Monthly Archives: May 2016

Keeping them happy?

The World War 1 description of warfare as ‘months of boredom punctuated by moments of extreme terror’* could have applied in Crete during the British stay…if one restated it as ‘years of boredom etc.’

Fortunately, one of Britain’s allies in the Intervention came up with a partial solution: amateur theatricals.

That's the stuff to give the troops! Possibly.

That’s the stuff to give the troops! (Or possibly not.) Source: La France, 21 August 1898.

However, judging by the look on the face of the British soldier on the right of the illustration, the attempted solution was not an overwhelming success.

* A phrase allegedly first put in print in a letter dated October 27, 1914 by an unnamed British cavalry subaltern, published by The London Times on 4th November, 1914, p. 979, col 1.

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Candia Water

On arrival in Candia in 1897 British troops were faced not only with insanitary conditions in the town, but also with an inadequate supply of suitable drinking water. The water in the town was condemned as being too chalky and 45 tons brought from Malta had turned bad. The initial solution was to retain the hired transport SS Clyde which had brought the 1/Seaforths from Malta, to supply water. A longer term solution was found by using the distillation vessel ‘Turquoise’, anchored in the inner harbour, to provide a semi-permanent water source.

Interior of Candia harbour, date unknown

Interior of Candia harbour, date unknown

Water distillation vessel Turquoise

Water distillation vessel Turquoise

The Turquoise was to feature in the events of 6th September 1898 when Cretan Muslim rioters opened fire on British troops in the harbour. During the fighting members of the Highland Light Infantry and sailors from the Turquoise and H. M. S. Hazard made use of the Turquoise  in defending the customs house, the Dime, and the harbour.

S.S. Turquoise during fighting of 6th September 1898.

Contemporary map of Candia harbour showing position of S.S. Turquoise during fighting of 6th September 1898.

Surgeon William Maillard winning VC. The Graphic 17 Dec 1898

Surgeon William Maillard winning VC. The Graphic 17 Dec 1898