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 Post subject: The War in Europe - WW2 versus The Great Patriotic War
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 30 Apr 2011 18:26 
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Aspects of the History of The Great War

The carving up of Europe

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The Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact carving up Europe.
Molotov-Ribbentrop_Pact
Therefore effectively giving the Germans a free run on their Western Front.
Furthermore the Soviet Union traded with Germany
German - Soviet_Commercial_Agreement
The Soviet Union provided the Germans with essential supplies, had the Germans not have been supplied by the Soviet Union it could be argued that the war would have come to a much swifter ending with a vast reduction in casualties.
During both the first period of the 1940 agreement (February 11, 1940 to February 11, 1941) and the second (February 11, 1940 until the Pact was broken), Germany received massive quantities of raw materials, including over:
* 1,600,000 tons of grains
* 900,000 tons of oil
* 200,000 tons of cotton
* 140,000 tons of manganese
* 200,000 tons of phosphates
* 20,000 tons of chrome ore
* 18,000 tons of rubber
* 100,000 tons of soybeans
* 500,000 tons of iron ores
* 300,000 tons of scrap metal and pig iron
* 2,000 kilograms of platinum

German–Soviet joint military parade in Brest-Litovsk on September 22, 1939.

Large amounts of crude oil were delivered, with German documents in 1940 already indicating that the Soviets had delivered crude oil at a rate of 150,000 tons a month for five months in the 900 German tank cars exclusively reserved for it.

The trade pact helped Germany to circumvent the British blockade. By June 1940, Soviet imports comprised over 50% of Germany's total imports, and often exceed 70% of total German imports before the Hitler broke the pact in June 1940.

It can be argued that the Soviet Union cut it's own throat by providing Germany with those supplies because it is doubtful that Hitler would have had the matériel to launch Operation Barbarossa.

But then the counter argument is that Stalin attempted to play a waiting game.

By waiting game it is meant that Stalin hoped that the European combatants would exhaust themselves during the first stages of WW2 by fighting against each other and would then leaving the door open for a Soviet conquest of Europe.

Here we come to another interesting historical argument.

An interesting fact about Operation Barbarosa (the German invasion of Russia) is that the invasion was set for 15 May 1941 but was delayed until 22 June 1941.

One side argues that Operation Barbarosa was delayed because of German operations in the Balkans (mainly the invasion of the Island of Crete).

The other side argues that none of the troops that were designated for Operation Barbarosa were engaged in "Operation Mercury the battle for Crete therefore Operation Mercury did not delay Operation Barbarosa.

An interesting take on the two arguments is that Operation Mercury was the first attempted large airborne invasion and there is a train of thought that Operation Mercury was a testing ground for airborne activities during Operation Barbarosa.

But due to the disastrous results of the airborne invasion of Crete, Hitler forbade any further large scale airborne operations.

Where there is very little argument is that had Operation Barbarosa been launched on the designated date it is quite probable that Germany would have achieved it's objectives for the first phase of the invasion and had Germany achieved it's objectives it is possible that the world that we live in now would have been a very different world.

On a different tilt
The USA did support the Allied Forces even before it became actively engaged in the Second World War.
OK the USA did demand it's pound of flesh.
Lend-Lease
So in it's own way the USA also took advantage of the "War in Europe".



Allies

China (at war 1937-45)
United Kingdom
France (1939-40, 1944-45)
Free France (1940-44)
Poland
Canada
Australia
New Zealand
South Africa
Soviet Union (1941-45)
United States (1941-45)
Yugoslavia (1941-45)
Belgium (1940-45)
Netherlands (1940-45)
Greece (1940-45)
Norway (1940-45)
and others


Axis and Axis-aligned

Germany
Japan (at war 1937-45)
Italy (1940-43)
Romania (1941-44)
Hungary (1940-45)
Finland (1941-44)
Bulgaria (1941-44)
Iraq (1941)
Thailand (1941-45)
and others

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 Post subject: Re: The War in Europe - WW2 versus The Great Patriotic War
Post Number:#2  PostPosted: 01 May 2011 19:15 
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It could be argued, and I regularly do, that the second world war (let's forget the great patriotic war nonsense) was a direct result of Stalin's desire to take complete control of Poland by enetering into the pact with Hitler. Had the Soviet Union not joined forces with Hitler it's debatable whether Germany would have had the resources to commence their occupation of Poland as early as 1939. Don't forget that the Soviet Union also invaded Poland shortly after the Germans. This is never mentioned by Russians who make a habit of conveniently forgetting anything that doesn't fit their warped view of history, particularly the atrocities that were carried out by the Red Army. The massacre of Polish officers at Katyn being a particularly grim example.
So I'm afraid I take a dim view of all the Russian claims about how they won the war when it was they who were instrumental in starting it.

