- A forgotten soldier on a forgotten front
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- Macedonian front
It was an honour to have such a distinguished group present for the dinner. The British Ambassador took the opportunity to recognise those present and to commemorate all those that served here during the First World War. An early start the next morning saw the group once again load onto the Macedonian Army transport.
This time the destination was the hills near Kosturino. Between the 29 th of October and the 12 th of December , the 10 th Irish Division would suffer 1, casualties killed, wounded or missing in this area. After ground orientation and a historical briefing, syndicate activities carried on. Responses ranged from learning a new teaching method, to gaining a better understanding of the tactics and doctrine used then and now. All participants thought the activity was very useful and supported the conduct of further battlefield studies.
They also considered how they can use battlefield studies in their units. It has been an honour to create and deliver battlefield studies for such diverse groups of people. These activities are more than soldiers learning important lessons from war. Participants get to know each other, cultures and way of working. These relationships are invaluable for bringing people together on a professional and personal level. Other benefits are providing people an opportunity to visit another country or to see a part of their own country and history of which they know very little about.
Hotels, restaurants and shops in the local community are benefiting from increased business. Glenn Stennes is a retired member of the Canadian Army who now lives in Macedonia. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Milne thought not : there had never been much chance of surprise; but it was, none the less, disturbing to find that the enemy was expecting an attack at night rather than at dawn.
He then became the Society's web editor, a role he seems unable to shake off. His interest in the campaign comes from his grandfather, Fred, who served as a cyclist with the BSF from to , mainly in the Struma valley. Perhaps, even more importantly, strict censorship of cards in Britain was imposed on 15 September which will have been a dis- incentive to British production when those printed in France were largely exempt.
It was the French who seem not only to have printed most of the cards, whether photographs or drawings, but also to have written on and preserved the largest number. Among the reasons for this, may be that the French forces were in the majority, the Salonica garrison was predominantly French and so was the Commander-in-Chief. More French soldiers were in easy reach of postcard sellers since all ranks seemed to go often to Salonica. It was not so easy for the troops from other nations, mostly based in forward areas, to acquire these cards, since even visits to Salonica were rare.
Those who did manage it — usually the officers — had many commissions, perhaps for postcards too, to fulfil for their battalion members Collinson Owen , The large number of the same postcards which had been sent to Britain or Australia suggests, perhaps, that it was the bulk purchase by the provisioners, which was, on occasion, the method by which most of these men obtained these cards.
One clue to this is the use of a Christmas card for Fig. He had, perhaps, hurriedly snatched it from a convenient pile of unused cards before going off, and he is likely to have been going to Salonica to buy, amongst other delicacies… lobsters!? Unfortunately, the writer does not tell us whether he is buying lobster paste in pots or whole lobsters, and the prices — carefully calculated on the card as well — are presumably in Drachmae Table 1. Local labourers working on the Serres Road got 2s 6d per day, more than a private, paid just over 1s.
A French example for Christmas Fig. I suspect the British menu which occasioned the shopping list was more frugal and referred to lobster paste, though this too would have been a small luxury in comparison with the normal mass-catered rations and a tin of peaches was a huge treat. A number of Salonica cards were officially printed after the war from official French photos by the British, e. Others were reissued as part of fund-raising efforts on behalf of war veterans or as business cards. Cards have two sides and so far I have hardly mentioned the messages on the back.
A forgotten soldier on a forgotten front
There is a wealth of information here and a small mine of social history awaits exploration. To me, the messages written in pencil are the most poignant reminders of the men and women who fought in that campaign. It is a sad fact that many of the cards with messages were probably preserved because the author was dead. Little loving messages to children were perhaps all they had left by which to remember their father or big brother.
Most were very brief, merely telling family or friends that they were well or not; that they had or, worse, had not, received mail; that they would be writing at greater length soon Fig. The French were the most loquacious, freely dispensing love and greetings and discussing their health. I wish I knew how the writer went about that negotiation! Some cards are very informative about troop movements and one wonders about the efficiency of the censorship. Maybe some of the censors were just much more realistic. With this enemy vantage point and with the spotter planes regularly overhead Heydemarck , , not to mention the photographers on the quay recording the troops and the supplies Fig.
