Friends and Enemies - The 7th Battalion, Princess Charlotte of Wale's (Royal Berkshire) Regiment in the Great War, by John Chapman
Book published by Gooscroft in 2012, 248 pages. Paperback - c.17cm by 24.5cm (N6418X1)
From the rear side cover: In this tale we follow the 7th Royal Berkshire Regiment through recruitment and training, their time in Macedonia and subsequent career protecting the Bulgars from the Roumanians and trying to stem the tide of Bolshevism in the Caucausus. In the stages after the war was over, many young officers were thrown into the cauldron of Balkan politics and acquitted themselves well.
The war in the Macedonian Theatre had several parallels with the fighting on the Western Front - the British were allied with the French, they were facing a foe which occupied the high ground and there was little movement on either side until the final collapse. But there were significant differences: they were far from home and virtually ignored by the British press, they suffered more from disease than from the enemy, they were short of supplies and any modicum of home comfort behind the lines.
What was perhaps more significant was that there was virtually no mutual animosity between the opposing sides. Insofar as the Bulgars were concerned Britain was not one of their traditional foes and they displayed many acts of humanitarian concern which would have been unthinkable on the Western Front, like allowing British stretcher bearers to enter their trenches to recover bodies and the wounded. For the British the main battles seemed to be against the machinations of the French and the hostility of the British Generals in France. The artist Stanley Spencer perhaps summed up the British attitude towards the Bulgars when he reported 'they seemed to be aliens from another planet'
Again in sharp contrast to the Western Front there were no fixed trench lines, only outposts. The vegetation remained intact for the most part and the patrols sent out were as liable to meet an opposing outpost from the rear as from the front. There were many examples of patrols leaving messages for each other, either inviting desertion or sympathising with conditions that both sides had to endure. In this account the author draws heavily on operational orders and reports and on the accounts written by the men in letters home or reported to the press. Chapters in the book include:
- England 1914-15
- The Western Front 1915
- The War in Salonika
- The Birdcage
- The Macedonian Front
- Lake Doiran - April 1917
- Lake Doiran - May 1917
- The Krusha Balkans May-June 1917
- Monotony and Malaria - July-November 1917
- Working on the Railway
- Smol Hill- March to September 1918
- Advance and Victory - September 1918
- The Long March - October 1918
- The Army of Occupation - November - December 1918
- Balkan Politics - December 1918
- The end of 26th Division - January - April 1919
- The Caucausus - May - October 1919
- What the future would hold
- Appendices, including Roll of Honour, Medals & Awards, Order of Battle, Stanley Spencer RA, & place name changes
- Photographs and Images
Condition of the book is generally very good. The cover has one or two minor scuffs, and some light blemishes along the outside page leaves, but the spine is intact and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound. There is a small price sticker on the rear side cover.