As for the USA, while it's perfectly true that the war would have been lost without them, it's also perfectly true that they made a business out of it and profited hugely from being at war - mainly at the expense of Great Britain. In many ways it was the making of the USA and the end of Great Britain as a superpower.


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 Post subject: Re: The War in Europe - WW2 versus The Great Patriotic War
Post Number:#3  PostPosted: 01 May 2011 20:12 
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Malcolm wrote:
It could be argued, and I regularly do, that the second world war (let's forget the great patriotic war nonsense) was a direct result of Stalin's desire to take complete control of Poland by enetering into the pact with Hitler. Had the Soviet Union not joined forces with Hitler it's debatable whether Germany would have had the resources to commence their occupation of Poland as early as 1939. Don't forget that the Soviet Union also invaded Poland shortly after the Germans. This is never mentioned by Russians who make a habit of conveniently forgetting anything that doesn't fit their warped view of history, particularly the atrocities that were carried out by the Red Army. The massacre of Polish officers at Katyn being a particularly grim example.
So I'm afraid I take a dim view of all the Russian claims about how they won the war when it was they who were instrumental in starting it.

As for the USA, while it's perfectly true that the war would have been lost without them, it's also perfectly true that they made a business out of it and profited hugely from being at war - mainly at the expense of Great Britain. In many ways it was the making of the USA and the end of Great Britain as a superpower.


May I also remind you of the Holodomor

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in Ukraine. [sad.gif] Stalin's Genocide in Ukraine. [click-me.gif].

It is very clear the the Communistic party that was running the USSR conveniently forgotten certain details and rewritten the history, to teach and brainwash the people who even today remain ignorant of such important events as the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact carving up Europe. When talking to most Russians you realise the extent of such mass brainwash that has taken place because even today they believe it was ONLY Russia who fought Germany. [sarcastic.gif]

Totally agree with your other comments. [clap.gif]

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 Post subject: Re: The War in Europe - WW2 versus The Great Patriotic War
Post Number:#4  PostPosted: 01 May 2011 22:53 
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Malcolm wrote:
This is never mentioned by Russians who make a habit of conveniently forgetting anything that doesn't fit their warped view of history, particularly the atrocities that were carried out by the Red Army. The massacre of Polish officers at Katyn being a particularly grim example.



Falsifiers of History (Historical Survey) ("Falsifiers") is a book published by the Soviet Information Bureau, edited and partially re-written by Joseph Stalin, in response to documents made public in January 1948 regarding German–Soviet relations before and after the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

In 1948, the U.S. State Department published a collection of documents titled Nazi–Soviet Relations, 1939–1941: Documents from the Archives of The German Foreign Office, which contained documents recovered from the Foreign Office of Nazi Germany. The collection included documents from, and about conversations with, Soviet officials during negotiations regarding the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, a 1939 agreement between the Soviet Union and Germany, along with the related 1939 German–Soviet Commercial Agreement. It also included publication of the "Secret Additional Protocol" of that Pact, which divided eastern Europe into "spheres of influence" between Germany and the Soviet Union, executed weeks before each country's subsequent invasion of Poland. The collection further contained "Secret Supplementary Protocols" to agreements between the countries, discussions regarding the 1940 German–Soviet Commercial Agreement, discussions of the Soviet Union potentially becoming an Axis Power and other German–Soviet negotiations and discussions.


From Falsifiers of History (Wikipedia)Image

The reason for the Russian "warped" view of history especially the history of the Second World War is because of the rewriting of history by Stalin and the Soviet Communist Party.

Stalin's account in Falsifiers was repeated in Soviet historical texts until the Soviet Union's dissolution.


Back to the issues of the war itself.

There is a view that Stalin did not only want all of Poland, he wanted all of Europe and that he hoped that that the combating forces would exhaust themselves by fighting each other, allowing for a almost unopposed Soviet take over of Europe.

Lets not forget that when it became quite clear to Stalin that the "Red Army" is not going to have a walk over in Europe, (who could have predicted the speed that the Germans occupied the low countries and the capitulation of France) he then considered becoming the forth of the Axis Powers and that was because it looked like the Axis (especially the Germans) had the upper hand.

To that affect the Soviets and the Germans entered into talks in October and November of 1940. The talks included a two day conference in Berlin between the Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov and Adolph Hitler and Joachim von Ribbentrop which culminated in written proposed agreements.

The fact that the Germans never responded to a proposal made by the Russians in November 1940 left the negotiations unresolved.