To suppose spies did not avail themselves of this opportunity is to insult their intelligence. They swarmed. In solid formation spies lined the quay. My personal favourite in this genre is a postcard of the Vardar bridge Fig. On the back he rather indignantly 32 I have 2 copies of this card. How would you like this as the general headquarters, sleeping or otherwise, of your family. Guess you would elect to remain in blessed singleness all the days of your life.
Think these dresses are handed down. Of course she is shown dressed for the occasion as they are feast days etc. But their normal attire is far from being attractive.
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The wartime post offices are a fascinating study in their own right. Salonica was no exception. These fields have a large following and the value placed on individual examples of cards with these marks is extraordinary. Finally you may ask where I got the cards. French and British cards were bought from dealers in France, Britain and Greece or through internet auction sites.
Some were found at postcard fairs or brocante. So far cards sent by Italians or by the Germans and Bulgarians on the other side of the front have been harder to find. Curiously the latter group includes views of Salonica, as if it was already the Bulgarian city they had sought to make it in both first and second Balkan war and their goal in the 18 campaign. These cards have reached the year mark — and are thus now officially antiques! One or two people will always be wealthy and determined enough to add that special card to their collection. There are now those who specialise in collecting niche subjects such as trains, ships, aeroplanes, zeppelins and Judaica or who are only interested in the franking, especially by the military post offices.
They are prepared to pay huge sums for these cards. Until now these aspects of the military experience in Salonica have remained largely unexplored. In Greece, a welter of books have appeared to illustrate specific aspects of the life and monuments of Salonica. Il y a m de long et tout en fer. Their presence is incidental to most of them. These postcards are a unique complement to the other visual records of the city, the region and the conflict. They record the images of the Macedonian Campaign as seen and selected by the soldiers themselves. Afterword I have focused here on the postcards which relate particularly to the soldiers themselves, rather than those photographic examples which illustrate the architectural history of Salonica or the people who lived there, their trades or costumes.
Some of these have been illustrated in a series of Greek publications since which focus on a variety of themes such as the walls, the churches, the old town, the waterfront and the grand squares and cafes, the Jews, the traders and their costumes.
These are of greater interest to a Greek readership and are mostly published in Greek. The majority concentrate on the images themselves rather than providing extended discussions which might give background and context. Among these books, one of the best is that produced in both Greek and English by the Molchos family — Jewish booksellers, publishers and printers of postcards in Salonica since - some of whom miraculously escaped the Holocaust to continue the business until very recently Moutsopoulos ; Molchos , 6.
Other books were occasioned by the adoption of Thessaloniki as the Cultural Capital of Europe in , focussing largely on the city and its monuments. Philip Betancourt, a prominent archaeologist working in Greece, assembled a collection of postcards illustrating recent Greek history including examples from Salonica, some of which he has published in the context of an exhibition at the Gennadion Library in Athens, to which he has now given his collection. The centenary of the Liberation of Salonica in occasioned further publications. Arvanitis has lately published a series of reproductions of cards from his own collection organised by publisher, without accompanying texts a-c, I have yet to find a card published in these volumes for which the message on the reverse is cited.
Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. Aldous, A. Altam, C. Antonaras, A. Antoniades D. Antoniadis, Athens. Arvanitis, T. Limoges Lyon b. Betancourt P. Casson, S. Steady Drummer, G. GPO Cambridge. Collinson Owen, H. The Sideshow that Ended the War London.
Constantinidis, Y. Copsidas, C. Daniel F. The field censor systems of the armies of the British Empire unit allocations. Davis, R. Doyle, P. Enthymion, Gough, P.
Stanley Spencer: Journey to Burghclere Bristol. Goula, M. Hatton, S. Holme, C. Heydemarck, H. War Flying in Macedonia, trans. Claud W. Sykes London. Holst, I.
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Gustav Holst: A Biography London. Kennedy, A. Privately published by Crabb in Epsom Surrey. Iatrou, M.
Kentro Istorias Thessalonikis Kolonas, B. Campaigning in the Balkans New York. Lazaridis, Sp. Zitros Thessaloniki. Mazower, M. Megas, G. Museum for the Macedonian Struggle, Diary issued by the Haitoglou Brothers S. Metaichmio Moutsopoulos, N. Thessaloniki , Molho Publications, Thessaloniki. Netas, Th. Palmer, A. The Gardeners of Salonika London. Pirie, M. Olkos, Athens.
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