Battle of Crete
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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Battle of Crete
Battle of Crete. (2013). The History Channel website. Retrieved 9:01, May 18, 2013, from http://www.history.com/topics/battle-of-crete.
Battle of Crete. [Internet]. 2013. The History Channel website. Available from: http://www.history.com/topics/battle-of-crete [Accessed 18 May 2013].
“Battle of Crete.” 2013. The History Channel website. May 18 2013, 9:01 http://www.history.com/topics/battle-of-crete.
“Battle of Crete,” The History Channel website, 2013, http://www.history.com/topics/battle-of-crete [accessed May 18, 2013].
“Battle of Crete,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/topics/battle-of-crete (accessed May 18, 2013).
Battle of Crete [Internet]. The History Channel website; 2013 [cited 2013 May 18] Available from: http://www.history.com/topics/battle-of-crete.
Battle of Crete, http://www.history.com/topics/battle-of-crete (last visited May 18, 2013).
Battle of Crete. The History Channel website. 2013. Available at: http://www.history.com/topics/battle-of-crete. Accessed May 18, 2013.