Distinguished Conduct Medal Citation

Moir, Thomas

1481. Sergeant
4 NZ Field Regiment, NZ Artillery,

Published London Gazette, 9 September 1942


“Sergeant Moir was one of a party of nine which escaped from CRETE. They were all captured immediately after the fighting but escaped within a month and then like other odd prisoners of war at liberty on Crete they wandered in twos and threes from village to village, living as long as they could in each place, generally in the district west of Maleme. They found a boat, only to discover it was not seaworthy. They tried a second time, but this time the weather defeated them. They then heard of two diesel-engined and several sailing boats at the village of Mesoyia. They stole the best-looking sailing boat, as the owner might have removed a vital part of the diesel-engined craft, and the noise of the engines might attract the Germans. There was also the problem of fuel. They spent the next two days collecting olives and bread from their friends in the hills, but many others must have known they were going as they were caught as they set off. Though the Cretans were sympathetic, robbery was not taken lightly; protests and warnings of weather and certain shipwreck were flung at them. But nine determined men, hardened by months of rough living, were not easily thwarted and they sailed at midnight on 8 April 1942. They had little water and put in at a sheltered creek where they knew of a brackish but drinkable well in the hills above and left again that night hoping to reach Mersah Matruh. Two days later the mountains of Crete could still be seen about sixty miles away. German aircraft passed but paid no attention. Sergeant Moir had had some experience of navigation and another member of the party had done some sailing. On 14 April 1942 they landed at Sidi Barrani, Egypt, with about 16 days supply of water, a few olives and three loaves of bread in hand. There seems to have been no question of the leadership of this party. Their problems were resolved by discussion but credit for their safe crossing must go chiefly to Sergeant Moir. This party, in view of their long stay on the island under the most trying conditions and in constant danger of recapture, experienced an extraordinarily difficult time behind enemy lines in Crete, and their final escape required great courage and determination. Undaunted by all they had been through, Sergeant Moir and three other members of the party volunteered to return to Crete to rescue other escapers known to be hiding on the island”.

This page was last reviewed on 9 October 2009.