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Crete Invasion Missing At Sea Wehrpass


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Not a WP chock full of entries but a nice understated one that relates to an often forgotten element of the invasion of Crete, namely the attempt to reinforce the airborne troops by a seaborne element which was intercepted by a far superior Royal Navy task force with the inevitable consequences.

Josef Vislmeier, born on the 1st March 1908 in Burghausen was originally a member of the 13 Kompanie of Gebirgsjager Rgt 100 of the 1 Gebirgsjager Division, joining that unit in July 1940 after the Western campaign and with the rest of the unit commenced security duties in the recently conquered terrortories in France and Belgium.

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In October 1940 Gebirgsjager Rgt 100 was used to form a new mountain division, the 5 GJD in the Tirol region. Three months after this reorganisation, Vislmeier was reassigned within the regiment, joining the 14 (M.G.) Kompanie with which he remained during the rest of his life.

For the push down the Balkans, 5 GJD saw action in Greece attacking and breaking through the Metaxas Line from their starting positions in Bulgaria. After the conquest of Greece, GJ Rgt 100 commenced security duties until it was assigned for the invasion of Crete as a reinforcing force for the initial drop of paratroopers.

Edited by hucks216
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Part of the plan was for a large force of III./GJ Rgt 100 to be shipped across to Crete from Greece in 2 flotillas of caiques and two small steam ships with a minimal escort of Italian destroyers, namely the Lupo protecting one force and the Sagittario protecting the other.
During the afternoon of 20 May, allied aerial reconnaissance located a flotilla of twenty-five caiques travelling from Piraeus towards their advance base at Milos which they reached in the evening. The next leg of their voyage was to sail to Maleme, on the northwest coast of Crete. The first convoy set off from Milos on the night of the 21/22nd May 1941 and this was the force escorted by Lupo. Approximiately 17miles north of Maleme this force was intercepted by Force D, commanded by Rear Admiral Glennie who was flying his flag in the light cruiser HMS Dido, in company with 2 other light crusiers and 4 destroyers. Despite a gallant defence by the heavily outnumbered Lupo the convoy stood little chance and of the approximately 20-25 caiques (carrying 2,331 troops) half were sunk by Force D, with the force hunting down the caiques and sinking them without giving any mercy to the mountain troops aboard them.
The convoy led by Sagittario also attempted to make the crossing but was discovered in the forenoon of the 22nd May by Force C led by Rear Admiral King flying his flag in the light crusier HMS Naiad, and in company with 3 more light crusiers and 4 destroyers. However, due to the hours of daylight the Luftwaffe was able to play a part and after only 2 caiques were sunk out of a force of 30 (approx 4,000 troops), Force C was forced to withdraw. However this second flotilla of caiques also returned to port with all future reinforcements from 5 GJD being made by air. III/GJ Rgt 100 had effectively been wiped out by the Royal Navy.

Edited by hucks216
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During the entire invasion of Crete, 5 GJD reported 20 Officers & 305 men killed and 18 Officers & 488 men missing with the vast majority of these missing men being those lost at sea.

Vislmeier's name can be seen on this memorial list for the Maleme War Cemetery... http://denkmalprojekt.org/misc_laender/maleme_iii_btl_geb_jaeg_rgt100.htm

This is one of the caiques that III/GJR 100 tried to cross to Crete in and it is easy to see how much of a sitting duck they would of been in face of a proper naval force..

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