16th May: On the motor launch’s arrival in Mersa Matruh the General and the rest of the kidnap group were officially welcomed by Brigadier Barker-Benfield and the General spent his first night of captivity sharing a room with the Brigadier in the Officers Mess.
The final hours…..they have gathered in the rocks behind Peristeres beach, just below the village of Rodakino…..different andarte bands have joined them from the surrounding villages…and they are waiting for the motor launch to arrive…….
‘…..we all lay up till nightfall on a ledge in a deep hollow of the cliffs where an icy spring trickled down the rocks……Then we crossed the short distance to the little cove we hoped to leave from. It seemed to us all, with its walls of rock on either side and the sand and the pebbles, the lapping of the water and the stars, a quiet place for our adventure to end. As we stood about, talking in whispers at first, though there was no one to be afraid of, Andartes climbed down the rocks in two and threes to join us. There were the Rodakino Kapitans Khombitis and Manoli Yanna and Andrea Kotsiphis, and there too, suddenly, with the great fair moustache that had made us christen him Beowulf, was Petraka, the kapitan of the Asi Gonia band and one of our oldest friends on the island. He had brought a contingent of Goniots to join the other Andartes in guarding our departure and also to say goodbye. The place was filling up like a drawing room: groups were lounging about in the rocks or strolling with slung guns quietly conversing’
‘There was a slight coil of mist over the sea so it was not till she was quite close that we saw the ship. We could hear the rattle of the anchor going down; then two boats were lowered…….
The moment had come….We all pulled off our boots to leave behind; this was always done; even in rags they came in useful. Soon we were saying goodbye to Petraka and the Rodakino Kapitans and Yanni Katsias and the guerrillas and lastly to Antoni Zoidakis. We all embraced like grizzly bears. I tried to persuade Antoni to come with us; he wavered a moment and then decided against it. I wish he had. A sailor said “Excuse me Sir, but we ought to get a move on.”
As we neared the ship, the figures waving along the shore had begun to grow indistinct among the shadows and, very fast, it was hard to single out the cove from the tremendous mountain mass that soared from the sea to the Milky Way. The ship grew larger, her pom-poms and Bofors A.A. guns shining in the starlight. When we drew alongside sailors in spotless white were reaching down into the bulwarks to guide the General up the rope ladder (“That’s right Sir! Easy does it!”) while we – Billy, Manoli and George and I – helped from below. A moment later we were on the deck in our bare feet and it was all over.’
This morning’s post about Bruce Chatwin has been most popular. Thank you for all the lovely comments. Nigel Dipper sent the above photo taken on one of their many visits to Agios Nikolaos. I hope that you enjoy it.
Thanks for the reminder of the birthday of Bruce Chatwin; a remarkable man and a fine writer.
We often picnic at Agios Nikolaos where Chatwin’s ashes were laid to rest. It is a beautiful spot. This picture was taken in spring 2011 just before the death of PLF. I thought you might like a copy.
Up in the village above, a beer or a coffee can be had at the very friendly ‘Gorge Hotel’. The view of the Taygetos is spectacular
Today marks the birthday of Bruce Chatwin, born 13 May 1940. This was sent to me by the author Carol McGrath’s husband Patrick. It’s a reminder of the close friendship between Bruce Chatwin and Paddy, as well as the stunning scenery around Kardamyli. I’m hoping to visit again in September; maybe second time Covid lucky!
A visit to the beautiful spot in the Greek Mani where the author Bruce Chatwin’s ashes were scattered.
Carol McGrath is the best selling author of The Women of Hastings Trilogy – The Hand Fasted Wife, The Swan Daughter and The Betrothed Sister published by Accent Press. She presently lives in the Mani, not far from Paddy Leigh Fermor’s house.
May 13th 1944
Nearly there…waiting in the rocky fissure outside Alones….
“Well, Herr Major, how are the plans for our departure progressing?” By now the General had become as solicitous for the success of our departure as we were.
“Wunderbar, Herr General! We’re leaving!”
It was true, the order of release or the promise of it, had come through. The German drive through the Asi Gonia mountains had driven Dennis to earth and put his set momentarily off the air. But messages from Cairo were beamed now to all stations and when the great news came through, Dick himself, hearing of our local troubles, and making a dash clean across the Nome of Retimo, reached our cheerless grotto long after dark. The boat would put in at a beach near Rodakino at 22 hours on the night of the 14th /15th May. – “10 o’clock tomorrow night!” It was in exactly a day from now. We would only just be able to manage it.
