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Serbia's Victories ^ Reverses and 
Final Triumph :: 1914-1918 









Copyright, 1920, by 



AS Secretary General of the Serbian Ministry of 
. Foreign Affairs it fell to my lot to receive to- 
gether with the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, 
Monsieur L. Patchou, the famous Austro-Hungarian 
ultimatum, which the Austro-Hungarian Minister, 
Baron Giesl von Gieslingen, handed to us on July 25, 


On that fateful day only three Ministers of the 
Serbian Cabinet were in Belgrade. An electoral cam- 
paign was in full swing, and all other members of the 
Cabinet were absent from the Capital. 

As soon as the interview was over, Monsieur 
Patchou and myself hurried to an adjoining room 
where the other two members of the Cabinet were 
waiting and began to peruse hastily the document 
which had just been handed to us. 

The first one to break the silence which followed the 
reading of the ultimatum was the Minister of Public 
Instruction, Monsieur L. Yovanovitch, who got up, 
walked the length of the room and then said in a voice 
broken with emotion : "There remains nothing else 
for us to do but to fight and to die." 

These tragic words were a summing up of the ter- 
rible situation with which my country had suddenly 
been confronted. The terms of the ultimatum, the 
humiliating- demands which it contained and which 


iv Foreword 

were such as had never before been addressed to an 
independent country, showed very clearly that they 
had been formulated with a view to making it impos- 
sible for Serbia to accept them, and to the end of giv- 
ing a pretext to Austria-Hungary to declare war. 

The Austro-Hungarian Minister had said, when 
handing the ultimatum, that his instructions were to 
leave Belgrade with the personnel of his Legation at 
the expiration of the time limit, if by that time the 
Serbian Government did not return a satisfactory re- 
ply. That could mean only a rupture of diplomatic 
relations, and such a rupture following such an ulti- 
matum could only mean war. 

It is only recently that the most positive proofs have 
been disclosed that xA.ustria-Hungar}^ and Germany had 
already made up their minds that whatever the con- 
ciliatory reply of Serbia their monstrous intention was 
to declare war. 

Nothing else indeed remained for Serbia to do but 
to fight. She did fight, but she did not die. On the 
contrary she emerged with renew^ed vitality, stronger 
than ever, because of the realization of the aspira- 
tions of all the Jugo-Slavs to be united into one King- 
dom. The allied victories of 1918 in which Serbia, as 
the whole w^orld knows, played an important military 
role, resulted in the liberation of the Serbs, Croats, 
and Slovenes whom Austria had held for a century 
under her cruel yoke. Serbia lived, but Austria-Hun- 
gary, who had meant to strike a death blow at her 
small neighbor, collapsed. 

Such a result could, of course, never have been 

Foreword v 

achieved had Serbia been left to fight alone. But 
even with the later developments of the conflict which 
placed at her side great and powerful allies, she is en- 
titled to claim a most important share in the strug- 
gle for the common cause of Liberty, Right, and Jus- 

This book will show the reader what that share has 
been. The writer, Mr. Gordon Gordon-Smith, whom 
I had the pleasure of meeting in Nish during the war, 
was attached to the Serbian headquarters and has fol- 
lowed personally and closely the Serbian campaign. 
This fact, coupled with Mr. Gordon-Smith's previous 
experience as war correspondent, makes him a very 
valuable and able witness. I have no doubt that the 
reader will follow with interest and profit the narra- 
tion of the heroic efforts which, after a terrible strug- 
gle against a formidable enemy, against typhus, 
starvation, and privations of all sorts, led the Serbs 
over the snow-covered mountains of Albania, across 
the sea to Corfu and to Salonika, from where, with 
the help of their valiant allies, they fought their way 
back to their country, to Freedom, and to Union with 
their brethren in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, 
and Slovenes. 

No less interest will attach to the political peripe- 
ties of the struggle, before and during the war, which 
Mr. Gordon-Smith relates very ably and with great in- 
side knowledge of the facts. 

