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Relaunch of Ill Met by Moonlight website to mark 70th anniversary

May 2, 2014

Capture

Ironically I was away in Munich when Tim Todd posted this comment on the Your Paddy Thoughts page. It has been 70 years since the kidnap and there are a number of events and publications associated with it. Both of Billy Moss’ books are being republished (more to follow), and, as has been already mentioned on here, a version of Paddy’s own account is due later this year.

Tim Todd is probably the leading authority on the kidnap and the route used during the evasion phase. He works very closely with Chris White on this project which never seems to be short of new aspects or details to investigate. The Ill Met by Moonlight website is very well worth visiting. Here is Tim’s update about his reworked site and a cautionary tale about retracing the route.

Well, today, Saturday 26th April 2014, is the 70th anniversary of the abduction of General Kreipe by Paddy, Billy and their Cretan colleagues.

To mark the occasion may I draw attention to my relaunched website and in particular to a transcription of Paddy’s own short report on the abduction. It is the first of a number of his reports that will be appearing on the illmetbymoonlight.info website now that I am free of another commitment that had taken up a lot of time.This report, one of nine by Paddy, can be found here.

Interest in his Cretan adventures remains as great as ever and I have just heard back from one party who did the full route in the last few weeks, from Dermati to Rodakino in a remarkable 7 days and three hours – and pushed himself to the point of exhaustion in the process. Aspiring route followers should not, under any circumstances, consider this a realistic target though as the parties concerned were not your average walkers by a long way. The report came back accompanied by a warning about map accuracy, not the first, and the recommendation is always to seek local guidance for the more remote locations and not to rely on GPS coordinates.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul Kelly permalink
    May 3, 2014 7:19 am

    I checked out the new website and it’s still in its infancy , however , it does look promising. Hopefully people will be generous in posting info and assist in its growth.

  2. May 3, 2014 10:50 am

    In the last 24 hours or so I have learned of a Greek website that has video taken by helicopter flights around much of the Greek coastline. I have put links to some relevant Cretan coastline at http://www.illmetbymoonlight.info/helicopter-view.html

  3. Lemora Martin permalink
    May 16, 2014 6:05 am

    I’ve read about the abduction of General Kreipe on this website and in Artemis Cooper’s biography of PLF. From what I gather, the General was unpopular with his own troops and the German reprisals against defenseless citizens of Crete were horrific — hundreds (or more) mowed down and buried in mass graves. I’m seriously curious about why this abduction was considered a good thing; how it ultimately helped thwart the Nazi plan to conquer Crete and use it as a base for dominating the Mediterranean War theatre. Beyond a temporary morale booster and something to dine out on for decades for the perpetrators, what was so great about this? Wouldn’t fewer lives have been lost if it had never happened?What am I missing?

    • Christos Paganakis permalink
      June 1, 2014 10:27 pm

      The Allies were delayed in getting the Commando party into Crete , several intended parachute drops aborted and finally the balance of the party and much equipment landed from an HDML motor launch .
      In the delay the German General they were REALLY after , the brutal war criminal Mueller was replaced by the newcomer Kreipe , but the Op went ahead anyway with Kriepe as the consolation prize .
      The intention had been to take the exceedingly unpleasant Mueller prisoner , ship him out to Allied territory and then put him on trial for war crimes and duly shoot him , as a sort of general wake-up call to ALL german generals to ease back on the triggers a bit , or face the same in their turn .

      Kriepe WAS unpopular with his own troops ; – but then so is any new unit commander who has just gone through the entire unit under his command with a detailed inspection ( in this case an infantry division = a 12,000 strong minature army with its own artillery , engineers , signals , hospitals , quartermasters = plenty to get a new Commander blowing his fuses at things he finds wrong and sloppy ! )
      But as regards war crimes , he was innocent ( at least as far as his brief stay in Greece is concerned – what he got up to previously in Russia we dont know ) and so all the Allies ended up with was just another Axis divisional General P.o.W. to add to their growing collection .
      Another point glossed over often is that neither Kriepe nor his predecessor Mueller were actually the Crete Island commander – in fact they were in command of the main unit forming the Garrison of Crete = the assigned Infantry division .
      Not under their direct command would have been been the Kreigsmarine and Luftwaffe units , Coast artillery and Flak + searchlight batteries , field Police and a host of other administrative and service units spread around the island .

      Paddy always claimed that few or no reprisals happened as a result of the coup , but that is probably wishful thinking and gilding the lily a bit .
      But it is true that the majority of the Cretan atrocities occurred later , after the emergent U S A organisation the OSS decided to start flexing it’s muscles independently , and shipped weapons and money to one of the Cretan guerrilla leaders , who , with OSS encouragement , promptly set about the Germans in his locality in traditionally heroic ” Kapetanos ” style .
      As always , initial good local successes ended in catastrophe after the German command mobilised all their power and stamped out the uprising , slaughtered anybody they could catch , while destroying dozens of villages .
      The English S.O.E. had always been careful to keep the Cretan leaders fairly passive , knowing that in a full-on straight stand up fight and with Lufwaffe Air Power to help the Germans , the Cretans would be on a hiding to nothing .
      The Yanks did the exact same thing to the Iraqi Kurds after the first Gulf War . got them to rebel against Saddam , paid and armed them , and then left them swinging in the wind when the war ended .

      I suppose in the last analysis the action was a useful propaganda tool and morale-booster for the Allies , and among the Cretans themselves , but effectively little more .
      Some more German resources were sent to Crete from arguably more useful work elsewhere , but all rather marginal .
      Militarily the later attack on the big German Aerodrome south of Herakleion ( and set to now be developed anew as the new Airport ) was arguably more damaging , militarily speaking .
      Armies are designed to cope with the instant disappearance of commanders , through ordinary battlefield attrition casualties .
      Like Dragons teeth , a substitute commander , right down to the level of N.C.Os , instantly fill any gaps in the command structure , so the main effect on the Sebastopol Division was largely confined to a great deal of vigorous running about and bellowed swearwords .

      • Lemora Martin permalink
        June 5, 2014 3:36 am

        Thank you for your detailed response. I now know a bit more about the bigger picture surrounding this operation.

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