The thing was to get the main party to the coast under cover of darkness. I sent Billy off with George and the others and Yanni Katsias and his two wild boys by a short route which would bring them by daybreak to a place where they could wait for us. The General, Manoli and I would go by a much longer and safer way, where the mountains were so steep and deserted that, with a cloud of scouts out, we could move by day without much danger. Unfortunately it was too steep and uneven for a mule so the General would have to go on foot. But the sky was clear and there would be a bright moon and starlight.
The Krioneritis mountains which we were to cross are not one of the highest ranges of Crete, but they are among the steepest and are certainly the worst going. They are bare and, except for an occasional thistle or thornbush or sea squill, as empty of vegetation as a bone yard; the place is ringed with craters and fractured into a jig-saw of deep crevasses; worst of all there is not a path or even a flat square foot in the whole of this wilderness. The region is a never-ending upside-down harrow armed with millions of limestone sickles and daggers and yataghans.
Sustained perhaps by the thought of an end to his ordeal, the General tackled this Via Crucis with scarcely a groan. Helped by Manoli and me when he stumbled and then by the guerrillas that shimmered like ghosts out of the vacancy, he moved across the landscape in a sort of trance.”
May 11th 1944
Things are looking up! Dennis Ciclitira has joined them and has a working radio set up the valley in Asi Gonia. And they hear from Ianni Katsias that the closest beaches – at Rodakino – has potential as a pick up point.
They spend the day and evening resting and recovering. They are all very tired and the General is clearly suffering. Billy Moss recorded, after the General fell off the mule the day before:
“General in great pain, saying: ‘I’ve had enough. Why don’t you shoot me and get done with it’.”
Rumours of a German descent on the region had prompted Stathi to conceal us in such a cramped and precarious eyrie the night before; next morning all seemed serene: we climbed up to a commodious and beautiful ledge of rock where the General was consoled for the agonies of the ascent by the coloured blankets and the cushions spread there under the leaves by my god-brother (Stathi) and Stavro (an old drinking companion of mine) and by the marvellous banquet of roast sucking pig and kalitsounias, – crescent shaped mizithracroquettes – and the wicker demi-john of magnificent old wine which was waiting. Stathi was a great bon viveur and a paragon of kindness and generosity as well as being Kapetanios of an armed band. His eager blue eyes kindled with delight to see us demolishing his feast. He hoped, (and so did we) that we could lie up here in luxury until we slipped off over the hill to the boat. There was a rushing stream hard by and sweet smelling herbs all round us and the trees were full of nightingales. We banqueted and slept and talked and sang. The sun set through the surrounding peaks and as we lolled exulting on the soft rugs under the moon and the stars, for ever plied with fresh marvels by the two brothers, who sped to and from the village like kindly djinns, this sudden change in our affairs seemed to all of us as magical as the sudden transportation to paradise for beggars in a Persian story.’
10th May 1944
After a day resting in Photeinou the party continue to travel westward. They are heading to the Kato Poros gorge outside the village of Vilandredo.
Paddy writes: ‘A mishap occurred on this long night’s march: the girth of the General’s mule broke and sent his rider tumbling down a steep precipice. We chased after him; we thought at first that one of his shoulder blades was damaged; we arranged a sling and after a while the pain seemed to go. But his right arm remained in a sling for the rest of the journey. It was an anxious moment.
Outside the little village of Vilandredo we were met by kind and enthusiastic Stathi Loukakis and his brother, yet another Stavro.
He led us all, dog-tired and woe-begone, to a built up cave that clung to the mountainside like a martin’s nest. It was only to be reached by the clambering ascent of a steep ladder of roots and rocks – up which our disabled captive could only be hoisted by many hands and slow stages.’
Michael Powell was led to the cave in !951, and we finally tracked it down in 2015.
After another day resting in Patsos the party head westward – reinforced by George Harokopos and George Pattakos, who supplies a mule for the General to ride on.
