As a part of the August Agreements of 1896, designed to bring an end to the outbreak of fighting on the island, it was agreed by the Porte that the Cretan gendarmerie required to be re-organised. “The native Cretan [Muslim] gendarmerie had such a want of discipline, such partiality and had given such unsatisfactory results, that the Turkish War Minister was in favour of all gendarmes being non-Cretan. The Turkish views in this direction had indeed been previously illustrated by the importation of a large Albanian contingent, undisciplined, and recruited without care as to character and antecedents, and subsequently left without pay or training.”
To this end a European Commission was set up consisting of Commissioners from Britain, France, Italy and Russia; the British delegate being Colonel Herbert Chermside. Under the terms of the August Agreements, a condition of its organisation was that two thirds of the force had to be Christian, and the Commission accepted as a starting point that the gendarmerie was to be an armed body. Given that no Ottoman Christians had undergone military training, in January 1897 the Commission proposed recruiting of a number of trained men as gendarmes from neighbouring states and countries such as Montenegro, Bosnia, Greek speaking areas of Bulgaria and Cyprus. While there appears to have been some disagreement, or at least debate, over the proportion of the force that could or should be composed of aliens to Crete, it was recognised that: “… ‘[t]he desire to utilize, as far as possible, and to discipline the Cretan element [of the gendarmerie] met with little favour as a practical measure…” Consequently, while “…admit[ting] the eventual contingency of a purely Cretan force, […] for the actual inception of the organization, the full proportion of aliens was adopted.. “
Command of the new gendarmerie was eventually given to the British officer Major Bor, RMA, although not without opposition from both the Porte and the Russian government, and recruiting commenced.
International Officers of ‘New’ Gendarmerie. Montenegrin Officers marked in red.
The initial intake to the ‘new’ gendarmerie consisted of three companies under the command of seven European officers; a total of 225 men made up of 96 Albanians, 80 Montenegrins and 30 Muslim Cretans. Also recruited were some 50 Cretan Christians – 48 of whom promptly deserted to the Cretan Christian rebels when the insurrection broke out in late February.
The usefulness of the Montenegrin contingent was also open to question. On February 13th, with Canea rapidly being surrounded by Cretan Christian insurgents and a Greek flotilla under Prince George having arrived off Canea the previous day, the Vali (Governor) Berovic Pasa, fled to the safety of the Russian Ironclad. He remained on board the Russian ship for 24 hours before taking the Austro-Hungarian Lloyds steamer to Trieste on 15th February; along with the treasury. However, the Vali was not alone in boarding the Russian ship. On February 19th 1897, The Times reported:
“Among the many strange occurrences of the last few days is the sudden disappearance of the Montenegrin company of gendarmes. The conduct of the late Vali in transferring them on board the Russian warships seems inexplicable, unless it is to be assumed that a previous understanding existed between him and the Russian Government. His Excellency had appropriated the Montenegrin corps – a remarkably fine set of men – as his bodyguard immediately on their arrival, apparently distrusting both the Turkish troops and the Cretan gendarmes. Up to the moment of his departure they were employed exclusively in guarding his residence at Halepa, which he rarely quitted after the outbreak of the disturbances. In reply to Colonel Bor’s demand that the men should be sent ashore, the Russian Admiral stated that he had telegraphed to the Prince of Montenegro asking whether it was His Highness’ pleasure that they should remain in Crete. For five days the men were detained on board, notwithstanding an order sent by Colonel Bor to their captain to bring them ashore immediately. On Tuesday the Russian Ambassador in Constantinople telegraphed that they might be landed if they wished and if their services were desired. Nevertheless, they were detained until late in the afternoon, when they were allowed to land. It appears the authorities neglected to swear in the men on their arrival, so technically they were not amendable to discipline.”
Russian troops and Montenegrin gendarmes in Rethymno.
International Officers, including Montenegrins. Picture taken before November 1898.
The gendarme seated in the front row bears a passing resemblance to Mašan Božović, who is described, albeit on Wikipedia, as: “… participat[ing] in the leadership of the Montenegrin Detachment in Crete as part of the international peacekeeping troops on that island.”
Montenegrin gendarme on Crete. Mašan Božović
By early March 1897, it was apparent that the lack of local Christian recruits into the new body, the unreliability of the Montenegrin contingent and the lack of finance from the Porte to pay for the existing gendarmerie, let alone the ‘new’ gendarmerie, had put the whole re-organisation into jeopardy. Matters were further complicated when, on 1st March 1897, the ‘old’ gendarmerie went on strike over them not being paid for 18 months or so. The mutiny was eventually put down by Major Bor with the assistance of a detachment of Italian and Russian sailors; although not without loss of life.
