'Salonika', commissioned by Away from the Western Front, presented by historian Alan Wakefield, and produced by Khaki Devil, can be watched online at the AFTWF website (Image © Khaki Devil)

New film remembers 'forgotten' Salonika campaign

Posted on centenarynews.com on 27 July 2018
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Away from the Western Front has released a short film focussing on the First World War operations in the Balkans which drew in troops from across the globe.

Starting with a modest landing at the port of Salonika (present-day Thessaloniki) in October 1915, the Allied presence in Northern Greece grew into a multi-national force numbering 600,000 men. 

Three years of intermittent offensives along the borders of Albania, Serbia and Bulgaria culminated in the Bulgarians seeking an Armistice in September 1918, the first of the Allied victories over the Central Powers that autumn.

But as the film explains, the Salonika campaign quickly became 'a forgotten side show' for Britain after the war, despite the contribution of more than 200,000 soldiers to the British Salonika Force. 

"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,"  says presenter Alan Wakefield.

Struma Military Cemetery on the Macedonian Front, where almost 950 Commonwealth dead of the Great War are commemorated by CWGC (Photo © K. Edmonds)

The Salonika film is among the latest projects commissioned by Away from the Western Front, a UK-based charity seeking to raise awareness of the WW1 campaigns in the Balkans, Africa, Gallipoli and the Middle East.

It’s written and narrated by Alan Wakefield, Head of First World War and Early 20th Century Conflict at Imperial War Museums, and produced by 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."

Watch Salonika online at Away from the Western Front

Disease was a threat in the heat of summer. Here, British troops take their daily dose of quinine. In total, the British Salonika Force suffered 481,262 non-battle casualties of which 162,517 were due to malaria (Photo © IWM Q 32160)

Salonika developed into the main Allied base in the Balkans after the French and British landed there in October 1915 as part of efforts to send help to Serbia. The campaign drew in British, French, Greek, Italian, Russian and Serbian forces, also colonial units from India, Southeast Asia, and North and West Africa.

Away from the Western Front says the film’s release and accompanying regional commemorative 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."

'Away from the Western Front' is supported by the UK Heritage Lottery Fund, and was formally launched in April 2017. Read more here in Centenary News. See also The Salonika Campaign Society.

Images courtesy of © Khaki Devil (Salonika film titles), © K. Edmonds (Struma Military Cemetery), © IWM Q 32160 (Soldiers taking quinine)

Source: Away from the Western Front

Posted by: CN Editorial Team