become A.Q.MG. with the Greek Army and to
have to help him two officers of S.T., Ordhance and Medical Services as

-114

The

well as a "Q" Movement and Docks officer to assist in port clearance and
Food distribution system.
This British staff was to act in respect of the needs of the
Greek civil population as well as the Greek Army. Unfortunately as the
harvest was not yet gathered in, the food situation of the civil population was at its worst. To add to the difficulties there was no effective
civil government and therefore no organization for clearance of food
landed at SUDA or for efficient distribution throughout the island.
Moreover, all civil M.T. and nearly all animals had been requisitioned
by the Greek Government for the campaign on the mainland.
The Prisoners of War were naturally on rather short rations.
As a result, from the outset it was necessary to give some
food to put heart into the eight Greek bns. actually employed in sectors,
and to the Prisoners of War who had been transferred to CRETE by the
Greek military authorities.
Maintenance System
It was neither feasible nor desirable to alter the layout of
5.
the main base depots which were largely Decauville served, well dispersed
and concealed in dumps in the olive groves close to SUDA PORT.
These contained roughly 30 days balanced rations for 30,000
men plus a certain quantity of unbalanced items, some S.A.A. but little
else.
Immediately W Force H.Q. was organized on 1/2 M r and the General
distribution of troops decided, steps were taken to establish F.S.Ds of
approx 15 days' rations and P.O.L. in proportion, for the strengths in
the outlying sectors of HR.AKLION, Central (RETIMO - GEORGOPOULOS) and
MALEME - GALATOS.
to Sector Commanders,
The location of these in sectors was left
but it was laid down that each unit must hold 3 days' rations in addition
to the F.S.D. stocks, and that anything in excess of this held by units
would be in diminution of F.S.D. stocks.
defence stores were allocated to Sectors
All ammunition and all
as and when they arrived, and except in the last stages, when some .303
was accumulated, there were practically no stocks retained in Ordnance
or R.E. Depots.
The detail of distribution of ammunition and defence stores was
left
to the G.S. to arrange with the A.D.O.S. and C.E. in detail "Q"
Branch only holding a watching brief and anticipating possible needs by
demands on G.H.Q.
The first
German parachute attack included the landing of some
gliders astride the main CANEA-SUDA road, so that access to the main base
depots was partially denied.
In consequence, when the situation was
cleaned up, F.S.Ds of rations, P.O.L. and ammunition were established also
where they would be readily accessible
in the outskirts of CANEA itself,
for distribution by road East or West.
Every effort was made to utilize local resources, but these
were limited practically to supply of vegetables, some fruit and the baking
of bread.
Medical Stores
Throughout the short campaign, there was an acute shortage of
medical stores, due to previous enemy sinkings. The proportion of killed
was low, but the rate of comparatively serious and walking wounded cases
was high.
6.

7.,

Welfare

In addition to shortages of essential equipment for cooking, etc.


and other hardships, there was also the complete lack of amenities for the
troops.

Ii
-115-

NJNCLASSIFIE
E.FI. stores soon ran out of some of the main essentials, such
There was no English literature in the
as cigarettes, whisky and beer.
island

except

the Force

H.Q.

newspaper provided with the greatest

Under such conditions,

essential

reading matter and footballs are


8.

difficulty.

few amenities, such as cigarettes, beer,


as a

of morale.

restorative

SUDA PORT Clearance

was obvious from the


experience in GREiECE it
after
Especially
outset that there was grave danger of air attack drastically restricting
the tonnage which could be cleared through SUDA.
Immediate steps were therefore taken to warn G.H.Q. of the
possibility, to put some A.A. defence at HERAKLION and to recce the
Southern beaches from the point of view of immediate use or possible deIn addition, complete lists were forwarded to G.H.Q. byr special
velopment.

hand giving full details of all essentials for the British and Greek Armies
as well as the civil population.
There were necessarily based on a modest programme
up 15 days'

by 1

reserve

June,

22 days by 15 June,

of building

and 30 days by 1 July.

All non-essentials such as tentage were ruthlessly cut out.


The tonnage cleared through SUDA was

for several days worked

up to at least 700 tons a day, working by day in the face of some enemy
air attack that came usually each evening by aircraft based on GREECE.

There was,

a perpetual shortage of transport .and the other usual

however,

difficulties

arising

out of use of a

port

not constructed

for

dealing with

such tonnage, with no shore facilities


at all,
such as cranes, etc., a
and no real ship repair facilities.
marked shortage of lighters
alarm by means of syrens was
As in GREECE the widespread air
most detrimental to the working of the port, and finally such air alarms
of continuing work until
in the port were abolished on the principle
However, at a later stage, the scale and
actual air attack took place.
suddenness of dive bombing attack became so great that the presence of
enemy aircraft in the neighbourhood resulted in the stoppage of work.
Resort was made to night work, but in the absence of an elaborate
well-organized system this cannot be expected to yield the same results
as day working.

In particular, a

large proportion of the

discharged were damaged by hits or near misses,

and in

ships being

nearly every case

As they had no ancillary engines in


their engines ceased to function.
working order for winches, and as there was no separate lighting system,
small ship alongside.
a tug or other
power had to be provided by putting
abandoned
their
ships
and
the
ships'
civil
crews
Moreover,
military
winchmen and stevedores found great
difficulty
in organizing
their work in the dark without the crew's assistance.
There were also

the problems

of

slow turn

round of N.T.

in

the

depots as well as in the port, guards, and military police, hot tea and
meals for labour, stevedores and transport drivers, organization of P.A.D.
trenches and medical arrangments,
In SUDA,

fire fighting squads,

etc.

etc.

as formerly in PIRAEUS, it was found necessary

to

appoint a combatant Lt. Col. without an office, to supervise in the port


area without interfering
with the technical
working.
He did, however,
attend
the daily
conference between the Naval and Military
port
staffs.
9.

Supply to Sectors
To the greatest possible extent,

supply to Sectors was made

by sea rather than by road, owing to the desperate shortage of transport.


This alternative gradually fell away in capcity.
Greek crews would not

man their ships or caiques.

It was difficult to get hold of sound caiques.

broke down and were sunk.


Lighters
for and some actually employed.
10.

Southern

Volunteer military crews were called

Beaches

TY1BAKI and KASTELLI were the only places in

the South coast

AI
served by N.T. road. Owing to enemy ac
HERAKLION sector, and SELINOS KASTELLI was rende
rapid construction of M.T. roads to other beaches, notab
not possible. SPHAKIA was more or less typical of the South coas
CRETE. The road ended at the top of an escarpment leaving 7 miles to the
coast to be traversed by hilly mule track.
However, even had any other Southern beaches been served by
M.T. road, the difficulties of provision of A.A. defence, lighters and
M.T. remained.
Development of the acute maintenance situation.
To meet all essential current needs and to build up reserves
it was decided to aim at a. clearance of 30,000 tons a month, although
it was recognized that some 20,000 might have to suffice. The first G.H.Q.
plan with C-in-C Med. was to have a fortnightly convoy, but this was strongly advised against by W Force, who put forward a plan for clearing through
SUDA weekly two fastish ships of 2,500 tons each, with an additional
specially loaded one fortnightly to be cleared at HERAKLION chiefly for
Greek needs. When the loss of shipping at SUDA became acute, A.A. defence
was concentrated in an umbrella over the pier and quay.
However, it soon became evident that maintenance through SUDA
WITH THE type of ships available was not possible. The only alternative
was a daily delivery of small quantities by fast ships getting in, discharging and getting away under cover of darkness. For this, neither
the ships nor escorts were available, and for M.T. delivery it was not a
feasible proposition. As a last resort, G.H.Q., M.E. planned to run one
convoy of three ships ashore in SUDA BAY, relying on night clearance and
on fire fighting squads to prevent their destruction by burning. It is
very doubtful whether this would have been successful in sufficient degree
to warrant the experiment. In the count SUDA BAY had to be abandoned to
the enemy before it could be tried.
11.

PART w (The withdrawal and final evacuation)


Maintenance in the last stages
The HERAKLION sector never ran short of food and were successfully given some ammunition and medical stores by air. The RLTIMO sector
ran short of both, food and ammunition. In spite of every effort this
situatio"Was not relieved, owing to a small enemy post astride the road
just East of RETIMO town. Several attempts at air dropping apparently
failed, and in spite of every effort by the Naval Staff attempted delivery
by caiques and lighters also failed.

In the SUDA-MALM[E area, maintenance of food and anmmunition was


all right until the very last stage, when the sudden large scale withdrawal with evacuation from SPHAKIA as the objective precluded adequate
preparation. With the exceptions as stated below, some transport was used
for carrying back wounded, and no supplies or stores were cleared back from
SUDA.
The last consignment of supplies and ammunition delivered by
warship to SUDA was cleared to NEON KHORION which was the first planned
withdrawal staging area. To this place also some rations and P.O.L. were
despatched from the Depots, but the failure of A.T. to return to control
of the R.A.S.C. transport organization, and the rapidity of the withdrawal
through the Base Depot Area near SUDA BAY, made it impossible to form any
F.S.Ds. further South on the SPHAKIA road frm stocks existing in the North
or delivered at SUDA.
It was hoped that all withdrawing fightin
roops would bring
back 3 days' rations with them. This th
1
althouge
although
the situation was aggravated by the shor g o
impossibility of
. ,ut
Yci
continuing the supply q

117 -

uNCLASsrFID
The last alternative was to get supplies ashore at SPHAKIA
from the

ships arriving to evacuate personnel.


In the first instance,
15,000 rations were asked for in this manner, but it is believed that
the quantity of essentials of balanced rations was not delivered.
Clearance from the beach 7 miles uphill to the fighting troops
had to be done by soldiers,
exhausted ill-organized
men actually
awaiting
evacuation.
Finally, air dropping was arranged, but with little success,
to the terrain and the failure of recognition signals.

owing, presumably,

'

t#

I18 -

Ma

Fs

s1 n4.

Administr
GENERAL
1.

The

conditions under which the battle was

fought

are again

emphasized.
YWith the exception of very few of the troops engaged, the
majority of them had arrived in CRETE with no stores, ammunition, tools
or transport.
Reserves held on the island were not sufficient to provide for all their needs.
Owing to complete enemy air supremacy, any
form of movement or activity by day was impossible.
These exceptional
circumstances must therefore be borne in mind throughout.
2.

The possible lessons that may be

learned have been divided

into the three main phases:


X.
Y.
Z.
Phase X.

Immediately prior to the battle.


During the battle and withdrawal.
During the evacuation.

Immediately prior to the Battle

Port and Base Areas.

3.

During this period, the port of SUDA, through which the

maintenance of the main force was being done, was constantly harassed

by the enemy air, as was the Base Area to the southwest of the port.
The normal unloading of ships was therefore practically impossible,
and discharge had to be effected with maximum speed, in order to keep
the period during which the ships were subjected to air attack to a
minimum.
To ensure the rapid and efficient turn round of shipping,
berthed on a programme previously agreed by the Naval and Military
authorities, an organization dealing with the following must be set
up by the Base Commandant:
(a)

Air Raid look-out system linked with P.A.D. measures


such as trenches, medical, policy for ships' crews, etc.

(b)

Supervision of turn round of M.T. in the Docks and


Base areas, guards and police in ships and in the
Docks area, and the distribution of labour to the
best advantage.

(c)

Fire fighting and mine

(d)

Welfare

spotting.

of the men working

in the Docks area.

4.
In CRETE it was found that the placing of responsibility for
all the points in the hand of one senior army officer, produced the
best results.
YWhen dealing with such matters as guards in ships, he
would naturally consult the Naval authorities.
5.

Establishment

Control Committee

of Port

In addition to the appointment of the officer referred to in


para 4 above,

it is considered necessary

possible moment

a Port

Control Coommgg

119

to form at th
st

King's Harbourmaster
S.T.O.
N.O. i/c Local Craft

Docks Service.
Movement Control
Reps. of R.A.F., Services and P. and L.
Allied
6.

Liaison

Officer

(if

necessary)

Shipping and Port Clearance


In order to

the following

ensure rapid turn round and discharge

of shipping

suggestions are made:

(a)

If possible, Docks Operating Coy. should function at the


Reliance should not be placed on
Port from the outset.
local labour operating under Movement Control.

(b)

All ships should arrive with copies of stowage plans.


These should be prepared at the port of loading by the
S.T.O. staff in conjunction with the ship's officers
while loading is being
rapid tracing
unloading.

(c)

done.

This may facilitate the

of any stores urgently demanded during

Every possible form of rapid labour

saving facility is
required; small mechanical hoists and gravity runways
both for
ships and lighters;
inches should be operated

by engines with their own power

source,

and portable

or battery lighting apparatus is required in the event


of the failure of the main power supply.
(d)

Small craft for ferrying

personnel

or for use as

Motor launches capable of


lighters are essential.
towing the small craft must be provided.
(e)

Every port should have some fire fighting apparatus


for use from a tug or lighter.

(f)

Shipping repair facilities were reported as being


necessary in discharge ports.

(g)

During the reconnaissance of the port, special note


should be taken of handling gear, gangways, ladders,
hoses and available water.
All ships should carry
additional ladders for use in holds, and extra gear
of which the port is stated to be deficient.

(h)

Consideration might be given to the cutting of extra openings in the sides of ships so that they could be worked at
night with hatch covers on and lights burning in the holds.
Assisted by gravity runways, the speed of discharge of
certain easily handled stores like ammunition could be
increased,

(i)

The use of prime movers and trailers is suggested as a more


rapid and economical method of port clearance as opposed to
lorries.
Prime movers and trailers have many advantages
over the 3 ton
or
.
They are easily
shipped

in the first
difficulties.
very little

in

he
d

craneage

FrT
%

A s take up

to
!ailers
eWe
both the Docks area and the Base area
could be worked with a minimum dead period.
The loss of
as the loss
is not so serious
trailers
from enemy action
If the prime mover is destroyed or is out
of lorry units.
hol

each prime mover,

of action,

it canjalwa s

be replaced by a lorry.

61

Ship clearance
when the

under coriditi

enemy possesses

air

suprem

possible to rely on one area for discharge,


ditions must be fulfilled:

and these a

ii

(a)

Smaller and faster ships will have to be employed and every


effort made to clear their cargoes during the hours of
darkness.

(b)

It may be necessary to land supplies at scattered points


on beaches.
To enable this to be done, suitable lighters
or landing craft will have to be provided.
Craft of the
M.L.C. type are preferable.
These craft will have to be
camouflaged and hidden by day, clear of the beaches on
which the stores and supplies have been discharged.

(c)

The amount of tonnage that can be dealt with by this means


is limited and this method could only supply the most urgent
needs of a force.

(d)

In CPRETE the use of the southern beaches was the only alternative
to
SUTDA and EERAKLION.
The extent to which they
could have been used was limited by the lack of transport
and of roads serving the beaches and connecting up with
the main defensive sectors in the north.

(e)

Once the Germans had secured air bases from which they
could operate dive bombers unopposed, it became impossible
to keep any shipping in any harbour or at any beach in
CPRETE during the hours of daylight.
Some degree of A.A.
protection would have been necessary at the beaches had
they been used, failing which all uncleared stores would

have been destroyed.


places that could

7.

SUIDA and IERAKLION were the only

offer any degree

of A.A.

protection.

(f)

In order to ensure that transport and labour ashore is


awaiting the arrival of lighters at the correct beaches
and times, the closest liaison between the Naval and
Military authorities must be maintained.

(g)

If rapid discharge of cargo is to be secured under these


conditions, careful loading at the port of embarkation is
essential.
Every care must be taken to ensure that only
vital stores and supplies are despatched.

(h)

As an alternative, the use of train ferry type ships filled


with loaded M.T. is suggested.
These ships are fast,
possess big carrying capacity, draw comparatively little
water and could have been used on a beach like SPTAKIA
where the prow could have cleared the shallow water.
Supplies of netting and pegs could be
The discharge of these loaded lorries

carried in the ship.


could be done very

rapidly,
and if
required
their
empty ones driven on board.

could be

places

taken by

Establishment of Field Supply Depots


As

soon as the

defences of the island wore

121

-M

placed on a sector

l~SFE

basis,
reserve

F.S.Ds.

were established
in
being left
in the Base Area.
The formation of these F.S.Ds,

central

tiars1
in anyes-

sary step, because the method of German attack appea


definite sequence adopted both in GREECE and

8.

in CRETE:-

(a)

The destruction of ports and quays and the sinking of ships,


thus preventing the reinforcement of men and material by sea.

(b)

The gaining of air superiority.

(c)

The destruction of M.T.


depots.

(d)

The bombing of Ordnance store depots.


Ammunition dumps and depots were not attacked.

(e)

The machine-gunning and bombing of roads and communications,


making transport of material or movement of personnel
extremely difficult and costly.

parks, petrol dumps,

and supply

Composition of F.SDs.
F.S.Ds.

should contain the

following supplies

and stores:

Rations in men days.


P.O.L. in vehicle miles.

A.G.O.
Ammunition by nature by rounds.
Anti-tank mines.
Tools.
Barbed wire and pickets.

Sandbags.
Medical

stores.

The amount of ammunition and Defence Stores held in any sector


must depend on the allocation made by G.
Inflammable items should be stored separately.
In one instance,
a complete medical store dump was destroyed as a result of ether being
set
on fire.
9.

Marking of F.S.Ds.

It is necessary that these F.S.D. should be notified, clearly


marked, adequately guarded, easily found, and laid out on the ground,

so that a maximum amount of supplies or stores may be picked up either


by marching infantry or by M.T. parties in a minimum space of time.
Within the depot there should be several

dispersed dumps containing a


complete variety of the supplies and stores held by the Depot.
By this
system, rapid loading is ensured, and the danger of the complete

destruction of any one commodity by air bombing minimized,


the depot should be
cerned in each case.
10.

organized into sub-depots,

manned by the

Alternatively,
service con-

East sub-depot would have dispersed dumps.

Issues to Units

In the case of every unit, an immediate issue of three days'


Issues
supplies was ordered and this was intended as a unit reserve.
in excess of this were left to the discretion of Sector Commanders.
General ammunition was also issued to units in large quantities.
certain

In addition to these reservail*


successful
from D.I.I!AI
extent

h
1

122.

S:

1a

Ts

lT
r,

established.

Once the main attack had been launched,

tf

port, the inability to move in M.T. by day, and sniping by nigt


parties of parachutists who had escaped being mopped up, rendered norma
For this reason therefore, large quantities of
methods impossible.
If alternaammunition need to be held by such units as A.A. batteries.
tive positions are prepared, ammunition should be dumped and concealed
at every position.
11.

ments

Early preparation of Administration Plan


Even if the G plan is not fully prepared, Q must make arrangeto meet possible eventualities.
In CRETE the centrally placed road SPHAKIA - LNEON KHORION was a

possible line of withdrawal, or a probable line of comnunication if we


For these reasons it
were forced to abandon using SUDA as a base port.
is considered that F.S.D. might have been established on the line of this
road to correspond with the possible tactical lay backs.
Had there been no necessity for a withdrawal, these F.S.Ds.

could

have been drawn on in the ordinary course of maintenance.


The provision of these dumps would have ensured supply to at
some troops using this road in a withdrawal.
of whose
NEON KIIORIOIT,
at
Only one such dump was established
existence many units were unaware, though desperately in need of food.
It
When the Germans overran it there were still supplies untouched.
least

is admitted that this method entails putting

supplies

and stores

on the

ground, a system which is not economical in transport, labour or supplies,


but it is considered that where there is any likelihood of the enemy
obtaining air supremacy great dispersion to ensure rapid supply to units
is necessary.
Until the G plan for withdrawal has been outlined, any detailed
plan by Q cannot be made, and the delay in producing this outline plan
made an administrative plan difficult to put into operation at such
short notice.
PHASE Y.
12.

During the battle


Withdrawal

and withdrawal

of Administrative

Units

Once it is agreed that a withdrawal is necessary, the sending


to
not essential
units
back with a minimum of delay of administrative
These units are
the conduct of the withdrawal should be ordered.
difficult to replace, and everything possible to ensure their safe
removal should be done.
This withdrawal must be on a planned and timed programme to
ensure that it is orderly and completely under control.
If the enemy has complete air superiority, movement must be
by night.
Preliminary reconnaissance of lying up areas for administrative
be thorough, unit areas beingallotted so that they remain a
must
units
formed body,

each under

its

own officers.

The ability
to withdraw administrative
dependent on an early decision from G.
13.

troops

in

this

way is

Provost

During the withdrawal and at the assembly area north of the


beaches, the need for adequate traffic control and provost organization
was felt.

I 81Aft

To ensure that transport is not misappropriated'an'a


withdrawal

is

at all times under

th

#Lu

control, a definite plan for

stragglers'
and traffic control posts must

posts, walking wounded collecting posts


be put into execution.
It is considered that, had this been done, much transport could
have been collected and sent back into the battle area, and used by
the fighting troops at night to increase their mobility and to assist
in the general withdrawal plan.
It is necessary that control posts be
line of withdrawal.

sited in depth along the

All Provost personnel must be adequately mobile.


particular withdrawal

In this

it was considered that something stronger than

Stragglers' Posts was required to reorganize many of the troops who


were withdrawing.
PHASE Z.

Maintenance

during the evacuation

14.
Once the enemy had overrun the F.S.D. at NEON KHORIAON the
sources of supply were reduced to the rations that each individual
man carried and to the dump that had been established on the beach
at
SPHAKIA.
at the

Owing to the complete absence of transport


which had been left
end of the unfinished road no forward supply to rearguard units

was possible.
Carrier parties were organized but very few of the men
were strong enough to do the journey up the hill with supplies while
some went straight

off to the

cave area with their

load.

Emergency supplies
such as those at SPHAKIA must be carefully
selected.
In this case sacks of flour had been included.
The contents
of these sacks were used for camouflaging the dump.
The need for
adequate provost and for an issuing organization at dumps and water
points under similar conditions is emphasized.
GENERAL LESSONS
15..

Tentage

Only when climatic conditions make it


should tentage be issued for forward troops.

absolutely necessary,
It should then be

restricted to the two man bivouac tent.


When troops move forward, this
tentage
should be left
and
collected later as Salvage.
Transport for moving tentage should not
be permanently allotted to units.
16.

Transport

Except for senior commanders for long distance work, the.


truck should replace the staff car, thereby providing a further
Unit
general utility vehicle and easing the maintenance problem.
transport should be reduced, thereby freeing more for a general
pool
units

system.
This necessitates

17.

1098 equipment.

Forward

should carry only absolute essentials and reserves of stores

should be cut to
with

a revision of G.

a minimum.

Trailers

carrying eight stretchers

a canvas roof were suggested.


Cooking Facilities

The Coy cooker unit was reported on by several units as


being an impractical method of cooking food for forward troops as
A Primus
detailed distribution was found to be most difficult.

stove per section was recommended.


additional facilities could be

W1hen troos

-II

'1a.fe:

issued.

Rations
18.

Operational scale
considered that a scale for active

It is

drawn up and only those items which

operations should be

are reasonably certain of being

used should be included.


The necessity for cutting transport down to a minimum and the
probable resultant lack of the full scale of unit cooking equipment
makes it necessary only to include in this scale items that are suitable for use under all circumstances.

19.

Packing

These items should be packed in a composite form, say, 12


This admits of easy and safe
men's rations for one day in one case.
handling and distribution

and reduces

the bulk from the transport

point of view.

2.0.

Emergency scale
In addition it is

suggested that

provided which should embody the


(i)
(ii)

an Emergency ration be

following qualities:-

Each man should be able to carry enough for three days.


Be a non-thirst producer.

The present ration is not

suitable from this point of view.


The use of tablets require hard specialized training and is
therefore as a general solution not considered satisfactory.
21.

E.F.I.

It is considered that in the forward areas no service should


be provided but that for troops in reserve every effort should be made
At the same time the shipping
to provide them with Canteen facilities.
overseas to an expeditionary force of such items as beer should be

eliminated.
22.

Drinks in the form of powders should be sold.

Clothing
Shorts were

adversely criticised, and K.D. trousers were

A strong.
The turned up shorts are apt to chafe the leg.
advocated.
A
material not so closely woven as the present K.D. was suggested.
hot weather kit as under was put forward for consideration:Cotton Vest

Flannel shirt, cut square and worn outside the trousers by day.
K.D. trousers
Anklets
Cardigans
Greatcoats

from the

The present steel helmet when at all worn, is very visible


This fact was reported by the Germans.
air.

For winter wear,

serge battle dress is excellent.

125 -

The forage

cap should be replaced by a soft round cap or beret, carried in the


haversack when the steel helmet is worn.
Supply of Machine Guns
23.

Lachine guns must be sent from EGYPT complete in one package,


they may be sent
forward similarly packed.
Instances in

so that

GREXCE occurred of B3ren guns arriving


M.G. were unloaded but the

Vickers
the

but

no magazines.

tripods

eventually

In CRETE
went down with

ship.

Medical
24.

Water

Under the conditions that existed in CRETE, where drinking


water had to be drawn from wells, and there, generally speaking, the
water discipline was poor, it is suggested that individual water
sterilising tablets should be issued to every man.
25,

Malaria, Tetanus, etc.

value,

Prophylactic treatment and other precautions proved their


and as a result of them very little malaria, typhoid, tetanus,

etc. was reported.


26.

Marking of Hospitals

and Hospital

Ships

The Red Cross on 7 General Hospital was reported as being


visible at 15,000 ft.

but it was

savagely attacked from the air.


The
hospital at KNOSSOS being clear of any military area was left .untouched.
The Germans stated themselves that if wounded men move in a formed body
with no steel helmets and displaying a large red cross flag, such
columns will not be attacked from the air.
This statement was shown
to be correct in one instance.
It is considered that the Red Cross on Hospital Ships should
be more clearly marked, and that if possible these ships should be
loaded well clear of any other shipping.
It was reported that when
this

was done

ship was
27.

in

CRETE,

bombed on the

they were not attacked,


EGYPT.

although the hospital

way to

Stretchers.

It is considered that in forward hospitals that are likely


to be bombed or machine gunned hospital beds should not be provided.
The patient is too exposed to bomb splinters and lies more
quietly and happily if placed on a stretcher on the ground.
The
abolition of hospital beds also does away with the need for mattresses,
thereby producing a substantial saving in shipping space.
28.

Dropping of Ammunition from the Air

hen ammunition was dropped from the air


with no parachute
it was stated
that
.303 was in
serviceable
condition
when retrieved,
but Tommy Gun Ammunition was very badly damaged.
Dropping in shallow
water was suggested as a possible solution.
Supply Dropping
29.

As

a result of the success that attended the German method

of supply dropping from the


should be carefully
studied.
R.A.F. portion
of this
report.

it

air,
Full

d
de

this

method

eo
y

16

30.

Entrenching tools

As a result of the lack of tools (At Maleme 22 Bn. only had 8


shovels and 9 picks) the necessity for the individual entrenching tool
was felt.
The German tool was most favourably reported on.
31,

Labour

The difficulties encountered in CRETE emphasized the absolute


necessity of ensuring that Pioneer and Labour Coys, are officered by
young fully trained men and that the British N.G.Os. are in every way
These companies should be armed
comparable to those in other units.
and drilled so that they possess the ability to use their weapons
effectively.
Only men who are highly disciplined, fit and tough,
self reliant and well led, can stand the test of fatigue and of severe
enemy bombing and machine gunning under all conditions.
32.

Ammnunition

provide a
the War Office wastage scales
It
is
suggested that
sound basis for estimating reserves for a large force on a long term
basis and presupposes that at any one time only a portion of the
force will be in action,
For a small force actively engaged these
scales are considered too small.

Layout of 13.0.W. and B.O.D.


33.
It is considered that wherever possible existing houses
I and 3
should be used for storage as opposed to building sheds.
sub-depots

should be underground to avoid losses by bombing and

fire.
34.
It is suggested that the portions of the B.O.T. should be
intermingled with the B.O.D. in proximity to the sub-depots for
which they work.
Transport in Depots
35.

The permanent

allocation of a

small amount of R.A.S.C.

transport to R.A.O.C. Base depots would enable these depots to


fulfil

urgent

demands rapidly.

Issues of stores at Docks direct to Units


36.

To avoid incorrect issues

considered most inadvisable

it is

Stores
for any items to be issued direct to units in the Docks.
should be taken to Depots where they can be checked and correct
Direct issues will probably produce incorrect demands
issues made.
by the

Service and provision

figures will become confused.

Y4

127 -

ydw

APPMf//N
ORDEPL OF BATTLE
FORCE

HQ

Force HQ
Force sigs
42 Fd Coy RE less one sec
1 Welch
RE stores Depot
231 MT Coy RASC
Sup Depot RASC
Fd Bakery RASC
5 Ind Bde Workshops RAOC
Ordnance Depot RAOC
Amn Depot RAOC
1003 Docks Operating Coy
606 Palestine Pioneer Coy

1004)
1005)
1007)
1008)

Cypriot Pioneer Coys

HERAKLION SECTOR
HQ 14 Inf Bde and Sig Sec
2 BW
2Y& L
2 Leicesters
2 A & SH with det at IESSARA PLAIN
7 Med Regt RA (armed as Inf)
2/4 Aust Inf BN
Det 3 H (6 It tanks)
Det 7 RTR (5 It tanks)
234 Med Bty RA (13 fd guns)
7 Aust Lt AA Bty less one tp and one sec (6 Bofors)
One tp 156 Lt AA Bty RA (4 Bofors)
Two sees C Hy AA Bty PM (four 3 inch guns)
One sec 23 Lt AA Bty RM (two 2 pr pom-poms)
One sec 15 Coast Regt RA (two 4 inch guns)
Sec 42 Fd Coy RE
Det 189 Fd Amb
3 Greek Regt (two bns)
7 Greek Regt (two bns)
RET IMO SECTOR
HQ 19 Aust Inf Bde and Sig Sec
2/1 Aust Inf Bn
At airdrome
2/7 Aust Inf Bn
2/8 Aust Inf Bn
2/11 Aust Inf Bn
At airdrome
One Aust MG Coy
Det 7 RTR (two I tanks)
Sec 106 REA (two 2 pr A/Tk guns)
X Coast Bty (two 4 inch guns)
2/3 Fd Regt RAA (14 fd guns)
2/8 Pd Coy EAE
Two Greek Bns

IIN LB
-

128 -

IF\&

'
Appendix B....

MA.LEME SECTOR
HQ NZ Div and Div Sigs
Det 3 H (10 It tanks)
Det 7 RTR (two I tanks)
One it Tp RA (four 3.7 hows)
One Sec Lt Arty RA (two 3.7 Hows)
27 Fd Bty NZA (ten 75 mm guns)
One tp .and one sec 156 Lt AA Bty RA (6 Bofors)
One tp 7 Aust Lt AA Bty (4 Bofors)
One Sec C AA Bty Rm (two 3 inch guns)
Z Coast Bty RM (two 4 inch guns)
7 Fd Coy NZE
)
employed as Inf
5 Fd Park Coy NZE)
19 A Tps Coy NZE
NOT
) Force Reserve.
4 NZ Inf Bde.
) to be employed without
HQ and Bde Sig Sec
ref to Force HQ
18 Bn
19 En
One MG P1
5 NZ Inf Bde
NQ and Bde Sig Sec
21 3n
22 Bn
23 Bn
28 En
Two MG Pls
10 NZ Inf Ede (improvised)
HQ and 3de Sig Sec
Composite Bn (NZA and NZASC)
Div Cav Det
20 Bn
6 Greek Bn
8 Greek Bn
Two MG Pls less one sec
5 Fd Amb NZMC
6 Fd Amb NZMC

129 -

SUDA BAY SECTOR

HQ MNBDO and Sigs (Sector Hq)


HQ 52 Lt AA Regt RA
151 Hy AA Bty RA (light 3.7 inch)
129 Lt AA Bty RA (12 Bofors)
156 Lt AA Bty RA (less two tps and one sec (2 Bofors)
One Sec 7 Aust Lt AA Bty (two Bofors)
23 Lt AA Bty Rh less two tps (no guns)
HQ Hy AA Regt PM
A Hy AA Bty PM (eight 3 inch guns)
One Sec C Hy AA Bty RM (two 3 inch guns)
234 Hy AA Bty RA (eight 3.7 inch guns)
304 S/L Bty RA (20 lights)
5 S/L Bty PM (no lights)
Sec 106 R-L (two 2 pr A/Tk guns)
HQ 15 Coast Regt RA
Z Coast Bty RA )
207 Coast Bty RA)
13 Notts Bty PA )
7 Notts Bty RA )
One MG P1 NZ
)

two
two
two
two

12 prs
6 inch guns
4 inch guns
DELs

1 Ranger Ls
102 RLHA
(armed as inf)
106 RH
(armed as inf)
16 Aust Inf Bn (composit ;e and improvised)
iI
It
)
17 Aust Inf Bn (
"
It.
1
)
Perivolians Bn (
"
2/2 Aust Fd Regt (armed as inf)
it
It )
2/3 Aust Fd Regt (
"
2 Greek Bn
Base and harbor details
189 Fd Amb
1 Tented Hospital RN

~i~iS.*Ulm

130 -

APPETDIX C
COAST DEFENSE AND Al TTI-AIRCRAFT

ARTILLERY

Coast Defense.
HEBAKLION

One 2-gun 4" battery (15 Coast Regt)


for defense of the harbor.

GEORGOPOULIS

One 2-gun 4" battery and one DEL


(MIBDO) for protection of AERMYRO

each.

SUDA Sector.
KI LIDES

One 6" 2-gun battery (15 Coast Regt)


Counter bombardment and protection of
beach.

SUDI

One 2-gun 4" battery, one 12 pounder


battery, 2 DELs (15 Coast Regt)
Protection of entrance to harbor.

POINT

SUDA ISLAND

Four Vickers MGs (NZ

CANEA

One 2-gun 6" battery and 1 DEL (15 Coast R


Protection of beaches east of THEODORO
ISLAND.

MALEME

One 2-gun 4" battery and one DEL (MN3DO)


Protection of MALEME Leach.

MG

Dn)

The following guns and DELS were in process of


erection on SUDA ISLAND when the attack started:
Four 2 pounder Pom-poms ex MN3DO
Three DELS ex MiNDO
Three in number 6 " P4 guns and mountings ex
India were in the Island but platforms and cage
holdfasts had not been received so these could not
be erected.

Anti-Aircraft.
HEAKLION
Airdrome

Two in number 2-gun sections,


Six static Bofors.
Four mobile Bofors.

Harbor

Two 2-pounder pom-poms ex RN.

131 -

3" (3MNDO)

SSdj
SUDA SECTOR

.2

Two 3.7 batteries in 4-gun sections sited at:


STERNES,

KOFlKES,

CAITErA and SUDA POINT.

Five in number 2-gun 3" sections sited


west of STERNiS, ARONI, ST. JOHNS KILL,
MALAXA and SUDA POINT.
One light battery (12 static Bofors) on
the shores of the anchorage.
Two static Bofors in the Base area.
Two mobile Bofors for "opportunity sites."
In addition two .5" four-bareled MGs ex
lRN were sited for local protection of
3.7" sections.
MALEME

One two-gun 3" section.


Six mobile ofors.
Four static Bofors.

132 -

21

APPENDIX NO.

REPORT ON AIR OPERATIONS IN CRETE


17th April - 21st May, 1941.

With Enclosurers A to G as follows:


A.

D.

C.

D.

E.

F.

G.

