MONI PREVELI IN WORLD WAR ll

 

During the Battle of Crete in 1941, one of the first tasks of the resistance was to get stranded soldiers off the island, and in this they had remarkable success, organising the fugitives into groups and arranging their collection by ship or submarine from isolated beaches on the south coast. Many were hidden and fed by monks while they waited to escape, especially at the monastery of Preveli. Although opposition was constant and reprisals brutal this didn't deter many monasteries from helping with the fight against the German occupation. At first only arranging on a daily basis for supplies to be made to the allied troops and the local resistance fighters. 

 

When the German troops secured Maleme airport in Hania and advanced through Crete leaving lots of allied troops needing  to be evacuated, as they had no means of then getting away from the island.

 

The Monastery of Preveli situated high above the southern coastline and many neighbouring villages became a safe shelter for these men and a good point from which to escape by sea. The abbot Agathangelos Lagouvardos became head of a committee set up by the people of this area to secretly help supply British, Australian and New Zealand troops on the island, with shelter and a means of escape. This brave group of islanders continued its work up until the end of the German occupation.

 

A group of Australian soldiers protected by the monastery, managed to secure their rescue by contact with a British submarine from the island at Preveli Beach to the Middle East. This rescue mission was so successful that a second attempt was made but was discovered by the Germans imposing serious repercussions. Albeit ,the monks managed to escape at the time, but not without the lower part of the  monastery being destroyed by the Germans.

 

These occupying forces destroyed and removed everything including the wine, olive oil and sheep which were subsequently used to feed the soldiers at Rethymnon. Reconstruction work began with help from other monasteries and local Cretans however, the Germans increased their surveillance of these poor monks. But, still they did not stop providing for the allied soldiers some who were still trapped in the area, only this time through the guerrillas of the National Resistance Movement who were working in the mountain regions.
 

After his escape from the Monastery Abbot Agathangelos joined the Greek Army in the Middle East as a priest and was distinguished for his role in helping the allied forces, unfortunately prior to his return after the liberation he died quite suddenly. But the role of this courageous Abbot, his monks and the monastery itself was and still is to this day, widely acclaimed, not only by those it helped but by the Governments of the allied powers.

  

Top
Top

 

 More Crete pages
: Intro to Crete : About Hania & West Crete : Cretan People : When to Come : Getting Here
: Greeks on Holiday : Its All Greek To Me : Weather :

Home

 

Copyright  2009 Only Crete