Crete, then, fell. The focus of the war shifted elsewhere. The loss of the island and the loss of so many good men was a serious blow. Prestige was hurt when a success was badly needed. And the enemy won a position from which he could threaten the British forces at every point in North Africa and the Levant, and from which he could virtually bar a passage to the Eastern Mediterranean to our convoys.
Against this it is mere speculation to set any delay to the opening of the campaign against Russia; and even should it be proved such a delay was caused by the battle, credit could be claimed only doubtfully since delay to the invasion of Russia was not a motive for the defence of Crete. It is better simply to consider the facts: after Crete the enemy concentrated on attacking Egypt from the Western Desert. Student had argued that from Crete the Germans could go on to seize Cyprus and ultimately Suez. There is no evidence that Hitler was ever persuaded of the need to go further than Crete; and his general treatment of the North African front does not suggest that he ever discerned its true importance. But, in the words of General Student, ‘Crete was the grave of the German parachutist’; and the victory of our defeat was that never again, against Cyprus or elsewhere, were the parachutists launched from the air en masse to gain victory at the cost of crippling losses.