Was Paddy the inspiration for the hero of Guns of Navarone?

The following was posted as a comment in Your Paddy Thoughts by Robert Seibert. He asks an interesting question so I thought I would elevate it from deep in a comments page to the main blog site to see if it provokes some debate.

I wonder if there is any connection between PLF’s WW2 deeds and the fictional work “Guns of Navarone”, Alistair MacLean’s 1957 novel and the 1961 film starring Gregory Peck as Capt. Keith Mallory leading a team to destroy German guns on “Navarone”-said to be the real island of Leros. In the movie Mallory is described as the “world’s greatest mountain climber” and “speaks Greek like a Greek and German like a German”-but was chosen mainly because he has survived for a year and a half as a guerrilla with the Cretan resistance. The parallels with Paddy’s exploits seem obvious. Of course “Ill Met by Moonlight” was published in 1950 and the film version in 1957-accounts of the actual Gen. Kreipe abduction. Would be interested in hearing others thoughts about this.

Over to you dear readers …


6 thoughts on “Was Paddy the inspiration for the hero of Guns of Navarone?

  1. norwayone

    I think there are similarities between the main character and the bi-character in the Navarone books, and Patrick Leigh Fermor and the Cretan Runner George Psychoundakis. But there probably many other British agents and local resistance fighters who has inspired him. And the mentioned climber Mallory is another source of inspiration. Anyway, the story of Paddy and the Cretan Runner is fascinating.

  2. Ian Simpson

    Sorry to spoil the party but TGoN was not based on any particular raid in the Med, but that of Z Special Unit’s raid on Muschu where they were to destroy Japanese guns overlooking a vital shipping route. MacLean, a fan of the exploits of the SBS and LRDG, changed the story around and based it in the Aegean. Mallory is based on the pre-War climber George Mallory who was known as “the human fly”.

  3. r w seibert

    I believe Mike O’Brien is right and has found an important link between the film and PLF. Either the photograph of the Greek partisan in the movie is Manoli Paterakis or his identical twin-I just reviewed that scene in the movie. Several photos of Paterakis are included in “Ill Met” and one in George Psychoundakis’ “The Cretan Runner”. Another more tenuous association: Alistair MacLean served on a cruiser in the Med. and Aegean in 1944. Perhaps he heard something of the Kreipe affair and SOE at that time and/or later was familiar with Moss’ book (pub. 1950) or Psychoudakis’ (pub. 1955)–or, since he claimed to be a fast writer, was influenced by the ’57 “Ill Met” film and wrote and published the Navarone novel that same year. It would be fascinating to make inquiries of MacLean and Carl Foreman, the screenwriter and producer of “Guns of Navarone”. Both men, however, died in the 1980s.

  4. Mike O'Brien

    Another clue:- in Navarone, when the team are captured by the Germans they are shown a photo of a Greek partisan. If my memory serves me correctly this photo is of Manoli Paterakis one of Paddy’s band in the abduction of Kreipe.

  5. John Stathatos

    The closest parallels to the fictional events of the “Guns of Navarone” were probably the raids undertaken in the Aegean in 1943-44 by the various Allied special forces units coordinated by Raiding Forces; these included the British LRDG, Special Boat Section and Levant Schooner Flotilla, the Greek Sacred Regiment, and the mixed Anglo-Hellenic Schooner Flotilla. These units were often involved in joint operations, while elements or entire units were sometimes merged for shorter or longer periods; for example, the Special Air Service’s D Squadron was made up of a Sacred Regiment troop and the survivors of the SBS’s disastrous raid on Rhodes in September 1942, only to be reborn as the Special Boat Squadron in January 1943.

    Major Sacred Regiment successes included the liberation of Psara in March 1944 and a raid on Samos in May 1944 which destroyed several targets, including the Gestapo headquarters. The operation which came closest to the “Guns of Navarone” scenario was probably the combined Greek and British attack on Simi in July 1944, which knocked out a 200-strong German garrison and captured the island.

  6. Aris Mazarakis

    I have no comment to make on the above supposition although I, too, have at times connected Paddy or Michalis with Gregory Peck in the above mentioned role. He also looked like him, too. Actually it doesn’t make any difference since Paddy was hero enough even without the publicity of the film. I was reading his book ‘Roumeli” when the news of his death made headilines and shocked and saddened both nations and all of us who admire not only his writing skills but also his bravery and unique life he lived.


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