Tom Moir DCM MM: WWII Service
Staff Sergeant Tom Moir of the NZ Artillery was captured, along with many other New Zealanders, after the fall of Crete in 1941. After a couple of weeks in the prison camp in poor conditions on the north side of Crete, he escaped with Sergeant Dudley Perkins, another New Zealander. Like many other Allied soldiers loose on Crete, they made their way to the south coast in the hope of being taken off, but for some reason, they were not among those evacuated.
They were protected at that time, around Christmas, in the village of Sklavopoula by the Papantunakis family (he was a doctor). Later in the war, the doctor and his wife were betrayed to the Germans and jailed. At times, while Perkins and Moir were upstairs hiding, while the doctor's wife, Fifi, would deal with the German patrols that called at the house, at the risk of being shot herself. Eventually Moir's efforts to find a boat paid off, he stole a boat large enough for a party of eight, but was unable to contact Perkins and Kerr (a colleague of Perkins), and after three days of trying, set out on the boat and four days later he landed at Sidi Barrani, North Africa, in May '42, a year after the Crete invasion. Moir was able to tell the authorities in Cairo of the men on Crete, and two boat loads of them were evacuated in May and June.
Other allied servicemen were still on the loose on Crete, and Moir volunteered to go back to round them up and facilitate their evacuation by submarine. He was "transferred to Force 133", the SOE (Special Operations Executuve), and returned to Crete in February 1943. He participated in a number of operations over several months, and was successful in rounding up further allied servicemen. Just before their scheduled evacuation, Moir was betrayed by a Cretan, Christos, and ended up in Ayia jail at Galatas. The evacuations went ahead, without him.
Moir avoided being shot as a spy by convincing the Germans that he’d never been captured, and had been on the loose in Crete since the island had been taken. He was later transferred to a POW camp in Austria, escaping twice, but recaptured each time.
Tom Moir’s escapee companion, Sergeant Dudley Perkins, also escaped Crete, joined the SOE on 28th April 1943 and returned to Crete, He became known as Vasili by the resistance, and earned the sobriquet of "The Lion of Crete" for his work with them. Perkins was killed in action on Crete in February 1944.