Detailed Signals Report, R.A.F.,


Crete, Period 17th April to 31st
May, 1941. Security Measures

Page 161

Report on Attack on 7th General


Hospital, Near Canea

Page 162

Report on the Maleme Airdrome,


May 20, 1941

Page 164

Report on Attack of Maleme by


Airborne Troops

Page 167

Report on the Attack on Maleme


and District May 20th and 21st

Page 169

Report by R~,..
officer on
Attack on Heraklion Area

Page 175

Extracts from a Report on the


Invasion and Evacuation of
No. 220 A.M.E.S. Located Near
Heraklion

Page 183

S133

133 -

rete

REPORT ON
AIR OPERATIONS IN CRETE
17th A-oril - 21st May.
Part 1 - Situation in

1941

CRETE at 17th April.

Part 2 - Operations from CRETE assisting


evacuation from GPRECE.
Part 3 - Phase prior to enemy attack on CRETE.
Part 4 - Airborne attack on CRETE.
Part 5 - Evacuation from CRETE.
Part 6 - Enemy air tactics.
Part 7 - Conclusions.
Part 8 - R.A.F. personnel situation following
evacuation from CRETE.
Enclosures
A - Report on R.A.F. signals in CRETE.
3 - Report by R.A.F. patient at 7th General
Hospital captured by enemy.
C - Report by R.A.F. officer on attack of MALEME.
D -

ditto

E - Report by R.A.F. officer on attack of MALEME


and No. 252 A.M.E.S. Station nearby.
F - Report by R.A.F.
HERAKLION area.

officer on attack of

G - Report by R.A.F. officer on attack of


220 A.M.E.S. Station near }ERAKLION.

Distribution List

H.Q.,

R.A.F.,

G.H.Q.,

A.O.C.-in-C.
A.0.A.
S.A.S.O.
S.Y.O.

M.E.

Copy No. 1
" No. 2
" No. 3
" No. 4
Copies 5-6
Copy No. 7

M.E.

General FREYDERG
Crete Committee
G/Capt. Beamish
Spares

"
"

No.
io.

8
9

Copies 10-12

134 -

t'd

>
lit

REPORT ON R.A.F. OPERATIONTS


IN CRETE
17th April - 31st May, 1941
PART 1 - Situation in

CRETE at 17th April

General situation
CRETE became a major theatre of operations
1.
following the decision to evacuate GREECE.
At this tine the only air forces on the island
2.
were 1 Fleet Air Arm squadron (No. 805) located at MALEM
and providing, as a primary role, fighter defence for the
fleet anchorage at SUDT DAY. This squadron was at very
reduced strength and consisted of a mixture of Fulmers,
Gladiators and 2rewsters; the latter only being flown in
an emergency owing to engine defects.
Aerodrones were available at MALEMYE and HERAK3,
Construction work
LION with one landing strip at RETIMO.
going on at both aerodromes. HE?KLIOIT was fit
was still
for use by all types of aircraft but only fighter aircraft
could operate from MALEM.
A.M.E.S. stations were established at both
4.
MALEME and HEBAKLION; the station at MALEE (No.252) was
in full operation and the other (To.220) was in the final
No. 252 A.M.E.S. fed information into
stages of erection.
Room
at CANEA which was developed as an
Gun
Operations
the
Operations Centre and controlled the fighter and A.A.
defences of SUDA LAY area. No.R.A.F. controllers or operations officers were available at this centre.
One Warrant Observer and one Lieutenant (Meteorological)
attached to the F.A.A. acted as Controllers. No operations
room was available at this time at iHAKLION but a protected
site had been chosen and work was in hand to cohplete the
centre. No R/T connunication was available between G.O.R.
and aircraft.
An efficient Greek observer system was in operation
on the island reporting by telephone to a centre at CAiNA
which was linked to the G.O... CA A.
On 17th April, 1941, Wing Commander G.R. jIEAiISH,
5.
assumed command of R.A.F, in CRETE, taking over the existing small staff of 1 Flight Lieutenant, who had been acting
as S.A.F.O. CRETE, 1 Flight Lieutenant who had been posted as
his relief, and approximately 17 other ranks. R.A.F.
Headquarters was established in the town of CAEA near the
Headauarters of the local military commander and the Naval
Officer in Charge SUDA r.AY. An immediate addition to the
staff was a Chief Signals Officer; additional personnel
were taken over on. arrival of R.A.F. personnel from GREECE,
between 18th and 24th April, including Operations Room
Staffs for HERAKLION and CAI A.
R.A.F, personnel were also located at ERAKLION
6.
on a skeleton basis as a relict from "Z" Win- which had
been formed for operations a.ga.in

135 -

gdttg;

ESE.

Fleet

Page.....2
Air Arm personnel only were at

'iL35.1

7.
Stocks of fuel and ammunition were ai
at I-EAKLION and M1LEME aerodromes and additional
was advised from EGYPT.
io maintenance spares were held on
the island and no naintenance facilities were available.
8.
The main R.A.F. W/T station in CRETE was at
E~'AKLION with point-to-point communication with EGYPT
and GREECE. W/T traffic for S.A.F.O. CRETE at CAEl was
handled by Io.
252 A.M.E.S. at iiALEME and transferred by
D/R to R.A.F. Headquarters.
One telephone line was available between G.O...
CANlEA and P}BEAKLIOI.
MALEMS aerodrome, No. 252 and
No. 220 A.M.E.S., and G.O.R. CAEA were also connected by
direct telephone.
Telephone communication was very poor
and a general shortage of material prevented any major
improvements being made; plans were in hand to improve
the position but it was realised that a nonth at least
would be required to achieve any duplication of telephone
lines.
9.
This was the general situation in CPRTE on the
17th April, At this time no definite information of
evacuation from GREECE was available, but it was known to
be imminent.
PART 2 - Operations from CRETE assisting
Evacuation from GREECE
10.
On the evacuation from GREECE being ordered the
immediate problems confronting the 0.C., R.A.F., CPTE
were:(i)

the provision of fighter protection for


Since there
convoys to and fron GREECE.
were no effective air forces left in GREECE
the entire responsibility for the fighter
protection of all ships taking part in the
evacuation fell on CRETE.

(ii)

provision of administrative arrangements to


receive in CATE R.A.F. personnel evacuated
from GEECE, and re-transfer then to EGYPT
as opportunity offered.

(iii)

the development of a W/T station at CANEA


providing communication with H.Q., R.A.F.,
Middle East, H.Q., D.A.F., GREECE, and all
R.A.F. units in CRETE.

The evacuation of personnel from GREECE to CETE


and finally to EGYPT by Sunderland aircraft temporarily
based at SUDA DAY was decentralized to No. 230 Squadron
under the command of Wing Connander FRA.CIS.

t
.1

s
'

- 136 -

Pa

.....

Fighter protection for convoys - Evacuation from GREECE


11.
To undertake convoy protection NTo. 30 Squadron
equipped with 14 Dlenheim I aircraft, was moved by air
from GREECE to ALEME on April 18th and was supported
subsequently by No. 203 Souadron (9 Blenheim IV's) from
EGYPT, and remnants of Nos. 33, 80 and. 112 Squadrons as
they arrived from GREECE between 22nd and 24th April.
Apart from No. 203 Squadron, all units were in a very
low state of serviceability and no maintenance spares
were available.
No. 30 Squadron had only 6 - 8 serviceable aircraft; Nos. 33 and 80 squadrons were combined
and had a strength of 6 serviceable Hurricanes; No. 112
Squadron had 14 Gladiators of which approximately 6 were
serviceable.
The plan for fighterescorts for convoys was
12.
based on providing patrols of Dlenheim aircraft at maximum
strength in the late evening and early morning to cover
North and South bound convoys respectively, in the vicinity
of the mainland of Greece. As far as serviceability
allowed patrols of six aircraft were employed for this task.
Short range aircraft undertook protection when convoys
approached CuETE and during their disembarkation at SUDA
DAY. Over the intervening area of sea patrols were maintained at a reduced strength. Contingent with serviceability every effort was made to provide some aircraft over
the convoy throughout the hours of daylight.
Fighter escorts were provided on this plan
throughout the evacuation between the 21st and 29th April.
Nos. 112 and 203 squadrons being located at HEI KLION and
On 30th April and Ist
the remaining units at MALEME.
May No. 203 Squadron aircraft were returned to EGYPT.
Reception of personnel from GREECE
To receive R.A.F. personnnel from GREECE in CETE
13.
an R.A.F. Transit Camp was established on 19th April at a
well concealed site with an abundance of natural cover
near SUI A AY. With the small R.A.F. staff available the
organization of this camp was a formidable undertaking.
However, it was established with the aid of R.t.F. personnel
which was diverted
disembarked at CETE from S.S. DUNAI
to CRETE when on its way to G EECE by H.Q., R.A.F., Middle East.
Off-loading of the material on this ship and its transferance to the dispersal area was also undertaken and achieved
more than 24 hours - a superhuman effort with the
in little
small number of personnel and the limited transport available.
The Transit Camp aimed at providing hot food for
14.
all prsonnel on arrival and accommodation for all R.A.F.
lankets were
personnel during their stay in CRETE.
Additionally, an Officers
available for all personnel.
Mess was established in CANEA and provided accommodation
..F., GREECE officers, and those officers not
for H.Q.,
required with their units in Transit Camp.
Despite the improvised nature of the arrangements
and the fact that it was organized at short notice the
Officers Mess and Transit Camp were a success and met their
purposes adequately; 1500 ogF lranks was the peak figure

reached. in the Transit Camlifi.2i

I a ,

A S$i

The Camp was maintained in one


May 9th when the final evacuation of all the renaining
R.A.F. personnel took place by sea. From the 23rd
April personnel were being transferred to EGYPT by
Dombor Transport and Sunderland aircraft while a large
proportion were cleared by ship on 29th April.

.4

WIT communication at CA~EA


15.
By 19th April W/T communication was established
with H.Q., R.A.F., Middle East, H.Q., S.A.F., GREECE and
all R.A.F. units in CRETE by R.A.F. pack sets.
A special night frequency was required for
communication with H.Q., R.A.F., Middle East owing to the
peculiar local wireless phenomona. A report on R.A.F.
signals during the whole period is given at Enclosure "A".
PART 3 - Phase prior to enemy attack
on CRETE

16.
On completion of the evacuation of all R.A.F.
personnel to EGYPT from GREECE via CRETE the following
units renained:Unit
- -- No.
(K

30 Sqcln.

.l

Personnel strength
-Less number of personnel
not required owing to
breaking up of specialist
sections.

Full a/c
strength
12

No. 33 Sqdn.)
No. 80 "
)

skelton units which were


combined to form a Hurricane unit.
80 Sauadron
had only very few personnel
in C ETE, and 33 Sauadron
was at approx. half squadron
strength.

ITo.

small maintenance party only


retained to operate Gladiator aircraft for short period

112 Sqdn.

(HaEKLITON)

No. 805 F.A.A.


S qdn.
(MaLEIE)
No. 252
No. 250

full squadron strength but


very small number of a/craft.

A.M.E.S.) full strength in personnel


A.M.E.S.)

17.
Owing to intensity of operations in GREECE the
general state of serviceability of aircraft was very low
and could not be improved owing to lack of snares on the
island.
In the conditions. a high degree of serviceability
was in fact maintained for a short period by robbing
unserviceable aircraft; it was clear, however, that any

Amok

BE

high standard of serviceability could not be maintained


without maintenance facilities.
From the personnel aspect, all personnel ex
GREECE had had a very strenuous time and arrived in CRTE
somewhat low-spirited. Virtually all personnel had
lost their kit and had only the clothes.. they stood in
and required every encouragement to continue at a satisfactory state of efficiency. It was the policy as far
as possible to retain with units only the minimum of
personnel, thus allowing the remainder to return to
EGYPT for a short rest and to be re-kitted.
The intention of the A.0.C.-in-C. was to build up No. 33 squadron
to full squadron strength with new pilots and aircraft
from EGYPT; No. 30 Squadron being retained temporarily
in CRETE for convoy protection duties and No. 112
Squadron for local protection of the IAXiKLIOT area.
Following the evacuation of GREECE the enemy
18.
continued intensive air operations against our shipping
at sea and in the vicinity of CRETE and SUDA DAY anchorage; frequent enemy reconnaissance flights were now
Our commitments in counterbeing made over the island.
ing this activity by the enemy allowed no relaxation of
effort and units were operating at high pressure.
In. this period, STo. 30 Squadron continued to
19.
provide convoy protection for shipping to and from CRETE
and also undertook daily reconnaissance flights in the
The
I~cTIZRA Channel area for enemy shipping movements.
and I~RKiIO T in the defence of
remaining units at iiALE
local areas and of SUDA 7 Y anchorage and in the denial
of air reconnaissance to the enemy.
The plan for the employment of short range
fighter aircraft was to maintain aircraft at readiness
On early warning of 1 plus aircraft
on the aerodrome.
being plotted, one aircraft came to stand by; if the
aircraft approached the island and was identified as
enemy the stand by aircraft took off and nade contact
with Operations Rooms by R/T (this had been developed
in the meantime) 50% of the remaining serviceable aircraft were then brought to stand by.
If the raid
became a number of enemy aircraft all aircraft at stand
by took off to engage the enemy the remainder being
brought to stand by and remained under orders of the
Controller at the Operations Centres.
During periods of congestion at SUDA :7 AY when
unloading ships, standing patrols of one aircraft were
maintained over this area by units located at MA LEME.
The periods of readiness were a great strain on
pilots and it was found desirable to pool pilots of units
at MAiLEME to relieve the burden.
Very good results were being obtained by
A weak sector however
A.M.E.S. stations at this time.
existed parallel to the coast and also for enemy aircraft
warning was
aproaching from the South very little
received.
Preparations

to meet enemy invasion

From reliable information received it was clear


20.
attack on CRETE was to be air borne.
enemy
the
that

ICI 4SL9IED
Each aerodrome or landing ground was, therefore, a
possible landing place for enemy transport aircraft
and so re;-resented a potential menace to the security
of the island. Owing to the weak garrison of the
island it was agreed with the G.O.C.-in-C. that no
additional landing strips were to be constructed and a
new site at PEDIADA IASTELLI then under construction
was to be permanently obstructed, which was done by
digging trenches across the site and piling earth between
trenches; further possible now landing ground sites in
the ZESSA A Plain and near DE-ES in the'W estern end of
the island were not to be developed.
21.
The existing aerodrome and landing grounds
were situated at points on the island where it was
essential to locate land forces and it was therefore
decided to retain them in use to provide bases from which
fighters could operate to reduce the scale of enemy
air attack. The G.O.C.-in-C. had every confidence in
the ability of the land forces to hold these aerodromes.
22.
Stocks of fuel and ammunition were established
at each aerodrome and at tETIMO where also a signals
detachment and a small refuelling and rearming party
were also located.
R.A.F. Detachment EI
were
weLIOT
responsible for mnaintaining stocks at IETIM.O
All aerodromes and RETIMO landing ground were
23.
linked by W/T and by one tele phone line through G.O.R.
CAI.A with H. Q., R.A.F., CANEA; the telephone was most
unsatisfactory as it was used to capacity for reporting
aircraft. All teleohone lines were overhead and likely
to be damaged by bombs or sabotage.
The A.M.E.S.
stations had W/T stand by communication with Operations
Centres.
TRETIMO did not hold cypher books but employed
transposition code for communication with H.Q., R.A.F.,
CAiA and iE KLION, with key sentences sent to them by
special D/IR.
24.
All useless ground on aerodromes was blocked
This particularly
with barrels filled with earth.
applied to the large aerodrome at PE AKLIO i which by this
means was reduced to flight paths with access to and from
VJith the
then to dispersal areas and protective pens.
iALE2i aerodrone only a comparatively
restricted size of
small area on the Western side of the aerodrome could be
As an additional measure full petrol
obstructed.
also located on the aerodrome covered by
were
barrels
machine gun fire so that they could be ignited on transport aircraft landing.
Protective pens were constructed at both
25.
At ?iAKLLIONT large stone built
EI?2AKLIOI and iLALEME.
pens existed to house 3 to 4 aircraft and these were
Triangular pens were
sub-divided to hold 2 aircraft.
built on the aerocdrome adjoining the main runway, with
The total number of pens avilable was
petrol barrels.
pens were malde by excavating into the
At iJALEMi
9.
shallow hill ledge on the South side of the aerodrome.
The height of the walls of thp
edl by
h-ens
using petrol
I
B ages of
e
r
were availab
construction.
days
-

140 -

with shortage

of labour and interruption

nW

raids. Much time was lost with lack of spades nn


to cut the tops off petrol barrels.
Pens were located under cover of a concentration
of Dofors guns: at MALEI
in particular an approach from
the sea was forced on the enemy, as when enemy aircraft
made a low attack from the South over the hills they had
very little time to locate the pens and from the angle of
approach the pens made a very poor target.
Aircraft from
AIKLION were moved each night at
cask to RETIMO, returning to -ERALION early the following
morning.
26.
Petrol an armunition was built into selected
pens on the aerodromes which were available for refuelling
and rearming aircraft. At PETIMO no protective pens were
available but a path was constructed from the landing
ground area leading to a small olive grove which provided
cover for a small number of aircarft.
Petrol and amm.unition were stored near this point. In all cases at
aerodromes refuelling pens were marked with a red flag;
pilots of all units were warned of the detailed location of
these iens and therefore could get off the landing area

with a minimum of delay to protective covering.


27.
A ground signal was established at a prominent
point on all aerodromes indicating the serviceability of
the aerodrome.
The signal consisted of 2 boards auproximately 15 feet long by 2 feet wide. If these boards were
in parallel the aerodrome was fit for use but if crossed at an
angle of 90 degrees this signified "DO NOT LANTD" and
aircraft were then to proceed to either of the other
aerodromes to refuel and rearm.
The position of this
ground signal at each of the 3 aerodromes was circulated
to all pilots.
28.
R/T communication was develomed at G.O.R. CAIZA
and Operations Room
iAKLION for the control of the
fighter aircraft. An additional benefit from this was
that pilots could be informed in the air of the state of
serviceability of all aerodromes if any surprise attacks
developed.
29.
The A.A. strength at MAEiMf and IEsRaLION was
built up to 10 Dofors guns, with one 3" gun section at
iMALEiE and two 3" gun sections at : E9 KLION.
Alternative
sites for 3bfor.s and machine guns were established around
the aerodrome, each site being protected with sandbags and
camouflag;ed; and slit trenches were available for gun
crews. In addition up to 40 machine guns provided by
the Army and R.A.F. were available at or near the aerodrones. A proportion of the R.A.F. machine guns were to
be retained undisclosed in buildings overlooking the
aerodromes during any preliminary attack. No A.A. guns
were located at RETIMO and A.A. defence was limited to
machine guns provided by the land garrison.
the 16th May two "I" tanks had been established near each aerodrome as an additional form of defence.

-,y

30.
Defence plans were prepared for all R.A.F.
units in C1ETE and agreed between the local R.A.F. and
Army Conmmandres. A.M.E.S. stations were provided with
a barbed wire surround, All Officers Commanding Units
were warned of the po i'
t o a b

31.
A strong liaison was built up by frea
between Operations Room controllers, fighter squadron
personnel, and Officers Commanding A.M.E.S. stations with
the object of establishing mutual confidence and the whole
was a very good working organization. Co-operation was
developed also between both Operations Centres and plots
of aircraft were interchanged between Centres.
32.
H.Q., R.A.F., CRETE was moved from the town of
CANEA to a semi-protected site on the hillside on the
East side of the town and alongside Army Headquarters.
A tented camp under cover of olive groves was erected for
personnel.
33.
Slit trenches and orotected constructions were
available on a large scale at all R.A.F. units to accommodate personnel.
Enemy operations
34.
From the beginning of May until the 13th May the
enemy air force concentrated on the attack of our shipping
to and from CRETE and while at SUDA BAY.
From 13th May onwards the enemy increased the
scope and scale of attacks to include our aerodromes at
MALEM and KIRAILION. At the outset only spasmodic
bombing and occasional low flying attacks were undertaken
against these objectives but these grew in intensity and
frequency. In all attacks the enemy had a very great
numerical superiority which included a preponderance of
fighter aircraft either carrying out low flying attack or
providing a heavy escort for the bombers and dive bombers.
In all cases, except on approach from the South, we had
some warning of the approach of enemy aircraft.
As a result of these enemy attacks our air forces
were gradually being eliminated despite being reinforced by
10 Hurricanes over the period.
However toll of the enemy
was taken and 23 enemy aircraft had been shot down
confirmed, 9 unconfirmed and a further 11 damaged.
The
heroic performance of the small number of fighter aircraft
in CRETE is beyond praise.
For,some days pilots gave
battle on every occasion at very great odds and would have
continued to do so cheerfully but it was realised that,
to continue, was a waste of men and material. A priority
of attack tf enemy aircraft was laid down but this proved
impracticable as enemy fighter aircraft were always in
force to protect their bomber formations and engage our
fighters. Towards the end of this phase of enemy air
attacks on aerodromes our fighter aircraft were therefore
employed to deny the enemy air reconnaissance and to
undertake reconnaissance sorties; investigation of
intelligence reports such as aerodrone construction on
the island of MILOS, reported concentration of enemy tanks
in the MONI\VASIA area were examples of tasks carried out.
35.
By May 19th our air forces were reduced to 3
Hurricanes and 3 Gladiators serviceable at HERAKLION for
operations; the Hurricanes had arrived from EGYPT 2 days
previously; 1 Hurricane only remained at MALEME. No.30
Squadron Blenheims were moved to EGYPT as they became
unserviceable for operations commencing May 7th, and were
finally all moved by May 16th. a
o duty had then dim-

s 4tA~$~s~

inished. and the Blenhei aircraf

enemy fighters.
At this tine the enemy were attacking
" kf
aerodromes with large numbers of fighter aircraft and it
was clear that if our aircraft remained they would either
be shot down by sheer weight of numbers or burnt up on the
ground. No large scale fighter reinforcements were available from EGYPT.
In consequence it was decided, in agreement with
the G.O.C.-in-C. to fly the remaining serviceable aircraft
back to EGYPT at first
light on May 19th until these attacks
lessened.
The intention was to return these aircraft to
aerodromes in CRETE at a later stage and in greater numbers.
Maintenance personnel were retained at aerodromes to receive
aircraft on their return from EGYPT.
36.
The enemy attacks on aerodromes included also the
neutralization of our A.A. defences around the aerodromes.
The continuous daily bombing and low straffing had the very
greatest effect in wearying the gun crews and lowering their
morale.
R.A.F.. operations during phase nrior to enemy attack on CRETE
37.
During the establishment of enemy air concentrations
in GREECE for the campaign against CRETE attacks on Greek
aerodromes were made nightly by Wellington aircraft operating
from EGYPT; and in one case by Beaufighters which were
transferred from MALTA to iHERAKLIOT on the 18th May returning
direct to MALTA on completion of the attack on the 17th May.
Details of attacks are:Night 13/14 May
2 Wellingtons attacked HASSANI aerodrome
2 Wellingtons attacked MEN IDI aerrorome
Niiht 14/15 May
6 Wellingtons attacked KASSA I MENIDI and MECCARA aerodromes

Night 16/17 May


16 Wellingtons attacked MENIDI ARGOS and MOLADI aerodromes
2 Wellingtons attacked MARITEA aerodrome RHODES.
Morning 17th May
8 Beaufighters attacked concentrations of aircraft
at MOLAOY ARGOS and HASSATI aerodromes.
Night 17/18 May
1 Wellington attacked GALATO aerodrome (RHODES)

iTight 18/19 May


3 Wellingtons attacked HASSANI and ELEUSIS aerodrome

An accurate assessment of damage caused on these


raids cannot be made but it is certain that considerable
material danage to enemy aircraft was inflicted.

143

PART 4 - Airborne Attack on

CREE

'

38.
On the 20th May the attack on CRETE commenced and the
narrative of events is given below.
NARRATIVE OF EVENTS
20th May
39.
MALEME aerodrome was very heavily bombed and machine gunned
from approximately 07.00 hours. Shortly after 08.00 hours some 50
(approximately) gliders began to land in the neighbourhood, mainly in
the wadi on the Western side of the aerodrome. At 08.51 hours parachutists landed on the Western fringe of the aerodrome and East and West
of the aerodrome, also West and South-west of CANEA, on the AKROTIRI
Peninsular (North-east of CANEA) and in the SUDA BAY area. Six gliders
were landed on the AKROTIRI Peninsular and three in the vicinity of SUDA
BAY and CANEA.
A high proportion of the parachutists landing East of MLE
aerodrome were killed while the parties near CANEA were also rapidly
mopped up; some snipers however remained on the AXROTIRI Peninsular near
Headquarters.
A small number of JU-52 aircraft crash landed on the beach
adjoining the aerodrome on the North side and on the aerodrome itself.
The General Hospital near CA:NEA was captured at 10:30 hours
but was retaken later in the morning. (A report by an R.A.F. patient is
given at Enclosure "B")
Low flying machine gun and cannon attacks were carried out
by the enemy on a heavy and sustained scale over the CAiEA - MAL :EE
areas particularly where there were no enemy troops.
Enemy reconnaissance aircraft were most active throughout
the day particularly over areas where parachutists had been landed.
Further parachutists landed West of iVALEM aerodrome in
late afternoon.
OANEA town was heavily bombed.
In the evening our land forces near the aerodrome were
forced to retreat to positions approximately 2 miles to the East.
Heavy air attacks on HERAKLION and light scale attack on
RETIMO during the afternoon and morning respectively followed by parachute landings at 1800 hours approximately at RETIMO and 1845 hours at
IHERAI ION. Parachute troops landed in the ERAKLION area East and West
of the aerodrome and also West of the town. At neither aerodrome did
the enemy have any substantial success though parachute troops established themselves to the East of RETIMO Landing Ground. At both places
enemy casualties in parachute troops were heavy.
It is estimated that during the first day the following
numbers of parachute and glider-borne troops were landed:-

CAIEA
MALJIE
RETIMO
HZEAKLION

1,800
1,700
1,700
2,000

May 21st
40.
From 07.00 hours widespread bombing attacks took place in
the MALEME - CANEA area.

- 144. -

SSIFIED

liCLA,

Continuous enemy air reconnaissance over the area.


Further parachute troops landed West of MALAE aerodrome
and South West of CANEA about 09.00 hours and were further reinforced
later in the morning.
At midday troop transport aircraft commenced to land on
the West side of MALEME aerodrome and some of the beaches. Throughout
the afternoon and evening an increasing number landed and took off from
the West side of the aerodrome.
A further batch of parachute troops landed at 16.00 hours
East of,the aerodrome near New Zealand battalions and were quickly
mopped up.
A sustained scale of low flying attack using machine guns
and cannon guns and light bombs was maintained throughout the day over
the area of fighting. Bombing was continuous in the MALEIE area.
CANEA town heavily bombed.
During the morning enemy air reconnaissance was active over
the HEPRILION area and was accompanied by widespread bombing and machine
gun attacks mainly directed against aerodrome defences.
The enemy parachutists which had landed the previous evening
attacked HERALION town; the attack was repulsed chiefly by the Greeks
who inflicted heavy casualties.
In the evening further parachute troops and material were
dropped at points where the enemy had established defensive positions
including one position near the road from HERAILION to SUDA.
At RETIMO a successful counter attack by GREEKS and
AUSTRALIANS forced the enemy to retire some distance from the aerodrome.
The Navy intercepted an attempt at seaborne invasion that
night.
Mav

22nd

41.
An attempt by our land forces to recapture iMAiEME aerodrome
in the early hours of the morning was only partly successful and eventually they were forced to retreat from the aerodrome as a result of intensive enemy air action.
Troop carriers continued to land at MiALEME aerodrome in a
continuous stream throughout the day.
At HEIRtEAION a further large number of parachute troops
landed East of the aerodrome and West of the town but none succeeded in
landing on the aerodrome itself.
At RETIMO a small enemy party cut road communication with
CANEA by establishing itself
in strong position across the road on the
West side of the aerodrome.
Enemy air activity was widespread in the MALEME and
HERAKLION.areas throughout the day. Dive bombing of our troops and
advanced positions predominated as 'a form of attack.
The Navy intercepted a further attempt at sea-borne invasion
that night.
Mayl 23rd
42.
As a result of the counter attack on the aerodrome the day
previously, a gap had been left between brigades in this area. The
enemy advanced into this gap and further retreat to the East was nacos-

sary.
Further troop carrying aircraft landed throughout the day
at IMLEME.
Further reinforcements were landed at IRAELION and by the
mortar
and machine gun fire was brought to bear on the aerodrome
afternoon
and camp.

U
A

Heavy bombing attack on Itown.


At RETIMO an unsuccessful attempt was made to clear the
enemy out of strong points in the vicinity of the aerodrome.
The scale of enemy air attack showed no decrease. Dive
bombing was now confined mainly to close support of enemy land forces,

May 24th
43.
Heavy air attacks on our positions in the NALE sector
and on CAiEA town.
Heavier bombs were used against the positions of
our land forces.
The enemy began to advance along the coast .towards CANEA
and our right flank was heavily pressed.
No major change in the situation either at IERAKLION or
RETIMO.
IERAKION
aerodrome reported untenable as a result of enemy
machine gun and mortar fire.
May 25th
44.
The enemy continued his advance towards CATEA, the advance
being accompanied by a heavy scale of dive bombing and low flying
attacks.
CAREA town again heavily bombed.
No change in the situation at HERALION or RETIMO.
May 26th
45.
Severe fighting continued all day in the area between
CAtEA and MALEME.
General situation deteriorating.
Enemy air activity showed no relaxation of effort.
No change in the situation at HERIKLION or BETIMO.
May 27th
46.

Our land forces took up positions near CANEA.


The situation now showed grave deterioration; preparations
being made for evacuation.
A proportion of enemy air activity now transferred to back
areas East of SUDA BAY.
Movement on roads was particularly harassed;
millages on the roads towards RETIMO and SPAHKIA bombed. Heavy bombing
attack on IHE KLION town. No change in military situation at RETIMO
or HE A'KLION.
May 28th
47.
Army fighting rearguard action in SUDA BAY area. Enemy
air activity in rear areas. SPAIIA bombed.
Enemy fighter patrols
harassing road movement towards SPAHKIA. Enemy reconnaissance aircraft
frequently over SPAHKIA area.
HERAKLION garrison evacuated night 28/29 May.
Further
parachute landings in the ERALION area on the evening of the 28th
May and enemy now had strong forces established on the East side of'
the aerodrome, also on the road leading to the South of the island and
to the West of the town.
Strong attack probable on 29th May.
Situation at PRTIMO unchanged.
May 29th
48.

Enemy land forces moving slowly along SIDA - SPAHIIA road.

1L46.

".

CLAS S In

SPAELA dive bombed during evening.


Enemy air reconnaissance over back areas.
Convoy with HEIRAKLION garrison dive bombed throughout day.
Final rearguard position dletermined.
Evacuation commenced.
May 30th. 31st and June 1st.
Evacuation continued during these nights without serious
49.
interference from the enemy. Enemy scale of air attack in back areas
reduced.
Two Sunderland aircraft were employed on the nights of
30/31 May and 31st May/lst June to assist evacuation.
Reports by Rt officers on the attack on MALEME and
and ' F
tD1 , 1'E
HEIKLION are given at Enclosures 'C1,

- 147-

R.A.F.

0 erations during the attack on CRETE.

50.
Aircraft operating from bases in EGYPT which had been
bombing enemy aerodromes in Southern GREECE and the DODECANESE
regularly since May 13th, continued their attacks after the invasion
started.
On the night of May 20/21 TOPOLIA, METIDI, ELEUSIS and
MOLASI were bombed.
Several fires and explosions were caused and at
ELEUSIS bombs fell
among dispersed aircraft.
The first
attack on
MJALEME aerodrome after the invasion started was planned for the night
of May 22/23 but aircraft of the South African Air Force were unable
to take off owing to bad weather conditions in the Western Desert.
These conditions persisted for 2 days.
51.
On the morning of May 23rd two flights of 6 Hurricanes
each were despatched to CRETE with orders to land at HERAKLION.
Unfortunately the first
flight was shot up by a Naval barrage en route.
Two of them were shot down, 3 returned to their base, 1 landed at
HERKLIO.. Of the second flight four were rendered unserviceable owing
to damaged tail
wheels on arrival and were returned to EGYPT the following morning; of the remainder one was shot up and burned out on the
ground by enemy aircraft on the following morning.
The first
actual attack was made on May 23rd by 12 Blenhieims
which bombed enemy positions in the afternoon.
An attack was made by
Blenheims and Marylands in the evening.
These bombed and machine gunned
about 130 JU.52' s, ten of these were seen to be destroyed and many
others damaged.
52.
The next night (24th) 8 Wellingtons bombed JALE~E aerodrome.
Large persistent fires were started.and five other fires were seen on
the beach. During the day 5 Hurricanes attacked enemy positions in
HERAKLION area. At dawn on May 25th Hurricanes and fighter Blenheims
were despatched to MALEME but failed to find their objective as a
result of low cloud and very heavy mist.
Later in the nmorning Marylands
and Hurricanes succeeded in finding their target and bombed and machine
gunned aircraft on the aerodrome.
About 24 JU.52's and fighters were
destroyed.
In the afternoon 2 Blenheims bombed aircraft on the ground
and sticks were seen to fall among them.
That night MALEME was again
botmbed, this tine by four Wellingtons which also attacked the beaches
near the aerodrone.
53.
On May 26th 6 Hurricanes attacked MALIIE, 5 JU. 52' s are
known to have been destroyed.
Several other aircraft were probably
In this attack many JU. 52' s were damaged on the ground by
shot down.
machine gun fire. At dusk Blenheins and Marylands set fire to other
JU. 52' s on MALEME aerodrome.
That night a further raid was nade.
Five aircraft are believed to have been destroyed.
Explosions on the
beaches were heard which were followed by fires.
54.
On the night of May 27th Blenheins and Hurricanes shot
do-wn three JU. 881 s over the sea and at dusk further Blenheins
attacked MMAMiE aerodrone and destroyed several of the 100 aircraft
(approximately) which were seen on the ground.
That night Wellingtons detailed to attack troop concentrations failed to find their target and bombed MALEME aerodrome instead.

- 148 -

Seven fires were started, one causing four explosions.


also attacked that night and again on the following night (28th) with
8 Wellingtons taking part. A fire was followed by a violent explosion.
55.
Six Wellingtons attacked SCARPANTO on the night of May
29/30. Two others attacked MALEME aerodrome and a further two bombed
CATAVIA (RHODES). No results were seen in any of these three raids.
56.
The next night (30/31 May) 10 Wellingtons bombed MALEME
and HEERALION. At iA:EME large fires were started on the aerodrome and
3 unidentified aircraft were burnit out. At HERAKLION large fires were
started on the aerodrome followed by explosions and six JJ. 52s were
damaged on the ground.
57.
Fighter patrols were maintained over H. M. Ships moving to
and from CRETE.
These were continued the next day.
5 Ju. 88' s, 1 Me.
110, 2 Cant 1007 and 1 S.79 were shot down and 3 JUJ. 88's were damaged.
58.
EERAILION was again bombed on the night of May 31/June 1.
One large fire was started but this prevented further results.being
observed. 5 Wellingtons bombed lMAEME where they destroyed 4 aircraft
and probably 5 others and started 4 fires.
59.
In addition to these offensive operations medical supplies
and food were dropped at HERAKLION and RETIMO on the night of May 23rd.
Unfortunately those at RETIM dropped into the sea but further supplies
were landed safely on the night of May 24/25. Supplies were also
dropped on May 31st for troops awaiting embarkation at SPACIA.

