Under The Devil's Eye - Britains Forgotten Army At Salonika 1915 to 1918

Author Rating:
4.5/5,
  • Author:
    Alan Wakefield and Simon Moody
    First published in 2004 and now updated for 2017, this book explains the background, politics and reality of the campaign fought in Macedonia. It was essentially a French led affair in support of the Serbs who faced being overwhelmed by a German-Austro-Bulgarian offensive. As an ally Britain could not ignore French requests for support but was determined not to invest more than was absolutely necessary in terms of men and material. By some deft political footwork, Britain was able to secure and operate in it's own geographical area of responsibility, whilst at the same time being seen to give support to the overall campaign
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    The situation was further complicated by the fact that Greece, the host country, although nominally neutral, had a pro-German king and a pro-Ally Prime Minister. It was not until June 1917 when the king abdicated that the Allies could have any confidence in Greek intentions.

    From the outset the authors determined that they would concentrate solely on the British aspects of the campaign and that, wherever possible, the story would be told by those who were there, supplemented as necessary by official documents. In so doing they have been able to tell a vividly human story which brings the whole book to life.
    The main battles and actions are covered in sufficient depth without getting bogged down in the small details so much loved by armchair generals. The severity and ferocity of the fighting was equal to that of The Western front with atrocious weather and desease adding to the suffering. Malaria was rife and despite stringent precautions proved to be the biggest killer of the campaign.
    In addition to the major actions, the reader is given an insight into life on the frontline and the rear areas as well as as the provision of medical services and the difficulties of logistics. The war in the air, although in it's infancy, is also well covered. There is sufficient detail for those with a specific interest in this campaign as well for the general reader of First World War history.

    Finally, "The Devil's Eye" was an enemy observation post which, as the Official History notes,"dominated not only the British lines but all the country southward towards Salonika, as far as the eye could see, overlooking trenches, battery positions and communications so completely as to have a serious psychological effect upon the troops".
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