Gas! 22 April 1915

Thursday, 22 April, was a beautiful spring day: warm, sunny, with a faint breeze. German guns shelled French and Canadian trenches throughout the morning but fell silent in the afternoon. The brief period of peace suddenly ended at 4:00 p.m. when the Germans unleashed a violent bombardment, first on the salient and then gradually extending to nearby roads and Ypres, turning the town into a flaming inferno and causing its citizens to flee. An hour later an ominous greenish-yellow wall of fumes was seen drifting slowly across no-man’s-land toward the French line.

Cassar, G.H. (2014), Trial By Gas – The British Army at the Second Battle of Ypres; Potomac Press, University of Nebraska Press.
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The death of Lyn Macdonald

Sorry to hear of the death of Lyn Macdonald, influential and pioneering historian of the First World War. Her book, 1915: The Death of Innocence, really helped me to understand the ten months my grandfather spent on the Western Front with 28th Division, before going to Salonika. You can read her obituary here:

28th Division – The Prequel!

Towards the end of October 1915, units of the 28th Division entrained for Marseille, sailed to Egypt and then, after a period of training and reorganisation, to Salonika. Barely a month before, the Division had been embroiled in a bloody and confusing battle to hold the German Hohenzollen Redoubt at Loos; a battle they had subsequently lost.

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Happy Lancashire Day!

Having a wife from the fine county of Lancashire, I could hardly ignore this special day – even though it took BBC Radio to tell me that such a day actually existed! Still, it’s a good opportunity to remind ourselves of the contribution of Lancashire’s many splendid regiments to the British Salonika Force.

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The New Mosquito #41 : April 2020

Members should have received this latest edition of The New Mosquito by now. Please contact the Society if you are expecting a copy, but haven’t received it.

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Red Castle, Yellow Castle …

I am a member of just two military societies, the SCS – of course – and The Friends of the Suffolk Regiment. The latter on account of my grandfather who served with the Regiment from 1906 until 1914, when he volunteered for the newly created Army Cyclist Corps. The latest issue of the Friends’ Gazette (No. 16, March 2020 pp6-7) touches on the Macedonian campaign, so I thought I would share this with you and explore further an inconsequential – but to me entirely fascinating – piece of military ephemera, which follows on very nicely from my previous post on slouch hats in Salonika.

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22 April 1915 at 5pm: Gas!

From Before Endeavours Fade, by Rose E. B. Coombs, MBE (An After the Battle Publication).

[Steenstraat], lying amid the rich fields, was at the western end of the French line on April 22 1915. Their line ran eastwards to a point south of Poelcappelle where it joined the sector held by the Canadian Corps with the British 27th and 28th Divisions beyond them east of Zonnebeke and Polygon Wood.

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