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Battle of Crete

The Battle of Crete was fought during the Second World War on the Greek island of Crete. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941. Greek and other Allied forces, along with Cretan civilians, defended the island. After one day of fighting, the Germans had suffered heavy casualties and the Allied troops were confident that they would defeat the invasion; the next day, through communication failures, Allied tactical hesitation and German offensive operations, Maleme Airfield in western Crete fell, enabling the Germans to land reinforcements and overwhelm the defensive positions on the north of the island. Allied forces withdrew to the south coast. More than half were evacuated by the British Royal Navy and the remainder surrendered or joined the Cretan resistance; the defence of Crete evolved into a costly naval engagement. The Battle of Crete was the first occasion where Fallschirmjäger were used en masse, the first airborne invasion in military history, the first time the Allies made significant use of intelligence from decrypted German messages from the Enigma machine, the first time German troops encountered mass resistance from a civilian population.

Due to the number of casualties and the belief that airborne forces no longer had the advantage of surprise, Adolf Hitler became reluctant to authorise further large airborne operations, preferring instead to employ paratroopers as ground troops. In contrast, the Allies were impressed by the potential of paratroopers and started to form airborne-assault and airfield-defence regiments. British forces had garrisoned Crete when the Italians attacked Greece on 28 October 1940, enabling the Greek government to employ the Fifth Cretan Division in the mainland campaign; this arrangement suited the British: Crete could provide the Royal Navy with excellent harbours in the eastern Mediterranean, from which it could threaten the Axis south-eastern flank, the Ploiești oil fields in Romania would be within range of British bombers based on the island. The Italians were repulsed, but the subsequent German invasion of April 1941, succeeded in overrunning mainland Greece. At the end of the month, 57,000 Allied troops were evacuated by the Royal Navy.

Some were sent to Crete to bolster its garrison until fresh forces could be organised, although most had lost their heavy equipment. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, sent a telegram to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Sir John Dill: "To lose Crete because we had not sufficient bulk of forces there would be a crime."Oberkommando des Heeres was preoccupied with Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, was opposed to a German attack on Crete. However, Hitler remained concerned about attacks in other theatres, in particular on his Romanian fuel supply, Luftwaffe commanders were enthusiastic about the idea of seizing Crete by a daring airborne attack; the desire to regain prestige after their defeat by the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain the year before, may have played a role in their thinking before the advent of the much more important invasion of the Soviet Union. Hitler was won over by the audacious proposal and in Directive 31 he asserted that "Crete... will be the operational base from which to carry on the air war in the Eastern Mediterranean, in co-ordination with the situation in North Africa."

The directive stated that the operation was to be in May and must not be allowed to interfere with the planned campaign against the Soviet Union. Before the invasion, the Germans conducted a bombing campaign to establish air superiority and forced the RAF to move its remaining aeroplanes to Alexandria. No RAF units were based permanently at Crete until April 1941, but airfield construction had begun, radar sites built and stores delivered. Equipment was scarce in the backwater of Crete; the British forces had seven commanders in seven months. In early April, airfields at Maleme and Heraklion and the landing strip at Rethymno on the north coast were ready and another strip at Pediada-Kastelli was nearly finished. After the German invasion of Greece, the role of the Crete garrison changed from the defence of a naval anchorage to preparing to repel an invasion. On 17 April, Group Captain George Beamish was appointed Senior Air Officer, taking over from a flight-lieutenant whose duties and instructions had been only vaguely defined.

Beamish was ordered to prepare the reception of the Bristol Blenheim bombers of 30 and 203 Squadrons from Egypt and the remaining fighter aircraft from Greece, to cover the evacuation of W Force, which enabled the transfer of 25,000 British and Dominion troops to the island, preparatory to their relief by fresh troops from Egypt. The navy tried to deliver 27,000 long tons of supplies from 1–20 May 1941, but Luftwaffe attacks forced most ships to turn back, only 2,700 long tons were delivered. Only about 3,500 trained British and Greek soldiers were on the island, the defence devolved to the shaken and poorly equipped troops from Greece, assisted by the last fighters of 33, 80 and 112 Squadrons and a squadron of the Fleet Air Arm, once the Blenheims were ordered back to Egypt. In mid-May, the four squadrons had about two dozen aircraft, of which only about twelve were serviceable due to a lack of tools and spares; the unfinished ground at Pediada-Kastelli was blocked with trenches and heaps of soil and all but narrow flight paths were blocked a

