The Italians are here!

On Friday 11th August 1916, Italian troops landed in Salonika to bolster the allied effort. Fortunately for us, the event was captured on film. Not only do we see troops of the Italian 35th Division, but there are also other allied personnel and – best of all – we get to see central Salonika in its heyday, before the catastrophic fire that destroyed so much of the city just a year later. And there is much more besides. So, sit back and enjoy 36 minutes of fascinating vintage film footage.

If you want to know more about the Italian role in the campaign, be sure to attend the Society’s annual meeting on 1st October 2022, where Jake Gasson will be presenting a talk on the Italian experience of the Macedonian Front.

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Remembering William Hernaman

On a recent visit to Walthamstow I took a look at the Vestry House Museum. A former workhouse – built in 1730 – it has a chilling message over the front door: If any would not work neither should he eat. Well, it was chilling for this retired gentleman! Anyway, the building has changed use many times since then – including a spell as the armoury for the local volunteers – but is now the museum for the local area, under the care of Waltham Forest Council, for which it is also the archive and local study area.

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Who Do We Think He Was?

Thursday saw the start of the latest series of the popular BBC TV family history programme, Who Do You Think You Are? which will be repeated tomorrow, Tuesday. The first subject was comedian and presenter, Sue Perkins and there was – in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment – the very briefest mention of the Salonika campaign.

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Gas! 22 April 1915

Thursday, 22 April, was a beautiful spring day: warm, sunny, with a faint breeze. German guns shelled French and Canadian trenches throughout the morning but fell silent in the afternoon. The brief period of peace suddenly ended at 4:00 p.m. when the Germans unleashed a violent bombardment, first on the salient and then gradually extending to nearby roads and Ypres, turning the town into a flaming inferno and causing its citizens to flee. An hour later an ominous greenish-yellow wall of fumes was seen drifting slowly across no-man’s-land toward the French line.

Cassar, G.H. (2014), Trial By Gas – The British Army at the Second Battle of Ypres; Potomac Press, University of Nebraska Press.
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