Fragments of an historic Second World War battle

HMS Hereward with HMS Orion under attack by Stukas during the Battle of Crete
HMS Hereward with HMS Orion under attack by Stukas during the Battle of Crete
Inmates at Kingston Prison, Portsmouth, on the treadwheel which was abolished in 1898.

NOSTALGIA: Like hamsters in a wheel, these convicts went around in circles

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It is 70 years since the Battle of Crete when the Germans launched an airborne invasion of the Mediterranean island.

After 10 days of fighting the Greek island was overrun, largely by German paratroopers, and the Allies were forced into a mass evacuation.

These images show the Red Cross postcard prisoner of war Don Gregory sent to his mother in Portsmouth

These images show the Red Cross postcard prisoner of war Don Gregory sent to his mother in Portsmouth

Don Gregory, from Portsmouth, was a leading telegraphist in the Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS Hereward which was then sailing out of Malta.

To mark the anniversary his son Peter has sent these three images.

He said: ‘Hereward was one of the group evacuating British troops from Crete and was under attack from Stuka dive bombers.

‘On May 29, 1941, it was disabled and eventually abandoned prior to sinking. My father was eventually picked up from the sea and taken prisoner by the Italians.’

Here you can see the card he sent his mother in Tangier Road, Copnor, via the Red Cross telling her of his capture.

Peter, of Corsham, Wiltshire, added: ‘He was repatriated through Red Cross arrangement and married at St Mary’s Church, Portsea, in 1944.

‘After the war he lived in Portsmouth and worked with his brother in an ironmongers shop in Tangier Road.

‘Just before his death in 1989 I had a painting done for him, by maritime artist David Jordan. It shows HMS Hereward, accompanying HMS Orion, under attack by the Stukas.’

The Battle of Crete was historic for three reasons:

It was not only the first battle where the Fallschirmjäger (parachute rangers) were used on a large scale, but also the first mainly airborne invasion in military history

The first time the Allies made significant use of intelligence from the deciphered German Enigma code

And the first time invading German troops encountered mass resistance from a civilian population.