Tag Archives: H.M.S. Rodney

Royal Navy’s presence – 1897

Among the documents held at the National Archive in Kew is a file catalogued as ADM116/88. This is an Admiralty file containing telegrams to and from the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean and the Admiralty in London, relating to the Royal Navy’s involvement in Crete between February and November 1897.  In an indication of the scale of the British involvement in Crete in this relatively short period, a handwritten note on the inside of the file lists all the Royal Navy’s ships that are referred to in the correspondence. The list shows that in a ten-month period at least 26 RN vessels, ranging from state-of-the-art Battleships to Store ships, were active in Cretan waters. This list does not include troop ships. However, while the commitment of 26 vessels to operations in Crete may seem a large number, many of them were on station for a matter of days only, and  it needs to be remembered that in June 1897 at the time of the Spithead Review celebrating Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, the Royal Navy had some 212 ships in commission[1]; it currently has 75.


List of ships referred to in ADM 116/88.

Royal Navy ships.

HMS Anson                               Admiral Class Battleship

HMS Ardent                             Ardent Class Destroyer

HMS Banshee                          Banshee Class Destroyer

HMS Barfleur                           Centurion Class Battleship

HMS Boxer                               Ardent Class Destroyer

HMS Bruiser                             Ardent Class Destroyer

HMS Cambrian                        Astraea Class Protected Cruiser

HMS Camperdown                 Admiral Class Battleship

HMS Dragon                            Banshee Class Destroyer            Lieutenant William F. Blunt

HMS Dryad                               Dryad Class Torpedo Gunboat

HMS Fearless                           Scout Class Torpedo Cruiser     Commander Charles E. Gladstone

HMS Harrier                             Dryad Class Torpedo Gunboat

HMS Hawke                             Edgar Class Protected Cruiser

HMS Nile                                  Trafalgar Class Battleship

HMS Nymphe                           Nymphe Class Composite Screw Sloop

HMS Revenge                           Royal Sovereign Class battleship

HMS Rodney                             Admiral Class Battleship

HMS Royal Oak                        Royal Sovereign Class Battleship

HMS Scout                                 Scout Class Torpedo Cruiser

HMS Scylla                                 Apollo Class Second-Class Cruiser   Captain Percy M. Scott

HMS Trafalgar                          Trafalgar Class Battleship

HMS Tyne                                  Store Ship

Torpedo Boat 90                      TB88 Class

Torpedo Boats 94, 95 & 96    TB94 Class

Civilian vessels

SS Clyde (Transport)

SS Samaria (Transport and billeting)


HMS Anson. Admiral Class Battleship.

HMS Ardent. Ardent Class Destroyer.

HMS Banshee. Banshee Class Destroyer.

HMS Banshee in heavy weather.

HMS Barfleur. Centurian Class Battleship.

HMS Boxer. Ardent Class Destroyer.

HMS Bruizer/Bruiser. Ardent Class Destroyer.

HMS Cambrian 1910. Astraea Class protected Cruiser.

Astraea Class cruiser

HMS Camperdown. Admiral Class battleship.

HMS Dryad. Dryad Class Torpedo Gunboat.

HMS Dryad after conversion to minesweeper

HMS Dryad. Dryad Class Torpedo Gunboat.

HMS Fearless. Scout Class Torpedo Cruiser.

HMS Hawke. Edgar Class, First Class Protected Cruiser.

HMS Hawke. Edgar Class, First Class Protected Cruiser.

Edgar Class Protected Cruiser.

HMS Nile. Trafalgar Class Battleship.

HMS Nymphe. Nymphe Class Composite Screw Sloop.

HMS Revenge. Royal Soverign Class battleship.

HMS Rodney. Admiral Class Battleship.

HMS Royal Oak. Royal Soverign Class Battleship.

HMS Royal Oak. Royal Soverign Class Battleship.

HMS Scout. Scout Class Torpedo Cruiser.

HMS Scout.  Scout Class Torpedo Cruiser.

HMS Scylla. Apollo Class, 2nd Class Protected Cruiser.

Apollo Class Cruiser

HMS Trafalgar. Trafalgar Class Battleship.

Trafalgar Class battleship.