Some criticism will be found concerning the atti- 
tude and policy of Serbia's Allies, especially with re- 
gard to Bulgaria. The desire of the Entente Powers 

vi Foreword 

to get Bulgaria on their side was in itself natural. 
But their great mistake was to consider that, so far 
as Bulgaria's probable action was concerned, there 
could be only two alternatives: either that Bulgaria 
would side with the Entente, or that she would con- 
tinue to remain neutral. The third alternative, which 
actually happened and the certainty of which we 
Serbians, knowing well our neighbor and her designs, 
were constantly pointing out, was always dismissed as 

But notwithstanding the consequences for Serbia of 
this error, they have been compensated for by the 
unfaltering aid which subsequently enabled her to ob- 
tain such a complete victory over her enemies and to 
realize her legitimate and long cherished aspirations. 

S. Y. Grouitch, 
Minister of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. 



From the Danube to Durazzo— The Germano-Austro- 
BuLGARiAN Attack on Serbia 


Foreword iit 

Introduction 5 


I. The Serbian Army 23 

II. The Austro-German and Bulgarian Armies . 32 

III. The Battle of the Morava 41 

IV. The Fall of Nish and Kraguyevatz ... 60 
V. From Chichevatz to Krushevatz .... 79 

VI. The Retreat Through the Mountains . . 93 


VIII. The Retreat of the First Army from Kratjevo 

TO Pristina 117 

IX. At Mitrovitza 122 

X. The Serbian Offensive 129 

XI. The Last Days in Serbia 142 

XII. The March Across the Mountains OF Albania 149 

XIII. At Scutari 162 

XVI. Scutari to Durazzo 173 

XV. At Durazzo 188 

XVI. The Evacuation of Albania by the Serbian 

Army 19S 

XVII. The Serbian Army at Corfu 201 


viii Contents 

The Campaign on the Salonica Front 


Introduction 211 


I. The Franco-British Operations on the Salon- 
ica Front 226 

II. Reorganization and Disembarkment of the 

Serbian Army 240 

III. Final Constitution of the Army of the Orient 248 

IV. The Salonica Base 257 

V. The Operations— The First Phase ... 266 

VI. The Greek Betrayal and the Salonica Revo- 
lution 281 

VII. The Position and Operations of the Second 

Serbian Army 289 

VIII. The Second Phase of the Operations — The 

Capture of Monastir 310 

IX. The General Offensive of the Army of the 

Orient 326 



to the army of the 
'nation that can never die' 



IN the whole history of the World- War there was 
no more tragic episode than the second Serbian 
campaign, a campaign which terminated in the over- 
running, by Germany and her Allies, of the whole of 

It was an episode tragically glorious for the armies 
of King Peter, but one which certainly will not, either 
diplomatically or militarily, be counted among the suc- 
cesses of the Quadruple Alliance. It was characterized, 
on the side of the latter, by a series of errors which 
had as their result the retreat into foreign territory 
of the Serbian Army and the abandonment of the ill- 
starred Gallipoli enterprise, rendered hopeless by the 
triumph of the Central Powers in the Balkans. 

In order to have a clear idea of the political and 
military consequences of the second Balkan campaign 
we must study the situation which existed at its 
commencement. To completely understand this we 
must in turn go back to the "beginning of things," 
i.e., the political and military constellation of the 
Balkan States as the result of the preceding wars. 

The first of these was the war of the Balkan Con- 
federation against Turkey. In the course of the year 
191 2 the Balkan States achieved what had long been 
regarded as impossible, the formation of a League 


6 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

against the common enemy, Turkey. With this end in 
view, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro signed 
an offensive and defensive treaty of alliance and on 
September 30th, 1912, mobilized their armies. 
Twenty-four hours later the Sultan also mobilized his 
forces. Exactly a week later Montenegro declared war 
on Turkey and was, on October i8th, joined by her 

After a campaign of three months' duration the suc- 
cess of the armies of the Balkan League was such that 
Turkey, on December 3rd, signed an armistice at 
Tchataldja. A Peace Conference was held in London 
but no agreement could be reached and hostilities were 
resumed. On April 20th a second armistice was nego- 
tiated and a fresh Conference held which, this time, 
reached a successful conclusion, the Treaty of London 
being signed on May 30th, 191 3. The victory of the 
Balkan League was complete, Turkey was practically 
driven out of the Balkans, the Allies seizing all her 
territories right up to Tchataldja, a few short miles 
from Constantinople. 

