My thanks go to Ben Drew who, some months ago, sent us this fascinating account of his great uncle’s service in the Salonika campaign.
My thanks go to Simon and Christine Briggs for sharing a fascinating set of photos belonging to Christine’s grandfather, John Staple. John served with the Army Service Corps Remount Service in Salonika for two-and-a-half years.
I hope you have already taken a look at the film about the campaign, commissioned by Away from the Western Front, to add to that here is a French film – by France 24 English – that I have come across on YouTube which gives an outline of the campaign, with much interesting footage, from the French and Serbian perspective (so don’t expect much on the BSF). It’s a pity British broadcasters couldn’t come up with something similar for the centenary!
It’s very rare that I listen to the late evening BBC radio news, so it was entirely fortunate that I was sitting in my car on Friday waiting for a delayed coach from Birmingham. This gave me the opportunity to hear an item by BBC correspondent, Allan Little, about the Second Battle of Doiran on the Radio Four ten o’clock bulletin. Continue reading “Salonika Campaign in the News”
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.
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 …””
On the morning of September 14, 500 guns opened up along the mountains and ravines between Monastir and the Vardar. Continue reading “14 September 1918 : the allied offensive begins”
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”