This is our last day on Crete but we still have much to see before we board our ferry that will take us back to Athens and then after breakfast tomorrow morning we will head down into the Peloponnese. We left our hotel in Rethymno and headed east to Heraklion where we were to firstly visit the Knossos Palace. The Knossos Palace was so named by Arthur Evans, the archaeologist who discovered and excavated the site. He found what he saw as being different to the Mycenaeans that he expected to find to have lived there. He knew then that he was looking at a different cultural group. They were in fact to be known as the Minoans. He thought the site was a palace but now it seems that there has never been any proof found that the Minoans actually had Kings but maybe it was an aristocratic family. As the structure was so significant and so advanced for the time, Evans believed there was a throne room within the centre. Much controversy is still out there in the archaeologist world as to the way Evans went about the dig and the reconstruction. The Jury is still out on the best outcome and process.
Following our visit and lunch nearby we made our way to the location where the German General Commanding Crete, Kreipe was abducted by the SOE team of Major Patrick Leigh Fermor and Captain William Stanley Moss who had planned to abduct Müller the previous Commander, but when he was replaced, proceeded with their plans and targeted Kreipe instead. They were helped by Cretan resistance fighters in the successful abduction. We then moved on to visit Father Nickolas in his Chapel on the hill overlooking Heraklion Airport, the scene in 1941 or some desperate action as the 2/4th Battalion took on the German paratroopers who had dropped onto their defensive position. This was the third place on the island that had the paratroopers dropped in to secure the airfield but as at Rethymno, they failed and their casualties were high. The 2/4th Battalion and all the 4th Brigade were evacuated as the Germans had control of the airfield at Maleme and were advancing towards the East with significant reinforcements.
We have been visiting Father Nicholas for many years now and have been supportive in his efforts to retain the Chapel on the site. It seems now that we have been successful, and the Chapel will be retained. James Mackay, Assistant Secretary of the Merewether-Hamilton-Adamstown RSL Sub-Branch in Newcastle NSW brought with him a plaque that he presented to Father Nickolas on behalf of the Sub-Branch. The plaque was to honour Alf Carpenter for over 30 years as a valued member of the Newcastle ex-service community and more recently as a member of the Order of Australia Association and to do so on the battlefield where Alf Carpenter fought in support of Greece against invasion by Nazi Germany as RSM of 2/4th Battalion. Alf Carpenter is one of only two surviving members of the 2/4th Battalion who fought during the Greece and Crete Campaigns. It is indeed unusual at this time to be recognising rather than remembering the service of a veteran of the early years of the Second World War.
We gathered the ouzo and wine from his vineyard and other bits and pieces he always "forces" on us and made our way to the ferry. Prior to boarding, we had dinner in a local restaurant and then said goodbye to Crete for another year.