The Battle of Crete
by Nicolas Trudgian
|The Fallschirmjäger, Germany’s elite parachute force, had already proved itself in smaller-scale operations during the ‘Blitzkrieg’ in the Low-Countries in May 1940; seizing bridges in front of the main German advance and capturing the supposedly impregnable fort of
Eben-Emael in Belgium. When, in 1941, the Germans overran Greece, it became necessary to consider the capture of Crete. Hitler was very aware that the Royal Navy would repel any attempt to land troops on Crete using a seaborne invasion. However, Kurt Student, the head of the Fallschirmjäger, convinced Hitler that his paratroop units could capture Crete from the air.
The main drops were to seize the vital airfields at Maleme and Heraklion, to enable supplies and additional troops to be flown
in. However, German planning had completely underestimated the number of Allied troops on the Island, forcing the Fallschirmjäger to fight a much larger force than originally planned. Some 50,000 Allied troops awaited 15,000 paratroops. Despite heavy losses, the German paratroops achieved their objectives and Crete was taken.
The Fallschirmjäger never again dropped in such large numbers but were used as elite ground troops in North Africa, Sicily
and France and it was for their determined defence of Monte Cassino that they earned their fame as the ‘Green Devils’.
Having seen the effectiveness of the Fallschirmjäger forces, particularly in the Battle of Crete, Allied commanders began
began to form dedicated paratroop units of their own, which later proved so vital in the Normandy Invasion of June 1944.
|Overall size: 25" x 34"||Available in the following editions|
|250||ASR edition||Signed by the artist alone - includes two companion prints shown below||$125|
|200||Heraklion edition||Signed by four paratroops and one Ju52 pilot - includes two companion prints shown below||$295|
|5||Tribute edition||As above plus clipped wartime signatures of Kurt Student & Bruno Bräuer||$1550|
|Ferdinand Foltin K,C. (Paratroop)||Hubert Fries K,C. (Paratroop)||Hans Teusen K,C. (Paratroop)|
|Alexander Uhlig K,C. (Paratroop)||Gunther Frenzel K,C. (pilot)|
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|Companion prints issued with "The Battle of Crete"
(ASR, Heraklion & Tribute editions)
The monastery of Monte Cassino overlooked Highway 6, the route
of the Allied advance on the Italian capital - Rome.
The Allies (incorrectly) believed the building to be a stronghold of German defences. Consequently, on the 15th February 1944, it was almost completely destroyed by American-led air raids.
Ironically, the ruins of the great building then provided excellent cover for German forces, including ‘Fallschirmjäger’ paratroopers of the 1st Parachute Division, depicted here.
Signed by the artist.
Fallschirmjäger In Normandy
In response to the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, German Fallschirmjäger, paratroop, divisions were used as infantry and became regarded as the best of all the ground units deployed by the Germans.
The ‘Bocage’ countryside, with its many dense hedgerows, provided perfect cover for their preferred tactics of ambush.
Tank-hunter teams, equipped with Panzerschreck anti-tank weapons, as depicted here, proved particularly damaging to the advancing Allied armour.
Signed by the artist.
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