Salonika, Christmas, 1917

Fred Warburton, serving with an ammunition column on the Doiran Front, told this story of Christmas 1917 when he and his comrades were looking forward to the geese that they had raised – and guarded jealously – from goslings.

Christmas Eve and we had arranged for a two hour spell to watch the geese and Dick Best had relieved for the 4 to 6 after which we would all be up, our cook Reg usually got up before that time to make gunfire [tea], all of a sudden we heard Reg shouting so we all hurried out to find Dick fast asleep in the corner of the old church, we tried to waken him but it seemed impossible, at his side was a water bottle still quarter full of rum and all we could identify was RAMC in indelible ink and there were NO geese so our Xmas dinner had vanished and all we had left was a tin of Daily Mail pudding. Although we could smell them cooking they, the Medics [who had a camp on the opposite hillside], said they bought them, it took us all our time to stop a free for all but as usual the ‘Rob-All-My-Comrades’ won.

From Alan Wakefield’s book Christmas in the Trenches (The History Press, 2010).

Merry Christmas!


Troops of the 77th Brigade, 26th Division, watching villagers celebrate Orthodox Christmas in January 1916. THE MACEDONIAN CAMPAIGN, 1915-1918
Troops of the 77th Brigade, 26th Division, watching villagers celebrate Orthodox Christmas in January 1916. THE MACEDONIAN CAMPAIGN, 1915-1918. (click on the image to see full size) © IWM (Q 31624)

Compliments of the season. With love, George xxxx

1917 was clearly a good year for Christmas cards from Salonika as I have three in my collection. This one wasn’t produced specifically for the BSF, like that in my previous post, but is a commercially produced, seasonal postcard. It’s only that the sender wrote ‘Salonica 1917’ on the front that links it to the campaign.

I will echo the sentiments of George to his family or friends in Leeds, and wish you all  ‘the compliments of the season’. I hope you will continue to visit the SCS website as we enter the final year of the centenary – The Year of Victory.

Continue reading “Compliments of the season. With love, George xxxx”

Christmas Greetings from Corps Cavalry and Cyclists

Amongst my modest collection of Salonika-campaign-related  ephemera, my favourite item is this 1917 Christmas card produced by or for the Corps Cavalry and Cyclists of the BSF. Sadly not a family heirloom – my grandfather, a cyclist, was on his way home with malaria by Christmas 1917 – but a lucky purchase from eBay.

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Christmas 1917 : It’s panto time again!

In Christmas 1917 the indefatigable 85th Field Ambulance took to the stage again with their third and final pantomime of the campaign – Bluebeard. This is what 2nd Lt Frank Kenchington, RFA, had to say about it in his introduction to Music from Macedonia by Charles H B Jacques, published after the war.

Continue reading “Christmas 1917 : It’s panto time again!”