Although undated and giving little or no information other than it’s the English in Candia, the photograph has been provisionally identified as members of the Royal Artillery manning 2.5 inch Rifled Muzzle Loading guns, mounted on Whitworth carriages. This being so, it shows the No. 4 Mountain Battery, Royal Artillery sometime between 26th April and late December 1897, the only time during which the Royal Artillery served on Crete. (The final departure date is illegible on the original record, but the H.Q. Company left on 21st November 1897 and the whole detachment were in Malta by 21st December.) Capt. Brian Payne R.A. retired, to whom many thanks go for his assistance with this post, pointed out that the picture is obviously staged in that there is no ammunition visible and the guns are not run up to the embrasures. Had they been fired in this position there would have been rather a lot of debris flying about!
According to the Battery diary, their time was split between peace keeping duties and parades. In pursuit of the former, in addition to manning the guns on the ramparts of Candia, on at least one occasion they sent a detachment out into the Insurgent controlled area for 5 days to support the Seaforth Higlanders given the job of repairing the aqueduct supplying the bulk of Candia’s water. No hostile activity is recorded on this occasion. However, on 31st July , “[p]reparation [was made] for anticipated by Turkish Irregulars” – the word ‘mob’ is struck through on the original. Later, on 4th August the “O/C Battery was stoned by [the] mob.” Their final ‘action’ appears to have occurred in December when a detachment “…accompanied Sir Herbert Chermside to outposts, and [was] fired on for 1/2 hour by [Christian] Insurgents.” In spite of the provocations from both sides, and it seems that they were taking an even handed approach to the Cretan situation and upsetting both sides equally, there is no record that at any time that the Royal Artillery were required to use their guns in anger.
On a more peaceful, but no less martial, note, the Battery participated in two big parades alongside detachments from the other International forces. On the first, which took place on 4th May 1897, they ” [t]ook part in [a] General Review order parade, held in honour of Italian troops, who marched past and were saluted by each British unit.” Then on 22nd June they “[t]ook part in a special parade held in honour of Her Majesty the Queen, having completed her 60th year of reign, and was inspected by the Admirals of the French, Russian, Austrian, Italian and English Fleets, and Russian and Italian Military Commanders.