June 24th 1917

Lieut. Cedric Davidson (MGC) has sent us some pictures from Macedonia, where he is with the Salonika Army. They are taken with his own camera (before it became hors de combat due to a shell splinter).

7/6/17 “This shows a rather picturesque corner with what is known to Thomas Atkins as ‘a bandstand house.’ These structures are, I believe, drying sheds for tobacco which is grown here in great quantities.  Some of these buildings were found to contain hundreds of strings of tobacco leaves hung up to cure.

The one in the picture was afterwards destroyed by shell fire.”

“This photograph is typical not only of the inhabitants, but of their manners. Their poor little donkeys are always overloaded and the driver invariably perches himself on top of the load. I have seen a good natured, smiling fat old Turk riding in this way towards me and have been disgusted to find when he passed that he was continually prodding his small mount with a long bladed hunting knife to increase its exertions, until blood ran freely from the wound.

On several occasions Thomas Atkins has taken drastic steps to deal with such men, who have doubtless found it more convenient to stand than sit for some considerable time afterwards.”

We are an animal-loving nation – being the first country to have a society for the welfare of animals in 1824, with Queen Victoria giving her patronage in 1840, making it the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

With regards to protection, Cedric and our troops are in need of it too:

“Our worst enemy here is the mosquito and the malaria of which he is the carrier. They have not yet arrived in full force this year, but in a month or so, when the shade temperature at noon will be over 110° and 80° an average temperature at midnight, with hoards of blood-sucking flies preying upon us by day and clouds of mosquitoes at night, life in Macedonia promises to be none too sweet.”

May 13th 1917

Lieut. Morice Thompson (Shropshire Light Infantry & MGC)

I am sorry to report that a second Old Dragon has been killed at Arras.

We have learnt from the Thompsons that Morice was killed by machine gun fire in the Scarpe Valley, whilst leading his section over the top in the big attack on May 3rd. At the time he was hit, it is reported, he was attending to a man in his section who was severely wounded.

Circumstances did not allow for the recovery of Morice’s body for burial.

The battle at Arras, which started on April 9th, has cost many lives.  The length of the lists in the newspapers seems almost as long as those from the Somme battle last year, when we lost nine of our Old Boys.

I remember Morice as a rather silent and reserved boy, but, as such boys often are, exceedingly popular and beloved by all who knew him at all intimately.

He played in many Old Dragon football matches and was always a most loyal Dragon.