Naval Battle of Crete 1941
...Campaign 388 from Osprey
Title: Naval Battle of Crete 1941
Author: Angus Konstam
Number 388 in the Campaign series from Osprey, another excellent naval subject from author Angus Kohnstam and with more super artwork from illustrator Adam Tooby. A 96-page soft-cover book in the standard Campaign style.
As usual it opens with some background provided in the introduction, followed by a Chronology of the main events associated with the story, from May 14 1941 through to Sunday 1 June. A short period of time. Then more background detail, introducing the senior commanders on both Allied and Axis sides. On the Axis side these include Karl Student who many will know commanded the German parachute forces, along with the Luftwaffe commander, Wolfram von Richthofen, cousin to the famous Manfred. On the Allied side, Admiral Andrew Cunningham had some tough decisions to make. Next, a comparison of the forces lined up against each other, with their respective orders of battle. Then their opposing plans before going on to the detailed account of events of the actual combat. At the end there is summing up in the Aftermath, and notes on the battlefield today. Rather than surface units, it was the Luftwaffe aircraft which were the main threat to the numerous Royal Navy ships in the region, from battleships and aircraft carriers, to cruisers and many destroyers. Largely confined to night missions around Crete to support the army on the island, it details the units involved and the losses they incurred. Ships were in continual action and suffered from shortages of AA ammunition, and tired crews. The determination of Cunningham to support the army, first in their evacuation from Greece and then from Crete itself is a good indication of how senior officers had to make difficult decisions, but he stood by his belief of what was 'right'.
Among all the detail there were plenty of ships lost, cruisers and destroyers, and many others badly damaged. It does include the loss of HMS Kelly, the destroyer commanded by Lord Louis Mountbatten. and the many archive photos include the final moments of HMS Gloucester as she finally rolled over. Add plenty of good clear maps and the other artwork, it all combines to make an interesting and informative read.
Thanks to Osprey for the review copy.