149 .--

PARICLf

EVACUATION OF CRETE
MALEME AREA
60.
When RAF personnel from Nos. 30 and 33 squadrons and No.
252 A.M.E.S. arrived at H.Q., R.A.F., CRETE on May 23rd from the fighting zone around MALEME they were in an exhausted and pitiable condition.
They had been through the heaviest fighting and borne a share of the
brunt of the parachute and glider attack on the aerodrome and had lost
all value as fighting troops. In consequence, 0.C0., R.A.F., CRETE decided on May 24th to move these personnel, together with the R.A.F.
Headquarters personnel not required, from CANEA to a camp site near
VAMOS (12 miles East of SUDA BAY) and away from the fighting area. The
party was approximately 230 strong of all ranks. R.A.F. operational
headquarters, including 0.C., R.F.F., CRETE, Signals and Cypher personnel, remained with Army Headquarters.
61.
The personnel of No. 805" (F.A.A.) squadron at MALEME had
filtered back to CAIEA at the same time as the R.A.F. personnel. These
reported to the Naval Officer i/c SUDA BAY and were subsequently evacuated by ship from SUDA BAY later.
62.
On May 26th the Army front West of CANEA was broken.
In
discussion with the G.0.C-inC., it was determined by O.C., R.A.F., CRETE,
that no offensive action was then possible as his troops were in no condition for such action. The military plan then was to hold a position
near SUDA BAY. It was clear at this time that evacuation from the island
was the only course of action open. This had been represented to G.H.Q.,
M.E., by the G.O. C-inC., but no approval had been received.
63.
Anticipating this development, 0.C0., R.A.F., CRETE, moved
the R.A.F. personnel from the camp near VAMOS and the 230 Squadron
detachment from SUDA BAY to SPAHKIA on the South coast, a probable port
for evacuation, during the night of 26/27 May.
Three days rations were
taken for the party and a strong signals party accompanied it. R.A.F.
operational headquarters continued to remain with Army Headquarters.
Headquarters R.A.F. Middle East was notified by signal of this action
and was also informed of the disposition of all R.A.F. personnel on
the island at this time.
64.
The party arrived at SPABKIA on the morning of the 27th
May and established themselves in caves near the beach and opened up
signals communication with Headquarters R.A.F. CRETE and Headquarters
R.A.F. Middle East and announced their arrival.
During the day the
party was joined by airmen of No. 252 A.M.E.S. who had escaped southwards after the attack on MALEME.
On the 28th May Army Headquarters and R.A.F. operational
65.
Headquarters arrived at SPAHKIA.
Evacuation had then been ordered.
On the night of 28/29, May 100 R.A.F. personnel were evac66.
uated to EGYPT by destroyer. On the following night the remaining R.A.F.
personnel at SPAIIKLA, less R.A.F. operational Headquarters, were despatched by Glen ship to EGYPT.

-150--

U ASSIFIED

67.
On the night of 30/31 May 0.0. R.A.F. CRETE together with
the G.O. C-inC. and Naval Officer i/c SUDA BAY and their respective
staffs were evacuated to EGYPT by Sunderland. It should be noted here
that arrangements at AO0UKIR for the reception of this party were
excellent; hot food.and beds were available for the whole party in the
officers' Mess. 0.0. R.AF. ABOUKIR (Group Captain CULL, D.S.O.) was
there in person to greet the evacuated party.
_HERAKLION AREA
68.
At 0600 hours on 28th May, 0.C., R.A.F. HERAKLION was informed by the local Army authorities of the decision to evacuate that
night. O.C.R.F.F. HERAKLION did not inform the bulk of his airmen
until 21.00 hours but officers were informed during the day of this

decision.
69.
Owing to road communication to the South of the island
being blocked it was impossible to inform the party at MASSARA plain,
which had been sent there to open up a landing ground, of the decision
to evacuate, and wireless communication was not possible. O.C.R.A.F.
IERAKLION appreciated that the R.A.P. personnel in the southern area
of MASSARA Plain should be in a position to get away from the South
coast. The numbers of personnel involved were approximately 9 officers
and 52 other ranks.
70.
On arrival at ABOURIR Group Captain BEAMISH was informed
of the R.A.F. personnel on MASSARA Plain and he reported the situation
again to H.Q., R.A.F., M.E. and to the R.A.F. Liaison Officer with the
local naval authorities, but at that time nothing could be done to
achieve their evacuation, It was known that the R.AoF. party in the
MASSARA Plain were in touch with the local army authorities in that

area.
71.
R.A.F. EERAKLION, including No. 220 A.M.E.S. personnel,
were embarked on H.M.S. ORION.
The embarkation of the party was uneventful. However, at about 0700 hours on the morning of 30th May the
ship was attacked by dive bombers; these attacks were sustained throughout the day until 1500 hours. During this time three direct hits with,
it is believed, 1000 lb bombs, were registered on the ship and the
resulting casualties were heavy, mainly to Army personnel, but 2 R.A.F.
personnel were killed, 11 were wounded, and 11 are missing and presumed
killed; many bodies on board being blown to pieces making identification
impossible.
72.
On the night of the 2nd/3rd June a small party of all
Services made an M.L.C. serviceable which had been left on the beach
near TYMBAKI by the Navy and evacuated approximately 77 personnel of
all services; 9 R.A.F. personnel were included of which 3 were S.A.A.F.,
part of the flying crew of a Maryland which crashed near TYMBAKI on
25th May.
About 20 miles from CRETE an Italian submarine was encountered which took all officers prisoners, including 2 R.A.F. officers
(No. 112 Squadron) and 2 S.A.A.F. officers (No. 24 Squadron).
The survivors arrived in EGYPT on 5th June and reported
that approximately 1000 British personnel were in the TUMBAKI area;
the remaining R.A.F. personnel had/been injured. as far as was known by
the intensive day and night bombing and machine gun attacks which had
been undertaken by the enemy in that area.

- 151--

SL.4ASS

ED

73.
One R.A.F. officer and 11 other ranks were located at
RETIMO. No communication was possible with this detachment as the
roads from CATEA and HERAKLION were blocked by the enemy.
It is not
known whether the decision to evacuate was received by the British
troops in the RETIMO area. The R.A.F. personnel were under the guidance of the local Army commander in that area.

74.
The R.A.F. personnel situation following the evacuation
of CRETE is given in Part 8 of this report.
PART 6
ENEMY AIR TACTICS
Reconnaissance
75.
The enemy maintained intensive air reconnaissance over
CRETE during the period prior to the attack and during the attack itself.
While our fighter aircraft were in operation the majority
were high flying single sorties (about 15-20,000 ft.)
obviously taking
photographs.
From a crashed aircraft a most detailed photographic mosaic
of the RETIMO area was found and it can be assumed that detailed photographs were available of all relevant areas in CRETE.
It was quite normal for 4 or 5 reconnaissance aircraft to
be operating at intervals over the island daily. Dornier 17s and 215s
were normally used.
During the attack when our air forces had been neutralized
continuous reconnaissance was carried out from a very low height and at
a very low speed. Dornier aircraft were again employed and in a few
cases Henschel 126 aircraft were seen. To assist reconnaissance aircraft locating their own troops in this phase, white Verey light signals
were employed by enemy ground forces and ground strips were also used
as ground to air signals. Large Nazi flags were also placed on the
ground or on trees at conspicuous positions to indicate positions of
ground forces.
Messages were not dropped from the air or picked up
from the ground.
It is most probable that R/T communication was available in aircraft undertaking close reconnaissance.
Bombing and dive bombing
76.
Attacks against aerodrome defences, shipping, A.A. and
coast defence positions and against our land forces were mainly dive
bombing attacks. Some medium level bombing was also employed against
aerodrome defences, shipping and A.A. positions at SUDA BAY, while low
level attacks were used against CANEA town, aerodrome defences at
iALEE, and HERAi
ION, and our Army positions in the MALETvE-CANEA area.
While our fighters were operative enemy bombing raids were
practically always escorted and protected.
The tactics were for a small
formation of fighters to accompany the bombers and remain high above the
objective during the attack, while a further independent fornation
circled.the aerodrome from which opposition could be expected. Me. 109s
and ll0s were employed.

- 152.-

ANCLASSIFIED
For the bombing attacks, the greater proportion of aircraft were JU. 87, JU. 88, Do. 17 and Do. 215, though some He. 11 were
seen at intervals, JU. 88s predominated. Dive bombers operated in
loose formations of 3 - 12 aircraft; the attack was sustained by waves
of aircraft operating in succession, small formations up to a maximum
of 9 aircraft undertook medium level and low level attacks.
The topography of CRETE is such that objectives were readily
located on closing the island. Bomber formations frequently approached
direct to the objective and carried out attacks without delay if fighter
opposition was to be expected. A proportion of bomber formations, however, appeared to make a landfall near RETIMO and swing right or left
depending on the objective being CAITEA in the SUDA BAY area or HER AsJZION.
Each dive bomber appeared to be allotted a particular
objective and attacked individually, Almost invariably the get away
was made to seaward at a low altitude when fighter aircraft were operating.
Dive bombing against the well defended SUDA BAY area, was
resolutely carried out in the face of A.A. opposition. FNormally the
dive commenced at approximately 8-6,000 feet and bombs were released at
a steep angle of dive at about 3,000 feet; the aircraft made their get
away at a very low height over the hill tops and headed seaward. The
individual standard of bomb aiming did not appear high, but the results
were achieved with humbers of aircraft employed.
When fighter opposition was improbable, enemy dive bomber
aircraft formed a circle over the objective and dived at the target in
The attack being prolonged for approxsuccession following the leader.
imately 45 minutes depending on the size of the formation.
Attacks appeared to be governed by the leader and all airThis was the normal
craft religiously followed the leader's tactics.
Reliable informapractice in attacking positions held by our troops.
tion indicates that dive bombing and low level bombing employed for
close support is directed almost entirely by R/T.
The bombing of the towns of CANIEA and HERAKLI0ON, which were
quite undefended, was carried out systematically by sectors over a
The first
attack against CA!TEA was made against the
period of days.
Government building which received direct hits.
Subsequent attacks
against both towns appeared to have no particular objective but to be
lirected quite indiscriminately against the town itself.
500 lb. bombs are believed to have been the heaviest
employed; in the main the 250 lb. bomb was used. No incendiary bombs
In all cases bombs were fitted with whistling vanes.
wore dropped.
Some bombs with small delay action were used but the bulk of the bombs
The percentage of dud bombs was very
exploded immediately in impact.
low except for anti-personnel bombs dropped by fighters. A small
amount of night bombing was undertaken during the moon period particuThis form of attack was disturbing to
larly in the HERAXLIOT area.
personnel but otherwise not profitable and it appeared to be carried
out for nuisance value only.
Fighters
For escorting bonbing raids fighter aircraft operated in
77.
For low flying attacks approximately
formations of 6 to 9 aircraft.
most
cases aircraft split up into
In
were
used.
6 - 30 aircraft
with the second aircraft around
as
leader
sections of 2 with one acting
all cases fighter formations
In
practically
of the leader.
the tail
Low
of the formation.
the
tail
had one winger aircraft weaving around

CLLASV 1lf lED


flying attacks against aerodrones were carried out from a very low height
using nachine gun and cannon fire and small anti-personnel bombs.
Approaching the aerodrome a proportion of the aircraft opened up with
machine guns fired quite indiscriminately.
Near the objective, formations
echeloned to one side and split
off
to attack
individual
objectives.The formation reformed after
the attack.
Attacks were sustained
over
aerodromes for
an approximate period
of one hour, aircraft
being continally
on the watch for any movement seen around the aerodrome.
Slit
trenches
transport

were particular
objectives
and were machine gunned frequently;
moving on roads was invariably
harassed and destroyed.
The
accuracy of fire
from aircraft
was good on the whole; the speed of fire
of aircraft
guns was very striking
and it
was also
noticed that
considerable quantity
of ammunition was carried
by each aircraft.
Small bursts
normally were used against
pinpoint
objectives,
a number of attacks
being made against
each one.
The greater
proportion
of fighters
used
were Me. 110 after our fighter opposition had been eliminated.
For the
attack
of aircraft
on the ground, a very high proportion of incendiary

ammunition was -ised; it seemed also that 2 separate attacks were made
of approximately 10 minutes.
The
with an interval
that
the first attack
holed the aircraft
and released
second attack
set
the aircraft
on fire.

against
aircraft
theory held was
fuel;

the

Parachute and troop carrying aircraft


78.

(a)

Parachute aircraft.

For the initial


dropping of parachutists
waves of 9 - 12
(JU. 53) were employed.
The aircraft
flew in open formation

aircraft

of 3 aircraft and disgorged parachutists


still
their

in formation.
load, aircraft

sea level.

in

a terrifying

cloud while

The aircraft
turned
to
Reinforcing flights

flew at
about 500 feet.
On releasing
seaward and returned.to their
bases at
were always made in large
formations and
obsereach point.
From personal
scale at

dropping was on an extensive


vations made on the first morning of the attack, approximately 12.parachutists
were carried
in each aircraft.
Later this
number seemed to

vary and figures of 7


dropped from individual
which did not open.

to 20

personnel have been reported


as being
aircraft.
A number of parachutes were seen
Aircraft
dropping supplies
by parachute or rein-

forcing troops were guided to

the positions of the enemy ground forces

Prior to
by Verey light signals used in profusion by ground parties.
dropping, JU. 52 aircraft bringing reinforcements or supplies flew in
a circle above the area and methodically studied the location of their
ground forces
and normally dropped their load on two runs over the
area.
Heavy and bulk supplies were seen to be dropped with 4 or 5 parachutes attached
but normally one aluminum container
was dropped with
Motor cycle combinations, anti-tank guns and nortars
one parachute.
were seen to be dropped from aircraft.
Many containers,
of food and
medical supplies mainly, fell into our hands and the naterial was
found to be excellent.
It is
interesting
to note that
anti-tank
rifles
dropped from aircraft
had a small carriage
fitted
with inflated
rubber tyres.
(b) Air Transport Aircraft

in
ation

JU. 52 aircraft
acting
as air
transports
small formations of a maximum of 3 timed to arrive
within short

intervals and representing a

154

it*~
r

normally operated
at their
destin-

continuous stream of

CLAISFE
aircraft during the hours of daylight.
On landing 3 to 4 personnel
already on the spot rushed to the aircraft and helped to unload it
and the aircraft left with very little delay.
Timed over a period of
one day, one transport aircraft landed and took off within 5 minutes.
These aircraft
landed and took off
in an incredibly
small space;
estimates are 400 to
bases

500 yards.
Transport aircraft returned to their
singly proceeding at a very low height.

3took
-

155

PART V
CONCLUSIONS
79.
A true picture of R.A.F. operations in Crete cannot be
obtained unless it is seen in relation to the background provided by
conditions existing on April 17th. At that date the general position
was that there were two aerodromes in existence, at both of which a
small amount of work was still going on, and one landing ground. No
R.A.F. Headquarters nor R.A.F. station organization were established on
the island. A form of fighter defence existed for Suda Bay anchorage
with one F.A.A. squadron at greatly reduced strength supported by one
A.M.E.S. station and the Greek Observer system. No experienced personnel were available at G.O.R. Canea to control fighter operations and
there was no operations centre at all at Heraklion.
80.
In consequence an almost entirely new organization had to
be built up in Crete.
Remnants of the fighter squadrons from Greece
were flown to Crete but these aircraft had already been operating intensively in Greece and for the most part were badly in need of maintenance.
The pilots too had been put to a very severe strain over the
past six months, while the maintenance personnel had been equally overworked and had now to undertake their work with virtually no ground
equipment, inadequate tools, and a very small range of spares.
81.
The Headquarters and Operations Room Staffs were drawn from
evacuees from Greece.
MaIiay of them, particularly the Operations Room
Staff, had little or no previous experience of the duties allotted to
them and there was no selection to be made while the remainder were
obviously disturbed as a result of the Greek campaign and took some
time to settle down. In all cases with personnel from Greece they had
lost their private kits, camp kits, etc., and had only the clothes they
stood in. As very limited replacements only were available in Crete
this factor alone prevented personnel settling down satisfactorily;
their main wish was to get to Egypt for a short rest and to be re-kitted.
82.
It is clear from reports of aerodrome construction in
Greece, particularly in the Peleponnese area, and from the concentrations of aircraft seen by our air reconnaissances operating from Egypt,
that the enemy had established at aerodromes in this area a heavy concentration of air forces.
The obvious role of these air forces was to
neutralize our air forces and A.A. defence's on Crete before attempting
the airborne attack.
83.
From subsequent happenings, it appeared that the enemy
plan allowed seven days (May 13th to 19th inclusive) to liquidate our
air forces. This period may well have been on a sliding scale and the
final air-borne attack no doubt took place when our air forces had, in
fact, been neutralized.
84.
The scale of attack cannot be estimated, but it was sufficient to undertake very frequent devastating and sustained attacks on a
number of aerodromes on the island, not alone the existing two and one
landing ground, over the period of the operations.
Waste of bomber
effort, which could have been diverted more profitably elsewhere, was
obvious in the continued bombing of Canea and Heraklion towns and the
attacks on previously damaged and useless shipping in the Suda Bay

156 -

-UNCL

1l D

anchorage. Regarding fighter effort, ME. 1lOs were over objectives in


Crete for a considerable period, literally waiting for some movement on
the ground before opening up cannon and machine gun fire, and a proportion of this effort could well have been employed against aerodromes.
Large numbers of fighters were also available to escort bombers if opposition was feared and also to attack individual aircraft on the ground,
or individual gun defences around aerodromes. This was in itself a justification of the policy of trying to keep even a few fighters going for
as long as possible. Obviously it made matters more difficult for the
enemy and caused him to expend a greater effort than was really necessary.
While our fighters were in operation, attacks on aerodromes
were on such a scale that our fighters were outnumbered by from 7 to 10
to 1 and the courageous work of the pilots during this period cannot be
too highly praised.
85.
Continuous reconnaissance undoubtedly gave the enemy a most
up-to-the-moment picture at Crete aerodromes during the preparatory
phase, including the positions of non-operational aircraft on the aerodromes. In this connection it is interesting to remark that one Magister
at Maleme, and one dummy 3Blenheim at Heraklion, parked at dispersal
points were untouched by the attacks on the aerodromes during this period.
At a later stage during the attack the enemy close reconnaissance aircraft undoubtedly provided the enemy with the detailed situation of our
land forces.
86.
With the enemy scale of attack large numbers of defensive
fighters would have been necessary to counter it and the task was far
beyond the capabilities of the few fighter aircraft remaining and the
A.A. defences existing in Crete. No large scale reinforcements were
available. The fighter aircraft renaining were open to destruction on
the ground either at rest or while refuelling or rearning, or likely to
be shot down in the air by sheer weight of numbers. This situation
governed the decision to return to Egypt in the early morning of 19th
May. It should be borne in mind that the intention was to bring back
fighter aircraft, in increased numbers if possible, to aerodrones in
Crete if our land forces were able to hold the aerodrones successfully.
As it turned out, after the second day Retino landing ground was in
fact secured but access to it by road to provide maintenance personnel,
adequate refuelling parties, full W/T facilities and augnented stocks
of ammunition and fuel was not possible as the enemy held positions
across the road leading from east and west.
It is clear also that if
Retino had been used extensively this landing ground would have suffered
an equivalent intensive scale of air attack and there was no A.A. defence available for it. It was quite impossible for fighter aircraft
to operate fron the aerodrome at Malene while Heraklion aerodrome represonted a sheer gamble where it might be possible for fighters to land on
occasions only, up to 24th May, with any degree of security. In the
hope of providing a haven for fighter aircraft operating over the
island such as long range Hurricanes fron Egypt, it was hoped to develop
a landing strip on the Massara Plain.
Owing to the weakness of the land
force garrison the development of a landing ground had.not been possible
previously.
An Army garrison arrived on the Massara Plain on May 19th
(Headquarters R.A.F. Crete were only inforned on that norning) and a
party of W.D. and G.D. officers was despatched that day to find a landing
strip which could be made usable in a very short period; a reconnaissance
of this area had been made earlier in the year by Works Directorate representatives for an aerodrone and a site had been selected which would

157 -

have taken some months to prepare.


landing ground

for

refuelling

What was now sought was a

and rearming in

emergency.

sti'fs

A landing

strip
was in fact
found which it
is understood would have been ready for
use by May 28th but it was then too late; additionally it would not have
been possible to provide adequate stocks of material there owing to the
road from Heraklion being blocked.
87.

In summary, then, the enemy air attacks during the preparatory phase ending on May 19th had fully neutralized our air forces and
substantially
reduced the
efficiency
of our A.A. defences.
The first

enemy
attack.

object had been attained and the

stage was

set for the airborne

88.
With the limited air forces available, and the very small
numbers of aerodromes in Crete such a state was inevitable against the
heavy enemy scale of attack.
89.

Additional aerodromes and fighter squadrons would have

delayed the date by which the enemy had achieved this result, but a
very heavy effort indeed would have been necessary to counter it.
tFurther A.A. guns would have had little effect on the situation.
90.

The next

stage

was the capture

of an aerodrome

This commenced with intensified bombing and ground

in

Crete.

straffing of Maleme

aerodrome and surrounding area prior to the dropping of well equipped


It is apparent
parachute troops and landing airborne troops in gliders.
that
the scale
of this
attack
staggered the defence and a measure of
There is little doubt that a
surprise was obtained on this account.
large proportion of the early parachute troops was annihilated, but some
sections of them obtained a valuable initial success immediately on the
west side of the actual
aerodrome and in the area
still
further
west of
the aerodrome.
The initial
success on the aerodrome was exploited later

by the parachutists

who had landed further west.

The widespread nature

of the attack was also a big factor in embarrassing the defence giving
them unexpected tasks away from the aerodrome.
There must have been
some doubts in the mind of the enemy if it was possible to capture
Maleme and this
the afternoon.

may well
have inspired
the
It
was clear
however that

heavy attack on Herakion in


his
policy
was decided on the
and on the morning of the

not earlier,
of the 20th/21st May, if
night
21st the enemy concentrated
all
his
efforts
on Malene and succeeded.
During that day he was able to land a stream of transport aircraft with
reinforcing
troops and material;
this
stream increased
in volume as the

enemy hold on the aerodrome

increased.

A valiant counter attack by the

New Zealand Division


undertaken when heavily
embarrassed by enemy air
forces failed to prevent this situation mainly on account of enemy air
action.
91.

The key to the

situation in Crete had now gone and it was

only a matter of days before the enemy were in a position to force the
issue in that area despite the fact that the seaborne reinforcements
of the enemy had been wiped out by naval action.
92.

The complete air superiority held by the enemy permitting


the unmolested dive-bombing and ground straffing
of our land forces
continuously was undoubtedly the main factor in weakening the defence:
The
morale factor too played a large part at this stage; the land forces
employed had returned from a

campaign in Greece where the enemy

had air superiority and soon became we

158.-

in

also

ted when similar

conditions developed. No trained troops were available to relieve


them in the fighting area after severe bombing attacks.

93.
The operations of our air forces based in Egypt during
this period undoubtedly weakened the enemy but by comparison it was
only a drop in the ocean. The occasional day attacks were an inspiration to the portion of our ground forces which saw them, but the value
of these attacks in stimulating the morale generally was lost with the
incessant appearance of enemy aircraft over our lines at a low height
and with complete freedom of action. With the amount of movement of
enemy land forces in small parties there were no profitable objectives
for attack in support of our land forces; Maleme aerodrome and the immediate environs was the sole point of supply for the enemy land forces
and represented an objective of outstanding importance where material
damage could be achieved by day and night attacks.
94.
Reviewing the situation in retrospect the following factors
emerge in the defence of aerodromes, viz.,

(i)

(ii)

(iii)

that aerodrome defences against airborne attack


must include deep dugouts around the perimeter
to counter the effect of the preliminary attack
of the aerodrome defences. Men and guns must
be held undisclosed in these dugouts. A system
of communication from a command post must be installed in these dugouts so that personnel can
be kept informed of the development of the
attack.
independent of these dugouts a large number of
small protected posts scattered over a wide
area would be of value in the vicinity of the
aerodrome to counter the effect of parachutists
dropped in a widespread manner.
The vulnerability of parachute troops when dropping or
immediately on landing has been proved.
strongly armoured mobile forces must be held in
the vicinity of the aerodromes in support of.
dugouts defences and the scattered posts in the
vicinity of aerodromes.

95.
Regarding operations in the second phase as a whole, it
is evident that for a successful airborne attack a high measure of local
air superiority must be obtained, so that the massed dropping of parachutists can be achieved;
and more important still,
that the continued
supply of reinforcements and material can be provided.
Detailed air
reconnaissance also must be continued by the enemy throughout this phase
to determine sectors where timely assistance is required.
96.
Once the use of an aerodrome is secured by the enemy then
concentrations of forces can be rapidly built up and our attacking
forces will be constantly opposed by fresh men and an augmented scale
of material including guns and light vehicles.
The nobility and fire

-159--

NCLASSIFI

power of the airborne force will be ever increasing.


Without question
the capture of an aerodrome is the key to the success of an airborne
invasion.
In this connection it must be pointed out that the Germans
will endeavour to construct an aerodrome adequate for transport aircraft
as soon as they land.
Any prisoners
taken will
be employed on-

this work.
97.
Finally the close support afforded by the German air
force in Crete to their ground forces represented the very closest

co-operation and

was the main factor in

achieving their

rapid success,

In Crete this close support could not be countered but it


is firmly
believed that if this can be done in any future campaigns against
Germany the main bulwark of the German war machine will be weakened.

-160-

Enclosure

"A"

to

report

on "AIR

OPERATIONS

IN CRETE."

DETAILED SIGNALS REPORT


R.A.F. CRETE
PERIOD 17th APRIL TO 31st MAY,

1941.

Extract
Security

Measures.

It had now become obvious that the enemy were


determined to capture CRETE by an airborne attack, and the
Officer Commanding satisfied himself that everything
possible had been done to ensure the rapid destruction of
all S. and C. Publications throughout the Units in CRETE
if an emergency arose.
Although 5 incinerators were ready
at Headquarters and sufficient at other Units, it was
thought that it would still take too long to destroy the
Headquarters R.A.F. Middle
huge number of books held.
East was signalled regarding this and agreed that many
should be returned.
The Chief Signals Officer, who made

repeated inspections

of all

units,

visited MALEL

and in-

structed the Senior Cypher Officer to return all surplus,


which was done; but unfortunately, although at every other
Unit full
destruction
was effected,
MALEME books were all
eventually captured by the enemy, the

Cypher Officer think-

ing that the raid was just another bombing attack, when
in fact, after this attack, hundreds of parachutists
descended around the Headquarters building.

3rd June, 1941

Squadron Leader,
Chief Signals Officer,
Royal Air Force, CRETE.

161 -

Enclosure "B" to report on


"AIR OPERATIONS

REPORT

'i

IN CRETE"

ON ATTACK ON 7th GENERAL HOSPITAL,

NEAR CANEA

CRETE

1.
On the morning of Tuesday,
0430 hours, the 7th General Hospital

20th May, 1941, at


approximately
was attacked by a large number
The Hospital was dive bombed and machine gunned

of enemy aircraft.
until about 1030 hours.
2.

About this time

grounds.

They were

shots were heard being fired in the hospital


of enemy troops which it was afterwards

from guns

learnt were dropped by parachute.


tents and ordered all

road of the hospital;


in number
blue;
3.
the

one ward.

Later, GERMAN troops entered the

(about 300) patients to line up on the main

only very serious cases being allowed to remain


All patients were dressed in pyjamas

a number had no

or hospital

shoes or slippers.

When we were lined up and all the tents had been searched,
red cross flag and the Union Jack were hauled down and the GERMIIAN

Swastika hoisted.
4.
MALEE

This was done by about 20 GERMAN troops.

We were then marched out of the hospital on the main CANEA road, and into a wood two or three hundred yards

made to sit in

away.

enemy aircraft came low over us we put our hands in the air to
that we were prisoners of War.

5.

We were
When

an open part of the wood without tin helmets.

show

In this part of the wood there was a BRITISH army ration dump.

The GER.MANS
drawvn from a

gave us

food from this,

biscuits

and cheese.

Water was

nearby well.

Later we were ordered to move on through the wood in front


6.
We did so until a BRITISH tank was spotted in a clearof the GERLvANS.
ing.
The tank was, however, helpless with us
and so it moved on.
7.

We

carried on again until we came to

in front of the enemy

a road where we were

made to stop while a scout was sent out to verify that the way was
clear.
This done, we moved on until we came to a rather thin part of
the wood where we were made to lie down flat.
8.

We

towards us.

lay here for some time, and saw one of our patrols coming
They stopped about 75 yards away and set up a Bren gun.

9.

Unfortunately the men of the patrol knew that the enemy was
in this part of the wood, but not that 300 patients from the hospital,
Their first burst of fire killed
now prisoners, were also there.
At this point an AUSTRALIAN iajor who was one of
several patients.
After about a
us, stood up and shouted directions to the patrol.

Iss RAC

quarter of an hour of firing over our heads, the enemy was pushed
back into the part of the wood through which we had just come.
10.
the

'Ws

We waited for several minutes and then we made off towards


the artillery position where we remained until

hills and to

about 2330 hours.

(20/5)

11.

At this time we walked by road to the BRITISH troop


positions just outside CANEA where we stayed during the remainder
of the night of the 20th and until about 2100 hours on the 21st.
We then moved back to the hospital and into caves on the shore.
Ve

remained here during the night of the

21st and on the day of the

22nd, until 2100 hrs. When we were instructed to move back into the
tents of which the hospital proper consisted.

12.

On objecting to returning to the wards we were told that

since no treatment could be given owing to loss of supplies - these


were believed to have been burnt by the GERMANS - we had permission
to

rejoin

our

Units.

13.
About sixty of us made a party, and with six rifles
by the hospital authorities made our way to CANEA.
14.
R.AF.

supplied

From there the other airman and myself made our way to
H.Q. where we arrived
at
about 0300 hrs. on the 22nd May.

UNCMIFE

163

Enclosure "C" to report on


"AIR OPERATIONS IN CRETE"

REPORT BY PILOT OFFICER, NO. 30 SQUADRON ON THE


ON MALEMVE AERODROMIE,

AAY 20th,

1941

Preparations Against Attack.


We had been warned by the Officer Commanding LALME,
several
days before May 20th, that an attempted invasion by airborne troops
was more than probable and that such an attempt would be preceded by
heavy bombing and ground straffing. Under his direction personnel of
30, 33 and 805 Squadrons approached the New Zealanders who formed the
local Army Garrison and together worked out a plan for the continuous
manning of the defensive positions overlooking the river. It was
agreed that between 0430 hours and 0700 hours which was considered the
danger period the forces on ground be increased. Personnel not posted
to a defensive position when the "stand to" sounded were to stand by
as reserves in the rear at the top end of a sheltered gully.
On the north side of the hill facing the aerodrome slit
trenches had been dug and machine-gun posts established. Browning,
Lewis and Vickers guns were mounted and manned by 30 and 33 Squadrons.
All ranks had been issued with either Lee Enfield rifles or revolvers
and with 50 rounds of ammunition apiece.
Constant inspection at all
hours of the day and night were carried out to ensure that the men
were on the alert and that no surprise attack might be successful.
There were 10 Bofor guns around the perimeter of the aerodrome and
one section of 3" guns on the top) of the hill, and on its north side
four 4" naval guns had been mounted as a defense against seaborne
invaders.
Enemy Attack.
At 0430 hours on May 20th, the dofence officers inspected
all positions, and satisfied themselves that everyone was on the alert.
A second inspection was carried out at 0600 hours. At 0700 the alarm
was sounded and within a few minutes very severe and prolonged bombing
The Bofor crews as the result of
of the defense positions started.
sustained bombing and machine gunning attacks during the past seven
days, were by this time almost completely unnerved, and on this
particular morning soon gave up firing. One Bofors gun was seen to
Thile
go into action again but the shooting was rather inaccurate.
the Camp was being bombed, enemy fighters made prolonged machine gun
attacks on the Bofors positions and inflicted heavy casualties.
Later in the day one Bofors gun was seen in action, but the shooting
was rather inaccurate. At the same time there was intensive ground
straffing of troops over a wide area in the locality. These attacks
lasted for two hours, with the result that the nerves of our men became
ragged, and that intended reinforcements moving towards the aerodrome
were unable to do so. A fuller effect of the bombing was that the
men kept their heads down and failed to notice the first parachutists
dropping. This particularly applied to those which landed Southwest
of the aerodrome sheltered by hilly country. Gliders were already

UNCLASSIFIED
seen crashed in the river bed on the west side

of the aerodrome anrd had


They had been cut off from
apparently been dropped at the same time.
the troop carriers with the object of trying to effect a landing in the
river bed in strength.
There was no opposition to them except from
two R.A.F. Lewis guns which kept firing throughout the landing.
The
remnants

of R.A.F. personnel and NEW ZEALAND Infantry on the hill side


were being subjected to persistent ground straffing from a very low
The GERMvANS were able to profit by the spare time allowed them
height.
to assemble trench mortars and field guns which later in the morning
proved so deadly and which was instrumental in driving our men back.
Meanwhile, troop carrying aircraft were landing along the
beach at intervals of 100 yards.
They appeared to land successfully
in the most limited space, and the enemy did not seem to mind whether
At least 8 aircraft were seen
they could take off again or not,
crashed in this way.
None of these aircraft did take off again to my
knowledge.
There was obviously close co-operation between the GERMAN
aircraft and the parachutists.
Reinforcements were not dropped
indiscriminately.
After the first parachutist had landed, a careful
survey of the

surrounding country was made and further troops were


The
only dropped at parts indicated by signals from the ground.
success of their continual phot-reconnaissances in providing first
class maps

aircraft
Greece"

of the country they were occupying was

a thorn in our side.

A system of verey signals was used by day and night to show


the
position
of GERMAN forces.
Flags marked "Victory of
in red, white and yellow (and the Nazi Flag) were also used

to signal to

aircraft.

At the beginning

of the attack I reached the prearranged

position
referred
to above, at the rear
and remained there during the morning.
handful of men and obtained a hold;
side had not been warned of the

of the
NE' ZEALAND troops
It was here that I gathered a

the men on the

deep dug-outs on that

approach of-parachute troops.

After

mopping up. the parachute troops here, we discovered that the enemy had
obtained a foothold on the eastern side of the aerodrome, actually above
We gathered 30 NEW ZEALAND troops who appeared to be without
the camp.
any leader, and with my handful of R.A.F. three counterattacks were made,
Throughout this period we
and we succeeded in re-taking the sumit.
were subjected to severe ground straffing by M.E. 109s.
The enemy's
armament at this stage was very superior to ours, namely, trench mortars,
hand grenades, tommy guns and small field guns.
One particularly obThese burst in the
jectionable form ofaggression was by petrol bombs.
undergrowth and encircled us with a ring of
At this time we tried to

flames.

obtain contact with the remainder of

No, 30 Squadron personnel, cut off at the bottom of the valley by the
side of the Camp, in order to withdraw them to more secure positions on
The time was now about 1400 hours.
the slopes overlooking the aerodrome.
The enemy drove our men who had been taken prisoners in front of them
using them as a protective screen. A sign of faltering on their part
Our men were very reluctant to
was rewarded with a shot in the back.
A small party of R.A.F. succeeded
open fire and gradually gave ground.
them on one side, and I and a handful of NEW ZEALAND
in outflanking
on the other were able to snipe the GERMI.ANS in the rear and
troops
in releasing at least 14 prisoners.
succeeded thereby

Ii5C1

go I To 1%E

bIdcLA SSIFIE

Towards the close of the day we discovered that our com-

munications with our forces in rear had been cut, and after an unsuccessful advance made by our two "I"
tanks, we decided to withdraw
under cover of darkness, in order to take up positions with the 23rd
Battalion of the NEY ZEALAND forces.
During the next morning we were
unsuccessful in locating them and had to withdraw from our cover under
heavy aerial attack for another 3 miles where we at last made contact.
Throughout the .day we held the left flank of a ridge and as
evening approached took up new positions in a gully on a hill side.
Here, a Colonel, after consultation with the R.A.F. Officers, decided
our men needed a rest.
Unfortunately, we were unable to contact the
5th Brigade, as once more the enemy had cut us off.
A message was
prepared by a Royal Naval Officer to be taken to R.A.F. Headquarters,
CANEA, repeated to the Naval Officer in Charge, SUDA BAY, and volunteers
were called for, to wit one Officer and one airman, to take this message.
I, together with another officer, started off at 1600 hours and reached
5th Brigade Headquarters in a village about half-way between CAIEA and
MALEME after
hazardous detour between sniping enemy piquets.
I later
proceeded to HQ. RAF, CANEA, and arrived there at 0930 hours on the
23rd May.
The rest of the Squadron followed the next day, about 30
strong.

