Captain Peter Wand-Tetley

Captain Peter Wand-Tetley, was parachuted “blind” into Greece in 1943 and was awarded the MC for his part in an SOE operation to equip and train Andarte partisans.

On a moonlit night in April 1943, Wand-Tetley, then a Captain, was part of a three-man mission commanded by Major Bill Reid which was dropped near Nasia, in the central prong of the Peloponnesian trident, an area dominated by Mount Taygetos. GHQ Middle East in Cairo had warned the group that no other agents had been successfully infiltrated into the region, and was able to provide very little information on what they might expect.

Their descent was watched by villagers who had been celebrating Easter and who greeted them with tears and kisses, congratulating them on their good fortune in missing an Italian patrol that had left the village the previous day. Their wireless set and the container holding their stores had been badly damaged on landing. Italian troops found some of these scattered on the hillside, and the SOE men spent several days on the run.

Having shaken off its pursuers, Wand-Tetley’s party set off south towards Taygetos in search of members of the Andarte resistance group. Wearing civilian overcoats over their battledresses and cloth caps pulled down over their eyes, they moved by night and laid up during the day.

On one occasion, while crossing a railway line, a mule slipped its load and an ammunition drum fell with a clatter on to the rails within a few yards of a guard hut. The Italian soldiers were either fast asleep, or too frightened to investigate.

There were about 150 Andartes in the Peloponnese; but they were too ill-equipped to mount a guerrilla operation, and Wand-Tetley radioed to Cairo for arms and stores to be dropped by air. The mission then established its HQ on a hill close to the village of Platania and set about organising and training the Andartes, forming them into bands of 25 men, armed with machine guns and rifles.

The Andartes, however, belonged to political factions with irreconcilable differences, and reconnaissance patrols to local villages often proved to be little more than opportunities for flag waving and delivering inflammatory speeches. Early in August, after Wand-Tetley’s attempts to mediate between the disputatious segments of his organisation had failed, there was a pitched battle.

The Germans, hearing reports of his problems, sent a punitive expedition of 1,000 troops to Platania, and Wand-Tetley was forced to move his headquarters north to Minthi, the highest feature in the area. In September, with Greece close to civil war, the mission signalled HQ Cairo with a request that supplies for the Andartes be suspended.

Later in the month, German wireless detection vehicles started searching for them, and their hut was fired on by an enemy plane. As soon as dusk fell, they loaded up their mules and moved again. Re-established at Garditsa, but realising that there was no hope of succeeding in its original objective, the mission concentrated on intelligence gathering, relief work and in assisting large parties of many nationalities to evacuate by sea.

On one occasion, a submarine which was to have been used to evacuate a party became stuck on a sandbank. After several attempts to float it off were frustrated by a persistent north-westerly gale, there was no alternative but to destroy it.

Wand-Tetley swam out to the submarine carrying a supply of detonators; he salvaged a sextant and a jar of rum, then ignited the explosive charge. In June 1944, after 14 months behind enemy lines, he was evacuated from Greece; he was awarded an immediate MC.

Peter Michael Wand-Tetley was born at Farnham, Surrey, in 1920 and enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company in 1939 commissioned into the Wiltshire Regiment the following year. He transferred to No 3 Special Service Battalion, which had been formed from No 4 and No 7 Commando, and was posted to the Middle East in 1941 as part of “Layforce”.

Wand-Tetley took part in the raid on Bardia and in heavy fighting during the withdrawal from Crete, where No 7 Commando was deployed as rearguard troops, suffering many casualties. The unit was disbanded after the campaign and the remnants were dispersed to Middle East Commando.

In October 1942 he was posted to 1st SAS for three months before transferring to the SOE. After being evacuated from Greece, he served as adjutant with the 7th Battalion Parachute Regiment in Singapore and Java for the last year of the war. [this narrative taken from the Daily Telegraph obituary 22.5.2003 with whom copyright exists]