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This was the Fallschirmjaegers’ only successful mass assault, those in 1940 having been much smaller. It succeeded by a very narrow margin, and the defender’s errors are shown here though with understanding that the fog of battle prevented many better decisions. I can empathise here, having worked for some years with a survivor of the British garrison who was scathing about higher command but admitted that no-one knew what was going on outside their own immediate area.
The planning for the airborne assault is described well, and so are the Allied (Greek as well as British and Commonwealth) plans to meet attack. The different forces are analysed, and it is clear that the German idea of the resistance to be expected was based on a drastic underestimate of the defenders’ strength. There were 9 Matilda infantry tanks, without HE ammunition, and at least 16 Vickers light tanks waiting for the attack, but few were to prove useful.
The course of the landings is covered in detail, with excellent maps and birds’-eye-view battle plans to show how they developed and were exploited. There’s also brief coverage of the preceding Greek mainland fighting which makes it clear why there was so little motor transport available for rapid movement on Crete. The Allied retreat and evacuation from Sphakion is dealt with, and due credit given to the Royal Navy for its heroic efforts in the evacuation.
This book will give tank modellers some new ideas for models of the tanks used, though unfortunately you’ll have to look elsewhere for their markings since very few photographs of them were taken – there’s a good one here but no markings are visible. Nevertheless some fairly accurate guesses can be made at colours and markings so bases with Fallschirmjaegers and Mk IV Light Tanks are quite possible.