This is another aspect of the Second World War that no Russian could have known about due to the doctrines of Soviet Russia and their omitting from the Russian history books anything that showed Russia in a bad light.

Russian history also teaches that the Munich agreement was not just Anglo–French short-sightedness or cowardice, but a "secret" agreement that was a "a highly important phase in their policy aimed at goading the Hitlerite aggressors against the Soviet Union."


Yes Russians do believe a lot of nonsense about WW2 but that is because they were taught the "truth" according to Soviet Communist Party.

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 Post subject: Re: The War in Europe - WW2 versus The Great Patriotic War
Post Number:#5  PostPosted: 01 May 2011 23:11 
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Rasboinik wrote:
Yes Russians do believe a lot of nonsense about WW2 but that is because they were taught the "truth" according to Soviet Communist Party.


That may be true but they've had a long time to acknowledge the real truth about what happened but still many of them choose not to.

There's a difference between ignorance due to poor education and ignorance due to poor intelligence.


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 Post subject: Re: The War in Europe - WW2 versus The Great Patriotic War
Post Number:#6  PostPosted: 02 May 2011 01:04 
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Raffy,

Nice thread as there is a lot of history there. I also like to remind my Russian friends of the fact that Russian and Germany were allies at first and then the USA found with Russia after it realized it's mistake (they usually grudgingly accept this fact).

Also, the USA did profit from the war, but remember that it also gave back after the war. Plus, during the first 30 years after the war, all countries advanced significantly and benefited from Bretton-Woods. Also, for those who think the USA extracted a pound of of flesh from its allies, remember that the American public was set against getting involved in the war (before Japan made the decision easy) so Roosevelt needed to show something in return or else he would have gotten approval for shipping all those old ships and other goodies to the empire!


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 Post subject: Re: The War in Europe - WW2 versus The Great Patriotic War
Post Number:#7  PostPosted: 02 May 2011 17:03 
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In the spring of 1941, the German Blitzkrieg crushed the Balkans, rapidly overrunning Yugoslavia and Greece. The battered remnants of the defeated Allied armies evacuated to the island of Crete. Faced with the threat of air attacks from the Allied air bases on Crete and pressed for time, men and equipment on the eve of Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of the Soviet Union planned for June), Adolf Hitler decided to launch a lightning air assault to take Crete: Operation Mercury!

On 21 May 1941, German paratroopers, brave tough, battle-hardened and with esprit-de-corps second to none, formed the spearhead of Hitler's daring airborne assault. Hastily assembled, these elite troopers jumped into an unexpected maelstrom of fire and lead that decimated their ranks.

For the next eight days, the depleted airborne forces, bolstered by a reinforcing Mountain Division, were locked in a gripping life-and-death struggle against fierce resistance from the defending British, Greek, Australian and New Zealander troops.

When it was over, though Germany prevailed, over 7,000 German soldiers, including one in four paratroopers, lay dead on the battlefield. Operation Mercury was a German victory, but a Pyrrhic one at best. Adolf Hitler was so shocked by the heavy German losses on Crete that he never deployed his elite paratroop units again in a major airborne operation.

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Introduction

On 25 April 1941, Hitler issues Directive No 28 stating that "As a base for air warfare against Great Britain in the Eastern Mediterranean, we must prepare to occupy the island of Crete". The strategic position of Crete was of paramount importance for Germany to gain a strong foothold in south-eastern Europe. Thus, on the morning of 30 May 1941, the Germans launched the first large scale airborne invasion in history, under the codename "Undertaking Mercury-Unternehmen Merkur", on the Greek island of Crete in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Greek Forces (approximately 9,000 troops):

Following the Greek capitulation to Germany (10 April 1941), no organised Greek force was able to offer strong defence against the Germans. The island's V Infantry Division embarked for the Greek mainland, early November 1940, and its men distinguished themselves in a series of battles in Albania against the invading Italians, with great losses. Thus, the Greek garrison on the island composed of three Battalions left behind when the V Division had been transferred to the mainland; eight Battalions of recently drafted soldiers from the training centres in the Peloponnese, transferred to Crete, untrained and poorly armed; the Gendarmerie Academy (Battalion force); the Heraklion Garrison (mostly administrative personnel); the remnants of the 12th and 20th Infantry Rgt; the 300 Cadets of the Hellenic Army Academy* who on the morning of May 20th, upon hearing the news about the German assault on the island, mutinied, stole the Academy Colours and were transported to Crete on caiques (Greek fishing boats).

