May 20, 2017 – 76th Anniversary of the Battle of Crete
On the morning of May 20, 1941, the skies above Crete were filled with a strange new phenomenon – thousands of Nazi paratroopers landed in a massive invasion of the island, the first German airborne invasion in history code named ‘Operation Mercury’.
Hitler anticipated a swift capture of the island that would make the German occupation of Greece complete. However, German troops were met with vigorous resistance from the Cretans; foreign residents; and, Greek and Allied forces from the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
After one day of fighting, the Germans had suffered very heavy casualties and none of their objectives had been achieved. The next day, through miscommunication and the failure of Allied commanders to grasp the situation, Maleme Airfield in western Crete fell to the Germans, enabling them to fly in reinforcements and overwhelm the island’s defences. The battle lasted ten days.
Crete exacted such a price on the German forces during its ten days of resistance that Hitler abandoned plans for similar attacks elsewhere.
On the 76th Anniversary of the Battle of Crete, we pay homage to those who paid the ultimate price in this struggle.
Let us also remember and honour the valiant contributions of men and women everywhere who fight for freedom, justice, equality and peace.