Griechenland - Greece Wikipedia - Link -


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Karte NATO TPC G-3A Greece Greichenland  - interchart relationship






- Wikipedia - Peloponnese Peloponnese

- Wikipedia - Cyclades Cyclades

- Wikipedia - Dodecanse Dodecanese

- Wikipedia - Mani Peninsula Mani Peninsula

- The Peloponnese, which is Sparta, the entire peninsular south of the Corinth Canal was known as Morea up until the Nineteenth Century.



NATO TPC air chart  G-3A Greece, Pelloponese, Aegean Sea, Cyclades, Mani
NATO TPC air chart G-3A Link - Greece, Peloponese Wikipedia - Peloponnese, Aegean Sea, Cyclades Wikipedia - Cyclades, Mani Wikipedia - Mani Peninsula. Data circa 1972. Soviet General Staff 1:25,000 maps will give a detailed map of Mani circa early 1970s.






Patrick Leigh-Fermor writes of Mani in his book Mani , page 77

Very little is known about this remote province in the rest of the country but the name of the Mani at once suggests four ideas to any Greek: the custom of the blood feud; dirges; Petrobey Mavromichalis, the leader of the Maniots in the Greek War of Independence; and the fact that the Mani, with the Sphakian mountains of Crete and, for a while, the crags of Souli in Epirus, was the only place in Greece which wrested its freedom from the Turks and maintained a precarious independence. This, too, was about the sum of my knowledge, amplified by the haze of rumours, which (as so few non-Maniot Greeks ever go to the Mani) riots unchecked beyond the Taygetus. This deviation from the main flow of Greek history has produced many divergent symptoms and, before going further into its remoter depths, it is worth looking at the things in the Mani’s past which have contributed to this idiosyncrasy.


Karte NATO TPC G-3A Greece Greichenland


Karte NATO TPC G-3A Greece Greichenland


In the above map, the line marked in red is the route followed by Patrick Leigh-Fermor on this first expedition to Mani Wikipedia - Mani Peninsula. Mani is the southern most point in Europe. It is mountainous and remote, with some villages only accesible by sea. There was no road until the 1970s. Christianity did not arrive on the Mani peninsular until six hundred years after it became the official religion of Byzantium. Under the Ottomans, Mani was nearly independent because of the difficulty in governing it. You could travel in Mani and indeed many remote parts of by just walking, hitch-hiking and sleeping in olive groves and vinyards, but one of the hazards were the amount of wild dogs which roamed the land at night, howling at each other. While it seemed unlikely one was to be attacked and dismembered by them, the imagination runs wild in the darkness, which does not promote easy sleep.

Karte NATO TPC G-3A Greece Greichenland


Karte NATO TPC G-3A Greece Greichenland  - Mani Peninsular


Karte NATO TPC G-3A Greece Greichenland  - Peninsular of Deep Mani, showing route of Patrick Leigh Fermor


Patrick Leigh-Fermor was a classicist, linguist and a historian. When traveling through landscapes he travels not in two dimensions but in three. The events of each and every preceding century are replayed through his mind as he takes his footsteps. When he writes, all of these events play a part in his perception and thus his writing. From one stimuli, be it geography - landscapes, or anthropology - people, a cascade of associations, connections and causes will flow. He is a powerful observer of detail, which means that he can pick out distinguishing features in the people of specific regions, or nuances in their dialect or use of language.

Page 90: Christianity did not reach Mani until 600 years after it became the official religion of Byzantium:

The similarity of these miroloyia with the themes of ancient Greek literature, most notably with the lament of Andromache over the body of Hector, coupled with the fact that this region remained pagan till six entire centuries after Constantine had made Christianity the official Greek religion, and with the fact that they only exist in the Mani, tempts one to think that here again is a direct descendant of Ancient Greece, a custom stretching back, perhaps, till before the Siege of Troy.


Page 105:

There was not a single school in the Mani until the 1830’s and it is without a doubt the most backward part of Greece. Hence the almost total absence of literature and culture. The sombre traditions of the region continued unhindered for centuries. There are other symptomatic observances of these traditions apart from the general concentration on death and revenge.


