after my wife and I arrived in Crete to settle there for a while, we
visited the Allied War Cemetery in
, near the town of
. As an ex-National
Serviceman in the Intelligence Corps, I was interested in looking at the
British war graves there and was surprised to see a headstone
commemorating a WOII W A Knox (CSM) of the Int Corps who was killed on
23 March 1944. Adjoining
this headstone is another, which records the death of two soldiers of
the Cyprus Regiment, on the same day as Knox.
careful search of the site revealed no further mention of Int Corps
members. This set me
wondering. What was this
chap, a CSM, doing in
? Whilst most of the
headstones bore dates within the week of the Battle of Crete, May 1941,
this was much later. Why?
What had he been up to?
read a number of publications about the Battle of Crete and the war in
generally, together with some previously unpublished information from
files held in the Public Records Office, the following story emerges.
William Arthur Knox was recruited into Force 133 of the SOE in
in July 1943 and was sent for training to a centre in
. He was subsequently posted
to help train the guerrillas and landed there, together with Capt R C
Barnes, RA, on 31 October, 1943. Until
September 1943, the norm had been to have two officers and two wireless
but that entailed long journeys for the messengers, half-way across the
island so it was decided to double the number of officers, each with a
wireless set. Accordingly,
Major Dunbabin took over from Capt Leigh Fermor and under him was a Capt
A M Rendel, RA, to look after Eastern Crete, while Capt Barnes worked
under Capt A W (Xan) Fielding of the Cyprus Regiment in the Rethymno
(western) region. 
CSM Knox was probably under the operational command of Capt (later
Major) Fielding who first landed in
on the night of 11/12 January, 1942 and who was responsible for activity
in the Rethymno and Chania districts.
Fielding was relieved on 5 August 1942 but was back again,
landing by submarine near Koustoyerako on 27 November.
He continued to organise operations and intelligence gathering
until 20 January 1944 when he left Crete and was relieved by Capt D J Ciclitira,
, who had landed in the Selino (Western) area a month earlier.
the meantime, Ssgt Dudley Perkins, NZEF was sent out to
to assist Capt Fielding, landing on the night of 29/30 July 1943. Dudley
Perkins, who built up a tremendous rapport with the local resistance
movement was to become known to the guerrillas as Capt Vasilis
and is still a revered hero today.
G A Barkham, Beds & Herts, a wireless expert who was intended to
service wireless sets and arms arrived in the western area during
January. In his report 
arriving here I was met by Xan who gave me a welcome and pushed off with
his prisoners." (Italians were defecting to the British agents in
large numbers at this point). "I
met Kiwi,  Bill, 
and Steve  complete with beards and they
told me Dennis  was on tour and not
expected back for a fortnight or so.
We lived in the sea cave for a week or so until another one
nearby was ready, when we moved. An
Italian, Angelo Zannielo, was brought in the day following my arrival
and another eight deserted from Palaiochora and came in about a week
later bringing their arms. Nothing
of importance happened for the first couple of weeks except the odd boat
passing, which sent us all scuttling for shelter in case any Jerry
should see the location.
Kiwi went off on a short tour and Bill and Steve went to a
christening, where I gather they had a very fine time.
They coined a new toast 'Kato to Tripa' meaning 'down the
hatch'. The villagers,
however, thought they meant 'down the hole' - referring to Kiwi's
exploit with the Jerries, and I believe the toast has achieved quite a
measure of fame."
goes on to describe a piece of action:
and I stuck together and Kiwi, who had got into position, was awaiting a
favourable moment to open fire, when the Jerries on the road below had
no cover, when some fool opened up too soon and spoiled the trap.
.............. The Jerries, who were about 40, finding themselves
pinned, sent up a Very light and about an hour later another 40 came
along from Souya. He (Kiwi)
shifted half his men to the other side of the hill and pinned them too.
Bill went round to another vantage point to give Kiwi covering
fire. ..... The Jerry
casualties were four killed, buried ant Souya and reports say that some
wounded died en route for Chania, possibly two, and fifteen
extracts give a slight flavour of British Agents' lives in the White
Mountains of Crete. More
about 5.30pm on 26 February 1944, Ssgt Perkins,
who was travelling from the Selino area of
northwards, was ambushed by about 30 Germans near Karano.
He and his guide were killed from about 20 yards range by machine
gun fire. ............
The Jerries got the set, battery, one time code pads and about
one hundred shiners (golden sovereigns, used to buy food etc as local
currency was pretty worthless. ed.)
On 6th March, I received orders from Dennis 
to disband the gang and go to ground as he had information that a fresh
hunt was to start with the moonlight nights. 
Bill and I were not sorry to do this as we had learned from
experience that the gang were quite content to sit about and eat all
day, but at the first sign of trouble they changed their minds and
thought of their families and the burnt villages. .....
The second reason since
the Germans started the spy hunt, the whole population had turned
against us. 
When we split up the gang, Bill took the best of the men he
trusted. We gave some money
to the others. ............ at
about 7 am on 23rd March a large number of Germans passed along the road
very near to our hideout and almost caught one of (blanked out) men.