British and ANZAC Forces composed of::

  1. The 14th Infantry Bde HQ with: a detachment of the 3rd Hussars (six Mk VI light tanks) and a detachment of the 7th RTR (five A12 Matilda heavy tanks); 234th Medium Bty, RA (thirteen 75 / 100mm guns); 2/Leicesters; 2/Black Watch; 2/York and Lancasters; 2/4th Australian Infantry; 7th Medium Regt, RA (acting as infantry); 3rd Greek; 7th Greek; Greek Garrison Btn; and combat service support assets including a company from 189th Field Ambulance, RAMC and a section of 42nd Field Company. - Central Sector (Rethymnon / Georgeoupolis) under Brigadier George-Alan Vasey
  2. The Australian 19th Infantry Bde HQ (Lt Col I R Campbell commanding the Rethymnon Sector) with: a detachment of 7th RTR (two A12 Matilda heavy tanks); a section from 106th RHA (two 2pdr AT); X Coastal Defence Battery, RM (two 4in guns); 2/3 Field Regt, RAA (fourteen 75mm / 100mm guns); 2/1 Australian Infantry Btn; 2/7 Australian Infantry Btn; 2/8 Australian Infantry Btn; 2/11 Australian Infantry Btn; 2/1 Australian MG Company; 4th Greek Regt; 5th Greek Regt; and combat service support assets including B Company, 2/7 Australian Field Ambulance and a detachment of the AASC.
  3. Suda Bay Sector under Major General C E Weston, of the Royal Marines and the HQ Mobile Naval Base Defence Organisation (MNBDO) with: numerous AA units including 151st Heavy AA Bty, 129th Light AA Bty, RA, 156th Light AA Bty, RA, 23rd Light AA Bty, RM and the 2nd Heavy AA Regt, RM; 1/Royal Welsh Fusiliers; 1/Rangers (9/KRRC); Northumberland Hussars (acting as infantry); 106th RHA (acting as infantry); 2/2 Australian Field Regt (acting as infantry); a detachment from the 2/3 Australian Field Regt (acting as infantry); 16th Australian Infantry Bde Composite Btn; 17th Australian Infantry Bde Composite Btn; 1st Royal Perivolians (composite unit); 2nd Greek Regt; and numerous service support units such as 231st Motor Transport Coy, 5th Ind Bde workshop, 4th Lt Field Ambulance, RAMC, 168th Field Ambulance, RAMC and 606th Palestine Pioneer Corps.
  4. Maleme Sector (including Galatas) under Brigadier Edward Puttick
    The HQ 2nd New Zealand Division with: a detachment of the 3rd Hussars (ten Mk VI light tanks) and a detachment of the 7th RTR (two A12 Matilda heavy tanks); Light Trp, RA (four 3.7in howitzers); 5th New Zealand Field Regt; Z Coastal Defence Bty, RM (two 4in guns); Section C Bty Heavy AA, RM (two 3in guns); 4th New Zealand Infantry Bde (Brigadier Inglis – 18th, 19th and 20th New Zealand Btns); 5th New Zealand Infantry Bde (Brigadier Hargest – 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 28th (Maori) New Zealand Btns, 1st Greek Regt (at Kastelli)); 10th New Zealand Infantry Bde (Brigadier Kippenberger – New Zealand Division Cavalry Detachment, New Zealand Composite Btn, 6th Greek Regt, 8th Greek Regt); and various service support assets including 5th New Zealand Field Ambulance, 6th New Zealand Field Ambulance, 7th British General Hospital and the New Zealand Provost Coy

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 Post subject: Re: The War in Europe - WW2 versus The Great Patriotic War
Post Number:#8  PostPosted: 02 May 2011 17:17 
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Operation Merkur divided the island into four drop zones: from west to east, Maleme, Canea, Rethymnon (Retimo) and Heraklion. For lack of sufficient transport aircraft the island was attacked in two waves in the morning and afternoon of May 20.

The first wave, Group West under Generalmajor Eugen Meindl, would land in Maleme/Canea zone. They would be spearheaded by the 1st Assault Regiment in DFS230 gliders who would land to the west of Maleme airfield and around Suda Bay to neutralise any AA guns that had survived the air attacks. This would prepare the way for the paratroops. In the afternoon, Group Centre under Generalmajor Suessmann would land at Rethymnon and Canea/Suda, and Group East under Generalleutnant Julius Ringel, spearheaded by paratroops of FJR 1 and a battalion of FJR 2, would seize the airfield at Heraklion. This would allow the bulk of the 5th Gebirgsjager Division to be flown in by Ju 52s.

Bad luck dogged the Germans from the outset of the attack. The glider carrying Generalmajor Wilhelm Suessmann crashed on an island off the Greek mainland (Aegina isle) and Major General Meindl was critically wounded shortly after landing. The Germans had also underestimated the physical difficulties of fighting in Crete and the size and determination of the garrison. The olive groves provided excellent camouflage for the defenders and the terraced hillsides reduced much of the effect of bombing.

