Monthly Archives: July 2014

Cretans play with fire; European Powers respond.

European warships off Crete. 1897.

European warships off Crete. 1897.

The illustration shows the events of 21 February 1897 when European warships opened fire on Cretan Christian insurgents who had hoisted a Greek flag and were threatening to bombard Canea from the hills above the town.

In spite of being instructed to haul down the flag, Crete was then part of the Ottoman Empire and Greece was attempting to annex it without the consent of the European Powers who guaranteed the Greek and Ottoman borders, the Cretans refused. When it became clear that they possessed artillery, given to them by Greek troops who had landed in Crete  a few weeks earlier, the Europeans opened fire on the insurgents’ position. After a few minutes firing from the warships the flag came down and the Christians withdrew. More details here.





Let’s go camping!

candia 1898 barracks and shipsCandia (Iraklion) 1898.

British troops arrived in Candia in April 1897 but it wasn’t until the following year that huts were supplied for them…the delay was because the contract had to be put out to tender. Until the huts arrived, the men  lived under canvas  – although the officers naturally had permanent quarters.

Candia english barracks 1907By 1907 permanent quarters had been provided.


The Seaforths in Canea

Three different views of the arrival of 1/Seaforth Highlanders in Canea, 1897.

Crete 1897 Seaforths Canea arrival GraphicThe Seaforths arrived in Crete on 24 March 1897.

The name of the artist is indistinct. Of note is the presence in the foreground of at least one black Muslim (Cretan Christians would not wear a fez.) There was, at this time, an encampment of  black Sudanese and ex Ottoman slaves just outside Canea. The men looking for work as day labourers, the women begging. All of them apparently Crete within a short period after the evacuation of Ottoman troops in November 1898.

Canea 1897 Seaforth Highlanders This engraving from The Illustrated London News, is taken from a sketch by the British artist Melton Prior who was in Crete when the Seaforths arrived. According to notes in  the National Army Museum file on the Seaforths [NAM 6807], the officer on the right-hand side  is Captain G. G. A. Egerton, D Company 1/Seaforths. Egerton was in charge of the Seaforths detachment in Canea, the bulk of the battalion being stationed in Candia (Iraklion).

Crete April 1897 Seaforths entering CaneaA French take on a Seaforths’ patrol.

Entente cordiale…pre 1904.

British and French Troops guarding Canea/ Suda road

British and French Marines and sailors guarding Canea/ Suda road.

The initial British phase of the intervention involved landing Marines and Sailors in Canea on 15 February 1897. The illustration shows a joint British/French patrol keeping open the road between Canea, the then capital of Crete, and Suda Bay, the base  for the European warships.