Tag Archives: Candia

The British depart.

On 26th July 1909, the 2nd battalion, the Devonshire Regiment departed Candia en-route to Malta on board S.S. Rameses; the last of the British garrison on Crete until 1941. (British sailors and marines did revisit the island on 18th August 1909 in connection with the removal of the Greek flag, and the flagpole, from the Firka in Canea.)

The 2nd. Devonshires leaving Candia.

‘The regiment marching out of Kandia. (Photograph by an old soldier from Exeter.) Devon and Exeter Gazette, Friday 20th August 1909.

Devonshire’s leaving Candia harbour.

‘British troops leaving Crete. A batch of 200 British troops left Crete for Malta at the end of last month and received a very cordial send-off. The quay was lined with Cretan militia and there was erected an arch with portraits of the King and Queen.’  The Graphic, 15th August 1909.

A Creto-British Entente.

‘Each man was presented with a sprig of olive and (myrtle), tied with a ribbon on which was an inscription in Greek and Englishas shown above.’ The Graphic, 15th August 1909.

British officers’ quarters and mess; Candia 1909.

‘The officers’ quarters and mess of the British garrison in Crete, showing the Union Jack flying for the last time. The protecting Powers are to withdraw all of the International troops before the end of July.’  The Graphic, 17th July 1909.

The Devonshire’s had arrived on Crete on 18th January 1909 and, while on the island, had suffered two deaths from amongst their number, one from liver failure, the other from a ‘digestive disease’.  Little appears to have been recorded of their stay, but they were, clearly, involved in to some extent in the training of the Cretan Militia; the training of the Cretan Gendarmerie being, by this time, the responsibility of Greek offices and instructors.

2/Devonshires’ with Cretan militia and Greek officers. 1909

The Graphic 14th August 1909.

Meanwhile, in Canea, other International troops were pulling out of the island. The majority of the troops shown below would have been Italians since the Canea Secteur of the island was their responsibility.

Canea, departure of International troops, July 1909.

International troops depart, Canea 1909

Canea harbour, International troops depart. July 1909.

International Flags, Suda Bay. July 1909

The Graphic, 17th July 1909.

Lowering the British flag for the last time. 26th July 1909.


British sport on Crete.

As if  things weren’t difficult enough for British troops on Crete, it would appear that they made things worse for themselves by indulging in ‘football’ in spite of the fact that there appears to have been little, or any, compulsion for them to do so.

2/Rifle Brigade football match, Candia, May/June 1899. Illustrated London News, 3 June 1899.

The text reads: The players belong to two Companies of the 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade. Their playground is the unturfed barracks square where they enjoy their game in spite of a thermometer at 82 degrees in the shade.

Things hadn’t improved much by 1907.

A Co. 1/Inniskilling’s football team, Crete 1907.
The Inniskillings’ players are listed as:
Winners of Regimental Football Challenge Shield 1906-7
Lieut. D. McK Hartigan, Sgt. F. Daly, L/C. J. Ballie, Colr Sgt. S. H. Miller, L/C. E. Page, Capt. G. W. Kenny.
L/C. W. Galbraith, Pte. R. McNeill, Pte. D. McGlurg, Pte. J. Thompson, Pte. J. Breadon.
Pte. A. Woodward, Pte. R .Scott, Pte N. Sherman.

Fortunately, other sports were available to the men, as can be seen by the photographs below of the celebrations laid on for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in June 1897.

Tug of War in the ditch below the ramparts of Candia. Royal Welsh Fusiliers (left) -v- Seaforth Highlanders (right). The Fusiliers won.

The officers had their own recreations.

Officers of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers playing Italian Officers at Hockey. Candia, 1897 or 1898.





British Maps of Candia (Iraklion)

From their arrival in Crete in February 1897 until their departure in July 1909, British forces, of necessity, produced a number of formal, and informal, maps of Candia (Iraklion), the headquarters of the British Secteur of the island and main British base.

Royal Navy Survey. Candia, 1898.  Megalo Kastron or Candia.