The German airborne attack philosophy was to jump directly onto the objective - even though this ran the risk of incurring heavy casualties. The British and American approach was to have a safe DZ away from the objective and so allow the paratroopers to form into a cohesive group - however, this ran the risk that the force would be intercepted before it reached its objective.

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When they jumped the men were lightly armed and had to collect heavier weapons from containers that were parachuted with them. In the short time that men were in the air on their parachutes they were easy targets for riflemen below. On the ground the British and Anzac troops quickly established the most effective technique was to aim at the paratrooper's feet as he descended. One defender described it as being "like the opening of the duck shooting season in New Zealand".

The gliders came in so low and slow that the defenders could fire right into them killing all the occupants before they had even hit the ground. Even those that landed with the soldiers still alive hit rocky, terraced terrain and broke up, killing or injuring the occupants. Paratroops who landed at the little fishing port of Kastelli west of Maleme were killed by Cretan irregulars, men dressed in the traditional costume of baggy black trousers and high boots. Armed with knives, axes and hunting rifles they attacked these airborne enemies. When Crete was finally occupied the Germans shot 200 men from Kastelli for these "atrocities" Cretan armed band.

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Following the German assault, the Cretans formed armed bands under the guidance
of the local Gendarmerie chapter and fought the Germans.

In the afternoon the second wave flew into disaster. In just one hour a force of 1,500 Fallschirmjager was reduced to 1,000 men in small scattered groups being hunted and trapped. At Retimo, Group Centre in the second wave was trapped in an olive factory, under siege by the British and Australian forces. Dust now shrouded the airfields in Greece and in the chaos the Luftwaffe released aircraft that arrived at Heraklion in relays and so were easy targets for the well camouflaged defenders. On the morning of May 21 Piper Macpherson of the Black Watch climbed out of his slit trench at Heraklion and sounded reveille - the British and Anzac troops with their Cretan allies were confident almost cocky.

By the end of the day 40 per cent of Student's assault force was either dead, wounded or a prisoner. "Today has been a hard one," Freyberg cabled Wavell in Egypt. "We have been hard pressed. So far, I believe, we hold aerodromes at Heraklion and Maleme...Margin by which we hold them is a bare one, and it would be wrong of me to paint an optimistic picture. Fighting has been heavy and we have killed large numbers of Germans. Communications are most difficult".

Only at the western end of Maleme airfield did the paratroops manage to find cover and set up a viable base in the dried up riverbed of the Tavronitis. The key feature that dominated the airfield was the hill known as Point 107 that was held by the New Zealand 22nd Battalion commanded by Lt Colonel Les Andrew. Under heavy air attack and enemy probes he sent runners to his commanding officer Brigadier James Hargest requesting assistance.

Hargest promised a counter attack against the men in the Tavronitis but his men were pinned down by air attacks. Andrew attempted an attack with a tiny force of 40 men and two Matilda tanks but it failed, and only three men returned unwounded. A brave and experienced soldier, Andrew who had won the VC in World War I, was under intense pressure and without reliable communications. His battalion appeared to be in danger of being cut off so Andrew pulled back A Company on Point 107 and this gave the Germans their opening.

With an airfield in their possession, albeit under spasmodic artillery fire, they poured in reinforcements. On the first day aircraft landed 650 mountain troops and 550 more paratroops were landed. The Germans now prepared to "roll up" the island, pushing eastwards from their secure base at Maleme. In Athens Student took the tough but tactically sound decision to abandon the operations at Retimo and Heraklion. On May 20 1,500 and 2,000 men had been committed to these locations, and a day later only 120 men landed at Heraklion, while at the Maleme, Galatas and Suda Bay area 1,880 were parachuted in.

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On May 22 this figure jumped to 1,950 and on the 23rd the Luftwaffe landed 3,650 men. On May 25 Student landed at Maleme. The airfield was littered with smashed Ju52s and to those who knew him the General looked tired and aged. He had witnessed the destruction of his creation, the 7th Air Division.

On May 22 Freyberg decided that he would have to pull his forces back on Suda to secure the naval base. In five days of hard fighting the paratroops had reached the outskirts of Canea and Freyberg had to face the fact that the battle of Crete was lost. He signalled Wavell: "From a military point of view our position is hopeless," and on May 27 London gave permission to withdraw.

Image

In the heat of a Greek spring Gebirgsjager, now wearing steel helmets,
advance eastwards as the attack rolls up the defences on Crete.

