H. Collinson (Harry Collinson) Owen.

Salonica and after, the sideshow that ended the war online

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enemy machine was seen to fall in no-man's-land, turning over on its
back when landing, where it was afterwards shelled by our artillery.
Shortly after this Captain Green again encountered a formation of
five twin-engined bombers and attacked one from below at 20 yards
range, firing three drums of S.A.A. from his Lewis gun. A large
amount of petrol streamed out of the enemy machine, and one of the
observers was seen to be hanging over the side. The four remaining
machines then attacked our B.E., and as the pilot had no more
ammunition he returned to our lines at 2,000 feet, being pursued by
the hostile machines.

The following morning the same pilot, when on patrol, observed
an Albatross, which he attacked from about thirty yards below at
10,500 feet over Lake Doiran. The petrol tanks and observer were
hit, and the hostile machine dived very steeply. It eventually got
into a spiral and landed on one wing, turned over and caught fire.

For these acts of gallantry and devotion to duty Captain G. W.
Murlis Green was awarded the D.S.O., M.C. and Bar.

A large number of combats took place during the time the hostile
bombing squadron was active, many instances occurring of a single
British machine attacking anything up to 18 E.A. As an instance
of this, 2nd-Lieut. J. L. Bamford, who was flying a B.E. 12, on the
occasion of a hostile raid on Salonica, on February 27th, with com-
plete disregard for self, flew into the middle of a formation of 18
enemy machines, and attacked four in succession. Unfortunately a
Halberstadt Scout, which he failed to see, attacked him from above
and shot through his petrol tanks, causing the engine of the B.E. to
stop. A good landing was made, however, on the aerodrome at Janes.

On March 27th, 1917, at about 18.00 hours ten enemy machines
attempted to bomb Snevce. They were at once engaged bj' our
machines, and all but one were driven back over the lines before any
bombs could be dropped. The machine which succeeded in drop-
ping its bombs caused a few casualties. After an engagement the
enemy squadron leader fired a coloured light, evidently with the
intention of calling the E.A. together for a combined retirement,
and thev were pursued almost as far as Hudova Aerodrome.



In connection with the bombing offensive inaugurated by the
British to counteract the hostile activity, many targets were success-
fully bombed. On April 25th our formation, when on its way to
attack an enemy dump, met the hostile squadron evidently on their
way to bomb some p>oint in our lines. A general fight took place,
and the E.A. were forced to return to their aerodrome. Unfortu-
nately, one of our machines was brought down in flames, but against
this one of the twin-engined bombers was shot down, and was con-
firmed to have been destroyed by fire. Our machines succeeded in
bombing suitable objectives before returning to our lines.

One of the targets bombed by our formation during the bombing
offensive was a large hostile dump at Livunovo. Two large fires were
started there, and the flares were visible for a distance of 20 miles.
Confirmation was later obtained that a large amount of stores, etc.,
were totally destroyed.

On April 2nd, 1918, Major S. G. Hodges, M.C., took over the
command of No. 17 Squadron from Major J. H. Herring, D.S.O.,
M.C., and Major F. A. Bates, M.C., assumed command of No. 47
Squadron, vice Major G. D. Gardner, M.C., with effect from August
1st, 1918. Major W. R. B. McBain, M.C., commanded No. 150
Squadron from formation.

Bombing was persistently carried out right up to the signing of the
A rmistice.

On January 21st, 1918, a request was received for assistance in
operations against the Turkish cruiser Goeben, which was reported
ashore off Nagara, in the Dardanelles, after a raid in the JEgean, in
which the Breslan was sunk by mines. Two hours after receipt of
the request three machines left Salonica for Mudros, where they
arrived safely. The following day three additional machines pro-
ceeded and also reached Mudros safely. Two raids, each of three
machines, were carried out on the Goeben, and another in the evening
on Galata Aerodrome, 9 miles N.E. of the Goeben^s position.

Two days later a request was received for a further flight of
bombers, and a reply was sent that four machines could be spared
and would proceed as soon as possible. It was also asked if a
machine could be supplied capable of carrying a 450-lb. depth charge.
No machine in this Wing was capable of doing this, but on the
French Aviation being approached they agreed to place an "A.R."
at our disposal, provided we could supply a pilot. This was agreed to,
and on January 28th three R.F.C machines and the A.R. reached
Mudros in safety. The French machine was piloted by Lieut. W. J.
Buchanan, of No. 17 Squadron, this being the first occasion he had
ever flown this type of machine. It had been impossible to send the
machines sooner, owing to unfavourable weather.

