Tripiti - Escape from Western Crete - 7-8 May 1943

Tripiti, Western Crete
Location of the last major escape of Allied soldiers from Occupied Crete during World War (7-8 May 1943)

© 2012-16 Ian Frazer

Welcome to the Tripiti website
Commemorating events of May 1943
Visiting the memorial at Tripiti

A good place to start reading about the events at Tripiti in 1943 is the Background page

Tripiti Beach

Click image to view topographical map



Tripiti is the name given to a spectacular gorge which runs through the White Mountains of western Crete and comes out on the south coast where the mountains meet the Libyan Sea.  It was at the mouth of the Tripiti Gorge that a group of Allied soldiers were picked up in a secret rescue operation on the night of 7–8 May 1943 and taken to North Africa.  Crete was heavily occupied by German and Italian forces at the time, having taken possession of the island after defeating the Allies in the battle for Crete in May 1941.

Some of the soldiers picked up at Tripiti had evaded the enemy in 1941, most had escaped from temporary prison camps set up when the island was occupied.  The evaders and escapers hoped that by going into hiding they would eventually find a way of getting off the island and returning to their units.  A small number did this on their own by finding abandoned barges or small boats that could take them the 300 to 400 kilometres across the Libyan Sea.  The majority, however, had to wait until the British secret services were able to rescue them.

Even though it was too late for almost all of those who took part in the May 1943 evacuation, it was appropriate, on the 70th anniversary in May 2013, to pay tribute to those men for their success replica rolex in getting off the island.  We also wanted to pay tribute to the large number of Cretan families who, at great risk and at great cost to themselves, hosted these men while they were evading re-capture and waiting to be rescued.  Without the commitment and dedication of the Cretans these men would never have survived.

On this website you will find:

  • information about where these soldiers were located while they were waiting to be rescued, their host families and host villages
  • how the rescue came about and how it was carried out
  • full lists of the Australian, New Zealand and British soldiers who were evacuated
  • extracts from SOE reports about conditions in Crete at the time of the rescue, and the rescue operation itself
  • an excerpt from a book on inshore coastal forces in the Aegean and the so-called “Milk Run” – trips to Crete
  • an account of the rescue by Lieutenant (later Lieutenant Commander) Geoffrey Searle RNVR, who captained the motor launch, ML 355, that was used to carry out the rescue
  • contemporary photos
  • contemporary newspaper reports about some of the men who were evacuated
  • information about the award that was made to all the British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers who were evacuated and its notification in The London Gazette of Tuesday 4th April, 1944
  • information about the commemorations held in Crete in May 2013
Website last updated 18-Dec-13