The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Mikra Memorial to the Missing is located inside the Mikra Cemetery in Kalamaria, Greece, which is on the Aegean Sea about four miles south of Thessaloniki, which in 1915 the British called Salonika.
The cemetery has 1,810 Commonwealth burials and 147 of other nationalities. All are from WW1. Although the site was started in April 1917 due to a nearby hospital complex, many graves are post-war re-burials from up the line.
The cemetery and memorial were the work of the Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer KBE (1864-1929), a noted designer of buildings in the Scots Baronial and Arts and Crafts styles. Lorimer had the commission for all of the CWGC sites in the Salonika area, as well as the Naval Memorials in the UK, which will be discussed in a future post. His most important creation was the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.
The battlefield missing of the theater are commemorated on the CWGC Doiron Memorial, which is located up-country and will be the subject of a future article. The Mikra Memorial lists 480 Commonwealth soldiers, sailors, nurses and civilians whose remains were never found after the sinking of transport, hospital and messenger vessels in the eastern Mediterranean theater of naval operations, which were these five:
- HT Marquette, inbound for Salonika, Oct. 23rd, 1915, 167 deaths,
- HMHS Brittanic, inbound for Mudros, Nov. 21st, 1916, 30 deaths,
- HT Ivernia, outbound for Alexandria, Jan. 1st, 1917, 120 deaths,
- S. Princess Alberta, inbound for Mudros, Feb. 21st, 1917, 33 deaths, and
- HT Arcadian, homeward bound, Apr. 15th, 1917, 279 deaths.
The Marquette was not a hospital ship, but was carrying the 1st New Zealand Stationary Hospital and the 29th Division Ammunition Train to Salonika. Ten nurses and 19 other medical personnel were lost and are commemorated on the memorial. This tragedy was recounted (with some poetic license) by Thomas Keneally in his 2012 best-seller The Daughters of Mars. You can read more about the Marquette here.
The Brittanic was the slightly bigger sister ship to the RMS Titanic, and was the largest ship of any flag lost in WW1. Until the loss of the Costa Concordia in 2012 the Brittanic was also the largest passenger ship ever to sink.
Among the lost on the Arcadian was Sir Marc Armand Ruffer (1869-1917) an eminent pathologist and bacteriologist who was working for the Red Cross in Egypt. He is listed on the Mikra Memorial.