If, like me, you are not a subscriber to Sky TV you may have been disappointed at missing the 2018 series of Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year which – to coincide with the centenary of the end of the First World War – had as its prize a commission to paint a picture for the IWM of the Kosturino battlefield in Northern Macedonia. I’m pleased to say that, not only is the TV channel Sky Arts now available on Freeview (channel 11), but they are repeating their series of Landscape Artist of the Year, with that for 2018 starting on Thursday 10 June at 11am (repeated at 5am the following morning).
The winner was Jen Gash who visited Salonika at the time of the armistice commemorations and met with Alan Wakefield of the IWM (and SCS Chair) and SCS members on the centenary battlefield tour and was present at the service at the Doiran Memorial with the Duke of Kent. You can read more about the experience on Jen’s website. Members at the Society’s 2021 annual meeting in London will have the opportunity to meet Jen as she will be giving the talk, entitled: In the Footsteps of Stanley Spencer. The meeting is on Saturday 2 October and booking forms can be found in the latest issue of The New Mosquito.
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.
I hope you have already taken a look at the film about the campaign, commissioned by Away from the Western Front, to add to that here is a French film – by France 24 English – that I have come across on YouTube which gives an outline of the campaign, with much interesting footage, from the French and Serbian perspective (so don’t expect much on the BSF). It’s a pity British broadcasters couldn’t come up with something similar for the centenary!
Tuesday 30 October sees the centenary of the Mudros Armistice, which marked the end of the First World War in the Middle East against the Ottoman Empire. To mark the centenary, Away from the Western Front is delighted to be holding a conference reflecting on the often-overlooked campaigns which took place all over the world between 1914 and 1918.