Pilot

166

Officer.

biv~nls gHED

Enclosure "D" to report on

"AIR OPERATIONS IN CRETE"

REPORT ON ATTACK OF MALE1E BY AIRBORNE TROOPS


1.
It was arranged that 33 and 30 Squadron personnel would stand
to with a local Z Brigade from 0530 to 0700 hours each morning with a
view of assisting them in resisting an attack by parachutists by filling
in their casualties.
This arrangement did not come into effect as the
preliminary bombing attack started at approximately 0730 hours when
breakfast and normal work had started and personnel were spread all over
the camp.
2.
The attack commenced with intensive bombing of the perimeter
of the aerodrome by waves of heavy bombers for a period of one hour.
This was followed directly by waves of JU 52s dropping parachutists
and towing Gliders; some N.E. 110s were also seen towing Gliders.
The Gliders landed mainly around the perimeter of the landing ground,
in the river bed west of MALEn aerodrome and on the beaches. The
main concentrations of parachutists appeared to be dropped up the
river bed to the south and west of MALEE, the remainder being
scattered.over a large area south and east towards CANEA. Parachutists continued to drop in waves in the above mentioned areas from
0830 hours to approximately 1200 hours. During this period aircraft
were continually flying over the area.
3.
Fighting and sniping took place all day between our troops
and the enemy in the vicinity of the aerodrome. At approximately
1500 hours the GERLMANS soemed to.be getting the upper hand reinforcements evidently coming in from their concentrations a few miles West
of the aerodrome.
Tse were driven back but held firmly to the top of
the ridge south of the aerodrome, When there was a definite line
established between our troops and theirs at approximately 1900 hours,
Bombers and M.E. 110s so effectively attacked the ridge we were
holding by dive bombing and ground straffing that we were forced to
retreat.
We reoccupied the ridge when the attack was finished and
held on until dusk, when the N.Z. forces decided to retreat to the
Dive

West Ridge.
4.

On the

second day practically the same

procedure was

In the morning as soon as our forces had established a


repeated.
definite line on the second ridge, they were subjected to frequent
Groups of 15 (M.E. 110s and
dive bombing and machine gun attacks.
N.E. 109s) covered the area almost continually all day long flying
very low and ground straffing wherever they saw any movements

making it very hard for any of our troops to move about. N.Z.
mortars or French 75s shelle'd the aerodrome from the valley behind
second ridge almost continually all day long, but as far as I could
see or hear there were only three of these guns doing this. At
approximately 1200 hours troop carriers started to land on MALEME
aerodrome in a steady stream. Our shelling appeared to destroy a
few of these machines on the ground, but it did not stop further

~JtVON&

machines landing during the remainder of the day, and also during the
following day.
Any transport aircraft damaged by shell fire was manhandled off the landing area by enemy troops on the aerodrome so that
no delay resulted in the continuous stream of reinforcements.
The

5.

successful

landing of these carriers and the resulting

reinforcements to the enemy in troops and small artillery, enabled


the enemy to hold successfully the aerodrome in spite of counterday.
attacks by I.Z. forces on the second and third
In the evening of the third day our troops were forced to
retreat from the second ridge giving the enemy almost uninterrupted
6.

use

of the

aerodrome.

Flying

Officer.

1 .D
168-

Enclosure "E" to report on


"AIR OPERATIONS IN CRETE"

REPORT ON THE ATTACK ON MALEIE AND DISTRICT


MAY 20th and 21st, 1941, AS SEEN FROM NO. 252 A.M.E.S.

1.
No. 252. A.M.E.S. site lay on a high ridge about three miles
south of the aerodrome. Another ridge lay between the site and the
aerodrome, preventing actual view of.the drome, but the whole of the
surrounding country was commanded.
2.
follows:-

Personnel on the station at the time of the attack were as


No. 252 A.M.E.A.
Pioneer Platoon,
HQ. Coy., 22nd.
Batt. N.Z.E.F.

- 2 Officers and 44 Other Ranks.

- A Lieten'ant and. 20 Other Ranks.

3.
Defence plans provided for a Lieutenant to take command in
the event of ground attack and, if necessary, for all personnel to
withdraw to the technical site, which was well wired and had weapon
pits for all personnel.
4.
R.A.F. personnel had 100 per cent rifles or revolvers and
five Lewis Guns. N.Z. personnel had rifles and two Bren Guns.
5.
May 19th was a day of heavy air attacks on the aerodrome,
culminating in a high level bombing attack at dusk by nine heavy
bombers. May 19th was the date given by Army Intelligence as the
probable date of parachute attack.
6.
May 20th. Raids began on the aerodrome soon after daybreak.
After about 7 o'clock the bombing became continuous and far more aircraft were over than we were accustomed to seeing. The attack was
mainly on the aerodrome, but the whole area was bombed and machine
gunned.
The station, (i.e., No. 252 A.M.E.S. site) was repeatedly
machine gunned.
The A.A. fire on the 'drome was considerably reduced.
After some hour and a half of this, the troop carriers and
Gliders appeared, coming in from the west, and the ground attack alarm
was sounded on the station siren.
7.
Gliders.
It is estimated that we saw twenty to twenty-five
gliders. At first they were mistaken for aircraft - only when they
came low enough for careful observation and for the lack of engine
noise to be noticed, was it agreed that they were in fact gliders.
None were seen in tow, but all were free when we saw them; slowly
circling and turning and circling. They landed in all directions
around us and near the aerodrome.
They were found to be an easy target for machine gun fire.
Bullets from our Lewis guns penetrated the fabric without difficulty,
and our gunners considered that they had effectively dealt with all
troops carried in one glider which crash landed, after they
attacked it, some quarter of a mile to the west o

mo

As it happens, no

instance of troops

disernbarking from a

glider on landing was observed.


Gliders were used in this
opinion, for the
failed.

first attack only.


I am of the
that
they were an experiment that
reasons given,

8.

PARACHUTE TROOPS.
The troops landed by parachute on the first
morning were also widely scattered over the whole area.
Green and white
parachutes formed the majority, but there were also red edged white
parachutes and four fold parachutes used for dropping bulky objects.
A few parachutes failed
Large bright metal cylinders were dropped.
Instances were observed of planes
to open, some fell into the sea.
dropping only one and only two parachutes.
Generally speaking, it was considered that each plane dropped
from seven to ten men on this occasion, and that less than 1,000 men
were dropped in the area during the morning.
It was noticed that some part

of the parachute, cords

or

pilot parachute perhaps, trailed from the sides of the fuselage as


the planes came over, and gave the appearance of torn frayed fabric.
Parachutists made their exit from a door in the side of the
fuselage, nearer to the tail than the pilots cockpit.
This door was
usually open when the planes passed over.
The heights at which parachutists emerged varied very considerably, but was generally between 400 and 1,000 feet.
The nearest
parachutists to the station were about half-a-mile away due west.
Others were mainly north, northeast
and southeast
of us, but it
is
again stated that on this occasion the troops were widely scattered
over the area, and not concentrated on one region.
Throughout the whole time that the troops were being landed,
sky was full of aircraft, flying singly and in all directions,
with very little bombing and very little machine gunning; a constant
the

patrol broken by an occasional

attack on any gun that opened up,

9.
On the sounding of the ground attack alarm, a Lieutepant took
over. command as Officer i/c Defence, and immediately called in one
of the three outlying gun-posts.
A second, on the cookhouse roof,
did good work against the Gliders, but jammed soon afterwards, and
was brought on to the station; the third, that to the southwest of
the Station, was manned until the end.
All other personnel withdrew
to the station and were allocated to gun posts and weapon pits, two
and when possible, three to each post.
All correspondence, papers, publication, signals, except
The
cypher books, were burned in a trench beside the Orderly Room.
Cypher books were placed with
fire-was attended until burnit out.
technical papers inside the "R" van ready for destruction if
necessary. w/T equipment was carried from the Orderly Room on to
the

site and set up

in the pit beside the

"T"

several journeys with the wheelbarrow, under

van.
fire

This necessitated
from aircraft

from troops landed in the valley to the west of the site.

170 -

7Watch

and

was

lNCLSSIFIED
opened immediately on the CRETE frequency and contact was soon made
with Hq. RAF, CRETE; later, also with HERAKLION and RETIMO.

I now learned that all communications with Operations Room,


CANEA, had been destroyed earlier
kept, but results
10.

in the morning.

Watch was still

could not be utilized in any way.

small patrol of the 21st.

on their way to XAM.ONDOCHE.

Batt.,

N.Z.E.F. passed through

We reported that the five or six para-

chutists we had seen in this village we had disposed of.


They had
the information that parachutists were dressed in Green uniform.
Later we were told that they wore NEW ZEALAND Battle Dress, and that
all our own troops in N.Z. Battle Dress had removed their tunics.
I was not able to obtain confirmation of this statement; any parachutists seen by me were dressed in a standard form of dark grey
uniform.

A conference was

now held
of Officers
and N.C.Os.
Orders
should be the minimum of movement during the
daylight; that water and rations should be drawn after nightfall;
that during the day only one man should man each post (the pits
being very hot in the sun); and that all personnel should be on the
alert in their posts during the night.
11,

were given that there

12.

In the afternoon, more troop carriers arrived, most of them

The parachutes seen falling, appeared to


passing on towards CAhEA.
be carrying stores and not men.
Bombing and machine gunning continued
until dusk.
13.

During the afternoon, parachute troops assembled in a cornfield on top of a ridge about three-quarters of a mile to the south
of the station.
An additional Lewis gun post was, therefore, set up
to support that to the southwest of the station, commanding the road.
Before dusk, it was observed that the GERIANS on this ridge had dug
themselves in and displayed a large red flag with some white marking
in the center on top of a tree.
Concentrated fire from our two machine
guns succeeded in dislodging these troops and driving them over the
Late in the afternoon, several troop carriers landed
top of the ridge.
on the beach at MALEME, but did not take off,
Shrapnel mines were then
laid around the site, and all personnel and neighboring units warned.
The dusk air

attack

on MALEME was met with feeble A.A.

fire

only. A patrol of the 21st Batt. N.Z.E.F., however, reported to us


later that the whole area had been cleared up and isolated parachutists
only remained.
14.

There was trench mortar

sporadically all night long.

fire, rifle

and machine

gun fire

White Verey lights were fired from many

points, particularly east and west of the aerodrome, and along the
coast some miles further east.
Wi'hite Verey lights appeared to be the
standard form of signal to indicate the position of enemy forces.
This was a ground to ground signal.
15.

During the night, a battalion of Maoris moved west along the


road to the south of the site.
They reported to us that they were
Later, however, the
going to relieve the troops on the aerodrome.
same night, they returned, and other troops were heard moving eastwards through the valley immediately to the north of the site.
No
movements.
of
these
meaning
the
to
as
obtained
reports were given or

91~~

16.
MAY 21st.
The day began with a strenuous machine gun TOk5
on the aerodrome, the station and the whole district; some bombing also.
The enemy party on the

returned to their positions

ridge south of us, were found to have

and dug themselves in effectively.

They

returned our fire with rifle and automatics throughout the morning.
In addition, it was found that another red flag was displayed on the
ridge north of us - between the
able numbers of troops could be

Considerstation and the aerodrome.


seen on this ridge and at least one

mortar was set up there.


Its fire was directed eastwards to the ridge
held by N.Z. troops and not on us.
Rifle fire only came our way.
17.

We

then learned, from a patrol

I believe, that during the


N.Z.E.F. and H.Q. 22nd Battalion,
had
night
the whole 21st Battalion
retired from the aerodrome to a position on and beyond the ridge to
the northeast of the station. We had not been informed of this move,
This
nor did we now receive any official intimation or instructions.

meant that we were an isolated outpost communicating with our own


troops only by a valley commanded by the GERVMANS on the ridge above
the aerodrome.
the

A signal was sent to HQ. RAF. CRETE,


aerodrome was probably now in GERhMAN-hands.
The morning air attack on the

fire;

stating that

'drome was met with

some A.A.

particularly from one or more Bofors guns.

18.

The troop carriers then arrived.


Oh this
landed their troops in a few clearly defined areas.

occasion, they
At one particular

point, 27 aircraft, in perfect formations of threes, flying at about


300 feet, came in from the west and released their troops near the shore
As each group of three planes arrived at a
west of the aerodrome.
particular point, all parachutes from the three were released - and it
was carefully observed that there were 30 to 32 parachutes to each
group of 3 planes, and that less than half of them carried men.
Another landing point was observed
towards CANEA.

some miles

further east -

Our instructions now were to join the nearest Army unit and
19.
Further.enquiry by signal showed that
proceed to CANEA, if possible.
it was doubtful whether the road to CANEA was open.
Eight or ten R.A.F., F.A.A. and Army personnel straggled
They reported that the aeroduring the morning.
through from MALE
drome had been captured and many R.A.F. personnel taken prisoners.
20.
Throughout the morning, the C.O., Flight Lieutenant supervised the smashing of all technical equipment and burning of Cypher
books and technical documents.
After the troop carriers had left, the bombing continued,
bombs being dropped north and south of the station, but not on the
site.
21.
from N.Z.,

At about 1430 hours, no instructions having been received


II.Q., an officer set out himself to report to the Colonel.

I urged that arrangements be made either for us to withdraw and join

-LW

k UNCLASSIFIED
LI

the main body of troops or for reinforcements to be sent to the site


to assist in holding it.
It was, tactically an excellent position,
being high ground with steep approaches on both sides, and well wired
and dug in.
An officer was also to report that we were in Wi/T communication with CAJEA.
22.
He returned with the news that "matters were so bad they
could hardly be worse."
The road to CAN\IEA was completely blocked by
GERMANT troops and the valley below us was said to have GERMAN troops
established a little way to the south.
The Colonel would agree
neither to our withdrawing nor to the supply of additional troops.
We were to stay where we were and hold out as long as we could.
We
were promised that a patrol should be sent into the village after
nightfall.
23.
At a conference of the three Officers, it was decided to
blow up all apparatus during the first bombing raid - to avoid

publishing the fact, if possible; to hold the position until dusk


and then, if forced to by that time, retire either to join the main
body of N.Z. troops or to proceed south in the hope of getting to the
SUDA BAY area, via the south of the island. Accordingly a signal was
sent to HQ. RAF. CRETE, giving a hint of this plan.
All personnel
were issued with rations
rations,
24.

and told to be ready, with water-bottles

and

ammunition and small arms.


TIHE ATTACK ON TEE STATION.

No

sooner was

this

completed

than, at about 1530 hours, a heavy air attack on the Station began.
It was anticipated that this would be the prelude to ground attack and
might be intended only to keep our heads under, while parachute troops
advanced.
Orders were therefore again circulated that guns were not
to open-fire on aircraft (ammunition being short), and that all posts
were to put their heads out whenever possible and keep watch on their
sector.
25.

The attack developed, however, into a heavy bombing and


Some fifty aircraft took part, mainly Studas,
support of Iesserschmidt 109s and high level bombers.
The

machine gun attack.


with the

aircraft
were fitted
the noise of bombs.
sounds,

with a device which, when they dived,


imitated
It was almost impossible to distinguish the two

and at every dive we waited for an explosion.

Bombing was
at

very accurate; large calibre bombs fell close to both vehicles;


least two gun posts were effectively wiped out by bombs.
26.

For three-quarters of an hour, there was no lull.


During
this time a Flight Lieutenant received a bullet wound in the shoulder
and was put in a trench at the eastern end of the site; several other
personnel were killed and wounded; the "R" van was blown up by means
of gun cotton and detonators and set on fire; another Lieutenant, with
me in battle HQ irmmediately below the
"T" van, was seriously
wounded
by bomb debris.
27.

When the lull came,

I obtained help to move the

officer in

order that the "T" van might be destroyed.


I found that
the Flight
Lieutenant had proceeded with help, off the site in the direction of
the main body of troops and while I was taking a Nursing Orderly to
the wounded officer, a party of about a dozen passed going in the
I told them to return to the site when the bombers
same direction.
had left

it.

tkIP I A(I Q4 171

Several men carried the wounded officer into


a crater"E
J
4
big as a house; we returned to the site and I confirmed that the "R"
van was completely destroyed and in flames, that the "T" van was well
alight,

remained on the

and that no personnel

site.

We then carried the wounded officer into the olive groves


28.
to the northeast of the site, where the patrol would pass if it came
as promised.
Several of us proceeded in the direction of the main body
of troops - slow and difficult journey, because aircraft were now
bombing and machine gunning the valley, and snipers busy from behind.
In the valley, I picked up three of our N.Z. guard and two more No.
252 A.M.E.S. personnel.
29.
The fact that we were dive bombed alone enabled us to get
away (in the dust) under the fire of the GERMANS on the ridge behind
from this
into
the valley
After
a time, a mortar began to fire
us.

Ue tried

ridge.

for about an hour to proceed eastwards towards

iN.Z.,

stretch, across which we had seen our own


previously, had become an impossible
hour
an
safely
men proceeding
obstacle.
We decided to turn southwards and so carry out our original
H.Q.,

but this open uphill

plan.

SUMIARY
In conclusion, I would stress the

following

observations:-

(a)

Parachutists first landed widely scattered over the area.


Later they landed, concentrated in clearly defined areas.

(b)

There

is evidence of a rapid change of plan by (or regarding)

the NZ. troops at the aerodrome, on the night of May 20/21st.


I
(c)

regard

this

as a

point.

turning

There is some evidence that,

after the first landing, enemy

ground; but they were


from the
were directed
operations
carried out mainly from the air - it was the aeroplanes
that advanced, a few mortars and snipers being sufficient
to follow up and hold the ground so cleared.
(d)

There is no doubt that the Station was deliberately left


until May 21st.
On May 19, aircraft flew so low that they
narrowly missed one of the masts, and it is impossible to
Not until
believe that our existence had been overlooked.
the afternoon of the 21st, however, did any bombs fall on
the site; and then bombing was thorough and prolonged for
three

6th

or four hours.

Flying Officer

June, 1941

ar~B~n
a
174..

~6~~

arm&E

REPORT BY ROYAL AIR FORCE OFFICER


ON ATTACK ON HERAKLION AREA.

Enclosure "F"

175

REPORT

ON ENEMY ATTACKS

ON HERAKLION AREA

Prior to the actual day of invasion (20th May) attacks on tho


aerodrome covered a period of approximately 2. weeks.
At the beginning

a few desultory and small bombing attacks were made by day, but the bulk
of operations were by night.
During the moon periods, bombing attacks
of average intensity took place on several consecutive nights, generally
from a period of approximately 0100 hours until first light.
Damage was
registered, bombs falling on the aerodrome,

but not on the runways.

The

majority of bombs appeared to be of the 50 kilo variety, leaving a very


small crater, although a number of 250 kilos were also dropped.
Attacks
had started after consistent daily "recces" by the enemy, and when it
was apparently realized by this that aircraft were operating from
Heraklion aerodrome.
These recces were generally carried out around
15,000 feet, and although our standing patrols of 112 Squadron Gladiators
were occasionally able to make contact with the enemy to the extent of
short bursts, none were shot down over the Heraklion area; they were
always out of range of ground defences, which consisted then of Bofors
and Lewis guns, and consequently were not fired at from the ground.
(Subsequently an Me. 110 during a very low recce above Retimo Aerodrome

was shot down by Lewis Gun fire, and amazingly detailed maps of the aerodrome were found on the pilot's body, with all gun positions and even
slit trenches prominently shown.
The second number of the crew of this

aircraft was shown in his papers to be a parachite expert).


The Ground Defences, Bofors and Lewis guns were first in action
on or about 10th May, when five
Mel10's came in from a southwesterly
direction over the aerodrome at about 4,000 feet.
They had made no form
of attack, but had almost completed a circuit of the aerodrome when they
were attacked from above by one 112 Squadron Gladiator,. A dog fight at
low level ensued, the Gladiator pilot endeavouring to lead the enemy over
After a few minutes the Me. 110's made off in a Norththe gun positions.
westerly direction where they appeared to run into very heavy anti-aircraft fire, presumably from a convoy reported to be in the vicinity, while
the Gladiator landed safely. This was the first appearance, other than
high level bombers and recoes (generally JU-88's and DO.17's) of Me 110's
over IERAKLION.
2 days later 12 110's arrived over the aerodrome.
Their
purpose not being apparent as no bombs were dropped and they did not
attempt to ground-strafe.
They were subjected to heavy fire from the

Bofors, and 2 were immnediately


the

other, minus

shot down, one crashing into the sea,

a port airscrew and rudder and fin,

and

crash landing about

mile SE of the Mess.


A further machine was shot down by a Flight
Lieutenant of 112 Squadron piloting a Hurricane, who himself had to bale
-

out, landing slightly injured about 3 miles from the aerodrome; shrapnel
had apparently pierced his Glycol tank.
Several of the Me 110's, which
dropped bombs as well as ground strafing, were seen to jettison long
range tanks, vhich fell on the shore and in the sea.
The following day (14th May) the aerodrome received ground

strafing from PE

110's.

The attack was of an anti-morale nature,

the

enemy opening fire with machine guns and cannons at 7000 or 8000 feet
and diving indescriminately at no given targets.
There were a few minor
casualties amongst the Army but none to RAF personnel.
Subsequently
these attacks became more localized, aircraft in pens,

gun positions,

aerodrome buildings, the mess, slit trenches and tentage being singled
out for bursts,

a.

176

From the 14th of May onwards, attacks bf


t
intensive.
Attacks were made at dawn and dusk and spasmr
the day, and were always varied; high level bombing was followe
y
ground strafing to be followed in turn by dive bombing or low level bom

ing by ME 110's.

The latter aircraft dropped delayed action bombs with

anything from 5 secs to 10 sees delay.


Numbers of anti-personnel bombs
did not explode, and at about this period there were over 25 unexploded
bombs around the aerodrome area.
The average number of aircraft in one
attack varied generally from 20 to 40.
On 17th and 18th May there was a slight lull in the concen
tration of attacks.
On the 19th May the ground straffing was intensified and dive bombing attacks were directed against the gun positions.
On this day about 200 a/c were employed, most of which were DO. 17,

JU 88 and ME.

110.

It was at this point in the preliminaryattack that

the enemy were mislead into thinking they had silenced the ground
defences, only 4 Bofors guns being used on this day.
The handling of
these guns by the 7th Medinum A.A. Battery claimed the admiration of all
within the Area, and our own m/gn posts also showed great courage and
tenacity in face of heavy fire.
The successes of the Bofors and m/guns
were notably against receding targets - the enemy a/c usually making
off at low level having
2.

completed their dive

attack.

ATTACK BY AIRBORME TROOPS

On the 20th of May an early morning recce was carried out by


a DO 17 which was followed by a high level bombing attack at about 0800
hours.
From that hour onwards bombing attacks and ground straffing
increased in intensity until midday when there was a lull for about

2 hours.

At about 1600 hours a final blitz of maximum intensity developed

and lasted till about 1800 hours.


During this attack JUT 87, Me 111,
Me 109 and CR 42's were used in addition to the aircraft aforementioned.
During this period most of the guns held their fire and the enemy attacks
were met by only light and desultory bursts.
Shortly after 1800 hours
the

attack developed into a final ground strage by Me 110's.


The object
of this attack appeared to be to demoralise personnel and keep them
underground, and at the same time to machine gun the Bofor crews.
The
attack was followed shortly afterwards by the arrival of about 130 JU 52
troop carriers which commenced unloading their parachute troops over the
aerodrome and the defended area.
Upon the arrival of the troop carrying
a/c all the ground dofence guns came into
were shot down.

action and about 16 enemy a/c

It should be noted that on the occasion of the first landing


of parachute troops only about 12-15 parachutes were dropped from each
a/c, whereas at a later period this average number appeared to be 18-20.

This is ascribed to the fact that the shock troops who were unquestionably picked for their physique and fighting qualities, were much more
heavily equipped than the men dropped subsequently as reinforcements,
who were regularly supplied with equipment which was dropped at specific
points by air.
Some 2,000 parachute troops were dropped within the Defended

Area at Heraklion, which can be described as a radius of about 4 miles


town and harbor, a total
from Brigade E.Q., and comprsed the aerodrome,
area of about 25 sq. miles,
These troops were found to be extremely
course
vulnerable when landing and for some minutes afterwards and
e
dreds
aer
r
e
of a bayonet charge at the West end of the

of parachutists were killed.


parachutists

had been mopped

1s

Wit
te

up,

177 -

too

a_

yof

411111S~
men

who

succeeded

West of the

in

establishing

Aerodrome, which

48 hourswith

the

assistance

themselves

in

tr

were finally dislodge


of an 'I' Tank.

0I

11IE
so

It was established as a result of rush interrogation of P. of


that the dispersed method of defence adopted over a wide area was
completely unexpected by the enemy and probably caused the failure of
the first attack; for on following days no attempt was made to land

W.

troops within this defended area.


On May 21st.
Recces took place all day long and in the evening
Most of these supplies fell into
supplies were dropped in containers.
our hands, the ground signals and code having been acquired by us on the
evening of the 20th inst.

On Miay 22nd, the customary morning recces took place and


further supplies were dropped from JU 52's.
Some ground straffing of
the aerodrome defences was carried out by Me 110's which dive bombed and
machine gunned gun positions, buildings and slit trenches, it was observed
that these a/c which had previously been plotted in from distances of as
tanks of plywood conextra
fuel
carried
much as 100 miles due N. all
struction some of which were dropped over the sea and on the defended
area.
town of KANDIA and of the area to the West
Some bombing of the
of the town took place during the day, and about 1800 hours, formations

of DO 17's

accompanied by Lie 110's bombed and machine gunned positions

west of the town and east of the aerodrome preliminary to the dropping
Of about 800 troops which were dropped
of further troops by JU 52's.
in the course of this evening approximately 300 landed to the west of the
town and 500 to the west of the aerodrome, all outside the defended area.
A few of the troops dropped to the west of Kandia succeeded in entering
These were mopped up throughout the
the town under cover of darkness,
following day, both civilians and priests taking an active part in their
The remainder of the troops, some 250+350 strong, which
extirpation.
landed to the west of the town succeeded in digging themselves in and

establishing themselves some 2 miles west of the town cutting road communications with RETII.IO ad CAIEA.
The parachute troops which landed to the East of the Aerodrorne
succeeded in occupying a ridge some 2 miles East of the aerodrome on the

ALMES to the sea.

promontory running from 220


which eventually covered the

It was this concentration

aerodrome with machine gun and mortar fire.

Attempts to dislodge these troops made by the army were only partially
successful.
A number of prisoners were taken of which many were boys
of 15-17 years of age who were obviously very war weary and depressed.
23rd - 27th May: During the following three days, recces continued to be made and supplies dropped to the bodies of troops East and

West of the area, and it became clear from visual observation that a
considerable

concentration of troops was being built up some 10 miles


During this period bombing and ground straffing continued

eastwards.
and on 23rd May the town of Kandia which was now almost completely
evacuated with the exception of the hospitals, was subjected to heavy
bombing attacks by large formations of DO 17's supported by ME 110's.

These attacks on the townm


on the

succeeding evenings

and harbor were repeated on a smaller scale


and pamphlets were dropped warning the
of participating i

civilian population of the consequences

against the enemy.

178 -178

UNCL

During these four days attempts were made by the sma 1


to the .nest of the town to filter across to join the larger body to the
east of the aerodrome, as a result of which conmmunications with the
south by the KNOSSOS road were frequently interrupted.
On the 27th May, the town was bombed firstly by 6 then by 37 JU 88 in 3 formations approaching from the South.

DO 17 and

28th May.
On the morning of this day at about 1000 hours, the
defences were again subjected to a very heavy attack and shortly afterwards about 50 troop carriers landed some 18 parachutists each behind
the enemy defences to the East of the

aerodrome, making some 800 fresh

One JU 52 also landed on a strip some 3 miles to the


troops in all.
south of the aerodrome on high ground and subsequently took off again.
At about
which lasted 1

1630 a heavy dive-bombing

hours was

and ground-straffing attack


directed against the valley which contained

Brigade and RAF Headquarters.

The Army and RAF Garrison, however,

evacu-

ated HERAKLION on the night of the 28/29th May, and did not, therefore,
encounter these reinforcements.
3.

GENERAL DEFENCE SCHEE3

& Lieut.

A general defence scheme was drawn up in co-operation with


Colonel and a Major of the Black patch.
The General scheme

being that RAF Station, Heraklion should man 3 machine gun posts
situated south of the camp and act as supporting troops to the army who
were deployed to the East and the south of the camp and aerodrome.
The
attack, however, did not develop as anticipated and it was decided to
man a ridge between the officers' mess and a machine gun position in
front of the mess.
These positions were maintained until the night of
the 27th when the main body of RAF were withdrawn as the positions were
no longer tenable, being subjected to machine gun and trench mortar fire.
C OII MUNICAT IONS

4.

mitting

The
station

initial layout of the T/T Section was bad.


The transwas wrecked by bombing early.
On being moved to
a

nearby building it was again wrecked. It 'was finally divided and


dispersed partly in a cave and partly in an old cottage in a ravine
when no further trouble was experienced.
The receiving
also first bombed:and then moved to a cave.
The

accumulator room suffered in the


it.

station was

same way and similar

steps were taken to conceal

Much greater thought should have been given to


the

first

W/T

layout in

place.

The existing arrangements were very unsatisTelephones:


lines were bunched together and hung on poles, or alterThese lines were
natively laid on the ground alongside the roads.
factory;

soon destroyed by bomb,

shrapnel,

and/or machine gun and cannon.

-17

Efforts were being made towards the end to put all l Thin h
the ground at least 100 yards away from roads. Also important lines
were-being duplicated and laid in different routes. It was proposed
also to attempt to bury certain lines, but Army Signals disliked the
idea.

HF/DF appears to be impracticable under blitz conditions due


to exposed position necessary.
There is no doubt that if possible there should be standby
R/T available between all important centres l.g. Ops, A.Iv.E.S.
Signals made direct by submarine cable, to H.Q.M.E. regarding
the situation and unserviceability of the aerodrome at HERAKLION were
not passed to Pilots of a/c who had received orders to operate over
CRETE.
5.

CONCLUSIONS & INFORL~TION ACQUIRED

(a)
Enemy parachute troops were perfectly equipped with the latest
automatic weapons - tommy guns and Mausers, machine guns, anti-tank guns
3" mortars, Breda guns, and large quantities of ammunition. All armaments bore dates of 1940 and 1941. Motor bicycles and sidecars were
dropped in sectional parts for assembly. Medical equipment dropped was
of outstanding quality and in perfect condition. "'ireless equipment
was supplied by air and played an important part. Food supplies were
of good quality, scientifically selected, and arrived regularly.
(b)

Numbers of Troops required to defend successfully a given


area against parachute troops:

At Heraklion 4,000 British troops, not all fresh and armed


with low proportion of automatic weapons successfully defended an area
of about 25 square miles. It is believed that properly equipped with
tommy guns half this number of troops would have been sufficient. This
figure 80 - 100 troops per square mile represents the minimum which are
required for the immediate elimination of airborne troops.
(c)

Advanced Aircraft Operations:

No fully equipped aerodrome should exist within range of 400


miles of the enemy's advanced landing ground. Experience at HERAKLION
has shown that such an aerodrome merely becomes a target for enemy bombers and a death trap for any of our own aircraft so ill advised as to
make a landing.
Within a radius of 500 miles of an enemy advanced landing
ground, aircraft should operate only from advanced landing strips which
n no ac ount shouldahave been carefully selected and concealed.
i
Ab
1pe se
craft ever be left on strips but should ff
concealed by some form of camouflage.
No new buildings should be erected but existing buildings
should be used for the accommodation of personnel and stores. Only a
minimum of personnel should be maintained at advanced landing grounds sufficient in number to refuel and if necessary re-arm.
All aircraft should step up to advanced landing strip and
return immediately to base after operations.

180 -

(d)

il..,.ct A,.,.
-'
SIFIEI

i____

Morale of Parachute Troops:


Interrogation of prisoners
(i)

of war shows the following

facts:

Troops were drawn from all parts of Germany for the attack:
In one instance a young glider pilot who did not know how
to use his Tommy gun stated that three days previous to
the attack he was engaged in his civilian occupation of
taxi-driving in VIENNA.
He was called upon at short
notice and flown direct to ATHENS.

(ii)

Very little resistance was expected:


Prisoners

stated that they were informed that the town


of KANDIA would offer no resistance.
They were armazed
at the resistance of the civilian population in repelling
the attack within the walls and in the hills.

(iii)

Many of the Parachutists were extremely young:


The

first wave of parachutists landed contained the shock


troops and appeared to be specially selected.
A large
proportion of the troops dropped later were boys of 16
to 18 years of age.
(iv)

Morale of Parachute Troops was not exactly high:


The frenzied and completely reckless activity of troops
immediately after landing and their subsequent exhaustion have caused the suspicion that parachute troops
are drugged with Benzadrine.
has been found.

Most

No

of the prisoners taken were

proof of this,

however,

suffering from ex-

haustion and depression and completely fed up with the


war.

Some begged

to be shot because they could stand


no more of it; others were gld to be made prisoners of
war.
One Army doctor shot himself dead before he could
be disarmed.
A youthful pair of prisoners burst into
tears when captured.
Some complained that they had
wished to surrender and had shown the white flag but that
the sign was not understood and they were obliged to carry
on fighting.
Most of the
atrocities

prisoners
appeared to have told
of the
committed by the British and that we took no

prisoners.
(e)

Communications:

Alternative lines of communication at least loo yards from the


road should be provided.
Telephone lines should not be suspended but

always laid on the ground.

WT Stations should be dispersed and dug in

whenever possible.

6.

POSITION OF PAF AT TIHE OF EVACUATION

General Disposition of RAF Heraklion:


A camp was established in an olive grove approximately 1/2
mile east of the aerodrome.
Works and Maintenance Dept:

Four stone buildings were built by the


one being intended for
an operations
room,

abl~t18

g1

-.

go Us

the second as an orderly room and administrative offices.


The remaining
2 were used as an officers' mess and mens' mess.
This camp occupied by

what-was then Z Wing,. on or about the 15th March.


A Squadron Leader arrived to take command of what had now
become RAF Station H-eraklion on the 2/3rd April.
The Squadron Leader
was not satisfied with the original building which was intended to be
used as an operations room.

Various

schemes were explored and investi-

gated in consultation with another Squadron Leader and it was finally


decided to-adept a large cave situated some 22 miles west of the camp
to this purpose.
i7ork was put in hand and completed on or about the
24th April.
At 6000 hours on the 26th May the Commanding Officer was
called to a conference by the Brigadier General, and informed of the
decision to evacuate.
A time and S.P. was given (2200) hours with
instructions as

to route.

