Defence Secretary Michael Fallon attended the 75th Anniversary commemorations for the Battle of Crete

The airborne invasion of Crete took place during WWII when German paratroopers landed at Maleme Airport near Chania.

Crete was the scene of the largest German Airborne operation of the war, and the first time in history that an island had been taken by airborne assault.

Afterwards, Crete was dubbed the graveyard of the Fallschirmjager (German Parachutists); they suffered nearly 4000 killed and missing in the assault.

It was also the first time the Germans had encountered stiff partisan activity, with women and even children getting involved in the battle.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon attended the 75th Anniversary commemorations for the Battle of Crete and held talks with the Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos.

As part of the commemorations to honour those who laid down their lives in the battle, Mr Fallon laid wreaths at Keriti Memorial in Alikianos, Crete.

The Defence Secretary also visited Souda Bay Naval Base where he viewed the facilities used by the UK.

Later, he attended a Commonwealth Remembrance Ceremony at the cemetery near the base and unveiled a Commonwealth War Graves Commission information plaque.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “It is an honour to be in Greece to pay my respects to those civilians and troops who laid down their lives in the Battle of Crete. Unveiling a Commonwealth War Graves Commission plaque in the cemetery at Souda leaves a permanent mark of our remembrance. 75 years on, the British and Greek defence relations are even stronger and the importance of our relationship cannot be underestimated. The Souda Bay Naval Base regularly provides essential assistance to Royal Navy ships operating in the Mediterranean or passing through on route to other locations around the world. The latest example is the key role the port is playing in ensuring the support of NATO activity to counter illegal people trafficking and migration in the Aegean Sea. Aside from maritime cooperation, this spring the Red Arrows were hosted in Greece for fair weather pre-display season training and certification. In further deepening of defence relations we will also be placing a British officer on the staff of NATO Rapid Deployment Corps Greece next year”.

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