For a timeline of the operation see New Zealand History Online.
Charles Bowman was serving on the troop carrying assault ship HMS Glengyle:
Finally, it was decided we should evacuate Crete, and the Glengyle returned to Sphakia and performed the almost incredible feat of taking away 8,000 troops in one lift to Alexandria. You can imagine how we were packed-out, there was no sleep for any of the crew, and we went several days without any.
With these numbers on board, the state of the ship can well be imagined. All craft on the davits were manned by those troops fit enough to do so, who assisted with small arms to beat off air attacks, which were almost non-stop.
Many casualties were received amoungst these men but we did not receive any damage, and soon became known throughout the East Mediterranean as a ‘lucky ship’. On this trip especially the medical and supply branches of the ship worked night and day to look after this huge number of men.
Read more of this story on BBC People’s War.