Page 107:

Life, in fact, is wretchedly poor and overcast with sadness. In the past it was entirely shadowed by the blood feud. The thing that kept the Maniots going was their fierce sense of liberty, their pride in living in one of the earliest places in Greece to have cast free of the Turks. It is very seldom that a Maniot enters domestic service. Maniot beggars are unknown. Cattle theft does not exist, and doors are never locked. It is part of their regional pride that prompts them to dismiss the inhabitants of the outside world as “Vlachs.” At last I learnt the meaning of the word which had so puzzled me the day we arrived in the Mani! It has nothing to do with the nomads of the Pindus. A Vlach is a plain-dweller, a descendant of rayahs, a vile bourgeois, and Maniots who leave the peninsula to live like them are said, with accents of scorn, to have “gone Vlach.”




Lord Byron's plumed helmet from the Greek War of Independence
The Greek helmet Byron Wikipedia - Lord Byron had made for himself to wear during the triumphal entry into Athens during the Greek war of Independence Wikipedia - .


Byron's plumed helmet


Many romantic adventurers from all over Europe followed Byron's footsteps to the Greek War of Independence. Samuel Gridley Howe, and American surgeon who volunteered his services to the Greek independence movement wrote in his journal for 1828-DEC-03:

»What a queer set! what an assemblage of romantic, adventurous, restless, crackbrained young men from the four corners of the world: how much courage & talent are to be found among them; but how much more of pompous vanity, of weak intellect, of mean selfishness, of utter depravity! Quixotism and egotism un-doubtedly abound in the mass of queer materialism; but egotism swallows up all the others, and the Philhellene becomes a crackbrained and unprincipled being puffed up by vanity, while his coat is out at the elbows, cursing the Greeks as depraved while he himself is carrying on open & shameless debauchery; and crying out against their trickery and baseness, while he himself by every possible means honest or dis-honest is trying to gorge down the fat of the land; and fill a purse which he brought empty from home. I must say however that as a body English Philhellenes are more respectable and disinterested than the French; who are too often thoughtless, vain or unprincipled adventurers who think of nothing but glory and enjoyment; and who curse the Greeks for not more appreciating a character which their own conduct sets forth as selfish and unprincipled. Little have Philhellenes done toward raising the reputation of Europeans here.«

This observation would fit equally those who joined the Spanish Civil War, as recounted in George Orwell's Homage to Catalonia.

- Wikipedia - Cruisers Wiki South Peloponnese Cruisers Wiki South Peloponnese



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NATO TPC air charts G-3C and G-3D
NATO TPC air charts G-3C and G-3D

I have never seen a map of Crete, Allied or Soviet which was not in two halves. The wartime Wehrmacht maps were in two halves as well. The above NATO TPC was made from G-3C and G-3D spliced together.


- During the 1941-MAY German invasion of Crete, Otto Skorzeny and his commandos were tasked with arriving in the first wave and making straight for the British HQ at Maleme and Heraklion where they were to acquire as much secret material as possible. After the successful but costly German invasion, Ian Fleming at Naval Intelligence conducted a study of the German attack and noticed the role of Skorzeny. Fleming began to follow his career and the missions of his commandos. Realising that the British forces had no equivalent, Fleming formed '30AU' or '30 Assault Unit'. Much later, Admiral Cunningham was to christen them '30 Indecent Assault Unit' after they developed a bad reputation for off-duty boozing and womanising.

NATO TPC air chart G-3C G-3D Kreta - The Stronghold
NATO TPC air chart G-3C G-3D Kreta - The Stronghold


The Stronghold is a mountaineous area of Western Crete which was the refuge of the Cretan partisans and the British SOE during the German occupation of Crete in the Second World War. At the upper edge is the Malaxa ridge which extends the Stronghold nearly to the northern shore.

