The Ottomans leave

Following the riots in Candia in September 1898, the decision was finally taken to remove all Ottoman troops and officials from Crete. After an ultimatum issued by the Admirals controlling Crete was issued to the Ottoman authorities on the 4th October, the Porte prevaricated but on 23rd October the evacuation began, only to be halted by the 28th with some 8,000 Ottoman troops having left.[1] The price for this delay, brought about to avoid Ottoman embarrassment during by the Kaiser’s visit to Constantinople, was to be high in terms of lost Ottoman prestige. At the insistence of the British, in punishment for the delay in evacuation, the Sultan’s flag was to be hauled down in Canea and all troops were to leave the island by 5th November; in the event of them failing to do so the Powers would take steps to remove them and make the Porte pay indemnities for any damages caused in their removal.[2]

Although The British Commander Major-General Chermside had reported on 4th November ‘Have taken over the keys of the fortress and civil and military administration,’[3] and British Consul Sir Alfred Biliotti on the 5th that ‘This morning British Authorities have assumed civil administration taken over police prisons and taken possession of Customs indirect contributions and dime,’[4] on 6th November there were still some 500 Ottoman troops left in Candia and steps were accordingly taken to ‘turn them out.’

The  Northumberland Fusiliers took over the barracks without difficulty, although one elderly Ottoman Colonel ‘a grey haired old man, refused to clear out without [a] show of force, so eventually he was marched down in the middle of a party of the Rifle Brigade to the harbour.’ A similar  story was played out later that day in the Artillery barracks where they removed ‘60 Turks under another ancient Colonel about 65 years of age, who absolutely refused to budge and said he had received no orders.’[5] Eventually all Ottoman troops and officials, complete with wives families and baggage, were escorted to the harbour and by the evening of 6th November;

‘Thanks to the efforts of the Royal Navy, who worked all night, under the electric light, the Turks, their horses, their women, their children and all their extraordinary belongings, were all shipped off to Salanka [sic] in an incredibly short space of time.’[6]

Royal Navy sailors 'assist' the departure of Ottoman troops

Royal Navy sailors ‘assist’ the departure of Ottoman troops The caption reads; The Evacuation of Crete – British Bluejackets Clearing Out The Turks ‘Bag and Baggage.’

The Ottoman presence on Crete, which had commenced in 1645, was thus effectively terminated.

Ottoman Troops departing Suda Bay. November 1898.

Ottoman Troops departing Suda Bay. November 1898.

Ottoman Troops departing Suda Bay. November 1898

Ottoman Troops departing Suda Bay. November 1898

expulsion-of-ottoman-troops

Ottoman troops departing (Suda bay?) November 1898.

French authorities lowering the Ottoman flag; Irapetra 1898. (The date on the postcard may be in correct; most of the Ottoman troops had left Crete by 6 November.)

French authorities lowering the Ottoman flag; Irapetra 1898. (The date on the postcard may be in correct; most of the Ottoman troops had left Crete by 6 November.)

Ottoman Troops departing Irpetra. 1898.

Ottoman Troops departing Irpetra. 1898.

 

In reality however, the Ottoman military presence did not finally come to an end until several months later; a few men stayed behind to supervise the shipping of Ottoman munitions, and arguments were still continuing up until December as to the rank of the most senior Ottoman officer the Admirals would allow to superintend the operation.

References:

[1] Şenişik, The Transformation of Ottoman Crete, 227.

[2] Ibid. 224.

[3] ADM 116/93, Vol. 2. Telegram No. 30 Chermside – no addressee. 4 November 1898.

[4] Ibid. Telegram No. 107. Biliotti to Constantinople Embassy, 5 November 1898.

[5] NFRA. St. George’s Gazette, November 30 1898, p. 183.

[6] Ibid. December 31 1898, p. 199.

[7] Turkey No. 1, 1899. No. 102. Noel to Admiralty, 1 December 1898.

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