Christmas Greeting 1916 from the Salonica Army

On behalf of the Salonika Campaign Society I wish our members, friends and visitors a very happy and peaceful Christmas and all the very best for 2017. We hope you will stay with us as the centenary commemorations continue. Notable events to be remembered in 2017 are the bloody First Battle of Doiran (April/May) and Salonika’s Great Fire (August). We will also do our best to remember some of the smaller events – and the people involved – which would otherwise be forgotten.

Christmas postcard from 1916 - Christmas Greeting 1916 from the Salonica Army. Historic Group of Allied Comrades in Arms.

This is probably a familiar postcard to many of you and I expect there are lots of copies out there. My copy, bought on eBay, was sent to: Mr A Rundle, 54 Oxford Street, St Thomas, Exeter, Devon – a terraced house which still stands. If there’s nothing on the TV you may wish to use the card for a festive game of ‘spot the nationality’. My guesses are:

  • Back row: British (who else in those shorts!); French North African (Tirailleurs Algériens); Russian infantry; Indian Army (possibly from a mountain battery); Italian Alpini; Serbian infantry.
  • Front row: Cretan Gendarme; French West African (Tirailleurs Sénégalais); French (from a mounted branch); French Annamite (Indochina); Cretan Gendarme.

This is a photo which pops up in various versions. The Salonika Reunion Association used similar images with slight changes to personnel and standing in a different order on the front covers of The Mosquito in December 1949 (formal group with a Greek officer) and September 1958 (informal grouping with an additional Brit). Interestingly, there is some movie footage of the very same individuals in the Imperial War Museum, which can be viewed online. It was clearly quite an extensive photo-shoot.

TOPICAL BUDGET 272-2 © IWM (NTB 272-2)

Description: ‘THE ARMIES OF THE ALLIES. An interesting group of the nationalities fighting the Central Powers in the Balkans. British, French, Russian, Italian, Serbian, Indian, Cretan, Senegalese, Greek, and Anammite (sic) type of soldiers.’ The men stand talking. Cigarettes are offered by a British officer and generally accepted. The men file past the camera one after the other.

Author: SCS Web Editor

Robin Braysher joined the SCS in 2003 and soon after became editor of the Society’s journal, ‘The New Mosquito’, a role he held until 2008. He then became the Society’s web editor, a role he seems unable to shake off. His interest in the campaign comes from his grandfather, Fred, who served as a cyclist with the BSF from 1915-1917, mainly in the Struma valley.