The London Scottish Regimental Gazette, No. 918, June 1972

1 V W. N. HENDRY These are my experiences with the London Scottish during the Great War 1914-18 Just at th'is time the Allies were not sure which side Greece would intake the war, so we had to prepare to cover the flank of our armies. The railway 'line running to Katerini had been damaged by heavy seas in several parts, our coy had the task of assisting the Engineers to repair this while the others went by boats to Katerini. We started off in cattle trucks to the scene of the damage, where we soon got to work and made good the embankment and abridge. We were now sleeping under bivouacs, and each man carried a sheet, one pole, one lanyard and two pegs. We soon found out the best way of erecting these in two’s or larger numbers. After this we marched onto Katerini and camped just outside the village. This was an old dirty place with no decent food shops in it. The largest building being a barracks, which a small body of the French occupied. We stayed here a week then went on towards Mount Olympus. Twice we had to remove boots, etc, to wade across rivers. On the second day each coy took up different positions on either side of the road. We cut our way up a high hill where we got a splendid view of the country, making ourselves quite comfortable in the undergrowth. We had now reached Christmas Day, 1916, and everyone was looking forward to a parcel arriving so that we could at least hold a feast. Avery few did arrive and I was unlucky. We dined ror break­fast at 7.30 am on tea, bacon, jam and half a small loaf for the day. At 9 am we were busily hacking trees, cutting branches and making a safe mule path. At 2 o’clock I made my way with a pal down to the river, where everything was so peaceful but for the rippling waters. Here we gathered some sticks and made afire putting a dixie of water onto boil, then went in for a swim. The water was very cold coming down from the snow covered mountain. After this we made cafe-auJlait and explored the river for some dis­tance. We returned to camp at 4.30 pm ready for dinner, which consisted of stew, rice and a spoonful of Christmas pudding sent by t'he Daily Telegraph. We turned in at 7 pm and thus ended our Ohristmas Day, 1916. Later we trekked on for six days, mending roads and bridges as we went, until we got near the pass of Mount Olympus and into the snow. We camped overlooking a ravine, guards were putout and patrols started, which were quite nice and peaceful after France. Wild dogs howl­ing and the tinkle of a bell on a goat were the only things that broke the stillness of the night. This was avery heavily wooded place and there was plenty of water from the streams. One day, when our fellows were making a sham attack, one of them fell into the ravine and was instantly killed on the rocks below. The French had a post in the pass and twice during the night the whole lot were kidnapped. The Greeks were concentrating troops on the plains down the other side, so we had to make preparations for any emergency. On awakening one morning the snow was piled high around our bivouacs, we had to keep'welf on the move to keep the circulation up. After three weeks here the Greeks had decided tO?thrpW "in'their lot with the Allies, so we return^! to J££t©rrni by March 4 and stayed a week at the barracks, where we held sports, etc. The Band gave t great display daily, which most of the inhabitants turned out for as the big drummer was quite a juggler with his sticks. Now we left on a seven days trek to the line, it was terribly stormy rain and heavy winds all the time and we were simply soaked through. On we went, day after day, marching in the teeth of areal icy cold Balkan storm over heavily rutted roads. It was a piteous sight to see men and mules lying prostrate by the roadside owing to fatigue and exposure. We just threw ourselves down and slept anywhere, soaked through to the skin. The roads were littered just like the retreat of an army. The man responsible for this should have been severely dealt with, as it was far beyond human endurance. It was really astonish­ing to see those who were thin and delicate holding out so well against the stouter fellows. We really thought the Bulgars had broken through and we were being hurried up to help, but this was not so, and never yet have we found out the reason for this mad Onrush. March 18 we relieved the 11th Scottish Rifles !in reserve at Dache and put up in quite nice shelters cut in the rock on a hillside. Here we had a good cleanup and made some good reserve defences after the RE’s had done some blasting. Along this line we had many observa­tion balloons up and one 'was just at the back of us. A Bulgan aeroplane used to overcome regularly and bring one or two of these down, but the men always managed to jump in para­chutes. One dayan officer went up with no experience and an enemy aeroplane over,came circled round the balloon firing tracer bullets into the gasbag as usual. This officer would not jump and the balloon was well 'inflames when the other man had to literally throw him out and they only just got clear before it fell. Both landed quite safely. This sort of thing got too easy, so the gunners set a trap for these aeroplanes and put a dummy man in the basket of one. Overcame an aeroplane as usual and the gunners put up a barrage of shells which soon brought him to the ground stone dead. After this our aeroplanes seemed to show themselves a little more and one day we saw a fine sight when twelve of ours suddenly came on a similar number of the enemy’s. They were just above sous we had a fine sight Of the most thrilling air fight I have ever seen. They were darting around one another, diving and turning, doing wild stunts, firing hard all the time until suddenly one of the enemy planes burst into flames, with this they retreated back over their lines. To he continued Page 119
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