Crete Battlefield Tour Operation Mercury 1st to 8th September 
Suda Bay Tour Dates: 1st to 8th September Price includes: Transport to and from airports in Crete All transport in air conditioned buses Mineral water during while visiting the battlefields Excellent 5 star hotels Meals as itinery (B = breakfast, D = dinner) Admission fees Battlefield Guide (Steve Hamilton) Battlefield booklet Cretan tour manager
Operation Mercury, the German airborne assault on the island of Crete in May 1941, was the first major use of airborne forces in history. The assault began on 20 May, with landings near the island's key airports, and reinforcements the next day allowed the German forces to capture one end of the runway at Maleme. By 24th May the Germans were being reinforced by air on a huge scale. See where and how Commonwealth troops fought highly trained German paratroopers and mountain troops to a standstill before the island surrendered on 1 st June. We also learn of the fighting at sea where two Victoria Crosses were won and the loss of HMS Kelly, commanded by Lord Louis Mountbatten. Such were the German airborne losses; they were never again used in a major airborne operation.Civilians would also take up the fight and pay a heavy price for their actions. Day 1  Fly to Chania where we are met and escorted to our hotel for five nights. (D) Day 2      The Battle for Maleme Travel to Maleme and visit the battle scarred Tavronitis River Bridge and the RAF Memorial where we examine the air battle over Crete. The bridge witnessed the first day of fighting in Operation Mercury. German Paratroopers landed near the bridge with gliders. From the river, the Germans attacked the airfield of Maleme. Walk up to Point 107 and examine the costly German glider landings and the fight for the airfield. See where two Victoria Crosses were won during the fight for the airfield. We also visit the German war cemetery. (B>D)
Charles Upham would win the first of his two VCs in Crete Day 3      The Battles for Prison Valley and Galatas At the Oassi Cretan Memorial we learn the German landing plan in Prison Valley and the following battle. Then on to the water treatment station at Lake Agia and visit the Memorial to 108 villagers executed in Alikanou District in German reprisals. Continue to Cemetery Hill from where we get a great view of the battle for Prison Valley. Then to the Galatas battlefield where a composite battalion of New Zealanders fought for possession of four hills. We also visit the Galatas memorial and museum. (B>D) Day 4      The battle for Chania The German assaults on Suda Bay including the German Assault Regiment Memorial, the battle of 42nd Street where a force of several understrength Australian and New Zealand infantry battalions established a defensive line along the Hania to Tsikslaria road (Tsikalarion) south-east of Canea, forming a rear-guard for the withdrawing troops. On 27 May, as a German battalion advanced towards the road, the Anzac defenders carried out a bayonet charge that inflicted heavy casualties on the German attackers, which forced them to withdraw and briefly halted the German advance.We shall also visit the Commonwealth War Memorial Cemetery. This afternoon is free to explore Chania or relax at your hotel. (B>D) Day 5 The retreat over the White Mountains to Chora Sfakian Follow the Allied withdrawal route to Chora Sfakia through Megali Horafia, Apteral, Stiles, Neo Horizon, Verses and Skidoo. Optional walk through the Imbrue Gorge to the memorial which marks the point of evacuation. (B>D)
Chora Sfakian Day 6  The battle for Rethymnon (Retimo) Check out of our hotel and travel to Rethymnon via Frangokastello and the Monastery of Prevalli. At Stavromenos we discuss the Australians and their fight for Rethymnon. Continue to Heraklion and check in to our hotel for two nights. (B>D) Day 7   The battle for Heraklion Visit the Battle of Crete and National Resistance Museum and examine the fight around KastroKoules. This afternoon we will visit the Minoan Palace at Knossos and explore some of old Heraklion. (B>D) Day 8 Flight home (B)