It was first published in November 1915 and the final ‘Adieu’ edition appeared on May 10, 1919. It contained war news from all fronts, mainly based on radio reports. Items relating to the Balkans, Austria and Russia predominated, and were mixed with verse and other writing. There was also local advertising and an “Orient Weekly” column written by editor Harry Collinson Owen under the pseudonym Comitadji.
Initially 4 pages, by mid-1918 the paper had been reduced to 2 pages per issue and contained almost exclusively war news, with a few advertisements. The newspaper was printed on poor quality paper. Copies are now rare, and the runs held by British Library and the Imperial War Museum are incomplete.
Mentions in memoirs
The Balkan News was referred to by Alan Palmer in ‘The Gardeners of Salonica’, where he noted that “Even after half a century, its files show the determination and doggedness underlying the mocking self-pity that was as fashionable in Macedonia as it was in the trenches of Belgium and France”
In “The Macedonian Campaign”, Luigi Villari, who was for two years Italian Liaison officer with the various Allied Commands in the East, said that "“The British had only one paper, The Balkan News, edited by Mr. Collinson Owen. It was purely a paper for the army, containing the news of the day and a few special articles, and was well written, bright, full of wholesome cheerfulness and wit, and wholly free from local political tendencies — unlike the French papers, it never tried to create bad feeling between the Allies”.
Harry Collinson Owen was a professional journalist sent out to Salonika specifically to edit the Balkan News.
Owen Rutter served in Macedonia in the 7th Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment. After the war he became a prolific writer of travel books, history books and novels
Owen Rutter used the Balkan News to serialise (under the pseudonym ‘Klip-Klip’) his epic poem ‘Tiadatha’, a parody of Longfellow’s ‘Hiawatha’ that described the trials and tribulations of a young British officer serving in Macedonia. Although written by one of the editors, and much advertised in it, the Balkan News is mentioned only once in the poem, when its 'hero', after being wounded in an assault on the Bulgarian trenches, had a spell in hospital where:
- Every morning after breakfast
- He would lie back on his pillows,
- Read his Balkan News in comfort,
- Spend his day in eating, sleeping …….
- Owen, H. Collinson. Salonica and After: the Sideshow that Ended the War, Hodder and Stoughton, London,1919
- Falls, Cyril. Military Operations - Macedonia: Vol II. From the Spring of 1917 to the end of the war (Historical Section, Committee of Imperial Defence, London, 1933)
- Palmer, Alan, The Gardeners of Salonika: the Macedonian Campaign, 1915-1918. Andre Deutsch Ltd., London, 1965. Reprinted as a paperback in 2009 by Faber & Faber Ltd
- Villari, Luigi. The Macedonian Campaign”, T. Fisher Unwin Ltd., London, 1922
- Rutter, Owen (‘Klip-Klip’). 1920. The Song of Tiadatha. Serialised in The Balkan News, 1917. First impression in book form, Salonica, 1919. First UK Edition, T. Fisher Unwin Ltd., London, 1920