According to local rumour, during the Second World War part of the German occupation force in Paleochora consisted of an anti aircraft detachment of 3 off 88 mm guns, or to give them their proper name, 8.8cm FLAK.* Following the liberation of Crete it is said that one of these guns ended up being used as a crane in Paleochora harbour and the other two were dumped in a gorge outside town. (We would point out again at this stage that this is all according to rumour!)
What then does this have to do with Azogires, some 8 Km up in the hills from Paleochora, we hear you ask?
It would appear that sometime in late the 1990’s, two young boys returned from a visit to the hills above Azogires and presented the Alpha Kafenion with their latest find. On closer inspection this turned out to be a corroded 88 mm anti aircraft shell, complete with fuse, which they had unearthed. ( It is said that at this point in time, there followed a somewhat rapid exodus from the kafenion as the older, and no doubt wiser, inhabitants recognised what the young boys did not, i.e. that this thing was possibly still live and thus potentially still lethal.) Wishing to save the village and the kafenion from utter destruction, one brave hero, who shall remain nameless but who, for the sake of convenience, we will refer to as Lucky, gingerly took the offending object some distance away from human habitation and hid it safely until it could be decided what to do with it.
Time went by and no obvious solution as to what to do with a live Second World War anti aircraft shell came to mind, ( Readers who straight away think “why not give it to the local authorities and let them get the army to dispose of it” have obviously never been to the hills of Crete!) Then one day, in conversation with a customer, the subject of the shell and its disposal arose. It then turned out that the person to whom Lucky was talking was, in fact, someone with extensive knowledge of explosives, both civil and military – he happened to be German as well but that’s coincidental.
The object was retrieved from its hiding place, various bits of technical magic performed upon it, the details of which remain unknown but are believed to involve the use of a screwdriver, a hammer and a bucket of water. Eventually the fuse mechanism was declared safe, the explosive having decayed long ago, and the shell emptied of its now inert filling.
The remainder of the shell is now sat on the bar in the Alpha Kafenion, as for the remains of the gun that fired it……….
*At the start of the war the 8.8cm FLAK (Flugzeug Abwehr Kannone)was the standard German anti aircraft gun and with a modified mounting and different ammunition, it went on to gain renown as an anti tank gun.
It would appear that for at kleast part of the German occupation, 3 anti aircraft guns of 1. Btr. Gemischte Flakabteilung 286, part of 17 Flak Division under Luftwaffenkommando Südost was stationed in Paleochora.
Below is a brief video of the largest remaining gun emplacement in Paleochora.