‘Salonika’ – a new short film has been commissioned by Away from the Western Front

‘Salonika’ – a new short film has been commissioned by Away from the Western Front

Extract from Salonika battlefield footage (© Khaki Devil)

As part of its lottery-funded project ‘Away from the Western Front’ is delighted to announce the availability of a new film that it has commissioned about the Salonika campaign.  ‘Away from the Western Front’ has brought together a number of activities across the UK to raise awareness about the wider aspects of the war and to remember all those who served in campaigns such as the Balkans and elsewhere.

The Salonika campaign, sometimes referred to as the Macedonian Front, took place between 1915 and 1918 along the Greek borders with Albania, Serbia and Bulgaria. The port of Thessaloniki, then known as Salonika was the main Allied military base.

Project adviser Alan Wakefield from the Imperial War Museums tells us more: ‘In Britain the Salonika Campaign is very much a forgotten part of the First World War despite the involvement of over 200,000 British soldiers. Fighting as part of a multi-national army the British Salonika Force helped secure the first victory against the Central Powers in 1918 with the defeat of Bulgaria. We should remember that soldiers do not get to choose where they fight and just because these troops were not facing the German Army on the Western Front does not mean their story should be forgotten.’

Salonika Allied Comrades in Arms © IWM (Q 67857)

Alan Wakefield wrote and narrated the film, which was produced by the well-known military film-makers ‘Khaki Devil’. Director, Taff Gillingham said: ‘Khaki Devil was delighted to work with Away from the Western Front to bring the story of the Salonika Campaign to a wider audience.  It has been a privilege to work with Alan Wakefield, the leading expert on the campaign, and members of the Salonika Campaign Society, to make this film as historically accurate as possible’. As part of the film, Khaki Devil was able to make use of re-enactments filmed in various locations, including the battlefield itself.

The 14 minute film – available at https://awayfromthewesternfront.org/campaigns/balkans-gallipoli/salonika/ – is linked to four other regional projects based on Salonika as part of ‘Away from the Western Front’.

  • At the Sandham Memorial Chapel near Newbury a group of military veterans put together an exhibition comparing their own experience with those of soldiers who served in Salonika a century ago. The Salonika film is available for visitors to the Chapel.
  • At Castle Drogo in Devon, schoolchildren have developed a drama production based on the story of a mason who joined up in 1914 and was killed in Salonika in the final year of the war.
  • Two more Salonika-based projects are just starting. In Cheltenham local people are to sample the food the multi-national army enjoyed during the campaign, using the diaries of composer Gustav Holst, who was there. In Newton Abbot, Devon, schoolchildren are developing an exhibition and drama performance about a local man who was at Salonika with his horse, which was one of the fortunate few to return to Britain, where he was put out to grass in what are now the school playing fields.

This new film and the regional projects will all help to inform people that the First World War was not confined to the mud and trenches of France and Flanders, but was a truly global war, involving soldiers far away from the Western Front.

Shell Shock Stories & Beyond: Are you a Community Researcher Engaging with Trauma Narratives as part of your First World War Centenary Project?

‘Shell Shock’: image from ‘The Fourth’: the magazine of the 4th London General Hospital, RAMC (T.F.), January 1917 (Wellcome Images available on Wikimedia Commons).

Professor Nigel Hunt and Dr Larissa Allwork at the University of Nottingham have been awarded AHRC funding to explore the extent to which the psychological condition of trauma has been integrated into community engagement with the First World War centenary. Trauma here is being incorporated broadly to encompass a range of responses to the 1914-1918 conflict. From shell shocked soldiers recovering in specialist hospitals to cases of ‘barbed wire disease’ in ‘enemy alien’ internment camps; and from post-1918 literary and poetic representations of trauma to the contemporary family historian dealing with issues of transferential trauma in the archive. As part of their project, Nigel and Larissa want to get in touch with any Heritage Lottery Funded and/or AHRC First World War Engagement Centre community history projects that are engaging with narratives of trauma as part of their research.

Read more

Project Update: Away from the Western Front

Project Update: Away from the Western Front

Copy of First World War postcard published by ‘The Cairo Postcard Trust’, sent home to England (© Lyn Edmonds)

A National Music project and a Creative Writing Competition are part of the Heritage Lottery funded First World War ‘Away from the Western Front’ centenary programme. This aims to increase understanding of what made the conflict into a World War and raise awareness of the often overlooked campaigns in the Balkans, Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Africa, Italy and elsewhere. Read more