Region: Aegean / Ionian Sea
Group: Ionian Islands
Classification: Military Occupation (Italy)
Prior Regime: Kingdom of Greece
1923, Aug 27 – Italian General Tellini ambushed and killed
1923, Aug 31- Italy Invades Corfu
1923, Sept 27 – Italians withdraw from Corfu
Following Regime: Kingdom of Greece
Scott Catalogue: (Corfu) #N1-N14
Pick Catalogue: none
Greece and Albania took a national boundary dispute to the Conference of Ambassador of the League of Nations. The Conference created a commission to determine the boundary, and appointed General Enrico Tellini of Italy as chairman of the commission. From the outset, the relations between Greece and the commission were negative, and ventually the Greek delegate openly accused Tellini of working in favor of Albania’s claims.
On 27 Aug.1923, General Tellini, and three of his officers were ambushed and killed by unknown assailants at Kakavia, within Greek territory. Both sides accused the other of the killings, however two days later, Italy sent an ultimatum to Greece demanding 50 million lire in reparations and execution of the killers. Greece was unable to identify the killers, so Italian forces bombarded and occupied the Greek island of Corfu on 31 Aug. 1923, killing at least fifteen civilians. Historians believe that Italy had an ulterior motive for the invasion, to gain control of Corfu, due to its strategic position at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea
Greece appealed to the League of Nations, which initially condemned the Italian occupation. The dispute was handed over to the Conference of Ambassadors, and Italy and Greece agreed to be bound by its decision. The Conference largely followed the nominal Italian demands, ordering Greece to apologize and pay reparations, a decision that Greece accepted. Italian troops left Corfu on 27 Sep. 1923, after an occupation of just 28 days.
These events are often refered to as the “Corfu Incident”.
An Italian Post Office opened on 11 Sep. 1923 on Corfu, issuing a set of 8 Italian stamps overprinted “CORFU” which were placed on sale on the 20th. Three additional stamps overprinted in Greek currency arrived on 24th. The Post Office closed at midday on 26 Sep. 1923, only remaining open to dispatch the morning mail. The office had been open for 15 days.
Three further values arrived on the day the Post Office closed, and were never issued. They eventually became available for sale at the postal ministry in Rome. Many used copies of these stamps, have forged postmarks, but it is known that the Corfu cancel was applied to hundreds of stamps before the Post Office closed.