Patrick Leigh Fermor and the Underground War to Rescue Crete from the Nazis

Lewis_05_14Jeremy Lewis at Literary Review:

Dramatised in the 1957 film Ill Met by Moonlight, in which Dirk Bogarde rather improbably played the leading role, Patrick Leigh Fermor's kidnapping of a German general in Crete in the spring of 1944 was one of the most dashing and unconventional episodes of the Second World War. Leigh Fermor published little on the subject during his lifetime – a very brief account is provided in his 2003 collection of essays, Words of Mercury – but Wes Davis's book usefully plugs the gap. First published in America last year, too early to benefit from Artemis Cooper's biography of Leigh Fermor, it draws on previously unpublished papers in the National Archives and the Imperial War Museum, as well as on Antony Beevor's exhaustive history of the German invasion and occupation of Crete, and on the published memoirs of other veterans of the long guerrilla war. The result is an exciting, fast-moving and crisply written adventure story.

Leigh Fermor's mentor and precursor as a Cretan resistance leader was John Pendlebury, a Cambridge-educated archaeologist with a glass eye who had worked on the Minoan excavations at Knossos before the war and liked to wear traditional Cretan clothes, complete with cloak and turban. Pendlebury was captured and executed shortly after the German invasion of the island in May 1941, and Leigh Fermor took his place fighting alongside the andartes ('guerrillas') of the Cretan resistance.

more here.