This

information was not passed to the

troops until 2100 hours, because of the security point of view. The
position of the aerodrome at the time was that it was definitely
unserviceable, the East end of the runway for some 500 to 600 yards completely destroyed by bombing.
No serviceable aircraft were left; all
had been destroyed by enemy aircraft action, ground straffing and bombing.
The Camp had been left standing when it was evacuated the previous
All buildings were badly damaged by mortar and machine gun or
day.
cannon fire.
It was, however, impossible to destroy some 3000 to 4000
gallons of petrol, which was already partially within the enemy line,
or No Man's Land.
This dump or rather dispersed cases was some l2 miles
to the east of the aerodrome.

Personnel were evacuated without loss,

as per nominal roll

It is with regret
supplied by a Flight Lieutenant and held by B.P.S.O.
that it is to be added, losses were sustained en voyage.
7.

MOVEMENTS

OF SQUADRON LEADERS'

PARTY TO IiSPECT TIHE

IMESSARA PLAIN

On May 19th, a Squadron Leader left Heraklion by road for


Canea.
Nothing further is known of his movements, nor is the reason
for his trip to Canea known.
left
in
officers
of several
consisting
On May 20th a party
It was stated by a Squadron Leader
the morning for the Messara Plain.
that it was their intention to inspect proposed sites
in this area.

for landing trips

Officer Commanding,
RAF Station

Heraklion,

1-x

t;

CRETE.

Enclosure "G" to report on


OPERATIONS IN CRETE."

EXTRACTS FROM A REPORT ON THE INVASION AND


EVACUATION OF NO. 220 A.M.E.S. .LOCATED NEAR

KERALION.

1.
On Sunday, May 11th, night raids commenced really seriously,
and continued with increasing intensity until the final attack, lasting
from about midnight to dawn and during this period they were practically
continuous. On may 13th, there were six afternoon raids of from six to
fifteen aircraft, dive bombing and ground straffing. There was a raid of
about 20 aircraft at dusk, which passed over the station at about 100
feet.
2.
At this period, the aerodrome was fully ready for use and
there existed an operations organization capable of controlling fighter
aircraft, had these been available in numbers. So long as we had any
serviceable fighters (the maximum ever available was five Gladiators),
they were never caught on the ground.
3.
From May 15th onward, there was severe interference of
telephone communications, due to bombing and machine gunning of the
lines. The results were then passed to Operations by W/T satisfactorily,
but due to this interference and consequent delay, it was arranged to
carry out R/T control of our fighters, when airborne from the station.
For this purpose, a simple system of informing our fighters of the
approach of enemy aircraft was developed.
4.
On May 18th and 19th, raids were incessant, except for a
period of a few hours at night. On Tuesday, May 20th, it had been
impossible to obtain any information from R.A.F. HERAKLION, over the
telephone, and as the situation was clearly developing rapidly, a visit
was made to the Operations Room to see what information was available.
It was learned that at CANTEA and MALEME, all secret publications had
been destroyed that morning and also at No. 252 A.M.E.S. It was agreed
to keep No. 220 A.M.E.S. in operation to the last possible moment: the
Army Commander arranged to send a code word as a signal for destruction,
when he considered it unsafe to keep the apparatus any longer.
5.
The main attack commenced at about 1400 hours, at a conservative estimate between 1400 and 2000 hours; some 750 aircraft were
used in the HERAaLION AREA, in dive bombing, low flying bombing, machine
gun and parachute attacks. They came over in formations of from 20 to
50. No. 220 A.M,.E.S., which was some 6 miles outside of the defended
area received a separate attack of over 3 hours duration. All personnel
not on duty were in trenches. Personnel on duty continued as normally.
The "T" and "BR' vans were in some measure protected by the pits, but
the information had to be passed by W/T and a tribute should be paid to
the WW/T operators for continuing this work from cover of tents.
6.
During the evacuation, all cyphers, secret and confidential
publications, letters, documents and records were destroyed. Each sheet

was separately bu
in

which the "T"

ed.
and "R"

Bombs were dropping within 3 feet


vans were placed.

Windows were

of the'
blown in

itd
and

the sides and roof were pierced wvith shrapnel and bullets.
At about
1730 hours, a rather heavy bomb caused the transmitter to trip and
completely demolished the telephone. The transmitter, however, came
on the air at once, the only fault being that its time base unit no
longer functioned. Almost immediately afterwards, the telephone line
to the ,/T was destroyed by a bomb and before it could be repaired, the
w/T in the operations room had ceased to function. All remaining personnel were ordered to take shelter, as no useful purpose could be
served in continuing to operate at that moment. Shortly afterwards,
the bombing stopped. It was now about 1800 hours.
Several large formations had been observed approaching, which turned out to be JU 52
troop carriers.
The alarm for invasion was sounded and as pre-arranged,
all personnel cane with their rifles and packs to the technical enclosure and took up defence positions. The water trailer and rations., also
the W/T set, were all brought to the site.
7.
The position which now developed was that the first parachutists, estimated in number to be about 1,000 were dropped in batches
of from 200 to 300 in widespread areas around the aerodrome; the A.M.E.S.
station being virtually surrounded. No parachutists were, however,
dropped in the immediate vicinity. By the time they were all down it
was passed 2000 hours and the light was fading rapidly. W/T contact was
established with the Operations Room and as there was no sign of any aircraft except those going out, it was decided that it would be better
to destroy the apparatus for fear of a surprise attack by night.
The
code word for destruction was received from Operations Room.
8.
One unsealed petrol tin was placed in the "T" and "R" and
one full tin emptied over the floor of each. They were ignited at
2100 hours and burned for some 3 hours.
It was found that by firing,
complete destruction of the apparatus and vehicles could be achieved.
The remains of the transmitter and receiver were completely unrecognizable.
The "T" tower was crashed.
It was impossible to crash the t"R"
tower, as the earth recently excavated from the pits had been placed in
front of one of the uprights and had not yet been removed.
The uR"R
tower was later
.destroyed by the GERiANS I
TIIE COURSE OF PREPARING a
land strip on this site. All personnel stood by during the night, but
there was no attack. Since the landing of the parachutists, the Black
Watch guard had been continually pressing to leave the station. They
displayed every sign of extreme apprehension and were most anxious to
The sergeant in charge had no control over them.
rejoin their Company.
It was, of course, impossible to leave until destruction had been completed and a move in the dark would have been most hazardous. An Artillery
Officer and 4 men from a forward observation post on Table
Mountain entered the camp at 2130 hours and joined the unit. No. 1
Section had been destroyed by the personnel on duty, following telephoned instructions. It was smashed and completely burned out.
9.
It was decided to quit the site at dawn and endeavor to
enter the defended area through the Black
atch lines.
No arrangements
had been made officially, but in an interview with the Black Watch a
few days previously, this plan had been considered.
Just before dawn,
though the set was failing fast, contact with the Black Watch should be

lems.AS,~

warned of our approach.


This message was acknowledged and repeated
back, but was in effect, never passed to the Black Watch.
10.
At dawn vwith full water bottles, rifles, rations and all
available ammunition, we left
the station.
It was deemed inexpedient
to fire the living tents, as this might attract attention and they only
contained clothing and personal belongings. All personnel wore or
carried greatcoats, as at this time the nights were bitterly cold.
Some enemy aircraft passed overhead when the party were on route and as
there was no cover, signs were made to them in the hope theyr
2Tould take
us for parachutists. They did not attack. Thereafter the going was
rough, down and up the sides of the ridges, but there was a good deal
of cover, of which all possible advantage was taken.
On the approach
of enermy aircraft, all personnel remained absolutely still
and we
appeared to be unobserved.
Po enemy forces were encountered at the
outset but later some parachutists were net and we were attacked by
machine gun, tommy gun and rifle
fire.
On returning fire, these attacks
were for the most part quickly stopped. A party led by a Corporal
managed to outflank one knot wrho were machine gunning us, and three
prisoners were taken.
hen approaching the Black Watch lines, it was
decided that as we appeared to have passed through the major part of
the enemy lines, our approach should be made somewhat more openly, so
that we might be recognized.
As the Black Watch had not been informed
of our coming, and deceived by the l1ue Greatcoats, they opened fire on
us with trench mortars. Shells burst all around the leading party, but
fortunately they had opened fire at the extreme limit of their range and
by retiring sli-htly we were able to reach a more sheltered position.
It was now about 1000 hours; we had started at about 0530 hours and as
no one had had much sleep for, about I.8 hours and had been subject to
incessant attack both by air and onrland in every known form, during
that period, a short halt was called to rest and consider the position.
11.
A few bottles of wincand a bottle of gin, when passed
round, had a good effect. It was then decided to send a small party
to warn the Black Watch, as they would have a better chance of getting
through unobserved. The Artillery Officer volunteered to lead them
and a call was made for volunteers to go.
A Corporal was the first
and
was followed by two of the Artillery men.
12.
The party were given one hour to get to our lines and to
send back word that they had arrived. After two hours, no word had
come; It was decided to attempt to enter the Australian lines.
In
fact, the party got in safely and just as we were moving, a patrol had
been sent out from the Black .atch.
e had got into the valley near
the Black Watch ,rhen some Gerrans driven back by the advancing patrol
on the crests of the ridges on either side, attacked us.
One officer
was shot outright and another was wounded.
He was captured by the
enemy, but next day escaped in civilian clothes and regained the Black
Watch lines. A small party which tried to get up a ravine to the
crest was observed. A hand grenade thrown among them killed one officer
and injured three more, but not seriously. Two Germans on this side
were captured by a party and the rest were dispersed or killed. We
were retiring down the valley between our lines when we met the patrol
and so got back with the wounded.

ij ~

fi

x,

Ya

Enclosure

G"

13
Operations Room were informed of our arrival.
We stayed 'I4
with the Black Watch until May 25th, when we proceeded to join the
rest of the R.A.F. personnel, who were living in the caves at the
Operations Rom.' fDuring the period we were with the Black Watch, our
personnel gave what assistance they could, fetching rations, escorting
in prisoners and carrying the wounded to safety. Parachutists were
dropped at dawn and dusk, some parachutes containing supplies.
So far
as was observed, each JU. 52 carries from 18 to 20 men and supplies
vary according to bulk. They are dropped from about 300. ft. and descend very rapidly. There is an instantaneous release, which enables
the parachutists to go into action the moment they land.
They are magnificently equipped and all the fighting forces have some sort of automatic arms. They are well supplied with maps, photographs and provisions, and carry an astonishing amount of ammunition.
They are able to
obtain equipment such as 4 and 5 inch mortars and light field pieces.
A vast medical staff was dropped with the very best equipment. The
Officer Commanding No. 220 A.M.E.S. interrogated a large number of
prisoners and gathered that when they were dropped they had no idea of
the strength of the military dispositions. The failure of their attack
in the first instance on this account, no doubt in some measure explains
the poor resistance which they offered. All those originally dropped in
and around the defended area were killed or captured together with the
greater part of their equipment. They are, for the most part, extremely
young, and seemed to have joined the corps either because of its glamQur
or because of a desire to avoid ordinary army service, as it appears
that the parachutist is a much admired figure in Germany.
They had
been well trained, each one had had to do at least 5 practice jumps in
full equipment and the amount they carry makes it necessary for them to
be in extremely good condition. They were extremely glad that they had
been captured and expressed the hope that the war would soon end. They
appear to be in no way vindictive and their doctors and medical staff
were to the knowledge of the writer of this report, of the greatest
assistance to our medical staff in providing supplies and all possible
aid.
14.
After their original defeat, those who had dropped east of
the Station established, as was discovered from patrols, a Headquarters
at the site No. 220 A.M.E.S. had originally occupied, where they began
to prepare a landing strip. Equipment and supplies were dropped from
which they kept our Eastern positions under a constant hail of machine
gun and trench mortar fire.
Their machine gun fire and sniping was
very accurate at over 1500 yards. This, together with the incessant
dive bombing and ground straffing, completely immobilized this area.
In the Squadron Carmp, at the east end of the aerodrome, it was impossible
to move by day.
15.
After arriving at the Operations Room on May 25th, the
Officer Commanding, No. 220 A.M.E.S. and two of the Squadron Officers
established a visual observation post above the cave to give some
information to Headquarters.
The Dive bombing and machine gunning
continued incessantly. From the start of the attack until our arrival
in ALEXANDRIA we never saw one of our own machines in operation against
the enemy.
16.
Notice of the impending evacuation was received on the
morning of May 27th, and the R.A.F. were taken off to H.M.S. "ORION" at
2330 hours by the first Destroyer to enter the harbor. On our return
journey, the "ORION" was dive bombed from daybreak until past midday,
without cessation.
She sustained two direct hits and five near misses

which brought her near to a sinking condition, She just got ba


r
the first bomb, personnel of the Unit went to help to extract the wounded.
The second bomb burst right among them below decks. The forward part of
the ship was a shambles, Nine of the unit were wounded. Five personnel
have never been traced since the bombs burst, though it is possible they
may be among the wounded brought ashore to hospital. There were over Q00
dead, many unrecognizable, and three days later they were still trying
to get out bodies and pieces of bodies. It is feared that those missing
are killed. The Unit personnel continued to assist with the rescue work,
Conditions were ghastly and many showed great courage. During the whole
of the journey back, we saw none of our aircraft engaged against the
enemy. It will be impossible to pay too great a tribute to the personnel
of "H.M.S. ORION" for all they did for us. On arrival we were eventually
brought to R.A.F. ABOUKIR, where we arrived about 0100 hours,
17.

It would seem that the main lesson to be learned is that

personnel on these units must be prepared to withstand such conditions


as these and must be taught to fight and fire a rifle. Until given some
instruction by the Commanding Officer and Corporal, many of them had had
no experience with a rifle whatsoever. To be able to shoot when the
time comes, the men should have fired at least a hundred rounds in
practice.
All personnel, so long as the Unit was still functioning,
performed their duties well and courageously. Those on Watch had worked
as well as can be seen on any'station at any time under a tremendous
barrage of fire and bombing.
It was when the apparatus had been destroyed and we had to fight our way through that, due to lack of experience in fire arms and a little training in strategy, the majority of
the personnel were of little use. A few who could and did shoot, enabled
us to pushout our way through a vastly superior and better equipped force.
If all had been of the same standing, we could have been of some real
value as a fighting force.
Of the 50 original personnel, there are at present 28 still
18.
sound, who have gone on leave. The casualties sustained in CRETE were
small and were due entirely to our being fired upon by our own forces.
Two were killed and four wounded. As these wounded were unfortunately
in a hospital manned by BRITISH and GERMAN medical staff, they had to
be left behind as prisoners of war, as an attempt to remove any patients
might have betrayed the impending evacuation. The remaining casualties,
1 dead, five missing, and the rest wounded in hospital, were all sustained on board the "ORION", but it is hoped that the wounded, will, before long, be fit to rejoin the unit.
In our experiences, before and through this time, we have
19.
attained a certain unity. It is this unity which will enable us we
hope, to be of some use in the near future and makes the group more
valuable than the sum total of its individual strength. Though there
may be weak links, we know them and can guard against them, so in consequence it is hoped that those who have survived will be kept together
to form the nucleus of a new No. 220 A.M.E.S., which may soon be in
operation again.

5th June, 191

-8

APPENDIX No. 6

EXTRACTS FROM ROYAL AIR FORCE INTELLIGENCE SUT~MARIES

Week of May 14 to May 21, 1941

Appendix No.

RA.F.

Intelligence Summaries

Patges

188-211

May 1l4 to May 21, 1941

FORENOTE
The following are the principal points of interest during the
week:
A German air-borne attack on CRETE, using parachutists, airborne troops and gliders, started early in the morning of Tuesday, May
20. The center of the attack is the northwest corner of the Island.
Attacks continue on a heavy scale.
Against Enemy Occupied Airdromes in GREECE
Heavy attacks have been maintained against airdromes in Southern
Greece, where large numbers of German aircraft have been concentrated
preparatory to an air-borne attack on CRETE. Wellington aircraft made
37 night sorties dropping over 35 tons of HE and incendiary bombs,
and on May 17 eight Beaufighters, operating from CRETE, carried out a
dawn machine-gun and cannon attack on the airdromes at ARGOS, HASSANI
and MOLLOI. One Beaufighter failed to return from all these operations.
Against

ENIDI landing-ground

Night attacks were carried out on May 13/14, May lh/15 and
again on MIvay 16/17, by a total of ten Wellingtons dropping nearly
20,000 lbs. of bombs. Direct hits on hangars and buildings were followed in several instances by large fires and explosions and at least
two aircraft were destroyed. A number of others were probably damaged.
Reports show that anti-aircraft defenses are disposed similarly
to ours when in occupation of the landing ground. Heavy batteries are
located in the hills and are reported as "inaccurate" or "fairly accurate"
whilst light anti-aircraft fire from positions around the perimeter of
the airdrome is very intense and, in general, accurate. Searchlights
are reported in the area between the hills and the airdrome,
Against HASSANI landing ground
A total of 8 sorties were made by night against airdrome installations and aircraft at IASSANI. On May 13/14 bombs fell amongst
badly dispersed aircraft of which 9 were destroyed by fire and others
probably damaged by blast and splinters. Other attacks on May 15/15 and
May 18/19 caused further fires and on the latter occasion 3 large explosions which lit up the pilot's cockpit at 8,000 feet. Two Beaufighters made a dawn attack on 7M]ay 17 and ground-strafed 20 JU.52s along
the north side of the airdrome with no observed results. About 20 LE
109s and 4 Hs. 126 were also attacked.
Six batteries each of three 40 mm guns, firing red, white, and
green tracers are reported as being located on the headland west of' the
airdrome: There are also four heavy guns east of the airdrome. Fire
was reported as being very heavy and accurate on the night of May 18/19
and approximately 25 searchlights, some with purple beams, were in action.

08
1
a

yS~

Against ELEUSIS Landing-Ground


One building was hit and several fires started on the airdrome
A sixth
during an attack by 5 Wellingtons on the night of May 18/19,
an island
on
aircraft failed to locate the target and dropped its bombs
in the Gulf of SARONIKOS.
Against MOLOLI Landing-ground
The airdrome was attacked by flights of five and three Wellingtons on the night of May 16/17, the former dropping 11,240 lbs. of HE
and incendiary bombs. Two hits were scored on the runway and three on
the hangars whilst incendiaries falling in the southeast corner of
the airdrome destroyed four aircraft. A hit on a suspected petrol or
bomb dump produced a fire that could be seen 50 miles from the target.
The results of the second attack were not observed. Considerable
damage to dispersed aircraft is believed to have been inflicted during
a dawn attack by three Beaufighters on May 17.
Against ARGOS Landing-Ground
Four Wellingtons attacked the airdrome at Argos on the night
9,320 lbs. of bombs were dropped causing four small fires
of May 16/17.
On
on the landing-ground and silencing one heavy anti-aircraft gun.
May 17, three Beaufighters made a machine-gun and cannon attack on concentrations of IE 109s, ME 110s and JU.52s, setting two aircraft on
fire.
GERMAN AIR FORCE
German Air Effort
German Air Forces in the MEDITERRANEAN are concentrating their
effort on the attack on CRETE. Large scale bomber and fighter attacks
on the Island have preceded a determined effort to capture the main
port of CANEA and the landing-ground at MALEIE by parachute troops ai d
gliders. Probably two parachute regiments, with a strength of 1,500
troops each, have been involved in the initial attack and Air Forces in
the BALKANS, amounting to possibly some 300 bombers and 200 fighters, are
cooperating. In addition air units from SICILY are operating against
our Naval forces and assisting in the operation; they are probably
using the DODECANESE as an advanced base.
German Air Bases
The German plan in the CRETE operations now in progress is to
exploit every possible landing area as close to the object itself as
possible. This has been necessary on account of the great number of
aircraft involved but is also an example of German efficiency in the
speedy construction of the landing grounds themselves.
The main airdromes immediately prior to the attack on CRETE were
HASSANI, MENIDI, ELEUSIS and ARGOS. Photographic interpretation shows
362 aircraft on these four airdromes. Of these aircraft only about ten
were identified as air transports, the mass of which were probably based
in the THEBES area. It is probable that the new landing areas constructed
in the PELEPONESE were mainly reserved for the actual operations; they
include one landing ground on the most southerly point of GREECE, and

-189-

one on MILOS Island which, with the increased Ger n~


illustrates the importance the Germans place on landing-groun
forward as possible.

TO,
far

ITALIAN AIR FORCE


Italian Air Effort
Standing patrols, escorts for German dive bombers and reconnaissances have been carried out by Italian fighters from the
DODECANESE and Italian bombers, based in RHODES, have carried out
isolated attacks on our Naval units and shipping. One comparatively
heavy bomber attack was carried out by the Italians on CRETE and an
abortive attack on CYPRUS. Normal reconnaissances of shipping routes
have continued.
It is known that the Italians are taking a definite part in
the CRETE operation. Their main role is believed to be the attack of
convoys and warships, with attacks on land objectives in the eastern half
of CRETE as a secondary effort, together with reconnaissances between
CRETE and EGYPT.
ENEMY OPERATIONS AND TACTICS
German Air Force
The main weight of the German air effort has been directed
against CRETE. The attacks have grown in intensity during the week
until on the 19 May they were almost continuous throughout the day.
On the 20 May, German troops airborne in transport aircraft and gliders
landed, some by parachute, to the accompaniment of intense bombing and
machine-gunning of vital points. The position in the Island is somewhat obscure but it appears that the primary assault was not successful.
FIGHTER TACTICS
Against CRETE Area
CR.h2s based in the DODECANESE have been employed on patrol and
reconnaissance duties over RHODES and in the vicinity of the CASO
STRAITS.
Escorts of three to six CR.~2s have been provided for S.84 and
S.79 bombers attacking shipping in the vicinity of CRETE.
Low flying machine-gun attacks against CRETE are included under
"Bomber Tactics" so as to show the development of enemy air attacks
against the Island prior to the landing of airborne troops.
A pilot of a CR.h2 recently captured in CRETE states that
fighters from RHODES are only. sent up at night when weather and moon
conditions are perfect. For landing the airdromes are equipped with a
i.e. a chain of small lights 50 meters long sunk in the
"CATENARIO
landing ground marking the direction of the largest stretch of the
there are three
landing ground. Forty or fifty meters short of this
red lights in line marking the spot to touch down. This system only
allows for night flying under calm conditions, as the flare path is
fixed and out of wind landings are not popular in CR,h2s. GAF prisoners

are known to hold a poor opinion of Italian efforts at night fighting.


Bomber Tactics Agai.nst CRETE

Tvith the ex:ception of the

15

I.avj vrhen air activity was slight,

bombing and rmachine-gun attacks have apparently been almost continuous


from dawn to dusk every day throughout the week until the 20 May when
German airborne troops landed.
Intermittent attacks wrere also made
It is evident that all the
throughout the nights 13/liaand h1/15 :lay.
operations have been carried out by German aircraft based in southern
GREECE and Greek islands in the south AGE-AI . Junkers 87s and 88s and
MIesserschmitt 109s and 110s have been employed mainly, although DO.17s
Formations have consisted
and HE.llls have also been in operation.
of five to forty bombers usually escorted by a few fighters. Isolated
The anchorage at
dive bombing attacks have been made by single JU.87s.
SUDA BAY and the airdromes of MiALETE and HE]AKLION have been the main
targets.
RETIMO airdrome and the hospital at CANEA have also been
The majority of attacks developed from the south thus giving
attacked.
the minimum warning of their approach.
The heaviest attacks on SUDA BAY took place on the 16, 17 and
On the 16 about 25 JU.87s and JU.88s escorted by i E.109s
18 May.
dive bombed the harbor damaging two ships and causing several casualties.
The following day a similar attack was made destroying two ships. On
JU.87s
the 18 hay seven attacks were made betvreen 1010 and 13b7 hours.
and JU.88s in formations of five to fourteen and on one occasion five
HE.11ls were employed, each formation having a small fighter escort.
Several ships were hit and one was set on fire.
airdromes have been mostly
The attacks on MhALE E and 4I'AKLIO
Aircraft on the ground and AA defenses
low level and machine-gunning.
have been the objectives. I,.110s and .. 109s generally in formations
At least five airof about 20, have been employed almost exclusively.
A
craft on the ground have been destroyed and several others damaged.
to
at
a
height
remained
have
apparently
number of the attacking aircraft
deal with our fighter opposition.
Early on the morning of :hy 20 the enemy began landing troops
and SUDA BAY areas. The attack
by parachute and glider in the ATl
and
machine-gunning of the whole area.
bombing
was preceded by intensive
Up to 1000 hours approximately 500 troops conveyed by 50 transport aircraft were reported to have arrived, and further transport aircraft were
approaching the island.
By 1200 hours approximately 1500 enemy troops,
ZEALAUD battle-dress, had landed by glider, parachute and
wearing iNEW
The aim of one
troop-carrier, in the region of CAIEA and MALEEI
It is not yet known
. LE
airdrome.
party was clearly to capture LA
whether this attempt has been successful but at 1215 hours we appear to
holding the airdrome, Some gliders crashed at MLvLETN.E
have been still
There are unconfirmed reports that a small number of airborne troops
Six of the
have landed at ALIKIAISU, eight miles southeast of ALEN.
host of these
gliders landed on the AIROTIRI peninsula opposite SUDA.
have been scuppered. At about midday parachutists were reported to be
landing at RETI O, but RETIITO airdrome had not been attacked. It is
stated that the military hospital at CAIEA has been captured and that
the enemy has established himself on the beaches in that area.
At

1500

hours the sit

sun

-191-

to be in hand.

It is still too early to form a c5


o
e
tuation
but it is noteworthy that, according to reports receive
he landings have been effected in the same area, i.e. along the north coast
from MALEE to RETIM O. HERAKLION has also been raided but no landinghas been reported there.
Aircraft casualties inflicted on the enemy are shown in
Appendix "A".

~CLW~w_
r. n

-192-

I,.

FORENOTE

21 May to 28 May, 1941.

The following are the principal points of interest during the past
week:
1.
The attack on CRETE has continued throughout the week with
increasing intensity.
The main center of the attack is in the iMALEM
area where the Germans have obtained a foothold on the airdrome at
MALEIE and are pouring in air reinforcements and extending their line.
Parachutists have also been landed at RETIMO and HERAKLION.
Two attempts
to land troops by sea have been frustrated by our Naval action but we
have lost two cruisers and four destroyers. The position in the LALE E
area is serious.

n
-193-

May 21 -- May 28, 19)41.

GENERAL
The main event of the week -- the Battle for CRETE -- has
1.
engaged most of the available aircraft of the Royal Air Force and the
South African Air Force in operations in which time, weather and circumstances have all been adverse. Although information is still incomplete, it appears that altogether approximately a hundred sorties
numbers on
were made against enemy aircraft concentrated in large.
the beaches of IWESTERN CRETE and on the landing ground at MALEME. In
these sorties heavy and medium bombers, fighter-bombers and long range
fighters all successfully participated. Some did not return.

Against CRETE
It is not yet possible to give more than approximate figures
of Royal Air Force offensive operations against CRETE during the first
week of the German air-borne invasion, but it is estimated that over
100 sorties were made. Wellingtons, Blenheims, Fighter Blenheims,
Glen Martins and Hurricanes operated from bases in North Africa. Beaufighters, and probably Fleet Air Arm aircraft also took part, but details concerning their activities have not been received.
The first attempt by the enemy to land troops by parachute was
made early in the morning of Miay 20th, but it was not until May 22nd
that he was able to establish himself somewhat precariously on MALEIVE
airdrome and the nearby beaches. Blenheims made the first attack by
night on the 22nd. and were followed up during the whole of the next
day by further Blenheims, Beaufighters and Glen Martin Marylands of
the South African Air Force. Bombs fell among a mass of JU.52s on the
beaches and around the airdrome. Out of about 150 many were set on
fire and many others damaged.
During the night of May 23rd three Wellingtons attacked the same
area with 6,000 lbs. of bombs, setting one large aircraft ablaze. On
the following nights Wellingtons continued their attacks despite low
cloud and lack of moon.
On May 24th, 25th and 26th these intensive attacks were continued,
all available aircraft in the Western Desert participating. On 2)th,
twenty-four enemy aircraft (mainly JU.52s and ME.109s) were reported to
have been destroyed by fire in very successful low-bombing attacks.
On this date none of our aircraft was lost.
On the next day one formation of six Blenheims claimed the destruction of twelve enemy aircraft when a concentration of fifty was attacked
between MALEME and the foreshore of the Bay of CANEA.
Against Shipping from MALTA
Ten sorties were carried out by Blenheim aircraft against enemy
shipping in the Mediterranean.

-194-SSIFE

from EGYPT
Against LIBYA rom EGYPT

Agai-nst LBYA

TAICA during the period under review were


Operations against CYR
Of the thirty-one sorties that took place,
on a much reduced scale.
ten were against BENGHASI harbor and twenty against enemy columns and
concentrations of mechanized vehicles.

-195-

Another formation of three aircraft reported the destruction by


fire of five enemy aircraft.

On this day raids developed at still


greater intensity, Large concentrations of enemy aircraft were attacked,
some whilst disembarking troops.
Photographs taken on the following

day revealed that out of 79 aircraft,

45

were destroyed or noticeably_

damaged.
On May 26th operations
continued on the same scale
and a new type
of incendiary bullet was used with great effect.
A number of enemy aircraft were seen to be on fire.
Although it is not possible to give confirmed figures, it appears
certain
that
a minimum of fifty
enemy aircraft,
of which the greater
number were JU.52s were destroyed on the ground during the five days
operations

covered in

this

summrrary.

Other targets attacked in CRETE were a machine gun post at HERAKLION


and an enemy position in the town of CANEA.
It is estimated that during the week about one hundred and twenty
bombers and dive bombers have been transferred from LIBYA, SICILY and
GERMANY to the CRETE theater of operations.
The Germans have made full use of forward landing grounds in the
CRETE operations to increase their scale of attacks by reducing as far
as possible the distances from the objectives.
Full use has been made,
not only of the improvised landing grounds in the PELEPONESE, but
also SCARPANTO and RHODES.
The Germans were forced to use the beaches
of CRETE to land their JU.52 transports and in doing so have sustained
heavy casualties, probably fifty percent of the transports so landed;
they are now using MALEME landing ground which is very congested.
German Air Organization

Although heavy calls have been made on the ai.r transport services
in the CRETE operations, it is believed that on their completion sufficient transport aircraft ill be available, after a short period of
reorganization, to operate a force of four ,or five hundred elsewhere.

Probably 100 JU.52s have already been destroyed in CRETE and unserviceability may be high at present but factory production of this type is
at the rate of a hundred a month and a pool of possibly 1000 exists in
GERMANY.
In the meantime air
transport activity in LIBYA has been on a
reduced scale, and only a very few have so far been sent to SYRIA or
IRAQ.
Italian

Air Force
In

the Aegeans there has been a

activity in

considerable increase

the CRETE operations and particularly in

in

the use

offensive
of torpedo

aircraft.
The strength in the AEGEANS has been increased by one long range
bomber recce. squadron, which has been transferred from ITALY.
German Air Force

The main German air effort has been concentrated against CRETE,

-196
1

.UINCL

This ef
which was invaded by airborne troops on the 20 hay.
taken the form of (a) continuous reconnaissance round the Island with
the object of spotting our shipping, followed quickly by attacks on
any targets seen, (b) dropping of troops and supplies by parachute and
later, when MALE~E airdrome was taken, the landing of further men and
materials by transport and aircraft, (c) attacks by dive-bombers, heavy
bombers and long and short range fighter-bombers on our ground troops
and airdromes as well as on the towns of HERAKLION, CANEA, and RETIWO.
Italian Air Force
The total air effort of the Italians has been but a small fraction
of that of the Germans. Its role would seem to be dictated by the
Germans.
Italian aircraft based in the DODECANESE have carried out a number
on Naval units in CRETAN waters and against the ports of
attacks
of
HERAKLION, KASTELLI and IERAPETRA.
S.79s of both bomb and torpedo
carrying types, S.8hs, Cant Z.1007s have been employed on ttese operations. CR. h2s from SCARPANTO have also made a number of bombing and
ground strafing sorties against CRETE,
Fighter Tactics Against CRETE Area.
Italian fighters based in the DODECANESE have been engaged during
the week in escorting both German and Italian bomber aircraft, in reconnoitering CRETAN waters and in dropping small bombs on objectives in
CRETE. Patrols have also been maintained over RHODES,
German dive-bombers are reported to be escorted by MC.200s from
SCARPANTO while Italian bombers escorts are provided from bases in
RHODES.
Bomber Tactics Against CRETE
Following a period of intensive aerial bombardment, CRETE was inThe troops were
vaded by German parachute troops early on the 20 Iay.
transported mostly in JU.52s, a number of which were towing troop-carrying gliders. On the first day the majority of troops landed in the
vicinity of CANEA and the capture of MALE E airdrome was their first
objective. The landing of troops was accompanied by heavy bombing and
machine-gun attacks on our positions and on the towns of HEIRAKLION, CAIEA,
and RETINO.
Parachute troops have been dropped throughout the week in selected
areas to reinforce German formations encountering strong resistance and
also behind our lines to cause disorganization. Light vehicles, stores
and field guns have also been dropped by parachute, some of the material
being captured by our troops. All troops and materials have been transported by German aircraft escorted by ME.109s.
Sea reconnaissance by German and to a small extent by Italian aircraft has been continuous except during bad weather. Shipping sighted
during such reconnaissances has been promptly attacked. Full details
of attacks on Naval units are not yet available but the following preliminary information is of interest:

INC
LASSIFIED

High level bombing was carried out by JU.88s and was extremely
accurate, straddles being obtained on several occasions. The JU.88s
operated singly or in very loose formation.
It appears that their main object was to draw fire and cause
wastage of ammunition. Or.. one occasion, an 88 went round and round
the Fleet making dummy runs on such an obvious manner that fire was
withheld.
JU.87s usually followed. Their bombing was highly accurate. The
87s, however, invariably came out of the sun which made the gunners'
task more easy. As soon as the guns. had finished with one target, they
swung straight back to the sun again.
On occasions 88s and 87s operated together.
ME.109s were also used as bombers and appear to have been carrying
one 500 lb. armor-piercing bomb.
The lack of fighter protection for the Fleet probably influenced
the German tactics; JU.52s were seen on the way to CRETE without fighter
escort.
German aircraft losses from reports available at the moment are
(all types) 7 destroyed, 7 probably destroyed and 20 seen to be damaged.
Transport aircraft operated from airdromes in the ATHENS and
CORINTH areas and in the PELOPONESE. Heavy bombers operated from the
ATHENS airdromes. Dive bombers and. E.109s operated from SCARPANTO and
MOLAOI while ME.110s operated from ARGOS.
All IE.llOs attacking HERAKLION arrive with long distance tanks
which are jettisoned over the sea on approaching the coast.
A heavy bombing attack was carried out by the enemy against CANEA
town soon after dawn on 21 May. Continuous enemy air reconnaissances
and low flying fighter attacks were at the same time in progress in
both the CANEA and HERAKLION areas. At least 100 heavy bombers were in
operation on the 21 May.
On the 21 and 22 May a steady stream of enemy reinforcements in
men and material arrived in troop carriers which landed on the beach
west .of MALETVIE, and in addition parachutists and stores were dropped
The landings were accompanied by continuous and determined
near MALEME.
ground strafing and dive-bombing, by small patrols of 3 to 5 aircraft,
of our positions in the MALEJT and CANEA areas. Supplies dropped by
the enemy and collected by our troops have included field guns and
shells.
On 23 May, in the afternoon, 36 German bombers raided HERAKLION
doing serious damage to the town. An intensive air attack was directed
against the town of CANEA in the afternoon of 2h iMay. A great number
of large bombs were used in this attack and much damage was done to
the town. On the same day our ground attack on the enemy position at
HERAKLION was met by intensive bombing and machine-gun fire. At

WA

'

UN ASSFIED
MALEME heavy air bombardment and machine gun attacks were maintained
continuously against our troops.
Italian bombers and fighters operating from SCARPANTO on the
morning of 24 May attacked roads and defenses at KASTELLI, IERAPETRA
On the 25 these attacks were repeated on IERAPETRA.
and KALOKORI.
Attacks were made against our Naval units by Italian torpedo
bombers on 20 May. One S.79 was destroyed by AA fire.
It has been observed the JU.52s carrying reinforcements to CRETE
iE.110 or ME.109 flying about 1000 feet
appear to fly in pairs with one
above them.
Enemy air attacks on towns have been very heavy and although they
contain no military objectives CANEA, RETIMO, and HERAKLION are
practically in ruins.
During the afternoon of 26 May detachments of from 10 to 20 JU.52s
escorted by E.l09s were arriving continuously at MALE.ME,
The enemy maintained daily fighter patrols over nALEME and SUDA
BAY during the week.
German Personalia in

CRETE Operations

Fliegerkorps 11 (CO General STUDENT) is in charge with Fliegerkorps


8 cooperating (CO General RICHTHOFEN). The operations are divided into
three groups -- Eastern, Central and Western. The Eastern group commanded by General RINGEL OC 5th Mountain Division has priority.
The Central group was commanded by General SUOSSMANN OC
Flieger Division 7, who was killed in a glider during the opening
stages of the attack. This group consists of the 2nd and 3rd Parachute Regiments and the 100th Mountain Regiment.
The Western group is

under the direction of Major-General ZEINDL.

re'

-199-

re

-i-I~-

UNCLIASSIFIED

GERMAN PARACHUTISTS' TEN COLJf,ANDIENTS


The following is a translation of a document from amongst some
papers found on a parachutist captured in CRETE:
You are the elite of the Germany army. For you combat shall
1.
be fulfillment. You shall seek it out and train yourself to stand any
test.
2.
Cultivate true comradeship, for together with your comrades
you triumph or die.
3.
Be shy of speech and incorruptible.
chatter vwill bring you to the grave.

