Kippenberger’s Luger

A German P08 Luger Pistol. The German Luger pistol was a popular souvenir during both World War I and II. However this 9mm calibre Luger is a little more special – it was taken from a German Fallschirmjager (paratrooper) on Crete by one of New Zealand’s most admired and outstanding leaders – Major General Sir Howard Kippenberger (then a Colonel).

Kippenberger’s story of the German paratrooper invasion of Crete, 20 May 1941, is recounted in his book, “Infantry Brigadier”.

“Northwards was a growing thunder. I shouted: ‘Stand to your arms!’, and ran upstairs for my rifle and binoculars. When I reached the courtyard again the thunder had become deafening, the troop-carriers were passing low overhead in every direction one looked, not more than 400 feet up, in scores. As I ran down the Prison road to my battle headquarters the parachutists were dropping out over the valley, hundreds of them, floating quietly down. Some spilling out over our positions and there was a growing crackle of rifle-fire.”

In the same passage, Kippenberger also tells how he encountered a paratrooper and souvenired this Luger which he carried through both North Africa and Italy until he was wounded.

Kippenberger was awarded a DSO (Distinguished Service Order) for his efforts and leadership in the Battle of Crete.