The French in Canea

Although for the most part based in and around Sitia, the easternmost of the four secteurs into which the Europeans divided Crete, French troops were initially involved in military action around the then capital, Canea. As with the British intervention, the first French forces were Marines, landing in March 1897.

French troops arriving at Suda Bay, 1897

Arrival of French Marines. Canea, March 1897.

French troops with mountain guns. International parade, Canea, 1897.

In one particular instance in early 1897, French troops were responsible for providing assistance to the local Ottoman forces to repel attacks by Greek troops and Cretan Christians on Fort Subachi, the fortress guarding the main source of water to Canea.

Fort Subachi/Butsunaria/Perivolia.

However, the British/ Scottish troops, had a rather low opinion of their allies as the following account from 1/Seaforth Highlanders indicates:

Monday 30 March  “ This morning an international expedition marched to Sebachi, a fort s.w. of the town and about 3 miles distant, to protect the watering place. There were, so B[ea]uman (a correspondent) informs us 5 shots fired in the air  as signals by the Insurgents – this appears to have much excited the Froggies – who with many ejaculations of [?] – Sacre Blue etc. etc. entered the fort and immediately sent an official report saying that they had been fired on – poor excitable little men, no doubt they imagined they had fought to gain an entrance – these French paraded with I should say no less than 40 lbs on each mans back, with them went wine to refresh them – and after the wine they had feather beds on which they couchied – they seem to do the thing with some idea of comfort.” [Campion]

[11 April] Last night at 6.30 p.m. the International Force at Soubaschi fired 5 shots from the 9 pdr. The fire –eating Perignon[?] who commands will someday if he irritates these fellows too much, bring Vassos about his ears – Vassos’ outposts are only about a mile away. –G.E. “

12 April “Fire –eater Perignon much in evidence on Fort Soubachi – where he delights in annoying the insurgents by firing on them, whenever he sees a man appear- We don’t want the force there to get a licking, but we should be glad to see Perignon kicked by Col. Vassos:- We are told that this excitable little Frenchman spends his days at Soubachi, penning an official tissue of lies to Amoritti, who luckily I believe does not believe all of them.”

French troops and Fort Subachi.

 

 

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