Operation Mercury: The Invasion of Crete

Operation Mercury: The Invasion of Crete

Early in the morning on 20 May 1941, as 30,000 Commonwealth soldiers on Crete were finishing breakfast, hundreds of German transport aircraft - some towing gliders - rumbled over the Mediterranean island. The air above was suddenly filled with parachutes as thousands of elite German paratroops - Fallschirmjäger - descended from the sky.

The invasion of Crete was one of the most dramatic battles of the Second World War. Over a nine-day period in May 1941, a mixed force of Commonwealth and Greek troops desperately tried to fight off the German assault. Despite appalling casualties, the paratroopers and glider-borne troops managed to secure a foothold and the critical Maleme Airfield to open the door for the German Gebirgsjäger (mountain troops) to land under fire. Together the Fallschirmjäger and Gebirgsjäger pushed the Commonwealth troops to their breaking point and forced a deadly battle of delay and pursuit.

This was a true soldiers battle, with both sides in desperate situations often lacking
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