Photograph of the Royal Field Artillery at Chanak

After the end of the First World War, British and allied troops moved into parts of the former Ottoman Empire as occupation troops as Turkey emerged from the ashes of the fallen nation. One of the key places occupied was the coastal city of Chanak, which had a population in 1920 of 22,000 inhabitants. This port was to receive a mixed garrison of British and French troops as well as playing host to a cruiser squadron at times. This week’s photograph dates from 1920 and shows a unit of the Royal Field Artillery on exercise near the city in March of that year:

Of course at this date, much of the artillery was still horse drawn and a number of steeds can be seen at the front of the column, ridden by troops wearing tropical uniform and Wolseley Helmets:

Curiously, the men riding directly behind seem to be Indian as they are wearing turbans on their heads:

The guns themselves follow behind the limbers on which the remainder of the gun crew ride:

A large marker flag can be seen in the foreground, presumably used to ensure the column stayed in the alloted position and did not move out of line:

The British Army and their French and Italian allies would have a difficult two years in the Dardanelles trying to prop up a shaky Greek military force and prevent open war with the Kemalist forces that were forming from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. Events would come to a head in 1922 during the Chanak Crisis when allied troops would finally withdraw from Turkey.

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