Kidnapping a General - Crete and Patrick Leigh Fermor

Two British agents, a gallant band of Cretan guerrillas, one tale of daring capture...

  • Follow the dramatic story of the abduction through visits to its most vital and evocative sites
  • Entrench yourself in the ancient as well as the modern, with visits to the iconic Minoan palace at Knossos and Heraklion’s archaeology museum
  • Led by Dr Roderick Bailey, an expert on both the actions of the SOE and Patrick Leigh Fermor

On an April night in 1944, a chauffered car containing Generalmajor Heinrich Kreipe set out for the Villa Ariadne — but never arrived. On a road between the hillside village of Archanes and the Minoan palace at Knossos, the car was stopped by two men in German military uniform, and the general spirited away into the night. These ‘German soldiers’ were, in fact, Major Patrick Leigh Fermor and Captain William Stanley Moss, members of the British Special Operations Executive. On this unique tour, we delve into the story of these men, sent to carry out sabotage against Crete’s German occupiers; the local guerillas resisting Axis authority, and the career soldier who was the target of their daring plan.

Travelling across sun-baked Crete’s open expanses and striking landscapes, we visit the key sites in the tale of Generalmajor Kreipe’s kidnapping — immortalised in the 1957 film Ill Met by Moonlight — and in the long history of the island itself. Visit beaches, monasteries, villages, and caves, where we learn how cells of resistance opened up during both the Second World War and Crete’s centuries-long Ottoman occupation. We also follow the conflict through to its conclusion with a visit to the haunting Souda Bay War Cemetery. This scenic site pays tribute to the fallen Commonwealth servicemen of the Second World War and beyond, bringing home the human cost of conflict, and the true importance of these covert operations.


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Itinerary 2017

Day 1


We fly to Crete, and enjoy a free afternoon before an introductory lecture and drinks at our hotel.

Day 2

The Battle of Crete

On our first full day, we drive to Chania to visit Maleme airfield and the Maritime Museum, and learn about the desperate Battle of Crete of 1941. After lunch, we head to Souda Bay Cemetery, burial site of over a thousand fallen Commonwealth servicemen.

Day 3

Hideouts & Headquarters

This morning, we drive to Heraklion to visit the Villa Ariadne, HQ of General Heinrich Kreipe; the ruins of Pavlo Zographistos’ home, used as a hideout by Patrick Leigh Fermor, and Archanes, the general’s headquarters. Before lunch, we stop at the abduction point, between Archanes and Knossos. This afternoon, we visit Knossos and Heraklion’s Archaeological Museum, before tracing the audacious route taken by the party through Heraklion.

Day 4

Rebellions & Reprisals

Today, we visit the Melidoni cave, a famous site linked to Cretan resistance against the Turks. Here, we have a discussion of Crete’s history of rebellion, before moving on to Doxara, where Leigh Fermor abandoned the general’s car, and Damasta, scene of a later ambush. Later, we visit Anogia, the site where Leigh Fermor finally rejoined the main party, and later the target of savage German reprisals. Finally, on to the cave at Agios Fanourios, hideout of guerilla leader Mihaili Xylouris.

Day 5

A Dangerous Descent

This morning, we visit the monastery of Moni Arkadiou, another potent symbol of Cretan resistance; then, we move into the picturesque Amari valley and visit Nithavri, to which the kidnapping party descended after crossing Mount Ida. After lunch, we move on to Fourfouras and Genna — where Leigh Fermor went in search of a radio set for use in the evacuation — and finally to Patsos.

Day 6


On the morning of our final full day, we visit centres of SOE activity and resistance, including the village of Asi Gonia, and the south coast monastery of Moni Preveli. En route to the latter, we stop at the pretty ancient town of Argyroupoli. After lunch, we visit Rodakino and Peristeres beach, from where the kidnapping party and Kreipe were evacuated. Finally, our last visit of the tour is to Photeinou, the site linked to Leigh Fermor’s accidental killing of his Cretan guide. Here, we discuss his connection to Crete before returning to Rethymno for our final dinner as a group.

Day 7


In the morning, we enjoy some free time before transferring to the airport for our afternoon flight home.

What's Included

  1. Tour Manager
  2. Flights - Return flights London to Crete
  3. Meals - All meals included with wine at lunch and dinner
  4. Hotels - 6 nights in a 3/4* hotel in Rethymno

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In this modern era, victims of war are more distant and responsibility more dubious. Travel with us as we examine whose hands are stained with innocent blood; and question who is to blame for the horrors inflicted upon mankind...

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