Reluctant hero finally accepts his knighthood

I have edited this slightly to remove non-Paddy related stuff. something to add to the archive.

By Nigel Reynolds

First Published in the Telegraph : 12:01AM GMT 31 Dec 2003

Patrick Leigh Fermor, the veteran travel writer, philhellene, scholar and soldier, has finally accepted a knighthood, saying that it would have been “rude” to turn the honour down for a second time.

Leigh Fermor, 88, who lives in Greece where he is treated as a national hero, refused a knighthood in 1991.

 He said at his home in the Peloponnese last night: “I turned it down then because I didn’t think that I deserved it.

“I’d written a few books, that’s all.”

He was among a list of 300 prominent figures from the arts and entertainment world to have declined honours since the Second World War which was disclosed in a leaked Cabinet Office document shortly before Christmas.

The author, hailed by many critics as Britain’s best travel writer, receives his honour for services to literature and to British-Greek relations in the diplomatic and overseas list.

The Cabinet Office refused to discuss his change of heart…

… Leigh Fermor, whose wife, Joan, a photographer, died in the summer aged 91, first sprang to fame working for the SOE organising guerrilla operations in wartime Crete.

In a celebrated episode, for which he was awarded the DSO, he and a friend, disguised as German soldiers, kidnapped Gen Kreipe, the island’s garrison commander. For three weeks they evaded German search parties and Kreipe was eventually taken off Crete by motorboat.

The exploit was turned into the film Ill Met By Moonlight in 1956, with Dirk Bogarde cast as Leigh Fermor.

Until the war, Leigh Fermor had been rootless. After school, at the age of 18 he spent a year walking from Holland to Istanbul and then he roamed the Balkans.

After the war, he built himself a house and settled in the Peloponnese living off his writing, principally about his travels and Greek culture, history and folklore. His best-known books are The Mani, written in 1958, and Roumeli (1966).


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