Monday, June 28, 2010


Previous tenants in my cottage have left books, some treasures some not so. War and Preace, Animal Farm, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, John Pilger\s Hidden Agendas and a shelf full of airport thrillers, Dan Brown,Stephen King and others too awful to mention. Almost hidden were two real treasures. Vasili, Lion of Crete by Murray Elliott ISBN 960 226 348 2 published by EFSTATHIADIS 1987 is about Dudley Perkins who was killed in action after volunteering to return to Crete and help the resistance.
On the Run, Anzac escape and is evasion in Enemy-occupies Crete by Sean Damer & Ian Frazer ISBN 978 0 14 300722 7 is published by Penguin in 2006.

They are both rivettingand full of details passed over in official war histories. On the run has also alphabetical lists of known evaders and escapers, and the men involved in major escapes from Crete. I found a few familiar names, boys from Hastings High School who in September 1939 had only one worry - that the war would end before they were old enough to go to it.

But the rivetting thing in On the Run is the incredible heroism of the Cretan women who took food and clothes to soldiers hiding in caves,looked after sick and wounded soldiers and guided them along mountain trails risking their lives, and the lives of their families. There should be a special medal struck for these women, and their stories need to be collected. It's too late for first hand stories, but their some of their daughters might still be around to record their mothers'stories.

I knew about the retreat from Hora Sfakion and the trek through Imbros Gorge, but according to On The Run there were New Zealanders guarding the port at Kissamos Kastelli who escaped into the mountains. The villages they escapes to are still there, and if I can find an English speaking driver willing to take me I intend to go looking for Sifirinia,Topolie, Polirinia, Kalithenes.

Watch this space:

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