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Gardenerbill

SKRA DI LEGEN forgotten pivotal battle of the Great War

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Gardenerbill

On May the 30th 1918 the battle of SKRA DI LEGEN took place on the Balkan front. This little-known battle was significant for a number of reasons. The Greeks had maintained an uneasy neutrality in the Great War with the Royalists supporting the German side and the Greek Liberal nationalists under Venezilos supporting the allies. The abdication of King Constantine in June 1917 led to the appointment of Venizelos as Greek prime minster and the Greeks entering the war on the side of the allies. By May 1918 the Greek Army was almost fully mobilised with several divisions now in the front line but had yet to be tested in battle. General Guillaumat Commander in Chief of allied forces in Macedonia proposed to test the quality of the Greek troops and the resolve of the Bulgarian enemy, with offensive action in the sector of the line west of the river Vardar now occupied by the Greeks.  

 

The plan drawn up was to capture the Bulgarian positions along an 8-mile front between a point north east of the river LJUMNICA and a point north of the village of LUNZI. The key feature in this sector of the line was a heavily fortified rocky hill called SKRA-DI-LEGEN that formed a salient in the Bulgarian line. The attack would be carried out by regiments from the Greek Archipelago, Crete and Seres divisions with the French 1st Regiment de Marche Afrique in support. On the 29th May bombardments and raids began in different sectors of the front line to keep the enemy guessing as to where any attacks may materialise. For the preliminary bombardment at SKRA-DI-LEGEN the British provided heavy artillery in the form of the 8-inch Howitzers of 424th siege battery and the 60 pounders of 20th and 190th heavy batteries.

 

At 4.55 on the morning of the 30th May the Greek soldiers showed great skill and discipline in closely following the creeping barrage, quickly overrunning the Bulgarian positions, capturing enemy prisoners still in their dugouts. By 6.15 a.m. the Archipelago division had taken SKRA-DI-LEGEN and their second objective the PITON DENUDE, to the west of the SKRA-DI-LEGEN the ESPEREN was taken. To the east the CRETE division took a little longer but the ridge between the northern and southern branches of the river LJUMNICA was occupied in the afternoon. The Bulgarians responded with artillery and counter attacks, but all were repulsed. In the battle, 441 Allied soldiers were killed, 2,227 wounded and 164 missing in action. Bulgaria suffered approximately 600 soldiers killed and 2045 taken prisoner, 32 machine guns and 12 artillery pieces were also captured.

 

This was a spectacular victory for the Greeks and humiliating defeat for the Bulgarians and demonstrated what was possible in this sector with good planning and disciplined execution of the plan. SKRA-DI-LEGEN was a boost to moral at a difficult time on the western front, as well as in the Balkans where it proved to be a turning point that would lead to the rout of the Bulgarians in October 1918, and ultimately precipitate the collapse of the central powers and allied victory.

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Gardenerbill

The diversionary bombardments and raids mentioned above took place 100 years ago today.

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Gardenerbill

100 years ago in the early hours of the morning 30th May 1918 the Greek soldiers formed up and at 4.55 am went into battle.

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guests

@Gardenerbill

"Skra di Legen forgotten pivotal battle of the Great War" wasn't "forgotten" otherwise and the third battle of the Doiran lake would had been forgotten :o:o

Edited by guests

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Gardenerbill

That makes no sense? Where is it not forgotten and what do you mean 3rd battle of Doiran?

Edited by Gardenerbill

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keithmroberts

I will admit that prior to the recent SCS visit to Greece and Northern Macedonia I had skimmed past this action in my reading. We did visit the battlefield on the 24th of September and the small museum in the village below. sadly the Greek war memorial itself is in a poor condition these days.

 

Keith

IMGP3326.JPG

Edited by keithmroberts

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Gully Ravine

Quite a few references to this battle in "The Mosquito" journals ...

 

Keith

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keithmroberts

I'll get there - only up to 1931 or 32 because of other commitments and activities.

 

 

Keith

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guests

@Gully Ravine
they seem to be rare

Edited by guests

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@keithmroberts
"sadly the Greek war memorial itself is in a poor condition these days" we agree completely, this no respect to history is a tragic irony!

 

this exactly is happening and to the monuments not only to the north of Greece but and to the south, we live in Tripoli of Arkadia close to Sparta of Peloponnese

 

the monuments of war stand there and say to us: "remember the past so you don't make the same mistakes in the future"!

 

does (will) UNESCO do something about this?

 

the memorial writes:
"ΕΠΕΣΑΝ ΜΑΧΟΜΕΝΟΙ ΥΠΕΡ ΤΗΣ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗΣ ΜΑΣ ΠΑΤΡΙΔΟΣ. ΑΞΙΩΜΑΤΙΚΟΙ 31 ΟΠΛΙΤΕΣ 573."

 

that means:
"THEY FELL FIGHTING FOR OUR ELLINIK HOMELAND. OFFICERS 31 HOPLITES 573."

 

cheers

Edited by guests

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guests

@Gardenerbill
a question:

 

was Renault FT used at that battle?

