From 5:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. on May 17, 1941, the German Eighth Air Force launched a preparatory attack on the airports in Malim and iraklin, as well as the air defense facilities around these airports and Ganya city.
Then, before the airborne landing began, the Eighth Air Force launched another attack at 0700 hours to contain the defenders in the landing area.
Although the garrison made very careful preparations, only seven German junker-52 aircraft, with a total of 493, were lost.
The first attack wave launched by the 11th air force was carried out according to the airborne operation time specified in the operation plan.
However, due to the fierce air defense fire of the British army and the pilot’s loss, the dispatched aircraft can not reach the selected landing site every time.
The Western brigade in charge of seizing Malim and the central brigade in charge of seizing Suda village and Ganya carried half a battalion each by glider for landing.
Three companies of the battalion landed right around the defensive air defense positions in order to destroy them.
The plan was successfully implemented twice, and then parachuting troops participating in the first attack wave also came one after another.
The German Paratroopers encountered fierce resistance from the garrison infantry, which were not found by air reconnaissance before the war.
The resistance was particularly tenacious on the slope south of Malim airport, where the garrison built a stepped defense position with dense fire.
Some paratroopers were killed in the air, and some were killed as soon as they landed.
Although many people were not killed when they landed, they could not get their weapon bags.
A battalion of the German Commando Group landed too far east, and the attack of the central brigade on the Akrotiri highland and the village of Galatas was a complete failure.
The situation was complicated by the loss of their commander as soon as the battle between the Western brigade and the central brigade began.
Lieutenant general jusman, who commanded the central brigade, was killed in the crash of a glider on Egina island at the beginning of the battle, and major general maindel, the commander of the Western brigade, was seriously injured shortly before landing.
It was not until the afternoon that the German war room learned about these situations.
This is because when the transport plane safely returned to the base and received the report from the Eighth Air Force, it gave the impression that “the first wave has landed successfully as planned”.
At that time, the airborne command in Athens received no news of the parachute troops.
Near noon, the central brigade sent a telegram reporting that the attack on Ganya was hampered by heavy losses.
The Western brigade also reported that fierce fighting was still going on and the commander was wounded.
Due to the initial optimism, the second wave still started as planned, resulting in greater mistakes and setbacks.
Between 0900 and 1000 hours, the transport plane returned to its base in Greece.
But facts have proved that it is impossible to prepare the junker-52 for the second Sorty before 13:00.
The take-off time of each junker-52 flight wing was delayed for as long as 3.
The reasons were: first, it was difficult to refuel.
Second, the crashed plane must be cleared from the runway first.
Third, the airport with too many planes taking off and landing is dusty, and even the use of fire-fighting equipment is useless.
As a result, all transport squadrons did not take off according to the battle sequence, nor did they reach their destination at the same time, but they arrived one after another between 15:00 and 18:00.
The combat report of the 11th air force shows that telephone communication between airports is often cut off, so it is impossible for commanders to negotiate on delaying the attack or rescheduling the joint attack.
The officer in charge of commanding the German second special mission bomber brigade reported that he was aware of the situation shortly after the first wave landed.
However, due to his failure to contact his direct supervisor (the regional combat commander subordinate to the 11th air force), he called the military command directly and asked to postpone the time of the second wave of attack.
However, it was uncertain whether a decision had been made, and even if it had been made, it had not been communicated to the transport aircraft brigade carrying out the second wave of attack.
For the same reason, no further arrangements were made with the Eighth Air Force.
According to the original plan, the bomber formation flew over the targets of raisimnon and iraklin at 1500 hours in an attempt to destroy the British anti-aircraft artillery position, or at least suppress the British fire.
Then, single engine and twin engine fighters flew to cover the parachute jumping of the parachute troops and suppress the defensive firepower of the British army.
Due to the short range of these aircraft, they could not stay after 16:15.
Most of the troops parachuted without the cover of fighter planes.
The central brigade is now under the command of Colonel Sturm.
Its mission is to occupy recimnon airport and then advance to Suda Bay.
The eastern brigade is under the command of Colonel broyle.
Its task is to occupy the city of iraklin and its airport, guard the airport and ensure the airborne landing of follow-up troops.
Both brigades suffered heavy losses.
For the same reason as the first wave, they all landed in the center of the defensive position with strong defense and ingenious camouflage.
In addition, the unorganized arrival of transport aircraft made it easier for the British army to complete its resistance mission.
Some inexperienced transport plane crew made a mistake and landed paratroopers in the wrong place, causing greater confusion.
Because many paratroopers could not get their supply bags, the German army also suffered a lot of material losses.
All these circumstances made the central brigade unable to occupy recimnon airport.
At the same time, under the intensive fire of the British army, the attempt to advance to Suda Bay has not been realized.
Because the transport plane could not arrive in time when transporting the first wave of offensive troops, when the eastern brigade contacted the British army, its troops were 600 fewer than originally planned.
What was particularly bad was that the time of the attack was delayed, which brought greater difficulties to the army’s attack, so that in the end, the eastern brigade failed to capture the predetermined target.
