French ship Sinfra
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|Status:||Sunk by air attack, 20 October 1943|
The Greek island of Crete had been captured by the Germans in the Battle of Crete in May 1941, and was occupied by a mixed German-Italian force. The Italian garrison unit was the 51st Siena Infantry Division, consisting of 21,700 men, which occupied the easternmost prefecture of Lasithi.
On 8 September 1943 the Armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces was signed, and the Italians in Crete and elsewhere were disarmed by the Germans without major problems. As elsewhere, they were given the choice to continue the war alongside Germany, or to be sent to the Reich to perform forced labor.
A minority chose to continue the fight and formed the Legione Italiana Volontaria Creta.
The Sinfra was a French cargo ship Aveyron of 4470 tons, confiscated by the Germans. On 20 October 1943, 2,460 prisoners (2,389 Italians, 71 Greek) were crammed in the cargo hold of the ship to be transported to the Greek mainland. There were also 204 Germans on board. At Suda Bay, the ship was attacked by USAAF B-25s and RAF Beaufighters and sunk. 2,098 POW's drowned.