This marvellous result was not received with un- 
mixed satisfaction by all the Great Powers. Germany 
and Austria regarded it with ill-concealed displeasure. 
The latter State saw its dream of extending its ter- 
ritories to the ^gean shattered by the seizure by 
Serbia of the Sandjak of Novi Bazaar, the narrow 
tongue of Turkish territory which ran up to the 
frontier of Bosnia and promised a path of invasion 
when the break-up of the Turkish Empire should 
offer an opportunity for Austria to realize her am- 

Introduction 7 

bitions of seizing Salonica. Germany saw her com- 
munications with the Ottoman Empire (which the 
Kaiser had for twenty years been drawing more and 
more into the orbit of German poHtical ambitions) 
seriously menaced by a Confederation of the Balkan 
States and the consequent creation of a military force 
which would be perfectly capable, not only of holding 
its own against Austria-Hungary, but of wringing 
concessions from that country for the freeing of the 
sections of the Balkan race still under the yoke of the 
Dual Monarchy. 

It was clear both to Vienna and Berlin, that the 
close union of the Balkan peoples, forged in "blood 
and iron" by their brilliant and victorious campaign 
against Turkey, must, at all costs, be broken up. This 
campaign had indeed been almost too successful. It 
had succeeded beyond the wildest hopes of the Con- 
federation, and the amount of captured territory far 
exceeded its previsions and expectations. This was 
the opportunity of the Central Powers. They at once 
began to intrigue, to sow dissension among the Balkan 
Allies by awakening appetites and desires which could 
only be realized at the expense of the common peace. 

They found a favourable terrain at Sofia. The Bul- 
garian nation, intoxicated by its victory, lent a willing 
ear to the insidious counsels of the Ballplatz and put 
forward excessive claims for territorial concessions in 
the conquered Turkish Provinces. These were re- 
sisted by the Serbians who took their stand on the 
Serbo-Bulgarian Treaty of Alliance in which the main 
principles of the division of the conquered territory 

8 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

were laid down. It was further provided in that 
Treaty that in case of disagreement, the points in 
dispute should be submitted to the arbitration of the 
Tsar of Russia, whose decision both sides agreed to 

It soon became clear that Bulgaria had no intention 
of fulfilling this part of her treaty obligations, and 
during the negotiations kept raising difficulty after 
difficulty. At the same time, she kept secretly massing 
her forces so as to be in a position of superiority 
should there be an appeal to armed force. 

Then came the crowning act of treason. During 
the night of the 29th to 30th June, 1913, the Bul- 
garian troops, without the slightest warning, made a 
sudden attack on their Serbian and Greek Allies. 
Fortunately for Serbia her soldiers come of a sturdy 
race, and the first moment of surprise past, they 
defended themselves with vigour. Twenty-four hours 
later, both they and the Greeks, furious with wrath 
at this treacherous attack, took the offensive in their 
turn. Their generous indignation so fired their 
courage that the Bulgarians were driven from position 
after position. Bulgaria's difficulties became her 
enemies' opportunity. Roumania, which had long 
demanded a rectification of her frontier with Bulgaria 
and the cession of the Dobrudja province, took ad- 
vantage of her embarrassments to press her claims, 
and when these were resisted, she too mobilized her 
army, forcibly seized that province and marched on 
Sofia. Turkey, too, saw a chance of avenging at least 

Introduction 9 

a part of her defeat, and invaded the territory she 
had just lost and recaptured, Adrianople. 

Threatened thus from all sides, and with the 
Roumanian army a few miles from the gates of Sofia, 
Bulgaria was forced to sue for peace, and on August 
6th, 1913, the Treaty of Bucharest was signed, and 
peace was once more re-established in the Balkans. 
This was interrupted for a few weeks by hostilities 
between the Serbians and the Albanians which began 
in September and led to a slight extension of the 
Serbian frontier in the direction of Albania. 

But though the Central Powers were thus disap- 
pointed in their expectations as to the results of the 
second Balkan War, they had succeeded in their main 
object which was the breaking up of the Balkan Con- 
federation. They had sowed seeds of undying hate 
between the Bulgarians and the other Balkan States 
and created, at Sofia, a new centre for Austro-German 
influence. The fashion in which Bulgaria had openly 
flouted the wishes of Russia and insulted the Tsar by 
rejecting his offices as arbiter between the Balkan 
peoples had completely estranged the Petrograd Gov- 
ernment. Bulgaria's German-born King was known to 
be a zealous agent of German influence and secretly 
hostile to the Powers of the Entente. So notorious 
was this that Serbia and Greece, for their common 
protection, signed a strictly defensive Treaty of Al- 
liance, each undertaking to come to the assistance of 
the other if attacked by a third Power. This treaty was 
negotiated by M. Boshkovitch (afterwards Serbian 
Minister in London) and M. Coromilos, and was 

10 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

signed by M. Boshkovitch and M. Venizelos. Such was 
the situation in the Balkans during the months which 
preceded the outbreak of the world-conflict. It must 
be carefully kept in mind, as it explains much regard- 
ing the action of the Central Powers and renders still 
more astounding the errors of the diplomacy of the 
Quadruple Alliance. 

