In keeping with our intention to publish occasional updates to the bibliography, as close as possible to the anniversary of the Bulgarian Armistice in late September 1918, we are very pleased to announce the arrival of a new and updated version of the comprehensive bibliography for the Salonika campaign.
You can find out more and download, free of charge, the updated bibliography here.
I was listening a while ago to an oral history on the Imperial War Museum’s site from an unnamed British stretcher bearer on the Struma Front. He may have been forgotten but he lives alongside more remembered company in the form of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and artist Stanley Spencer, both of whom served as stretcher-bearers in the campaign.
The Great War Stories: Luton’s Greatest has an account by Private Robinson who in Gallipoli, faced challenges that stretcher-bearers in Salonika would have found very similar, “People have no idea what difficulties and dangers have to be overcome in evacuating wounded. The hilly nature of the country does away with the idea of mechanical transport, and every case has to be carried to other hospitals on the beach on stretchers.”
Perhaps it’s because many conscientious objectors signed up for medical, rather than military service, that many accounts of the lives and work of stretcher-bearers have not survived. Maybe, but that’s just speculation on my part… However, one set of diaries has not only survived but been re-discovered by author Sara Woodall, great-niece of the author of the diaries.
Sara discovered her great-uncle’s diaries while at home in Cambridge and was astounded to find both written accounts and accomplished illustrations. The author of these diaries was Bernard Eyre Walker, a stretcher-bearer for the British Expeditionary Force and later one of Cumbria’s leading painters.
The existence of the diaries is something of a miracle in itself. Forced to retreat by a German attack, Bernard had to abandon the diaries in a field hospital. The diaries were later picked up by a German soldier and taken to Belgium, before eventually making their way home to Bernard in Keswick.
Illustrations by Bernard Eyre Walker from his war-time diaries.
Sara has edited and published the diaries, complete with 140 of Bernard’s illustrations from the trenches. I haven’t read the diaries myself, and it’s not an account of stretcher- bearers in Salonika, but it’s a primary source of a largely unrecorded aspect of the time and likely to have a wide appeal. There’s more about the book here.
A Voice From the Trenches 1914-1918 From the Diaries and Sketchbooks of Bernard Eyre Walker. Edited by Sara Woodall. Price £19.95 (+ £3.10 p&p) from Sara Woodall, 17 High Street, Great Eversden, Cambridge, CB23 1HN
Readers will be very grateful to SCS member Keith Roberts, and Great War Forum member ‘maureenE’, for pointing out the online availability of two major texts related to the Salonika Campaign.
Military Operations MacedoniaVolumes One and Two, by Captain Cyril Falls* were part of the series History of the Great War and based on official documents. Free, immediate, and online access to these texts is a wonderful benefit to anyone interested in the Salonika Campaign.
The digital versions of Volume 1 (1933) From the Outbreak of War to the Spring of 1917, and Volume 2 (1935) From the Spring of 1917 to the End of the War both contain the full text. However, both volumes are missing the maps which were originally in separate cases. Many of these maps are, however, available from the society here, albeit for a relatively small charge.
Both volumes are available on two sites: Internet Archive and Google Books. My preference is to use Google Books, I find the search tool a little easier to use, but that’s a personal choice. Either way, it’s a great that we now have these texts online for all.
*Author Cyril Bentham Falls CBE was a British army officer turned military historian and journalist. After completing his military service, he began writing military histories. From 1923 to the outbreak of war in 1939 he researched and wrote several volumes of the British Government’s ‘Official History of the War’, including the two-volume history of the Macedonian campaign. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyril_Falls
We are pleased to hear from our friends at the Holst Birthplace Museum in Cheltenham, that the museum is open to visitors. To find out more – and how to book your visit – take a look at the museum website.
My thanks go to Edward’s grandson, David , not just for contacting me about Edward’s story and sending some splendid photos to share here, but also for his great patience. I’m ashamed to say that he first got in touch in early 2018 and only now have I published this! I know there are others out there who have submitted material to me so, I hope that this will reassure you – I may be slow but I will get there in the end!
Given the size of the indoor spaces and in order to keep everyone safe, visits are limited to one ‘bubble’ per hour, so capacity is very limited. All of the slots for the first week were taken within 24 hours of booking opening!
Last year I shared with you some super videos from the YouTube channel, Great War Huts, presented by SCS member Taff Gillingham. I hope many of you subscribed but even if you did maybe, like me, you haven’t kept up with their offerings.
Nearly two years ago I published a post about an intriguing set of medals for sale on eBay, that had belonged to Lieut. Shanley of 5/Connaught Rangers. In addition to ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’, there were also US and French Second World War medals. What was especially interesting for me, was that the British War Medal had a long list of unofficial bars, from the Battle of Kosturino onwards.
Back in May I added two posts which largely focused on the slouch hats worn by members of the BSF during the warmer weather of 1916. Whilst I don’t want to overdo military headgear – not everyone finds the subject as fascinating as I do – I want to draw your attention to a fascinating video on the subject. Being able to recognise the headwear of a First World War soldier can be useful in helping to date a photo of a soldier, even if their intrinsic interest is a mystery to you!