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Report - WW2 Caves + Emplacements - Crete - April 2013

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by georann, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. georann

    georann 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Aug 18, 2013
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    I have been to these caves many times before, but only recently discovered the gun emplacements after some building work in the area uncovered one of the entrances.

    A very brief history- These caves were originally built by the Greeks and used in May 1941 when German forces launched an airborne invasion of Crete under the code-name Unternehmen Merkur (Operation Mercury). The caves were built in the hills above the Cretan village of Kokkino Chorio, which has further significance for a very important Church on the hill, and the setting for the film "Zorba the Greek". Greek and Allied forces, along with Cretan civilians, defended the island during the Battle of Crete but due to a number of factors (including intelligence and the success of German Paratroopers), the island was eventually evacuated by allied forces and the Germans then occupied the island. For a while, the caves continued to be used by the Cretan resistance, but soon fell to the Germans who expanded and fortified them. A number of artillery pieces were installed overlooking the tactically significant Souda bay and were commanded from the German post in these caves. Later in the war, the island was reclaimed by allied forces and the Germans were eventually cleared out from their strong point.

    Today the caves remain and are still an important part of Cretan history, often visited because of the aforementioned church by their entrance. The guns at the entrance to the cave have now been built over by property developers, but a number of small emplacements lie in the farmers fields below. As such, many of the connected store rooms and access trenches have been filled by the local farmers. Here are a selection of photos of what remains. If people are interested, I have many more photos, though unfortunately few from the inner labyrinth of the caves.

    The main entrance to the cave network.
    A memorial to locals who died during the war, which stands at the cave
    Staircase inside the caves
    The main observation post/ pillbox at the top of the cave network
    A section of the view from the OP. It really does look glorious at sunset.
    Inside the OP
    Steps down from the OP
    The entrance to one of the emplacements, as viewed from the roof of the OP
    Tunnel to the emplacement
    Room leading from the tunnel- Presumably an ammo store or similar.
    One of the 4 emplacements. The other 3 lie scattered throughout the surrounding fields. The centre is lowered and presumably the gun was mounted here, 4 with dipped segments either side, and a number of larger holes around the compound presumably for ammunition etc.
    A small domed room a short distance along a trench from one of the emplacements. Presumably had a hatched lid on top and was for radio communication from the OP. A number of metal hooks were in the walls of the trench (perhaps for communication wires) and the OP was visible from this room.

    And that's probably enough for today. I have plenty more pictures from the other emplacements etc on request.
    Thanks for looking.
    #1 georann, Aug 20, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013

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