He organised an evacuation initially from the better appointed port of Heraklion on the north coast, but was eventually forced to use the tiny south coast port of Sphakia. To cover these operations two Commandos commanded by Brigadier Robert Laycock and designated Layforce were landed at Suda Bay on the nights of May 23-24 and 26-27. Among their number was the writer Evelyn Waugh who was the formations intelligence officer. In his novel Officers and Gentlemen he described the fighting in Crete from an idiosyncratic and rather jaundiced viewpoint. "The Navy has never let the Army down," signalled Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham. "No enemy forces must reach Crete by sea." On the night of May 21-22 a Royal Navy force commanded by Rear Admiral Irvine Glennie acting on ULTRA intelligence intercepted a convoy of 25 commandeered caiques - Greek fishing boats - escorted by the Italian destroyer Lupo. The Royal Navy sank several caiques and others turned back. They were carrying elements of the 5th Gebirgsjager Division with their vehicles, Flak and support weapons, as well as engineer and anti-tank units. A larger group of 35 vessels intended to support Group East on the second day returned to Milos but some boats did make landfall on the island.

These attacks came at a cost, and on May 21 the Royal Navy had suffered its first casualties when at dawn German aircraft sank the destroyer HMS Juno and damaged the cruiser HMS Ajax. A day later the losses mounted as the cruisers HMS Gloucester and Fiji were sunk along with the destroyer HMS Greyhound. Gloucester and Greyhound had been patrolling the Kithira Channel to the north-west of the island, on the look out for troop-carrying convoys.

On May 23 the destroyers HMS Kelly and Kashmir were lost, the former captained by Lord Mountbatten. On May 29 the destroyers HMS Imperial and Hereward were sunk off the north coast.

For the men making the fighting withdrawal to the south, it was a grim slog across the mountain spine of the Lephka (White) Mountains to Sphakia. The men at Retimo never received the order to withdraw and when German forces finally arrived in the area they found that 500 paratroops were virtual prisoners in the olive oil factory, surrounded by 1,500 Australian and Greek troops. In the olive groves and fields lay the bodies of over 700 Fallschirmjager.

At Retimo and Heraklion Australian and British forces had quickly learned how to confuse the Luftwaffe transports and bombers. They laid out captured swastika flags on their positions, stopped shooting when aircraft appeared and when the Germans fired green recognition flares, fired similar signals. On a number of occasions laying out captured recognition panels produced the prompt delivery of weapons, ammunition, rations and medical stores.

The evacuation of the garrison by the Royal Navy had been costly, but when it ended on June 1, 16,500 men had been saved. Cunningham was an inspirational leader for his crews: "It takes the Navy three years to build a ship. It would take 300 years to rebuild a tradition."

However so severe were the losses at Crete that the Germans never attempted a major airborne operation again. Hitler declared to Student that: "the day of the paratrooper is over. The parachute arm is a surprise weapon and without the element of surprise there can be no future for airborne forces," and with these words he condemned this superb force to a ground role.

The Balkan campaign, forced on the Germans by Italian adventurism in Greece in 1940, had delayed the attack on the USSR by a critical two months. It had been scheduled for May 15 but would be launched on June 22.

The mud and snow of the winter of 1941 would not have stopped the Panzers outside Moscow, they would still have had eight weeks good going if they had attacked in May.


The many Russian's I spoke and speak about it, don't even knew/know about the Battle of Crete! [surprised.gif]

During the 10 days of fighting, 945 Anzac troops were killed and 4,794 captured. Greek losses accounted for ~700 KIA, 5,255 captured. Royal Navy losses accounted for ~2,000 KIA, 200 WIA. German losses accounted for 4,041 KIA and MIA (presumably dead), 2,640 wounded.

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Sources: Ian Allan-Blitzkrieg, Balkans and N.Afica 1941-1942, Christopher Ailsby-Hitler's Sky Warriors, historyofwar.org-Operation Mercury

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 Post subject: Re: The War in Europe - WW2 versus The Great Patriotic War
Post Number:#9  PostPosted: 08 May 2011 16:24 
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Key European points in the Second World War
Part 1

Starting with events prior to the beginning of the Second World War, continuing with the war prior to the Soviet Union joining the Allied Forces.

An event that was forced upon the Soviet Union because of the German invasion of Russia known as Operation Barbarossa an event that ended the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.


September 1938 – Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without the presence of Czechoslovakia. Today, it is widely regarded as a failed act of appeasement toward Nazi Germany.
Another view is that he Munich pact gave Nazi Germany a defacto license to operate as they wished in Eastern Europe.

