Plant specimens collected on the Salonica Front

The New Mosquito of April 2015 (issue 31) contains a fascinating article by Dr James Wearn of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, entitled ‘Risking their lives to collect plants on the Salonika Front’. It is about the eight members of Kew Gardens’ staff who served in Salonika with the armed forces, but were able to collect plants as an extra-curricular activity.

Some while later I was contacted about this article by  Emeritus Professor Arne Strid, distinguished Swedish botanist and expert on Greek flora, whose two-volume Atlas of the Aegean Flora was published in 2016. Professor Strid provided additional interesting information about plant collecting in the region and kindly allowed me reproduce this here.

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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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‘… hoping Johnny Bulgar would very shortly cry quits!’

B Squadron, 1/1st Derbyshire Yeomanry was pursuing the retreating Bulgarians beyond Strumitza when it took possession of three cars containing Bulgarian officials, accompanied by the USA Consul General (the USA was not at war with Bulgaria), sent to negotiate an armistice. The cars were stopped, the officials blindfolded and their driver sent back with two of the cars. Trooper Maurice Hawley continues the story (quoted in Under the Devil’s Eye):

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‘The Brigade was on its own…’

Before continuing the story of the Brigade-Jouinot-Gambetta, I should mention that Serbian and British cavalry were also doing their bit, although the latter was in short supply (but that could be said about much of the BSF). Serbian cavalry entered Gradsko – a vital communications hub – on the 25th and the Derbyshire Yeomanry were following the retreating Bulgarians along the road to Strumica.

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17 September 1918

It was not until the early evening of 16 September that Serbian troops finally reached the summit of the Kozyak, having had attack after attack thrown back. Even then they came across a German battalion on the northern slopes, covering the withdrawal of the Bulgarian defenders, so keeping up momentum was difficult.

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