On January 23rd three raids with all six machines were made on
the Goeben, several direct hits being obtained. Machine-gun fire
was also brought to bear on searchlights during the last raid.

The following day one raid was made, during which a formation
of enemy scouts were engaged and driven off. During the same
evening the Royal Flying Corps Flight bombed the Goeben at ten
minutes intervals, and a night reconnaissance of Galata Aerodrome
was also carried out.

From January 25th to 28th strong gales and clouds prevented anv



flying, so the machines were kept ready to take off at short notice,
in the event of the weather clearing.

On the morning of the 29th preparations were begun for a morning
raid with light bombs, the object being to distract the attention of
working parties on the Goeben, while a submarine attack was made.
However, before the machines got off a report was received that the
Goeben was no longer ashore, and our machines accordingly returned
to Salonica, all landing safely.

On April 1st, 1918, No. 150 Squadron, composed of single-seater
fighters, was formed in the field. The Scout Fighters of No. 17 and
47 Squadrons were transferred to this Squadron, and later all three
Squadrons were made up to strength. The machines were S.E. 5a's,
Bristol monoplanes, and Sopwith Camels, and from its formation
No. 150 Squadron helped considerably in bringing the aerial superi-
ority of the Balkans into the hands of the Allied Armies.

With effect from midnight, June 19-20th, Lieut. -Colonel G. E.
Todd took over the command of 16th Wing, Royal Air Force, Lieut. -
Colonel G. W. P. Dawes, D.S.O., proceeding to England.

During the month of June, 1918, the enemy displayed considerable
activity in the air and several times crossed the lines at night.

On receipt of a message during the night of 27th-28th June
stating that hostile aircraft were over our lines, Lieut. G. C.
Gardiner left the aerodrome at Kirec on a Bristol monoplane at
about 01.00 hours, and encountered an E.A. over I>ake Ardzan. He
dived on it firing several bursts, but lost sight of it owing to being
dazzled by flares dropped by the enemy machine. Lieut. Gardiner
then proceeded towards Salonica and encountered another E.A.
outside the town over Hortiach, which was approaching from the
East. When attacked this E.A. turned and was followed by our
scout, who fired short bursts whenever possible. A running fight
was kept up, the E.A. making in the direction of the Struma
river, where it dropped several bombs, evidently intended for
Salonica, in the vicinity of Gudeli Bridge and Kahara. When
over Porna the engine of the monoplane cut out owing to shortage of
petrol, but Lieut. Gardiner glided to our lines and landed by the
aid of a grass fire near Nigrita.

No. 150 Squadron had a large number of combats, the following
being a few examples: —

During a bomb raid on Cestovo dump on June 1st, 1918, a
formation of twelve hostile scouts were encountered. These were
engaged by Capt. G. G. Bell and Lieut. C. B. Green, flying
S.E.5a's, and during the fight which followed the former fired a
burst of twenty rounds into a Siemens Schuckert Scout, which
burst into flames. Two E.A. then got on to Capt. Bell's tail and
were attacked by Lieut. Green from close range. One was seen
to go down out of control with smoke coming from its centre
section. The fight was then continued until another E.A., coming
head on for Lieut. Green, pulled straight up and rolled over on
its back, going down out of control. A third S.E., piloted by Lieut.
F. D. Travers, then joined in the fight. He engaged and fired
a long burst into an enemy scout, which dived vertically out of
control and crashed N.W. of Bogdanci.

While on an offensive patrol on June 12th, 1918, four of our



scouts encountered a formation of 8 E.A. near Sraokvica.
Lieut. D. Davies, on a Sopwith Camel, dived on a D.5 Albatross
Scout and shot it down in flames. He then engaged another and
sent it down out of control, it being seen to crash and burst
into flames. Lieut. C. B. Green, on an S.E.5a, also attacked a D.5
Scout, and after a short burst the E.A. went down and crashed in a
field S.S.E. of Pardovica. He also engaged a second machine,
but owing to engine trouble the combat was broken off. Lieut.
C. G. Gardiner, on a Sopwith Camel, attacked another D.5
Albatross and followed it down to 2,500 feet, when it suddenly
dived out of control and was lost to view. This latter machine was
subsequently reported to have crashed. All our machines returned

Lieut. D. A. Davies, on a Sopwith Camel, was attacked by five
E.A. Two of these attacked from above, and Lieut. Davies turned
sharply to the right, when the two E.A. collided and went down.
Several other Scouts engaged the Camel on the return journey,
and, finally, Lieut. Davies shot one down out of control over the
vicinity of Balince.

