A minor mystery.

Kandanos 9 April 1905

Kandanos 9 April 1905

An interesting souvenir, but of what, and where was the photograph taken?

The photograph shows the flags of France and Italy flying above the ruins of some very large buildings. Included in the picture, along with French and Italian troops, are a number of British soldiers (extreme left of picture). There can also be seen what seem to be Cretan Gendarmes or members of the Cretan Civic Guards (on top of the wall top right).

The presence of the Cretan Gendarmes/Civic Guards would date the photograph as being taken sometime after 1899, and the arrival of Prince George of Greece as High Commissioner for the island in late 1898 and the subsequent setting up of these two Cretan law enforcement bodies. The problem is that the village of Kandanos is some 55 km south west of Canea and in 1905 was in the secteur controlled by Italian troops – the French and British would have no reason to be there, and judging by the weapons carried, they weren’t there for a holiday outing!

The other problem with the photograph is that Kandanos was, and is, a large village, not the sort of place likely to have three-story buildings.

The only place where French Italian and British troops are likely to have been in close proximity at around this time, and contained ruins of large buildings,  would have been Canea, which as the capital of the island was under the control of all of the four Powers.

Although Kandanos featured in the world’s press briefly in 1897 when a relief column consisting of international  marines and sailors was sent to rescue Ottoman troops and Cretan Muslims besieged in the town by Cretan Christians, no record of anything  significant happening there in April 1905 appears to exist – at least not in English. The Theriso Revolt lead by Eleftherios Venizelos had broken out the previous month, but by and large military activity was confined to the Russian secteur of the island, around Rethymnon; little of any import seems to have happened in Selinos, the province in which Kandanos is situated.

At the moment I’m completely baffled as to why such a souvenir should be have been produced showing as it does a specific date on which nothing much seems to have happened, and a very misleading location. Any suggestions as to what’s going on will be most gratefully received!

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