Salonika Campaign Society Battlefield Tour – September 2020

It is with regret I have to announce that, due to uncertainties caused by COVID-19, the decision has been taken to reschedule the annual SCS Battlefield Tour, as advertised, to September 2021. The main reason for reaching this decision is the issue of the Greece – North Macedonia border. This border is currently closed, as are Greece’s borders with Albania and Turkey, due to those countries having higher rates of COVID-19. At present there are no dates projected for reopening the border and the potential exists for the border, if opened, to be closed again at short notice. Therefore, it is all but impossible to organise the cross-border leg of the tour with any certainty of it being possible to cross into North Macedonia or to guarantee the group would be able to return to Greece for homeward flights. In addition, with our usual ground handler and transport being based in North Macedonia the border situation causes major logistical problems. There are also different COVID-19 related administrative regulations in place in the two countries, which helps make a two-country tour overly complicated.

Therefore, the SCS is investigating the possibility of running a Greece only tour this coming September. However, given the close proximity to the Greece – North Macedonian border, visits to Kajmakcalan and Korona (Krastali) will not be included. The proposed tour would instead focus on the Birdcage Line, Struma Valley and parts of the Vardar sector of the front. Whilst a Greece only tour is viable, there are lots of COVID-19 related hoops to jump through from arrival in Greece onwards. These range from the need for each traveller to have a valid Passenger Locator Form to enter the country, through the possibility of members of the tour group being selected for a COVID-19 test and needing to quarantine for 14 days if found positive, to possible limitations on the number of people able to congregate in a group in a public space. These issues are being looked into at present by local SCS contacts and we hope to be in a position to make a final decision on the viability of this year’s tour by Sunday 2 August.

Alan Wakefield

Chairman, Salonika Campaign Society

World Refugee Day: Faces of Salonika

Today is World Refugee Day.  Refugees and displaced persons have always been a feature of war and the Salonika campaign was no exception. There were refugees from earlier conflicts in the Balkans, the ongoing hostilities and the devastating fire which destroyed much of Salonika in 1917. Continue reading “World Refugee Day: Faces of Salonika”

Red Castle, Yellow Castle …

I am a member of just two military societies, the SCS – of course – and The Friends of the Suffolk Regiment. The latter on account of my grandfather who served with the Regiment from 1906 until 1914, when he volunteered for the newly created Army Cyclist Corps. The latest issue of the Friends’ Gazette (No. 16, March 2020 pp6-7) touches on the Macedonian campaign, so I thought I would share this with you and explore further an inconsequential – but to me entirely fascinating – piece of military ephemera, which follows on very nicely from my previous post on slouch hats in Salonika.

Continue reading “Red Castle, Yellow Castle …”

Free access to National Archives digital records

If you have the extra time and inclination for researching the Salonika campaign you may find this news from The National Archives of interest:

We are making digital records available on our website free of charge for as long as our Kew site is closed to visitors.

Registered users will be able to order and download up to ten items at a time, to a maximum of 50 items over 30 days. The limits are there to try and help manage the demand for content and ensure the availability of our digital services for everyone.

Find out more at The National Archives website.

Entrance to a house used as a staff mess, possibly in the village of Guvesne where British Salonika Force Advanced Headquarters was located from 1916. THE MACEDONIAN CAMPAIGN, 1915-1918 Entrance to a house used as a staff mess, possibly in the village of Guvesne where British Salonika Force Advanced Headquarters was located from 1916. THE MACEDONIAN CAMPAIGN, 1915-1918 (click on the image to see full size) © IWM (Q 31609)

22 April 1915 at 5pm: Gas!

From Before Endeavours Fade, by Rose E. B. Coombs, MBE (An After the Battle Publication).

[Steenstraat], lying amid the rich fields, was at the western end of the French line on April 22 1915. Their line ran eastwards to a point south of Poelcappelle where it joined the sector held by the Canadian Corps with the British 27th and 28th Divisions beyond them east of Zonnebeke and Polygon Wood.

Continue reading “22 April 1915 at 5pm: Gas!”

Away from the Western Front and the ‘Turin men’

By Keith Edmonds

Many of you will be familiar with ‘Away from the Western Front’ (AFTWF), which was a First World War centenary project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and was supported by the expertise of the Salonika Campaign Society.  Salonika featured as a campaign in several of the AFTWF sub-projects including their work with homeless veterans and the Sandham Memorial  Chapel and also Castle Drogo where one of their stonemasons, Pte WG Arscott, fought and died in Salonika with the 10th (Service) Battalion, Devonshire Regiment. Continue reading “Away from the Western Front and the ‘Turin men’”