British Commonwealth forces stayed in Crete six months before the German offensive, but little was done to repel the invasion from the sea or the air until the British withdrew from Greece. The forces were meager and the few fighter planes on the island were evacuated on May 19.
The commander of the German navy, Admiral Eric Raeder and Hermann Goering, who was also the Luftwaffe commander, believed that Germany should strengthen its hegemony in southeastern Europe and expand it to the Middle East. Hitler saw the conquest of Crete as the key on his way to the Aegean Sea.
On May 20, the Germans launched an airborne assault on the airfields. The British navy tried to prevent an attack from the sea. On May 27, it was decided to evacuate the British forces from Crete, and by 1 June all Crete had fallen to the Germans.
11,835 fighters from the Allied forces were captured, and sent to POW camps. Among them 170 from Eretz Israel.