Shipping Panzers to Crete

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Kriegsmarine except those dealing with the U-Boat forces.
eisenbahn9
Member
Posts: 116
Joined: 11 Apr 2005 00:08
Location: Wisconsin, USA

Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by eisenbahn9 » 23 Feb 2009 16:05

In Walter Ansel’s book “Hitler and the Middle Sea”, he mentions a singular incident during the German airborne invasion of Crete in May 1941, wherein the Kriegsmarine transported two panzers from the Greek mainland over to Crete at the behest of the air commanders (Jeschonnek, Lohr and Von Richtoffen). A report from one of Richtoffen's liaison officers on May 26 stressed the "absolute and immediate need for reinforcement by sea shipment of heavy weaponry if the operation is to get ahead at all". By the time the tanks were landed on May 27, the battle was well in hand and British troops were withdrawing southward, but apparently they did some useful work before hostilities ended.

I’ve always been fascinated by this account but wondered exactly what type of tanks they were (Ansel described them only as “medium tanks”). Now, I discover, the answer is in Peter Schenk’s excellent book “Kampf um die Agais”, covering the struggle for control of the Aegean Sea.

The tanks, a pair of PzKpfw IIs, were towed across in a large wooden lighter by a small harbor tug. I have attached several photos from the book (pardon the quality but they are scans of photocopies) showing the two vessels connected by a stout tow rope. Another photo shows Oberleutnant-zur-See Oesterlin, the man charged with getting the tanks to Crete, sitting atop one of them, clearly pleased with having safely and successfully accomplished his vital mission.

On reaching the landing site at Kastelli Kisamou, the harbor tug cast off the lighter and pushed it onto the beach. Engineers then used demolition charges to blow off the lighter’s bow so the tanks could roll ashore.

Following the earlier and disastrous loss of the Maleme Flotilla and hasty recall of the Heraklion Flotilla, this ranked as the one bright spot in the Kriegsmarine’s effort to ferry heavy equipment onto the island. It also raises the intriguing possibility that the Maleme Flotilla might have enjoyed a better chance of success had it followed the same route as Oesterlin’s boats via the two western channel islands, Kithira and Antikithira, rather than via Melos far to the east. The western approach offered a much shorter exposure to British naval forces and the likelihood of closer air cover.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Doktor Krollspell
Member
Posts: 915
Joined: 13 May 2005 17:12
Location: Sweden

Re: Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by Doktor Krollspell » 23 Feb 2009 17:18

Hello Eisenbahn9!

I agree that this is a very fascinating story from the assault on Crete in 1941. I would just like to add that the Kriegsmarine Offizer in charge, Oberleutnant z. See Albert Oesterlin later in the war received the Ritterkreuz posthumously on 09.06.1044 as a Kapitänleutnant d.R. and Chef Küstenschutz-Flottille Attika.

Korvettenkapitän d.R. Oesterlin was killed on 23.01.1944 in an aerial attack on Piraeus. He had also earlier received the DKiG on 18.08.1942.

And yes, Peter Schenk's book is indeed excellent for all that have an interest in this particular theatre of war!


Regards,

Krollspell

Jan-Hendrik
Member
Posts: 8338
Joined: 11 Nov 2004 12:53
Location: Hohnhorst / Deutschland

Re: Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 23 Feb 2009 17:26

Those 2 tanks belonged to Pz.Rgt.31/5.Pz.Div.

By the way, K 55/5.PzDiv. was flown in with Ju 52 to Malemes and participated in the Battle of Crete.

Jan-Hendrik

Doktor Krollspell
Member
Posts: 915
Joined: 13 May 2005 17:12
Location: Sweden

Re: Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by Doktor Krollspell » 23 Feb 2009 20:12

Hello Jan-Hendrik!

Do you have, or know of any photographs and/or documents that shows members of Pz.Rgt. 31 wearing the "Kreta" cufftitle? There must have been at least eight Panzersoldaten, i e the crews of the two Pz II's that Oberleutnant z.S Oesterlin transported, that actually were involved in the Battle for Crete.


Regards,

Krollspell

eisenbahn9
Member
Posts: 116
Joined: 11 Apr 2005 00:08
Location: Wisconsin, USA

Re: Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by eisenbahn9 » 23 Feb 2009 21:10

Many thanks to both Doktor Krollspell and Jan-Hendrik for the additional information.

I am sorry to hear that Korvettenkapitän d.R. Oesterlin did not survive the war. He looked every bit the tough and capable sailor. Ansel mentions in his book that,"In Navy Lieutenant Albert Oesterlin, Bartels (Kapitan-zur-See Heinrich) found a kindred spirit...and here was an adventure that appealed to their talents and tastes." He was referring to the creation of the Maleme Flotilla. Bartels was responsible for rounding up the shipping needed to transport Gen. Ringel's mountain troops. He also acted as "beachmaster", selecting and marking a suitable beach near Maleme. Oesterlin was his choice to lead the first echelon of ships over.