There were eight of us there and we crouched down expecting the
worst, because though the cave was well hidden, the aerial was plainly
visible and how they failed to see it was a miracle.
Shortly afterwards a tremendous amount of shooting was heard with
machine guns firing incessantly and many grenades.
In the evening a lad came in and told us that there had been a
fierce fight at Bill's cave but apart from saying he had seen four
stretchers, could give no information except that 500 Germans had taken
part. The next day I
sent off a couple of the boys to find out what had happened and at 5 pm
they returned to tell me that Bill was dead and lying with the two
Cypriots outside their cave. I
set off at once ... and on arriving there found them just as they had
said. The ground round them
was littered with spent cartridge cases, stick grenades and smoke
generators, and they had obviously fought to the bitter end.
God knows how Bill was killed, as his body was unscathed except
for a blow which had smashed his skull - I imagine a rifle butt.
One Cypriot had been shot in the throat and the other in the
stomach. Their pockets had
been searched and only a tiny compass in Bill's jacket was left. 
Their boots and one of the Cypriot's trousers had been taken.
We buried them where they lay with a last salute and I have had
the grave covered with large stones.
A cross will be erected as soon as possible.
.......... The whole
affair is certainly a betrayal by a Greek as none of the Italians knew
where any of us were and the Germans came without the slightest warning,
went straight to Bill's cave, did their bloody work and left again in
the space of a few hours, a thing they had never done before.
.... His death is a
great personal loss to me as we were the closest of friends.
As regards his work both here and since the war began,
knows that even better than I do. 
last point is amplified a little in Barkham's final report where he
March we were warned by the inhabitants of the
that they didn't want us in the area, as they said that owing to recent
German raids and the Italian prisoners we were holding, they were afraid
the Germans would come and burn the village.
They warned us that if we didn't leave they would betray us.
.... We remained in
that same area and on March 23 1944 five hundred Germans were led by a
masked Greek to the hide-out where CSM Knox was, together with six of
his boys. As a result of
this, Knox and two Cypriots were killed."
Knox arrived here long after the Battle of Crete but his headstone in
the well-kept cemetery is a reminder of the struggle that went on after
most of the allies had been evacuated.
was survived by his widow, Mabel Annie Knox of
. The BT Phone Book doesn't
list anyone called Knox in Thorpe Bay, so I don't know if there are any
other relatives alive to-day, but if there are, they may like to know
that an ex-Corps member now living on the island pays regular visits to
the cemetery to 'have a word' with CSM Knox.
'The Cretan Resistance 1941-1945' by N A Kokonas, MD.
File HS5/722, PRO Kew. First
Report by D/H.1255 (Lt Barkham) dated 16 April, 1944
SSgt Dudley Perkins, NZEF, aka Capt Vasilis
CSM WA Knox, Int Corps
Cpl Steve Gillespie, Fielding's wireless operator
Capt Dennis Ciclitira, who replaced Fielding in Jan 44
File HS5/722, PRO Kew. Final
Report by Lt Barkham written shortly before his capture in
on 16 October 1944 (although the report purports to cover a period to 19
Something just under 130 'shiners' along with some papers were missing
from Knox's body.
Bob Scott 2002
Intelligence Corps (Part II)
may recall my article in the 1998 issue of 'The Rose & Laurel' in
which I described my search for information about the death of Bill Knox
on 23rd March 1944 in
. It was quickly established
that he had been seconded to the SOE and was working with the resistance
when he was killed.
I wrote the article there have been many developments regarding Bill's
story. From not knowing
anyone in the family, I have now met his two surviving sisters, his
second cousin and her family and have spoken to his widow by telephone.
However, more important from an historical point of view was the
meeting with Nikos Metokharakis who, astonishingly, was with Bill on the
day that he was killed. I
have had several meetings with Nikos (who is now 82 years young) and at
our very first meeting he took me and my wife to view the area where the
action took place on that fateful morning in March, and showed us
where his wife and sister buried Bill and his two Greek Cypriot
colleagues. The details of
the meeting are irrelevant to this story, but it was nonetheless moving
to see Nikos standing by that first grave, with tears rolling down his
cheeks - 57 years after it all happened.
follows is an account of what happened on 23rd March 1944, in
Nikos's own words 
"During the night of 22/23 March 1944, a large number of German
soldiers came from the Kandanos area and surrounded the
Early in the morning, my brother Vasilis (who was 17 at the time)
spotted some of the soldiers and with a 15-year old friend came to our
hide-out to warn us that “The Goats are here” which we knew meant
German troops were in the area. In
our hideout with me was Bill, my brother Manolis (the priest), a couple
of Cypriot soldiers who had only been with us for a few days, Eftichios
Elinakis and Ioannis Vaigakis.
We decided to leave the cave, go out into the dry river bed and
try to work our way up and out to Kambanos.
However, we had only gone a short way before we spotted more
German soldiers approaching from the Maralia direction.
