Our Army in Salonika – Testimony of the Bishop of London

One hundred years ago today, The Times published this impassioned letter from the Bishop of London about the forgotten Salonika Army. You can download a PDF copy of the letter here.

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Centenary of the Mudros Armistice : 30 October

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.

There are also events in Moudros, on Lemnos, to mark the centenary later in the week, from Friday 2nd to Sunday 4th November. You can read the programme here (PDF).

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“Who Won The War, And Why!”

Over a year ago, Kelvin Dakin very kindly sent me a scan of a souvenir copy of a humorous monologue written on 1st October 1918 which explains, “Who Won the War, and Why!!”. This seems an appropriate time to publish this vital document so, move over Wakefield, Moody and Palmer, the real reason for the allied victory can now be revealed!

Humorous Musical Monologue - "Who Won The War, And Why!!" Salonika, 1918. From the collection of Kelvin Dakin.Humorous Musical Monologue - "Who Won The War, And Why!!" Salonika, 1918. From the collection of Kelvin Dakin.
Humorous Musical Monologue - "Who Won The War, And Why!!" Salonika, 1918. From the collection of Kelvin Dakin.
Humorous Musical Monologue - "Who Won The War, And Why!!" Salonika, 1918. From the collection of Kelvin Dakin.
Humorous Musical Monologue - "Who Won The War, And Why!!" Salonika, 1918. From the collection of Kelvin Dakin.
Humorous Musical Monologue - "Who Won The War, And Why!!" Salonika, 1918. From the collection of Kelvin Dakin.

In addition to the scan, which was brought home by Kelvin’s grandfather, he also provided some biographical details of Private Sweetapple of the GHQ Concert Party who performed the monologue. This really was his name, although he sounds like a character from one of the Salonika pantomime.

Private George Lawrence (Laurie) Sweetapple was born on 5th September 1888 in Lamorbey, Kent. In 1911 he was working as a bookbinder and living with his parents in New Cross. He served with the 1st County of London Yeomanry and after the war he started – or continued – a career on the stage with Grossmith and Laurillards Entertainers, London. Laurie moved to New Zealand in about 1927 and continued a successful career as a stage act and later a voice-over artist with the New Zealand Film Unit. Kelvin has found a cutting from October 1928 for the Grand Opera House, Wellington, announcing ‘Dorrie and Laurie’:

… who will entertain you with two ukes and a few songs …

Dorrie was Doris Nation who would become Laurie’s wife.

My thanks go to Kelvin for allowing me to reproduce this wonderful document, a reminder of the lighter side of the campaign.

Remembering CQMS Michael Margiotta of 12 Corps Cyclist Battalion

One hundred years ago today, Serjeant Michael Margiotta died of dysentery and pneumonia in Salonika. He is buried in the CWGC Lembet Road Military Cemetery.

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Salonika Campaign in the News

It’s very rare that I listen to the late evening BBC radio news, so it was entirely fortunate that I was sitting in my car on Friday waiting for a delayed coach from Birmingham. This gave me the opportunity to hear an item by BBC correspondent, Allan Little, about the Second Battle of Doiran on the Radio Four ten o’clock bulletin. Continue reading “Salonika Campaign in the News”

Gustav Holst, The Planets and Salonika

Today is the exact centenary of the premiere of Gustav Holst’s suite, The Planets. This is being marked by a concert at the Barbican in London, by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, which is being broadcast on BBC Radio Three. The original performance, prepared in a hurry for an invited audience at the Queen’s Hall, was something of a leaving present, as he was soon off to Salonika – where he stayed until June 1919 – to work as musical organiser and educator with the YMCA.

This is a good opportunity to remind you of the exhibition on Holst and his time in Salonika at the Holst Birthplace Museum in Cheltenham, which is on until 15 December 2018: http://holstmuseum.org.uk/

There is little enough acknowledgement of the Salonika campaign, so do support this exhibition if you can.