Easing of COVID restrictions enabled the Society to participate and lay wreaths in two services this year: at the Field of Remembrance, Westminster Abbey; and at Sandham Memorial Chapel.
Field of Remembrance, Westminster Abbey
This year the Field was formally opened by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, the Patron of the RBL Poppy Factory. The SCS had its remembrance plot in the location opposite the west door of St Margaret’s Church. The Society was represented by Chair, Alan Wakefield, and Jonathan Saunders. With excellent weather throughout the opening ceremony, it was good to be back at the Field in person after last year’s event being held behind closed doors due to COVID-19. Thanks to all those members who continue to support the SCS remembrance plot through planting crosses of remembrance and making donations to the Poppy Appeal.
Sandham Memorial Chapel
For the second year a memorial service was held at Sandham Memorial Chapel. A gathering of approximately 40 people took part in the act of Remembrance. This was led by Reverend Mark Christian himself a veteran army chaplain. The exhortation was read by David Innes. Wreaths were laid at the entrance to the chapel by the National Trust, Salonika Campaign Society and Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum. Individuals laid Poppy Crosses too. The ladies of the WI produced a net covered with poppies in different styles. This will be placed on the altar of the parish church. After the service, tea, coffee and cake were served by the volunteers of the Chapel. The exhibition was made available as well as viewings of Stanley Spencer’s paintings inside of the Chapel walls. Some SCS members then retired to The Carpenters Arms for lunch. Next year a larger gathering is being planned at the Chapel by the National Trust.
With thanks to Alan Wakefield, Darren Rolfe, and Keith Roberts for words and pictures.
On Saturday 2nd October, society members gathered in the drizzle at the Cenotaph, London for the annual short ceremony of words and wreath-laying to remember the men and women of the BSF who served in Salonika. In particular, to remember those who died during the campaign or from the results of injury or disease.
Afterwards it was but a short walk to the Civil Service Club for lunch, followed by the society’s annual general meeting. This year, an actual meeting and not one via Zoom! Before the business of the meeting though, there was an excellent talk from Julie Adams of the British Museum. Her talk, Birdman of Salonika: The Life and Afterlives of Paul Montagu, was an interesting and moving account of Lt Paul Denys Montagu – a multi-talented anthropologist, naturalist and musician, killed in action when his plane crashed behind enemy lines on 29th October 1917. Julie’s book, Museum, Magic, Memory – Curating Paul Denys Montagu is, no doubt, available from all good book sellers.
If, like me, you are not a subscriber to Sky TV you may have been disappointed at missing the 2018 series of Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year which – to coincide with the centenary of the end of the First World War – had as its prize a commission to paint a picture for the IWM of the Kosturino battlefield in Northern Macedonia. I’m pleased to say that, not only is the TV channel Sky Arts now available on Freeview (channel 11), but they are repeating their series of Landscape Artist of the Year, with that for 2018 starting on Thursday 10 June at 11am (repeated at 5am the following morning).
The winner was Jen Gash who visited Salonika at the time of the armistice commemorations and met with Alan Wakefield of the IWM (and SCS Chair) and SCS members on the centenary battlefield tour and was present at the service at the Doiran Memorial with the Duke of Kent. You can read more about the experience on Jen’s website. Members at the Society’s 2021 annual meeting in London will have the opportunity to meet Jen as she will be giving the talk, entitled: In the Footsteps of Stanley Spencer. The meeting is on Saturday 2 October and booking forms can be found in the latest issue of The New Mosquito.
As I sit writing this over Easter, the world is in the grip of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. I hope you and your families are keeping well and that you are getting used to the social and commercial lock-down that is currently in place. Like many of you, I’ve been working from home since mid-March and coming to terms with only seeing work colleagues, friends and family online. Thankfully we live in an age of remarkable communications technology enabling us to maintain instant contact across the globe from our living rooms. One can only imagine what the men and women of the BSF would have given for anything approaching this level of modern comms.
Members will be pleased to learn that the Honourable Ann Straker – granddaughter of Field Marshal George Milne, 1st Baron Milne – has agreed to become Patron of the Society. This re-establishes the link between the SCS and the family of the BSF’s Commander-in-Chief.
The SCS Tour Team is pleased to announce details of the Society’s September 2019 battlefield tour. This tour includes visits to key sites associated with British Salonika Force operations between 1916 and 1918 as well as attendance at official ceremonies of commemoration in Greece. The group will also visit sites not previously on any previous tour itinerary. Continue reading “SCS BATTLEFIELD TOUR : 23 September – 30 September 2019”