The Battle of Crete commenced with intensive German air attacks on the island from 14 May 1941.3 These were followed, on 20 May, by invasion, first by air delivery of troops and later by attempted landings from the sea. While these landings were entirely frustrated by the Royal Navy, the airborne forces, after intense fighting, were able to gain a foothold on Maleme airfield. As this foothold proved impossible to dislodge, and was expanded through air supply, the land force commander, Major General Bernard Freyberg, judged that the battle was lost and recommended evacuation on 26 May. This request was authorised the following day, and on four consecutive nights from 28 May to 1 June the Royal Navy successfully evacuated around 16,500 men.4