‘Our way westward over the plateau of Yious was our familiar east to west route over the narrowest part of western Crete. “Our sun is rising”, George had said as we set off at moonrise. It was a favourite saying in these nocturnal journeys. “Off we go,” Manoli said, “Anthropoi tou Skotous.” This phrase “men of Darkness!” was a cliché that often cropped up in German propaganda when referring to people like us, and we had eagerly adopted it. We were off, I hoped, on the last lap of our journey.’
‘Among the rocks and Arbutus clumps there was an ice-cold spring which was said to bestow the gift of immortality. We all lay on our faces and lapped up as much as we could hold. I told the General about the property of the water. He leant down from the saddle of his mule and asked urgently for a second mug.’
There destination for the night is the village of Fotinou – but they have to cross the main road from Rethymno to Spili without being spotted.
‘Men with guns whistled from the rocks and when we answered ran down to meet us and shepherd the party across the perilous highway. Others joined us out of the moonlight as we climbed into the conical hills where Fotinou is perched. Suddenly there was an alarm of a German patrol approaching directly ahead. Our party, by now quite large, fanned out along a ridge and lay waiting.’
‘Luckily it was only another contingent of our growing escort. There was relief and laughter. By the time we got to the grove of Scholari outside Fotinou, we were very numerous indeed. Most of the troop was composed of old Uncle Stavro Peros and his eighteen sons and their descendents with several members of the Tzangarakis and Alevizakis families as well. Andoni, the youngest of the Peros brothers had just contracted a dynastic match with the daughter of a family with whom the Peros tribe had been locked in discord for generations; so an atmosphere of concord and rejoicing reigned in the hills.’
In 1951 the film director Michael Powell, as part of his research for “Ill Met By Moonlight’, had visited the village, and photographed the Peros family.
In our early research trips we were able to meet Despina Peros, who had married Andoni Peros – the dynastic match – and whose olive grove they had stayed in. Despina was very proud of her association with the kidnap and that she had fed the group.
And on our first research trip in 2010 we met Charidimos Alevizakis, the nephew of Ianni Tsangarakis, Paddy’s greatest friend and guide. Charidimos had been a messenger for Paddy – and told us most emphatically that he and Paddy ‘were brothers.’
Following on from the list of potential options to mark the 10th anniversary of Paddy’s death, we are starting to see some ideas come to fruition as people have taken up the mantle and got on with things.
Dr Chris Joyce has arranged the first definite event, a dinner planned for 24th June at the Aphrodite Taverna, 15 Hereford Road, London, W2 4AB. Artemis Cooper will attend. The format is likely to be drinks followed by cold mezze, then hot mezze; plenty of wine and Retsina. Some toasts, short speeches, short readings. Chris regrets, no dancing on the tables.
Drinks probably from 1830. Maybe limited to 24 people so it will be first come, first served, and a deposit will be required at some point. Probably cost around £25 per head plus drinks.
To reserve your place, please contact Chris Joyce via chrisjoyce14 [at] outlook.com. Thanks to Chris for making all this possible!
8th May 1944
Tha main party stay resting outside Patsos. Billy writes about having a bathe in the tumbling stream nearby.
In the evening Paddy and Giorgos arrive from Genna and the group are reunited again.
Paddy writes: ‘The party, when I found them, were star-scattered about a tumble-down stone hut shaded by a clump of tall plane trees and a beetling rock with a waterfall and a deep pool. George Harocopos and his old father and his pretty little sister were looking after them in this Daphnis and Chloe décor.’
‘”Good morning, General. How are you?”
“Ah, Good morning, Major. We missed you.”
We might have been in a drawing room.’
The party are joined by another villager from Patsos – Giorgos Pattakos – who we were privileged to meet several times on our early research trips
A little short notice, but some my find this of interest.
Standfords are partnering up with Destinations: The Holiday and Travel Show to bring you a Spring Edition of the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival.
Destinations TV will host a line up of scheduled talks, interviews and Q&A sessions at Destinations presents Travel 2021 on Saturday 8 – Sunday 9 May.
The line-up includes four brand new author talks from the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival.
Saturday 8th May: 12-1pm
I Belong Here: A Journey Along the Backbone of Britain with Anita Sethi
Saturday 8th May: 3-4pm
We Are Nature: How to reconnect with the wild with Ray Mears
Sunday 9th May: 12-1pm
Shadow City: A Woman Walks Kabul with Taran Khan
Sunday 9th May: 3-4pm
A Year of Living Simply with Kate Humble
All talks will be available to watch on demand until the 11:59pm 16 May.
