Monthly Archives: July 2016

Camping in Crete.

From: Army Medical Department, Report for 1897.

“At Canea the detachment of British troops was at first quartered with the other international Forces and with the Turks in the flag redoubt. As, however, the place was filthy and overcrowded, our troops were soon removed to a camp in the Municipal Gardens, where they occupied a new building intended as a theatre, which afforded room for about 100 men, the remainder being encamped in an adjoining field…..Our troops remained in this camp until August, when in consequence of the prevalence of fever  and the ground having become much fouled, it was, on the recommendation of the Principle medical Officer, Malta, who visited the island at this time, moved to the residential suburb of Halepa, about two miles from Canea, where an excellent site overlooking the sea was found, and where water was obtained from a spring where contamination seemed impossible.”

Canea bastion c.1897

Canea bastion c.1897

Seaforth Highlanders' camp, Halepa.

Seaforth Highlanders’ camp, Halepa.

 

In Candia meanwhile…” With the exception of the men occupying the Greek Hospital, all the troops have been accommodated in Indian pattern European privates’ tents, which were pitched on the western ramparts which encloses the town from sea to sea. The space was scanty and some digging was necessary before the tents could be properly pitched, but this disturbance of the soil was not attended by any bad effects. The European privates’ tent is too well known to require further description, and the experience of it here in all weathers has confirmed everything that has been said in its favour in other countries. Clay being plentiful, the men were able to make well raised puddled floors which were easily kept clean, even in bad weather. When it became known that the huts would not arrive before winter set in, wooden linings were supplied for the walls of the tents, and added greatly to the comfort of the men. A proportion of marquees was supplied for hospital purposes; but they are not well suited for standing camps, and compare very unfavourably in comfort with the European privates, tents, for which they were discarded.”

Camp of Royal Welsh Fusiliers. late September 1898

Camp of Royal Welsh Fusiliers. late September 1898

ILN Sept 1898 English camp

Part of British camp Candia, late September 1898.

 

[E.P. tent … according to The Soldiers’ Pocket-Book, there were three types of issue tent in India in the 1880s, the Staff-Sergeant’s tent, (S-S tent) the European (or English) Privates tent (EP tent) and the circular tent (bell tent). Native soldiers had a Lascar ‘pâl’.

The EP tent was made of multiple layers of white cloth, was 22 ‘ by 16′ and had two stout poles and a ridge pole and all together weighed between 600 and 630 lbs (4 pack mule loads, up to 40% over the standard load weight if wet….). In Bombay service it accommodated 22 men, in Madras service it accommodated 26 men. (see next note). When used outside India it became the EPIP to distinguish the Indian pattern tent from its British made equivalent. The 160 lb General Service tent was introduced later so as to be one standard pack-mule load. It was about 12′ by 8’. http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/rg_foreandaft_notes.htm]

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High Commissioner Zaimis

In September 1906, following the elections which came after the Theriso Revolt, Prince George had had enough of Crete, and Crete had had enough of Prince George. His replacement, who took office shortly after George’s departure from the island on 25th September, arriving there on 30th September 1906, was Alexandros Zaimis; twice previously Prime Minister of Greece and ‘…an experienced politician not noted for superabundant energy (energy was the last thing the Powers wanted in Crete).’[1]

Alexandros Zaimis High Commissioner of Crete.

Alexandros Zaimis High Commissioner of Crete.

Zaimis arrived in Canea and was greeted with an appropriate military guard of honour, the British contingent apparently being provided by the Royal Navy, as shown on the contemporary postcard photograph below.

The arrival of High Commissioner Zaimis. Canea 30 September 1906.

The arrival of High Commissioner Zaimis. Canea 30 September 1906.

Interestingly, an almost identical photograph – note to positions of the rowing boats – was used on another postcard  This time more detail of the event is added; however, the date given is one month out.

High Commissioner Zaimis arriving Canea. Note the incorrect date.

High Commissioner Zaimis arriving Canea. Note the incorrect date.

Zaimis’s career as High Commissioner was relatively brief. Although appointed for a term of office of 3 years, on 12th October 1908 he was in Athens, by coincidence or otherwise, when  the Cretan Administration declared union with Greece. Following this Zaimis, though technically remaining High Commissioner, never returned to the island.

During his stay on Crete, on at least one occasion he made a formal visit to Iraklion. During this visit he reviewed the British troops stationed there. This parade was captured on camera and turned into a series of souvenir postcards

Parade of British Troops in honour of High Commissioner Zaimis.

Parade of British Troops in honour of High Commissioner Zaimis.

Iraklion parade for High Commissioner Zaimis.

Iraklion parade for High Commissioner Zaimis.

High Commissioner Zaimis passing British troops in review.

High Commissioner Zaimis passing British troops in review.

The exact date of the parade is, as yet, undetermined. However, if it was between his arrival in September 1906 and February 1907 it was 2/Royal Sussex, between February 1907 and February 1908, 1/Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, and after then until his departure, 3/King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

A regiment which definitely WAS NOT involved was the unidentified Highland regiment shown in the card below; the last Scottish regiment to serve on Crete, 2/Cameron Highlanders,  left the island  in March 1903.

Souvenir postcard of High Commissioner Zaimis - date unknown.

Souvenir postcard of High Commissioner Zaimis – date unknown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Holland, R. and Markides, D. The British and the Hellenes. Struggles for Mastery in the Eastern Mediterranean 1850 – 1960 (Oxford, 2006). 128.