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On 20 May 1941, Generaloberst Kurt Student’s Luftwaffe XI Fliegerkorps conducted the first operational airborne invasion in history to seize Crete. Major-General Bernard Cyril Freyberg VC, 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, commanded the British forces defending the island. Freyberg, forewarned of the details of the invasion, possessed numerical superiority over the enemy, but was defeated within twelve days. Freyberg, later blamed for the defeat due to his perceived faulty defensive dispositions, was dealt a losing hand from the start. His troops consisted of those that could be rescued from the failed Greek Campaign and lacked sufficient weapons, communications, and transport to conduct the defense. Despite the best efforts of the Royal Navy, overwhelming Luftwaffe air superiority in the absence of the Royal Air Force isolated Crete and the relentless drive of the attacking German forces captured it. Poor tactical leadership by Freyberg’s subordinate commanders and their failure to prosecute his operational plan led to defeat by the barest margin. While a tactical loss, Freyberg’s destruction of the 7th Flieger Division resulted in Hitler never considering an operational airborne assault again. Freyberg, although accepting responsibility for the defeat, should not be held entirely culpable for the loss of Crete.