WW1 raw facts from the source

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by jack404, Nov 9, 2011.

  1. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

    Jan 11, 2010
    This is some research for venustus but thought i'd share for all

    British intelligence worked a number of ways , they also looked at themselves from a moral and viability aspect , how things really where for the troops and how they perceived things ( big anti war socialist movement even then ) they had spotters in different units who fed back reports to HQ

    this is a raw report that was transcribed filed , studied, later microfiche and computer versions

    theres a 18 Volume set way more indepth than this set too ( this extract came from the 3 vol short edition )

    declassified in the 50's they show many aspects to the greek campaign

    you'll see sidenote , i have not included many as most are pretty still classified and take us away from the subject , and the subject rambles a bit as it is

    here we go

    you'll see it's entitle greece's atonement , Greece was still part of the ottoman empire , basically slaves to Constantinople and through there Germany , but the people saw different .. this is after the greek politicians who sided with the germans were mobbed and beat up , 2 killed but the document had been signed and german and axis troops where moving in hard. This is the Greek fight back with Brit and Aussie troops helping out
    but in particular a Greek hero who led the fight back , little known , but he did a great job ..Venizelos

    [Sidenote: A meeting with Venizelos.]

    The Venizelists had been having a bad time of it from the first, but the blackest hours of all were those toward the end of last April, when Constantine was still strong in Athens, and before the Saloniki Allies had found it practicable or expedient to welcome them to a full brotherhood of arms. It was during this "dark before the dawn" period that I had my first meeting with M. Venizelos, a conventional half hour's interview in the suburban villa, midway along the curve of Saloniki Bay where the Provisional Government had established its headquarters.

    [Sidenote: The attitude of Constantine.]

    I had just come up from Athens, where I had found the Allied diplomats still smarting under the memories of their ignominious experiences following Constantine's spectacular coup of the previous December, and it was by no means the least of these who had told me point-blank that he could not conceive how it would be possible that Saloniki should be returned to Greece after the war. Of course it was the Royalist Government that my distinguished friend had had in mind when he spoke, but there was not much to indicate at this time that the Greece of Constantine and his minions was not also going to be the Greece of after the war.

    It was with this state of things in mind, and recalling his well known ambitions to found a Greater Greece--by extending Epirus north along the Adriatic, and bringing the millions of Greeks of Asia Minor at least under the protection of the Government at Athens--that I mustered up my courage and asked M. Venizelos offhand if he felt confident of being able even to maintain the integrity of his country as it existed before the war.

    [Sidenote: What Greece must do for the Allies.]
    "Not unless those of us Greeks who have remained faithful to the cause of humanity and our honor are ultimately able to lend the Allies material help in a measure sufficient to counterbalance the harm the action of the Royalists has caused them," was the prompt reply; "and by material help I mean military aid. We must fight, and fight, and keep on fighting, for it is only with blood--with Greek blood--that the stain upon Greek honor can be washed away. It is only our army that can save us, and that is why we have been so impatient of the delay there has been in equipping it and getting it to the front. The one division we have in the trenches now, and the two others that are ready to go, are not enough, but they are about all we have been able to raise so far. Thessaly is for us (as you may have seen in traveling across it), and would give us two more divisions at least; but our Allies have not yet seen fit to allow us to go there after them." [Sidenote: Venizelos determines to aid the Allies.] M. Venizelos spoke of a number of other things before I left him (notably of the extent to which the Russian revolution and the entry of America had helped him in his fight to save Greece), but it was plain that the problem uppermost in his mind was that of wiping out the score of the Allies against his country by giving them a substantial measure of assistance in the field.

    "Do not fail to visit our force on the ---- sector before you leave the Balkans," was his parting injunction. "There may be a chance of seeing it in action before very long, and if you do, you will need no further assurance of the way in which we shall make our honor white before our Allies and all the world."
    [Sidenote: Unenviable position of the Venizelists.]
    [Sidenote: Elaborate precautions against treachery.]