August 1939 – Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, colloquially named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union[1] and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939.[2] It was a non-aggression pact under which the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany each pledged to remain neutral in the event that either nation were attacked by a third party. It remained in effect until 22 June 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

In addition to stipulations of non-aggression, the treaty included a secret protocol dividing Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence, anticipating potential "territorial and political rearrangements" of these countries. Thereafter, Germany and the Soviet Union invaded, on September 1 and 17 respectively, their respective sides of Poland, dividing the country between them. Part of eastern Finland was annexed by the Soviet Union after the Winter War. This was followed by Soviet annexations of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina and Hertza region.
(More on the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in the first post on this thread).


September 1939 – The Invasion of Poland
The Invasion of Poland, also known as the September Campaign or 1939 Defensive War, was an invasion of Poland by Germany, the Soviet Union, and a small Slovak contingent that marked the start of World War II in Europe. The invasion began on 1 September 1939, one week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, and ended on 6 October 1939 with Germany and the Soviet Union dividing and annexing the whole of Poland.


November 1939.-.March 1940 - The Winter War
The Winter War was a military conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland. It began with a Soviet offensive on 30 November 1939 — three months after the start of World War II and the Soviet invasion of Poland — and ended on 13 March 1940 with the Moscow Peace Treaty.

The League of Nations deemed the attack illegal and expelled the Soviet Union from the League on 14 December 1939.

The Soviet forces had three times as many soldiers as the Finns, 30 times as many aircraft, and a hundred times as many tanks.

The Red Army, however, had been crippled by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's Great Purge of 1937, reducing the army's morale and efficiency shortly before the outbreak of the fighting. With more than 30,000 of its army officers executed or imprisoned, including most of those of the highest ranks, the Red Army in 1939 had many inexperienced senior officers. Because of these factors, and high commitment and morale in the Finnish forces, Finland was able to resist the Soviet invasion for far longer than the Soviets expected.

Hostilities ceased in March 1940 with the signing of the Moscow Peace Treaty. Finland ceded 11% of its pre-war territory and 30% of its economic assets to the Soviet Union. Soviet losses on the front were heavy, and the country's international reputation suffered. The Soviet forces did not accomplish their objective of the total conquest of Finland, but did gain sufficient territory along Lake Ladoga to provide a buffer for Leningrad. The Finns, however, retained their sovereignty and enhanced their international reputation.

The peace treaty thwarted the Franco-British plan to send troops to Finland through northern Scandinavia. One of the Allied operation's major goals had been to take control of northern Sweden's iron ore and cut its deliveries to Germany.

May 1940
Germany turns westward with the occupation of the Low Lands and then France


The evolution of German plans for Fall Gelb, the invasion of the Low Countries.
The series begins at the left upper corner.

The British Expeditionary Force and the subsequent evacuations after the collapse of France.
The(BEF) was the name given to the British Forces in Europe from 1939–1940 during The Second World War. Commanded by General Lord Gort, the BEF constituted 1⁄10 of the defending Allied force.

The British Expeditionary Force was started in 1938 in readiness for a perceived threat of war after Germany annexed Austria in March 1938 and the claims on the Sudetenland which led to the invasion of Czechoslovakia in March 1939. After the French and British had promised to defend Poland the German invasion began and war was declared on 3 September 1939.

The BEF was sent to France in September 1939 and deployed mainly along the Belgian—French border during the so called Phoney War leading up to May 1940. The BEF did not commence hostilities until the invasion of France on 10 May 1940. After the commencement of battle they were driven back through France forcing their eventual evacuation from several ports along the French northern coastline in Operations Dynamo, Ariel and Cycle. The most notable evacuation was from the Dunkirk region and from this the phrase Dunkirk Spirit was coined.

26 May .-. 3 June 1940 The Dunkirk evacuation, known also as Operation Dynamo.
The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo by the British, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and the early hours of 3 June 1940, when British, French and Belgian troops were cut off by the German army during the Battle of Dunkirk in the Second World War.

The evacuation was ordered on 26 May. In a speech to the House of Commons, Winston Churchill called the events in France "a colossal military disaster", saying that "the whole root and core and brain of the British Army" had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured. In his ("We shall fight on the beaches") speech, he hailed their rescue as a "miracle of deliverance".

On the first day, only 7,011 men were evacuated, but by the ninth day, a total of 338,226 soldiers (198,229 British and 139,997 French) had been rescued by the hastily assembled fleet of 850 boats. Many of the troops were able to embark from the harbour's protective mole onto 42 British destroyers and other large ships, while others had to wade from the beaches toward the ships, waiting for hours to board, shoulder-deep in water.


Others were ferried from the beaches to the larger ships, and thousands were carried back to Britain by the famous "little ships of Dunkirk", a flotilla of around 700 merchant marine boats, fishing boats, pleasure craft and Royal National Lifeboat Institution lifeboats — the smallest of which was the 15 ft (4.6 m) fishing boat Tamzine, now in the Imperial War Museum — whose civilian crews were called into service for the emergency.