Wlien returning from escorting a bomb raid on Miletkovo dump
on September 3rd, 1918, four of our S.E..5a's sighted six enemy
machines engaging one of our monoplanes over Lake Doiran at a
low altitude. The S.E.'s were joined by two Sopwith Camels, and
all six machines dived from 13,000 to 1,000 feet and engaged the
six E.A. , but not in time to save the monoplane, which had been driven
down into Lake Doiran. The pilot, Lieut. J. P. Cavers, was seen
struggling in the water, whilst the E.A. were diving and firing
at him. Lieut. Cavers was apparently drowned and was reported

Lieut. Travers, on an S.E., then singled out an enemy machine, and
after firing a long burst into it from close range, it fell out of
control and crashed at the N.W. corner of Lake Doiran. This was
also seen by other of our pilots. Lieut. Travers was then attacked
by another E.A., whereupon he turned sharply round and fired a
good burst into it and sent it down out of control. Capt. G. C.
Gardiner, on a Sopwith Camel, followed this machine down and saw
it crash east of Cerniste. Lieut. Spackman also saw this one crash.
Capt. Gardiner then returned, and when at 2,000 feet, observed an
E.A. which he pursued, firing both guns. The E.A. dived down
to fifty feet, when a further burst sent it crashing down to the
ground close to the hospital at Cerniste. Our machine was so low
at this point that Capt. Ciardiner had to zoom the hospital tents to
clear them.

In the meantime, Lieut. W. Ridley, on an S.E.5a, attacked
another E.A. flying at low altitude just north of Lake Doiran.
After a running fight, during which Lieut. Ridley fired 200 rounds,
the E.A. stalled and then spun into the ground, crashing about halt
a mile south of Cestovo.

In preparation for the operations begun on September 18th, 1918,
an unusually large number of reconnaissances were carried out, and
large numbers of photographs taken. A special photographic map of
the district between the Vardar Valley and the Belashitza Mountains,
comprising 1,250 photographs, was prepared, and nianv photographic



sheets were completed and forwarded to Corps Headquarters. Con-
siderable time was devoted to artillery work, large numbers of
registrations being carried out daily. Three bombing raids were
also carried out as preliminary to the offensive, the targets being
Hudova Aerodrome on September 14th, Demirkapu Station on the
1.5th, and Hudova Station and dump on the 16th. Good results
were obtained during each raid, though on the first day strong
Vardar winds made accurate bombing very difficult.

On the day of the attack four contact patrols were carried out
in conjunction with the attacking infantry, and messages were
dropped on Brigade and Divisional Headquarters. Owing to the
intense dust and smoke thrown up by the barrage, the machines
had to descend to between 200 and 300 feet in order to carry out
their mission, often flying below the tops of the Grand Couronne
and the Pip Ridge, and were subjected to intense fire throughout.
One machine was brought down in flames by A. A. fire, the occupants
being killed.

During a patrol carried out to protect our contact patrol machines,
four of our scouts engaged a formation of between nine and fourteen
E.A. During the fight which ensued Capt. G. G. Bell, on an S.E.5a,
got to close quarters and fired good bursts into one E.A., which
went down out of control with smoke issuing from the centre section.
Captain Brawley and Lieut. Hamilton got on the tail of another
machine, which finally went down out of control. These were con-
firmed by pilots of artillery machines.

It was probably due to these decisive combats in our favour that
the moral of the German flying officers was reduced to a low state,
as, from the morning of September 18th up to the cessation of hostili-
ties, only one enemy machine was encountered, and this was driven
down to its own aerodrome.

During the battle our artillery machines played an important part.
Contact patrols flew over enemy trenches at very low altitudes,
observers on reconnaissances watched enemy movements, and our
bombers attacked trenches, camps and dumps with bombs and
machine gun fire. Patrols were kept up throughout the day from
dawn until dusk, and during September 18th and 19th no fewer
than 272 hostile batteries were reported active and countered by
our artillery. Several times active batteries were silenced by machine
gun fire from low altitudes. ,

A long distance destructive shoot was carried out on Divisional
Headquarters at Furka, successful results being obtained.