Men act, women chatter:

h.
Calm and caution, rigor and determination, valor and a
fanatical spirit of attack will make you superior in attack.
f.
In face of the foe, ammunition is the most precious thing.
He who shoots uselessly merely to reassure himself is a man without
guts. He is a weakling and does not deserve the title of
"FALLSCHIRHJAEGER."

6.

Never surrender.

Your honor lies in Victory or Death.

7.
Only with good weapons can you have success.
them on the principle "First my weapons, then myself."

So look after

8.
You must grasp the full meaning of an operation so that,
should your leader fall by the way, you can carry it out with coolness
and caution.
9.
Fight chivalrously against an honest foe, franctireurs deserve no quarter.
10.
With your eyes open, keyed up to top pitch, agile as a greyhound, tough as leather, hard as Krupp steel, you will be the embodiment
of a German .arrior.

scan

wUNCLA SSIFED
FORENOTE

,e have evacuated CRETE. The Germans broke through our positions


in the CANEA area on 27 Iay and we began to fall back on SPHAKIA.
Two
days later Italian troops were landed at SITEIA from the DODECANESE.
By this time our evacuation had already begun. The total number evacuated
is approximately 16,000.

-201-ASS

FIED

General

In a week in which the outstanding events have been the successful


withdrawal of the bulk of our forces from CRETE and the cessation of
air operations against the Iraqi insurgents, Royal Air Force offensive
activity against enemy objectives has been on a greatly reduced scale.
Approximately 260 sorties have been made in all theaters of war in the
Middle East Command including at least 92 by aircraft of the Flying
Training School in Iraq.
Against CRETE
Between the night of lay 26th/27th and the morning of 1st June
there were 35: Jellington night sorties against enemy aircraft at
MALEE
and HERAKLION.
Blenheims were also in action over CRETE on May
27th and 28th.
Against MALEMM

airdrome and Beaches

Wellingtons made nightly attacks on German aircraft concentrated


in very large numbers on the landing ground at iMLEA
E and the beaches
in the vicinity. A total of at least 17 are believed to have been
destroyed.

The heaviest attack was on the night of May 26/27 when seven

Wellingtons bombed the airdrome and about hO enemy aircraft dispersed


at the mouth of the river TAVRONITIS and started a number of fires and
explosions which turned into fires. Blenheims also attacked this
objective before dark on May 27 and 28. On the latter occasion aircraft
were dispatched to attack German troop concentrations at CANEA. As
they were unable to locate their target, they attacked MALEME with
great success reporting a concentration of about 100 enemy aircraft,
many of which were destroyed.
Light AA fire was reported from around the airdrome and two bursts
from heavy guns were observed from SUDA BAY.
Against HERAKLION Airdrome
Successful attacks were made against enemy aircraft on IERAKLION
airdrome during the night of May 30 and 31.
On the former occasion
six Wellingtons found their target and are believed to have done considerable damage to runways in addition to causing damage by machine
gun fire to six JU.52s. Hany fires were reported. In the attack during the following night by four Wellingtons results in general were
unobserved but a particularly good fire was started.
Against EFIALTI Airdrome
EFIALTI airdrome (SCARPANTO), an important German air base during
the offensive against CRETE, was heavily attacked by a total of 20
Wellingtons on May 27/28 and the two succeeding nights. Several fires
were started on each occasion and on May 28/29 a fire was followed by
a large explosion which threw flames to 600 feet.
German Air Effort
The Germans have been able to occupy CRETE as a result of complete

LAS

ED

UIASSFIEo

local air superiority. A large proportion of the total German Air


Force was concentrated in the BALKANS and AEGEAN and could operate at
close range against our forces. Continuous air activity was maintained
during the evacuation of the island and our Naval units were again subjected to heavy and continuous high-level and dive-bombing attacks.
It is reported that several German squadrons have been transferred
from-SICILY AND GREECE; until further information is received, therefore, it is not possible to issue a complete summary of estimated numbers
of German aircraft. It is probable that, apart from LIBYA, there has been
a reduction in the number of German Air Force units operating in the
Middle East.
German Air Bases
As a result of the capture of CRETE, German bases in GRIEECE and the
AEGEAN have acquired particular significance. Apart from the strategical
position of CRETE in relation to our Naval 3ases, Air Force supplies
can now be maintained by sea and sufficient airdromes will become available to allow considerable dispersal. The construction of runways and
the enlargement and draining of numbers of airdromes in this area will
certainly follow.
Italian Air Effort
In the AEGEAN activity has been confined principally to reconnaissance, which has included ALEXANDRIA and CYPRUS; only two attacks against
shipping have been reported during the week although constant patrols
by bombers and fighters have been maintained over Italian transport
ships proceeding to CRETE.
German Air Force
The main air effort has been directed against our land forces in
CRETE and our Naval units engaged in evacuating troops from CRETE. The
air offensive against TOBRUK has been greatly increased, probably as a
prelude to an assault on the fortress by ground troops. Attacks on
our mechanized troops in the SOLLUM area have also been intensified.
There have been numerous reconnaissances of ALEXANDRIA harbor and two
night mine-laying operations have been carried out. MALTA has been reconnoitered several times by German aircraft escorted by ME.109s but no
reports of German bombing or machine-gun attacks against the Island
have been received. German air activity in Iraq has been negligible.
Italian Air Force
The Italian air effort has shown no increase. Our Naval units in
the CRETE area have been bombed. Attacks against TOBRUK by small formations of heavy bombers have continued.
Italian JU.87s have also
cooperated with the Germans in dive-bombing TOBRUK, and Italian fighter
escorts have been provided for such operations. Reconnaissance operations covering the sea route between CRETE andcEGYPT have been made
regularly. ALEXANDRIA harbor has been reconnoitered by single CZ.1007s
on several occasions. Reconnaissances have also been reported over
CYPRUS. Fighter patrols have been in operation over the main ports

a~ehAsr~aK

UN NSSIlED
and bases in LIBYA and the DODECANESE. A small force of CR.2 s has
been operating from SYRIA to assist the IRAQIS.
Fighter Tactips Against CRETE
Detailed information is not yet available but it is understood
that troops on the road to SPHAKIA from the north were continually
machine-gunned on the 27 May.
Detailed information is not yet available concerning attacks on
our positions during the days preceding our evacuation. On the 27
and 28 May a large number of attacks were made on troops fighting the
rear guard action along the roads to the evacuation points. SPHAKIA
was quiet during the 28 May until about 1600 hours when reconnaissance
aircraft appeared followed shortly by about 15 aircraft which bombed
the town but missed the camp where troops were assembled awaiting
evacuation.
Against Shipping
A large number of sorties have been made by German and Italian
heavy bombers, dive bombers and torpedo-carrying aircraft against
shipping in the Eastern MEDITERRANEAN. The attacks have been made from
bases in LIBYA and the DODECANESE.
High level attacks have been made by D0.21s, HE.llls and JU.88s
both independently and accompanied by dive-bombing by JU.87s and JU.88s
and torpedo attacks.
E.lO09s have also bombed shipping, a new form of attack being employed. The aircraft circled their target at 5 miles range for about
an hour and attacked at very high speed and at a height of only a few
hundred feet in a shallow dive or horizontal, Considerable accuracy
was achieved by this method. High level bombing was also accurate but
dive-bombing achieved the greatest success. Six Naval units comprising
two cruisers and four destroyers received damage in attacks between
the 19 and 27 May.
On armed reconnaissance, JU.88 aircraft normally fly at heights
varying between 1,500 and 5,000 feet coming down low for the actual
attack when the ship has been located. Strict orders have been given
on no account to attack warships or escort vessels during these
sorties, owing to the danger involved. If no shipping could be located,
crews had been forbidden to fly over land and select a target unless
special orders were given. They were to jettison their bombs in the
sea before reaching the French Coast, (Source Air iMinistry).

ABS~EWSSBF
-204-

air

SRE

TROOP-CARRYING GLIDERS

Gliders (German)

The following notes refer to gliders of type DFS 230, which were
used in CRETE.
Span -- 81'3" approx.
Length -- 50' approx.
All up weight -- 4,400 lbs.

-205-

Towing speed
105 mph
Optimum gliding
70 mph
speed
Landing speed
35/'O0 mph
Holding off speed
55 mph

ML ASSF ED
(i) Construction and Equipment
The construction of the fuselage is of tubular steel construction
and the wings of wood. Flaps to steepen the angle of the glide are
fitted on the upper trailing edge of the wings and open upwards, An
accumulator carried in the nose, works navigation lights and a landing
light on the underside of the port wing. A light in the cabin illuminates
the instruments, which are, in addition, luminous.
These gliders hold ten men, including the pilot. Each passenger's
rifle (not tommy gun) is held in a clamp beside him and additional
equipment (e.g. machine guns, portable wireless, ammunition etc.)
weighing 1800-1900 lbs, may also be carried. On landing the pilot
fights as a soldier together with the other nine occupants of the
machine. There are some indications that glider pilots are chosen from
among those failing to reach a sufficiently advanced standard at flying
training schools.
(ii) Armament
A rifle bore machine gun (M.G.3h) is clamped outside the starboard
side of the cabin. It can only be used as a fixed gun and is fired
shortly before landing at anything in the line of flight. It is intended
mainly for moral effect.
(iii)

Operation

Towing is usually by JU.52s, though H. 46 and IHS.126 are said


to be used on occasions. As many as three gliders are believed to have
been towed by a single aircraft, but one or two is the more usual number. The gliders are attached to the towing machine by tow-lines of
to 120 meters, depending on the airdrome space availanything from
able. The longer the rope the better the performance of the glider.
Each glider is attached direct to the towing aircraft and not to any
other glider. After taking off on operational flights, the wheels are
jettisoned.

40

Casting off may be done at any height from 3,000-16,000 feet. In


CRETE casting off was seldom done at more than 3000 ft., a few miles
from the target.
(iv)

Ranges

Some sample ranges are given below (taken from a captured


document).
Casting off height

Head wind speed

3,000 ft.

20 mph

10,000 ft.

20 mph

16,000 ft.

20 mph

Range
7 miles
25 miles
kh miles

Tail wind speed


3;000 ft.
10,000 ft.
16,000 ft,

20 mph
20 mph
20 mph

121 miles

44 miles
75 miles

In free flight the gliding angle is about 1:20 at an indicated


airspeed of 70 mph.

IF"IB~B

GERMAN TROc

'

PLAN VIV

iE

FROM BELOW

PASSENGERS
ACCUMULATOR

SIDE VIE

LCHINE GUN OR
TIRELESS STOWAGE
APPROXIMATE DIMENSIONS:

LtkSS0IEDi

TRAINING

1.

Gliding as a preliminary education for German airmen.

The following translation from the NEUES WEIIER TAGBLATT of


April 18 last, is of some interest.
Primary instruction is given to boys when they are "Wolf Cub
in the model airplane groups.
The National Socialist Flying Corps, in close collaboration with
the German State Youth Lovement, provides further education, and after
preliminary instruction on model airplanes the boy goes through a
course on gliders. The air minded Hitler Youth is, by this time, entrusted with the tools and materials necessary for the construction
and maintenance of the glider.
Later he is taken to districts suitable for gliding and at only
fourteen years of age, his dreams are realized and he makes his first
flight.
After many "hops" and "jumps" he eventually learns to glide, and
from now on instruction becomes a means towards physical, mental and
character forming education of the airman of tomorrow.
Gliding instruction, moreover, permits the individual capacity
for flying of the youths to be determined at an early stage, therefore
allowing those who are suited for flying to be separated from those
gifted in the direction of airplane construction.
At the age of eighteen, the flying Hitler Youth is taken into
the National Socialist Flying Corps, so that later, on joining his
unit, he has not only learnt the art of flying but also possesses
theoretical and practical experience which will, of course, be of utmost use to him in his further training.

-208-

U LASSI IED
Covering period from 1000 hours (G:T)

3rd June, 19l

to 1000 hours

(G'T) 10th June 19L1.


General
Approximately sixteen night sorties were carried out by W'ellington
aircraft against targets on RHODES Island. Attacks on the nights of
June 8th and 9th have not yet been fully reported but it is known that
considerable damage was caused at ARITZA airdrome on June 3rd/h1th,
and that at least five aircraft and a petrol dump were destroyed at
CALATO on the night of 9th/lOth.
Against MARITZA Airdrome

(RHODES)

On the night of June 3rd five iXellingtons dropped 9,700 lbs of


bombs on the airdrome and its dispersal area. Bombs also fell across
the hangars and three violent explosions and a number of fires were reported.
It is now known that one Ro.Ll was set on fire, three Cant
Z.007s badly damaged and several other aircraft hit by bomb splinters.
AA opposition took the form of an intense barrage composed of
heavy and light caliber fire. Six searchlights were operating from
All were inpoints around the airdrome and a further six from RHODES
effective.
Against CALATO

Airdrome (RHODES)

The airdrome at Calato was attacked during the nights of June 8th
and 9th by Vfellington aircraft.
2,500 lbs. of bombs were dropped on
the first
night and were followed by explosions and fires which were
visible sixty miles away. On June 9th/lQth bombs fell across the airdrome and dispersal area, causing a large fire probably due to burning
petrol, and two smaller fires. In addition as stated above, five
aircraft at least were destroyed.
Detailed reports of AA opposition are not to hand but on June 9th/
10th the area was described as being "heavily defended."
Against KATTAVIA Airdrome (RHODES)
Three WJellingtons attacked KATTAVIA airdrome on the night of
June .th causing several fires and explosions. Further attacks on the
nights of June 8th and 9th have not yet been fully reported but bombs
were observed to fall among fifty aircraft in the dispersal area and
several fires and explosions resulted. On June 9th/1Oth no results
were observed. It is reliably reported that no damage was caused to
Italian Air Force property on ine 8th/9th.
On June hth/5th during the approach and get-away, accurate heavy
caliber fire was experienced from gun positions along the coast between
C. ISTROS and CALATO. Over the target, opposition was confined to an
intense barrage of light and medium caliber fire ith multi-colored
tracer ammunition.
One searchlight with a bluish beam was in action.
Against RHODES Harbor
During an attack on

une 8th/9th, three direct hits were registered

SNILS

IFI[D

on the Northern Mole..

AA fire was described as intense and accurate..


Against BEIRUT Fuel Installations
Of four separate attacks - one from PALESTINE and three from

EGYPT - the two most important were delivered on the hth and 8th of
June. During the former (from PALESTINE) 3,600 lbs. of IIE and incendiary bombs were dropped by four lenheims on the Shell installation. Large clouds of black smoke were seen rising as our aircraft left
the target, and fires were visible from the centre of the town for five
or six hours. A reconnaissance report on June 5th confirmed that two
tanks (one of wrhich had a capacity of 2,500 tons and was known to contain 500 tons of aviation spirit) were destroyed and damage was done to
surrounding buildings. Leaflets were also dropped.
German Air Bases
The main German air bases in use in the EDITERR
E/i AN are now
probably in the ATHENS area.
German units are also based at LARITZA
and CALATO in the DODECANESE, and DERNA, GAZALA and GAMLUT in LIBYA.
German Air Organization
It is probable that the Headquarters of Fliegerkorps X is now in
GREECE and probably directing all operations in the NEDITERRANEAN and
LIBYA; it is possible, however, that certain units earmarked for
special duties still remain directly under the control of Luftflotte h.
It is reported that only one or two German fighter squadrons now remain
in ITALY and SICILY.

-210-

PARACHUTIST SECURITY IEASURES


The following precautions were taken by all parachutists and airborne units proceeding south in preparation of the attack on CRETE,
with a view to avoiding their recognition as such en route.
(a)
(b)
(c)
(d)
(e)
(f)
(g)
(h)
(i)

Before departure all parachutists badges were removed.


Pay books and identity cards were exchanged for papers
omitting the unit's identity.
Special clothing and apparatus remained packed and kept
under lock and key.
The carrying of personal papers and documents was forbidden.
The sending of picture postcards and the use of the
ordinary post was likewise forbidden.
The singing of Parachutists was stopped.
No written matter of any description was allowed on
vehicles or railway trucks.
Battalion markings were ordered to be obliterated from
all vehicles,
Company commanders were told to give a lecture to all
ranks on security before departure, emphasizing the consequences of any breaches, and the punishment which would
be meted out to offenders.
(Note: Fortunately these instructions were not all
carried out.)

EXTRACT FRO, A GLIDER PILOT t S DIARY


TANAGRA liay 20th. Reveille at 0300 hrs. for the start is at
0510hrs. I have packed everything into my two rucksacks but I have
written no letters. I have the greatest confidence in my return.'
After a few contretemps we started at 0525. At the first attempt, a
lorry ran into my tow rope, at the second the towing aircraft fell out
of formation, but I managed to get away. So we flew about 3- hours,
towards the enemy. At 0825 hrs. I landed my machine on CRETE. The
landing field was very hilly and strewn with stones and rocks the size
of a man. On landing my machine was badly shattered, but my passengers
were still able to fight. Things did not go so well with everybody.
For the most part there were 50% casualties. In one machine which
landed at a Dummy AA Post, there were 8 men dead and 2 severely wounded
(the total complement). On our approach there was violent AA fire.
There was very little fighting: we were only small groups of five or
six men. Our leadership failed miserably. Much could not be attempted
That is how things went with
for the majority were disabled or dead.
us on the first day.
Late in the afternoon, I wanted to fetch my
haversack and water bottle but was unable to get at it among the rocks.
There we lay until 2000 hrs. in a captured M.G. post and tried during
the night to establish contact with the others, but in vain. All we
found were wounded and an Englishmen with a lung wound.
WYe bandaged
him up as best we could. Finally we decided to creep past the twoenemy M.G. posts and join up with the parachutists. Unfortunately, we
did not have time and were surprised by dawn.

-211-

LASSL ED
APPENDIX NO.

HEADQUARTERS,

ROYAL AIR FORCE,

MIDDLE EAST

OPEPRiTIONAL SUM1.iARY - CRETE


May 12 - June 1,

1941

UNCL SS

ED

KiEADQUARTERS

ROYAL AIR FORCE

MIDDLE EAST

OPERATIONAL SUMARY
CRETE
338 --

May 12, day. Suda Bay and Heraklion were twice reconnoitred by enemy
aircraft during the day. A 112 Squadron Gladiator intercepted one
enemy aircraft over Heraklion, the combat being indecisive.
12/13 May, night. Enemy aircraft operating singly bombed Suda Bay for
seven hours during the night without causing any damage or casualties.
May 13, day. During the afternoon five JU. 88s machine-gunned Samondoche village. No damage or casualties resulted.

339 -- May 13, day. Enemy aircraft bombed Suda Bay and the airdromes at
Maleme and Heraklion without causing damage or casualties. One
unidentified aircraft was shot down at Heraklion and a ME. 110
crashed near Retimo,

the

crew

being

killed.

May 14, day. Approximately 20 Messerschmitts machine-gunned


Heraklion airdrome in the early morning, danaging two Gladiators
on the ground. Three Messerschmitts were shot down, while a further
two crashed and another was severely damaged. Some three hours later
a ME. 110 was shot down at Heraklion, the crew being captured. The
airdrome at Maleme was also machine-gunned during the day.
Further
details are awaited.
340 -- The following further details have now been received of the enemy
attacks on 13/14 May reported in yesterday's summary:
May 13. A 112 Squadron Gladiator intercepted four JU. 88s and one
M1.110 about to attack one of our convoys off Heraklion and broke
up their formation.
13/13 May, night. Intermittent bombing attacks were made on Suda
Bay during the night. Only slight damage resulted.
May 14. The machine-gun attack on Maleme airdrome was made by
between 20 and 40 lE. 109s and ME 110s which were intercepted by
three hIurricanes and two FAA Gladiators. The Hurricanes destroyed
one ME. 110 and one ME. 109 and damaged a second ME. 109.
Two
Hurricanes were shot down, but one pilot is safe. One Gladiator
forced landed and the second was shot down while coming in to land.
Both the pilots are safe. During the raid on Heraklion, Gladiators
destroyed three ME. 110s and severely damaged a fourth.
341 -- May 16. A 33 Squadron Hurricane reconnoitred MIilos Island for
enemy shipping. During the morning about 30 ME.:.ll0s bombed and
machine-gunned Heraklion, destroying an unserviceable Gladiator
on the ground and damaging the officers' mess and another building.
There were no RAF casualties. Two Hurricanes and three Gladiators
engaged the enemy, and one Hurricane was shot down, the pilot
escaping by parachute.

212 -

NNCLASS

IEl

Suda Bay was dive-bombed by about 20 aircraft escorted by


One soldier was killed and five others wounded.
fighters.
About 30 enemy fighters attempting to machine-gun Maleme
. 109s were destroyed,
airdrome were driven off by AA fire. Two
the pilots being captured. We lost two Hurricanes. Further details
are awaited.

IL

During the morning 17 JU. 87s escorted by ten ME.109s dive343 -- May 17.
bombed Suda Bay, while a further five NI.109s patrolled over Maleme
apparently to keep out fighters on the ground. AA fire destroyed a
D0.17 which reconnoitred the anchorage at Suda Bay during the night.
May 18.
Four enemy reconnaissances were made of Suda Bay during
the morning, which were followed by heavy raids on Suda Bay, Maleme,
Heraklion and objectives in the Canea area in the afternoon by
several waves of enemy aircraft. One unidentified aircraft was
destroyed by AA fire. There were no RAF casualties but the airdromes
at Maleme and Heraklion were slightly damaged.
344 --

The following final figures have been received of the


enemy air casualties during the raids on Suda Bay, Maleme on May 16
reported in No. 342:
Hurricanes destroyed four Ivl.109s and one JU.87 and
probably destroyed a fifth ME.109. AA fire destroyed three unidentified aircraft and probably destroyed a further three. A
Hurricane returning from reconnaissance of Melos Island destroyed
a JU.52 in combat and damaged a JU.87.
The following details have been received of the enemy air
attacks on Crete on May 18 reported in yesterday's summary:
Seven raids were made on Suda Bay during the day by six
JU.88s, five Heinkels, fourteen JU.87s, one JU.87, seven JU.87s and
several JU.88s respectively. The majority of the enemy formations
were escorted by fighters.
Eight ME.lQ9s machine-gunned Maleme airdrome, destroying
a Hurricane in a pen and damaging a second Hurricane and a Gladiator
on the ground. A Hurricane arrived over Maleme from Heraklion during
It was then, however,
the raid and probably destroyed one MIE.109.
attacked by several V'IE.109s and is believed to have been shot down.
Enemy aircraft bombed and machine-gunned Canea hospital
wounding some of the staff.
Continuous bombing and low-flying machine-gun attacks
May 19.
were made on Maleme and Heraklion throughout the day, the raids
on the latter being made at regular half-hour intervals except
for an hour's break in the middle of the day. Further details
are not yet available, but it is believed that there were no RAF
casualties.
A few reconnaissances were made of Suda Bay by single
enemy aircraft during the day.

--

213 - A
213

iniCLSSIIDlE
bombing and machine-gunning of Suda Bay
Following intensive
May 20.
and Maleme in the early morning, enemy aircraft and gliders dropped
about 1500 parachute troops wearing New Zealand battle dress in the
During the landing of their
Canea and Malenie areas and near Retimo.
troops the enemy continued to bomb and machine-gun Maleme and Suda Bay.
Some gliders carrying air-borne troops landed on the peninsula north
to have crashed at.Maleme.
are reported
of Canriea.
Other gliders
Further details
345 --

May 20.

are awaited.

Following the

landing

of German troops by parachute

and

gliders at IHeraklion, Retimo and Canea reported in yesterday's summary, the hospital at Canea was captured by the enemy during the
morning.
It was, however, recaptured by our troops.
About 3,000
troops were dropped in the Canea area during the day, more than half
During the afternoon a
of them being accounted for by the evening.
heavy raid was made on Heraklion by about 160 enemy aircraft, the
attack lasting for an hour.
May 21.
After a quiet night enemy dive-bombing and machine-gun
attacks on the Canea area were again commenced in the early morning
German troops were landed by parachute at Ialeme and..
and further
Enemy troops were reported
Aliakanou, a few miles southwest of Canea.
to be concentrating between Aliakanou and Canea and immediately west
of Maleme airdrome.
346 --

During the day our troops cooperating with Greek and Cretan
troops delivered successful counterattacks against the enemy at Retimo
and Heraklion.
At midday the enemy landed a further 300 troops by
parachute at Maleme, of whom the majority were reported to have been
May 21.

During the afternoon a further 100 paramopped up by our troops.


chutists were dropped at Maleme and reinforcements by parachute also
Approximately 30 JU.52s were reported to have
arrived at Heraklion.
in the
Our troops
beach at Ma]eme.
airdrome and the
landed on the
Canea and Maleme

areas were

dive-bombed by the enemy.

In the early morning, about ten enemy aircraft bombed


May 22, day.
our troops at Maleme while three transport aircraft dropped leaflets
in the Canea and Suda Bay areas.
347 --

Since May 20 sixteen German troop-carrying aircraft have


been destroyed at Heraklion by AA fire.
A 39 Squadron Maryland on reconnaissance of the Aegean Sea
May 21.
engaged a JU.52 north of Crete and shot it down into the sea.
During the morning .about a hundred German troop-carriers
May 22.
landed on the beach near Maleme, conveying considerable reinforceThe aircraft arrived at regular intervals
ments in men and equipment.
Maleme and
day at
continued throughout the
Fighting
minutes.
of five
our troops made a counterattack against the enemy there but were

forced to withdraw by intense ground machine-gun fire and by lowflying bombing and machine-gun attacks.

Further enemy transport

aircraft dropped supplies by parachute near Heraklion including


small guns and ammunition, some of which were captured by our troops.
During the day enemy aircraft dropped some bombs on Canea and Suda Bay.
Shortly after dawn twelve Blenheims bombed the enemy
A small number of German troop carriers landed
positions at Maleme.
A reconnaissance was made of the
morning.
Maleme in the early
at
Island by 39 Squadron.

May 23.

~SSP~SA

348 -- May 22/23, night. Three WVellingtons dropped medical stores and food
for our forces at Retimo and Heraklion. The supplies dropped at
Retimo landed in the sea.
May 23, day. Blenheims of 45 Squadron and Marylands of 24 Squadron
SAAF bombed and machine-gunned about 150 JU.52s on the ground at
Maleme, destroying ten of them and damaging others.
Two fighters machine-gunned JU.52s disembarking troops at
Maleme and destroyed four of the aircraft.
Five Blenheims 14 Squadron despatched to bomb Maleme
returned to their base owing to the development of engine trouble
in the leading aircraft. Reconnaissances were made of Crete and the
Aegean Sea by 39 and 45 Squadrons.
During the morning the enemy heavily bombed our troops
near Maleme; Retimo, -Ieraklion and Suda Bay were bombed and machinegunned in the afternoon by large formations of enemy aircraft.
Fighting continued during the day at Maleme and Heraklion. The
enemy were still holding out southwest of Heraklion in the evening.
350 --

May 24/25, night. Wellingtons bombed enemy positions on Crete.


details of the operations are awaited.

The

May 25, day. Hurricanes of 274 Squadron and fighter Blenheims were
despatched to machine-gun Maleme airdrome and enemy positions in the
vicinity at dawn but were prevented from locating the objective by
low cloud and heavy mist. One Hurricane force landed at Heraklion.
Marylands of 24 Squadron SAAF and Blenheims of 14, 15, and 55 Squadrons
with Hurricanes of 274 Squadron heavily bombed and machine-gunned
enemy aircraft concentr. ted on ,Malemeairdrome nd in the neighboring
fields destroying about 24 of them including JU.52s and fighters.
After the bombing clouds of dense black smoke were observed rising
fronm the airdrome followed by a number of violent explosions an hour
later.
One Hurricane shot down a JU.88 in flames over Suda Bay and
severely d amaged a second which was last seen emitting black smoke.
One Maryland and two Hurricanes are missing.
Two Blenheims 45 Squadron bombed Maleme in the afternoon
the bombs bursting among enemy aircraft on the ground.
A further three Blenheims of 14 Squadron despatched to
bomb Maleme did not return.
Reconnaissances were made for enemy shipping in the Aegean
Sea by 55 Squadron.
In the evening a heavy German bombing and machine-gun
attack was made on Canea town and on troops positions in the
vicinity in preparation for a ground attack by German troops.
Further details of the latter are awaited.
May 25/26, night. Four %Wellingtons bombed Maleme, bombs bursting
on the beach north of the airdrome which the Germans are using as
a landing ground for their transport aircraft and gliders. The
remainder of the results were unobserved. A further four Wllingtons failed to locate the objective. Two Wellingtons bombed
Scarpanto Island, the bombs bursting on the airdrome.

i
351 --

4~c

ASSIF th

During the attack on Maleme on May


Wep/
day's summary, the 274 Squadron Hurricanes shot down a
airdrome. An additional Hurricane is missing.

yester52 over the

The Maryland of 24 Squadron SAAF which was reported missing


on May 25 is now known to have crashed on the s'outh side of CRETE.
The crew were uninjured.
May 26.
Hurricanes of 274 Squadron shot down five JU.52.s carrying
enemy troops over Maleme in the afternoon. Further JU.52s were shot
down but the exact number is unknown as-the three Hurricanes responsible for their destruction are missing. The Hurricanes also machinegunned about a hundred JU.52s on the airdrome and in the surrounding
fields, damaging many of them.

1Marylands

of
At dusk Blenheims of 45 and 55 Squadrons with
24 Squadron SAAF bombed the JU.52s concentrated at Maleme setting fire
to several. Three 45 Squadron Blenheims did not return.
Reconnaissances were made of the Aegean Sea for enemy
shipping by 39 Squadron.
During the day the enemy attacked our troops east of
Maleme who were compelled to fall back on Canea.
352 --

In the attack on Maleme on May 26 reported in yesterday's


summary, the 274 Squadron Hurricanes shot down a E.109 over the
airdrome.
In addition to our casualties reported a further Blenheim
of 45 Squadron crashed taking off and was destroyed.

1May

One GVellington 70 Squadron and two Blenheims 55


26/27, night.
Squadron bombed enemy aircraft on the ground at M1aleme airdrome and
on the beaches, probably destroying five. A fire was also started
on the airdrome and a number of explosions were caused on the beaches
which were subsequently followed by fires.
May 27, day. Fighter Blenheims of 45 Squadron with two Hurricanes
of 274 Squadron were despatched to attack JU.52s flying from Greece
to Maleme with enemy reinforcements for Crete. They intercepted six
JU.88s north of the island and in the ensuing engagement shot down
three into the sea. One Blenheim is missing and the remainder were
badly damaged but returned safely. The two Hurricanes landed at
Heraklion.
Blenheims of 14 and 55 Squadrons were despatched at dusk
to bomb enemy troop concentrations near Canea in support of our own
troops there. They were unable to locate the enemy troops and bombed
the alternative objective, Maleme airdrome. The bombs burst among
approximately 100 enemy aircraft concentrated on the airdrome and in
the surrounding fields, destroying many of them. One 14 Squadron
Blenheims did not return. A second 14 Squadron Blenheim and two 55
Squadron Blenheims are missing but are known to have crossed the
Egyptian coast.
Reconnaissances were made for enemy shipping in the sea of
Crete and the area between Rhodes and Cyprus by 39 and 228 Squadrons.

-ASS,kgE

353 --

One of the two 55 Squadron Blenheims reporte


esterday's
summary was missing on 27 May has been located.crashed in the Western
Desert.
May a7/28, night. Four Wellingtons which were sent to attack the
German troop concentrations at Maleme and between Canea and Suda Bay
were unable to locate the objective and bombed enemy aircraft on
Maleme airdrome and the neighboring beaches. Bombs burst among over
a hundred aircraft on the beaches, starting seven fires, one of which
was followed by four explosions. A small fire was started on the airdrome. A further two Wellingtons were unable to locate the Maleme
airdrome and returned with their bombs.
Two 14 Squadron Blenheims which were despatched to attack
the German troops at Maleme did not return. Four Wellingtons bombed
the airdrome on Scarpanto Island starting a small fire.
May 28, day. Two Marylands of 39 Squadron reconnoitred the sea
north and west of Crete for enemy shipping. During the day German
troop-carriers dropped supplies and parachute troops near Aylias
and Kakanoras in the vicinity of Heraklion.

354 --

The two Squadron 14 Blenheims and the second 55 Squadron


Blenheim reported in summary No. 353 as missing on May 27 have now
been located. The crews of two have been recovered.
May 28/29, night. Two Wellingtons 70 Squadron and six Wellingtons
148 Squadron bombed Scarpanto airdrome which the Germans and Italians
are using as a base for their attacks on Crete. A fire was started
on the airdrome followed by a violent explosion.
May 29, day. A 39 Squadron Maryland reconnoitred the area north
of Crete for enemy shipping. A 274 Squadron Hurricane which left
to make a reconnaissance of the Retimo area failed to return. A 228
Squadron Sunderland reconnoitred the area between Rhodes and Cyprus
for enemy shipping.

