From Christmas 1915 until mid 1916, 1st Suffolk were almost constantly in the front line in the hills above Salonika in an area of the front line given the nickname of "The Birdcage."
The Birdcage was a defensive line across the open ground about 20 miles north of the Greek city of Salonika. The Allies were keen to establish a front line in a campaign that had none when they arrived.
By establishing a position as far north as they could, operations and advance in Bulgaria, would be easier. It also meant that the port of Salonika could be better defended for it was the main disembarkation port for the British Salonika Force and, if withdrawal from the campaign (which was still a possibility) was required, the land in-between it and the front line would acts as a time buffer to halt the enemy and get the bulk of the force evacuated.
The 84th Brigade of which 1st Suffolk were part, advanced north-east along the Serres road, around 15 miles from the port of Salonika, where they came to the first great ridge of mountains. Turning westwards towards a mountain village called Gnoina, the Battalion dug-in in an area that came to be known as "Little Gibraltar." Unlike the European campaign, the trenches ran along the northern side of the mountain range, allowing the Allies to use the crest of the ridge behind for observation. By sighting their trenches on the further side, the occupiers could see everything that lay before them over the marshy swampland to the north.
The terrain was quite different to that they had known in Flanders. The Greek soil was but 18 inches deep, under which was hard bed rock which was backbreaking to get through with pick and shovel. Soon too, logistical problems began to present themselves. There was a lack of heavy materials for trench building. Timber, angle iron and corrugated tin were in short supply, so the troops took to using age old methods of building dry stone walls and wicker hurdles to initiate the defensive works.
Starting from scratch was a tough job alone, but coupled with the mosquitos...
Welcome to our online 'blog' charting the history of the many Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment and the part they played in the Great War.
Starting back in March 2014, we have recorded the events of 100 years ago on the centenary of their happening.
Keep checking back to see how the Great War is progressing for the men of the Suffolk Regiment.