Salonika – 1915/17

In October 1915 English and French forces landed in Salonika, a Greek port. These troops had been sent to provide military assistance to the Serbians following an attack from the Germans as well as Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian forces; however the English and French had arrived too late as Serbia had already fallen. Even though they had arrived too late to help, allied forces had no intentions of leaving Macedonia. Instead the troops were used to set up defences at Salonika in order to prepare for future operations.

The 10th Hampshire joined the forces in Macedonia and Gallipoli, as well as 4 other British Divisions sent over from France. The troops included among these 4 Divisions were the 26th Division and with it the 12th Hampshire.

The 12th Hampshire reached Salonika on 25th November 1915 and was used to help set up defences. Duties included digging, wiring, road making and training. Incidents were rare and as defences grew stronger, more emphasis was placed on training.

In many cases Hampshire was often used as a reserve force. However in June 1916 the 10th Division moved on towards Struma and the 10th Hampshire took the defences at Orylak Bridge from Connaught Rangers. Unfortunately after just 4 weeks they were moved back into reserve due to a massive mosquito problem, in which many men were lost and the other ranks that were fit for duty were down by at least 100 men.

Due to political changes in Greece, action in Macedonia was halted through much of 1917; most of the fighting took place at Lake Doiran. In April 1917, British forces attacked the Bulgarians at Lake Doiran and were met by heavy machine gunning and shelling. Despite this the Hampshire’s right company had been able to push forward and even cross the wiring and gain a foothold in the enemy trench.