I do not think either book mentioned what unit the two panzers were from. That is another question answered now! Jan-Hendrik, was the entire unit (K 55/5.PzDiv) flown in to Maleme? When did they arrive? What equipment did they bring with them? Were they part of "Advance Detachment Wittman"?

Alanmccoubrey
Financial supporter
Posts: 3124
Joined: 19 Sep 2008 13:44

Re: Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by Alanmccoubrey » 23 Feb 2009 22:38

Jan-Hendrik, Can I ask you what you mean by K55/5 Pz Div ?

Krollspell, There would only have been 6 crewmen in two Pz II's.
Alan

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4275
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by Urmel » 23 Feb 2009 22:58

K55 would be motor-cycle rifle battalion 55
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

Doktor Krollspell
Member
Posts: 915
Joined: 13 May 2005 17:12
Location: Sweden

Re: Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by Doktor Krollspell » 23 Feb 2009 23:12

Alanmccoubrey wrote:There would only have been 6 crewmen in two Pz II's.
Ach, my mistake... :oops: So, were there ever six Panzersoldaten with the "Kreta" Ärmelband?

And about the parent unit of the two Pz II's, it was the 5./Pz.Rgt. 31 according to information in an old Feldgrau thread... http://www.feldgrau.net/forum/viewtopic ... in#p198534


Regards,

Krollspell

User avatar
mescal
Member
Posts: 1415
Joined: 30 Mar 2008 14:46
Location: France, EUR

Re: Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by mescal » 23 Feb 2009 23:22

Urmel wrote:K55 would be motor-cycle rifle battalion 55
I thought it was the recon battalion ?
I do not have info on its equipment in 1941, but in 1942, at Rzhev, it was motorized and equipped with light armor.
Olivier

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4275
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by Urmel » 23 Feb 2009 23:41

Probably had been amalgamated with the reconnaissance battalion by then due to losses.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

User avatar
Xavier
Financial supporter
Posts: 3258
Joined: 12 Nov 2002 02:01
Location: Swedish guinea

Re: Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by Xavier » 23 Feb 2009 23:59

excellent thread gentlemen, there is always something new under the sun!!!
Xavier
Der Autodidakt

Alanmccoubrey
Financial supporter
Posts: 3124
Joined: 19 Sep 2008 13:44

Re: Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by Alanmccoubrey » 24 Feb 2009 11:58

Urmel wrote:K55 would be motor-cycle rifle battalion 55
I'm going to blmae Lexikon der wehrmacht for that ! I looked on there and it has AA 8 listed instead of anything with a 55 :oops: :oops: :oops:
Alan

User avatar
Urmel
Member
Posts: 4275
Joined: 25 Aug 2008 09:34
Location: The late JBond

Re: Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by Urmel » 24 Feb 2009 22:10

http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Gli ... tl55-R.htm

Check the date when it was set up and the date of the 1940 OOB of 5.PD on Lexikon der Wehrmacht. :wink:
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

Michi
Member
Posts: 352
Joined: 19 Jan 2003 19:29
Location: Austria

German tank officer w/ Crete cuff-title (Pz.Offz. m. Kreta-Ärmelband)

Post by Michi » 17 Jan 2019 14:18

Doktor Krollspell wrote:
23 Feb 2009 23:12
Alanmccoubrey wrote:There would only have been 6 crewmen in two Pz II's.
Ach, my mistake... :oops: So, were there ever six Panzersoldaten with the "Kreta" Ärmelband?

And about the parent unit of the two Pz II's, it was the 5./Pz.Rgt. 31 according to information in an old Feldgrau thread... http://www.feldgrau.net/forum/viewtopic ... in#p198534


Regards,

Krollspell
10 years ago a Panzermann was looked for wearing a Kreta cuff-title.
I'm not sure if this picture was posted before here.

Here is a picture of a Lieutenant of the German tank-troops with Ärmelband Kreta:
Image

mfG mICHi

bertamingo
Member
Posts: 374
Joined: 19 Apr 2014 08:49
Location: earth

Re: Shipping Panzers to Crete

Post by bertamingo » 20 Jan 2019 01:53

I recall reading somewhere that the Germans found a ww1 British landing barge converted into a cargo ship in Greece and used it in the convoy scattered/destroyed by the RN fleet. anyone knows if the said barge was carrying tanks as well and was it destroyed?

Return to “Kriegsmarine surface ships and Kriegsmarine in general”