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Campaign in the Balkans

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In October 1915, a combined Franco-British force of some two large brigades was landed at Salonika (today called Thessalonika) at the request of the Greek Prime Minister. The objective was to help the Serbs in their fight against Bulgarian aggression. But the expedition arrived too late to aid the Serbs and too weak to advance against the Bulgarians. The British government wanted to withdraw the allied force completely but after opposition from the French and heartfelt pleas from the Russians it was  decided to keep the force in place for future operations, even against Greek opposition.

During the first four months of 1916 the British Salonika Force had enough spadework to last it for the rest of its life. So much barbed wire was used that the area became known as the 'Birdcage', German journalist described it as ‘the greatest internment camp in the world’. The allied force created an enormous stockpile of stores and war material  and committed allied shipping to their supply, but exerted very little pressure on the Central Powers Forces. Malaria rampaged, casualties from disease sometimes exceeded 100% of the strength of some units present and caused ten casualties for every one inflicted by the enemy. By summer 1916 the international force had been reinforced and joined by Serbian, Russian and Italian units. The Bulgarian attempt at invasion of Greece in July was repulsed near Lake Doiran. At the beginning of October 1916, the British in co-operation with her allies on other parts of the front, began operations on the River Struma towards Serres. The campaign was successful with the capture of the Rupell Pass and advances to within a few miles of Serres.

During 1917, there was comparatively little activity on the British part of the front in Macedonia, due in part to complex political changes in Greece throughout the year. The main fighting took place around Lake Doiran, where the line was adjusted several times by each side early in the year. In April 1917, the British attacked, gained a considerable amount of ground and resisted strong counter-attacks. In May, the Bulgarians attacked the British positions, but were firmly repulsed. The British action in May triggered a series of attacks elsewhere on the front by the other Allies, known as the Battle of Vardar. In September 1917 the division moved to Egypt where it then advanced into Palastine and took part in the third battle of Gaza during November 1917.

 

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Campaign in Palastine

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Date, Place

Summary of Events and Information

2 July 1915  Basingstoke

Warned for overseas service 32 Officers 994 men.

6 July 1915  Basingstoke

One Corporal, five men and nine mules left to embark on S.S. Kinstonian.

8 July 1915  Basingstoke

Orders to embark for Liverpool.

9 July 1915  Liverpool

Embarked RMS Mauretania 4.30 am.

12 July 1915 Mauretania

Called at Gibraltar.

16 July 1915 Mauretania

Arrived Lemnos (island west of Gallipoli)  8.00 am.

20 July 1915

Landed at Mudros (port south of Lemnos). Bivouacked on harbourside.

26 July 1915  Mudros

In camp on harbourside. 400 men of all ranks inoculated against cholera.

27 July 1915  Mudros

60 men sick with diarrhoea.

29 July 1915  Mudros

100 men sick with diarrhoea, drugs for treatment unavailable.

31 July 1915  Mudros

29th Infantry Brigade landed.

1 August 1915 Mudros

Joined 29th Infantry Brigade.

6-7 August 1915 Gallipoli

Division less 29th brigade landed at Suvla Bay.

6-7 August 1915 Gallipoli

29th Brigade landed at Anzac Cove.

10 August 1915  Gallipoli

Attack at Gallipoli.

29 September 1915 Gallipoli

Brigade evacuated to Mudros.

4-5 October 1915 Mudros

Brigade moved to Salonika for action in Serbia.

5 November 1915

Entered Serbia.

23 November 1915 Serbia

Retreat from Serbia begins.

7-8 December 1915 Serbia

In action at Kosturino.

18 December 1915 Serbia

In action around Lake Doiran.

September 1917 Macedonia

Brigade moved to Egypt for action in Palastine.

28 Oct -7 Nov 1917 Palastine

29th Infantry Brigade in action 3rd  battle of Gaza.

8 December 1917 Egypt

Alfred posted to No.2 Filters Kantara (W.bank Suez Canal)

7 May 1918 Kantara

29th Infantry Brigade arrive Kantara from the lines.

9 May 1918 Kantara

First attack of malaria.

May 1918 Egypt

6th Leinster Regiment moved to France.

10 June 1918 Kantara

Reported sick at hospital.

22 June 1918 Kantara

Alfred admitted to 445 Stationary Hospital Kantara with Malaria.

24 June 1918 Kantara

Transferred to Citadel Hospital Cairo.

17 July 1918 Cairo

Alfred discharged to Montaya Convalescent Depot Alexandria.

29 August 1918 Alexandria

Final Medical board confirms downgrade to UK. B. 111

31 August 1918 Alexandria

Alfred posted to No.1 A.L.C.Camp Sidi Gabal.

8 September 1918 Sidi Gabal

Moved  from camp for duty with Camp Police.

10 September 1918 Sidi Gabal

Alfred transferred to 815 Company Labour Corps, Belak (with effect from 29 November 1917).

