It seems to have been successful at espionage during World War II Britain recruited some of the most eclectic and unlikely group of characters and somehow molded them into teams that thwarted the Nazis. Evidence of this assertion is clear in Ben Macintyre’s 2012 book, ‘Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies‘ and most recently Wes Davis’, ‘The Ariadne Objective
Common to both espionage teams was a strong determination to succeed, strong language skills, a dislike for military formality coupled with high creativity and flair for the unconventional solution.
The book starts off immediately establishing British espionage leader’s courageous spirit by describing his solo WALK from Amsterdam to Istanbul in 1933 at age 18! In the course of this adventure, Patrick Leigh Fermor would master the Greek language and learn many lessons of getting along in strange lands. Shortly after the out break of war, Fermor’s knowledge of Greece came to the attention of the War Office and he was soon to return to familiar territory. However, the war was progressing badly for Britain, Greece and Crete were lost to the Nazi’s and Egypt was nearly lost.
Another key player in the Crete espionage history was John Pendlebury. An archeologist and Crete expert prior to the war, Pendlebury established much the early intelligence network on the island. With his death early in the war, Pendlebury became almost mythical among the Cretan resistance fighters.
Completing the complex tapestry of the Cretan espionage network were a motley group of British military, and Cretans. The Cretans are a particularly interesting group of peasants, monks, shepherds, farmers and the odd assortment criminals. What united all Cretans was a common history of opposing invaders whether they be Turks or Nazi’s.
The account of the group culminates in the audacious kidnapping of the senior Nazi general in charge of Crete and spiriting him off to Cairo as a POW.
In summary, ‘The Ariadne Objective’ reads more like a World War II spy thriller than the real life account of a courageous band of unlikely warriors. As with all detailed historical accounts in unfamiliar places, maps of Crete are essential. My uncorrected galley proof only contained a placeholder for these needed maps. I trust they will be up to the task in the final version of the book.
By the way, In Greek mythology, Ariadne is the daughter of Minos, King of Crete. She is mostly associated with mazes and labyrinths. Her father put her in charge of the labyrinth where sacrifices were made as part of reparations. Given the part that the Cretan cave system played during the War, this was a very appropriate title.