Rethymnon, a town on the north coast of Crete, was important to the military defense of Crete by the British and Commonwealth force because an airport had been completed about 8 kilometres east of the town. The Australian 2/1st and 2/11th Battalions, supported by elements from Australian artillery, medical, engineer and signals units, as well as the Greek 4th and 5th Regiments, took up positions in the hills south of the airfield. This was in anticipation of an airborne German attack. The day before the battle, a lone German plane flow over Rethymnon on a reconnaissance mission. Against orders, a Bren gun position shot it down. A code book and photos of the area from the crashed aircraft were obtained. From the photos, it could be seen that part of the defences were hidden by trees and would not be known by the Germans. The German 2nd Parachute Rifle Regiment, numbering two battalions and with detachments from divisional support troops, were to land and attack Rethymnon. Preceded by heavy aerial bombing, the initial German landing was disorganised, with seven transport Junkers Ju 52s shot down and the paratroopers receiving heavy casualties. However, the paratroopers did manage to capture the hill that 2/1st Battalion was positioned on.