The "miracle of the little ships" remains a prominent folk memory in Britain.



It can be argued that allowing the Allied troops to escape back to Britain was the first error of military judgement made by the German military command.

The rescue of the British troops at Dunkirk provided a psychological boost to British morale; to the country at large it was spun as a major victory. While the British Army had lost a great deal of its equipment and vehicles in France, it still had most of its soldiers and was able to assign them to the defence of Britain. Once the threat of invasion receded, they were transferred overseas to the Middle East and other theatres and also provided the nucleus of the army that returned to France in 1944.

German land forces could have easily destroyed the British Expeditionary Force, especially when many of the British troops, in their haste to withdraw, had left behind their heavy equipment. For years, it was assumed that Adolf Hitler ordered the German Army to stop the attack, favouring bombardment by the Luftwaffe. However, according to the Official War Diary of Army Group A, Feldmarshall Gerd von Rundstedt, the Chief of the General Staff, ordered the halt. Hitler merely validated the order several hours after the fact. This lull in the action gave the British a few days to evacuate by sea.

Several high-ranking German commanders (for example, Generals Erich von Manstein and Heinz Guderian, as well as Admiral Karl Dönitz) considered the failure of the German High Command to order a timely assault on Dunkirk to eliminate the British Expeditionary Force to be one of the major mistakes the Germans had made on the Western Front.

It is to be remembered that Britain is an Island and therefore relies on the Royal Navy (the Senior Service) for it's defence more than it depends on an Army.

Admittedly the troops that were evacuated left most of their equipment behind on the beaches (after rendering the equipment useless) but it was the manpower that was more important than the materiel.

Materiel can be replaced with some difficulty during the shortages caused by the war but it would have been impossible to replace the troops.

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 Post subject: Re: The War in Europe - WW2 versus The Great Patriotic War
Post Number:#10  PostPosted: 08 May 2011 16:25 
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Key European points in the Second World War
Part 2


10 July – 31 October 1940 Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain (German: Luftschlacht um England or Luftschlacht um Großbritannien, literally "Air battle for England" or "Air battle for Great Britain") is the name given to the Second World War air campaign waged by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940.

The objective of the campaign was to gain air superiority over the Royal Air Force (RAF), especially Fighter Command. The name derives from a famous speech delivered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the House of Commons: "... the Battle of France is over.

The Battle of Britain is about to begin."



The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces, and was also the largest and most sustained aerial bombing campaign to that date.

From July 1940 coastal shipping convoys and shipping centres, such as Portsmouth, were the main targets; one month later the Luftwaffe shifted its attacks to RAF airfields and infrastructure. As the battle progressed the Luftwaffe also targeted aircraft factories and ground infrastructure. Eventually the Luftwaffe resorted to attacking areas of political significance and using terror bombing tactics.

The failure of Germany to achieve its objectives of destroying Britain's air defences, or forcing Britain to negotiate an armistice or an outright surrender, is considered its first major defeat and one of the crucial turning points in the war.

If Germany had gained air superiority, Adolf Hitler might have launched Operation Sea Lion, an amphibious and airborne invasion of Britain. Had Operation Sea Lion have succeeded the outcome of the Second world war would undoubtedly have been very different.

Image

The Royal Air Force roll of honour for the Battle of Britain recognises 595 non-British pilots (out of 2,936) as flying at least one authorised operational sortie with an eligible unit of the RAF or Fleet Air Arm between 10 July and 31 October 1940. These included 145 Poles, 127 New Zealanders, 112 Canadians, 88 Czechoslovaks, 32 Australians, 28 Belgians, 25 South Africans, 13 French, 10 Irish, 7 Americans, and one each from Jamaica, the British Mandate of Palestine, and Southern Rhodesia.

The Germans received some support from the Italian Air force in the later stages of the battle.

April 1940 - early June 1940 Allied campaign in Norway
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The Allied campaign in Norway during World War II took place from April 1940 until early June 1940. Allied operations were focused in two areas, in northern Norway around Narvik and in central Norway.

The fiasco of the British campaign – with its missed opportunities and squandered victories – might reasonably be said to be the responsibility of Winston Churchill, the British First Lord of the Admiralty. But, in fact, the 'Norway Debate' in the British House of Commons, which saw large numbers of Conservative Party Members of Parliament refuse to back the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, led directly to Chamberlain's resignation and Churchill's appointment as Prime Minister on the afternoon of May 10.

Further Reading
THE CAMPAIGN IN NORWAY By T. K. Derry

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