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Remembered Today:

Gardenerbill

100 Years ago this week in the Balkans

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KGB

Albanians sniped at Serbs as they retreated, stragglers were killed by bandits.

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Gardenerbill

Some stats on the Serbian Army from the article in the September 2015 issue of ‘The New Mosquito’

‘....the Serbian Army on 6 October was about 420,000, rather more than the 150,000 reached the Adriatic and the Germans and their allies captured 170,000, so about 100,000 perished on the way.’

Once in Corfu

‘.... over 5,000 died there, most of whom are buried in the Serb Blue Cemetery on Vido island in Corfu harbour.’

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Gardenerbill

On the 11th January 1916 the British Salonika Force was put under the command of the French General Maurice Sarrail.

On the 13th Bridges blown on the Salonika Constantinople railway line in the Struma valley.

In January 1916 there were 3 British Divisions (approximately 90,000 men) now in Salonika.

The Royal Engineers began a full military survey of Macedonia that would continue well into 1917.

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Gardenerbill

Work continues on the defences around Salonika on what would become known as the birdcage line due to the extensive use of barbed wire.

The Troopship Norseman is torpedoed off Salonika and is damaged but beached, no personnel were lost but about half the mules were.

Can't find anything else for this week.

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Gardenerbill

On the 26th January the 80th Brigade took over half the line from 29th Brigade between Stavros and Lake Beshik.

The position of the Greeks at this time was very uncertain, the King favoured the German side but the prime minister the allies. The Greeks had a garrison and battery at a fort overlooking the bay to the west of Salonika. General Sarrail began preparations to assault the Fort but at the last minute the Greeks withdrew.

Fort Kara Burun and it's battery were occupied 27th January.

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pete-c

On the 11th January 1916 the British Salonika Force was put under the command of the French General Maurice Sarrail.

I am hoping that members won't mind me adding a few Naval notes to this thread.

Also on the 11th January 1916: Commander Moorsom assumed command of HMS Ark Royal, from Robert Clark-Hall. The ship had been at Salonika since November 8th, 1915.

18th January: Ark Royal and her seaplanes supported HMS Swiftsure and HMS Havelock as they both fired at targets in the region of Dede Agatch.

19th January: HMS Ark Royal returns to Salonika.

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Gardenerbill

Pete,

Thanks, please feel free to add more naval detail, my knowledge is heavily army biased.

Same goes for anyone with RFC details.

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Gardenerbill

Probably the most significant event this week took place on January 31st, with the first of three Zeppelin bombing raids by LZ85.

Work continued on the birdcage line with the British sector running from the river Galiko to Lake Langaza, then to Lake Beshik and on to the Gulf of Rendina.

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Gardenerbill

On the 6th February the 7th Mounted Brigade had started to arrive, including on the 11th, ‘A’ squadron of the Surrey Yeomanry.

On the 8th February relief of the 10th Irish Division by the 27th Division was complete and the 10th were placed in reserve, for well deserved rest.

In February according to the Gardeners, General Sarrail sent two colonial regiments up to the old Greek frontier, but it doesn’t say which two or where along the border they were sent and he began planning for a spring offensive.

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Gardenerbill

After a period of mild sunny days, the weather took a turn for the worse on the 18th with rain, snow and high winds

Boat patrols on L. Beshik and L. Langaza complete the line

Naval artillery support was provided at Stavros by Monitors and a Cruiser

A fourth French Division, the 17th Colonial, arrived this week.

The reference to Monitors came from ‘Under the Devil’s Eye’ could one of the naval experts explain this term?

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pete-c

'MONITOR - one who admonishes another as to his conduct'. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

In a letter to Gustavus V Fox, assistant Secretary of the United States Navy during the American Civil War, the Swedish engineer John Ericsson claimed of his new design of ironclad ship:

The impregnable and aggressive character of this structure will admonish the leaders of the Southern Rebellion that the batteries on the banks of their rivers will no longer present barriers to the entrance of the Union forces. The iron-clad intruder will thus prove a severe monitor to those leaders. ... On these and many similar grounds, I propose to name the new battery Monitor.

The above from the publication, Big Gun Monitors. Design, Construction and Operations 1914-1945, by Ian Buxton.

In a nutshell, these ships were little more than platforms for large guns. Their shallow draught allowed them to get close in to a shoreline in order to bombard inland targets. Monitors M18, M19 and M33 were all operating in the Stavros area during this period.

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Gardenerbill

Events on the western front somewhat overshadowed activity in the Balkans this week, when on the 21st February the German guns opened up along the front at Verdun in what would become one of the defining battles of the Great War.

In fact the only activity I can find of note was that a brigade of the Royal Navy Division disembarked at Stavros.

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Gardenerbill

Henry C. Day author of Macedonian Memories arrived at Salonika on the 3rd of March 1916.