Continuous reconnaissances were carried out, and one of our D.H.9's
was fitted with a special long-distance wireless with a hundred mile
range. This machine operated over back areas and enemy lines of
retreat, the messages sent being received with ease at the wireless
station near Janes. The object of this was to enable bodies of troops
and transport to be bombed with the least possible loss of time.

During the whole of the operations bombing was energetically
carried out, dumps, camps, convoys, and troops being repeatedly

On September 21st machines on artillery and reconnaissance duties
reported that Tatarli, Cestovo, Furka, Cerniste and Hudova dumps
were in flames, and that ammunition dumps were exploding.



Numerous fires were reported over the whole of the Vardar Valley,
and all day the Rabrovo-Kosturino-Strumica road was seen to be
packed with transport and troops moving northwards.

Every opportunity was taken by the Royal Air Force to bomb and
harass the retreating enemy.

The retreating troops and transport were followed up from the
time the retirement started. The roads running north from Rabrovo,
Kosturino, Strumica and Jenikoj were seen to be black with traffic
and were bombed continuously by our machines. As soon as the
machines had dropped their load of bombs and expended their
ammunition they returned immediately to the aerodrome for fresh
supplies, everyone showing the greatest keenness, and the fullest
advantage being taken of these exceptional targets. During this
period our machines came down to as low as 50 and 20 feet and fired
into convoys and bodies of troops.

Tlie following telegram from Advanced 16th Corps testifies to the
enormous damage inflicted : —

" The routes from Cestovo Valley to Kosturino show signs of
the indescribable confusion that must have existed in the retreat
of the Bulgar Army. Guns of all kinds, motor cars, machine-
guns, rifles and every kind of war material abandoned. Dead
animals are strewn everywhere. Indicate that our R.A.F. must
have contributed largely to bringing about this state of things."

Also the following from the C.-in-C, British Salonica Force: —

"I desire to thank you and all ranks of the Royal Air Force
for the efficient manner in which their duties have been carried
out since the commencement of active operations and to express
my admiration of the skill and gallantry shown by pilots and
observers which have so materially assisted the success of

The most heavily bombed target was the Kresna Pass, which was
60 miles distant from the most advanced aerodrome, with 7,000 feet
mountains intervening. The shooting here was good, and on several
occasions whole wagons were seen to be blown off the road into the

On one occasion one of our machines observing 12 guns of large
calibre on the road north of Kresna, came down to about 500 feet and
machine-gunned the teams, several men being seen to fall. This
machine was badly shot about by machine-gun fire. Confirmation of
this was received indirectly from the American Consul-General at Sofia,
who stated that he happened to be motoring along this road at the
time, and saw several of the oxen and drivers killed or wounded, and
incidentally had a narrow escape himself.

These same guns were to have been attacked next morning, but
escaped owing to the suspension of operations.

From September 21st up to the cessation of hostilities our machines
dropped 19,570 lbs. of H.E. and fired over 29,880 rounds of S.A.A.
on the retiring enemy.

To assist during these operations No. 17 Squadron Headquarters
and "C" Flight were moved to Amberkoj from Lahana on the night
of September 22nd, moving up to Stojakovo, in Serbia, on the 26th.



On October 2nd this Flight proceeded to a new aerodrome near
Radovo, east of Strumitza (13ulgaria), thus establishing the first
aerodrome of the Allied nations in an enemy country in Europe since
the commencement of the war.

Preparations were begun for a move northwards to the Danube,
but this order was cancelled, and a move was instead to be made to
the Turkish Frontier. The Flight of No. 17 Squadron was withdrawn
from Radovo, and on October 19th "B" Flight of No. 17 Squadron
was sent to Philippopolis. The roads were in an extremely bad con-
dition and it was necessary to load the lorries only lightly. A com-
posite Flight of two-seaters and scouts was also despatched to a
position near Gumuldzina, later moving on to Dedeagatch. Owing
to the rapid movement of the flights, communication could not be
established, so it was necessary to maintain communication by air.

Reconnaissances of the new area were carried out, and a new hostile
aerodrome was located, but no engagements with enemy aircraft took
place. The signing of the Armistice with Turkey being an accom-
plished fact, the Flights at Philippopolis and Dedeagatch were

Total of enemy machines destroyed over lines ... ... 57

Total of enemy machines brought down in our lines ... 6

Brought down by balloon 1

Driven down out of control 35


Number of British machines missing





Accidentally killed ...

