Crete tourist guide

The best Polish website dedicated to the Greek island Crete and to a small extent of continental Greece. You will find useful information related to visiting Crete that goes beyond the offer of optional tours. On the website you will also find descriptions of the most interesting places that we visited by visiting this largest Greek island. The content complements the current news, photographs and recipes of Greek cuisine.

83rd anniversary of the Battle of Crete

data_2024-05-21 19:55:28 2024-05-21 19:55:28

May 20, 1941 is one of the most important dates in the modern history of Crete and Europe. On this day, 83 years ago, German troops launched Operation Mercury, the aim of which was to capture Crete by German airborne troops. From the very first moments, the civilian population also took an active part in the defense activities and heroically supported the Allied troops. Unfortunately, after eleven days of heavy fighting, the entire island came under the control of German troops, and the Cretans suffered terrible repression in retaliation.

As one historian said: " The Battle of Crete played and still plays a special role in history, mainly due to the resistance of the island's inhabitants ." These events moved and inspired the world fighting against the Axis powers and caused the greatest personalities of the time to praise the Cretan resistance and the importance of this gigantic battle.

Modern Cretans remember these events every year, and the anniversary celebrations are permanently included in the calendar. On this occasion, today in Chania there was an air show performed by the Red Arrows, the Aerobatic Team of the Royal Air Force of Great Britain. Further down in the article you will find some recordings from this show.

Coming back to the events of 83 years ago... the quick defeat of the Allied troops seemed downright unlikely, because initially the victory in this game of war chess seemed to be on the side of the British. They started the game with a few more pieces on the board and, even more importantly, knowing the exact intentions of their opponent. Despite all these advantages, they lost the battle for Crete.

German jumpers over Crete on May 20, 1941 (photo source wikipedia.org) German jumpers over Crete on May 20, 1941 (photo source wikipedia.org)

Incomprehensible decisions of General Bernard Freyberg

General Bernard Freyberg, commanding the Allied forces, thanks to the information provided by British intelligence, had the knowledge to predict the exact location of the landing of the German forces. The airport in Maleme was the key that opened the gate to Crete. The German generals were aware that capturing this piece of the island in the first hours of the attack would determine success or failure in this battle.

Even though the British general knew the exact plans and intentions of the enemy, the incomprehensible tactical game he made seemed to contradict it. Knowing that the main attack of the landing of German troops would be directed at the airfield in Maleme, the regrouping ordered by General Bernard Freyberg led to the transfer of part of the Allied forces to the defense of the coast. By this strange and incomprehensible behavior, he lost the greatest advantage of surprise, which would have allowed him to keep Crete in the hands of the Allies. However, even these inept tactical moves made by the British staff did not equalize the chances of both sides. The landing of German paratroopers still carried a very large margin of risk. Without heavier support, light infantry forces could be easy targets for Allied defenses.

General Freiberg General Bernard Freyberg (right)
(photo source wikipedia.org)

British war documentary about the Battle of Crete

The chaos during the first hours of Operation Mercury seemed to fully confirm this. The landing of German troops began with real slaughter, under many falling parachutes the inert bodies of German soldiers were swinging, dying without even touching the Cretan ground. What's worse, even those who managed to land safely could hardly be called full-fledged armed forces. A significant number of soldiers had only light hand weapons or personal equipment, which in practice meant that their only weapon was the bayonet. After the war, the commander of the German parachute corps in the Battle of Crete, Kurt Student, declared that Crete had become a "grave" of German paratroopers.

The decision of the German command to drop the paratroopers' weapons in separate containers turned out to be fateful. In practice, it turned out that finding them in a hostile area, where almost the entire civilian population put up active resistance, was a very difficult task. The specter of the defeat of the German landing seemed to hang in the air. This is how the Battle of Crete began, the 82nd anniversary of which falls today, May 20.

Crete. Conquest and Resistance - Second Edition

If you are interested in this story, we highly recommend that you read Antony Beevor's publication " Crete: Conquest and Resistance " published by Znak publishing house, where you will find a description of the entire Operation Mercury and the war history of Crete. The good news is that the second edition of this book was released at the end of 2022 and is currently still available in bookstores.
Other books describing those war times that we can recommend are " Crete 1941 " by Callum MacDonald and " Kidnapping in Crete: The True Story of the Kidnapping of a German General " by Rick Stroud.

Souda Bay - Battle of Crete



Gosia i Piotrek,  data_2024-05-21 19:55:28 2024-05-21 19:55:28
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Najnowsze komentarze:

Nawet nie wiem jak to skomentować. Sam dzięki pomocy przyjaciół z wielkim trudem tam dotarłem i wróciłem na statek. Gdybym wiedział, że tam na Balos są takie problemy z wejściem na ląd, to nigdy bym się nie zdecydował. Koszt tej wyprawy też nie jest mały. Zraziłem sie bardzo do Krety. Wybierajcie Elafonisi. Tam jest cywilizowane przejście, dojazd.
A czym władze tłumaczyły taki zakaz? Bo to totalny nonsens... Rozumiem żeby był zakaz że tak powiem od czoła laguny ale większe statki i tak podpływały "od tyłu" i tam wysadzały ludzi (chyba że się coś zmieniło) i żadnego zagrożenia nie było dla nikogo i niczego....
Bardzo dobrze. Byliśmy w tym roku świadkami wielu przykrych zdarzeń przy schodzeniu na ląd::stłuczone kolana, skręcone kostki itp.
gość dodekanezowiec: Lubię wyspy greckie za wiatr. Uważam pod tym względem - choć bardziej Rodos i Kos - za przypominające nieco Wyspy Kanaryjskie. Różnicę widać nawet jak się popłynie z Kos do Bodrum czy z Rodos do Marmaris.  Piszę natomiast o tym, że mimo wysokich temperatur łatwiej się je znosi jak jest wiaterek. Alanya czy Cypr to duchota przy wyspach greckich.   Zmiany klimatu są, np. w Heraklionie średnia roczna bywała w XX w. (...)
Gosia | crete.pl : Tak, to prawda. 
gość Tomek: czy to prawda że statki wycieczkowe desantują turystów  prosto do wody ?  w sumie też jakaś atrakcja. ;)  
Dommage on a raté cette festivité......
Parklot
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