Macedonia Battlefield Tour, May 2014

Sun going down on British Salonika Force Memorial.
Colonial Hill, overlooking lake Doiran.

On Sunday 25th May 2014 myself, my Mum (daughter of Herbert Halliday RFA, BSF) and about 10 others started a five day WW1 battlefield tour of Macedonia led by Alan Wakefield and Peter Hart.

We flew from Luton to Skopje where we picked up our coach and travelled to Lake Doiran passing through the Vardar valley on the way.

Lake Doiran from old Bulgarian front line
on Petit Couronne.

Lake Doiran, where we were based, was spectacularly beautiful surrounded as it is by mountains and unspoilt countryside. However, one quickly starts to get a sense of how difficult this terrain was for the Allies. The mountains dominate the landscape and it was the Bulgarians who held them. As a consequence, many of the World War One sites of interest are a good few hours walk from any roads. We spent a full day's walking up Grand Couronne and several hours getting to and from the British gun positions on Tortoise Hill. Although still Spring, it was very hot work and one can only begin to imagine what life was like for the soldiers out there in the scorching summer sun. It's difficult not to admire their resolve and I find it a pity that their sacrifice is nowadays all but forgotten.

Tour Itinerary

Sunday

  • Visit crash site of Lt Paul Montague (47 Squadron RFC).
  • Visit to Doiran Memorial and Cemetery across border.

Monday

  • 22nd Division memorial.
  • Walk up to the Devil's Eye on Grand Couronne
  • Boat trip on Lake Doiran to observe British and Bulgarian positions.

Tuesday

  • Visit Kosturino battlefield: Kosturino ridge, Rocky Peak, Memesli, Kajali summit of Crete Simonet
  • Tatarli and remains of 5th Connaught Rangers battalion HQ.
  • 10th (Irish) Division memorial, Greek military cemetry.)

Wednesday

  • Visit Doiran battlefield area: British positions on La Tortue, Bulgar front line on Petit Couronne

Thursday

  • Visit Stobi Roman site.
  • Visit German cemetery at Gradsko.
  • Visit British cemetery in Skopje