Wounded in combat

Wounded by A. A. fire

W^ounded, accidentally ...
Wounded, accidentally — since died ...
Wounded combat — since died ...
Wounded during bomb raid ...
Brought dowTti over lines (P. of W.) ...
Prisoner of War — later died of wounds
Died in hospital






The figures stated above for enemy aircraft brought down have all
been confirmed. Many others were claimed to have been shot down,
but as confirmation was not forthcoming they are not included.




Malaria is due to the infection of man with a germ inoculated into
liim by a bite of a mosquito, which has itself obtained the germ by
previously feeding upon a patient who has had malaria and who
<ontinues to carry the germs in his blood.

The importance of malaria in an Army depends upon the large
number of persons infected rather than upon the number of deaths
which it causes, and upon the numerous recurrences of the disease
in the patient rather than upon the severity of any single attack.
It is a disease of continual recurrences tending to make the patient,
if he remains in the country, bloodless, debilitated, listless and
apathetic, diminishing his physical ability and capacity for work and
placing him from day to day under the ever present threat of a
sudden acute relapse.

An Army carrying out active operations in a malarious country is
certain to have a considerable number of cases during the first
season and, if the troops remain in the country, one has to reckon
during the following season not only with almost as many fresh
infections as in the previous year, but also with the added hospital
admissions due to relapses. The number of hospital admissions,
therefore, tends to increase year by year.

During 1916 it was possible to evacuate patients from Salonica
freely to Malta or England. In April, 1917, the submarine menace
'•ompelled us to retain practically all cases in Macedonia, this
fact accounting for the increase in hospital beds and the decrease in
evacuations shown in the attached figures. This unavoidable reten-
tion of malarial patients in the country led to the existence of a large
chronically ill population which was fit for little except to circulate
between hospitals and convalescent depots, with perhaps an occa-
sional few days of duty, and it was to get rid of this population that
the " Y " Scheme was introduced in the beginning of 1918. Under
this scheme nearly 30,000 malarial patients were transferred to
England during the ten months ending 31st October, 1918.

It is evident from the introductory sentences of these notes that
preventive measures may be initiated in three directions —

Firstly, to protect the healthy man from being bitten by the

Secondly, to abolish the mosquito so far as possible, and

Thirdly, to cure or get rid of the chronic malarial patient who is
carrying the germs in his blood and by whom only cavi the mosquito
be infected.

Protection of the healthy man was carried out in every possible
manner by means of nets, mosquito-proof huts and dug-outs, special
shorts, gloves and head-nets, and ointments, obnoxious to the mos-
quito and, unfortunately, seldom less obnoxious to the user.

The mosquito was attacked chiefly by widespread attempts to get
rid of marshes and stagnant water of all sorts in which the insect
breeds, and by cutting down brushwood, scrub, long grass, etc., near *
camps, in which the mosquito rests by day.




The record of this work in the Base and L. of C. area alone
furnishes some surprising totals. In oiling the surface of stagnant
water week by Aveek a total of well over a million square yards was
covered; over 360,000 square yards of brushwood were cut; streams
v>ere channelled and trenches cut or refreshed to a total of over two
million lineal yards ; and close upon 10,000 pools were filled in or

Attempts to clean up the chronic germ carrier by means of quinine
were very disappointing, and it was found much easier to get rlio
patient out of the country under the "Y" Scheme.

1. — Total Admissions for Malaria.

1916 29,594

1917 63,396

1918 67,059

2. — Total Evacuated from Salonica (for Malaria, to England or

1916 21,902

1917 7,298

1918 3,257

3. — Maximum Number of Hospital Beds during the Summer.

1916 11,500

1917 26,000

1918 26,000

4. — Maximum Number of Malaria Cases in Hospital on any Onr

1916 ... 3,652

1917 12,947

1918 6,855*

* Accuracy invalidated by the epidemic of influenza in autumn.
5.— Total Days Sickness due to Malaria during the 12 Months.

1916 — *

1917 1,273,480

1918 1,970,600

* Figures not available.

N.B.— The figures for 1916 refer to the 10 months ending .31st
October, 1916, and for 1917 and 1918 to the 12 months ending 31st
October, 1917, and 31st October, 1918. It should also be remembered

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Online LibraryH. Collinson (Harry Collinson) OwenSalonica and after, the sideshow that ended the war → online text (page 22 of 23)