It is known that Alfred was wounded in action, receiving a head injury. Perhaps this is why he was not with the Brigade in December 1917. He may have been wounded during the battle of Gaza.

20 September 1918 Belak

Arrived 815 Company Labour Corps.

10 October 1918 Belak

Transferred to Tel-El-Kebir. Left Belak 09.30 arrived Tel-El-Kebir 21.30

21 October 1918 Tel-El-Kebir

Transferred to P.O.W.Camp Salhia.

31 October 1918

Cease fire on Palastine front.

10 June 1919 Sahlia

Transferred to Bellous for duty as gate police.

12 August 1919

Alfred was finally discharged on 12 August 1919 and transferred to Class z reserve.

The military service career of Alfred William Percy Stone

647 Private, Leinster Regiment

(My Grandfather)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alfred William Percy Stone is known to have served as 647 Private, 6th (Service) Battalion of the Leinster Regiment. After originally joining the Somerset Light Infantry on 2 September 1914. Alfred first entered the theatre of war in Gallipoli during July 1915 and later that year served in Serbia. Whilst the Regiment was stationed in Egypt, in 1918, he suffered his first attack of malaria. After a period of time in hospital he was downgraded to UK. B. 111 and transferred to the Labour Corps, becoming Private 361227.

Alfred was finally discharged to Class Z Army Reserve on 12 August 1919.

 

Additional research carried out at the National Archives by:

fourteeneighteen/research

Milverton Associates Limited, 8 Overell Grove, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV32 6HP

 

Official documentary evidence

1. Military service file

The three sets of Great War soldiers documents held at the National Archives in Kew have now been thoroughly searched. There are no papers that could be identified as being Alfred's.

Our search covered the WO363 (the so-called "Burnt Series"), WO364 and PIN26 series.

Our conclusion is that the papers no longer exist, save for the possibility that his papers have been filmed out of sequence. It is very unlikely, but you never know. There is already a considerable list of known misfiles, and more are being added as researchers discover them.

The service papers included much personal, family and military detail. Without them it is very difficult to determine key dates and events affecting his life.

 

2. Campaign medal entitlement documents

The records at the National Archive include a reference for every man who qualified for a campaign medal in the Great War. This is in the form of a card index, where every soldier's details were written on a card that has since been microfilmed. Every soldier who served in a theatre of war in 1914-1918 earned at least one campaign medal, so this is the most complete record .

 

3. Operational records

In common with all infantry battalions on active service, the 6th Leinster was obliged to maintain a daily record of its activities, known as the war diary. We carried out a search of the months in Gallipoli but found that there were very few references to individual soldiers and that Alfred was not mentioned.

In comparison to the documentary evidence held at Kew for Edgar Owen, Alfred’s records did not add much information to what was already known about his military career. Fortunately Alfred kept his own diary and because he attempted to increase his war pension he kept a number of papers.

 

Reconstructing Alfred’s military service from official documents and his personal diary

On the 5th August 1914, the day that he took over as Minister for War, Field Marshal Earl Kitchener of Khartoum issued orders for the expansion of the Army. He believed that the war would not be "over by Christmas" as the popular press (in both Great Britain and Germany) put it. He had been opposed to the creation of the Territorial Force, and did not plan to base the expanded army upon it. Instead, he determined to raise a new army, composed of volunteers. Each man would sign up for three years or the duration, whichever was shorter, and would agree to being sent to serve anywhere. On 6th August, Parliament sanctioned an increase of 500,000 men of all ranks in the Regular Army. "Your King and Country need you. A call to arms", was published on 11th August 1914.

Alfred William Percy Stone was born on the 18 February 1896 when he attested to join the army on 2nd September 1914 he was aged 18 years and 6 months, he lied about his date of birth so he would not miss out on the great adventure. He initially joined the Somerset Light Infantry but was soon transferred to the Leinster Regiment.

The 6th (Service) Battalion, the Leinster Regiment, more properly known as the Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) was formed in Dublin in late August 1914, as a unit of Kl (Kitchener's Army). The battalion became attached to 29th Infantry Brigade of 10th (Irish) Division along with 5th Royal Irish Regiment, 6th Royal Irish Rifles and 5th Connaught Rangers. The Division moved in early 1915 to the Curragh, Newbridge and Kildare, where training in Brigade strength began. In May, it moved to England and concentrated around Basingstoke. All units were inspected by Lord Kitchener at Hackwood Park on 28-29 May 1915.

On 27 June, the Division received orders to prepare for service overseas. This was confirmed on 1 July, when orders were received to prepare for service on Gallipoli, and khaki drill clothing was issued. Embarkation began on 9 July 1915 at Liverpool, and by the end of July the Division was on Lemnos; the first all-Irish formation ever to take the field of war.

 

Compiled from the War Dairies of the 6th Battalion Leinster Regiment

and the personal diary (1918) of Private Alfred W. P Stone.