CRETE MAY 1941 - OPERATION MERCURY Historical Background Pilots & Gentlemen Giving my warmest Greetings to all IL-2 International Community, thanking all Sqn. Teams for their participation to this new Social Event (as says Charlie), hoping a great amusement for all Pilots, recommending the maximum loyalty and fair play in spirit of Airmen Brotherhood, for the occasion, as my little contribution to the efforts of the Organizers (Hi Mirko, Devil & C.!), please find hereinafter the Historical Background of those dramatic Events which, all together, we will try to reenact. A Great Salute to All! Cip _________________________ Chronicle Of The Battle Of Crete This month-by-month chronicle of the Battle of Crete has been based on a leaflet of the City of Heraklion for the exhibition of historical documents from the Battle of Crete at the Saint Marcus Basilica in May 2005. 0CTOBER 28, 1940 Declaration of the Greek - Italian war. NOVEMBER 1940: The defense of Crete is taken over by the British. The V Cretan Division is transported to Athens. After successive meetings, the Germans decide on the occupation of Crete. The transport of Greek and British forces from mainland Greece is scheduled for the second fortnight of April. The Greek government resorts to Crete. APRIL 25, 1941 Landing in Crete of the New Zealand allies. APRIL 28, 1941 The Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Tsouderos, chairs a meeting at Chania between the leaders of the Greek forces and British officers. The meeting concluded with the issue of a reinforcement request to strengthen the defense of the island. APRI1 29, 1941 The commander of the Hew Zealand Division, General Prey Berg, arrives in Crete. MAY 18-19, 1941 German aircrafts land on airfields of Attica and Northern Greece to prepare for the attack. MAY 20, 1941 German attack on Crete begins at 6:3O a.m. The Germans subject the towns of Chania, Rethymnon and Heraklion to severe bombardment prior to dropping their elite parachutists. Local confrontations take place between German paratroopers and allied forces reinforced by the local population. MAY 21, 1941 The German concentrate their attack on Maleme airfield. German airfield land at Maleme in the evening carrying significant forces and material for the attack. The British fleet in the Mediterranean strikes a German convoy heading for Crete. Fifteen requisitioned vessels were sunk; their losses are still unknown. MAY 22, 1941 The Germans manage to finally occupy the airfield of Maleme. Allied efforts to retake the airfield are fruitless. MAY 23, 1941 Greek political leadership abandons Crete on destroyer "Decoy". Churchill sends the following message to the Headquarters: "The Battle of Crete must be won". MAY 24, 1941 The bombardment of the towns of Crete goes on. At Chania, the Germans gained the initiative. The allied forces at Rethymnon and Heraklion are determined "to fight to the end". MAY 25, 1941 The Germans occupy Kandanos in south-west Crete. The resolute and unexpected resistance of the defenders infuriates the Germans who resort to Brutal reprisals: mass executions, arson, and other serious destruction. MAY 26,1941 Galatas is occupied. Allied forces are desperately trying to defend Chania. Freyberg notes the dire circumstances the allied forces are in Crete. MAY 27,1941 The Commander-in-chief of the Middle East, Wayvel, orders the allied forces to evacuate Crete. Tassels of the British fleet take over the mission of safe evacuation of the allies. Chania falls in the hands of the invaders. It was the beginning of the end. By May 31st the total occupation of Crete was a fact and the withdrawal of the majority of the ally forces to Egypt marked the end of the Battle of Crete.