From a Survey by Mr. W. T. Chapman, 2nd Master, R.N. under the direction of Captain T. Graves, R.N., H.M. Survey Ship ‘Beacon’ 1843, with additions from a survey by Commander T.A.B Spratt, R.N., H.M. Surveying Ship ‘Spitfire’ 1852. Additions and corrections to 1897. (Map issue dated 28th December 1897.)

Candia September 1898  General Plan of town of Kandia.

Produced by Sub. Lt. [G?] Nicholson R.N. as part of the report into the events of 6th September. 1898.


Candia Harbour. September 1898.

Plan showing positions occupied by landing party H.M.S. Hazard and HLI (Highland Light Infantry) at Kandia Sept 6th1898. Produced by Sub. Lt. [G?] Nicholson R.N. as part of the report into the riot of 6th September 1898

Fields of fire, Candia 1898.

1898 map showing parts of eastern side of Candia which could be covered by fire from European ships and infantry. Drawn by Lt. F.E. Rickman 2nd Batt. Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Dated 19th September 1898, the map was produced as part of the contingency planning for the bombardment of Ottoman forces in Candia should they have refused to obey the Powers ultimatum to evacuate Crete. In the event, the Ottoman troops left without the necessity of force being used.

Location of British troops. Candia September 1898

Map showing the location of British reinforcements sent to Candia after the riots of 6th September 1897.

British Military map. Candia 1905/1910.

British War Office map of Candia. 1905 with 1910 corrections.

Venetian walls of Candia/Iraklion.

Modern map of Venetian walls of Iraklion/Candia/Khandia.

Whatever happens, we have got, the Maxim gun, and they have not.*

The British battalions landing in Crete in 1897/1898 were normally equipped with two Maxim guns. Unlike later machine guns, these Maxims, the forerunners of the Vickers machine gun, were mounted on wheeled carriages. While they outclassed and out gunned anything that the Cretan Christian Insurgents had available, they were relatively difficult to move and, as the Northumberland Fusiliers found to their cost in 1898 when they lost both of theirs, difficult to land in a rough sea from a small boat.

Royal Welsh Fusiliers’ Maxim guns, Candia c.1897

The guns shown here in Candia are those of the 2/Royal Welsh Fusiliers. While the photograph is undated, given the fact that the campsite is neat and tidy and the cannonballs are nicely painted, it was probably taken during the RWF’s first tour on Crete between April 1897 and August 1898. Their return in September 1898, after the Muslim riots, was to a much less formal campsite.


  • Hilaire Belloc,  ‘The Modern Traveller’  1898

Inniskillings in Crete


Between February 1907 and February 1908, the 1/Inniskilling Fusiliers were stationed in Crete. A series of postcards, annotated in the same hand and apparently written by a member of the Battalion who signed himself ‘Sid’ have recently appeared. Most are commercially produced, but at least one appears to be privately taken photograph which was then turned into a postcard.

Some of these images are shown below with as much of the annotations as are possible to transcribe, with the spelling and punctuation as the original.

Arrival of Inniskillings in Candia

Front text: Taken on the arrival of the of A Coy. (advance party) Feb.24th 07 We came us here later on. As


Text on reverse of postcard: This is a view of the ramparts you can see how we overlook the town, the Canea Gate is closed every evening at Sunset and Sentries are posted outside the gate and inside along with a Quick Firing gun.


inniskillings-candiaFront text: our look out station, we have a full view from this point.

mosque-candiaFront text: Where the priests pray to the Sun & Stars [???}

(This would tend to suggest the writer possessed a rather limited knowledge of the Muslim religion.)


Front text: another portion of the Cemetery (Greek) + (Armenian)

Reverse text: our Cemetery is railed off from the Greek and Armenian portion. Sid.


The time in Crete was not all spent sight seeing – the instability  of the political situation on the island was still apparent and the British soldiers’ views of the Cretan insurrectionists were not necessarily complimentary.insurgent-chief

Reverse text: Lionis is a gentleman we should like to meet. he causes more trouble than 20 other chiefs. He is said to be worth £24,000.000. (from plunder. I suppose.)


