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Remembered Today:

Yeomanry In Salonika


Gardenerbill
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I have had a look at the long long trail and actually the Lovats Scouts and a company of the Scottish horse were converted into an infantry battalion in September 1916 before they arrived in Salonika. The newly formed Cameron Highlanders battalion joined the 82nd Brigade in October 1916. The 7th mounted brigade;1/1st Nottinghamshire Yeomanry (Sherwood Rangers) and 1/1st South Notts Hussars, and the 8th mounted brigade; 1/1st City of London Yeomanry, 1/1st County of London Yeomanry (Middlesex Hussars) and 1/3rd County of London Yeomanry, both arrived in November 1916 but left for Egypt in June 1917.

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Also looking at the information on the Long Long Trail, I can only find one Yeomanry regiment that joined the 12th Corps Cavalry, the Lothian and Border horse. If there was only one unit does this reflect the different circumstances in the Doiran sector where the 12th Corps held the line. The valley to the east of Lake Doiran was very similar in terrain to the Struma valley so Yeomanry could operate there, but in the hilly sector to the west of lake Doiran was Yeomanry patrolling impractical?

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January 1917 finds the Surreys patrolling the line Ada-Kispecki-Salmah just north of Lake Tahinos. The history says they are camped at Dzamimah but I can't find it on the ORljak map (SCS trench maps) but there is a Djami-Mahale is this it? The Derbys are patrolling the line Kumli-Prosenik-Homondos a little further north of the Surreys and camped at Orljak. Both histories mention the successful repulse of a Bulgarian attack on Prosenik in February. In March the surreys are patrolling further south around Nigrita, Humkos, Suho and Berovo, the Derbys are now camped at Dzamimah but still patrolling the line further north at Kalendra-Prosenik-Kumli-Barakli.

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I recall the DY had some rather interesting improvised AA - attaching a Vickers (I think) to the wheel of an overturned GS Limber providing a rotating gun platform. Aslo some interesting anecdotes on the Hotchkiss and mobility (from a Cavalry perspective). MG

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April 1917 was a quiet time for the Surreys who were out of the line and mainly occupied with "Tactical Schemes" and manoeuvres. The Derbys were also involved in manoeuvres in early April but by the middle of the month back in the line between Regikmah and the Aromah to Seres track. There were a couple of incidents of note involving the Derbys; A patrol was fired on from the Tumbitza farm area where the Bulgars are busy digging trenches and laying wire, and there is an attempt to cut of a Bulgarian patrol near Arabadzik.

The main event in April of that year was of course the first battle of Doiran, this was a largely infantry affair but presumably the Lothian and Border Horse and the City of London Yeomanry would have been stood to ready to take advantage if there was a break through. I couldn't find any mention of this in 'Under the devils eye' though.

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On the 21st of May, the Surreys are to take part in a planned attack on Ernekoj & Spatovo (at the north end of the valley near the Rupel pass) by 84th Brigade but at the last moment it is cancelled apparently due to a strategic disagreement between Milne and Sarrail. A few days later they were withdrawal to the summer line and camped at a hill above Mahmudli, but not for long. On the 28th of June A & B Squadrons are taking turns patrolling Karadzakoj Zir to Komarjan – Osman Kamilla and Kato Gudeli Dzamimah & Jenimar (with cyclists) checking that villages clear of the enemy.

In May the Derbys had withdrawn to Kopaci but were back in the line in June, rotating 2 Squadrons at Ismaili and Turica (can’t find these on the maps). At the end of the month they are patrolling Mazirko Yenikoi Cuculuk Elisan Alipa, described as the most dangerous area yet for patrolling and as a result there were a number of casualties.

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In the summer of 1917, to escape the heat and mosquitoes, the infantry withdrew to the hills at the western edge of the Struma valley, leaving the Yeomanry and the cyclists to patrol the outpost line and keep the villages clear.

Due to the evacuation of the villages, agriculture in the valley has stopped, consequently it is becoming overgrown, providing cover for snipers and enemy patrols. Adding to the danger, the valley is full of old trenches from Balkan wars that are now hidden in the undergrowth. However there are relatively few casualties among the cyclists and the Yeomanry, this is attributed to poor Bulgarian marksmanship. Both the histories comment on this; Surrey Yeomanry history ‘Had the Bulgarian shooting in fact been anything like “pass” form, our casualties would have been very heavy’, and in the Derby History ‘The wonder is that our casualties were not very much higher and this can only be attributed to appallingly bad shooting on the part of the enemy.’