Register for complimentary access here.
7th May 1944
Messages are beginning to bear fruit….and Paddy realises they will have to travel further westward. They still don’t have a plan on how to depart but they are now getting better links with Cairo via the radio set at Dryade and their brave messenger, George Psychoundakis. Paddy and George stay on in Genna a further night.
In the evening Manoli, Billy, the General and the main party travel further westward to the village of Patsos, where they stay in a sheepfold in a gorge by a tumbling stream.
Paddy writes: ‘On the night of the 7th, the party with the General moved by an easy night march to Patsos, which was only two or three hours away from me. They were being fed and guarded by George Harocopos and his family, (George, a thoughtful and well read boy, later to become a gifted journalist, was the son of a very poor, but very brave and kind family, all of whom had been great benefactors to the wandering British). All was going according to plan.’
6th May 1944
Paddy and Giorgos remain based in Genna – messengers coming and going as they desperately try to arrange a safe beach to be picked up from. Giorgos Psychoundakis returns with Dick Barnes – known as Pavlos.
Paddy writes: ‘This reunion with Dick – like many occasions in occupied Crete when one wasn’t actually dodging the enemy – became the excuse for a mild blind. ‘Mr Pavlo and I set off to Yeni,’ writes George Psychoundakis in ‘The Cretan Runner’, “where we found Mr Mihali (me) and Uncle Yanni Katsias. We sat there till the evening and the sun set. Yanni took us to the east side of the village where they brought us some food and first rate wine and our Keph (well-being) was great. The four of us were soon singing. Mr Mihali sang a sheep-stealing couplet to the tune of Pentezali, which went:
Ah, Godbrother, the night was dark
For lamb and goat and dam, Sir,
But when we saw the branding mark,
We only stole the ram, Sir.
The ram – the head of the flock – meant the General.’
Billy, Manoli, the General and the rest of the kidnap team remain in the sheepfold above Gerakari.
5th May 1944
Paddy and Giorgos remain in Genna, coordinating messengers. They are joined by Giorgos Harokopos and Giorgos Psychoundakis, who then heads back off to the wireless set run by Dick Barnes at Dryade with a message.
The main party in the evening leave Gomara and walk up the Amari valley via the village of Gourgouthi to their next hideout – a sheepfold above the village of Gerakari.
And in London Orme Sargent, the senior Foreign Office officer at Under Secretary level working to SOE, sends a memo to Harry Sporborg, deputy to Major-General Colin Gubbins, Head of SOE, expressing great approval of the coup. ’I have just heard of the success of an Allied Mission in Crete in capturing a high German officer. This is very satisfactory news and I hope it will be possible to get the German out to Cairo as I believe is intended.’
 National Archives HS 5/416
4th May 1944
The main party are still hiding in the valley of Gomara. Billy Moss records in ‘Ill Met by Moonlight’:
“It rained all night long , and, as was inevitable, we are soaked to the skin. Around me I see a picture of human misery, and I know that if my companions are feeling half as uncomfortable as I do they must be feeling terrible.”
Spirits are lifted in the afternoon when messengers arrive from Sandy Rendel and Dick Barnes.
Meanwhile in Fourfouras Paddy and Giorgos leave the comforts of Giorgos’ family home and travel 14kms further up the valley to Pantanassa…..searching for the whereabouts of a working radio set.
“Among the cypresses of Pantanasa George and I ran into a hitch. The Hieronymakis family, we knew, were in touch with at least one of our wireless stations. By ill luck it was about the only village in the region where neither of us had ever been. The Hieronymakis knew all about us, we knew all about them, but we had never met and there was no one to vouch for us. The old men were adamant: ‘You say you are Mihali, Mihali who? And who are Siphi (Ralph Stockbridge) and Pavlo (Dick Barnes)? Never heard of them. Tk. Tk. Tk! Englishmen? but, boys, all the English left Crete three years ago …?’ The white whiskered faces turned to each other for corroboration, beetling brows were raised in puzzlement, blank glances exchanged. They went on calmly fingering their amber beads, politely offering coffee. It was no good raging up and down, gesticulating under the onions and paprika pods dangling from the beams: every attempt to break through was met by identical backward tilts of head with closed eyelids and the placidly dismissive tongue click of the Greek negative. They wouldn’t give an inch until they knew (as they say) what tobacco we smoked. We could, after all, be agents provocateurs.”