Reverse text: Another group of insurgents who were caught on the hills – many of them lived by Brigandage.

X Mousthopher Khapussain a noted Brigand chief who also stirred up the people to revolt, he was shot about a month or so

The above was a professionally produced post-card which apparently dates to around 1897 when Cretan Christian Insurgents attacked the Ottoman outpost at Malaxa, above Canea. This was 10 years prior to the arrival of the Inniskillings on Crete.


As well as the main garrison in Candia, British troops also manned smaller outposts throughout the British Secteur. While the privately produced photograph below doesn’t specify where it was taken, one of the commercial postcards refers to Pediada, one of the main outposts, and it is possible that it was taken at the outpost there.d-co-inniskillings-on-outpost

Front text -Vertically on left hand side: [Water] Tank

Front text on top: No.1 Section, ‘D’ Company” INNISKILLING.S. (OUTPOST) (After a good mornings work)

Quite what had constituted a ‘good mornings work’ in this case is anyone’s guess. However  the soldier on the extreme left is holding what appears to be an air-gun or small rifle, certainly not the standard infantry rifle in use at the time, while others are armed with planks of wood, pick-axes and pick-axe handles; this might suggest they’ve been on a rat-hunt.


inniskillings-in-campFront text on top: A portion of our camp. Note the tanned faces of the troops

Front text on bottom: North end of the Camp

While sport was obviously a means of keeping the soldiers occupied, culture was not ignored, as this souvenir of a trip to Knossos testifies. (It’s not clear if the Battalion photographed was the Inniskillings, but the postcard was part of ‘Sid’s’ collection.)inniskillings-knossos

Front text: One of our Signalling Stations   This was Taken outside the city walls


Front text: Note the primitive ploughs

Reverse text: The women do almost all the work here, while the “men?” go in for drinking + fighting or Brigandage


Front text on top: A rare sight here, is to see a Turk working   they generally give the women that pleasure.  Front text on bottom front: No such thing as a horse here (PTO)

Bringing up the big guns.

4th Mountain Battery Royal Artillery. Candia 1897.

4th Mountain Battery Royal Artillery. Candia 1897.

The picture shows the Royal Artillery, 4th Mountain Battery, commanded by Major H.C.C.D Simpson, who arrived in Candia on 26th April 1897 on S.S. Samaria.

An ‘Extract from Digest of Services of the above Battery’ dated 9th December 1898 and lodged in the Royal Artillery Archives, states that they were equipped with 2.5-inch Rifled Muzzle Loading guns, weighing 400 lbs. each.  Assuming that this is not simply a photograph of them being inspected by Colonel Herbert Chermside, Commander of the British force at the time, on 29th April, it was probably taken on either one of two parades.

The first was on 4th May, at a… ‘General review Order parade held in honour of Italian Troops, who marched past and were saluted by each British unit.’

Alternatively, it was taken on 22nd June at 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 Fleet, and Russian and Italian Military Commanders.’

The Battery doesn’t appear to have fired a shot in anger but was deployed on at least two occasions.

On 7th June the …‘Centre Section under Captain C. (D?) Smeaton formed part of a force sent to {illegible in original} in the Insurgents area, for the purpose of repairing the aqueduct. The other troops were; 2 companies Seaforth Highlanders, a few Royal Engineers, and 1 Officer,25 men, 36th Italian Infantry. All under the Command of Major Campbell, Seaforth Highlanders.’ On 9th June Chermside reported to the Secretary of State for War… ‘British troops, with representative Italian detachment, encamped on Eastern aqueduct since 7 June; completely successful (in executing?) necessary repairs from sources, 9 miles from Candia. In accordance with agreement with Insurgent leaders no incident. [1]

On 9th (?) December, the bulk of the Battery having returned to Malta on S. S. Jelunga on November 21st, the remaining detachment …‘accompanied Sir Herbert Chermside to the outposts, and [was] fired on for ½ hour by Insurgents.’ * This detachment arrived back in Malta, via S.S. Augustine, on 21st December 1897.