355 -- May 29/30, night. Enemy airdromes in Crete and the Dodecanese
Islands were attacked as follows:
One Wellington 148 Squadron, two Wellingtons 70 Squadron,
and three Wellingtons 37 Squadron bombed Efialti airdrome, Scarpanto,
starting two fires. One Wellington 37 Squadron crashed on the
airdrome there.
Two Wellingtons 37 Squadron bombed the airdrome and beaches
at Maleme, which are being used by the Germans for landing the troopcarrying aircraft. The results were unobserved. A third Wellington
which failed to locate the objective returned with its bombs. Two
Wellingtons 70 Squadron bombed Kattavia airdrome, Rhodes, the results
being unobserved.
May 30, day. A 39 Squadron Maryland reconnoitred the Aegean Sea and
the west coast of the Morea for enemy shipping. No movements of
importance were observed.

ankASSlFIE

1 CL AdSS

IEV

356 --

May 30/31, night. Four Wellingtons 38 Squadron with six fWellingtons


148 Squadron heavily bombed the airdromes at Heraklion and Maleme
which are being used by the enemy as bases for their attacks on our
troops in Crete. Many large fires were started on the airdrome at
Heraklion, more than half of them being followed by violent explosions.
The 7ellingtons also machine-gunned and damaged six JU.52s on the
ground. A number of fires were started at Maleme, where three unidentified aircraft were burned out on the ground. Two fires
followed by explosions were also started south of the airdrome.
A further two 7'ellingtons returned with their bombs.

357 --

Hurricanes of 274 Squadron destroyed one JU.52 and one


5.79 over Crete in addition to those reported in Summary No. 350.
The Hurricanes also damaged a second JU.52.
May 31/1 June, night. Four Wellingtons 70 Squadron bombed Heraklion
airdrome, starting one large fire there. Heavy ground mist prevented
observation of the results. Five YWellingtons 37 Squadron bombed
laleme airdrome, destroying four unidentified aircraft on the ground
and probably destroying five others. Four fires were also started
on the airdrome. A further two 70 Squadron WVellingtons dropped
supplies for our troops near Sphakia. One of them failed to return.
June 1, day. A 39 Squadron Maryland reconnoitred the Aegean sea
for enemy shipping.

- 218

APPEi1mx 1NO. 8

iC OMTi
AIRDROMIN

AROCLA
AIRDE0IMES IN CRETE

ERAoLION
Airdrome

35 20' North
25 111 East
Altitude 100 ft.

Landing area 1200 x 780 yards.


Firm surface.
All weather.
Runway 1500 yards.
Barracks.
Fuel.
Minor repairs.

H/F.

D/F.

W/T.

Telephone.

Good road.
Situated 4 miles East of Candia.
Between sea and coast road.
Prevailing wind South.

RETIMO
Landing ground
350 22' North
240 34' East

Strip 900 x 114 meters,


8 Kilometers East of Retimo
on south side of coast road
and runs parallel thereto.

MALEME

Landing ground
350 32'
23 49'

North
East

Landing area west side 600


yards.
N.E. side 1100 yards.
South side 1000 yards.
Three flight paths of 700 x
150 meters, 800 x 150 meters
and 1000 x 150 meters.
Situated between coast road
and sea 12 miles west of
Candia.
T.E. side runs parallel
to and approximately 200 yards
from beach.

-219-

~NCASSF
APPNIX

9E
1NO.9

JDI.ARY AND~f STATISTICS

COM~PILED~

OFFICIAL' SOURCES

FROM

DIARY AND STATISTICS


COMPILED FROM
OFFICIAL SOURCES

22nd April:

Middle East

to

Creforce.

200 Ju-52's known to be at Plovdiv.

Turks reported troops concen-

trating Dodecanese and Rhodes.

27th April:
R.A.F.

equipment evacuated from Greece

included:

24 Blenheim Fighters and 4 Liysanders -

from 37,

38 and 84 Squadrons.

14 Blenheim Fighters from 30 Squadron.


14 Gladiators from 80 and 112 Squadron.
5 Hurricanes from 33 Squadron reached
28th April :

one was lost.

Wavell to Wilson.

Crete is to be held.
Crete.

Crete where

Request plan

R.A.F. unable to reinforce aircraft now in


be drawn up for

permanent

garrison

and evacuatioi'i

of all surplus to Egypt from southern beaches.


29th April:
Permanent

Wilson replied:

garrison 3

A.A. Btys. and Coast Defence Artillery,


evacuated

from Greece and distributed

Heraklion.

2 Hy. A.A. batteries.

infantry battalions.

Inadequately

armed,

3 Lt.

30,000 personnel available

Suda Bay and


with

many rifles,

Canea, Retimo and


few light

machine

gutns.
29th April:
Estimated German available air strength.

315 long range bombers, 60

twin-engine fighters, 240 dive bombers, 270 single engine fighters.


May 1st:
Middle East

expected

sent out

on Crete.

a general warning that

an attack

could be

From May 1st to May 12th, the enemy conducted

frequont reconnaissance on the whole'

IELASSIFlED

some bombing attacks.

May 2nd:

Creforce to Middle East.

Roads poor.

Summarized Situation.

Transportation inadequate.

Civilian food supply is

low.

Present garrisons include 3 regular British battalions, 6 New Zealand


battalions, one weak Australian battalion, 2 composite battalions.
The. Greek forces are small and poorly armed.

.Anti-aircraft defense

There is no artillery.

There is no modern fighter air-

is inadequate.

craft.
Mar 7th:

Midcdle East to Creforce.

Asked for priority list needed supplies.


In answer:

I tanks and crews light tanks, artillery personnel and

sights available but would like 25 pounders and ammunition.


not available, 7.5 millimeter guns.
equipment is needed.
for 30 more needed.

Tripods

All possible Eren guns rifles and bayonets for

100 motor-cycles.

supplies urgent.

Tractors and. artillery signal

24 Vickers guns and belts complete.

5,000 3ritish and 5,000 Greeks.


30 cars.

If these

As many as possible 3 inch mortars.

70 cwt. trucks.

Ammunition and food

Heraklion needs 1 battalion with weapons, ammunition

carriers, tools and wire to be dcisembarked at night.


May 8th;

MPiddle East to Creforce.

Navy not anxious to undertake Italian commitment.


18 Lt. Tanks, 60 carriers en route.
message of May 7th.

6 Infantry Tanks,

Also the following in reply to

Sending 10 Vickers guns and tripods plus 30 tri-

pods, 300 Thompson machine guns, 4,000 (303) rifles and bayonets.
rounds of ammunition.

50

Italian 8 m/m machine guns with 200,000 rounds of ammunition.

33

3,000 Italian 6.5 m/rrifles and 90,000

75.m/m guns, 22,000 rounds of ammunition.


batteries,

less trucks.

used on rough terrain.

Signal equipment for 3

24 unstrengthened Morris tractors, not to be


To mortars available.

cycles and 15 Cwt. Fordson tr cks.

-221-

Only 3 cars.

78 Motor

Ifay

CAS IED

NC L

13th:

:.

Joint meeting in Crete military, naval, and air Commanders.


.gree:
(1)

Naval resources in island to consist of 7 i.i.3.s.

Direct

support by some small force based at Suda Bay consisting of


a light and striging force giving security against sea-borne
attack.
(2)

Royal Navy to protect all sea flanks at all time.

Air Force:

Present resources of 6 Hurricanes to be supple-

mented by 10 more and Blenheim fighters if available.

hay 14th:
Attack on Maleme by 30 . . . 109 and 10's met by 3 Hurricanes and
1 Gladiator of which 2 were lost in this battle.
May 16th:

Captured map shows Crete to be attacked from aircraft

base at i-atofi.
Klay

16th:

.munition

at each airdrome.
fay 17th:

unloaded from 2 steamers at Ieralion.

Tanks

Only 4 aircraft remain serviceable.

Freyberg to Commander-in-Chief, Middle East.

"I have completed plan for defense of Crete and have just returned
from final tour of defenses.

I feel greatly encouraged by my visit.

Everywhere all ranks fit and morale high.

All defences have been

extended and -oositions wider as much as possible.


guns placed with adequate ammunition dumps.
airdrome.

Transport still being loaded.

and will make Heraklion stronger.


good account.

e have 45 field

2 Infantry tanks at each

2nd Leicesters have arrived

iTot over-confident but will give

With help of Royal Navy I trust Crete will be held.

May 17th .
A request by Freyberg for estimated supply by aircraft held by Middle
East to be impossible as 30,000 tons monthly minimum need..

AM

Ot 0

N 0

R Of

ti,,

May 17th:

Intelligence report heavy garrison stores concentrated by Italians at


Jiakaki and Akiano.
May 18th:
Suda Bay attacked by 17 Ju-87's and 10 M.E. 109' s.
patrol over Maleme at 1500 feet.

5 M.E.

1091s kept

It was decided odds against fighting

and defense were too heavy and to hold all planes for reconnaissance
only.
May 18th at 12:00 hours:
All types German planes bombed and attacked Suda Bay the whole afternoon.

Headquarters, Crete, decides to return all serviceable aircraft

to Egypt (3 Hurricanes and 2 Gladiators).

The following types being

used by the enemy:


JU-88's, JU-B's, JUt-87's, Heinkel-lll's,
Dorniers-17' s.
ME-110' s.

M.E.

1091 s, and

May 19th:
All serviceable R.A.F. craft flown to Egypt in accordance with plan
decided on several days previously.
May 19th:

1800 hours:

Heraklion harbor a shambles as a result of bombing and straffing every


half hour all day by M.E. 110' s.
May 20th:
Parachutists landing airdrome Heraklion and Canea.
touch with troops at Tymbaki.

Heraklion out of

I am putting through calls for addition-

al tanks.
May 20th:
Parachute landings with full equipment east and west of Retimo airdrome..

Parachute landings at Heraklion and Retimo estimated 1

Regiment at each.

Believed enemy prepared landing strip north and

east of Aliakianu.

T~iKIM

-223-

Mavy 20th:,
Heraklion:

All cipher books and S t C publications destroyed

at 1335.
May 20th:
Heraklion at 16:27 hours reports big attack by 160 enemy aircraft.
Situation report at 12:15 hours.

Reported Germans had captured

General Hospital and troops who were established on beaches in


hospital area.

Estimated 200 troop carriers were being employed.

At 15:20 hours fiS "Warspite" and Canea reported 1500 enemy troos
landed in New Zealand battle dress.

At 1500 Suda Bay reported re-

capture of the General Hospital.


ay 20th:
R..F. H. . Crete sums up "Ghastly day."
hands.

Maleme airdrome still our

Enemy in foothills south of Matima.

Heavy continuous raids

on Canea area mostly by JU-88' s, Dornier 67' s, and MG 4-3-9t s.

In-

formed Gliders lightly armed carry 12 plus equipment and towed by


JU-52' s.
May 21st:
Maleme in Creforce reports loss of all ciphers and documents and code
books to the enemy.
May 21st:
Heraklion reports enemy mounts machine guns on mole in harbor.
Mar 21st:
Suda Bay.

Stuka and iiesserschmidt attacks followed by glider and

parachute landings.

3,000 men estimated landing.

Only 1200 accounted

for.
May 21st;
Heraklion reports small caiques carrying troops got some ashore off
Candia.
May 21st:

Greek king nearly captured when 50 parachute troops

-224-

-UNCL

landed within 500 yards his house in the hills.

sSIF

Freyberg mes

states he ordered them to south coast and requested they be taken


off as early as possible and relieve him of responsibility.
May 21st:
Greek Commander refuses German demand of surrender under threat of
500 dive bomber attack.
May 21st at 17:00 hours.

Freyberg reported:

nAt Heraklion, enemy reported to have penetrated town but airdrome,


as far as can be ascertained, holding out.

At Petice, we are still

in position to deny enemy using landing ground but garrison is being


attacked from east.

Successful counterattacks carried out this

At Suda we are occupying perimeter defence and are in full

morning.

possession of all our base organizations.


less secure.

At Maleme, position is

Enemy has made tremendous attempts to knock us com-

pletely out and I am bringing in help from Georgiopolis.

Battalion

withdrew from defences in enemy vicinity of airdrome during the


night of 20-21 owing to severe bombing and heavy casualties.

Early

today we still commanded landing area with machine guns, trench


mortar, and artillery fire.

Enemy, however, dropping approximately

500 parachute troops just west of airdrome.


09:15:

Another lot dropped vicinity of enemy main concentration at

the prison and on road south west 5 miles of Canea.

At 16:15 hours,

500 parachute troops dropped behind airdrome defences and our field
guns were put out of action by air attack.

At 17:00 hours 30 planes


I am hoping to reinforce

landed on airdrome and others on beaches.

Maleme tonight, but situation obscure and perhaps precarious.


body here determined to fight hard.

Every-

Do all you can to damage surface

of airdrome,
May 21st:

Creforce to Middle East at 22:00 hours.

Estimated enemyts successful landing equals 2 parachute regiments


and detachments of air-borne troops.

225-

Parachutists landed

68

WS

IEI24

at

Maleme

at

0600,

3 attacs.

0800,

1330 hours.

At

leas

Additional 300 landed south west of Canea.

At 200

hours, successful counter attacks launched against the enemy at


Heraklion, Retimo, and Galatos.
covered by British fire.

Maleme airdrome in enemy hands but

Parachute and glider landings observed on

Akrotiri peninsula but believed cleared.


Canea being cleared.

Coastal sector west of

Canea itself continuously being heavily bombed.

Enemy concentrations reported to the west and north east of airdrome


at Maleme.
May 21st:

0230 hours.

4 Australian transports reported disembarked.

Troops in Candia

There is no further mention of this incident.

harbor.
May 22nd:

Naval engagement north-and north east of Canea.


ren-orted.

To sea-borne landings

Situation Heraklion and Retimo satisfactory.

Troops

forced to withdraw east of ialeme airdrome by heavy air attack, but


airdrome itself under lritish fire.

Parachutists still landing 5

miles south west of Canea but are under artillery and machine gun
fire.

Heraklion and Retimo cut off as enemy occupy roads and con-

trol ports during daytime.

Impossible to replenish their ammunition.

Strongly urge plane droppings.

Medical supplies at Retimo exhausted.

May 22nd:
After conflicting despatches regarding method, RAF dropped small
amount of ammunition and medical stores for Retimo and Heraklion.
Retimo's batch landed in sea.

Heraklion received theirs.

Freyberg to Commander-in-Chief, Middle East.

NTew

May 22nd.

Zealand troops in action west of Canea since beginning.

am endeavouring to arrange partial relief by 2 weak Australian


battalions.

Request despatch of complete infantry brigade to Suda.

If ependitures present scale continue, situation will be serious.

-226-

Artillery ammunition especially for Italian 7.5 millimetre guns


urgently required.

If enemy reinforcement continues and attack

on airdrome tonight fails, will have to withdraw to shorter area


we are compelled to hold.

Caiques reported off shore.

Presume

Navy will watch.


To which, On May 23rd, Wavell replied in personal message to
Freyberg:

"Navy cannot land reinforcements at Suda.

They hope

to land small units on southern coast to cross with help.

VIill ask

the RAF to send fighters to strafe Maleme."

May 22nd:

2030 hours.

Heraklion--town clear of enemy.

Retimo--0.K. except enemy raiders

operating on west side astride road Canea,


communications.

etimo, obstructing

Maleme--by 10:30 our troops entered village.

For-

ward units encountered increased mortar and infantry gun fire.


Still shelling airdrome.

Some aircraft destroyed.

Our gun posi-

tions being continuously strafed.


May 22nd:
HQ RAF Crete reports troop carriers landed one every five minutes
Alkiem, circle beach and land, proceeding north low over the sea.
May 22nd:
RAF HQ Crete reports Royal Navy shot down 2 Hurricanes by mistake
arriving Heraklion.
May 22nd:

Report 100 troop carriers landed Maleme.


withdraw and heavy machine fire.

Counter-attack forced to

Heavy casualties.

May 23rd:
Order from Layforce says

and C battalions to be moved by Royal

Navy from Alexandria to South Coast of Crete.

Proceed quickly as

possible to relieve Maleme garrison which now consists Headquarters,


New Zealand Division, 3rd and 4th New Zlions,

-227-

H.Q.'Ae

3rd Greek Battalion, some Artillery and a few tanks.

Force was asked to send guide to the point of disembarkation.


May 23d:

Creforce to Middle East,

"Send all available air help.

11:30 hours.

Situation really serious."

Message at 0700 hours reported small ships landed Germans on peninsula behind Canes, threatening the rear.

Enemy in Maleme area

approaching equality in numbers.

Maintenance vital.

and Sphakia ports open in south.

Roads to latter unusable and no

transport available.

Only Tymbaki

New defensive line established running north

east and south west 200 yards west of Galatos.


May 23d:
Situation Heraklion and Retimo O.K. except roads blown up and no
motor transport available.

Enemy strong in area on road south west

of Canea and by evening of 22nd in direction of the coast he cut


off British troops at Maleme.
May 23d:

Middle East to Creforce:

Air situation made impossible send Layforce Group.


convoy night of 24-25.

Will send one

Others as opportunity offers.

May 23d:.
20 Blenheims being used to bomb Maleme airdrome taking off from
Western Desert.

Long range Hurricanes being used with refueling

at Retimo.
May 23d:

All greatly cheered by Blenheim attack on Maleme but results uncertain.


May 24th:
39 Squadron reconnaissance reported 60 JU 52's along the beach at
Maleme with 40 more on the landing ground.
out and damaged on landing.

Apparently many burned

One JU-52 towed 6 silver gliders to

-228-

Maleme in

company with 32 Ju-52's and fighter escort.

squadrons attacke
others.

45 and

15,0 JU-52' s at Maleme burning 10 and damaging

Also catching troops and stores de-planing.

Enemy air-

craft so numerous they were greatly concentrated.


May 24th:
Creforce situation report indicated Retimo heavily bombed.
block still remaining.

Road

At Heraklion 36 bombers raided the town.

Germans and Greeks called on each other to surrender.

No action

Some Germans resisting one and a half miles south west

either way.
of the town.

Suda Bay, Maleme, anti-aircraft defences heavily

bombed and machine gunned.


May 24th:
Garrison at Retimo cut off by road.
rations.

They have another 4 days'

450 wounded and no medical supplies.. Croforce asks Middle

East if food can be dropped or wounded taken off near airdrome.


Middle East to Creforce.

tMa

24th:

One battalion and 2 troops Layforce.

Strength approximately

500.

Going by warship to Selinos Kastelli for assistance Maleme (arrival?)


May 24th:
1,000 parachute troops landed west of Heraklion.
this area stopped by machine gun fire.

No contact with H and SH

presumed to be near Massara plain area.


Retimo airdrome.

British attack

Germans holding out west of

Efforts to clear the road failed.

Between 11:30

and 15:50 hours, heavy air bombing attack and machine gunning.
number of bombs used.

Considerable motor transport lost.

tanks reported but unconfirmed.

Large

German

Air-borne troop carriers continue

to arrive.
May 24th:

Creforce to Middle East.

Little chance of Layforce joining Maleme sector,


be made at Sphakia.

-229-

Suggest landing

"ay 24th:
Selinos

Kastelli in enemy hands,

Sphakia found unsuitable for

beach landings and can meet with motor transport at Nikros.

EMay 24th:
Creforce reports Heraklion airdrome too small calibre gun fire.
Enemy trying to establish position west of town cutting the roads
to west and south.
on beach.

Also in area Malea to east where landing aircraft

At Retimo,

enemy position between the town and airdrome

much stronger than thought.

Also well-established to the East,

attack failed to dislodge then.

Our

At Maleme situation about the same,

Troom carriers continue to arrive.

Also stores.

lay 24th:
Middle East planned landing Layforce at Sphakia, but weather prevented
and plan delayed for night of 26-27.
Mar 24th at 1800 hrs.
Creforce reported parachute troops at Candass making Selinos-Kastelli
unusable as landing area.

Galene and Tymbaki good landing beaches,

May 24th:
Attempt being made to make ilessara landing fight.
escaping from Maleme say situation terrible.
dicate enemy using

'Aphikilion,

Tanagra,

Few personnel

Captured documents in-

sea plane base near Hassani,

Topolia and Corinth or Perazati as their bases of attack.


May 25th:

Wavell sent Freyberg encouraging message.

Indications

enemy reinforcements moving south and west from vicinity of Malene.


May 26th:

0200 hrs.

Freyberg to lavell:

"Today has been one of great anxiety for me here.

The enemy carried

out one small attack last night and this afternoon he attacked with
little

success.

This evening at 1900 hrs., bombers and dive-bombers

came over and strafed our forward troops.

-230-

Then his ground troops

launched an attack.

I have heard from Puttick that the line

gone and we are trying to stabilize.


able to.

I do not know if they

will

be

I am apprehensive.

May 26th:
Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion, Kings' Own, ordered to proceed by
Royal Navy piecemeal and report to Headquarters, Creforce, after
landing Suda Bay as early as possible.
May 26th -'11:00 hours.

Freyber

to Wavell:

"I regret to have to report that in my opinion limit of endurance has


been reached by troops under my command here in Suda Bay.

No matter

what decision is taken by Commander-in-Chief from military point of


view, our situation here is hopeless.

A small ill-equipped force

such as ours cannot stand up against the concentrated bombing with


which we have been faced the last 7 days.

I feel I should tell you

that from an administrative point of view difficulties of extricating


this force in full are now insurmountable.

Providing a decision is

taken at once a certain proportion of the force might be embarked.


Once this sector has been reduced, the reduction of Retino and
Heraklion by the same method will be only a matter of time.

Troops

we have at Suda Bay with exception of Welch Regiment and Commnnando


are past offensive action.

If you decide in view of whole Middle East

position that ours will help, we will carry on.


sider how this could be best achieved.

I would have to con-

Suda Bay may be under enemy

fire within 24 hours."


May 26th:

21:45 hours from Creforce.

"Our front on west of Canea has broken.


order.

Troops coming back in dis-

Endeavouring to form line south of Canea to cover unloading

in Suda Bay.

By withdrawal we will be forced off our line of supplies

and ammunition.

We hope to unload tonight and move some rations and

ammunition to Stilps,
stabilized.

Situation can at best only be temporarily

nR

-231-

~utro.

Sp~F

We shall endeavour

sir,

Casualties have been heavy."


May 26th:

FronmPrime Minister, London,


Middle East,

"Victory in

to Connander in

Chief,

Crete essential at this turning point in the war.

Keep hurling in all aid you can,"


May 26th:
Glen Martins being used to drop supplies Retino area,

Messara

landing fight now operational.


May 26th:
Heraklion reports Germans completing landing strip 2 niles south
east of the east end of the Heraklion run-way.
2000 hours.

May 26th:

HQ RAF Crete reports that they are moving to Sphakia and requests
evacuation.
May 26-2

night:

An Infantry Brigade and 2nd King sailed for Tymbaki and were forced
to return.

Kings Own,

also held at Alexandria.

Beds. and Herts.

Mediterranean,

Mideast report to Comander-in-Chief,


eneny have 10,000 troops in

on 24th the

Canea and Suda Bay area with British

food ration situation very serious.


May 27th:,

0700 hours.

Fromn

o.

1 Connander in

Suda to the

Commander-in-Chief, Middle East.


"Oanea front has collapsed.
rretreating toward

alikes.

Suda Bay covered by rear guard.


May hold Suda Bay tonorrow,

Army

Desire to

embark Suda Bay 1000 or Kalikes 2000 unwanted personnel night 27-28,
depending on action which will be signalled.

Estimate a further

2,500 Sphakia night 29-30 or 4500 if you are unable to send Kalikes
27-28.

aoestblished at nilitary Headquarters with nobile

wireless telephone set for use when Suda Bay not available.
Majority of naval personnel embarking tonight.

F
a

-232-

.r<

8f

t,+

IE

m6UNCLJAS
May 27th:

From Wavell to Prime Minister, London.

"Fear that situation in Crete most serious.

11:00 hours

Canea front has

collapsed and Suda Bay only likely to be covered for another 24


hours, if as long.
forcements,

There is no possibility of hurling in rein-

Yesterday Glen ship taking battalion to Tymbaki was

bombed, badly damaged, and had to turn back, while store ship to
Heraklion was also hit.

No news yet of destroyers to Suda "Bay last

night but understand "Formidable" was damaged yesterday.

In fact

reinforcements have steadily become more difficult on account increasing enemy air force and may now be considered impossible.

On island

itself our troops, majority of whom had most severe trial in Greece
from overwhelming air attack, have been subjected to same conditions
in steadily increasing scale in Crete.

Such continuous and unopposed

air attack must drive stoutest troops from positions sooner or later
and makes administration practically impossible.

Telegram just re-

ceived from Freyberg states only chance of survival of force in Suda


Area is to withdraw to beaches in south of island, hiding by day,
moving by night.
supplies.

Force at Retimo reported cut off and short of

Force at Herlclion also apparently surrounded.

Fear we

must recognize that Crete is no longer tenable and that troops must
be withdrawn as far as possible.

It has been impossible to with-

stand weight of enemy air attack which has been on unprecedented


scale and has been through force of circumstances practically unopposed."
May 27th;

18:00 hours.

Wavell to Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean.

"Have ordered evacuation troops from Crete as opportunity offers."


May 27th:

1330 hours.

Mideast to Creforce.

Ordered enemy kept engaged Canea Su


S.S. Battalion as wall.

Ba

as long as possible using

Troops no

moved to Sphakia for evacuation.

-233-

Order troops

-UN

CLASS FIE

way out and withdraw to Sphakia or Tymbaki, via Galene.

Heraklion

being ordered also fight way out by Middle East and at 11:00 hours
ordered to join up with Argylls to southward and retire to Massara
Bay.
May 27th:
HQ RAF Heraklion reported all attacking ME 110's arriving with
long distance tanks under wings dropping in sea on approach to
attack.
May 27th:
A.O.C.-inC to C.-in-C., Mediterranean, saying will give all cover
possible to evacuating ships but distance and availability will
make it meager.

-234-

CLASS fIED
APPENDIX NO.

10

BRIEF GENERAL SUM,MhIRY OF OPERATIONS.


(Cipher Message from Middle East.)

Appendix No , 10

General Sunmnary of Operations

Pages 235-238

pSI'E

SECRET
CIPHER MESSAGE
OUT.
TO:

TROOPERS - Immediate
AR&Y MELBOURNE for General STURDEE
)
DEFENCE WELLINGTON for General DUIGAN
")
ARMIINDIA for General AUCHINLECK
DECHIEF PRETORIA for Field Marshal SMUTS)
MALTA for General DOBBIE
Date:

FROM: HIDEAST

Important

3.6.41

No.0/ 69893
To C.I.G.S.

I have now seen FREYBERG

from General WA ELL (.)

and several Brigadiers from CRETE and think you might like to
have a brief general summary of the operations
1(.)

Our troops were disposed in three groups (,)


held from MALE.E Aerodrome
to SUDA BAY.(.)

(c)

The main group

about ten miles West of CANEA (,)

The second group was at PETIiO and the third

at HEPJKLION (.)

The general composition of these groups was

given in my 0/67416 (67416)


2(.)

(.)

of 25 May (.)

At approximately 0800 hours on 20 May the enemy launched his


attack (.)

First and main objective was MALEiE aerodrome

which was subjected to extremely heavy bombing and machine


gunning attack(.)

Majority of AA arty was put out of action

practically at once (.)

This was followed by dropping of

parachutists and arrival of gliders in


and CANEA (.)

area between MALELE

Except for those who landed outside defended

area principally at prison practically the whole of these were


accounted for (,)

the greater proportion being killed (.)

Estimated number dropped on first day was about 3500 (3500) (.)
Parachutists were dropped from heights varying from 300 (300 to 600 (600) feet (,)

They were extremely well equipped but

prisoners taken did not appear to be picked tropps (.)

They

had obviously expected easy victory and were completely surprised by resistance encountered (.)
enemy's objectives

Ce
.t

-235-

ree

ment showed

Ca tured
a

being

achieved (..)
and MALE

It appeared that after inita


enemy sought success at the two other aerodromes (..)

PETIMO and HERAKLION were both heavily attacked by bombers


later in the day and there were parachute landings

(.) At

RETIM O about 1000 (1000) Parachutists landed and all but about
200 (200) were accounted for during the first three days (.)
Much the same occurred at HERAKLION where about 2000 (2000)
were dropped (.)

800 (800) were buried by our troops not

including over 300 (300) killed by Greeks and undoubtedly


many others were killed (.)

day enemy had

At end of first

failed to gain control of any aerodrome (.)


3(.)

Bomber and fighter attacks were repeated on the second day


~E
and further parachutists were landed at MALE

Our troops had

outside areas occupied by our troops (..)


withdrawnm from outskirts of MALEL
remained under fire (..)

and CANEA

aerodrome which however

Despite close range arty and mortar

fire troop carriers began to land in evening on aerodrome


on beaches and on area -West of aerodrome which was then out
of range of guns (.)
was heavy (..)

Enemy losses in personnel and machines

Observers estimate that there were at least

100 (100) wrecked planes in the i.ALE:-

area (.)

Arrival of

these reinforcements made it necessary to reinforce MALE2 E


defences and plans for attack in CANEA area had to be
altered (.)

In the night the Royal Navy were seen to deal

satisfactorily with an enemy attempt at seaborne reinforcement (.,)


4(..)

On the third day troop carriers continued to arrive and


depart again at rate of more than 20 (20) per hour and
observers estimated 600 (600) arrived (.)
operational aerodrome (.)

Plan to counter attack had to be

dropped owing to enemy attar

in Western sector (..)

MALE ME became

ttdS~t

-236-

.ea

4ot

ops

commenced (.)

Meanwhile enemy had not attempted further attacks atREAM


and HEPAKLION but had landed forces outside range of our

troops and taken up positions with object of containing


them and pinning
was finished
5(.)

battle

in

CANEA

day new line


day late

several attacks

at

was

formed in

night

this

MALEE

position

had been repulsed

CANEA Sector

and HERAKLION were

acute shortage
were
6(.)

severed

and with the enemy through

secure but at

(.)

RETIMO there

was

an

of food and ammunition and communications

(.)
our positions were subjected to

During whole of operations


bombing and machine gunning
described by experienced

from enemy planes

which is

officers who fought in last war as

far exceeding in severity any artillery barrage


ever encountered (.)
1000

(.)

was broken after

to SUDA BAY the decision to evacuate CRETE was taken


RETfIO

area

(.)

On fourth
On sixth

them to ground until

they had

Very heavy bombs up to 500 (500) and

(1000) lbs were used (.)

Enemy method was to

reconnoitre carefully at low height until exact position


our troops had been ascertained and then put down relentless'
barrage

(.)

Directions to enemy planes in

given by wireless

7(.)

air were also

(.)

Enemy infantry did not show high fighting qualities and did
not face counter attack (.)

Our counter attacks were always

successful but once enemy had ascertained new positions dive


bombing attacks began and infantry were blasted out
All counter attacks had to be by night (.)

(.)

By these methods

and by gradually increasing weight of numbers

(estimated

that enemy landed approximately one division in TMALEME area)


our troops

after six days

fighting were driven from their

positions and compelled to withdraw (..)

Severity of fighting

S
in this area (,)

UNCLASSIFE

number of casualties (,)

and weight of enemy bom-

bardment are described as far exceeding anything seen in similar


space in last war (.)
8(.)

As you know we were unable to reinforce except in small numbers


by warship since enemy dive bombers made it practically impossible
for any ship to remain afloat near the island during hours of daylight and only fast ships which could get in and out during the
night stood any chance of survival (.)

When it became obvious that

the island could no longer be held orders were given for withdrawal
and arrangements made to try and evacuate the force (.)

Details

of evacuation will be given in subsequent cable (.)


9(.)

Failure to defend island was due to enemy's complete superiority


in air and his persistence in continuing landing in spite of
losses (.)

Extremely heavy scale of air attack could only have

been countered by fighter aircraft which were not available (.)


10(.)

Enemy was no match for our troops in close fighting (.)

He was

very quick to follow up a success but otherwise showed no particular


tactical skill (.)
uncertain (.)

His observance of Red Cross seems to have been

Generally speaking he respected it but there were

undoubtedly instances of attacks on hospitals (.)

On one occasion

captured R.A.F. personnel were driven in front of attacking lines (,


There appears to be no truth in the report that enemy parachutists
landed in

N.Z.

uniform (.,) this report apparently originating from

an incident where parachutists drove some N.Z.

walking wounded in

front of.their advance.


IN CIPHER.
Distn.
PAl
DCinC
CGS
G(O)
G(Tng)

2
1
2
1
1

DDLI(I)

Maj.

TOO.
G T.

G.1.File
RN,GHQ
SASO
C4

Bonner-Fellers,

1
2
1
1

Lieut. General
C.G.S.

USA M.A.

-238-

UNC

APPENDIX NO. 1.1

BRITISH LOSSES IN GREECE AND CRETE

<1-i

lil~G

Ti.,

BRITISH LOSSES IN
.

GREECE AND CRETE

London, 7 August

British losses in GREECE and CRETE were detailed


by fNr. H.D.R. Margesson, Secretary of State for War, in the
House of Commons today, when he gave a table providing the
latest information in his possession. It was not possible,
he said, to say how many of the missing were prisoners of
war.

In GRECE, the total British Force at the start of


the German attack was comprised of 24,100 British, of whom
16,442 were evacuated; 17,125 Australians, of whom 14,157
were evacuated, and 16,532 New Zealanders, of whom 14,266 were
evacuated.
of the German
force at the start
In CRETE the total
attack numbered 27,550 and 14,850 were evacuated.
Of 14,000
British, 7,130 were evacuated. Of 6,450 Australians 2,890
were evacuated. Of 7,100 New Zealanders 4,560 were evacuated.
The figures giving the strengths in CRETE at the
start of the German attack included men evacuated from CRETE
and not re-evacuated to EGYPT before the operations in CRETE.

The above strength report is quoted from Reuter's.


For the CRETE operation, however, the strength of 27,550,
who were there on 20 May, was increased. The Argyles and
Southern Highlanders, strength 700 to 800, and the Layforce,
strength 600 to 800, were dispatched from EGYPT, arriving in
Three "I" tanks and crews
CRETE between the 23 and 25 May.
were also landed about this time. The total strength of the
British at CRETE, therefore, was probably about 29,000.

B.F.F.

1239-

A
APPENDIX NO.

"DER ADLER"

TAllSoLATION OF Al ARTICLE FRO


ON THE CRETE CAMPAIGN.

(Decorations awarded Germans in Crete)

9s

ri

;H

UNCLASSIFIED

__

TRANSLATION OF Al iARTICLE FROML


" D E R

A D L E R "

DATED AUG.

12th 1941

ON THEiCRETE OPERATIONS.

