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Battling the Fallschirmjager on Crete

June 7, 2016

Matthew Wright

It’s 75 years, today, since German paratroopers descended over Crete – the last act in the Balkan campaign of March-June 1941. It was also the first and only time that the Germans deployed their feared paratroopers as the spearhead of an invasion.

Major General Bernard Freyberg and Jack Griffiths watching the assault on Canea, Crete, during World War II. New Zealand. Department of Internal Affairs. War History Branch :Photographs relating to World War 1914-1918, World War 1939-1945, occupation of Japan, Korean War, and Malayan Emergency. Ref: DA-01149. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22646242 In this photo by Sir John White, Major General Bernard Freyberg and Jack Griffiths watch the assault on Canea, Crete, 20 May 1941. Sir John, who I knew later, took it using Freyberg’s personal 35mm Leica and told me that he’d lined the photo up and clicked the shutter just as Griffiths (left) turned to ask for a pair of binoculars. DA-01149. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22646242

New Zealanders were at the forefront of the defence. They were part of a motley force of British, Australian, New Zealand and Greek troops hastily assembled by the British – mostly with left-overs from the disastrous Greek mainland campaign…

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