Christos Aetou Tzifakis was born in Prines, Rethymno Prefecture in 1889. He was the son of the resistance fighter against the Turks Aetos Tzifakis and Argyri Stylianou Chalkiadaki from Atsipopoulo, Rethymno. He had two sisters, Chryssanthi and Maria. After finishing primary and secondary school (gymnasion), he enrolled in the Marasleion Teacher Training School in Athens (1909). However, he was forced to abandon his studies for financial reasons and returned to Rethymno in 1910. Immediately on his return he joined the army and embarked on his military career.
MILITARY CAREER AND ACTIVITIES
- 1910Enlists as a private in the 1st Battalion of the Cretan Militia.
- 1910-1912Serves in various infantry units.
- 1912-1913Takes part in the Balkan Wars. On the day Ioannina was captured, Christos Tzifakis was wounded on the Bizani Heights and transported with other casualties to Corfu Hospital, where he remained for a month.
- 1916Promoted to Infantry Warrant Officer.
- 1917Promoted to 2nd Lieutenant (25 December).
- 1918Posted to the 6th Archipelago Regiment (17 February).
- 1919Promoted to Lieutenant (26 April 1919) and made Commanding Officer of the 1st Company of Major Neoptolemos Sianos's Battalion (52nd Infantry Regiment), while the 2nd and 3rd Companies were placed under Lieutenants Pavlos Mountakis and K. Kartalis respectively.
- 1922Places himself at the disposal of the Asia Minor Army (6 June 1922). From August to the collapse of the front, Lieutenant Christos Tzifakis fought with the 1st Company of the 23rd Regiment under Lieutenant Colonel Ventiris. The Regiment always fought in the front line in Asia Minor. Despite its glorious history, it was forced to withdraw in good order, fighting all the way, to Çeşme, before being disbanded on Chios, its valiant men preserving their high morale.
- 1923Promoted to Captain (13 December).
- 1928-1931Serves as Captain Instructor in the Naval Training Squadron of the Hellenic Navy.
- 1934Promoted to Major (23 June 1934).
- 1935On 25 June 1935, while serving as Major of the 5/42 Evzone Regiment, he was discharged for political reasons (as a Venizelist) and returned to Rethymno permanently.
- 1941In May, four days after the beginning of the Battle of Crete, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the 2nd Military Command of Crete and conducted the battle of Rethymno (20-29 May).
- 1941-1945In August 1941 he organised the resistance struggle in Rethymno. He was later officially recognised by Middle East Command as the Leader of the National Organisation of Rethymno (EOP). In 1944, by decision of the Greek Government, he assumed the duties of Military Commander of Rethymno Prefecture.
MEDALS AND AWARDS
- • First World War Victory Medal
- • Medal for the Battles of Pesta-Aetorrachi-Ioannina (Second Balkan War)
- • Medal for the Battles of Kresna-Tzoumagia (Second Balkan War)
- • Medal of Exceptional Deeds - War Cross (awarded three times)
- • Medal of Military Merit
- • Gold Cross of the Order of George I with Swords
- • Gold Cross of Valour of the Asia Minor Campaign
- • Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), awarded by King George VI for his actions during the Battle of Crete (May 1941) and his role in the National Resistance.
After the war, Tzifakis became active in politics. In 1945, following the abolition of the Military Command, he was appointed Prefect of Rethymno (19 February), and General Commander of Crete the following year, playing a significant part in the reconstruction of the island. Ever loyal to the Liberals, he served as President of the Governing Committee of the Liberal Party in Rethymno from 1950 onwards. His companion on this important journey was Sofia Grigoriou, a Greek woman from Khartoum, with whom he had two sons, Aetos and Nikolaos. On 26 August 1962, Christos Aetou Tzifakis died at the age of 74 and was buried in Prines, Rethymno.
Αll the speakers at his funeral service and his obituarists agreed that Christos Tzifakis was a heroic figure on the battlefield. A wise and modest commanding officer (as Prefect and General Commander of Crete), he was practical, swift in his decisions, approachable, persuasive and undeniably selfless. In his private life he was humble, affable, never rich in money and beloved by all. For a long period of time he held great power and authority in his hands. He never used it for selfish purposes.