 

thank you

Edited by guests

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guests

Renault-FT-canon.jpg
Renault FT canon 1917

Edited by guests

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Gardenerbill

@guests welcome to the forum. As far as I know tanks were not used on the Balkan front in the Great War, the mountainous terrain was deemed unsuitable for their deployment. 

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guests

by the way we had made a three dimensional depiction of the battlefield of Skra di Legen but we don't know if it is exact

 

map.jpg

 

cheers

Edited by guests

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Gardenerbill

Is that a bit like Minecraft?

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@Gardenerbill

"Is that a bit like Minecraft?" nope :huh::huh:

 

it is from the battlecraft map editor for a world war one based modification for battlefield 1942 action shooter named battlefield 1918 and the creation team had planned to introduce the Greek (Ellines) team

 

they already have included major countries such as: US, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Italy, Bulgaria, France, Belgium, Senegal, India, Japan, Austria, Montenegro, Serbia, Russia, Germany

 

also they plan to include Romania

 

here are their sites:

 

http://www.moddb.com/mods/battlefield-1918/articles

 

https://www.facebook.com/Bf1918/

 

https://vk.com/bf1918

 

http://bf1918.iphpbb3.com

Edited by guests

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guests

here is a closer look of the map:

 

battlefield-1918-battle-of-Skra-di-Legen
Bulgarian DWM machinen gewehr MG08

 

battlefield-1918-battle-of-Skra-di-Legen
Bulgarian fortifications and 15cm cannons

 

battlefield-1918-battle-of-Skra-di-Legen
battlefield-1918-battle-of-Skra-di-Legen
Bulgarian trench line with 7.5cm cannons and machine guns

 

battlefield-1918-battle-of-Skra-di-Legen
Bulgarian Gruson 5.3cm L-24 fahrpanzer

 

battlefield-1918-battle-of-Skra-di-Legen
Greek 155mm cannons

 

battlefield-1918-battle-of-Skra-di-Legen
Greek entrenchment with 75mm cannons and machine guns

 

battlefield-1918-battle-of-Skra-di-Legen
Greek Schwarzlose M1907-12 machinen gewehr

 

battlefield-1918-battle-of-Skra-di-Legen
Greek military tents

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guests

that's why trying to find how it was the battlefield of Skra di Legen

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guests

@Gardenerbill

"....proposed to test the quality of the Greek troops and the resolve of the Bulgarian enemy,...." according to the wikipedia site it was proposed to "test" that because the allies after a year of unsuccessful attacks finally broke the Bulgarian positions :unsure:

 

"....the British provided heavy artillery in the form of the 8-inch Howitzers of 424th siege battery and the 60 pounders of 20th and 190th heavy batteries" the support from the artillery seemed to be mainly from the French, the British supported in the third battle of the Doiran lake :unsure:

Edited by guests

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Gardenerbill

At Skra Di Legen the Greeks took a salient, they did not make a breakthrough.  As I said at the start of the topic the British provided the Heavy Artillery, the French provided medium and light artillery. You could not attack a heavily defended trench and bunker system without heavy artillery. 

 

When you refer to the 3rd battle of Doiran, do you mean what we refer to as the second battle of Doiran September 1918. In this battle the Greeks again supported by British artillery fought valiantly but failed to break through the Bulgarian lines north of Lake Doiran, poor communication between the Greeks and British was blamed for the failure, rendering the artillery support less effective than it should have been. The break through when it came was made by the Serbians on the CRNA river September 17th 1918 in what was known as the battle of Dobrapolce.

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@Gardenerbill

"At Skra Di Legen the Greeks took a salient,...." when you say about a salient you mean one of the big hills that is named Skra of the "flat" toped Paiko mountain line that was strategic important?

 

"....they did not make a breakthrough" indeed, as said to the previous post the allies a year before wanted to make the breakthrough but were unsuccessful

 

"You could not attack a heavily defended trench and bunker system without heavy artillery" indeed

 

"When you refer to the 3rd battle of Doiran, do you mean what we refer to as the second battle of Doiran September 1918" here:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Doiran_(1918)

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Skra-di-Legen

 

and you are correct about the conclusion of the third battle of the Doiran lake according to the army general staff (G.E.S.)

 

(it is in Greek language)
https://fww.army.gr/el/mahi-tis-doiranis-5-18-6-19-septemvrioy-1918

Edited by guests

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Gardenerbill

Hi @guests,

Here is a map from the  'Official History of the Great War Military Operations Macedonia' volume 2. In it you can see the main Bulgarian front as a dark green line across the map, the Skra Di Legen can be seen below this line, when a strong point like this is in front of the main line it can be called a Salient.

 

753387217_SkraDiLegenMap.jpg.5ee6060388a6c567bd77e1a7ebf45e2d.jpg

 

 

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guests

@Gardenerbill
thanks for the information again :):)

 

so our three dimensional depiction of the battlefield of Skra di Legen should be correct after all?

Edited by guests

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