“This impressive but exasperating wall of security was only broken at last, after two precious hours of deadlock, by the entry of Uncle Stavro Zourbakis from Karines – a friend of us all. Everything dissolved at once. In greetings, recognition, laughter, Raki, a crackle of thorns and sizzling in the hearth and the immediate summoning and despatch of runners to the two sets in the North West.”
Paddy and George move on for the evening back down the valley to the village of Genna, where they were to stay for several days:
“The goat-fold of Zourbovasili lay in rolling biblical hills. There was a round threshing floor nearby, where George and I could sleep on brushwood with a great circular sweep of vision. This place was to become, during the next three days, the centre of all going and coming of messengers as plans changed and options elapsed. But now, after the scrum of the last few days it seemed preternaturally quiet in the brilliant moonlight. Ida towered east of us now, Kedros due south: The White Mountains, which had come nearer to us during the day, loomed shining in the west. How empty and still after our huddled mountain life, was this empty silver plateau! A perfect place to watch the moon moving across the sky and chain smoke through the night pondering on the fix we were in and how to get out of it. There was not a sound except a little owl in a wood close by and an occasional clank from Vassilis’ flock.”
3rd May 1944
Another day spent in their hideout in the valley of Gomara. They are still stuck and have no contact with Cairo, and no idea of when, where or how they will get off the island.
But they have a plan….in the evening the party decide to separate.
Billy, Manoli Paterakis, the General and the main kidnap group will stay in Gomara.
Paddy and Giorgos Tyrakis will travel in the evening up the Amari to Fourfouras, Giorgos’ home village, in search of a working radio station.
They still remain in the news in the UK – the Telegraph reports ‘martial law’ being declared on Crete.
2nd May 1944
If only they knew!
Paddy, Billy, the rest of the kidnap team and the General spend another miserable day in the ditch, fearing capture…but it is getting quieter for them, as the German patrols are now searching further up the mountain.
Meanwhile in the UK ….they are front page news – in the Express, Telegraph, Guardian and Times!
In the evening they decide to move a kilometre or so westward – to the valley of Gomara.
Giorgos Pharangoulitakis describes it his memoir ‘Eagles of Mt Ida’: ‘We decided to shift towards the valley of Gomara, just west of Ayia Paraskevi, a part where they had searched every inch, and where we could take up a better defence posture. It was a steep rocky place with a hole like a sort of grotto under a cliff where we could hide for the night.’
In the end they spend the night and the following day under the branches of ‘a very large pear tree …it was like an eagles nest’.
1st May 1944
A long and dangerous day spent hiding in the ditch outside Agia Paraskevi. Probably the low point for all in the journey, and where they are most vulnerable to discovery by the German cordon – Moss records Kreipe’s realisation of his personal need for the success of the operation in order to ensure his own survival:
“I think the General realises that our capture would prove fatal for him.”
They can hear German patrols, sometimes as close as 50 metres, searching for them.
Paddy records that food is brought to them from Agia Paraskevi:
‘Antoni unpacked bread, cheese, onions, a dish of fried potatoes, some lamb and a napkin full of ‘kalitsounia!’ – crescent shaped fritters full of soft white cheese and chopped mint. Then a big bottle of mulberry raki came out and a handful of little tumblers. ‘This will warm you up,’ he said filling them: ‘White flannel vests all round.’ He splashed politely over to our guest with the first one, saying ‘stratege mou” (my General) then to the rest of us. They went down our throats like wonderful liquid flame. ‘And here,’ he said pulling out a gallon of dark amber wine, ‘red overcoats for all.’
What they don’t know is that in Cairo SOE have made a public announcement that Kreipe has been kidnapped and has already been taken off the island by submarine and is on his way to Cairo.
However they are still stuck, with no way of contacting Cairo and have no idea – as yet – of how they will get off the island.
30th April 1944
The descent of Mt Ida has been exceptionally arduous in the dark so the day is spent recovering in Vorini Trypa, the large cave above Nithavris on the side of Mt. Ida.
That evening, in the rain and mist, they leave the cave and head further down the mountain into the bottom the Amari valley.