    The Serbian and two or three other Armies have been worse off in a physical way, but no national force since the outbreak of the war has been in so thoroughly an unenviable position on every other score as was that of the Venizelists at this time. The Serbs and the Belgians had at least the knowledge that the confidence and the sympathy of the Allies were theirs. Also, they had chances to fight to their hearts' content. The Venizelists had scant measure of sympathy, and still less of confidence; and when their first chance to fight was at last given them, they were allowed to face the foe only after elaborate precautions had been taken against everything, from incompetence and cowardice on their part to open treachery. That this was the fault neither of themselves nor of their Allies, and had only come about through the perfidy of a King to whom they no longer swore fealty, did not make the shame of it much easier to bear for an army of spirited volunteers who had risked their all for a chance to wipe out the dishonor of their country.

    [Sidenote: Spies sent in the guise of deserters.]

    The thing that for a while made it so difficult for the Allies to know what to do with the Venizelist army was the almost ridiculous ease with which, under the peculiar circumstances of its recruitment, it lent itself to spying purposes. All the Royalists, or their German paymasters, had to do to establish a spy in the Saloniki area was to send over one of their Intelligence Officers in the guise of a deserter from the Greek army to that of Venizelos, and there he was! To send back information, or even to return in person, across the but partially patrolled "Neutral Zone" was scarcely more difficult, and it was the wholesale way in which this sort of thing went on that made it so hard for the Allies to decide just who the bona fide Venizelists were, and just how far it would be safe to trust a force to which the enemy still had such ready means of access.

    [Sidenote: Tact and common sense used.]

    There was nothing else for the Allies to do but "go slow" and "play safe" in dealing with the Venizelist army, and, under the circumstances, there is no doubt that a difficult situation was handled with a good deal of tact and common sense. Just how trying the situation of the Venizelists was, however, I had a chance to see one day when I happened to be at their Headquarters arranging for my visit to the Greek sector of the Front. Their troops had acquitted themselves with great credit in some gallantly carried out raiding operations, which must have made it doubly hard for them to put up with a new restrictive order just promulgated by the Supreme Command as a further precaution against the leakage of information to the enemy. Just as I was about to take my departurre, a copy of the new order was delivered to the Staff Officer with whom I had been conferring about my visit to the Front. He read it through slowly, his swarthy face flushing red with anger as he proceeded.
    [Sidenote: A series of humiliations.]

    "Have you heard of this?" he said, handing me the paper, and controlling his voice with an effort, "No man or officer of our army is to cross the ---- bridge without a special permit from General Headquarters. It is only the latest in the long series of humiliations we have had to put up with. Just look at the way we stand. In Athens our names are posted as traitors who can be shot on sight. Here it isn't quite like that, but--well (he raised his hand above his head and let it fall limply in a gesture of despair), all I can say is that the only officers of the Venizelist army to be envied are those whose names are recorded here (indicating a file at his elbow). It's the death-list from day-before-yesterday's fighting." [Sidenote: Venizelist troops succeed in big attacks.] Owing to the delay in issuing my pass in Saloniki, I did not arrive at Greek Headquarters until the evening of the day on which the big attack had taken place, and it was day-break of the morning following before I was able to make my way up to the advanced lines. The Venizelist troops had taken all their objectives, and held them with great courage against such counterattacks as the surprised Bulgars--who, not expecting an attack from the Greeks, had made the mistake of massing too much of their strength against the British and French attacks to east and west--were able to organize against them. They had been busy all night "reversing" the captured trenches in anticipation of a determined attempt on the part of the reinforced enemy to retake them in the morning.
    [Sidenote: Movement carried out without confusion.]
    The hilly but well-metaled cartroad, along which by the light of the waning moon I cantered with an officer of the Greek staff, had been thronged all night with the surging current of the battle traffic--an up-flow of munition convoys and reinforcements, and back-flow of wounded and prisoners--but I could not help remarking the comparative quiet and absence of confusion with which the complex movement was carried on. [Sidenote: The Greeks seem to understand the game of war.] "Somehow this doesn't seem quite like the transport of a new army just undergoing its baptism of fire," I said to my companion. "I've seen things on the roads behind the western front in far worse messes than any of these little jams we've passed to-night. These chaps are as businesslike as though they'd been at the game for years."

