Canvas Gicleé Edition: $425(rolled)
OVER TWENTY YEARS IN THE MAKING, for the discerning collector, Nicolas Trudgian and Fine Arts Autographs have created a superbly atmospheric print depicting one of the most spectacular aspects of German tactics in World War Two, SIGNED BY KNIGHTS CROSS VETERANS WHO WERE ACTUALLY THERE. German paratroopers have long been a fascination for military enthusiasts and yet they are a subject rarely tackled by artists, perhaps because of the complexity of the subject-matter. In ‘The Battle of Crete’, Nicolas Trudgian displays his talents to the full and puts the viewer at the heart of the action. This is surely the best and also the last print to depict this historic event which is signed by the veterans.
The Fallschirmjäger, Germany’s elite parachute force, had already proved itself in smaller-scale operations during the ‘Blitzkrieg’ in the Low-Countries in May 1940; seizing bridges in front of the main German advance and capturing the supposedly impregnable fort of Eben-Emael in Belgium. When, in 1941, the Germans overran Greece, it became necessary to consider the capture of Crete. Hitler was very aware that the Royal Navy would repel any attempt to land troops on Crete using a seaborne invasion. However, Kurt Student, the head of the Fallschirmjäger, convinced Hitler that his paratroop units could capture Crete from the air.
The main drops were to seize the vital airfields at Maleme and Heraklion, to enable supplies and additional troops to be flown in. However, German planning had completely underestimated the number of Allied troops on the Island, forcing the Fallschirmjäger to fight a much larger force than originally planned. Some 50,000 Allied troops awaited 15,000 paratroops. Despite heavy losses, the German paratroops achieved their objectives and Crete was taken.
The Fallschirmjäger never again dropped in such large numbers but were used as elite ground troops in North Africa, Sicily and France and it was for their determined defence of Monte Cassino that they earned their fame as the ‘Green Devils’. Having seen the effectiveness of the Fallschirmjäger forces, particularly in the Battle of Crete, Allied commanders began to form dedicated paratroop units of their own, which later proved so vital in the Normandy Invasion of June 1944.