The Bulgarian shooting wasn’t always poor; on August 12th Major Winterbottom the CO of the Derbyshire Yeomanry “A” squadron was hit by a sniper whilst on route between the outposts at Elisan and Cuculuk and died soon afterwards.

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In October 1917 the Derbys, the Surreys and the cyclists are involved in the biggest combined show so far, Corps troops cross Gudeli bridge in an operation against Kakaraska, in support of the 82nd Brigade who are operating against the line Salmah to Ada. The enemy got wind of the attack at Kakaraska and retired but the operation as a whole captured 107 prisoners and killed 60. The Corps troops lost 1 officer , 1 OR killed and 3 ORs wounded.

Patrolling continues throughout November the Surreys and Derbys taking turns in the line. There is an action at Ada that fails because there is no enemy, and there is a successful ambush of Bulgars as they enter Kakaraska. Just before Christmas there is a large scale operation against 4 villages, Ada, Kispeki, Salmah and Kakaraska, only 12 enemy are encountered. On the 29th December a repeat of the operation is cancelled due to heavy rain and on the 2nd of January 1918 another attempt is cancelled again due to mud.

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In January 1918, patrolling is rotated between the Surreys and Derbys. As already mentioned in post #24 a squadron of the Surreys are sent to sort out Turkish prisoners of war at Guvesne working on the Decauville line. February brings heavy snow, the Derbys ambush Bulgars at Beglimah wood and Greek officers accompany patrols. Then in March the Greek army enters the field in the Nigoslav area and a month later the Greek Division start taking over part of the front. There is a combined demonstration with the Greeks right along the line from Kakaraska to Ormanli, with the Greeks occupying the villages of Kakaraska, Salmah, Kispeki and Ada.

Also in April 1918 the Russians start to leave, a troop of the Derbys are sent to Saramanli to oversee, presumably in case of trouble. Entertainment includes, concert parties, boxing, point to point, an officers despatch riding competition and the Derbys reach the final of a football competition (presumably Corps).

In May patrolling is still alternating, there are mixed patrols with the cyclists and the Greeks begin patrolling 2 days per week. The bad news of the German offensive on the western front is balanced by good news of the Successful Franco-Greek attack at Skra Di Legen.

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I think Salonika is one of the more challenging fronts when it comes to identifying place names. I started making end-notes as you wll see, but some of the palce-names were spelled phonetically and based on the Greek rather than Bulgarian spellings, many of which no longer relate to modern maps, so it was particularly difficult. MG

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Martin, I know exactly what you mean, Kakaraska, Salmah, Kispeki and Ada the line mentioned in post #59 are all along Meander stream a tributary of the Struma. I found Ada and Kispeki on the Orljak map (SCS trench maps) and Kakaraska on the Porna map (SCS trench map). Then I spotted this along the edge of the Porna map:

post-91681-0-57890600-1411756688_thumb.j

Another instance where Mahale has been abbreviated in this case to Salmah

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Apologies for not continuing the story of our heroic cavalrymen for a few days but I have been side tracked looking for the place names mentioned in the histories. I wanted to see if I could find them on the SCS trench maps. As a result I am part way through making an index of place names with map references from the Struma valley maps (in excel), this will take me a few more days to complete.

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In the latest issue of the New Mosquito (Magazine of the Salonika Campaign Society), there is an article entitled 'The Veteran Horse Soldier'. It describes the activities of the Sherwood Rangers that follow a similar pattern to the Derbyshires and Surreys. Most of the Regiment was reformed into Infantry and sent to Gallipoli, while one squadron was sent to Salonika, where it joined the Derbys and the Notts Hussars in a composite regiment attached as divisional cavalry to the 10th Irish and took part in the retreat from Kosturino. The squadron eventually rejoined the rest of the regiment when it arrived with the 7th Mounted Brigade in 1916 and spent the next year patrolling and supporting infantry actions in the Struma valley, before leaving for Egypt in the summer of 1917.