    [Sidenote: Veterans of the Balkan wars.]

    "So they have," was the quiet reply. "Our army, as recruited so far, is a new one only in name. The men who attacked yesterday were of the famous S---- Division, which fought all through the last two Balkan wars and gained no end of praise from all the foreign military attaches for its great mountain work. It was this Division which scaled the steep range beyond Doiran and drove the Bulgars out of Rupel Pass." [Sidenote: The Battle of "Rupel Pass."] "The S---- Division," "Rupel Pass." Instantly I recalled how a British General, over on the Struma a few days previously, had pointed out to me a steep range of serried snow-capped mountains towering against the skyline to the northwest, and told me that the feat of the Greeks in taking a division over it at a point where even the wary Bulgar had deemed it impossible was one of the finest exploits in the annals of mountain warfare. "The Italians have fought the Austrians at a greater altitude in a number of places in the Alps, and in our wars with the Himalayan tribesmen we have sent our Gurkhas twice as high. But all of that was after more or less preparation. Here, the Greeks simply started off and went over that range with only their rifles and the packs on their backs. I know of nothing to compare with it save the taking of Kaymakchalan by the Serbs last November in the operations which freed Monastir. Not many in Saloniki have had much good to say of the Greek as a soldier of late, but you may be sure that we can do with more men of the kind that crossed that mountain range, and there is no reason why Venizelos should not be able to bring them to us."

    [Sidenote: A favorable position for observation.]

    The hill from which we were to follow the action jutted out of the mountains into the plain like the bow of a battleship. So favorable was its position for observation--from its brow a wide expanse of mountain and valley was spread from twenty to sixty miles in three directions--that the British and French as well as the Greeks maintained posts there. We found the officers in both of the Allied "O. Pips" [signal corps talk for O.P., meaning observation post] highly enthusiastic over the work of the Greeks in their attack of the preceding day.

    [Sidenote: The evening bulletin.]

    We found two officers in the British Observation Post chuckling over the evening bulletin, which had just been delivered to them. "You have to read between the lines of Sarrail's 'Evening Hope' if you want to get at the real facts," said one of them. "It's what it fails to tell you, that you really want to know. Now, you might be able to gather from this that all the Balkan Allies have been doing quite a bit of attacking during the last day or two at various parts of the Front from Doiran west to Albania, but you have to go between the lines to find that our shifty Bulgar friend over there gave most of them as good or better than they gave him all the way. It's sad but true that in this, our 'Great Spring Offensive,' as the papers at home have talked of it, the whole lot of us--French, British, Russian, Italian, and even the Serb--have been fought to a standstill by the Bulgar. Far as I can see, the only gain we have to show for it is in the casualty lists." I failed to see just what there was to chuckle about in such an interpretation of the glowing lines of the evening bulletin, and said as much.

    [Sidenote: Successes of the little Venizelist army.]

    "It isn't funny in the least," was the reply, "and it would seem still less so if we could see at close range some of the things that are lying out on a hundred miles of these accursed mountain sides as a consequence of what has happened. But what _did_ strike us as a bit rich was the fact that, of all the Allies, this little piece of the Venizelist army, which we have held in leash all winter while we made up our minds as to whether it would be safe to slip or not, is the only one of the whole lot of us that has taken all the objectives set for it." A sporting instinct and a grim sense of humor--the readiness to admire a brave foe and the ability to extract amusement from discomfiture--are the two things that have conspired to make the British soldier so uniformly successful in treating those "twin impostors," Triumph and Disaster, "just the same."

