Skip to main content

Peter Wildey describes retreat over White Mountains, Crete

Audio file

Second Lieutenant Peter Wildey served with 7th (NZ) Field Company on Crete. Here he describes the retreat to Sfakia and the exhausting march over the White Mountains.

Part One: Retreat and an attack on day nine


We kept retreating. We gradually got forced back to a place named Stylos. That's the junction of the main road going right along to Heraklion, but it branches off and goes to the right, and goes over to Sfakia over the mountains. Well, we were there. There were thousands of troops resting under the trees. The Germans were coming around, spotting anybody, and machine-gunning them and a chap named Ted Smale and I — there was a dump there that was there for troops to get stuff as they went through, and there was hardly anything left — but Ted and I, we found two tins of jam. We were eating those, and the German fighters had started strafing. Gee, there were bullets whizzing everywhere.

When it was all over, we went away. Ted noticed a fire, and he looked down and his sock was on fire. It was obviously a phosphorous bullet. The Germans in their ammo on the planes, they had phosphorous bullets for starting fires; they had explosive bullets for blowing a big hole; and they had tracer bullets and ordinary solid rounds. They're terrible things; give a terrible wound

Part two: Exhausting march over the Askifou Plain


Units got all mixed up, you couldn't sort them out, but you just kept on going. The first place we headed for was the Askifou Plain. It's way high up. Very cold up there.

We were staggering along. At that time I was with Major Hanson and his batman [the latter] was very, very tired and we were staggering along and [he] said, "Look, sir, I can't go any further. I've just got to have a sleep." He got on a pile of rocks, he just got on the top of there like [it] was a feather mattress. Major Hanson said to me, "You were marching, Pete, and you were sound asleep marching along." That's how tired we were. We rested at this Askifou Plain. It was broad daylight and very exposed. There were lots of stone walls there, and we concealed ourselves along there and then carried on the next day and eventually got down to Sfakia.

Peter Wildey


Interviewed by Megan Hutching, 9 November 2000
Image: Peter Wildey collection

How to cite this page

Peter Wildey describes retreat over White Mountains, Crete, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated