THIS PAGE IS A FEATURE OF THE
PHILATELIC EXPERTS WEB SITE
SMALL ISLANDS IN THE
In World War I the
Ottoman Empire was at war with the Allies from November 1914, and gradually
lost most of its territory in the Middle East. But Turkey proper was not
occupied before the Armistice of Mudros in October 1918. Certain islands were,
however, occupied by the Allies as bases at an early stage of the war. For
some of them stamps were issued. Great care has been taken to check the
below dates and facts because there is erroneous information
RUAD / ARWAD
Eng.: Ruad, French: Île
Rouad, Greek: Arados, Aradus. The only island in Syria, located south-west
of Tartus, 2½ km (20 min. by boat) off coast. The town of Arwad (pop. 3 000
in 1904, same today) takes up almost the entire small island, a rock some
740 m long by 400 m wide, 0.2 sq. km. There is not a single tree.
Arwad, known since the 2nd millennium BC, was one of the most
important city-kingdoms of Phoenicia, which remained independent until about
500 BC. Later Arwad was the last Crusader stronghold in the region,
fell to the Arabs in 1302 and to the Ottomans in 1516. Apart from the
Crusader fort (see the 1996 photos) there is the Arabic Ayyubi Citadel (in
the port). The former was the WW1 French headquarters and was later used as
a prison during the resistance against the French mandate over Syria. Today
Arwad lives mainly from tourism and by fishing.
On 1 Sept. 1915 it was the first point in
Syria to be occupied, by the French Navy (cruiser Jeanne d'Arc). (Damascus was to be taken
only on 1 Oct. 1918.) The administrator, General Trabot, had the consent of
the inhabitants. Originally Jazirat Arwad was occupied in order to materially support Christians (e.g. Maronites),
oppressed by the Turks, in Lebanon, and as an intelligence centre. (There had been massacres of
Christians in the Ottoman Empire in May 1915 and then there was a severe
famine in Lebanon due to the war.) Occasionally the island was bombarded by the enemy. In
the spring of 1916 a civilian post office opened and Arwad
got its own
stamps, French ones overprinted
Île Rouad. These were replaced in 1919 by
the general issues for French-occupied Syria (T.E.O.). The first overprint
is locally hand-stamped (two types) and a speculation of the stamp dealer
Félix Cohen. The definitive overprints arrived around Nov. 1916. In 1921 the islet was attached to the Territory of
the Alaouites (later named Latakia, now part of Syria).
Meyisti. Above: Greek/Italian, Turkish: Meis, ancient name: Megiste. 125 km east of
Rhodes, 2½ km off coast of Turkey (nearest town: Kas), 9 sq. km, 273 m
5 000 (1910, 15 000 in 19th century, 2 200 in 1936, now only 200). In 1943–4 he
population, entirely Greek, was removed and many houses were destroyed in an
explosion (compare the pictures). Most islanders have emigrated to Australia
and other countries. Medieval Crusader
castle, Blue Cave and other sights. When the rest of
the Dodecanese islands were occupied by Italian forces in May 1912
Kastellorizon remained nominally Turkish. On 1 Jan. 1913 the inhabitants,
however, declared the island to be part of Greece and Greek soldiers from
Samos arrived (left in Oct. 1915). Turkey did not react.
On 24 Dec. 1915 the French Navy, First Fleet Third Squadron, occupied the
island; Greece protests. In 1917 Turkish shore-based artillery sunk the
British seaplane carrier Ben-my-Chree here. By Treaty of Sèvres 1920 Turkey
ceded Kastellorizon to Italy, effective 1 March 1921, and on 21 Aug. 1921
the French Navy set sail. In the 1920s–30s it was a seaplane stop-over. Occupied by the Germans in 1944
and by the British in 1943 and 1945. In March 1947 the administration of all the Dodecanese was taken over by Greece. In the 1960s
Greece offered Kastellorizon to Turkey in exchange for Enosis (union with
Cyprus). Important for
the Levantine timber trade and freight in the 19th century, fishing and (yacht) tourists now means a lot.
In 1986 a 799 m airstrip was constructed and in 2003 the
tiny island was the scene of the meeting of European Union foreign ministers.
1913–15 ordinary Greek
(and this) stamps were used. In July 1913 a set of 12
stamps were overprinted vertically, but this is not an official issue. After
1915 French Levant stamps (1–50 c) were sold in Kastellorizon. Only in
1920 did the French issue special, locally overprinted stamps for this island.
A fourth set was made in the last minute, and is considered bogus. The Italians
produced five Castelrosso sets; otherwise the general Egeo issues were
current. During the British occupation 1945–47 GB stamps overprinted M.E.F.,
and in 1947 Greek with S.D.D., were
used in the Dodecanese. You can see samples of the stamps
here. A modern Greek
stamp, and a modern
LONG ISLAND /
UZUNADA or KEUSTAN
Turkish: Uzun Ada
(Uzun Adasi, Uzan
called Keustan, Chustan or Kösten), Greek: Makronisi, renamed Long Island by the
British soldiers. 25 sq. km, 202 m high. Strategically
situated it controls the entrance of Izmir (then called Smyrna), and is still restricted Turkish
Navy area. The island was occupied in April 1916 by the Fourth
Squadron of the Royal Navy,
Mediterranean Fleet, with the monitor M30, blockading the Gulf. The coast of
Asia Minor had been under bombardment since early 1915; the Gulf of Izmir
was under fire in March 1915.
On 14 May
the M30 is hit by Turkish shore-based gunfire and sinks. With the airfield
also unusable Long Island is abandoned on 26 May. A "post office" was
opened on 7 May and typewritten stamps were issued in very small numbers.
They were, of course, not really necessary, and only Gibbons is listing
them, at high prices. The stamps were not meant for the few local
inhabitants (now there are no civilians). In Jan. 1919 Uzun (as well as other Turkish fortifications in
the Gulf) was briefly taken control of by the Royal Navy in support of the Greek
occupation of the Izmir region. Further reading: Fred. J. Melville, Stamp Books No. 22, London
M30: British Navy,
monitor. 1915, Workrnan
Clark & Co Ltd (Belfast), 535 tons, 170x31x6.7, 400 hp, 10 knots, triple-expansion
engines, Yarrow boilers. Two 6 in guns, one 6 pdr A.A., two m.g. The
monitor M30, Lt. Cdr. E. L. B. Lockyer, was engaged in the bombardment of
Turkish batteries in the neighbourhood of Cape Aspro, Gulf of Smyrna, during
May 1916. On the night of the 13th–14th the monitor was hit in the engine
room by gunfire from shore batteries and caught fire. About 50 of the crew,
including wounded, were taken off by the armed motor yacht California and
the monitor sank shortly afterwards.
island in Yemen was occupied by the British in 1915 (June?). It had
belonged to the Ottoman Empire since 1872. In 1858 Britain had occupied the
island to protect the submarine cable to India. According
to a 1910 encyclopædia the British had
bought Kamaran (Camaran, Qamaran, Karahan) in 1859 from an Arab sheikh, but
they were perhaps unable to enforce their right of possession. Maybe that
is why the British occupied Kamaran and kept it – and not some other Ottoman island in
the Red Sea. It has also been claimed by Italy.
The island is 108* sq. km (18
km by 7 km), and only had 100 permanent inhabitants in 1910 (2 000 in 1954).
Still the Turks had long maintained a post office here. The explanation is
that since the last decades of the 19th century Kamaran had been the most
important quarantine station for northbound pilgrims, tens of thousands per annum, to Mecca. The quarantine was mandatory. The British constructed a
large camp, but it soon became deserted (closed in 1952) as Saudi Arabia built its own
quarantine stations. Kamaran was administered from Aden (subsequently South Arabian
Federation), which became independent in 1967 as South Yemen. The island
was, however, seized by the adjacent Yemen Arab Republic in 1972. In 1990
the two Yemens were unified. The main town is Kamaran on the east
coast (marked •, with the airstrip).
Kamaran had no stamps of its own. You can see a Turkish postmark
Aden's postal service was first run by India, and it opened an office on Kamaran
in 1915 (at first as a field post office). Indian stamps used in
Kamaran are scarce. In 1937 Aden got stamps of its own, but Kamaran
postmarks are seldom seen. A charming description of Kamaran in 1954 can be
read on this site.
*Figures of e.g. 181, 130 and 57 sq. km for the main island have also been seen in
Borgå Ångfartygs Ab,
Järnvägs Ab Fredrikshamn,
Companhia de Moçambique.
Copyright © 1.2006–2011 by G. Kock
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