    [Sidenote: The view across the Vardar.] The sky was lightening and throwing into ghostly silhouette the line of the mountain ridge across the Vardar by the time we had pushed on out along the communication trench to the Greek Observation Post on the extreme brow of the hill. Since midnight the enemy "heavies" had been coughing gruffly under the mist-blanket that overlaid the plain, dappling it with alternately flashing and fading blotches of light till it glowed fantastically like a lamp-shade of Carrara marble; star-shells, fired with a low trajectory, popped up and dove out of sight again, throwing a fluttering green radiance over the white pall which swathed the battlefield. [Sidenote: The Bulgar preparing to go over the top.] The mist-mask must have fended the day-break from the plain long after it was light upon the hill from where we watched, for it was not until the range of serrated peaks to the east of Doiran was all aglow with the red and gold of sunrise that the higher-keyed crack of the enemy's field-guns came welling up to tell us that the Bulgar was getting ready to go over the top. The flame-spurts--paling from a hot red to faded lemon as the light grew stronger--splashed up against the mist-pall as the jet of an illuminated fountain rises and falls, and down where the battered first-line trenches faced each other the dust-geysers of the exploding shells rolled up in clouds to the surface of the thinning vapors as the mud of the bottom boils up through the waters of an agitated pool.

    [Sidenote: The Allied artillery opens.]

    For a minute or two the ragged line of the barrage wallowed forward through the outraged mist alone. Then, as a sudden flight of rockets spat forth from the Greek first line to warn that the enemy infantry was on the way, all the Allied artillery that could be brought to bear opened up and began dropping shells just behind where the murky mist-clouds marked the swath of the Bulgar barrage. For the space of perhaps two or three minutes the fog-bank swirled and curled in swaying eddies as the shells came hurtling into it; then--whether it was from a sudden awakening of the wind or through the licking up of its vapors by the first rays of the now risen sun, I never knew--almost in the wave of a hand, it was gone, revealing a broad expanse of trench-creased plain with a long belt of gray figures moving across it in a cloud of dust and smoke. [Sidenote: Lively hand-to-hand fighting.] "It isn't much of a barrage as barrages go on the western front," said Captain X---- half apologetically. "Their artillery won't do much harm to us, and, I'm afraid, ours not much to them. And we'll hardly be having enough machine guns emplaced to sting them as they ought to be stung for swarming up in masses like that. But if it's only a second-class artillery show, I still think I can promise you--if only the Bulgar has the stomach for it--a livelier bit of hand-to-hand fighting than you might find in a whole summer of looking for it in France. Do you see those little winking flashes all along where the infantry are moving? Some of them are from bayonets, but most are from knives. A great man with the knife is the Bulgar. Did you ever hear that song about him they sang at a revue the British 'Tommies' had at Saloniki? It was a parody on some other song that was being sung in the halls in London, and went something like this:

    [Sidenote: A Bulgar song.] side note included..

    I'm Boris the Bulgar,
    The Man With the Knife;
    The Pride of Sofia,
    The Taker of Life.
    Good gracious, how spacious
    And deep are the cuts,
    Of Boris the Bulgar,

    The Knifer--

    "Now for it! Look at that!"

    [Sidenote: The barrages lift and the Greeks advance to meet the Bulgars.]

    I never did hear just what it was that Boris was a knifer of, for at that juncture the two barrages--having respectively protected and harried to the best of their abilities the advancing wave of infantry down to within a hundred yards or so of the Greek trenches--"lifted" almost simultaneously on to "communications," and that lifting was the signal for the opening of the climacteric stage of the action. Without an instant's delay, a solid wave of Greeks in brown--lightly fringed in front with the figures of a few of the more active or impetuous who had outdistanced their comrades in the scramble over the top--rose up out of the earth and swept forward to meet the line of gray. The gust of their first great cheer rolled up to us above the thunder of the artillery. "Now for it!" repeated X----, focussing down his telescope and steadying himself with his elbows. "I think you'll find the show from now on worth all the trouble of coming up to see."