Captain Day was the army chaplain to the 7th Mounted Brigade, his book is a must read for anyone interested in the activities of the Yeomanry units in the Struma valley, but it is worth reading just for his personal account of negotiating the infamous Jumeaux Ravine during the first battle of Doran.

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pete-c

On this day HMS Ark Royal dispatched four of her Short 166 seaplanes to the recently set up base situated on the shore-line below the small town of Stavros. Over the next few weeks these aircraft would be tasked with the aerial reconnaissance and photography of the Struma Valley area.

A bit late now but, back on January 25th: Aerial reconnaissance report No.7 from HMS Ark Royal on Camps and Batteries in the vicinity of Salonika was forwarded to the Admiralty from Stuart Nicholson, Vice Admiral Commanding Eastern Mediterranean. Included in this report were details of the Varder Point Defences - Northern and Southern Batteries - as well as the Forts and Batteries at Kara Point.

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Gardenerbill

At the beginning of March there were two German Divisions on the Greek border. On the 9th March the German General von Gallwitz was ordered to postpone planned offensive action and set up a defensive line between Doiran and the river Varda.

On the 11th March General Sarrail jumped the gun and ordered the French 243rd Brigade, with mountain and horse artillery to advance up the Vardar valley.

A day later at the Chantilly conference Salonika was discussed despite France being preoccupied with Verdun and a decision was made to make threatening movements in the Balkans to keep German and Austrian troops occupied. General Joffre, CIC of French forces on the western front, gave approval for advances up the Vardar valley and along the Seres road.

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Gardenerbill

The French move up country continued apace with the 243rd Brigade driving a German patrol out of the village of Machukovo close to he Greek frontier near the river Vardar.

Another French Brigade moved to Avret Hissar half way between Salonika and Doiran and a Regiment moved to Sarigol station.

Sarigol station is on the Salonika Constantinople railway about 40km north of Salonika and is the nearest station to Kukus, Avret Hissar is about 3km to the west of Sarigol station.

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Gardenerbill

On the 26th March the 7th Mounted Brigade moved to Kukus north east of Sarigol station.

The 7th Mounted Brigade started as the 3rd Notts and Derby mounted brigade. The 3rd Mounted brigade had taken part in the Gallipoli campaign as infantry and was reformed in December 1915 in Egypt into the 7th mounted brigade and moved to Salonika in January 1916.

The 7th Mounted Brigade consisted of:

Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry

South Nottinghamshire Hussars

Derbyshire Yeomanry

Notts and Derby Mounted Brigade Signal Troop

Notts and Derby Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, RAMC

Notts and Derby Mounted Brigade Veterinary Section

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Gardenerbill

One hundred years ago today (27th March 1916) a German bombing raid detonated a store of high explosives in the French Engineer park near Salonika.

On the 1st April General Robertson (recently appointed Chief of the Imperial General Staff) gives General Mahon permission to mobilise in support of the French. All four French divisions begin moving out to the Greek frontier.

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KGB

Meanwhile...in Dublin...

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Gardenerbill

It would be interesting to know when news of the Easter uprising reached the Balkans and what effect it had on the morale of the 10th Irish Division, bearing in mind the 10th didn’t take all its recruits from Ireland.

I have nothing in my notes for this week; the next significant event happened on the 10th April when a troop of Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry ambushed two troops of German cavalry (Uhlans?) near Patoros south east of Doiran station. According to the official history this action ‘caused some loss to men and horses’ on the German side. This was the first British contact with the enemy since the retreat from Kosturino.

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KGB

It would be interesting to know when news of the Easter uprising reached the Balkans and what effect it had on the morale of the 10th Irish Division, bearing in mind the 10th didn’t take all its recruits from Ireland.

I have nothing in my notes for this week; the next significant event happened on the 10th April when a troop of Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry ambushed two troops of German cavalry (Uhlans?) near Patoros south east of Doiran station. According to the official history this action ‘caused some loss to men and horses’ on the German side. This was the first British contact with the enemy since the retreat from Kosturino.

It was quiet at that time - I know of no stirrings in Irish regiments. It took a while for the effects to filter through.

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Gardenerbill

Just had a look on Wikipedia and Easter must have been late in 1916 as the uprising actually started on the 24th April.

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KGB

Just had a look on Wikipedia and Easter must have been late in 1916 as the uprising actually started on the 24th April.

Yes late Easter in 1916 so the "100th" is in fact a month early!

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Gardenerbill

After spending several months recuperating on Corfu, what remained of the Serbian army, 112,000 men and 8,000 horses, were moved by sea convoy to Salonika arriving on the 11th April, remarkably no ships were lost.

On the 15th April General Mahon ordered General Wilson c/o of XII Corps to detail a Brigade to move to Yanesh, on the same day the 66th Brigade of 22nd Division move up to Yanesh to support the 7th Mounted Brigade.

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