Around 175 British military personnel died on Crete between 1897 and 1913; the actual figure is difficult to determine because of the lack of a central army record and lack of detail in the naval records. The bulk of those who died on the island are commemorated at two sites: 24 in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site at Suda Bay and the remainder in British memorial graveyard located in the cemetery of Agios Konstantinos and Eleni, 42 Odos Knossou, Iraklion. One further member of the 1/Seaforth Highlanders is listed on the Seaforths’ memorial in Edinburgh as having died in Crete, but his name does not appear on either of the island’s memorial sites.
Of those for whom the cause of death can be identified, only 14 died as the result of ‘enemy action’, all these deaths occurring during the riots of 6th September 1898. (One member of the 2/Rifle Brigade, Rifleman J. Smith, is listed on the Rifle Brigade memorial obelisk in Iraklion as being ‘Killed in Action’ on 2nd September 1898. However, the battalion didn’t arrive in Crete until 22nd September that month so it’s possible that either he died in Crete of wounds received in the Sudan Campaign or it’s an error in the listing.)
Of those who died of other causes, an examination of the records from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission relating to Suda Bay, the Parliamentary returns from the Army Medical Department and the memorials in Iraklion shows the following causes of death for British military personnel: Five died of drowning, four in one incident, one murdered by a colleague, one suffered a judicial execution, three suicides, one ‘dislocation of the spine after a fall in a ditch’, one died of appendicitis, one of ‘internal strangulation after an operation’, and three died of alcohol poisoning. The overwhelming majority of the remainder died of disease.
The main killer was Enteric Fever – Typhoid. This accounted for 53 deaths overall, 38 of them in 1898 with the influx of troops following the September riot; many of these troops coming straight from the Sudan Campaign. (The 2/Rifle Brigade and 1/Northumberland Fusiliers are recorded as suffering in particular as a result of this campaign.) Dysentery and Malaria were the next highest killers inflicting 11 and eight fatalities respectively. However, the figure for fatal cases of Malaria belies the reality that this disease was the greatest medical drain on the British Armies resources in Crete; nearly 5,000 hospital admissions for Malaria alone being recorded between 1897 and 1909.