We wish the members of the ‘First Battle of Doiran Centenary Tour’ bon voyage as they make their way to Thessaloniki today. This is an exciting tour as the group – led by SCS Chairman, Alan Wakefield – will have the opportunity to walk the battlefield exactly one hundred years after the opening days of the first Battle of Doiran.
From Alan Palmer’s The Gardeners of Salonika, first published in 1965 by Andre Deutsch Limited, London (pp. 119-120):
The Salonika Campaign Society sends it’s very best wishes to Redwings Adoption Star Muffin – who is also SCS Honorary Member Salonika 4 – on his 30th birthday. We wish you a very happy birthday and hope you enjoy your special party at Redwings Caldecott in Norfolk.
A driver taking mules to water, Salonika, September 1916. © IWM (Q 32318)
Men of an Indian transport unit wrestling whilst mounted on mules at a sports meeting near Salonika in May 1916. THE MACEDONIAN CAMPAIGN 1915 – 1918 © IWM (Q 32057)
In 2015 the Salonika Campaign Society adopted Muffin, a mule resident at the Redwings Horse Sanctuary at Caldecott in Norfolk. This was felt to be a fitting way to commemorate the mules on which the BSF depended one hundred years ago. At the Society’s annual meeting in that year, Muffin was made an honorary member of the Society with the special membership number Salonika 4, as a reminder of the BSF’s pack transport establishment of the same name.
In a few days time, Muffin is celebrating a very special birthday as he turns 30. Rescued from slaughter with his mum, who died shortly after, he has been on Redwings’ adoption programme ever since, making him their longest serving ‘Adoption Star’. He is having a birthday party on Sunday 16th April from 11.30am and visitors are welcome. To find out more about his party, visiting Redwings and to see a very cute photo of baby Muffin, visit this web page:
Muffin’s story has a happy ending, but it is unlikely there was any such for most of the mules and horses of the BSF. George Armour, equine artist and officer in the Army Remount Service describes in his autobiography, Bridle & Brush (1937, republished 1986 by Ashford Press Publishing) the selling of 25,000 and comments:
It was a very distasteful thing to have to sell these animals into the slavery which would inevitably be their fate, but there was no alternative. Orders were issued and carried out that all over sixteen years of age should be destroyed, a well-intentioned thought though hardly logical, as the younger the animal the longer would be his time of suffering. The heavy draught horses were unsaleable, as what one of them required in the way of food would have consumed all there was to keep the other animals on a farm alive.
I have jumped forward a couple of years for this next issue, which contains the first of a two part article on 8th Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry by Tony Richards, who served as SCS Treasurer for a number of years. This first part includes an account of the Battalion’s role in the First Battle of Doiran.
Last October I promised to start providing details of back issues of the Society’s journal, The New Mosquito. Six months on, with nothing yet achieved, I’d better get cracking – especially as another issue will be out later this month! Continue reading “‘The New Mosquito’ #1 : April 2000”
Lt John Jones Savin was mentioned in an earlier post on the formation of 16 Corps Cyclist Battalion (09/12/2016). It was a name I was familiar with, having read the war diary of 28th Divisional Cyclist Company many times. Continue reading “Remembering Lt John Jones Savin”
Having mentioned the Army Museums Ogilby Trust in the previous post on regimental histories, it would be perverse not to mention it in the context of its ‘core business’ – army museums. On the Trust’s website you will find a facility for searching for army museums by region or regiment.
Published regimental histories can be useful sources if you are researching units or individuals who served with the British Salonika Force. Producing and maintaining a comprehensive list of relevant regimental histories is beyond my capabilities and the scope of this website, but fortunately the Army Museums Ogilby Trust offers an online search facility for regimental histories:
Of course, you will find that many of the publications are now out of print, necessitating a visit to a museum or trying to obtain it through the library service or second-hand booksellers. Fortunately, Naval and Military Press have reprinted many of these. You will find full details on their website.
Of course, I am always happy to promote any newly published books on the campaign, so please let me know if you are aware of any.
On UNESCO World Poetry Day it’s good to be able to highlight a book which takes the Salonika campaign as its theme: Bill, by Richard Devereux. Richard is a Bristol based poet who has been widely published in anthologies and magazines. Continue reading “For World Poetry Day : Bill”