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On this day, two British divisions, half of them composed of Indian troops, attack seven Italian divisions in Egypt. Overwhelmed, the Italian position in…
In September 1944, after the victorious end of the Normandy campaign, Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery devised a daring operation to open the way to the Ruhr by seizing a bridgehead north of the Rhine, at Arnhem.
In July 1940 Germany launched a series of intense air raids directed against Great Britain during World War II.
The first air-sea battle in history, this battle resulted from Japanese efforts to make an amphibious landing at Port Moresby in southeast New Guinea.
The Tuskegee Airmen were black servicemen of the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II and constituted the first African-American flying unit in U.S. history.
In April 1941, Germany began a lightning campaign that conquered Yugoslavia and mainland Greece. But a great threat remained: Crete, an island from which the British could unsettle the Balkans and launch air attacks on the critical Romanian oil fields. Worried by that threat, Adolf Hitler accepted the plans of General Kurt Student for an airborne assault on the island. After German paratroopers captured the main airfields, Ju 52s would fly in reinforcements.
Despite decryptions of German radio traffic that a massive assault was coming against Crete's airfields, the local Allied commander deployed his troops to meet a seaborne invasion because he refused to believe that a major military operation would depend almost exclusively on airborne forces.
Nevertheless, the German attack almost failed. German paratrooper drops on May 20 were slaughtered; yet despite the enemy's desperate situation, the New Zealand battalion commander overlooking M[aacute]leme airfield withdrew his troops during the night. Able to airlift reinforcements to M[aacute]leme, the Germans pushed back the defenders until they withdrew.
By seizing Crete, the Germans protected their Balkan flank and Romanian oil fields. But paratrooper losses were so heavy that Hitler never authorized another major drop; on the other hand, the Anglo-Americans, impressed by Crete, established the great airborne armies of 1943 and 1944.
The Reader's Companion to Military History. Edited by Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker. Copyright © 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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