Robin's interest in the campaign comes from his grandfather, Fred, who served as a cyclist with the BSF from 1915 to 1917, mainly in the Struma valley. Robin joined the SCS in 2003 and served on the committee for 18 years as journal and web editor. Opinions expressed in these posts are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Society.
Given the size of the indoor spaces and in order to keep everyone safe, visits are limited to one ‘bubble’ per hour, so capacity is very limited. All of the slots for the first week were taken within 24 hours of booking opening!
On the morning of Sunday 15 May 1921, a small group of ex-servicemen and representatives from four organisations – The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers, The British National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers, The Comrades of The Great War and The Officers’ Association – met at the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall. At 9am precisely and they laid four wreaths representing these four organisations which, from then, became the British Legion and, fifty years later, the Royal British Legion.
To my knowledge my grandfather was never a member of the Salonika Reunion Association but he was an active member of the British Legion/Royal British Legion, particularly once he retired from the Metropolitan Police. He was on the East Barnet Branch Committee for very many years and was an enthusiastic member of their Horticultural Society; I have many happy memories of helping him with their annual flower shows and also enjoying the pantomimes held at the hall. A busy and active man until his death at 92, he still visited his ‘old boys’ on behalf of the RBL, even though many were considerably younger than him! To me, he epitomised the Legion’s motto of Service Not Self.
The Bulgarian Contract: the secret lie that ended the Great War
By Graeme Sheppard
SCS members will already appreciate the pivotal role the Macedonian front played during the end-stage of the Great War, and how a mere six weeks after Bulgaria’s collapse the entire conflict was over. But what they will not know, and will be surprised to learn, is that the success of the Balkan breakthrough that September depended upon a secret and hitherto unknown act of political deception, a masterly and cunning piece of misinformation known as the contract, archival evidence for which has only recently been discovered in the UK by the author.
When I last read Alan Palmer’s classic history of the Macedonian campaign (The Gardeners of Salonika, 1965) several years ago, I came across a story which I thought would be worth sharing here; needless to say I then completely forgot about it … until now. With the death of Prince Philip, it is a good time to remind ourselves of his connection with the Greek royal family and the war in Salonika.
Sorry to hear of the death of Lyn Macdonald, influential and pioneering historian of the First World War. Her book, 1915: The Death of Innocence, really helped me to understand the ten months my grandfather spent on the Western Front with 28th Division, before going to Salonika. You can read her obituary here:
Muffin – who has been sponsored by the Society since 2015 in recognition of the vital role of mules in the campaign – is a gentle little chap who has the build of his donkey father so would have been too small for the mule lines in Salonika.