Saturday, July 30, 2016
George Psychoundakis - The Cretan Runner
George Psychoundakis (1920 –2006) was a Greek Resistance fighter on Crete during the Second World War. He was a shepherd, a war hero and an author. He served as dispatch runner between Petro Petrakas and Papadakis behind the German lines for the Cretan resistance and later, from 1941 to 1945, for the Special Operations Executive (SOE).
After the liberation, Psychoundakis was arrested as a deserter and was confined for 16 months despite having been honoured by the British with BEM (Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service). While in confinement he wrote his memories of service in the SOE and the Cretan resistance movement. His former superior Patrick Leigh Fermor, later Sir Patrick, discovered his plight by accident and managed to secure his release by clearing up the misunderstanding. The British offered Psychoundakis payment for his work, but he turned them down. He said that he worked for his country and not for money.
From 1974 until his retirement, Psychoundakis, together with another fighter in the Greek resistance, Manoli Paterakis, were caretakers at the German war cemetery on Hill 107 above Maleme.