18th October 2022 The Battle For Crete – David Hood

On Tuesday October 18h 2022 Banbury Stamp Society welcomed David Hood who gave a presentation on the battle for Crete.  He outlined why the Allies were interested in Crete: the ports, and the airfields which put our bombers in reach of north Africa and south-east Europe – the same reasons that interested Germany.  In 1940, Germany had invaded Greece to support the failing Italian campaign and succeeded in pushing the Allies out with troops being evacuated to Crete but with almost no equipment.  Most troops moved on to Egypt, but a mix of Australian, New Zealand, British and Greek troops remained to garrison Crete.  Germany invaded on May 20th, 1941, with an airborne attack from paratroopers.  The British commander was aware of the impending attack because of the success in breaking the German Enigma codes but was unable to use the intelligence in case it alerted the Germans.  The German troops were better equipped, and the Allies surrendered on May 31st.  Some troops were evacuated, some disappeared into the mountains to support the partisans, and many were taken as POW’s, eventually going to camps in Germany.

We saw military mail that went through the field post offices, followed by POW mail to and from Crete as well as to the German camps.  We also saw mail from the German forces.  As well as period mail, David showed modern commemorative covers including one signed by the New Zealand soldier Charles Upham who was awarded the Victoria Cross during the Crete campaign and then again in the North African campaign.

The next meeting will be ‘Tonga to Togo in Stamps’ on Tuesday 1st November 2022 at 7:30pm at the Hanwell Fields Community Centre. The Banbury Stamp Society is on-line at ‘www.banburystampsociety.co.uk’, or contact John Davies on 01295 255831.