With European sailors and marines now landed at the major towns on Crete, the Powers were no longer prepared to carry the financial and organisational burdens of maintaining the ‘new’ gendarmerie and on 7th March 1897 the British Ambassador in Constantinople, Sir Philip Currie, instructed Chermside “…that the officers and men of the new Cretan gendarmerie should be paid off and discharged, and that the Gendarmerie Commission, with the assistance of the Consuls, should do this with the least possible delay.”  On 9th March, Major Bor tendered his resignation to the new Vali.
That day, 9th March, Currie reported to the British Foreign Minister Lord Salisbury that the European Gendarmerie Commission propose to leave Crete and return to Constantinople, arrangements being made to pay off the new gendarmerie:
“Officers will receive three months’ pay and the Montenegrin soldier’s one month’s as an indemnity, in addition to pay for the last month, and the cost of their journey home…. the old Mussleman gendarmerie, consisting of 49 officers and 535 men, still exists.”
On 13th March Col. Chermside reported to Constantinople that the 9th the ‘new’ gendarmerie had been paid up to the 12th March, being discharged the following day. He further reported that:
“Of the new gendarmerie, 4 Italian officers of the carabinieri are placed at the disposal of the Italian “Commandant de Place” of Canea, and also 2 Montenegrin officers and 83 men, now in Russian pay. Even had the latter been at once repatriated it would, in Major Bor’s opinion, have been quite possible, as a temporary measure, to undertake their duties which are exclusively those of guard and patrol, by men of the force of the international squadron already ashore.”
In the same report, Chermside goes on to make it clear why the new gendarmerie was disbanded when he states:
” Of the 2,700L in the safe of the 3 per. Cent Customs Surtax Fund, over 1500L were required for the [paying off]; it is therefore evident that under existing arrangements the force enrolled could not have been further developed, nor even have been much longer maintained.”
Montenegrin gendarmes appear to have been employed by the Italians in Canea as late as April/May 1897, during the 30-Day War. Illustrations in several London magazines show what was presumably the same incident; the disarming of Bashi-Bazouks by a Montenegrin gendarme in the company of Italian Marines.
The Occupation of Crete, Disarming Bashi-Bazouks at the Gate of Canea after the Fight at Akrotiri
Montenegrin gendarme disarming Bashi Bazouk.
A photograph supposedly showing Montenegrin gendarmes in the company of British and European troops, was also taken around March/April/May 1897 – dated from the arrival of Seaforth Highlanders on 24th March.
International forces, Canea, April 1897. Possible Montenegrin gendarmes marked.
The British records concerning the Montenegrin gendarmes then go quiet for some time and it might be assumed that they continued in the Service of the Russian Consul. The final appearance in British records occurs over a year later, on 26th April 1898, when there was an allegation of “… an attack by French soldiers and Montenegrin gendarmes on a Turkish soldier near Canea…” In reality, the attack turned out to have been made by an Ottoman soldier upon two French soldiers; the Montenegrins attempting to break up the disturbance and arrest the Ottoman.
Acknowledgement: Many thanks to Mark Ivanovic for reminding me, in a comment on a previous post, of the presence of Montenegrin gendarmes on Crete.
 House of Commons Command Paper. 1897 [C.8398] [C.8437] Turkey. No. 8 (1897). Further correspondence respecting the affairs of Crete. [In continuation of ”Turkey no. 7 (1896):” c.–8193.] Inclosure 1 in No. 341. Chermside to Currie, 13th March 1897.
 Rodogno D. (2012) Against Massacre: Humanitarian Interventions in the Ottoman Empire, 1815-1914. Princeton University Press. F.N. 37. Chapter 9. p.331.
 http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NOT18970401.2.22 THE STATE OF CRETE., North Otago Times, Volume XXVI, Issue 8865, 1 April 1897. Reprint of The Times report dated February 19th1897.
House of Commons Command Paper. 1897 [C.8398] [C.8437] Turkey. No. 8 (1897). Further correspondence respecting the affairs of Crete. [In continuation of ”Turkey no. 7 (1896):” c.–8193.] No. 248. Currie to Chermside, 7th March 1897.
 Ibid. No. 255. Currie to Salisbury, 9th March 1897.
 Ibid. No. 256. Currie to Salisbury, 9th March 1897.
 Ibid. Inclosure 1 in No.341. Chermside to Currie, 13th March 1897.
 House of Commons Command paper. 1899 [C.9084] [C.9085] [C.9086] Turkey. No. 5 (1898). Further correspondence respecting the affairs of Crete. [In continuation of ”Turkey no. 3 (1898):” c. 8853.] No. 197. Sir P. Currie to Salisbury, 26th April 1897.
 Ibid. Incl. 1 & 2 in No. 210. Admiralty to Foreign Office, 6th May 1898.