The Battle of Crete
The battle that I chose as the focus of this paper was the battle of Crete which took place during World War 2 and was the first time in history that an airborne assault was conducted. The two forces involved in this battle included Nazi Germany and Allied forces. For this battle I am going to focus on the German side and analyze Hitler’s purpose of this assault, outcome and a lesson learned from this battle. The island of Crete was the home to several allied airfields and harbors which threatened German operations. Hitler wanted to end the allied occupation of this island and also take over the airfields and harbors as he believed them to be key infrastructures that could give his German forces an advantage in the war. Hitler’s intent for this battle was to conduct an assault on Crete in order to destroy the allied forces occupying the island and to occupy key ...view middle of the document...
Once this was accomplished he would then send reinforcements to the captured airfields and then together these forces would further pursue the remaining enemy forces. Altogether 15,750 airborne and 7,000 seaborne troops were planned to be used. Supporting these airborne forces would be several bombers, fighters, and recon aircrafts that was hoped would deter the allied navy forces from interfering with the mission. (pg.195)
The operation began on the 20 May 1941 and airborne operations began. Things did not go as planned as airborne forces were scattered across the island and were met with heavy allied resistance. By the end of the day the two airborne assaults were a complete failure as no airfields were captured with reinforcements still scheduled to arrive. Everything was not going according to Hitler’s plan. The Germans then got lucky as the allied forces decided to move east and in the process left a key airfield unprotected. The Germans took advantage of this and regrouped in time for the reinforcements to arrive and together led an assault on the capital of Crete. The allied defenses fell and were forced to withdraw from the island. (Pg197-201) The German forces had won a hard fought battle that did not go according to plan but it was a victory in the end.
Hitler’s plan was to conduct a full scale attack on the island of Crete and destroy allied forces occupying the island. Hitler wanted to surprise the enemy and lead a well thought out plan. Essentially things did not go according to plan. His forces were scattered island and key airfields were not taken over. The battle was won but it came with a high cost as many German forces were lost. The Germans learned that full scale airborne operations are difficult to conduct and require more precise planning and better Intel should be done for future airborne operations. After this battle the Germans never again conducted more full scale airborne assaults and I believe that is due to amount of casualties lost during this battle.
Reference: Stephen Badsey, The Hutchinson Atlas of World War 2 Battle Plans, (2000)