Selected by Lianne Smith, Archives Services Manager
This brass desk set embellished with ammunition shells belonged to Lieutenant General George Francis Milne, who was Commander-in Chief of the British Salonika Army during the First World War. Britain, along with France and Greece sent troops to assist Serbia against the combined forces of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria in 1915. The Allied forces were entrenched around Salonika throughout most of the war until their advance into Serbia, and the surrender of Bulgaria, in September 1918.
Milne was eventually promoted to the rank of Field Marshal, and was raised to the peerage as Baron Milne of Salonika and Rubislaw in 1933.
The set was presented to Lt Gen Milne by Serbian soldiers in 1918. The top is inscribed with ‘Long Live England, Long Live Yugoslaves. Salonica 1918’, and the underside is inscribed ‘Serbian Artillery Workshop’ in both English and Serbian Cyrillic. There are also engravings of a British and a Serbian soldier, holding the flags of their respective countries, and the British and Serbian Coats of Arms.
As an archive, the artefacts we hold are few and far between, but this is a real favourite of mine. It’s such and unusual and unique item, and its peculiarity is partly why I find it so appealing.