[1] https://www.naval-history.net/xGW-RNOrganisation1897.htm

The evacuation of Kandanos, 1897

On 7th March 1897 a force consisting of 200 British sailors and marines, 100 French , 100 Austrian and 75 Russians, landed  on the south west coast of Crete. Accompanied by Sir Alfred Biliotti, the  British  Consul, their task was to evacuate some 1600 Cretan Muslims and 450 Ottoman soldiers from the village of Kandanos in south west Crete, then under siege by Christian Cretans supported by Greek manned artillery. (It should be noted that the actual dates on which the events in the evacuation occurred are somewhat difficult to determine. The main source of information is Sir Alfred Biliotti who although he was present throughout, was less than clear in his dispatches; particularly when it came to putting dates in his narrative! The dates given here was obtained from various accounts, including the log of  H. M. S. Rodney; in deference to the log keeping traditions of the Royal Navy, these dates are preferred to those given by Biliotti. Similarly, the numbers of evacuees varies from account to account.) The base for the operation was the then semi-derelict village Selino Kastelli, modern Paleochora.

Selino Kastelli ( Paleochora) Gerola

Selino Kastelli c 1900-1902

Landing at Sellino Kastelli (Paleochora) ILN 10 April 1897.

Midshipmen from HMS Rodney who took part in the evacuation of Kandanos. Penny Illustrated Press 10 April 1897

Landing at Sellino Kastelli (Paleochora) ILN 10 April 1897.

En-route to Kandanos the European troops stopped overnight in the hamlet of Spaniakos and evacuated the garrison from the Ottoman fortress above the village.

Ottoman Fortress, Spaniakos

Ottoman Fortress, Spaniakos

The French troops are reported as having spent the night in a local notable’s harem; the British in the local mosque.

Spaniakos Mosque

Spaniakos Mosque.

Royal Navy Guard at Spaniakos (ILN 10 April 1897.

The Spaniakos mosque was eventually destroyed after the evacuation of Cretan Muslims from the area. (Further details of the area around Spaniakos can be found here.)


Kandanos 3 April 97 ILN

British sailors leading column of refugees from Kandanos. Illustration by Melton-Prior.

The Ottoman Governaor of Kandanos. Penny Illustrated Press 10 April 1897.

For the most part the evacuation went without difficulty and the refugees arrived in Canea aboard the various European vessels. Some would stay in Canea, some went to the Turkish mainland, but few ever returned to Kandanos, and those who did were uprooted again in the 1923 population exchange.

Cretan Muslim refugees from Kandanos arriving in Canea. March 1897.

Sailors from HMS Rodney who took part in the Kandanos evacuation.

However, in the final stages, when the column reached the sea at Selino Kastelli, Cretan insurrectionists opened fire on the International troops. Given the overwhelming superiority in fire-power of the European forces, not to mention the presence of a considerable number of  European warships in the immediate vicinity, it’s not difficult to predict the outcome of the engagement.

During the operation several maps and sketches of the area were produced, apparently by French naval officers.

Area of Operations. 5th to 10th March 1897.

International troops landed at Selino Kastelli and then proceed to Kandanos via Spaniakos and Kakodiki.

Disposition of International troops Selino Kastelli, 10th March 1897.

View of the hills above Selino Kastelli and the disposition of International troops on their return from Kandanos. 10th March 1897.

The outline of the hills above the village appears to suggest that the sketch was made from a viewpoint in the south west bay.

Hills above Paleochora, February 2016.

Hills above Paleochora, February 2016. The route to Kandanos and Spaniakos is through the valley on the right hand side of the photograph.

Evidence of the use of Gras rifles, the type used by the Cretan insurgents, has been found near the site of the final encounter.

Gras bullet found in Paleochora near the site of the engagement.

Gras bullet found in Paleochora near the site of the engagement.

More details of the bullet can be found here.

The evacuation marked the effective end of the Ottoman presence in south west Crete, an event marked on a plaque erected on the wall of the old castle in Paleochora in 2020.

Plaque marking the end of the Ottoman presence in Selino.

The text in English reads:

“After 374 years of Venitian slavery and 244 years of Turkish, here on 1 March 1897 at the end of the revolution of 1896-1897 in Selino, the revolutionary liberation flag of Selino was raised. Here on 1 December 1913 with the union of Crete with Greece, the Greek flag was raised.”

Many thanks to Bob Tait for supplying the illustration of the Spaniakos mosque, and to Michalis Adamtziloglou for the translation of the plaque.

British warships off Canea. March 1897.

Scenes off the coast of Crete

Scenes off the coast of Crete

Early March 1897.

British ships from left to right: HMS Barfleur, H.M.S. Dragon, H.M.S. Revenge (Flagship Rear Admiral Harris), H.M.S Bruiser and H.M.S. Rodney.