But if outward peace reigned in the Balkans the 
Serbians had no doubt as to the sentiments of the 
Central Powers, especially Austria-Hungary, towards 
them. Austria, which had had nearly half her army 
mobilized during the Balkan conflict, was a constant 
menace and the Belgrade Government knew that an at- 
tack from that side was daily becoming more and more 
probable, an attack which everyone saw would be the 
signal for a general European conflagration. All that 
was wanting was the pretext. This was found in the 
assassination on June 28th, 1914, at Sarajevo, the 
capital of Bosnia, of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. 
This was alleged by Austria to have been plotted in 
Belgrade with the knowledge and connivance of Serb- 
ian officials. Then followed the famous ultimatum, 
probably the most insolent diplomatic document ever 
penned, presented by the Austrian Minister at Bel- 
grade to King Peter's Government. It was clear that 
it was not meant to be accepted. Germany and Austria 
had decided that the hour for the war they had long 
been plotting had struck. The action of the Ballplatz 
was merely intended to declancher le mouvement. 

The declaration of war by Austria-Hungary on 

Introduction ii 

July 28th, 191 4, was immediately followed by an 
attempt to invade Serbia. 

From the very first the inability of the Austrians 
to overcome the resistance of the Serbs was manifest. 
All their attempts to cross the Danube and the Save 
were repulsed. It was only when they made a further 
attempt from the Bosnian side of the Save that they 
succeeded in passing on to Serbian territory and cap- 
tured Shabatz. But their success was shortlived. A 
few days later, by the battle of Tzer the Serbs drove 
back the invaders and hurled them in confusion across 
the Save and Drina. 

Unfortunately for Serbia this effort exhausted their 
stock of munitions. When the Austrians realized this 
they returned to the attack. As the Serbs were without 
shells for their artillery or cartridges for their rifles 
they were forced to give way and had to retreat from 
north-western Serbia to Rudnik. This entailed the 
evacuation of Belgrade. This discouraged the army 
and thousands of men returned to their homes. At 
the psychological moment, however, the Allies were 
able to come to the aid of the Serbs and reprovision 
them with munitions. Instantly the whole situation 
changed. The Serbian Army under Field-Marshal 
Mishitch (who showed on this occasion a great spirit 
of initiation and decision) had shrunk to less than one 
hundred thousand men. They attacked the 400,000 
Austrians on the Rudnik-Souvobor line with such 
vigour that they hurled them back In confusion. In 
a few days Serbian territory was cleared of the Aus- 
trians. A proof of the national spirit was seen in the 

12 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

fact that the army, which was less than one hundred 
thousand strong when it began the attack, counted a 
quarter of a milHon bayonets by the time it reached 
the Drina, the Serbian peasants streaming back to the 
colours the instant they heard that munitions had 
arrived. Over 60,000 prisoners were taken by the 
Serbs, together with an immense amount of war 
material, guns, munitions, pontoon trains, field tele- 
graph material, baggage train, food stuffs and war 
stores of every kind. 

So complete was the catastrophe that the Austrians, 
for the time being, abandoned all further attack on 
Serbia and that country could enjoy a much needed 
period of comparative repose. But the trials of the 
nation were not yet at an end. An epidemic of typhus, 
which had broken out among the Austrian troops at 
Valjevo during the occupation, began to spread all 
over the country. The Serbian soldiers, exhausted by 
three years' campaigning, fell victims to it by thou- 
sands. In the towns and villages, crowded with fugi- 
tives from the invaded districts, the disease made 
frightful ravages. It was the terrible variety known 
as spotted typhus. The existing sanitary organizations 
proved utterly unable to cope with the outbreak. Hun- 
dreds died on public roads and in the streets of towns, 
in fact, scenes were witnessed such as had not been 
chronicled since the outbreaks of the Black Death in 
the Middle Ages. 

