Italian Bootblacks?

Itallian artillery, Suda Bay.

Italian artillery, Suda Bay.

The caption, in The Graphic, 17 April 1897, reads:

“The peninsula of Akrotiri occupied by Italian and Austrian troops.
The peninsula of Akrotiri, which lies between Canea and Suda Bay, has been blockaded. The insurgents on the peninsula are cut off from communication with their fellows. They have made several sallies. As the Turks felt themselves too weak to hold their position, a company of Austrian infantry and a detachment of Italian marines with two mountain guns were sent to occupy it.”

Italian mountain battery, 1898.

Italian mountain battery. Crete, 1898.

Writing in a ‘Diary of the detachment 1st BN. Seaforth Highlanders at Canea, Crete, during the early days of the international Occupation 1897’, Captain G. G. A, Egerton, D Company, 1st Seaforth Highlanders, sent to command a mixed force on the Akrotiri peninsula from 19th April to 10th June 1897, stated:
‘I did not trust the Italians a yard, and had no great confidence in the French, but my Austrian detachment Officers and men, were reliable to the last degree. The Italians were very fond of the English and were ready to black our boots, and they have never forgotten how much we assisted towards a united Italy. The Austrians were on very friendly terms always, their Officers were nearly all gentlemen, which was not certainly the case with most of the other foreign Officers. The Russians we saw little of, they were mainly kept outside of Canea, on account of their rowdy habits. Their Colonel was an ex Guardsman exiled for St. Petersburgh for his numerous crimes. He was often seen drunk.’
The French were all Infanterie de la Marine “Les Marsouines[?]”, riddled with Madagascar and Touquin [?] fever and undisciplined devils I thought.’

British artillery were represented by 4th Mountain Battery, Royal Artillery, on the island from 26th April 1897 to November 1897.



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