In a fit of jingoistic enthusiasm, on 24th September 1898 the Penny Illustrated Paper declared the triumph of the Union Jack on the Nile and in Candia.
Union Jack Triumphant!
The reference to the Nile and Fashoda might be justifiable. On 18th September 1898, lead by Sir Herbert Kitchener, a powerful British force of some 1500 men on board several heavily armed gunboats, arrived in Fashoda Their arrival eventually obliged their allies in Crete, the French, to remove their forces, all 150 of them, from Sudan.
However, in Candia things weren’t quite so straightforward; far from being triumphant, on 6th September the British suffered their only losses by enemy action that they incurred during the whole of the European Intervention in Crete.
Still, why let facts get in the way of a stirring bit of imperialist propaganda?
On a number of occasions the European fleet opened fire on Cretan Christian insurgents. On one occasion, on 21st February 1897, shells from a Russian warship hit a Greek church, Profitis Ilias, which was near the base Cretan Christians had been using for a threatened bombardment of Canea.
Although the Russian government later paid for the rebuilding of the church, the Cretan Christian propaganda machine wasn’t slow to make the link between the ‘desecration’ of a Christian church and the, purely accidental, explosion on board the Russian battleship ‘Sissoi Veliky‘ on 15th March that year.
Greek/Cretan Christian postcard – the divine consequences of the European bombardment.
The caption on the postcard reads; The bombardment of Cretans on Akrotiri: The Crime and the Divine Punishment.
The British army troops are from 1/Seaforth Highlanders, in Crete from March 1897 to November that year. It’s difficult to make out from the photograph but given the number of Naval officers in the background, it’s more than likely that there are British marines and sailors in the shot.
German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman troops. Crete c.1897.
The postcard is stamped as being posted in 1904 in Canea. The Germans and Austro-Hungarians left Crete in early 1898 and the Ottomans were evicted in late 1898, so there’s a good chance the photographs date from 1897/1898. probably taken in the Canea/Suda Bay area.