The Abduction of General Kreipe in Crete in 1944
As members of the UK Crete Veterans and Friends Society gather in
Crete to commemorate the 64th anniversary of the Battle of Crete,
a small group of modern-day British adventurers prepare to remember
and mark another significant event in the history of Crete and the
Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.), the abduction of the German General Kreipe, commander of Crete during World War 2.
The abduction of General Kreipe
4 April 1944, William (Billy) Stanley Moss, accompanied by Cretans
including Manolis Paterakis and George Tyrakis, were secretly landed
at night on the south coast of Crete near Tsoutsouros. They were
met by Patrick (Paddy) Leigh Fermor (PHOTO) who had parachuted
into Crete two months beforehand.
The S.O.E. band had come together to pull off an audacious operation
that was later to be described as one of the most daring exploits
of WW 2, to capture the German Commander General Kreipe and to spirit
him off the island to Cairo. The event was later immortalised in
the book 'Ill Met By Moonlight' by Billy Moss.
General Kreipe (PHOTO) was abducted on 26th April as he was being driven
from his office in Ano Archanes to his residence at Villa Ariadne,
the former home of Sir Arthur Evans, just outside of Heraklion. Kreipe
was bundled into the back of his car which was then driven off by
Billy Moss with Paddy Leigh Fermor posing as the General at his side.
After passing through 22 road blocks and driving for several hours,
Moss and some of the Cretans left the car and set off with Kreipe,
on foot, towards the mountain village of Anogia . Paddy and another
Cretan took Kreipe's car a little further on and left it in circumstances
that might suggest to the German authorities that the party had left
Crete by submarine from a nearby beach. The plan to fool the Germans
failed to work and there then followed an 18 day game of high- stake
cat and mouse with the group being hunted by thousands of occupying
German troops before Kreipe was eventually taken off the island's
south coast on the night of 14 th May. Both Leigh Fermor and Moss
were awarded immediate DSOs.
Following the route of the captured General Kreipe in 2005
The modern adventurers intend to retrace the journey from the point
at which the abduction took place, to the beach from which the abduction
party left near Rodakino. They too will drive the leg from abduction
point to Drosia where Moss and Kreipe started their walk. They will
then trek up to Anogia, a village that was later raised to the ground
for its part in aiding the abduction, where they hope to meet Mayor
Xylouris. On their walk, the group intend to follow the original
route as far as is possible, crossing Mount Psiloritis at its peak
of 2456 meters, and hoping to find and sleep in the cave hideouts
that were used originally.
Asked why they were undertaking this mountainous traverse after
all these years Alun Davies, who planned the trip said that "we are
doing this to celebrate the courage and daring of a small band of
British SOE agents and Cretan resistance fighters, and also just
for the adventure of it."
Their walk is believed to be the first thorough recreation of the
original walk. Determining the precise route has been a difficult,
if not impossible, task but was recently greatly assisted by help
from Paddy Leigh Fermor himself who has given both advice and his
original war-time maps to the enterprise.
Alun Davies, will carry a special memento on the walk with him,
a whistle that was used by Joe Bradley, Paddy Leigh Fermor's wireless
operator. He was a Welshman form Blaenau Ffestiniog who endeared
himself to the Cretans by singing to them in Welsh. The party will
also carry as a letter of introduction, in Greek, from Paddy Leigh
The group arrives in Crete on 21 st May and will attend the Battle
of Crete Memorial service the Commonwealth War Grave cemetery at
Souda Bay , Chania that evening. Some 35 or more UK veterans of the
Battle of Crete are expected to be at the ceremony together with
a large number of family and friends.
The following morning the group will start their walk. They will
not have the problem of dodging occupying forces and hope to complete
their walk in about six days rather than the 18 it took the original
party. In the course of the trek they hope to meet a number of surviving
local Cretans who, at great risk to themselves and their communities,
assisted the abduction party, and to pay their respects at local
memorials. The group also hope to be able to visit Villa Ariadne
The party includes:
- Richard Cowper of the Financial Times, who dug
Alun out of an avalanche in Turkey last spring
- John Elis-Roberts a mountain guide from Blaenau Ffestiniog who remembers the
Bradley family who came from the same town
- Chris Paul and
Julien Sweeting both lawyers from London
They are supported
by Tim Todd , a lover of Crete and an expert
in the events of World War 2 in Crete.