    [Sidenote: the Bulgars break and retreat.]

    I do not attempt to account for what happened now; I only record it. It may have been that the Allied artillery had wrought more havoc in that advancing wave of men than had been apparent from a distance, or it may have been that the enemy artillery had done less to the entrenched defenders than it was expected to do; at any rate, the line of gray began to break at almost the first impact of the line of brown, and the great hand-to-hand fight that X---- had promised me was transformed into a Marathon.

    [Sidenote: Greeks have always beaten the Bulgars.]

    "As I expected," muttered my companion. "'Boris' has no stomach for a fight to-day with the man who licked him yesterday, and will lick him to-morrow and go right on licking him to the end if they'll only give him a show. The Bulgar never has stood up to the Greek, and he never will." [Sidenote: The Greek Staff is in a mountain valley.] [Sidenote: Scarcity of nurses.] The Greek Staff shared a round bowl of a mountain valley, a few miles back from the front lines, with a clearing station. The equipment of the little hospital had mostly been provided by the British Red Cross, but the Venizelists had made a brave effort to furnish the staff themselves. There were two French-trained Greek surgeons, a Greek matron, Greek orderlies, and two Greek nurses. Since the attack began there had been work for a dozen of the latter, but--as it had been impossible for the women of most of the Venizelist families to get away from Old Greece--no others were available. An English nurse, who had marched in the retreat of the Serbians, and a French nurse from a Saloniki hospital had volunteered to step into the breach, and these five women were courageously trying to make up in zeal what they lacked in numbers.

    [Sidenote: Working double hours.]

    "We are not enough for a double shift since the fighting began," Madame A----, the matron, had said to me the night of my arrival; "so we are accomplishing the same end by working double hours. We are working to atone for the dishonor our King has brought upon our country, just as our men are fighting to atone for it; and the harder we all work and fight the sooner it will come about." The last thing to catch my eye as I looked back from the rim of the valley when I rode away at midnight had been the flash of a bar of light on a white uniform, as a tired figure had drooped against the flap of a hospital tent for a breath of air.

    [Sidenote: Women nurses go without sleep.]

    "If any one of those women has had a wink of sleep in the last three days," Captain X---- had said as we reined in to let a string of ambulances go by, "it must have been taken standing. I have been up most of the time myself, and never once have I looked across to the clearing station but I saw some sign of a nurse on the move."

    [Sidenote: Venizelos at the nurses' mess.]