It is a difficult and very dangerous journey as the Germans are hunting for the General and are in all the villages immediately around them.
They first head west to the village of Kouroutes and then south until they stop and hide in a stream bed outside Agia Paraskevi.
Paddy records: Rain came swishing down: ‘Marvelous for the olives’, Manoli murmured. We waded through a stream and began to climb again. The rain turned to sleet. At last the village of Aya Paraskevi was only half an hour away. The Germans would have sentries out, perhaps patrols; better to stop there. We piled into a ditch mercifully overgrown with cistus, thyme and myrtle; protection from view, but not from the rain.
I’ve been asked if Chris White can share a map to help follow the story. There is a map on page X1 of Abducting a General if you have a copy. We do have a photo on the site of the map from Ill Met by Moonlight which may help a little. See here along with some more photos. Copyright the estate of William Stanley Moss.
Alternatively there is this hand drawn map by Paddy’s own hand.
The weather is deteriorating and the kidnap team need to walk over the side of Mt Ida and down into the Amari valley. It will be a long and arduous day and night.
At midday the party leave Petradolakkia and skirt the side of the Nidha plateau. They are heading for the mitato belonging to Roti, where they will rendezvous with Kapetan Petrakogiorgos and his andartes who will escort them over the side of the mountain. They climb up to the plateau of Akolyta and in rain, wind and snow they head over until they can see signal fires in the Amari telling them it is safe to descend. They shelter in the remains of a mitato before descending. After a long and arduous descent they are led to Vorini Trypa – North Hole – a large cave with tunnels and caverns heading off from the back of it. This cave has been used by the Resistance on several occasions before this visit, and is used by Dunbabin and George Psychoundakis in August 1944.
28th April 1944.
PLF and the kidnap team spend the day at Petrodolakkia with Xylouris and his andartes, where they take many photos. Tom Dunbabin has sent 3 members of his team from the Amari to the hideout, including Reg Everson and a wireless. The plan is to send a message to Cairo so that an evacuation date and beach can be identified, but the radio is broken. They are stuck. PLF sends off various messages, including one to Dick Barnes who has a radio station near Rethymno. The team are joined by Grigori Chnarakis, Nikos Komis and Andoni Papaleonidas, who have walked up from the kidnap point. They are meant to bring with them the General’s driver, Alfred Fenske, but he has been killed on the journey.
At Bletchley Park the codebreakers decode a German signal stating that Kreipe has been kidnapped.
PLF records the following incident:
‘A curious moment, dawn, streaming in the cave’s mouth, which framed the white crease of Mount Ida. We were all three lying smoking in silence, when the General, half to himself, slowly said:
“Vides ut alta stet nive candidum Soracte”
The opening line and a bit of one of the few odes of Horace I know by heart. I was in luck.
” … Nec jam sustineant onus” I went on
“silvae laborantes geluque
Flumina constiterint acuto”
And continued through the other stanzas to the end of the ode. After a few seconds silence, the General said: “Ach so, Herr Major.” For five minutes the war had evaporated without a trace.[i]
[i] William Stanley Moss recorded this mutual love of the Classics in ‘Ill Met by Moonlight.’
‘Paddy discovered that the General is a fair Greek scholar, and, much to the amusement of our Cretan colleagues, the two of them entertained each other by exchanging verses from Sophocles.’
27th April 1944.
PLF and George Tyrakis rendezvous with the General and the rest of the kidnap team north of Anogia. In the evening they begin the long trek up the slopes of Mt Ida to the Xylouris sheepfolds at Petrodolakkia. On the way they rest briefly in one of the many mitatos (cheese huts) in the area.
26th April 1944.
Third time lucky…..the Kreipe kidnap team leave the Zographistos farmhouse outside Skalani and walk to the kidnap spot and wait for the General to drive past. At 9 pm they stop the car and the kidnap begins. The General is handcuffed and hidden on the back seat of the car. They drive past the Villa Ariadne and through Heraklion, entering by the Agios Giorgos gate and leaving by the Chaniaporta. They drive on into the mountains, stopping at Yeni Gave, where Billy Moss, Manoli Paterakis, Stratis Saviolakis and the General leave the car, heading up a track for a hideout in a ravine north of Anogia. PLF and Georgos Tyrakis drive for a further 2 kms and dump the car at Campo Doxaro, at the start of a track leading to the Cheliana ravine and the sea. They take with them the pennants from the car and head to the village of Anogia.
