John and Hilda Pendlebury (née White) first met at the British School at Athens in 1927. Hilda was taking a sabbatical year from being a school teacher and John had been given a studentship to trace Egyptian finds in Greece. Together with other students from the school they travelled around Greece, hiking and visiting archaeological sites. In September 1928 John and Hilda were married in Britain.
In the following years of their marriage John worked as an archaeologist at Knossos, Tell el Amarna (in Egypt) and various sites around the Lasithi Plain in East Crete. Hilda often worked with John, but did not always accompany him once their children (David and Joan) were born in 1932 and 1934.
During the Second World War John was in Crete, utilising his knowledge of the language and topography of the island, and his extensive network of local friends, whilst working for the British Special Operations Executive (undercover as Vice-Consul).
John died during the German invasion of Crete in May 1941, but the exact circumstances of his death were not known for certain until years later. Hilda and John’s father (Herbert) undertook substantial investigations (which are documented in the archive) to find out what exactly had happened to John.
John’s final resting place is in Souda Bay War Cemetery in Crete, which Hilda visited whilst attending a memorial service in Heraklion in 1947.