No amount of study or learning will make a man a leader unless he has the natural qualities of one… Archibald Wavell


Prior to the entry of the United States into the second World War the British suffered nothing but defeat and retreat. At Dunkirk, in Norway, throughout North Africa, in Greece and on the Island of Crete. A generation of British historians spent their working lives attempting to whitewash these retreats into brilliant rearguard actions with the boldest claiming they were retrograde advances. Spencer’s book belongs to this genre and while the Germans suffered appalling casualties – this was the first exclusively airborne assault of an island in the history of warfare – the British managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and leave yet another mess for the post war world.

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Battle for Crete John Hall Spencer Barnsley, Eng. : Pen & Sword Military, 2008 Hardcover. First published in Great Britain in 1962 by William Heinemann Ltd. xii, 306 p. : ill., maps, plans, ports. ; 25 cm. Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

After two years’ research the author has written an account of the political and military background to the German invasion of Crete and the bitter fighting that followed the first airborne assault on an island in history.

The book tells of confused negotiations between the British and Greek governments; the misunderstandings between Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet and commanders in the field; the near capture of the King of Greece; the lack of preparation by the defenders and the suppression of a critical post-battle report by General Wavell.

There are vivid individual accounts of the fighting both during the invasion and the subsequent campaign and ultimate retreat and evacuation. The Royal Navy and RAF’s contribution is well documented as are the roles of the German air force. Crete was a ‘close run’ campaign fought with aggression by both sides.

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