Sunday, November 6, 2016

Ill Met by Moonlight (1957), also known as Night Ambush

General Kreipe, like Leigh-Fermor, was a man of culture and education. Leigh-Fermor tells the story of how they both recited an Ode of Horace together during their journey through the Cretan mountains. See "A Time of Gifts", pp. 86-87. A very good film, by the way.


Heinrich Kreipe
General Heinrich Kreipe.jpg
Born5 June 1895
Died14 June 1976 (aged 81)
NortheimLower SaxonyFederal Republic of Germany(West Germany)
Allegiance German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany
Commands held22nd infantry division
World War II
AwardsKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Ill Met by Moonlight (1957), also known as Night Ambush, is a film by the British writer-director-producer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and the last movie they made together through their production company, "The Archers". The film, which stars Dirk Bogarde and featuresMarius GoringDavid Oxley, and Cyril Cusack, is based on the 1950 book Ill Met by Moonlight: The Abduction of General Kreipe by W. Stanley Moss, which is an account of events during the author's service on Crete duringWorld War II as an agent of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The title is a quotation from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the book features the young agents' capture and evacuation of the German general Heinrich Kreipe.


During World War II, the Greek Mediterranean island of Crete was occupied by the Nazis. British officers Major Patrick Leigh Fermor DSO (Dirk Bogarde) and Captain Bill Stanley Moss MC (David Oxley) of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) land on the island. With the help of the local Cretan resistance in April 1944, they kidnap General Kreipe (Marius Goring), the commander of the island. They take Kreipe across rough country to a secluded cove on the far side of the island, where they are picked up and taken to Cairo, the Middle East headquarters of British forces.[1]

Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor

Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, who died on June 10 aged 96, was one of the few genuine Renaissance figures produced by Britain in the 20th century, a man both of action and learning, a modern Philip Sidney or Lord Byron.

Leigh Fermor was the architect of one of the most daring feats of the Second World War, the kidnapping of the commander of the German garrison on Crete, and also the author of some of the finest works in the canon of English travel writing.

Ill Met by Moonlight
(Night Ambush)
theatrical poster
Directed byMichael Powell
Emeric Pressburger
Produced byMichael Powell
Emeric Pressburger
Written byW. Stanley Moss (book)
Michael Powell
Emeric Pressburger
StarringDirk Bogarde
Marius Goring
David Oxley
Cyril Cusack
Music byMikis Theodorakis
CinematographyChristopher Challis
Edited byArthur Stevens
Distributed byThe Rank Organisation
Release dates
4 March 1957 (UK)
24 April 1958 (NYC)
July 1958 (US)
Running time
104 minutes
93 minutes (US)
CountryUnited Kingdom

Abduction by Greek and British agents[edit]

Main article: Kidnap of General Kreipe
In the spring of 1944, a plan was hatched by the Allies to kidnap General Müller, whose harsh repressive measures had earned him the nickname "the Butcher of Crete". The operation was led by Major Patrick Leigh Fermor, and second CaptainBill Stanley Moss, Greek SOE agents and Cretan resistance fighters. However General Müller left the island before the plan could be executed. Major Fermor decided to abduct Kreipe instead.
On the night of 26 April, General Kreipe left headquarters in Archanes. The car headed without escort to a well-guarded residence, "Villa Ariadni", about 25 km outside Heraklion. Major Fermor and Captain Moss, dressed as German military policemen, waited for him 1 km before his residence. When he arrived, they asked the driver to stop and asked for their papers. As soon as the car stopped, Fermor opened Kreipe's door, jumped in, and threatened him with his pistol, while Moss took the driver's seat. (The abduction is now commemorated near Archanes.)[4] Moss drove the kidnappers and the General for an hour and a half through 22 controlled road blocks in Heraklion, before leaving Leigh Fermor to drive on and abandon the car, with material being planted that suggested their escape from the island had been made by submarine. Moss set off with the General on a cross-country march supported by the Greek resistance, soon rejoined by Leigh Fermor. Hunted by German patrols, the kidnappers crossed the mountains to reach the southern side of the island, where a British Motor Launch (ML 842 commanded by Brian Coleman) was waiting torendez-vous. Eventually, on 14 May 1944, they were picked up from Peristeres beach near Rhodakino and ferried to Egypt.
Kreipe was interrogated, and then sent to a POW camp in Canada. Later transferred to a special camp in Wales,[5] Kreipe was finally released from British captivity in 1947. General Kreipe met his kidnappers one more time in 1972 on a Greek TV show.[6] He died at Northeim on 14 June 1976.

In 1966

  • Avatar
    Because of  the the kidnapping the Germans burned all the villages (8) that they passed the general to go to the south of Crete  and executed people  0n 22 August 1944 . My father was among them, in the village of Ano Meros. 
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        I'm sorry that your father was murdered by the Nazis.  It's one of the great dilemmas of war, whether one stops fighting because the enemy's lack of morals means they stoop to committing atrocities.  I'm sure nothing would have grieved PLF more than knowing that your family paid a price for his actions.  He loved Greece and no one listening to him talk could have doubted that.

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          He was a remarkable man, an absolute gentleman of the old kind, fascinating to be in the company of, a great inspiration to many. The last of a generation who will be missed as much in his adopted Greece as elsewhere.
        • Quite simply one of the best writers in the English language.  Many years ago living abroad I happened on his first book and reading through it in a Stuttgart beer garden came to understand what a gift language was.  His prose has long formed the standard by which I measure all other writing.  Sometimes approached it is rarely breached.  His books were indeed gifts where ever we read them.  Many thanks, PLF, schoene reise. 

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