Muffin – who has been sponsored by the Society since 2015 in recognition of the vital role of mules in the campaign – is a gentle little chap who has the build of his donkey father so would have been too small for the mule lines in Salonika.
International Women’s Day may have gone, but I see no reason not to remember some other women of the campaign who played a vital role but are largely forgotten: the Macedonian women who worked on the roads, especially the Seres Road.
Chinese New Year seems an auspicious time to launch the latest iteration of the Society’s website. No major changes of design this time – and still with the familiar WordPress – just a change of hosting arrangements which will save the Society money and should be easier to manage. Please bear with us as we get used to the new setup.
This is a good time to introduce Andy Hutt who has joined the SCS Committee team and will take over the role of Web Editor from Robin in October. Andy and Robin will work together on the website until then. The Committee is grateful to Andy for stepping forward.
Oxen are often seen as slow and dull-witted, but in Chinese culture they are honest and earnest, low key and never look for praise or to be the centre of attention. This often hides their talent, but they’ll gain recognition through their hard work. This sums up so much of the work that goes on throughout the Society, as members in various parts of the world ensure that the Salonika campaign and those who endured it – especially those who did not return home – are not forgotten.
Here’s a hardworking and patient Macedonian ox, from a German postcard.
My thanks go to Rosemary Newton, granddaughter of Cecil Deadman who served in Salonika with the Army Service Corps. 175347 Private Deadman was in 706 MT Company, ASC, which was part of the supply column attached to the Serbian army.
Rosemary has published a book of her family history (1880-1950), which includes an account of Private Deadman’s time in Salonika. She has kindly made this part of her book available to us and you can see it online here. This fascinating article is copiously illustrated with original photos, postcards and documents. Amazingly, he was one of the three brothers serving with the BSF – and they had the opportunity to meet up!
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In this remembrance season it is appropriate to also remember those animals that served – and suffered – without which the BSF could not have functioned. Mules and horses are the most obvious, but there was also the humble, but vital, carrier pigeon.
Black soldiers in the BSF seem to be rather thin on the ground – in fact I only know of one: Charles Bailey of 9/King’s Own. I first gave Charlie a mention last year, but am happy to mention him again in case you missed the fascinating website in which he features: Charlie Bailey’s War – The story of WW1 soldier Charles Bailey a Welsh miner of West Indian origin plus some of the men he served with.
My thanks go to Australian author Bojan Pajic for sharing a link with us to a fascinating article on the Australian War Memorial website about Australians and New Zealanders who served on the Serbian Front.
My thanks go to Simon and Christine Briggs for sharing with us these photos from the collection of John Staple of the Army Service Corps Remount Service.
Mules don’t feature on television very often, so what a joy it was to see Martina in Gary Lineker: My Grandad’s War on BBC1 on Monday 11th. A lovely Italian mule, Martina – in an all too brief appearance – explained to Gary (yes, that Gary Lineker) the important role mules played in supply and casualty evacuation on the mountainous front line of the Italian campaign during the Second World War. In the programme, Gary followed the route of his late grandfather from Salerno to Monte Cassino to understand his experiences as a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps and why British troops in Italy came to be known as ‘D-Day Dodgers’.
It’s impossible not to see parallels with the Macedonian campaign: a Mediterranean front with challenging terrain and climate, overshadowed by the main fighting in north-west Europe and considered a ‘cushy number’ by those not there; of course, the Italian campaign was a far bloodier business. The programme will be available on the BBC iPlayer for the next month or so and you can read about it here.
INVASION OF ITALY : EIGHTH ARMY – Original wartime caption: To defeat the demolition menace, the 8th Army have once againresorted to the mule. These pictures show an RASC pack transport company trekking through the mountains with stores and ammunition for our forward patrols. The mules are able to avoid normal diversions and travel by way of the tortuous mountain paths.© IWM (NA 6748)
This is one of an impressive collection of photos in the excellent IWM online collection showing mules in Italy (search: mules Italy). Searching ‘mules Salonika’ will find photos of British military mules from a generation earlier.
Members should have received this latest edition of The New Mosquito by now. Please contact the Society if you are expecting a copy, but haven’t received it.