Battle of Crete: The end of German large scale airborne ops, the casualties and the Pyrrhic victory of the nazis

WW2 in Greece

By Pierre Kosmidis


The nazis ultimately prevailed on Crete but at a great and unbearable cost.

The original photo
The island of Crete, considered to be the graveyard of the Fallschirmjäger, put an end to any large-scale airborne operations, following the scores of dead nazi paratroopers that found their eternal resting place in the military cemetery of Maleme, Crete, while thousands more were injured and remained out of action for an extended period of time.
Estimates of the exact losses vary greatly – there are around 4,000 German graves on Crete.
But British naval commanders believed they had accounted for thousands more when they sunk troop transports bringing men across by sea at the height of the battle.
Only a few hundred bodies were washed up.
Churchill estimated total losses at around 15,000, some put it even higher.
The paranoid nazi dictator Hitler lost all enthusiasm -to put it mildly- for large scale parachute operations after the battle of Crete.

In the future parachute troops would be used as elite infantry.

Possible future operations against Malta and Cyprus were scrapped.

The cost of the battle of Crete

More than 1700 British, Commonwealth and Greek soldiers were killed and 15,000 captured during the Battle for Crete.

There were 671 New Zealanders among the dead, and 2180 prisoners of war.

More than 6,000 Germans were killed or wounded. The Luftwaffe lost over 350 aircraft.