Crete The Battle For Heraklion 1941
Paperback: 294 pages
Product Dimensions: 245mm x 170mm
Other Specifics: 400 b/w images, 27 b/w maps, 17 color images and 1 two-page color map
Published: June 2020 by Helion & Company Ltd.
The Battle for Heraklion was an airborne invasion by Germany in May 1941 lasting over a 12-day period. After the island of Greece fell to the Germans a month before, attention turned to securing Heraklion, an ideal location for naval operations as well as an airfield to position aircraft for the North African conflict. The city received heavy damage from bombing and saw a mix of combatants including British, New Zealanders, Australian and Greek forces.
Previous published books have been written about the battle, but from the British and German perspective. The facts that earlier books ignored the Greek side and that the author had been born on the island, were both inspirations in writing this book. The author was able to extensively research the battle through interviews with the local Greeks who fought in it, while acquiring photographs from their personal collection.
The book is divided into six chapters with an introduction, bibliography, and index.
Chapter 1 and 2
Starting with chapter one the author includes personal accounts of a few of the soldiers including Greek infantry lieutenant Theodoros E. Kallinos, Greek private Christos Roussopoulos and a German NCO Dr. Gûnther Mûller in a sanitary unit among others on the eve of battle. To give the reader a personal connection, the author includes photographs and images pertaining to some of the soldiers involved. The maps are highly detailed and clear allowing the reader to have a better understanding of the conflict by following along as the author explains the invasion. In chapter two we read the author's description of the German paratrooper's operational plan to be divided into two waves with departure times, locations, drop times and landing objectives. As in the previous chapter, the author includes personal accounts of a few German paratroopers. The personal accounts give the reader an understanding of what was running through the minds of the soldier including what he saw during the flight and what was found at the drop zone. Some of these accounts include the aircraft flight formations and elevations above the sea.
Chapter 3 and 4
In chapters three and four, as the author has done before, describes in detail from research and first hand accounts the German paratrooper landings and the assault at Kopsas Hill east of the airfields. First-hand accounts, especially Dr. Günther Mûeller's account of the moment of his jump is an interesting read and adds a level of compassion to the read. Numerous first hand accounts, maps, and images all are included.
Chapter 5 and 6
While previous chapters describe events leading up to the attack, these two chapters wholly pertain to the attack itself on the morning of 14 May 1941. Not only do they describe the attack, but they provide in detail the attack from the German paratroopers, Greek forces and Greek civilians perspectives and their first-hand accounts. Adding to the accounts, a short description of the British and Italian navy's roles is outlined.
Chapter 7 and 8
The last two chapters contain excellent descriptions of the German attack on the city and the Greek resistance. By using extensive research and the author's ability to gather personal stories from the Greek and other combatants still living, the author attempts to explain the reason the German paratroopers failed in occupying the town.
I must admit, my first impression after initially flipping through several pages of the book, was that it might be a little uninteresting and tedious to read since my area of interest doesn't include Greek conflicts during WWII. But, after reading the initial account by one of the combatants, I was hooked. The addition of a multitude of images in this 294-page book, provides the reader an excellent overview and a better understanding of the Battle for Heraklion. Numerous personal accounts add to the reader's pleasure. While some of the images are clear, a few considering the time frame and age of the photographs appear to be a little blurry. That said, the quality in a few images doesn't deduct from the reading enjoyment.
Did the author achieve his stated goals in writing the book? Did he add personal accounts from the soldiers and civilians involved, especially from the Greek side to substantiate his goal? In my view, the author's stated goal was met. Not only did the author achieve his goals of writing a military reference book which would include views from all combatants involved, but was able to produce a book that quite possibility could be used as a travel guide for anyone interested in visiting military sites. The author's military background, access to documents and knowledge of the location undoubtedly contributed to this excellent work.
Highly Recommended for anyone interested in military history of WWII.
Thanks goes out to Casemate Publishing, and Helion and Co. for this review book.
Reviewed by Phillip Cavender, AMPS 3060
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