Two men of No.4 Battery died… ‘from sickness incurred during the period the battery was serving with the Cretan International Force.’ Bombardier George Barrett, died 9th August 1897, and Gunner George Hogben, died 28th December 1897. Both appear to have died on Malta, and are buried there: their names do not appear on any of the memorials in Crete.

Maltese memorial to Royal Artillery dead.

Maltese memorial to Royal Artillery dead.

In addition to No. 4 Mountain Battery, in 1898,… ‘Lt G H Pickard and 55 men of 5 Coy. [Eastern Division, Royal Artillery,] went to Crete when trouble broke out between the Greek and Turkish communities. The men withdrew in May 1899.’[2]

*Colonel Herbert Chermside became Colonel Sir Herbert Chermside by virtue of being made a KCMG in Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Honours list on 22nd June 1897.

[1] National Archive WO33/149. Telegram, Colonel Chermside to Secretary of State for War. 9th  June 1897.

[2] Photograph of memorial and details of Royal Artillery casualties at: http://www.maltaramc.com/regmltgar/royalart.html

Camping in Crete.

From: Army Medical Department, Report for 1897.

“At Canea the detachment of British troops was at first quartered with the other international Forces and with the Turks in the flag redoubt. As, however, the place was filthy and overcrowded, our troops were soon removed to a camp in the Municipal Gardens, where they occupied a new building intended as a theatre, which afforded room for about 100 men, the remainder being encamped in an adjoining field…..Our troops remained in this camp until August, when in consequence of the prevalence of fever  and the ground having become much fouled, it was, on the recommendation of the Principle medical Officer, Malta, who visited the island at this time, moved to the residential suburb of Halepa, about two miles from Canea, where an excellent site overlooking the sea was found, and where water was obtained from a spring where contamination seemed impossible.”

Canea bastion c.1897

Canea bastion c.1897

Seaforth Highlanders' camp, Halepa.

Seaforth Highlanders’ camp, Halepa.


In Candia meanwhile…” With the exception of the men occupying the Greek Hospital, all the troops have been accommodated in Indian pattern European privates’ tents, which were pitched on the western ramparts which encloses the town from sea to sea. The space was scanty and some digging was necessary before the tents could be properly pitched, but this disturbance of the soil was not attended by any bad effects. The European privates’ tent is too well known to require further description, and the experience of it here in all weathers has confirmed everything that has been said in its favour in other countries. Clay being plentiful, the men were able to make well raised puddled floors which were easily kept clean, even in bad weather. When it became known that the huts would not arrive before winter set in, wooden linings were supplied for the walls of the tents, and added greatly to the comfort of the men. A proportion of marquees was supplied for hospital purposes; but they are not well suited for standing camps, and compare very unfavourably in comfort with the European privates, tents, for which they were discarded.”

Camp of Royal Welsh Fusiliers. late September 1898

Camp of Royal Welsh Fusiliers. late September 1898

ILN Sept 1898 English camp

Part of British camp Candia, late September 1898.


[E.P. tent … according to The Soldiers’ Pocket-Book, there were three types of issue tent in India in the 1880s, the Staff-Sergeant’s tent, (S-S tent) the European (or English) Privates tent (EP tent) and the circular tent (bell tent). Native soldiers had a Lascar ‘pâl’.

The EP tent was made of multiple layers of white cloth, was 22 ‘ by 16′ and had two stout poles and a ridge pole and all together weighed between 600 and 630 lbs (4 pack mule loads, up to 40% over the standard load weight if wet….). In Bombay service it accommodated 22 men, in Madras service it accommodated 26 men. (see next note). When used outside India it became the EPIP to distinguish the Indian pattern tent from its British made equivalent. The 160 lb General Service tent was introduced later so as to be one standard pack-mule load. It was about 12′ by 8’. http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/rg_foreandaft_notes.htm]