THEIR DEEDS ARE AN


LT.XPLE TO US.
The Order of Commander of the Iron Cross is bestowed on parachutists
who have shown particular bravery.
MiALE, ClANEA, RETHI;ENON, HERAKLION - the names of these Cretan
places are inscribed in letter of bronze upon the Heroic Memorial of German
history. They will be for ever associated with the undying Glory of our
heroes and particularly that of our parachutists - Glory acquired by their
gallant bravery - under the supreme command of General LOHR, amd under the
direction of General STUDENT who was wounded last year in the fighting on
the ;,estern Front, they have, as Shock Troops shown to the whole world the
resources of the German Air Force - the creation of Reichemarshal GOERING they have shown its indomitable offensive spirit.
The F;HRER and Commander in Chief of the Army has decorated the most
outstanding men of the parachute units with the insignia of the Order of
Commander of the Iron Cross. In conferrinb this distinction upon them at
his headquarters, he emphasised the gratitude which the Greater German Empire owes to these brave men, the elite of its sons.
Major General MIEINDL, as commandant of regiment of shock troops received during the battle of Crete instructions to take the Aerodrome of
MAL E. This aerodrome was provided with every possible means of defence.
The enemy positions were established on the surrounding heights and
strongly fortified with machine gun posts, and camouflaged by trees. Major
General Meindl, who is 50 years of age, leapt first from his aircraft and
lead the attack under the most violent fire from the enemy. His personal
bravery inspired the regiment. At the end of a long drawn out struggle, the
General received a severe wound on the chest.
Colonel IHINDRICH, commanding a regiment of parachutists landed with his
regiment in the immediate neighbourhood of CANJSA, the capital of CRETE, and
by this circumspect and careful leadership succeeded in accomplishing the
mission which had been entrusted to him in spite of great difficulties.
Both in attack and in defence he was regardless of his personal safety,
He himself was responsible for taking a wireless post, and he pushed on the
attack towards CANEA.
He set his regiment a magnificent example.
Colonel STUBI was in command of the parachutists operating near CORINTH
and he prepared his plans in an exemplary manner and executed them with
amazing audacity. If the enterprise has been crowvnea with decisive success
it is to his leadership that we owe it. His name will be eternally

- 240 -

UM 1Cesb IB

CLAS 3FIE

associated with this victory. In the attack on Crete, he coirmanded the


attack on RETHIKNON. Having landed from his aircraft with his staff
right among the enemy troops he defended his position with only a handful of men for several hours against an adversary considerably superior
to himself numerically. He was finally obliged to surrender on account
of the superior numbers of the British. After 10 days of captivity'he _
was released.
One must emphasise the fact that Colonel Sturm who gave
this brilliant personal example to his regiment both as its co:ammanding
officer and as an individual combatant is 52 years old.
Major STENTZLER landed with his battalion in the neighbourhood of
iAL iE aerodrome and took by storm the heights dominating the position
in spite of bitter resistance by the enemy, and he thus made the taking
of the aerodrome itself possible. During the attack on Crete he and his
battalion took with irresistible elan several fortified heights.
Major HEILALN, a battalion commander in a parachute regiment, landed
with his men under a most severe fire and at the head of his battalion
captured a chain of fortifications on the heights. In spite of heavy
losses, he maintained his position which was of decisive importance,
against all the enemy's attacks. His example and devotion to duty did
much to carry his men to victory.
Capt. Baron VON DER HEYDT in a daring attack captured the heights
dominating CANEA, the capture of which was of major importance for the
ultimate prosecution of the campaign. It was due to his inspiring bravery
that the attack was successful. In the course of the defence which
followed, he held this exposed position for 5 days in spite of his being
almost completely without provisions and of being attacked continually by
the enemy, while all the time he encouraged his soldiers by his personal
bravery and urged them to further resistance. In an irrestible onslaught
he penetrated first with his battalion into the town of CANEA.
Capt. GZRICKE took part in a brilliant fashion as 0.C. of a shock
battalion in the capture of the aerodrome at I:LLIEH E. He succeeded in taking with his detachment the most important enemy base the village of IHALEME,
which was very powerfully fortified and which was defended grimly. In the
street fighting, which was very violent, progress had to be made foot by
foot and during the whole advance on CANLA Capt. Gericke marched in the
front tank of his battalion. He took several positions by assault on the
heights and penetrated with the Chasseurs Alpins into the capital of Crete.
His personal example and bravery inspired his soldiers to accomplish impossible deeds.
He had already distinguished himself in the parachute
operations in both Denmarkand Holland.
Lt. BAT ETSEB entered the aerodrome at MALI E with his company at the
most important tactical point. He mastered the enemy bit by bit who were
defending the position with energy and he penetrated into the principal
enemy positions. In spite of a painful wound in the neck, he continued to
lead his company in the attack, In the march on CANIA he distinguished himw
self at the decisive spot and he repulsed a counter attack by enemy tanks. On
this occasion also he was always in the front rank where he remained until a
severe wound in the knee obliged hiri to retire - a casualty - from the
battlefield.

momA

4B

uIVb1 L

Lt. BLCKLR attacked with his troops the town of H RAKLION which was
defended by a very superior force of the enemy. At the head of his men
he carved a way for himself into the town and in spite of heavy losses he
pushed on to the fort.. In the course of the violent engagements in the
streets and houses, he electrified his company by his personal example and
he showed exceptional courage in the hand to hand fighting. In Holland he
had already distinguished himself by his bravery and dash.
Lt. EGGER took part with his company in the assault on HERAKLION and
was detailed to take a certain part of the town which was defended with
great energy. Fighting in the front ranks he captured with his brave
soldiers the barricades one after the other. In the engagements which
followed he was known by the manner in which he broke down the enemy's resistance and refused to allow any obstacle to stop him.
Lt. GENZ distinguished himself as the commander of a shock company in
the battle of Crete. He came down with his ien behind the enemy lines and
by a bold stroke put out of action a heavy A.A. battery after a fierce engagement with an enemy which was much superior in numbers. After having
carried out the mission with which he was charged, which permitted the landing of further troops, he traversed in the course of a 24 hour struggle
several enemy positions until he was able to join up with other parachute
units at the place where they had landed.
Lt. HAGEL was engaged with his team of parachutists near CAHEA,. where by
his energy and personal resolution, he was able to change the outcome of a
particularly difficult phase of the battle - a phase difficult on account of
the extremely stubborn resistance of the enemy. He also distinguished himself by the bravery which he exhibited in carrying out several reconnaissance
operations which were of the greatest importance in deciding the ultimate result of the battle.
ie crowned his deeds by penetrating into the last line
of defence near CAN
iA.
Lt. Hagel has risen from the ranks and he is the
incarnation of the ideal soldier.
Lt. HEPi&ANN had been ordered to take the aerodrome at HiERAKLION.
Although he had been seriously wounded in the head during the landing, he attacked the landing ground with a few men of his company.
Blinded by his
wound, he had himself led by his Sergeant Major to where the fire was
hottest. The Sergeant Major was killed and another parachutist who was leading his blinded Lieutenant up to the fighting was mortally wounded. After
having suffered severe losses the rest of his company was obliged to take up
a defensive position and Lt. Hermann continued to direct operations until the
situation was no longer critical when, and only then, he suffered himself to
be taken to a dressing station. In a particularly difficult situation he
gave to his gallant parachutists a magnificent example of bravery and devotion to duty. In advancing and remaining in the line of fire, he assured
for his regiment a good base for the operations which were to follow.
Lt. VON ROON and his company are among those whose deeds were unsurpassed by any of the many brave efforts made by parachutists. He again
covered himself with glory in the attack on Crete. In the difficult and
dangerous situation which existed at the aerodrome of RETHII.INON, it was his
intervention which resulted in a dominant height, the center of the British

242

k\

NCLAS I 0E

"Ir

defence, being taken by assault. Helmmed in by more numerous enemy forces,


he managed to get his weak and exhausted troops to hold on until some
Alpine detachments arrived and extricated them from their precarious position.
Lt. TOSCIHKA landed with his team at CANEA right in the middle of the
enemy. In spite of violent resistance he succeeded in making his way to
his company, and he assisted in the destruction of an enemy A.A. battery.
Toschka who had already distinguished himself as a parachutist in Holland
and had been raised from the rank of sergeant to that of officer was
wounded in the engagement.
Capt. TREBES landed with his company near iAL E2 aerodrome amidst
heavy enemy fire and he saved by his decisiveness and personal activity a
situation which was momentarily desperate. By his example he also
heartened his men to a victorious offensive.
The village of MALLE
i was taken, house by house, in a most savage
hand to hand struggle.
Capt. Trebes' detachment was always in the foreBy his energy and
front in all the battles which raged around CA\TBhEA.
extraordinary gallantry he played a large part in the decisive success of
the CRETAN campaign.

243-

APPENDIX NO.

REPORT FROM H.1;.S.o


May 20,

13

"GLENGYLE"
1941

ASSqF ED

tIUNCIASSIFIED
H.I. S. "GLENGYLE"
20th May, 1941.

Sir,
In accordance with your signal 1213/17 May, "GLENGYLE"
proceeded in company with "AUKLAND," "VOYAGER" and "VWATERHN"
passing the boom at 0207. Owing to delay in embarking military
stores, it was not possible to sail at the time ordered, and to
reach the destination at 2359/18; a direct route had to be taken
and full speed maintained.
"COVENTRY" joined me at 0725/18, and as "AUKLAND" could
not keep up, I ordered her to rendezvous with me at dawn on 19th
May and proceeded without her. One reconnaissance aircraft Do.17
was observed at 1830. "GLENGYLE" anchored off Tymbaki, 745 cables
from beach lights, at 2358/18. Disembarkation commenced at once,
but great difficulty in getting the military up to their boats in
spite of a rehearsal during the afternoon. I finally found it
necessary to send my own ship's officers down to the troop decks
to get any supply of men to fill the boats. Vehicles and carriers
were disembarked without mishap.
Stores
Only a proportion of the stores were taken, and it was
fortunate that this was so, as it was obvious that even those actually embarked could not be disembarked with only three MLCs and
four ALCs, owing to there being no cargo facilities in the "GLEN"
ships. It took approximately l? - hours to load an MLC and to
unload it on the beach, about 25 minutes. This with ten minutes
each way to and from the beach, means about 2- hours per MLC load.
As I anticipated, it was not possible to get three
complete trips per MLC, and the three MLCs had to be left behind
as they only completed loading their third load at 0355.
Approximately ten days' rations were landed, and about
one third of the petrol. The balance of the petrol, about 400
cases, was jettisoned A.M. 19th May, owing to repeated bombing
attacks.
Beach
The beach was good firm sand, and otherwise suitable.
Beach lights were placed too late to come in on.
Two officers were sent from Suda Bay, but took no
further part in the proceedings as soon as my beachmaster had
arrived, and, after some ten minutes, were not seen again. This
caused considerable inconvenience as, having to leave the MLCs
behind, there should have been some naval representative there to
give them their instructions.

SNCLASS.I.F

UNCL
20th May, 1941.

At 0350/19, I commenced to weigh and sent the MLCs


inshore. The 0.0C. Troops particularly desired that there should
be no sign of boats on the beach, so I instructed a Lieutenant,
whom I left in charge of the MiLCs, to see the O.C. Troops and to
tell him that my instructions were that the MLCs were to proceed
to Eremopoli and to lie up for the day, and to return to the beach
after darc on the 19th to complete unloading. He further had
instructions to get in touch with the Senior British Naval Officer,
Suda Bay, through the military as to his future movements.
Proceeded at 0357 and made rendezvous with "AUKLAND" at
0605, proceeding by the route given in your signal.
"GLENGYLE" was repeatedly bombed from medium level from
1045 to 1215. Five attacks were made and some fifteen heavy bombs
dropped. These fell between 25 and 150 yards from the ship. Air
attack form is attached. Air attack was so persistent that I
considered it necessary to jettison the 400 cases of petrol remaining on board.
CONCLUS ION
(a) Owing to exceptional weather conditions it was
possible to get to destination at time ordered.
(b) If the full quantity of army stores had been embarked even less would have been landed owing to lack of deck
space for handling.
The proposal to embark all stores and to bring back
cannot be disembarked is unsound for the reasons given above;
with seven extra ALCs it cannot be accepted as practicable to
in four hours more than was disembarked on this occasion when
weather and beach conditions were perfect, and the ship close
the beach.

what
even
land
to

The limit in four hours is 700 :officers and men, 4 Bren


carriers, 3 small M.T., 5 motorcycles, 1400 blankets, and approximately 25 tons of amunition, stores and petrol, including 10 days'
rations. Officers' baggage, etc., was far too bulky and filled
2- ALCs for 30 officers.
The above is possible only if it is accepted that the
three MLCs are to be left behind to unload after.the ship has left.
There appears to be limits to this as a practicable proposition.
"GLENGYLE," in company with "COVENTRY," "WATERIHEN,"
"VOYAGER," and "AUKLAND" arrived Alexandria passing the boom at

0810/20/5/41.
I have the honor to be,
Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

- 2A5 -

his

"GLENGYLE"
Course 090-16)

&1
330 44' N 24 40' E

19.5.41.
Spd 12-18

Slightly hazy sky, no clouds.

Wind SE 1.

Med. level. Min of 4-aircraft. Ju 88.


4 attacks
Green 10 or Red. 1 attack Red 90. 14 bombs.
6,000-10,000 ft. 11-550,.2-1,100. 1 dud.
All
around 25-150 yds.

a..LA ,

Si

TRANSLATION OF CAPTURED DOCUMENT *- PERFORMANCE FIGURES


FOR GERMAN GLIDER.

Nur fur den Dienstgebrauch:


Flugstreckon

Normal:-----:
Hochstz.:---:

Fluggewicht:

(1)

2 3 0

2000 kg.
2100 kg.

Ausgabe vom 1.3.40.

Einsatzwerte ohne taktischen Abzug.


Der Generalluftzeugmeister
Technisches Amt.
Erprobungsstelle der Luftwaffe Rechlin.
Besatzung:

10 Mann.

For Official Use Only.


Flight distances

D F S

Flying Weight:

2 3 0

Normal:--------..
Max.permissable:

2000 kg.
2100 kg.

1st Edition - 1.3.40.


Operational characteristics without tactical deductions.
The Generalluftzeugermeister
Technical Office,
Testing Station of the G.A.F., RECHLIN,
Crew:

10 persons.

t--

: Windgeschwindigkeit
: Ausklinkhone
: Windwinkel

=
r
=

Wind speed.
Height of release.
Angle of wind (relative to nose of A/C).:

Time of flight.

:Flugzeit

:
WINDGESCH-: AUSSINDIGKEIT: KLINK-:
Ho E

WINDWI-IKEL.
300

m.

15 Km/h.

: 30

Km/h.

45 Km/h.

:60 Km/h.
:
S:

Es Bedeuten:

1000
2000
:3000
:4000
5000

:
:
:
:
:

: 1000
2000
3000
S4000
5000

:
:
:
:

600

Vg .Str..

Vg :Str..

Vg

Str.

108:14.1:
115:31.8:
122:49.7:
129:67.6:
138:85.7:

3.5:
3.3:
3.2:
3.0:
2.8:

110:14.3:
117:32. ;
124:50.3:
131:68.4:
140:86.7:

6.0:
5.8:
5.5:
5.3:
4.9:

116: 15.0
122: 33.8
128:52.6
136: 71.7
145: 90.7

0
0
0
0
0

:
:
:
:
:

:
:
:
:
:

93:12.0: 7.0:
:27.0:
:
:
:41.5:
:
:56.5:
:
:71.5:

96:12.5:12.2: 106: 14.0


:
: 31.0
:28.0:
: 48.5
:
:43.5:
: 66.0
:
:59.0:
: 83.0
:
:74.5:

: 1000
2000
3000
4000
:5000

: 0
:
:

:
:
:
:
:

78:10.0:10.5:
:
:22,0:
:
:34.5:
:
:46.5:
:
:590:

82:10.5:18.5:
:
:23.5:
:
:36.5:
:
:49.5:
:
:62,5:

94:
:
:
:
:

10,0
27.0
42.5
57.0
72.0 :

: 1000
: 2000
3000
4000
S5000

: 0
:
:
:
:

:
:
:

63: 8.0:14.0:
:
:18.5:
:
:28.5:
:
:38.3:
:
:49.0:

68: 8.5:25.0:
:
:19.5:
:
:30.5:
:
:41.5:
:
:52.0:

82:
:
:
:
:

10.5
240 :
37.0
50.0
63.0

LW

= Luvwinkel

(0);

Vg - Geschwindigkeit uber Grund (kn/h);


Str - Flugstrecke (km).
(Pages 2 and 3 should be placed side by side for reading.)

UC1ASSsF$ED

I-

LW
Luvwinkel () = Drift in degrees.
Vg = Geschwindigkeit uber Grund (Km/h) = ground speed in k.p.h.
Str= Flugstrecke (km) = distance flown in km.

WINDV INKL.
900
LJ

FLUGZEIT.

120

Vg" "Str.' L

150

Vg :Str.

1800

: Vg

Str.

LB

7.0:
S6.5:
6.3:
S6.0:
S5.7:

122:15.7:
129:35.4:
136:55.1:
143:74.9:
152:94.8:

6.0:
6.8:
5.5:
5.3:
4.9:

130: 16.9:
137: 38.9:
143: 59.8:
151: 80.7:
161:101.7:

3.5:
3.3:
3.2:
3.0:
2.8:

Vg
.

137: 17.8:
143: 39.8:
150: 61.7:
157: 83.5:
166:105.2:

Str.

Min.

..

0
0
0
0
0

:.138: 18,0:
: 145: 40.3:
: 152: 62.5:
: 159: 84.6:
: 168:106.6:

10
19
28
36
44

:14.0: 120:15.5:12.2: 136: 17.5: 7.0: 148: 19.5: 0


S :
:35.0:
: 40.0:
:
: 44.0:
: :54.5:
:
: 62.0:
:
: 68.0:
:74.0:
: 84.0:
:
: 92.0:
S
:
:93.0:
:
:106.0:
:
:116.0:

:153: 20.0:
:
: 45.0:
:
: 70.0:
:
: 95.0:
:
:120.0:

10
19
28
36
44

:
-

:.

-.

21.5: 115:14.5:18.5: 139: 17.5:10.5: 160: 20.0: 0


:33.0:
:
: 40.0:
:
: 46,0:
:
:51.5:
:
: 62.0:
:
: 72.0:
S :69.5:
:
: 84.5:
:
: 88.0:
:88.0:
:
:107.0:
:
:124.0:

29.0: 107:14.0:25.0: 142: 18.5:14.0: 17.: 22.0: 0


:
:31.5:
:
: 41.5:
:
: 50.0:
S
:
:49.0:
:
: 64.5:
:
: 77.5:
S :66.5:
:
: 87.5:
:
:105.0:
S :84.0:
:
:110.5:
:
:133.0:

_________________,

___

___

__

___

~CLASIBFIE

-.

.------

: 168: 21.5: 10
:
: 49.0: 19
:
: 76.0: 28
:
:103.0: 36
:
:130.0: 44

183: 23.5:
: 53.0:
: 82.0:
:111.5:
:
:140.5
:
:

____

10
19
28
36
44

_ _

Bemerkungen:
(1)

Die Tabelle gilt fur felgenden Rustzustand:


Fluggewicht 2000 kg., abgeworfenes Fahrgestell, keine im
Luftstrom aufgehangte Lasten.

(2)

Dabei ist die Fahrtanzeige bester Reichweite fur alle Flughohen


Bei Wind von
115 km/h (Gleitwinkel bei ruhender Luft 1:2D).
vorn wird durch Drucken auf eine Fahrtanzeige von 115--125 km/h,
bei Wind von hinten durch Ziehen auf eine Fahrtanzeige von 11510/5 km/h die Reichweite uber don Tabellenwert hinaus verbessert.

(3)

Fur den Landevorgang sind 200 m Mohne in Abzug gebracht.

(4)

Die angegebenon Windgeschwindigkeiten sind mittlere Geschwindigkeiten zwischen Ausklinkhohe und Boden.

Remarks:
(1)

The tables hold good for the following assembly conditions:


Flying weight 2,000 kg., jettisoned under-carriage, no encumbrances attached in the slipstream.

(2)

Under the given conditions, the greatest range is obtained with


a speed of 115 km. p. h. for all heights (Angle of glide in still
air 1:20). When a headwind is met, the range is improved over
and above that given in the tables by putting the nose down until
A.S.I. gives 115 - 125 k.p.h. When a tail wind is met, the range
is improved by pulling the nose up until A.S.I. gives 115 - 105
k.p.h.

(3)

200 meters height have been subtracted to allow for landing.

(4)

The wind speeds which are given are the average speeds between
those prevailing at release height and ground level.

Translator's Remarks:
A.D.I. was carried out on a German Glider Pilot - Feldwebel Bosebeck,
in order to clarify certain points. The following information was
obtained:
(1)

P7W states that the outside encumbrances in his case referred


to the exterior M.G.

(2)

With regard to most favourable speeds, P7W did not bother about,
them and always glided at about 115 k.p.h. (given in his first
Direct Interrogation - file No. 51 dated 30.5.41 - as 70 m.p.h.).
N. MI.H. K.
RAF Section, C.S.D.I.C.

Distribution;
A/S.I.0. and HQ RAF File:
Y Section: -----------EAI, Tactical, Targets &
Gen. Inf. Sections:---.:

1 copy: Air Ministry;--: 1 copy.


2 copiesoCSDIC File:----; 1 copy.
1 copy:

As

SllE:
"'

: R. Hartwig Airplane
Construction Division
: Sonneberg in Thiringen
: (= Thuringia)

:
: Loading Sketch
: For the DPS 230 A-I
:

P 3

Use and Requirements:

for which used:


II
: IIT

:Purpose
:
Posi- : Name (type of occupant)

tion.I

II

II

S:Platoon Hq:lG Sqd.


:
: .eight (empty) plus
equipment
STotal effective weight (less
S.
personnel and armament)

3.
h:.
5.
6.
:-7.
8.
9,
10.
:11.
12.
: 13.
: 1L.

l.

812

"
:
:
"

: 6
: 6
: 1
: 1
: 2

780
32

A:rmament and crew:


Crew
"

1.
2.

'4

"
"
"
"
"
Rifles
Ammunition boxes (full)
HeavyG
Light G
Radio sets

70-100
70-100

780
32

780
32

812

812

:
: 70-100 : 70-100
: 70-100 : 70-100

70-100
: 70-100
70-100
70-100

:
:
:
:

70-100
70-100
70-100
70-100

:
:
:
:

70-100
70-100
70-100
70-100

70-100
70-100
70-100
70-100
23
35

:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:

70-100
70-100
70-100
70-100
23
50
36
-

:
:
:
:
:
:
:

70-100
70-100
70-100
70-100
23
50

:
:
:
:

1.850 KG

: TOTAL flight weight

: Rifle
: Sqd.

i1.921

13
:

KG 1.898 KG

=-17%

in front of
M:aximum plane weight - center of gravity forward:
273%. to
main rib
-= L15 in
Maximum plane weight - center of gravity in rear (tail)
front of main rib = 33% to.,
hen:
Note: The maximum permissible (safe) weight is 2100 kilograms.
ballast:
of
60
kilograms
him
flying alone, the pilot should carry with
on seat number 2, Heavy occupants should sit in seats No. 2, 3, 1,
: % etc. when a full crew is carried. to-(?) greatest extension of
: profit in a symmetrical plane (2.8 meteTs). The forward point from
: to is situated .94 meters in front of the main rib.
("to" which occurs several times in this table seems to be:
: G-2 Note:
a direction indicator, perhaps "starboard" or "port".)
:-) See loading regulations
Editor:

..

..

: Checked:

. . . . . .,

,,

. .. . . .

..

. .J

..

, <

J, .......

,,^

W,,

"

~IJIIl

For Official Use Only:


___
(Flight) ranges DFS

230

Plane weight: Normal 2000 kg


Maximum 2100 kg

1.

Edition of March 1, 1940.

Insertion values without tactical


discount (deduction)

Chief of Air Force Supply


Technical Division
Rechlin Air Force Testing Office

Crew:

-252-

10 Men

CD

c--

f12

CD

CDt
CD

F-'

'-ha

11

tO

0
H

t3

ON

1 N

IQ

"

(x
)

00%A0

N99.

900

"

"O

I.

H
0

7i

N )

* *
a'NO H

0000 H

"*

\02amHOD
" " " "O cO
0~e.99V
M
0

Ca

"

i.9

"

"

00

O -j

.50C

iz0~CONO
NJ)MH 0caN-IDO0

C4 1.O

.. U

0
H

"

Atl I

Iv
N
NJ)NpH

00000

"

00

00

:,

490

IV

L0

04

N;'Oa

4W VH H
(ON CO NO0

ON 0ON

0COO)

Cmo

IHHHHH

*t

0 ML ONNj,)-H
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0*

-"
99a

s"
N

zt.

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COv H

* 9

NO H"

WHJHH

VW

o.\o

0*

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9*04

.- V21~ tV
NO t " ."

u,

9*

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0J

H
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Nz

HV

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0i

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CD
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yj

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w )

1'p

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Sz

HNOD

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9J

l
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No

NO'%2ON

1.Jt

0-

Q1,001

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H1
W

CD
co

lad

00 ;'

H
CO

H
0

0 0

1--

99M

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CD

0
CD

N"

w wO

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CD

NO ON%

wKr..

CD H
Ii
CD

Ii

-01

D CD

(D H
H
jCD

- 0o0
b

SQUAD

(GRUPPE),

UNIT

:LOADED

:men.

0"

:1 H.G.
:Section.

: 1 M.G,; I barrel case w


:
barrel protector (Hau
Sheavy barrel; 2 M.GBa

5 rds. heavy pointed


:belts;3
4

boxes

short
1-.G.

Anin.

,with

ed Armmn. each; 1 box i,<


rds. A.P. and 100 rds.
core;

2
:

128

1200 rds.

heavy p

tracer, 50 rds. in M.G.


: rdspointedith steel
pointed; 2 stickhand g
: nades; 1 M.G. tool bag,

KG

: 2 M.G.
t

"

:1 .G.; 1 toolbag; 1 b
:heavy barrels; I barrel
: heavy barrel; 1 barrel
: heavy barrel; 2 M.G. Qca
rifles each with 5 rds.
2 cartridge belts; 3 she
: spade;
wire cutter; 2
: 4 cases M.G. Amn. with
: ed, every
7th ~~~nd.trac
4~~
200 rds, A.P. 100rds. I
2
: steel
core, 50 rds, in ~t
: 200 rds. A.P.,1200 rds

belts, every 7th rd. tre


with steel core; 210 rds
: Ammn; 4 stick grenades;
: smoke candles; 21 deton

"

145

KG

CONTAINER
S(Round)

L
:
:.
:

UNIT
LOADED

IComplemen:tary con- :
:tainer for:
:
:5 Squad
:and iMortar:
:of 2 Pla- :
:toon.
:
:Total load:
:526; KG.

CONTENTS
:
i
1 Rucksack; 1 packed charge; 3 demolition
charges (Springbuchsen); 7 blasting cartridges; 26 igniters; 1 tool box for armorer; :
1200 rnds. heavy pointed amn.; 20 rounds
MIortar amn.; 2 cartridge. belts; 58 rds.
heavy pointed amn. in cardboard box; 1024
:
rds. pistol anmn.; 7 stick grenades; 3 egg
:
bombs; 1 hand grenade bag; fuze cord.

104 KG.
ARM CONTAINERS --

CONTAINER

UNIT
;Squad

146 KG.
!

S 76.5 KG.

: i:

CONT"4ETS

;1 M.G.;

1 M.G.

case; 1 barrel case; 1 barrel

:Leader and :protector; 4 heavy barrels; 3 folding spades;


:1 M.G.
:1 wire cutter; 1 pick-axe; 2 carrier straps;
:Section.
:1 rifle 98 K; 2 hand grenade bags; 1 machine
:pistol; 2 machine pistol cases; 1 binocular
:
:case. 1 smoke hand grenade; 2 smoke candles;
:
:
:7 egg grenades; 4 cases heavy pointed amn.
:
::with 1200 rds.; 1 case 200 rds. A.P., 100 rds.:
::
:heavy pointed steel core; 1 belt on MG with
:
:48 rds. heavy pointed; 1 cartridge belt with :
:': 1:100
rds. heavy pointed; 2 machine
:
:pistol pouches with 192 rds.

1. 3

Rifle- i3 rifles 98 K; 2 long spades; 3 folding


Smen.
:
:spades; 1 pick-axe; 1 tent canvas; 3 cart:
:ridge belts; 3 hand grenade bags; 300 rds.
-:
:heavy pointed amn., 15 rds. in rifles, 3
:stick grenades; 1 smoke hand grenade; 13 egg
:
:grenades; 17 detonators.
:

:
:

: Group
: (Squad)
HQ 2 M.G
: Section.
:

:1 M.G.; 1 tool bag; 1 barrel case; 1 barrel


:protector; 4 heavy barrels, 5 M.G. boxes; 2
:carrier straps; 1 machine pistol; 1 rifle 98 K:
:1 cartridge belt; 2 hand grenade bags, 1 wire :
:cutter; 1 saw; 3 spades; 2 machine pistol
t:cases
(bags, holsters?) 1200 rds. heavy
:

i:pointed

:
:
:

6 SQUAD (GRUPPE).

,:for

in belts;

200 rds. A.P, in

belts, 100 :

:rds. pointed with steel core in belt, 50 rds. :


:heavy pointed on M.G. 100 rds. heavy pointed
:
rifle; 5 rds.

145 KG

-2-

fj~ldx5K B

lop

biL'
r

SCONTAINER
eeaA-

"

(round)

UNIT

--

--

"

CONTENTS

SLOADED
""

"

heavy pointed in each rifle; 142 rds. machine


pistol ann.; 8 egg grenades; 1 stick grenade;
2 smoke candles; 1 smoke hand grenade.
-

1.

---

--,- ---

complemenw: 11 ration bags; 1 rucksack; 2 M.G. boxes; 300


:
.tary con- : rds. pointed with steel core in belts; 300
:tainer 6
rds. heavy pointed fox rifle;
300 rds heavy
:
pointed in belts; 896 rds. pistol ann., 23 Kg. :
:2 platoon : charges; 2 demolition charges; 7 blasting cart-:
mortar.
ridges; 1 Bangalore torpedo; 10 time fuses with:
igniters and detonators.
MORTAR
2 boxes for mortar bombs.
:Total
2 Platoon: 20 5/cm mortar bombs.
:load
:500Kg.

"

"

"

"
S

G.

---. --

Pla-:
toon H.Q.:
:.and H.Q. :
SSquad of :
2 Pla:
toon.
:
SO.C.

"

"

5 rifles 98 K with 5 rds. heavy pointed each;


5 bandoliers with 100 rds. heavy pointed each;
325 rds. heavy pointed ann.; 1 machine pistol
with magazine and 2 pouches = 512 rds. 24
parcels pistol amn. . 384 rds., 1 Verey pistol
with case and 114 rds. Verey cartridges., 1
long spade; 3 short spades; 1 pick-axe; 3
ground strips and 1 Swastika flag; 1 medical
panier; 1 binoculars, 1 water bottle., 7 stick
grenades; 1 egg grenade; 1 map case.
I

:c

32.5KG

OC.

or-:

: tar sec:tion
and
: ORTAR of:
2 Platoon:

--

----

:
:
:
:
:

1 complete mortar; 1 folding spade; I hatchet;


1 long spade; 1 pick-axe; 1 folding hatchet;
2 bandoliers; 3 parachute ration bags; 2 tent
canvases, 40 mortar bombs, 1 bandolier with
100 rds. heavy pointed ann. 368 rds. pistol
ann.; 3 stick grenades; 2 smoke hand grenades;
6 egg grenades; 1 rifle 98 K with 5 rds. heavy
pointed.

.t-

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE:

The total eight given leads to the conclusion that


2 containers are still

to be accounted for.

-3-

-3-

UATELSSI~i '

SQUA

4th

CONAIER

(Roun)

NIT

ONENS

LODED

-Sua

:Lae

Ig

92

.N.

ih1

:1.,SuIrlpoetrT

os

brelad1
ev

arl;1br-

h1haybre;1to

.wt

:mciepso

:spde
4

ev
ih

arlcs

o;1hn

il

ok;2bnoirsI

folding ap
reaebg

8K
og

ad8mgzns

ihcs

iecttr
ealto

uk
hre

Il

YP

CONTAIER
(Round)

: r-:PB 38

UNIT
LOADED

:A/T Sec:tion
:Leader.

:A
:A/T Sec:tion of
:Platoon.
*

.:

:TOTAL
:LOAD
:530 KG.

38

KG.

CONTENTS

:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:
:

1 A/T rifle
No. 1593; 2 rifles 98 K; 1 long
spade; 1 folding spade; 1 pick-axe; 1 fold:
ing hatchet; 4 magazines for A/T rifle at
::
20 rds. each; 2 bandoliers at 100 rds. heavy :
:
pointed; 2 hand grenade bags with 7 egg
grenades and 5 stick grenades and 45 rds.
:
A/T amn.; 2 A/T ammunition cases at 45 rds.:
each; 1 M.G. case with 300 rds. heavy pointed:
for rifle
208 rds. pistol ann., 12 detonators, 4 parachute ration bags with contents;:
1 tent canvas.

000 -

-5-

A . iE

Gearres

I1

6o

P.tt

sr

Sar-&eCx

Com~e

Peet

RoKoS

(476tnt
Daleshan
t. s )
(2r.

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LBh
(1eis t.hi)

E1 SQPar lI aers IK
Lo5 c i al.
(vq sthgs)

N.M.
is)
(gzs-oS. t NorK
(7. s3 tehE)

FOUR MoBIte

AT

HARBORt

Ar
BnK
(z t.11.)

Pier

SuDA

Pt.

SAY

SUDA

LOC/\T\ C0N OF WRE CKS


V

Sc ales
O
0en

80oRS F.IXED MoUKT

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oao
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300.ft.

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gas gty

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G

vf

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90

00

10

DISPOSITIONS or N.Z.DIV.

A.M.

20MAY

MAP 2
60
THEODOROI

5 Bde.

AY.

60
1

)UDA

50

50

LEGEND

N.Z.E.

New Zealand Enyineert.


Area where parachutists landed.

Scale 1:71,000
Mttroo
1000

Mi/e

".

"

9liders landed.

goo

ais

t *
osos S.
,t *M

-I

---

a
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mt

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--

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90
9 0

20
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L20

-:. '
ux

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Propcr

of

'

;J

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1-

%IV

THE WITHDRAWAL

TO. SPI-AKIA

APPROX

MAP 5.
27/28

Scale 186200
CAPE

Pelekidis

QKARGAn

L EGEN
4 NZ. Bde.

5=

5NMZBde.
-

9Austratian Bde.

0-

Bay

28As.

inn

Aahatt

Royail Marines

A=
A. Bn
D ~D.8Bn.
Detachment
Det. =

EIJ

KOKKrNO VIL.LAGE

27/26

19

GANTiS

TPS. inPosition
Trps. partly resting

L~ake/

28/29

27/28

ASKYPHOS

IMVROS

KALUKRATIS
la

MOURI

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ASPHIENDON

29I13

PV~PJSIN~ji

___

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KALOYIROS

1e
----

"

/27

;
. "
:i
N
.

Property

cf

-"

GEN. WESTON'S DISPOSITIONS


MAP 3.
Scale

1:50,000

PEN.

AKROTIRI

KHANIA
1/Rangers

62

Souda Docks
Street

Prisons of

Ahya

(7

B A

A
Sotid.

Point

Bn.

Aust.
I----

I
.

NOTE:- IB. "Remnants

of Inf Bde.

Kalibes orKalyvia

50

Neon Khorion

To Sphakia
Metres
1,000

Scale

1:50,000

lrI1

Miles

Miles

i
.,

2
,,

6eorgiopols

,\
Kilometres

500
I

To

20

6"

Pro
t

CE

erty of
'DES

r'?envwvri
Accl3?

WTLU

Hafen

T4

DI POSITI
DI POSITION

0r

- ---

--

- - ------------ -- -----

DISPOSITIONS (APPROX)

AT

RETIMO--MAY 20

RETHYMNON
RETHYM NON

7'

ATS

1 POPOLON

PRIA/kS

2/
M.6.

- "2/ Austra'a.

Mixed Force -

Greeks a&police.

:50000

Scale

= Area wihere German parachutists


cut commun'cations.
' i

- -

..

MAP 4A.

PropertY

Of

'.%
-. -

fig!

it

y'.

:.,
.

,;

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yr._

..

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.,., jy

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.'6
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Y4

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(
$

iS

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-

~7

1-~~

MAP

OF

Scale. 1:560,000
MAas
funomeres

a
a

a
s

1
a a

Jo

o
a

ie

so
a8

7.
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as

REERENCE.
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Ros 27 Cass
.

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____-^