The more observant amongst you may recall that this post was actually first published way back in February. That was to keep the time sequencing of the operation that ended with the kidnap of General Kreipe intact. Between then and now Paddy had been joined by Billy Moss and detailed planning and reconnaissance was underway, including refining the actual details of the kidnap action, rehearsing timings, working on signals, the dress to be worn (the famous captured German outfits), and of course, for any operation of this type, the extraction plan. I’ve repeated the post as the introduction to the series of narratives put together by Chris White which will commence in earnest tomorrow.
Over the next few weeks I am honoured to be able to share with you some work by Chris White, co-author of Abducting a General, who has spent many weeks and months on Crete over the years tracing the precise route and locations of the kidnap. In 2020, Chris posted this series on Facebook. He has approved it being repeated on here. Stories will pop up from time to time, and will run virtually day-by-day during the time period of the kidnap. I hope that you enjoy it.
Over to Chris ….
We start on February 4th 1944. Paddy parachuted on to the Katharo Plateau and was met by Sandy Rendel, whose base was in a cave a few miles away. The cave is now known as the Spiliaou ton Anglikon, the cave of the English. This week I have been exploring the area around the plateau and visited the cave…..a long stony walk through woods and ravines and along the sides of steep valleys.
The photos: the first shows where the cave is (centre of picture) in the landscape; the next three show the cave in more detail.
The news this week of an eruption of the La Soufrière volcano on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent, made me think about Paddy’s novel (and second book) The Violins of Saint-Jacques published in 1953.
Reading this BBC article I see that local media have also reported increased activity from Mount Pelée on the island of Martinique, north of St Vincent. It was the devastating 1902 eruption of this volcano that inspired Paddy’s novel, which was subsequently turned into an opera by Sir Malcolm Williamson.
If you don’t have a copy you can buy The Violins of Saint-Jacques: A Tale of the Antilles here.
Some of you may be interested to know that sometime over the last few days the blog passed the point of two million views since I started it on 21 March 2010. The first post being about Ralph Stockbridge and not Paddy!
There are now 1,007 posts, and we have over 452,000 visitors to the site in that time. I do have around 250 posts in some form of draft state. I guess many of them may be duplicates or redundant now, but there is some life left in us yet!
You made this happen and thank you to all visitors for your support over these eleven years.
Don’t forget if you wish to publish something just get in contact with me atsawford [at] gmail .com
Thank you all for the terrific response to suggestions to mark Paddy’s upcoming anniversary. They came in by email and comment, and I have summarised the ideas below. Please feel free to continue to submit your ideas by comment on this article or contacting me at atsawford [at] gmail .com
NOTE – THE POLLS I CREATED DO NOT WORK . SOME WORDPRESS NONSENSE. PLEASE IGNORE AND JUST ADD A COMMENT INDICATING YOUR PREFERENCE IE INTERESTED/ATTEND/ATTEND AND OFFER TO HELP. I MAY BE ABLE TO DO SOMETHING TO FIX THIS OR PROVIDE AN ALTERNATIVE BUT NOT TODAY! MY APOLOGIES. IF YOU HAVE SUBMITTED A POLL RESULT PLEASE NOW ADD A COMMENT.
PLEASE INDICATE IF YOU ARE WILLING TO ORGANISE, OR HELP TO ORGANISE, AN EVENT. I SHAN’T BE DOING ALL THIS BY MYSELF!!!
Chris O’Gorman suggested ” a virtual Paddy mini-conference. It is very short notice I know, but equally there are some very knowledgeable people around who might have talks that they have already written, ready to go? It would also be good if we could get some press coverage – or maybe there could be a PLF anniversary crowd fund for something Paddy would have cared about? Maybe for the Benaki, or for Greek or Cretan veterans?”.
Julie Vick echoed this idea. She wondered “if it would be possible to have a virtual conference where members could volunteer to give short talks on some aspect such as Paddy’s life and history, his writings, Greece, as well as why he is important to them.”
This is a great idea, but perhaps time is short.Having a reliable platform to use would be key. A Zoom licence for up to 100 participants is around £120 pa. If everyone made a small pro rata donation the cost per person could be kept very low; just a few pounds. The event could be recorded and hopefully accessible afterwards.
