I first read Alan Palmer’s The Gardeners of Salonika about 30 years ago, to try to understand what my late grandfather had been doing in Salonika. I have to confess that what really stood out for me in the book, was not the descriptions of the tedious patrolling carried out by the BSF’s XVI Corps in the Struma Valley (which included Fred on his bike), but the dramatic advance of the French colonial cavalry to capture Skopje.
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.
That the Bulgarians and Germans were not expecting an assault on the Dobropolje is hardly surprising, given the nature of the terrain. Alan Palmer describes it thus, in ‘Defeat of Bulgaria – The Central Powers Begin to Crack’ (published in History of the First World War No. 107 by Purnell for BPC Publishing Ltd, London, in cooperation with the Imperial War Museum):
In his book Balkan Breakthrough – The Battle of Dobro Pole 1918 (Indiana University Press, 2010), Richard Hall writes that several days before the start of the offensive, Serbian soldiers were told by their high command: Continue reading “‘… the success of the entire offensive depends upon rapid penetration …””
One hundred years ago today, French General Franchet d’Espèrey wrote in his diary: Continue reading “One hundred years ago today …”
As we enter September we come to the centenary of the last month of hostilities for the BSF. September 1918 saw the final allied offensive – which for the British was the Second Battle of Doiran – which brought about the Bulgarian armistice at the end of the month. Continue reading “Introducing Desperate Frankie”
I am pleased to announce the publication of a book which describes and honours the service of the military mule. It could be said that mules have had walk-, or trot-on roles in many volumes of military history, but I believe this is the first book in which the British military mule has taken centre stage without having to share the limelight with horses and camels! Continue reading “Mule Lines : British military mules in the spotlight”
My thanks go to Brian Goodison-Blanks of Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood Limited, Fine Art Valuers and Auctioneers in Exeter, for telling us of a splendid photograph album which will be in their Sporting and Collectors auction on 15 and 16 November. Continue reading “Faces of Salonika : photo album for sale”
UK members should already have received the latest edition of The New Mosquito, timed to coincide with the centenary of the First Battle of Doiran. Issues for overseas members are on their way and should be arriving soon. If you are expecting a copy, but haven’t, please contact the Society. Continue reading “The New Mosquito #35 : April 2017”
On behalf of the Salonika Campaign Society I wish our members, friends and visitors a very happy and peaceful Christmas and all the very best for 2017. We hope you will stay with us as the centenary commemorations continue. Notable events to be remembered in 2017 are the bloody First Battle of Doiran (April/May) and Salonika’s Great Fire (August). We will also do our best to remember some of the smaller events – and the people involved – which would otherwise be forgotten.