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Were Australians assisting the Serbians in WW1 before Gallipoli?

Olive May (Kelso) King, in the uniform of an ambulance driver, Serbian Army, c.1917. [Donor E. King, AWM P01351.002]
Bill Barlow
17 October 2019
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When you start researching the lives of ancestors during the Great War you may become embroiled in the complex history of the 'Eastern Question' and the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, which lead to the First World War. 


How did some Australian and New Zealanders come to be serving in support of the Serbian Army before the ANZACS landed at Gallipoli? 


Richard Cooke of Camberwell and Bojan Pajic of Glen Iris, discovered that they both had relatives who may have met in Serbia during World War One; Richard's grandmother, Ethel Gillingham, was an Australian nurse volunteer supporting the Serbian Army in 1915 and Bojan's grandfather and great uncle, who was wounded in 1915, were officers in the Serbian Army.


Australian doctors, nurses, orderlies, drivers and assistants, mainly women, volunteered to serve inBritish units that were sent to Serbia in 1914-15 and to the Salonika (or “Eastern”) Front in 1916-18, to assist the Serbian Army. Australian Army nurses were sent to serve in Salonika in the later part ofthe War. The exact number and identity of all Australian volunteers serving with various organisations in
support of the Serbian Army and people is unknown.


Bojan Pajic has traced over 100 descendants and relatives of Australians and New Zealanders who served in Serbia or alongside the Serbian Army on the Salonika Front and nearby seas in World War One. You can hear about the little-known story of ANZAC soldiers, airmen, medical volunteers and humanitarian workers who participated in the Serbian theatre of war in WW1 when Bojan Pajic will present:


"Our Forgotten Volunteers: 

Australians and New Zealanders with Serbs in World War One"


Thursday 24 October - 12 pm - 1.00 pm at GSV.


Bookings are essential. Go to our website HERE.


Our speaker


medium_pajic-book-233x300.jpgBojan Pajic majored in history at the University of Adelaide and served as an infantry officer in the Citizen's Military Forces/Army Reserve. He has served overseas as an Australian Trade Commissioner. 

As well as author of the book Our Forgotten Volunteers: Australians and New Zealanders with Serbs in World War One (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2018), he is also the author of Serbian Decorations through History and Serbian Medals Awarded to Australians, (2016).






'The World War One Australian Serbian Project', B. Pajic in Ancestor 33:7 Sept 2017, p.15. (GSV Members can view this on our website).


'Exhibition: Serbia in the Great War' at soc.org.au, website of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Australia and New Zealand (accessed 17 Oct 2019).


'Australian women volunteers with the Serbian army in World War One', Srpski Glas[newspaper] 24 Aug 2015 (website accessed 17 Oct 2019).


Expiry Date: 
Tuesday, 14 April, 2020 - 22:45
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