What happened to the flags on General Kreipe’s car when Paddy abandoned it and joined the main abduction gang? Well here is the story. I am very grateful to Artemis Cooper for submitting this. I hesitate to say that this is a world exclusive, but it probably is! These have not been seen in public since the car drove through the heavily garrisoned town of Heraklion with the General in April 1944.
As I’m sure you know, just before abandoning the General’s car on the night of the abduction of Gen Kreipe, Paddy and George Tyrakis ripped off the two metal pennants that stood proudly on the bonnet. One might argue that, combined with Billy’s confident driving, it was those pennants that had let the car pass unchallenged through 22 German checkpoints! Since Billy had driven the car the pennants were given to him; and after his death, Billy’s daughters – Gabriella Bullock and Isabella Cole – felt that Paddy should have them. Paddy held onto them for many years, very much under wraps. I think the main reason he kept them hidden was because he had always felt so wretched about the death of Alfred Fenske, the General’s chauffeur.
They were kept in a tin trunk in his study, and very few people knew they were there. He showed them to me only once. The reason for that was so that I should be aware that after his death, they were to go to the Rethymnon Museum of History and Folklore. This had been arranged in the 1990s, with the encouragement of Niko Kokonas.
In August the flags were given to the Rethymnon Museum, according to Paddy’s instructions.
I have a photo of the flags. They stand about 15″ high, the triangular pennant sticking out about 12″. The first is painted red, white and black in horizontal lines, like the German flag. The other shows the gold Nazi eagle with outspread wings perched on a wreath, embroidered onto a piece of grey fabric which is then mounted onto the metal pennant.
I hope this is a real joy to all the Ill Met by Moonlight fans out there.
This article and photograph copyright Artemis Cooper 2011