Under the circumstances at that time, Colonel broyle could only assemble the separated personnel under the cover of darkness and launch an attack on the airport the next morning.
On the night of May 20, the inspection of the combat situation showed that the British defense was much stronger than expected at the four locations where the paratroopers were dropped.
None of the three airports has been captured, and the situation on Crete is very critical.
Malim seems to be doing better.
In the evening, there was even a false report that the airport had been occupied, although it was still under the fire of British artillery.
Now, in order to land the fifth mountain division airborne as planned, it is very necessary to occupy at least one of the three airports.
In the current situation, that oneThey seized the Malim airport nearest to the German air base in Greece.
Although it is much smaller than iraklin airport, it can provide the best prospect for the victory of the offensive forces.
Highland 107 south of Malim airport is the key point of British defense.
However, at first, the German army did not see its importance from the aerial photos, so it only sent a reinforced company led by major Koch to launch an assault on Highland 107 by glider.
The result was heavy casualties and the assault was repulsed.
After landing, major general maindel, commander of the Western brigade, soon realized that the British defense position was strong.
The position extends southward from the western edge of the airport along the tafronitis riverbed through the west slope of highland 107.
He immediately increased the strength of four companies to carry out a frontal attack in the direction of the airport, and sent two companies to surround the highland from the south.
The position around Malim was guarded by the 22nd battalion of New Zealand, and the battalion commander was lieutenant colonel Andrew.
After the communication and signal systems were damaged, he thought that he could no longer exercise effective command over his troops, so he withdrew from the position in the dark under strong pressure.
This “retreat from Malim” led to the fall of the whole island of Crete.
On this day, general Freiburg, the commander-in-chief of the British army, intercepted an instruction that the German army would put the third Parachute Regiment into battle.
The information provided by this directive, together with his view of the whole situation, made him clearer about what might happen in the future.
Late at night, he reported to general weaver that if the Navy could stop the German invasion from the sea, his own forces would be strong enough to deal with all possible attacks from the air.
However, he also pointed out that the efficiency of his communication and signal system had been reduced due to the fierce air assault of the German army.
But when he reported to his superiors, he did not know the severity of the situation.
For example, he did not know that the 22nd battalion of New Zealand had retreated from Malim and had opened a big gap in his weakest defensive area.
If he knew these things, there was no doubt that he would try his best to send reinforcements to rescue Malim under the cover of darkness.
General student is expected to launch a fierce attack on the decisive night of May 20-21.
When this idea did not come true, the exhausted remnants of the assault regiment got a chance to breathe in the early morning of May 21.
He decided to concentrate all his strength on attacking Malim, which changed the balance of power in favor of the German army.
One of the reasons why he was able to establish contact with the commander of the radio regiment in Athens at that time was that he was able to make most of the communication equipment.
On the morning of May 21, some junker-52 aircraft carrying weapons and ammunition landed at Malim beach and suffered some losses.
A junker-52 aircraft landed at Malim airport.
However, as the runway of the airport was still under the heavy fire of British infantry and artillery, although all preparations were made for the landing of the mountain battalion, it had to be postponed again.
The only way to reinforce the Western brigade and make greater efforts to put the airport under the complete control of the German army was to continue dropping paratroopers, which the German army did.
At about 1700 hours, the German army occupied Malim and firmly controlled the airport.
This victory was achieved with the very effective support of the Eighth Air Force.
Eighth, the air force enjoyed absolute air supremacy and carried out continuous attacks on British air defense positions and solid support points.
At the same time, from 16:00, the first airborne group of a strengthened mountain battalion of the German army landed at the airport under the continuous artillery and machine gun fire of the British army.
Many junker-52 aircraft were destroyed during landing.
However, we can continue to land, expand the results, and move forward.
On May 22, we will meet with the central brigade near Ganya and Suda Bay.
The next goal was to expand the bridgehead of Malim and drive the British out of the naval stronghold in Suda Bay.
There, British fast ships continued to use the darkness to bring in supplies.
On May 21, German transport planes brought ammunition to the central brigade, but the attempt to occupy the highlands around Galatas failed.
The attacking forces have been greatly weakened and can only defend the occupied positions and contain the strength of the British army.
The Germans who remained near raisimnon repelled the British attacks again and again.
They held the position with the support of ammunition and other supplies.
Near iraklin, the eastern brigade was cut in two.
With close support from the Eighth Air Force, the troops in the western section tried to break into iraklin.
It started well, but then it was violently resisted by the British army and the attack was thwarted.
As a result, those troops who had rushed into the city had to withdraw.
The troops in the eastern section, commanded by Colonel broyle, attempted to occupy the airport, but failed.
The troops had no heavy weapons and had no hope of winning the attack.
Because of its failure, the airborne army was unable to land part of the troops of the fifth mountain division to iraklin as planned.
According to the report of the 11th air force on the night of May 21, it has bypassed the important location of iraklin and was ordered to consolidate the German position in Malim and launch an attack on Ganya.
The commander of the fifth mountain division, general linger, has been promoted to the commander of the Western brigade.
The next day, three battalions of the division landed at Malim airport.