In May 1919, pressured by Venizelos the leaders of Britain, France and the US asked the Greeks to occupy Smyrna in Anatolia before the Italians occupied it. No one seems to have considered that the Turks would consider this as an invasion of their Anatolian homeland. Later regretting opposing Turkish Gen. Kemal, the French and Italians took advantage of Venizelos’ electoral defeat by the Royalists in 1920 to provide open support for the Turks against the Greeks.

At a tea at Philadelpheus’, Gilbert Bagnani encountered a Greek naval officer in the air service. Considering Gilbert Italian, he confronted Gilbert. The Greek officer was flying one of three Italian airplanes that had been captured on the ship taking them to the Turkish leader, Gen. Kemal. Moreover, two of the Turkish officers on board had Italian passports thanks to the Italian Ambassador in Constantinople. 

Gilbert defensively countered by diverting the conversation to Greece’s seizure of the French ship, Espoir, which was caught taking coal to Kemal. The Greek officer conceded that at least the Italians, unlike the French, admitted they had been caught. The French government by contrast protested that the coal was intended for Anatolian railroads and was demanding the return of both the ship and its cargo.