Crete, located in the northern Mediterranean, is the largest island in Greece.

There are mountains and deep valleys on the island, with beautiful scenery.

There are also cliffs, stone headlands and beaches.

It is windy and sunny here, with verdant trees.

Olives, grapes and oranges are planted on the island, and flowers are everywhere.

Therefore, it is known as the “sea garden”.

In April 1941, the German claws reached here.

The capture of Crete was the last battle of the German invasion of the Balkans.

The battle was temporarily decided at the later stage of the Greek War according to the proposal of the German Air Force on April 21.

Crete has important strategic value in military affairs.

When the German army occupied the island, it could control the Mediterranean, threaten the British positions in the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, protect the Romanian oil fields from the attack of the British air force on Crete, and use the island as a forward base for invading countries in the Middle East.

For Britain, Crete is an outpost to defend Britain’s strategic base in Egypt and the Suez Canal.

In order to ensure Britain’s interests in the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East, the British Prime Minister decided to stick to Crete.

The weather on Crete is sunny in early summer, which is very beneficial to the operation of the German air force.

Airports and ports are concentrated in the north of the island, and there are one airport in Malim, raisimnon and iraklin respectively.

Hitler issued a battle plan codenamed mercury on April 25.

The German plan stipulates that the airborne troops will occupy Crete.

This is because Crete is very close to the German Air Force base built on the European continent and nearby islands.

Within the activity radius of the German air force, the German Air Force has an overwhelming advantage, while the British Air Force bases in Egypt, Malta and matru are far away from the island, and it is impossible to allocate and deploy a large number of air force forces on Crete at one time.

Another reason why the German Army decided to carry out large-scale airborne operations on Crete is to end the war in the Balkans as soon as possible so as to make room for the urgent “Barbarosa” plan.

At first, the commander of the fourth air force of the German army, Le Er, who received the mission, disagreed with Kurt student, the commander of the 11th air force under his command, on the battle plan.

Le’er insisted on first going all out to capture the western part of Crete with absolute superior forces, and then seizing the whole island as a base.

Studenter advocated parachuting at about seven locations on the island at the same time, in order to occupy all important locations on the island and seize the whole island when the other party was caught off guard.

Finally, based on the consideration of insufficient troops and limited air force capacity, the attack order issued by German Air Force commander-in-chief Goering is a compromise between these two opinions.

The invading forces should first seize the four most critical locations to ensure the occupation of the whole island.

The German airborne campaign on Crete was roughly divided into four stages, namely, seizing air control, occupying the landing site, assembling troops and annihilating the defensive forces on the island.

In order to ensure full support from the air force, the initial airborne assault was carried out in two waves.

First, attack Malim and port Suda in the West with the first wave.

After the aircraft carrying the first wave of troops turned back, the second wave was used to attack the areas of raisimnon and iraklin.

These two waves will be strengthened by paratroopers and supported by airborne troops, and then supported by landing troops at sea until they occupy the whole island.

According to the plan, the German operation will be supported by the Italian army landing on the southeast coast of Crete.

In late April, the commander-in-chief of British forces in the Middle East, weiweier, received the information that the German army was about to carry out an assault on Crete, so he appointed major general Freiburg, a new Zealander, as the commander-in-chief of the island defense force, and ordered him to organize defense on Crete as soon as possible.

The British troops who withdrew from the Greek island of Crete were basically 30000 British defenders.

In addition, there are about 14000 Greek troops.

The troops guarding the island have low morale, poor equipment, insufficient artillery, no aircraft, less than 10 tanks and lack of communication tools.

Major general Freiburg judged that the main force of the German army would land at sea and capture airports and ports with airborne troops.

Therefore, he decided to form a support point defense centered on the port of Suda and the three airports on the island.

From May 17, the troops guarding the island entered a state of high alert.

At about 7:00 on May 20, the German western cluster and the paratrooper I of the central cluster, as the first attack wave, opened the airborne battle in Malim and port Suda respectively, and the rest of the central cluster and the eastern cluster, as the second attack wave, also airborne in raisimnon and iraklin respectively in the afternoon of that day.

The German airborne troops parachuted in two echelons encountered the tenacious resistance of the British and Greek army, which was very difficult to operate and suffered heavy losses.

Due to the dispersion of troops, improper coordination and other reasons, by sunset, none of the three scheduled airports had been occupied, and the situation was very critical.

In the late night of May 20, the German airborne independent regiment achieved decisive results after paying heavy casualties and occupied 107 highland near Malim airport.

Freiburg was indecisive and failed to organize forces in time to carry out a strong counterattack.

As a result, he was forced to withdraw his troops from the Malim defense area, which made the German Army stand firm.

On the afternoon of the 21st, the German army took Malim airport as the base and began to land the fifth mountain infantry division in a continuous stream.

In the next two days, the division arrived in Crete.

Before the evening of the 24th, the German army occupied the western part of Crete and then pushed east and south.

On the 29th, the German western cluster and the eastern cluster met, and recimnon and iraklin were occupied.

In addition to the air assault on Crete, the German army organized naval operations to transport reinforcements by sea, but they were thwarted by the British naval fleet.

However, on May 23, under the attack of the German air force, the British fleet without air cover was forced to withdraw to Alexandria, enabling the German army to transport equipment and materials from the sea to the island.

Since then, the situation on the island has taken a sharp turn for the worse.

Under the fierce attack of German ground and air manpower, the British army retreated one after another, and finally began to withdraw from Crete from the south bank in the late night of May 28.

From May 28 to June 1, the British army withdrew about 16000 people, and about 6000 people failed to withdraw, and soon surrendered to the German army.

In the whole battle of Crete, more than 15000 British troops were killed, injured and captured.

Three British cruisers, six destroyers and one aircraft carrier were sunk, and many ships were seriously damaged, which greatly weakened the strength of the British navy in the Mediterranean.

But the German army also paid a heavy price: more than 65000 people were killed, injured and missing, many transport planes were injured and destroyed, and an elite Airborne Division was almost wiped out.

German Army.