I always look forward to the thump of the society’s journal, The New Mosquito, falling through the letter box onto the floor beneath. I also look forward to the tactile pleasure of holding a printed publication and reading with more leisure and a slower pace than I tend to do with online materials.
It may be that you have something that you would like to share, via the journal, with fellow members of the society. Perhaps you have a story of a relative who served in Salonika, results of research, or letters and photographs from the time. If so, editor Ian Cochrane would be delighted to hear from you and, to help the process, we have put together a simple webpage which you can find here. We look forward to hearing from you!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the first time in many years I am supposed to be going to a pantomime this Christmas but, as I write this on the 20th, it’s not looking especially hopeful for ‘Dick Whittington and His Cat’ at Norwich Theatre Royal. A pity as I was looking forward to it, particularly as ‘Dick Whittington’ was the first of the pantos put on for 28th Division by 85th Field Ambulance in 1915. The whole show was put together in just a fortnight, which was quite an achievement. However, 28th Division wasn’t the only BSF division to have multiple talented men in its ranks.
One of the amazing survivals from the collection of Herbert Price (ASC) – which has been donated to the Society – is this football programme from a ‘Grand International Charity Football Match’ played on Boxing Day, 1918.