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I have finished studying the military maps and I have managed to find most of the places named in the official histories (Derbys, Surreys). There are some places that I couldn't positively identify; the first is Orlar.

In March April and May 1916 the whole of Derbyshire Regiment is in the Kukus area; camps are at Kukus, Hadji Janes, Hirsova and Erikli, all on the Kukus 1:50000 military map. However, on the 15th of May B sq are sent to a camp at Orlar on or near the Struma valley for cavalry river crossing training, I can’t find Orlar but it could be Orta Mahale on the Bursuk 1:20000 map.

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Yes I thought Orljak was a possibility but Orljak is mentioned many times in the history with the correct spelling, however, if the author was using the war diary for reference then Orta hand written could look like Orlar, maybe!

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Another ambiguous location in the Derbyshire History is Ciftli Tefik:

In October 1916 the Derbyshire Reg are patrolling in the Struma Valley; camps are at Badimal, Ada, Kopachi, Osman Kamilla, all of these places are on the Orljak map. On the 19th of October “A” Squadron ambush a Bulgarian patrol at Ciftli Tefik. There is a place called Ciftlidzik on the Orljak military map and Ciftlidzik bridge. There is also a Ciftlidzik on the Demirhisar map and a Ciftlidzik Bahisli on the Lahana map, but no Teflik. I think Ciftlidzik on the Orljak map is the most likely candidate as it is closest to the camps but again I am open to suggestions.

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Next on the list are Regikmah and Aromah

In March 1917 the Derbys are camped at Orljak and Dzamimah. They are patrolling the line Regikmah to Aromah Seres track. I can’t find these on the Orljak or Porna maps, Regikmah could be Beglik Mahale and Aromah Ago Mahale. There is a track from Ago Mahale to Seres and on it there is a ‘Yeomanry Bridge’.

Also 'Nekometer'; not a place but what does it mean? This is the context in Surreys History p208 ‘The months of February and March were occupied in squadron training, shooting, signalling, nekometer, etc.’ the year is 1916, not in my Collins dictionary and google turned up nothing useful.

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Another ambiguous location in the Derbyshire History is Ciftli Tefik:

In October 1916 the Derbyshire Reg are patrolling in the Struma Valley; camps are at Badimal, Ada, Kopachi, Osman Kamilla, all of these places are on the Orljak map. On the 19th of October “A” Squadron ambush a Bulgarian patrol at Ciftli Tefik. There is a place called Ciftlidzik on the Orljak military map and Ciftlidzik bridge. There is also a Ciftlidzik on the Demirhisar map and a Ciftlidzik Bahisli on the Lahana map, but no Teflik. I think Ciftlidzik on the Orljak map is the most likely candidate as it is closest to the camps but again I am open to suggestions.

Chiftlik or Chift is Turksih for Farm. (and variant spellings)

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Posted 'Nekometer' in the equipment sub forum and member 'jay dubaya' came up with the suggestion Mekometer an instrument for measuring distances. If you go to the sub forum I have posted a link there to an Australian museum that have an example of a Mekometer that they believe is 125 years old.

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Back to the story.

On the 11th of September the Surreys moved through Kirkut to Gramatna about 8km north of Kukus on the Kukus map, their role in the coming offensive is to support the Greek Cretan Divisions attack on the line to the north east of lake Doiran. On the 15th they moved with the 3rd Greek Cavalry Regiment to Ismailli 12km north of Gramatna on the western edge of the Krusha mountains overlooking Lake Doiran. Ismailli is not marked on the Kukus map but it’s on the Snevce 1:20000 map.

On the 16th the Derbys move to Alexia and that night on to Piton Gallieni just 4 km from Lake Doiran and 3km north of Kilindir (on the Kukus map).

On the 18th the 2nd battle of Doiran barrage is underway , the Surreys move out onto the plain to the east of Lake Doiran, following the Greek Cretan Division attack on the Bulgarian Blaga Planina line.

The Derbyshire Yeomanry history describes the 2nd battle of Doiran as a Gallant failure, there is no break through consequently the regiment return to Sarigol about 4km south of Kukus.

The Blaga Planina attack also fails; the Surreys after waiting in an orchard near Akindzali are back at Ismailli in the evening.

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