Thursday, September 8, 2016
Abducting a General: The Kreipe Operation and SOE in Crete
I don't know what the catalyst was, but I have always been intrigued by Greece and for some reason Crete. I recall reading a book about the Bull of Minos in what must have been late primary school, and of course there were plenty of Jason and the Argonauts and similar movies as well as the cartoon series The Mighty Hercules. Whatever it was it meant I couldn't resist purchasing Abducting a General: The Kreipe Operation and SOE in Crete by Patrick Leigh Fermor when I came across it in a local second hand book shop.
Written by the architect of the plan and main participant this is as close to a first hand account as you can get. The audacity to kidnap an enemy general! While a brilliant exercise, the ultimate value probably did not justify the risks. The general was not the butcher they hoped to nab and seems rather ordinary. The blow to morale must have been immense, but Crete remained a backwater and probably fortunate that war did not revisit.
The author's style I found a bit challenging, but I soon got used to the banter. The appendices were fascinating and the main tale amazing. So much planing and so much good luck. The fortitude and bravery of the Cretan guerrillas (freedom fighters against the terror of the German occupiers) comes across very strongly as does the love the author has for the land and the people.
It would be wonderful to visit Crete again (I was last there in 1986). But for now I will try and revisit, following the escape route detailed in this book by using Google Earth.