Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the battle, and drawing on new sources and the experiences of key participants, this book recounts in full the fall of Greece, the battle of Crete and the resistance from beginning to end. The invasion from the air, unique in the history of warfare, turned into the closest-run battle of the war. The slaughter of German paratroopers on the first day by New Zealand, Australian and British troops was so great that if just one platoon had still been in place on Maleme airfield the next morning, General Student would have been forced to admit defeat. For the first time Ultra intelligence played a key role. But how General Freyberg, Churchill's favourite hero from World War I, handled that information and the battle itself remains controversial. Officers of his generation were bemused by the lack of front lines and the rapidity of German reflexes. Little in Greece and Crete seems to have conformed to regulations, certainly not the irregular warriors whose activities had an air of fiction rather than serious military endeavour. One special operations veteran compared the cast list to "an Anthony Powell novel". There was Peter Fleming with his private army known as "Yak Mission"; the archaeologist John Pendlebury with his glass eye and sword-stick; and Bob Laycock the commando leader, and his Intelligence Officer Evelyn Waugh, for whom the retreat over the mountains to Sphakia triggered deep disillusionment and self-loathing. Resistance to the German occupation brought an engaging variety of SOE officers, particularly archaeologists and romantics, by submarine and launch. Their eccentric qualities fitted the Cretan notion of what "a proper Englishman" should be. From the Cretans themselves, resistance brought out the very best and a little of the worst. They demonstrated ferociousness and reckless bravery, a pride which fermented intense jealousies, spontaneous generosity, and a sense of fun - Patrick Leigh Fermor's celebrated abduction of General Kreipe "made the whole island feel two centimetres taller". As well as being a military account, this book is the story of uncommonly courageous individuals.
Rare copy of first edition of the first of Beeper's excellent war histories. Book as new - no inscriptions. Jacket generally very good - two 1cm tears at top front corners, 0.5cm tear at bottom outer corner, top and bottom of cover show signs of use, no loss. Spine shows fading.