The Royal Navy and the Evacuation of British Troops from Crete – Part 4

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The British Fight to Hold Onto Crete

A Fallschirmjäger and a DFS 230 glider in Crete.

A mixed bunch of 40,000 regular British Army and Commonwealth troops were sent to Crete to bolster the 14,000 British soldiers already on the island. Of the 40,000 sent to re-enforce the island, 10,000 did not have arms or equipment and were dumped in Crete during the incredible confusion of the evacuation just to get them out of Greece. There was no time to send them to Egypt before the Germans attacked Crete.

Included in this force were some 9,000 Greek troops in various states of organization and disorganization with some being veteran soldiers, others transport and logistics personnel and others being cadets. Added to this group were the local gendarmerie on Crete.

Lieutenant General Bernard Freyberg VC, commanding officer of the British forces on Crete, gazes over the parapet of his dug-out in the direction of the German advance. – May 1941

[Source: Engage the Enemy More Closely: The Royal Navy in the Second World War by Correlli Barnett. Images courtesy of Wikipedia and Wikipedia.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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