You’ve been a very naughty boy….

Mutiny of The Mussulman Gendarmes in Canea: Colonel Bor Addressing the prisoners Before Their Departure to Prison and Thence to Smyrna.

Mutiny of the Mussulman Gendarmes in Canea: Colonel Bor addressing the prisoners before their departure to prison and thence to Smyrna.

On 2nd March 1897, a mutiny occurred amongst the Albanian* gendarmes who had been charged with policing Crete since 1888. In the resulting confusion, fighting broke out between the mutineers and the Italian and Russian troops sent to disarm them, resulting in a number of casualties on both sides. The mutineers were disarmed and shipped off the island.
The illustration above shows Colonel J. H. Bor, haranguing/addressing the mutineers prior to their expulsion from the Island. (Bor was a Major in the Royal Marine Artillery who was temporarily seconded to command the gendarmerie with the rank of Colonel of Gendarmerie and who would later be given a temporary promotion to Colonel in the Royal Marines to command the International garrison at Fort Izzendin.

The sketch was made by Melton Prior for the Illustrated London News and the writing on the top of the illustration, difficult to read in the reproduction, appears to be a colour guide; describing the colours of the uniforms of the various troops shown. These notes include:
Italian officer all black, red stripe – white facings
English Officer. Red coat
A line of Russian Sailors. Light blue shirt – dark clothes
Italian sailor. All dark
Prisoners in all kinds of costume.

Since the events shown took place on between 2nd March, the date of the mutiny, and 20th March, the date of publication, and British troops did not arrive on the island until 24th March, the ‘English Officer’ shown is possibly Colonel Herbert Chermside R.A. Chermside was initially British Military Commissioner on Crete but was appointed Commander of British Army forces upon their arrival.

Of interest also is the fact that one of the gendarmes, apparently arguing with Bor, is clearly black. Whether he was an ‘Albanian’, or a locally recruited Muslim is unknown, and probably unknowable, but is does give a hint at the multi-ethnic nature of the late Ottoman Empire.


* Wikipedia, that highly accurate font of all knowledge, states that the Gendarmes brought to Crete in 1888 were ‘Macedonian.’ However, press reports of the time and  House of Commomns records cleasrly state that they were Albanian. See: House of commons Command Papers 1889 [C.5823] Turkey. No. 2 (1889). Correspondence respecting the affairs of Crete. Item 29. Consul General Blunt (Salonika) to Lord Salisbury 27 April 1888


1 thought on “You’ve been a very naughty boy….

  1. Pingback: The Widow’s Uniform | The British in Crete, 1896 to 1913.

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