One alternative might be to encourage those who have material to make a video or audio file to upload to a selected You Tube channel. Have a think.
Please comment and show your interest by adding a comment.
A Detailed Bibliography
Stefan at Southwing Fine Books in Australia has suggested a proper, and very detailed bibliography, or as he says, a “proper” one! I’m working with Stefan to enable this.
Event in France (or anywhere else for that matter)
Nicolas Ruelle has offered to see if something can be arranged in France. Over to you but please signal interest here and I’ll pass on your email details to Nicolas.
If you wish to run an event of any kind (dinner, conference etc) please contact me and I’ll help suggest a format for you to promote it.
A lunch at Dumbleton Hall
Alun Davies has made the marvellous suggestion of a lunch the Dumbleton Hall hotel. I recall going there after Paddy’s funeral (16th June) and it would be a marvellous, and obviously appropriate, venue. Current UK Coronavirus restrictions to end “all social distancing” may come into effect on 21st of June so a proper lunch may be possible after that.
If you are interested in a lunch, or dinner at the hotel during the period 23rd to 26th June please add a comment.
James Down wrote to me with this “
I’m not sure it would be of interest, but just after I graduated, in fear of never having the chance again, I did a trip in 2014, starting at Paddy’s House, then hitchhiking up through the Balkans to Croatia, catching a boat across to Italy, then walking all the way back home, to Sussex on my own. The thing I thought may appeal or be relevant to the anniversary is that I have some pictures of Paddy’s house as it was before anything was updated as part of the Benaki project. I also fell asleep there, to escape the heat, inside the arched entrance way and had an amusing encounter with a very shocked Elpida.
I’d be happy to contribute them, captions, or an explanation as a stand-alone item, or perhaps as a part of wider mosaic of your reader’s personal interactions or memories with Paddy and his wider orbit.
I love the idea of doing something in fear of never having the chance again,. Perhaps that should be the theme? Paddy in a sense did that. It does not have to be Paddy related, just something that is important to you that you would like to share? I can post it anonymously for you of you wish.
I’ll be asking James to get his stuff together and make his contribution! It would be great if any of you felt you would like to contribute something (you know we have a very wide editorial brief so come on 🙂 )and I will make a very special, extra effort to get it out there in your name on the blog in a timely fashion! Best to send to atsawford [at] gmail .com
A Greek themed dinner in London.
Like Alun’s suggestion above, Dr Chris Joyce has suggested an event involving refreshment. Possiibly a “Greek Themed” dinner somewhere in London with the sort of food, and most importantly, the drinks that Paddy liked. If you are interested please add a comment.
I was recently directed to this excellent site following a mention in the Eland Books newsletter. Travel Writing World is an award-winning podcast and website featuring interviews with travel writers, book reviews, author profiles, and resources for travel writers and their readers.
To date I have enjoyed a discussion about Eric Newby’s A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, and Peter Fiennes, former publisher at Time Out, talking about his 2020 publication Footnotes: A Journey Round Britain in the Company of Great Writers.
There are no discussions (yet) about Patrick Leigh Fermor, but I am looking forward to listening to Colin Thubron talk about the recent death of his friend Jan Morris, travel writing in general, and the tenth anniversary of his book To A Mountain in Tibet. An excellent group was assembled to remember Bruce Chatwin on what would have been his 80th birthday.
I hope that you enjoy listening to an episode or two.
Visit Travel Writing World
Are those of us who are locked down like those in medieval times who coud not actually go on pligrimage and were only able to imagine it?
In the always fascinating BBC Radio 4 programme, In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg (who in 1989 interviewed Paddy on The South Bank Show – short extract here) and guests discuss the rise of pilgrimage for Christians in Europe in the Middle Ages and options for those who could only imagine pilgrimages and imitate them at home.
The podcast archives go back many years, divided into categories like ‘Culture’, ‘Religion’ and ‘History’. The Margery Kempe and Thomas Becket episodes are brilliant too, both linked to pilgrimage.
Lock yourself away and give 45 minutes to fascinating discussion, where you are sure to learn a few things.
Listen to the episode here.
There are almost 900 episodes in the In Our Time archive which you can browse here.