The Seaforths go forth.

On April 18th, following Vassos’ ‘annexation’ of Crete and large-scale Greek incursions into Ottoman Macedonia, the Ottoman Empire declared war on Greece. In Canea, on April 19th an international detachment under command of Captain Egerton consisting of 75 Seaforths, 75 Austrians, 75 French, 90 Italians and 2 Italian guns, was sent to be part of a guard at the neck of Akrotiri peninsula, remaining there until June.

According to Egerton:

‘The orders given by the Council of Admirals …were to guard the neck of the Akrotiri peninsula and prevent a large body of insurgents encamped therein from breaking out, and equally to prevent any body of Turks or Bashi Bazouks from the mainland from breaking in and attacking the insurgents. The two chiefs of the insurgent bands on Akrotiri were Messers Fourmis [sic] & Venezelos [sic], both Athens’ educated natives of Crete, who spoke and wrote excellent French.’

Activity at this post was apparently limited and Egerton clearly had no great opinion of his allies, continuing his narrative in the first person he stated:

‘Nothing serious ever happened, but for the two months that I was in command at Akrotiri Lt. Campion and myself, took it in turn every night to visit the sentries and patrol the neighbourhood, after 12 midnight. I did not trust the Italians a yard, and had no great confidence in the French, but my Austrian detachment Officers and men, were reliable to the last degree. The Italians were very fond of the English and were ready to black our boots, and they have never forgotten how much we assisted towards a united Italy. The Austrians were on very friendly terms always, their Officers were nearly all gentlemen, which was not certainly the case with most of the other foreign Officers. The Russians we saw little of, they were mainly kept outside of Canea, on account of their rowdy habits. Their Colonel was an ex-Guardsman exiled for St. Petersburg for his numerous crimes. He was often seen drunk.
The move to Akrotiri coincided with the European takeover of the Izzedin fortress overlooking Suda Bay and of a number of smaller blockhouses in and around the Bay. Command of the fortress and the outlying posts was given to Major Bor, who ‘to give him the necessary authority over his foreign colleagues [was given] the honorary rank of Colonel.’

The Illustrated London News of April 24th 1897 reported: “Captain Granville Egerton, of the Seaforth Highlanders, who is in command of one of the detachments of British troops now in Crete, has seen some years of active service. He received his commission in 1879, and proceeded at once to Afghanistan, where he was seriously wounded before the year was out in the operations around Cabul. He subsequently took part in the advance on Candahar, and distinguished himself in the battle there fought. In the Egyptian Campaign of 1882 he was Adjutant to the Ist Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders, and took part in the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir.”

On leaving Crete with in November 1897, the Seaforths, including Egerton, went on, via a spell in Malta, to take part in the campaign in The Sudan. Here, Egerton was mentioned twice in despatches, his first such mention having been during the campaign in Afghanistan in 1880. He eventually went on to command the 52nd Lowland Infantry Division at Gallipoli, surviving the war and retiring from the army with the rank of Major General in 1919. He died in 1951.

Major General Granville George Algeron Egerton.

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