The Serbian Government appealed for aid to their 
AlHes, who responded nobly to their call. France, 
Britain and Russia sent hundreds of Red Cross Units. 

Introduction 13 

The Scottish Women's Ambulance, and the organiza- 
tions under Lady Paget, Mrs. Hankin Hardy, Dr. 
and Mrs. Berry and Mrs. St. Clair Stobart worked 
night and day among the stricken people. They fought 
the outbreak foot by foot with admirable courage. 
Many doctors and nurses fell victims to their devotion. 
But science and heroism prevailed. Slowly but surely 
the number of cases diminished, and by the end of 
April the last traces of the epidemic had been stamped 
out. But the toll of victms was enormous, over 70,000 
succumbing to the terrible scourge, and this in a coun- 
try whose population had died by tens of thousands in 
three years of ceaseless war. 

Meanwhile the war was being continued with un- 
diminished vigour on other European fronts. In 
France, after the victory of the Marne, the Germans 
had "dug themselves in." A line of trenches such as 
the world has never seen, had been constructed from 
the North Sea to the Swiss frontier. These were 
manned by two million men on either side and the 
position reduced to one of "stalemate." 

(That this was so was proved by the failure of the 
efforts made by both sides to break through their 
opponent's lines. The German attack at Ypres had 
as its only result the practical annihilation of the 
Corps of Prussian Guards. The British attempts to 
break through the German lines at Neuve Chapelle and 
Loos did not completely succeed. The French attack 
in Champagne, though made after weeks of careful 
preparation, only resulted in the capture of a few 
square miles of territory. The Germans were driven 

14 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

back but their line remained unbroken. The German 
attempt to force the French lines at Verdun was 
equally unsuccessful, though preceded by a preparation 
in which every expedient known to military science 
was used.) 

On the Austro-Italian frontier a similar situation 
existed. After months of tireless effort the Italian 
Army had not advanced twenty miles into the enemy's 
country. The French and Italian lines of trenches 
were linked up by the formidable line of fortifications 
which the Swiss Army had thrown up to discourage 
any attempt on the part of France or Germany to 
reach each other across the territory of the Con- 
federation. An uninterrupted line of trenches, there- 
fore, ran from the North Sea to the Adriatic. 

On the other side of the Adriatic the line of defence 
of the Allies was continued by Montenegro and Serbia 
to the point where vSerbian territory reached the 
Roumanian frontier. Roumania, though neutral in the 
struggle, had, like Switzerland, practically mobilized 
her army since the beginning of the war, and fortified 
her frontiers from end to end. 

On the other side of Roumania began the Russian 
line of entrenchments running from Bessarabia to the 
Baltic. Germany and Austria were thus surrounded by 
a circle of steel on which bristled ten million bayonets. 
It was for the Central Powers a question of life and 
death to break this encerclement which was slowly 
but surely strangling them. France, Italy and Russia 
(in spite of a momentary German success in the latter 
country, which has only had the effect of widening, 

Introduction 15 

but not breaking the circle) were daily increasing the 
pressure. Turkey, cut off from all communication 
with the Central Powers and from the outside world, 
was daily in danger of collapse. This would have 
meant the fall of Constantinople, the opening of the 
Dardanelles, and the reprovisioning of Russia with 
munitions and war stores of all kinds, the want of 
which had rendered possible the momentary success of 
Austro-German arms in Poland. 

It was clear to the meanest intelligence that the 
prevention of this was a vital question for the Central 
Powers. The Ottoman Government was running short 
of munitions, and if the supply was not renewed the 
success of the attack on the peninsula of Gallipoli 
was certain. With the entry of the British Fleet into 
the Sea of Marmora the fate of Constantinople was 

In order to prevent this Germany and Austria, in 
the spring of 191 5, began to mass troops in Hungary 
with a view to forcing their way through Serbia to 
Constantinople. In the month of July the French 
aviation service attached to the Serbian Army reported 
the commencement of this concentration. The Bel- 
grade Government saw the danger. The military posi- 
tion in Serbia, in spite of the fact that every instant 
of the six months' respite from actual warfare had 
been utilized to rest and recruit the army, to call out 
and train the new "classe," to refill the depleted 
arsenals, and to accumulate food stuffs and war stores 
of all kinds, was a critical one. 

