The battle for Crete started on the 20th May with the early morning waves of airborne landings[1].
When the British Army realised that the battle of Crete was a lost cause, they tried to evacuate the troops from Crete back to Egypt.  This meant that Sidney and his fellow colleagues had to march from the north of Crete to the harbour of Sphakia in the South of the island, a distance of around 50-60 miles.  While they were marching to Sphakia, the British Army were being bombed by Stuka bombers and at times Sidney and the other troops had to lie flat on the ground while they were being shot at.  At one point, due to the bombing, Sidney said that he was going to climb down a limestone gorge to get away from the bombing.  Some of the soldiers that were with Sidney were unsure about this as they had never climbed before, but Sidney managed to lead about eight or nine men down the gorge.  At the bottom of the gorge they met a number of Special Operations Executive Officers hiding out in a cave[2].

After the battle of Crete at the end of May 1941 Sidney was one of approximately 5,000 troops that were left behind on the island after the British had surrendered Crete to the Germans on the 1st June[3].  Most of the troops that were left on Crete were captured by the Germans and held as Prisoners of War.  Initially Sidney was held in a transit camp, which was located on the site of the field hospital to the west of Canea.  The conditions in the camp were awful due to the lack of interest from the German authorities[4].  While Sidney was in the camp he wrote the following poem entitled “The Cretan Prisoners’ Song”


This is my story, this is my song,
We’ve been on this island too blooming long.

When we came here “Old Crete” to defend,
We hadn’t the faintest how it would end.

Another withdrawal, strategic retreat,
Our Officers leading the race to the fleet.

And just as they left us at Spakhia Bay,
They gave us this message while they sailed away.

Now Boys do not panic, things will turn out alright,
The Navy will come back, on Sunday night.

But they needn’t have worried, ‘Jerry knew of our plan,
And by noon on the Sunday, had got each single man.

Now here we all are, right in the mire
Studying the Germans, from behind the barbed wire.

The ‘Jerry’ is busy, or so they say,
Over in Europe, keeping Russia away.

Here is a new one; it’s just come to hand,
Were being “repatted” to Old Gyppo Land.

It can’t be too soon, don’t delay it too long,
And fulfil the wish of this Prison Song[5].

While Sidney was a prisoner on Crete he got on with the German guards, and when he mentioned this at a meeting after the war in Skipton, he shocked those who were there.  Sidney found that some of the Germans guarding the prisoners were Austrians who were part of the Alpine Force and they enjoyed climbing and football so they had things to talk about.

The first Sidney’s family knew that he was missing was on the 21st July 1941 when they received a letter from the War Office stating that Sidney was posted as “missing” on the 2nd June.  As soon as Sidney could he wrote the following postcard to his family on the 25th June.
Dear All,
I am a prisoner of war in German Custody.
I am unwounded and quite well. Please do not write to me until you hear from me again as I am at present only in a Transit Camp. 



[1] Antony Beevor, Crete: The Battle and the Resistance, (London, 1991) p.102
[2] Interview with Sidney Waterfall, c.2002
[3] Antony Beevor, Crete; p.218
[4] Antony Beevor, Crete; p.226
[5] Personal Papers of Sidney Waterfall

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