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. The Imperial War Museum’s brilliant collection of online photos  – available even though the Museum is closed – contains moving images of refugees from over a century ago. I urge you to visit the IWM collections to see more of these and other images from the campaign.

Child refugee, Salonika, January, 1917. Child refugee, Salonika, January, 1917. (click on image to see full size) © IWM (Q 32746)

A group of Serbian refugee children wear overcoats, scarves and hats as they walk to the funeral of Mrs Harley (the sister of Lord French). Mrs Harley was killed by a shell at Monastir where she was organising relief for Serbians. SERBIAN REFUGEE CHILDREN, SALONIKA, 1917 A group of Serbian refugee children wear overcoats, scarves and hats as they walk to the funeral of Mrs Harley (the sister of Lord French). Mrs Harley was killed by a shell at Monastir where she was organising relief for Serbians. SERBIAN REFUGEE CHILDREN, SALONIKA, 1917 (click on the image to see full size) © IWM (Q 32792)

Aftermath of the great fire in Salonika town, 18-21 August 1917: In the aftermath of the fire British troops with field cookers provide relief and assistance to the homeless and hungry refugees. SCENES IN SALONIKA DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR Aftermath of the great fire in Salonika town, 18-21 August 1917: In the aftermath of the fire British troops with field cookers provide relief and assistance to the homeless and hungry refugees. SCENES IN SALONIKA DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR (click on the image to see full size) © IWM (HU 58895)

Author: SCS Web Editor

Robin Braysher joined the SCS in 2003 and soon after became editor of the Society's journal - 'The New Mosquito' - a role he held until 2008. He then became the Society's web editor, a role he seems unable to shake off. His 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. Opinions expressed in these posts are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Society.