The Crete Battle of World War II

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Topic: History
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Introduction

World War II consisted of various battles among them, the Crete battle in which Germany invaded the territory that was hitherto controlled by the British and Greece troops. Germany needed the oil in Ploesti for its intended invasions and Crete was an ideal place for Germany to access the oil fields. On the same note, capturing Crete was considered a vital step towards forcing the British out of the eastern part of the Mediterranean.

On the same note, the control of Crete was vital both to the Germans and the British because of its position which was strategic for naval operations. Due to the badland transport system in Crete at that time, air invasion was the most suitable way that the Germans would use in their attack. Besides using new weapons in this battle, the Germans used various well-calculated strategies that enabled them to emerge victoriously.

Strategies Used

Germany employed primarily air units in this operation, and the troops were transported in two waves since there was no bigger aircraft to ferry all the troops at once. Major general Kurt Student’s proposal to disperse the troops to various destinations in a move that would surprise the allied troops was used, but they kept Maleme as the main target because it was the largest airbase.

Along with that, the Germans landed paratroopers along the northern shore of Crete and airlifted the 5th mountain division troops to each captured airfield. In total 8100 men were dropped in Crete and were dispersed at different locations. On top of that, the Germans included troops who had no training about air invasions to boost the number of troops that were involved in the attack.

Weapons

Various weapons, mostly airborne assaults, were used by the Germans some of which were being used for the first time. The paratroopers were ferried to Crete using the JU-52’s and 70 DFS-230 light aircraft. The Leichtgeschutz 40 light gun was used for the first time by the Germans in this battle.

MG 34 machine gun, MP 40 submachine gun, and bolt-action karabiner 98k were also used by the Germans. On the other hand, most Greek troops put into use Mannlicher-Schonauer 6.5 mm and Steyr-mannlicher M1895 rifles. Lee-Enfield rifle was used by the British together with Bren light machine gun and Vickers medium machine gun.

Effects

The Germans suffered massive looses though they won the Crete battle in the end. The intelligence reports that German had received were not accurate which led to substantial losses to the Germans on the first day, because the number of troops that they met was more than they expected. By the end of the battle, German had lost 3764 soldiers.

Most aircraft were destroyed and this hindered future airborne invasions of the Crete magnitude. Germany continued facing resistance from the Cretan resistance movement which led to further losses including the kidnapping of their general. The Nazi forces, on the other hand, massacred the Cretan civilians besides destroying their property.

Conclusion

For the first time, the airborne invasion was used by the Germans on an island during the Crete battle. However, the inaccuracy of the intelligence reports that German received nearly made them lose the battle, but they took advantage of the allied forces’ mistake and ferried more troops. Though the Germans won the battle, they suffered massive losses which limited their ability to engage in air invasions after that.