The Battle of Crete

«Μια μέρα, ο πατέρας μου και εγώ εργαζόμασταν στους αμπελώνες μας, ψεκάζαμε τα χωράφια. Ήταν στις 20 Μαΐου 1941. Είχαμε φορτωθεί τον εξοπλισμό ψεκασμού μας στην πλάτη μας και περπατούσαμε ψεκάζοντας τα αμπέλια ... Παρατηρήσαμε δύο γερμανικά αεροπλάνα, που πετούσαν πολύ χαμηλά, σχεδόν αγγίζοντας τις κορυφές των δέντρων. έρχονταν προς εμάς.»

“One day, my father and I were working in our vineyards, spraying the fields. It was May 20, 1941. We had harnessed our spraying equipment to our backs and were walking down spraying the vines...We observed two German planes, flying very low, almost touching the tops of the trees; they were coming toward us."

---Helias Doundoulakis in his memoir I Was Trained to Be a Spy


German soldiers marching near Chania, Crete.

On April 25, 1941 Adolph Hilter signed “Directive 28,” ordering the invasion of Crete. The German invasion began on May 20, 1941. For ten days, the joint British and Greek forces, with the assistance of Cretan civilians, held out against the Nazi invaders. Those ten days would change the lives of Helias and George Doundoulakis forever.


Helias Doundoulakis’ early graduation from high school upon order of German authority to release students to work in labor camps in February 1943.


High school graduation photograph from Heraklion, Crete in 1943. Helias Doundoulakis seated on the right. John Androulakis standing on the left.

During the Battle of Crete, the Doundoulakis brothers worked as translators at the joint British-Greek military headquarters, where they proved able and reliable. When Crete fell, Montague “Monty” Woodhouse, 5th Baron Terrington, asked George to help evacuate British soldiers out of Crete. Lord Terrington was a picture of a certain kind of English gentry. He was also an agent with the Special Operations Executive (SOE), a secret organization dedicated to helping local resistance movements and using them as a launch pad from which to conduct espionage. The Doundoulakis brothers were about to become spies.