My young brother Vasilis and his young friend were out in front
with Ioannis Vaigakis, leading us. The German soldiers then shouted
“Halt”, whereupon Ioannis Vaigakis, who had been properly trained
and had a gun, dropped to the ground and fired off a shot to warn the
rest of us who were behind him, coming up the river bed.
Vasilis was convinced the Germans had shot him and came rushing
back to tell us that he was dead! I then told Vasilis to go back and
hide. I told him that with
three of us brothers around, it wouldn’t
do for us all to be killed, so he should take cover - which he
However, on hearing the shot from Ioannis Vaigakis, the Germans
themselves hid and in the confusion, Ioannis was able to escape. The
other young lad stayed, put up his hands and when the Germans emerged
from their hiding place, he surrendered to them and was taken away.
We ourselves decided to take another escape route along a small
river to the east, but another lot of Germans appeared, so we had to go
back. By now, we were
totally surrounded by Germans in a small clearing.
(The clearing was, in fact, an area full of rocks and
shoulder-high bushes, in which the Germans and the Andartes were trying
to pick each other off - Ed). In
trying to escape, I pulled Bill up over some rocks but again the Germans
challenged us and my brother Manolis was shot in the heel.
I went to help him and Bill decided it would be safer to go back
down to level ground again, with the two Cypriot soldiers.
In the meantime, Eftichios Elinakis continued upwards, and he, my
brother and I managed to get away. That
separation was a big problem. By now it was about 10 o’clock in the
morning and raining. I
didn’t see Bill and the two Cypriots killed but we heard shots and the
Germans were using lots of smoke grenades so the air was thick. If we
had all stuck together and gone upwards, maybe we could all have
escaped. However, that was
not to be.
brother Manolis and I used the smoke, rain and confusion to get into
hiding in a small copse. The
Germans knew that we were there, but were afraid to come after us, so
they tried to smoke us out by setting fire to the copse!
At that point, my brother was saying he would rather commit
suicide than be captured by the Germans and I had quite a job to talk
him out of it. In the end, I
more or less forced him to come with me and we managed to escape.
killed Bill and the two Cypriots, the Germans rounded up all who were
left in Moni, mainly women and children, and held them captive for a
while in the churchyard. Some
of women were not even from the village, but had come from the
surrounding area to pick the olives!
Once they had been released and the Germans left taking their 6
dead and about 15 wounded to Kandanos, my mother and my sister went to
the hideout and found the
bodies of Bill and the Cypriots. At
first, my sister thought that Bill was my brother Manolis and shouted
out “Oh Mama, our priest is dead!”.
We, still in hiding, heard her and my brother shouted “No,
he’s not!” They told us
that the Germans had left, so I carried my brother on my shoulders and
we all went back to the village to get his wound cleaned up.
But, it wasn’t safe to stay in any of the villages, so for some
days Manolis and I trudged around the hillsides, hiding in caves etc,
trying to beg for food and water from ‘friendly’ villagers.
We were afraid of being betrayed, and the villagers were afraid
in case we were discovered by the Germans who would then exact reprisals
on the villagers for hiding us. It
was a very difficult time. Ioannis
Vaigakis knew where we were and acted as a kind of guard to us which was
mother told me afterwards that the next day, the 24th, she
and my sister went back to the bodies and covered them over with sand
and leaves. However, the
next year there was a terrible flood and the remains of our friends were
in danger of being washed away, so we gathered them up and re-buried
them in Moni churchyard.
in May, the British took me and my brother Manolis
and a Torpedo Boat ferried us to
where we stayed until December 1944.
We had some funny experiences there.
One British officer, who knew us quite well, totally ignored us,
but one day we saw Dennis Ciclitira and he welcomed us both with open
arms. At that time we were
with the Greek section in
and Dennis tried to get us attached to the British section as part of
the 133rd 
That worked for a while but in the end we had to go back to the
Greek section and eventually came back to
the war, my brother Manolis who was about 30 at the time, went on to
university and eventually became a Priest in the Orthodox Church.
He married and had four children, but unfortunately died of
asthma when he was 46."
I am grateful to Eileen Hogan of Chania for translating this 'on
Force 133, SOE personnel in
isn't quite the end of the story though.
On May 19th 2001, the 60th Anniversary of
the Battle of Crete, there was a service in the
, Crete, at which HRH the Duke of Kent, the President of Greece and
various dignitaries from
were all present. This is to
be the final commemoration of the
as most of the veterans are now either dead or unable to make the
. The highlight for us was
seeing Bill Knox's two sisters, Maggie (87) and Jess (79) laying an
Intelligence Corps wreath at the cenotaph.
They had made the journey specially to meet Nikos (another long
story in itself!) and to lay the wreath.
Other family members were there too and the next day we hosted a
small 'Bill Knox luncheon party' at our home, overlooking Souda Bay at
which all eight of the family members who had made the journey to Crete
had a good time, remembering Bill, his work, his friends and colleagues
in a spirit of happy thankfulness.