Edgar Turner 2

The Arch of Galerius, Salonika

The Arch of Galerius, Salonika

Here is Edgar Turner’s photograph of the early 4th century Arch of Galerius, a Roman Emperor who had a palace at Salonika. Carved panels on the arch depict a Roman victory under Galerius’ leadership against the Sassanid Persians. These remains were once part of a triple arch in an eight-pillared gateway which spanned the Via Egnatia – the Roman road from Constantinople to Dyracchium, which is now Durres, an Albanian coastal city. Today they are part of a World Heritage Site.

The Rotunda of Emperor Galerius, Salonika

The Rotunda of Emperor Galerius, SalonikaThe cylindrical Church of the Rotunda was built as a mausoleum at the same time as the nearby monumental arch. Constantine I converted it into a church later in the 4th Century. It became a mosque in 1590, when Salonika fell to the Turks, and its minaret was built.

After the Greeks recaptured Salonika, in the Balkan War of 1912, it was rededicated as a church, but the minaret still stands. Some historians claim the Rotunda as the oldest standing Christian church in the world. Today it is a World Heritage monument, along with the Arch of Galerius, which stands nearby.

 

 

The White Tower of Salonika

The White Tower of SalonikaThe White Tower of Salonika dates from the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566).

It was used by the Ottoman Turks as a fort and garrison; and later as a prison. It was once part of the walls and defences of the mediaeval city of Salonika and the 16th century tower replaced an earlier structure on the same site.

Today it has the natural, buff colour of the stone from which it was built. The Greeks gave it a cleansing coat of whitewash (seen here in Edgar Turner’s 1916 photograph) after their recapture of Salonika in 1912; and the name ‘White Tower’ has stuck ever since. The capture of Salonika by the Greeks, in 1912, saw the name of the city changed back to Thessalonika, its ancient Greek name.

 

Salonika harbour

Salonika harbour 1Salonika harbour 2Salonika harbour 3

Here are three photographs taken by  Edgar Turner of the harbour at Salonika. His pictures illustrate the use of sailing vessels for both fishing and trading. The only powered vessels in the harbour at the time belonged to the Allies.

Transporting Supplies

Transporting supplies - Balkan Winter mules

Large numbers of motor lorries were used to bring supplies up to the front from Salonika. But the lorries were restricted to just a few main roads and even these remained vulnerable to flooding and landslips in the cold, wet Balkan winters.
Away from the main roads, horses and mules were used.
To function effectively in Macedonia, a military division needed thousands of pack animals and thousands of drivers to manage them.
The picture shows mules drawing gun limbers, which are loaded with ammunition boxes.

Villages in Northern Greece in 1916

Villages in Northern Greece in 1916 1Villages in Northern Greece in 1916 2

Following the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, as many as one-in-three villages behind the front line in Northern Greece had been deserted,  either completely or partially, or had suffered ‘ethnic cleansing’ during or after the conflict. The region was under-developed and the remaining population lived lives of great hardship and poverty.

Patrols and reconnaissance expeditions in no-man’s-land would have been regular features of Edgar Turner’s life on the front line. It was important to ensure that the enemy were not allowed to assert lasting control over potential defensive positions between the lines, such as the ruined structures of deserted villages.

‘Trench Puss’

Trench PussDomestic dogs and cats that had been abandoned by refugees ran wild on both sides of the front line.

They proved to be a nuisance to soldiers as they regularly stole food and triggered trip wires and alarms placed around the camps at night.

Packs of dogs were capable of attacking army horses and mules, which meant soldiers had to keep watch over their baggage animals. In some cases, troops were sent out to shoot the most troublesome and predatory dogs.

 

 

 

The ‘Bivvy’

The Bivvy

In Northern Greece, soldiers relied on dug-outs or the two-man bivouac tent, the ‘bivvy’, for shelter.  The tent was suitable for most terrains and was quick and easy to erect and dismantle. Its sheet, ropes and poles were shared between two men as part of their personal kit. It consisted of two ‘officially waterproof’ sheets, each about 6-feet square and weighing about 2-and-a-half pounds; lightweight poles supported the ends.
In winter, by joining four sheets together, a group of 6 men could huddle with canvas left-over to cover the ends of the tent. Pits were dug that increased headroom and a drainage ditch around the tent kept the soldiers dry.

 

Continue reading on page 3.

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