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Xan Fielding Wikipedia - Xan Fielding placed an advertisement in the London Times 1950-JUL-31:

While the war provided the ideal venue for adventurers such as Patrick Leigh Fermor, W.Stanley Moss and Xan Fielding, peacetime was not kind to men like them. Fielding, finding no way of supporting himself or interesting himself, placed this advertisement in the London Times 1950-JUL-31:

"Tough yet sensitive ex-classical scholar, ex-secret agent, ex-guerilla leader, 31, recently reduced to penury through incompatibility with the post-war world: Mediterranean lover, gambler and general dabbler: Fluent French and Greek speaker, inevitable Italian: would do anything unreasonable and unexpected if sufficiently rewarding and legitimate."

It is easy to see how the experience of wartime adventure led characters to look for further adventures rather than settle into a peacetime profession. Che Guevara was another serial adventurer, going to Africa and Bolivia. There were several 19thC professional army officers who served in several armies and several wars. It is not easy to find a comfortable retirement income and it was not uncommon for them to spend their last days in penury.

CYPRUS summer 1940: In a hot and dusty outpost of the British Empire, threatened with invasion by the Hun at any moment, the finest traditions of the British Army are being upheld:

   My brother officers were not so fearsome as I had anticipated. They had all been seconded from various other regiments, and were either novices like myself or recalcitrant regulars who had proved undesirable in their parent battalions. Our unit, then, was understandably free from any sense of regimental pride.
   The Cypriots have never had a military tradition, and it soon became clear that they were not going to break a habit formed before the first century by taking kindly to soldiering in the twentieth. The preferred the brothels of the nearest provincial town to the unwonted masculinity of the camp, while us officers, despairing of ever transforming them into disciplined automata, light-heartedly abandoned the attempt and, following in our own way the example set by the men, transferred our attentions to the night-clubs of Nicosia. Fortunately for us, the Colonel showed as little interest in training as we did. With a serene indifference to the war, he devoted all his energies to organizing the Regimental Sport Day, a project he did not abandon until the Battle of Crete was over and the threat to Cyprus was imminent.
   So while Battalion was kept busy with the C.O.'s plans for turning the parade-ground into a running-track, the incidence of venereal disease among the men rose to a height which was only surpassed by the officer's drunkenness. One company commander turned up so fuddled at a court martial over which he was to preside that he had to be arrested on the spot and was subsequently tried himself. Another - martyr to a daily hangover - after being sick into a waste-paper basket in the company office, would call for an orderly, point at the steaming mess and shout:
   "What is the meaning of all this ?! Take it out of here at once !"


- Link - firedirectioncenter blogspot on the Invasion of Crete - Invasion of Crete - Operation Merkur








- Link - Obituary of Xan Fielding Obituary of Xan Fielding Wikipedia - Xan Fielding

- Link - Patrick Leigh-Fermor's home in Kardamyli, Outer Mani Patrick Leigh-Fermor's home in Kardamyli Wikipedia - Kardamyli, Outer Mani

- Link - Patrick Leigh-Fermor

- W. Stanley Moss Wikipedia - W. Stanley Moss

- After the Battle Magazine Link - journal of historical research

- Link - Greek Font Society Greek Font Society

- Kreta, Stavros village, where Zorba the Greek (1966) Wikipedia - Zorba the Greek (1966) was filmed






- Mani by Patrick Leigh-Fermor

- The Cretan Runner by George Psychoundakis Wikipedia - George Psychoundakis

- The Stronghold (1953) by Xan Fielding. This book and its companion, below, were out of print for most of my life time but have recently been reprinted by Paul Dry Books. In Hide, and Seek, Fielding tells of his wartime exploits on Crete. In The Stronghold, he re-visits his old haunts.

- Hide and Seek (1945) by Xan Fielding

- Abducting a General by Patrick Leigh-Fermor

- Ill Met by Moonlight by W.Stanley Moss

- Ill Met by Goonlight by Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes.

- Greece, Egypt and the Holy Land by Clark and Cripps

- Various works on Greek Islands by Lawrence Durrell

- The Liebstandarte in Greece # published by Schiffer

- Spirit of Place - Letters and Essays on Travel by Lawrence Durrell











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