The 10 day Battle of Crete was fought during WWII and started on 20th May 1941 with an airborne invasion by Nazi Germany code named Operation Mercury.
It was the first airborne invasion in military history and the first time German paratroopers were used on a massive scale. It was also the first time the Allies made significant use of intelligence from the Enigmacode meaning that the German troops encountered surprisingly mass resistance from the Greek civilian population.
|Allied Cemetary, Souda Bay|
The Germans suffered very heavy casualties and the Allied troops were confident that they would prevail against the invasion. However, through miscommunication and a series of fundamental failures by Allied commanders, the airfield at Maleme (opposite the Mistral Hotel) was captured by the Germans enabling them to fly in reinforcements and overwhelm the defenders.
Today, the Battle of Crete is commemorated each year in and around the Maleme and Chania area with the few remaining Veterans. A week of services culminates in a wreath laying ceremony at the Allied War Cemetary in Souda Bay.
By Donna Southgate-Smith