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“With the Serbs in Macedonia.”

Many thanks to Society member Keith Roberts for information about this book, With the Serbs in Macedonia.

Its author, Douglas Walshe, was an officer in one of the British Army Service Corps Mechanical Transport Companies sent to drive small Ford trucks with equipment, food and ammunition to the Serbian army. The book can be found in digital format on the SCS map disk, and is also free of charge to download on the Internet Archive.

Keith recently took delivery of a printed edition complete with an intact dustjacket. Now rather ‘grubby’, the book is the original 1920 edition and amazingly, says Keith, the “book has never been read. How can I tell? The pages have not been cut.” Says Keith, “it is easy reading, and surely worth an hour or two of anybody’s time.”

I agree with that, having just started it myself. Something of the tone of the writing can be heard in the opening pages, “Here, as far as our men are concerned, there are no records of days and nights in waterlogged trenches under concentrated shell-fire, and no pulse-stirring descriptions of hand-to-hand encounters and bayonet charges. We never fired a shot at anything more exciting than a petrol tin for revolver practice, or a wild goose or duck for a dinner that usually remained in the air. But we did our job, and we saw a little of the Balkans. Mainly married and mostly of inferior physique, we ‘carried on’ – when there was any carrying on to be done.”

The online version of With the Serbs in Macedonia can be found here.

We Will Remember Them All!

War memorials from the Great War come in all manner of shapes and designs. I recently came across one that struck me as being particularly unusual and moving. Not surprisingly, memorials are usually dedicated to ‘The Glorious Dead’, but this one, in the Lancashire town of Rawtenstall, has a much wider dedication. Entitled Tribute of Honour, it reads as follows:

Continue reading “We Will Remember Them All!”

Air Raid!

All was peaceful on Tuesday, February 27th, 1917, until shortly after 4 o’clock in the afternoon, there suddenly appeared what looked like a flock of geese coming from the north. Within seconds, it was realised that they were enemy planes – 15 of them flying in echelon formation. They made straight for Summer Hill camp and the town, dropping one or two bombs on the way on remount depôts.

Continue reading “Air Raid!”

Triumph in the Balkans. Anglo-French Co-operation in Macedonia during the First World War

I am grateful to society member Harry Fecitt for bringing to members’ attention this MA dissertation, Triumph in the Balkans. Anglo-French Co-operation in Macedonia during the First World War.

The work has four chapters: Chapter I. The origins of the Salonika Expedition; Chapter II. In the shadow of Sarrail; Chapter III. Guillaumat’s groundwork for success; and Chapter IV. The year of victory. It has comprehensive notes and appendices, and many illustrations.

The dissertation is free to download but an email address is required to sign up to Academia.edu. It can be found here.

Salonika Battlefield Tours 2022

Some very good news from our Chair, Alan Wakefield:
“With COVID-19 travel restrictions being eased, there are three planned tours to the Salonika battlefields. If you have not visited the ground once trodden by the BSF I’d encourage you to go as there is nothing like walking the ground to help get a better understanding of the campaign and the experiences of the men and women who served in the Balkans during the First World War.”
Alan

Image source here

April 10–14: Battle Honours – ‘Walking Salonika’

Led by Alan Wakefield, this tour covers Thessaloniki, the Kosturino battlefield, the Birdcage Line, the Struma Valley and the Doiran battlefield.
For details, please contact by phone, +44 (0)1438 989129 or by email, enquiries@battle-honours.co.uk


May 25–30: The Cultural Experience, ‘Salonika – War in the Birdcage’

Led by Alan Wakefield, this tour covers Thessaloniki, the Birdcage Line, the Struma Valley, Doiran and the Kosturino battlefields.
For details, please see here.


September 18–26: The SCS Battlefield Tour

Led by Alan Wakefield, it is planned that this tour will cover Thessaloniki, the Birdcage Line, the Struma Valley, the Doiran and Kosturino battlefields and the Kajmakcalan battlefield. The group will also attend the official ceremonies of Remembrance connected to the Salonika Campaign.


If you have any questions or would like further details, please contact SCS Chair, Alan Wakefield via email at aj.wakefield@talktalk.net

Adding colour to old photographs

Applying modern production techniques to material from the Imperial War Museums’ First World War film archive, director Peter Jackson transformed grainy black and white footage into vibrant, moving and startling colour images. The film, ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’, has received many positive reviews. The Guardian’s film critic, Peter Bradshaw said of it,
“The effect is electrifying. The soldiers are returned to an eerie, hyperreal kind of life in front of our eyes, like ghosts or figures summoned up in a seance. The faces are unforgettable.”
It is a remarkable film.

‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ – Trailer

While it is unlikely that any of us will have family film archives from that time, many have photographs. What if we could ‘colourise’ these in the way Peter Jackson has with film? Well, there are a few websites that provide this service. Image Colorizer is easy to use, has free and paid accounts, and says that, “All uploaded items will be cleared every 24 hours. No photos will be stored and used for other purposes without your permission.”

I tried the service with a couple of photographs from the family collection. The first is of my grandfather, Arthur Hutt, shortly before leaving for France in 1915 at the age of 17. The second shows him presenting the Histon homeguard for inspection during World War Two. To my eyes, there is some added vibrancy to the first photo but much more so with the second image. See what you think.

Arthur Hutt, 1915
Arthur Hutt presenting the Histon homeguard for inspection in WW2

My grandchildren, aged seven and nine, were impressed with these and other colourised photos of their great-great-grandfather. For younger generations, colourising, like the Peter Jackson film, may be a way to bring the past more readily into the present. If you would like to try it, here’s that link again: Image Colorizer.

Farewell parade of the last British troops in Greece on 22 January …

… 1950!

I acquired this press photo (publication unknown) which shows the 1st Battalion, The Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, headed by their band, marching through the streets of Thessaloniki, following a ceremonial farewell parade.

Continue reading “Farewell parade of the last British troops in Greece on 22 January …”