The Oak at Flagey

The Oak at Flagey or The Vercingetorix Oak is an 1864 landscape painting by Gustave Courbet, measuring 89 by 110 cm. It shows an oak near the Courbet family farm in the village of Flagey, Doubs, a few kilometres from Ornans in Franche-Comté, named in relation to Vercingetorix; the oak was struck by lightning and no longer survives. In 1880 the artist's sister Juliette Courbet sold it to the banker Henry C. Gibson and on the latter's death it was offered to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1896, it was sold at Sotheby's New York in 1987 to a Japanese collector, Michimasa Murauchi, for $450 000. It was bought for 4.5 million Euros in 2012 by the musée Courbet, including 2.7 million Euros from private donations and 1.3 million Euros from public funds. It was lent to the Volez, Voyagez exhibition on Louis Vuitton at the Grand Palais

Four Commanderies of Han

The Four Commanderies of Han were Chinese commanderies located in the north of the Korean Peninsula and part of the Liaodong Peninsula from around the end of the second century BC through the early 4th AD, for the longest lasting. The commanderies were set up to control the populace in the former Gojoseon area as far south as the Han River, with a core area at Lelang near present-day Pyongyang by Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty in early 2nd century BC after his conquest of Wiman Joseon; as such, these commanderies are seen as Chinese colonies by some scholars. Though disputed by North Korean scholars, Western sources describe the Lelang Commandery as existing within the Korean peninsula, extend the rule of the four commanderies as far south as the Han River. However, South Korean scholars assumed its administrative areas to Hwanghae provinces. Three of the commanderies fell or retreated westward within a few decades, but the Lelang commandery remained as a center of cultural and economic exchange with successive Chinese dynasties for four centuries.

At its administrative center in Lelang, the Chinese built what was in essence a Chinese city where the governor and merchants, Chinese colonists lived. Their administration had considerable impact on the life of the native population and the fabric of Gojoseon society became eroded. Goguryeo, a founded, mixed Koreanic and Yemaek kingdom began conquering the commanderies and absorbed them into its own territory. Lelang Commandery: 25 prefectures, 62,812 households, population of 406,748 in 2 CE. Lintun Commandery Xuantu Commandery: 3 prefectures, 45,006 households, population of 221,845 in 2 CE. Zhenfan Commandery A commandery, separated out of Lelang Commandery in the years of its history is the Daifang Commandery Other descriptions: the Tongdian, the Records of Three Kingdoms, the Book of Later Han In the North Korean academic community and some parts of the South Korean academic community, the Han dynasty's annexation of the Korean peninsula have been denied. Proponents of this revisionist theory claim that the Han Commanderies existed outside of the Korean peninsula, place them somewhere in Liaodong Commandery, instead.

The demonization of Japanese historical and archaeological findings in Korea as imperialist forgeries owes in part to those scholars' discovery of the Lelang Commandery—by which the Han dynasty administered territory near Pyongyang—and insistence that this Chinese commandery had a major impact on the development of Korean civilization. Until the North Korean challenge, it was universally accepted that Lelang was a commandery established by Emperor Wu of Han after he defeated Gojoseon in 108 BCE. To deal with the Han Dynasty tombs, North Korean scholars have reinterpreted them as the remains of Gojoseon or Goguryeo. For those artifacts that bear undeniable similarities to those found in Han China, they propose that they were introduced through trade and international contact, or were forgeries, "should not by any means be construed as a basis to deny the Korean characteristics of the artifacts"; the North Koreans say that there were two Lelangs, that the Han administered a Lelang on the Liao River on the Liaodong peninsula, while Pyongyang was an "independent Korean state" of Lelang, which existed between the 2nd century BCE until the 3rd century CE.

The traditional view of Lelang, according to them, was expanded by Chinese chauvinists and Japanese imperialists. While promoted by the academic community of North Korea, supported by certain writers and historians in South Korea, this theory is not recognized in the mainstream academic circles of South Korea, the United States and Japan. Han conquest of Gojoseon Daifang Commandery Canghai Commandery