    Madame A---- had asked me to drop in at the nurses' mess for luncheon in case I got back from the trenches in time, and this, by dint of hard riding, I was just able to do. Three or four powerful military cars drawn up at the hospital gate indicated new arrivals, but as to who they were I had no hint until I had pushed in through the flap of the mess tent and found M. Venizelos seated on a soap-box, _vis-a-vis_ Madame A---- at a table improvised from a couple of condensed milk cases. At the regular mess table, sitting on reversed water-buckets, were three French flying officers and a civilian whom I recognized as the private secretary of M. Venizelos. Two nurses were just rising from unfinished plates of soup in response to word that a crucial abdominal operation awaited their attendance at the theatre. "Most of the Provisional Government has come out to pay us a visit this morning," said Madame A----, showing me to a blanket-roll seat at one end of the mess table, "and we are lunching early so that it can get back to Saloniki to take up the reins of State again. The General has carried off the Admiral and the Foreign Minister, but I have managed to keep the President for _our_ banquet. He has made the round of the hospital and spoken to every man here--that is," she added with a catch in her voice, "to all that could hear him. We've--we've lost three men this morning just because there wasn't staff to operate quickly enough." [Sidenote: A strange banquet at which the guests contribute.] That was, I think, one of the strangest little "banquets" I ever sat down to. Every one travels more or less "self-contained" in the Saloniki area, and whenever a party is thrown together the joint supplies are commandeered for the common good. The mess menu was a simple one of soup, tinned salmon, rice, and cheese, but by the time M. Venizelos's hamper had yielded a box of fresh figs, a can of the honey of Hymettus, and a couple of bottles of Cretan wine, and the French officers had "anted up" cognac, some tins of _flageolet_ for salad, and a tumbler of _confiture_, and the English nurse had brought out the last of her Christmas plum-cake, and I had thrown in a loaf of Italian _pan-forte_ and a can of chocolates, the little crazy-legged camp-table had assumed a passing festal air. [Sidenote: No one speaks of war at the feast.] A number of toasts were proposed and drunk, but no one spoke of the nearer or remoter progress of the war. M. Venizelos adverted several times to the wonder of the spring flowers as he had seen them from the road, especially the great fields of blood-red poppies, and I overheard him telling Madame A---- some apparently amusing incidents of his early life in Crete. But it was not until, the banquet over, he had settled himself in his car for the ride to Saloniki that he alluded to any of the things with which his mind must have been so engrossed all the time. "So you thought that our troops had all the best of the enemy this morning?" he said with a grave smile as he shook my hand. "Incomparably the best of it," I answered. [Sidenote: Why Venizelos is confident in the power of Greece.] "Then perhaps you will understand why I felt so confident that the Bulgars would not have come into the war if they had known that Greece would stand by Serbia. And you will also understand why I feel so confident that our military help to the Allies will be a very real one, perhaps enough of a one even to save Greece from herself."

    This was, I believe, the latest occasion on which M. Venizelos visited his troops at the front. Before another fortnight had gone by the forces of the "Protecting Powers" were moving into Old Greece, and in a month Constantine had abdicated and opened the way for the return of his former Prime Minister to Athens. [Sidenote: The maker and Savior of Modern Greece.] From the time of the Balkan wars of 1912-13 to the outbreak of the present one Venizelos was often referred to as "The Maker of Modern Greece." After this war he may well be known as "The Savior of Modern Greece"; and of the two achievements there can be no doubt that history must record that the one of "saving" was incomparably greater than the one of "making." [Sidenote: What the influence of Venizelos may do.] It is still too early to make it worth while to endeavor to forecast what is on the knees of the capricious war-gods of the Balkans, and there is no use in trying to deny that the Bulgar--just as long as Germany has the power and will to back him up--will take a deal of beating. But that Venizelos will be able to make the army of reunited Greece a potently contributive factor in bringing about that devoutly-to-be-wished consummation may now be taken as assured.


    big read eh!

    hope this was of interest

    message , dont mess with the Greeks or the Serb's

    the whole thing covers islamic groups siding with the germans

    its online gotta pay to download it but you can read it here free

    Last edited: Nov 9, 2011
  2. venustus

    venustus New Member

    Oct 26, 2011
    Lovely ,lovely post Jack.Much appreciated,Thank you.Your information is spot on.
    Sorry I have not posted recently.I have the flu!:mad:

    Cheers mate
  3. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

    Jan 11, 2010
    yeah its going round and hitting folks hard take care eh

    nothing in the news about this one but more folks in hospital this flu than with the bird flu crap .. so much for flu shots ..

    not my info , British national archives .. funny how with info such as they had , why they screwed up so often and badly ..
  4. permafrost

    permafrost Active Member

    Feb 24, 2010
    Oklahoma, USA
    Thanks, Jack
    This is an area of history I'm very interested in. Always looking to add more info. Hope you don't mind I copied and printed for future reference.
  5. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

    Jan 11, 2010
    frosty , follow the link to the main it covers a lot

    World's War Events Volume 3 Beginning with the departure of the first American destroyers for service abroad in April, 1917, and closing with the treaties of peace in 1919.
  6. permafrost

    permafrost Active Member

    Feb 24, 2010
    Oklahoma, USA
    Thanks, I bookmarked it.
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