About Battle for Crete -Antony Beavor
|July 5th, 2010||#1|
| || |
Battle for Crete -Antony Beavor info
Crete is a interesting battle because although the allies lost they made it an extremely costly victory for the Germans, so costly in fact that almost 1/2 of the elite Fallschirmjagers were killed in action which ended the use of Combat jumps for the Germans. Interestingly enough, Beavor points out that while the Germans discontinued parachute jumps the UK and US were busy building their own paratroop units, taking into full account the mistakes made by the Germans in Crete.
Beavor does a good job explaining how the British came so close victory only to have a misunderstanding by General Freyberg snatch away victory at the last moment.
The Second have of the Book covers Cretan resistance and British SOE during the German occupation. The Germans were exceptionally brutal to the Cretans because of the stubborn resistance of partisans which contributed to many of the German KIA. But the Nazis discovered that reprisals against civilians only increased resistance, especially as the Cretans were know at the time to nationalistic, hotheaded, and extremely violent.
So its a great read about one of the lesser known battles -oh and I recommend you visit Crete should you ever get the chance.
"My center is giving way, my right is in retreat situation excellent. I shall attack." -Foch
I am from NYC. I fly a French flag because I work in Paris.
|July 5th, 2010||#2|
| || |
I'll check it out. Always interested in reading accounts of the various battles on the island of Crete.
Even read some interesting German points of view.
Apparently the german sea borren reserve sufered disasterously at the hands of the Royal Navy?
|July 6th, 2010||#3|
| || |
To be honest I read this book and it put me to sleep.
Stalingrad and the Battle of Berlin were excellent books so I picked up Crete and just couldn't finish it as it droned on and on and really never seemed to go anywhere.
Of the entire Antony Beevor collection I thought this was his worst book by far, it has some good bits and I am not doubting his accuracy but it just doesn't have any spark.
Crete should have and could have been held and had it not been for Freyberg's lack luster approach to the defense of the island (basically he believed it should have only been used as an embarkation platform for a retreat to Egypt) in that he was only interested in getting off the island rather than defending it and a bunch of piss poor New Zealand officers Crete could have been held.
I am very much convinced that had they placed the Australian General Morshead in over all command of the battle and sent Freyberg off to Egypt to practice bayonet charges the island would have been held.
We are more often treacherous through weakness than through calculation. ~Francois De La Rochefoucauld
Last edited by MontyB; July 6th, 2010 at 00:38..
|July 6th, 2010||#4|
| || |
MontyB I think the Allies were not well armed to defend the island. Especially the Aussies who had come from Greece????
Harsh on your countrymen, I thought that they did pretty well. Just that stuff up atthe airfield being the worst mistake. Can't recal which strip, Malemy???? perhaps?
|July 6th, 2010||#5|
| || |
I disagree, they had enough arms and munitions to defend the island given that they knew the German attack plan and I do not believe I am being harsh of New Zealand troops that were there (1 uncle was there) they did as well as could be expected given the poor quality of leadership exhibited on the island.
The problem was in my opinion that Freyberg and his subordinates had got themselves into evacuation mode from the day they arrived on Crete, he ignored ULTRA and busily dug in to defend against a seaborne landing that could never have taken place given the Royal Navies dominance at sea.
If you sit down and compare the performance of the Australian commanders on the ground there to that of the New Zealand you will see that the New Zealand command just sat there and waited for the Germans to come to them while the Australian sectors actively engaged the Germans and made their life miserable, had this style of defense been used from the beginning Operation Mercury would have been dead in the water at the end of day one.
I do not believe that the New Zealand soldier failed in any way shape or form there but I do believe that they were poorly led by a man who never wanted to be there in the first place and had no intention of staying.
|July 8th, 2010||#7|
| || |
I disagree with the evacuation mode. All indications state they Freyberg did all he could to shore up the defenses. The problem was he focused on static defenses along the Coast (sort of like a French Maginot) to repel a seaborne attack rather than a mobile defense which what was needed against paratroops. How he could come to the conclusion of a seaborne invasion where the RN ruled supreme, and not an air attack when there wasn't a single RAF fighter stationed on Crete is beyond comprehension.
Then again, German military Intelligence made far bigger mistakes than Freyberg did. They assumed there was only 5000 men on Crete when there were 42000, they actually thought the Cretans would welcome them (why I don't know) and wouldnt resist, despite a previous report done by them before the war showing the Cretans to hotheaded, pro-british, nationalistic and extremely violent. They missed most of the locations of the Allied formations espicially the Heavy AAA batteries (resulting in 150 Transports being shot down, a loss the Luftwaffe never recovered and were sorely missed at Stalingrad), they bizarrely assumed that a British Task Force based south of crete would be of no threat to Murcury...which resulted in their reserve forces being scattered and sunk at sea.
Freyberg was a by-the-book officer, he totally lacked any time of inspiration or thinking outside of the box. Like so many Allied Generals in the Early War, he failed to understand that this wasn't WWI Trench warfare and that the Germans were reading from an entirely different play-book than he was.
About the Aussies -you know many of them were incarcerated criminals? They were promised pardons if they took up arms, they fought like thugs, which they did. I do think you are hard on the NZ regiments. The 2nd NZ was holding the critical airfield a Maldme, until they were mistakenly ordered to withdraw.
The other group not mentioned with the Moaris who just before entering the battle actually preformed a Haka war dance, scared the bejesus out of the Germans...
|July 9th, 2010||#8|
| || |
I would also point out once again that the average New Zealand soldier on the island and in fact every where else during WW2 fought as well as any other Allied soldier I am not in any way blaming them for the loss of Crete I am however blaming a small group of piss poor officers Freyberg included for the failure to hold Crete.
As for the Haka, it is not a war dance it is a challenge and had they performed it within eye shot of the Germans I am pretty sure they would have been ducking bullets long before it ended so I have grave doubts as to the authenticity of the claim and tend to think it more an urban legend than a fact.
The Maori were good soldiers, no better than any others there but as with most Kiwi's and Aussies we tend to be a very resilient and "make do" bunch so I have no doubt they performed well.
|July 9th, 2010||#9|
| || |
As for the Haka, that story is actually true. It was done on the 2 day of the battle before dawn in EARSHOT (not EYESHOT, obviously ) of the German Positions. This is mentioned from Beavor himself, I can provide the page if you want.
Remember this was 1941, most Germans had never even seen a Moari, so hearing a screaming and yelping coming from the British Lines just before a battle must have been extremely nerve wracking.
|July 9th, 2010||#10|
| || |
I have no doubt they performed one but I suspect more for internal use than to scare the Germans because without the visual aspect all the Germans would have heard was incomprehensible gibberish somewhere in the distance which is hardly frightening.
My brother in laws father served with the Maori Battalion in Greece, Crete, North Africa and Italy, they were good soldiers but to be honest a lot of the stories you hear about them are urban legend type stories and every countries forces have them, the only stories I have heard about them actually scaring the bejesus out of anyone was due to their tendency to use German weaponry which scared the crap out of the rest of 2nd Division when when an MG-42 opened up within their own positions.