Crete: The Battle And The Resistance by Antony Beevor
Drawing on original sources and the experiences of key participants, this book recounts the fall of Greece in World War II, the Battle of Crete and the resistance from beginning to end. The invasion of Crete totally from the air, unique in the history of warfare, turned into one of the closest-run battles 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 Allied platoon had still been in place at the key position of Maleme airfield the next morning, the Germans would have been forced to admit defeat. It was in the battle for Crete that Ultra intelligence played a key role for the first time. How General Freyburg, Churchill's favourite hero from World War I, handled that information and the battle itself remains controversial. This book shows how Freyburg misread an Ultra signal at the crucial moment - and with disastrous consequences. The book also considers some of the characters involved in the campaign: Peter Fleming, with his private army known as Yak Mission; the archaeologist John Pendlebury, with his glass eye and sword-stick; and commando leader Bob Laycock and his intelligence officer, Evelyn Waugh, for whom the retreat over the mountains to Sphakia triggered deep disillusionment and self-loathing.