When, therefore, in July, 191 5, It became evident 

i6 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

that the country was threatened with a fresh attack 
and that this time the Austrian Army was to be 
reinforced by German troops, the Serbian Govern- 
ment was of opinion that it could no longer resist 
the aggression single-handed. It therefore appealed to 
the Allies for help. 

It is from this moment that the greatest military 
and diplomatic failure made by the Allies in the 
present war dates. Instead of themselves sending the 
military aid demanded by the Serbians, the Russian, 
British and French Governments declared they would 
obtain this from Bulgaria. This reply caused con- 
sternation in Serbia. It was in vain, however, that M. 
Pashitch and his colleagues pointed out that Bulgaria 
was their worst enemy, that she had at the instigation 
of Austria and Germany, neutralized the effects of the 
victorious war against Turkey, by abandoning her 
Greek and Serbian allies, and had treacherously tried 
to stab them in the back; their objections were brushed 
aside and the Allies began negotiations with the Sofia 
Government. Serbia was tO' be left to defend the 
Danube against the coming Austro-German invasion 
while Bulgaria was to be induced to march on Con- 
stantinople as the ally of the Entente Powers. 

In order to get Bulgaria to do this the Allies offered 
to obtain for her from the Bucharest Government 
the retrocession of the Dobrudja Province, wrested 
from her by Roumania, after her defeat by Serbia 
and Greece; from Serbia, a large portion of Mace- 
donia and the cession by Greece of the towns of 
Cavalla, Drama and Seres. If the Allies had desired 

Introduction 17 

to deliberately cool all enthusiasm for their cause in 
these States they would not have proceeded otherwise. 
M. Radoslavoff, the astute Bulgarian Premier, pre- 
tended that a basis of settlement might be found on 
these lines and embarked on a series of deliberately 
long drawn-out negotiations. 

It was at this moment that I left Switzerland, where 
I then had been following the progress of the French 
campaign in Alsace, for the Serbian capital which had 
been temporarily established at Nish. En route I 
stopped at Rome to see M. Coromilos, the Greek 
Minister to the Ouirinal. M. Coromilos had been 
Minister of Foreign Affairs during the war with' 
Turkey and during the Greco-Serbo-Bulgarian War 
which followed it. He it was who negotiated the 
famous treaty creating the Balkan League, which made 
the victory over Turkey possible, and later, the Greco- 
Serbian Treaty which Greece failed to observe when 
the occasion arose. He has a knowledge of Balkan 
affairs such as few European statesmen possess. 

I found him aghast at the policy being pursued by 
the Allies. "What does it all mean?" he asked me. 
"We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bulgaria 
is pledged up to the hilt to the Central Powers. She 
has asked and obtained from them a loan of 250,000,- 
000 francs in gold ; she has come to terms with 
Turkey, the Power the Allies expect her to attack ; and 
has received from her a cession of territory. She is, 
to our certain knowledge, preparing night and day for 
war. We keep sending dispatch after dispatch, tele- 
gram after telegram to this effect to London, Paris 

l8 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

and Petrograd. The Serbian and Roumanian Govern- 
ments are doing the same, but nothing we can say or 
do has the slightest effect. The Allies inform us that 
Bulgaria is the most loyal, honest and upright nation 
in the world, and that her support of their cause is 
beyond all question. We know that the contrary is 
the case, but MM. Sazonoff, Delcasse and Sir Edward 
Grey turn a deaf ear to all we say. It is the most 
extraordinary situation I have ever seen and can only 
end in disaster." 

Ten days later I saw M. Venizelos in Athens and 
he confirmed every word M. Coromilos had said. 
"We are completely at a loss," he declared, "to under- 
stand the aberration of the Allies. But to all the 
Balkan Governments tell them they turn a deaf ear. 
They drag on negotiations with our worst enemies 
when a child could see that they are being fooled by 
the wily Bulgarian Premier, who is acting under 
orders from Berlin and Vienna. He is dragging out 
the pretended negotiations in order to give the Central 
Powers time to concentrate their armies against 

When I reached Nish I found that consternation 
reigned. The Government was in despair at the dip- 
lomatic action of the Allies. Then the moment arrived 
when, the Austro-German armies being concentrated, 
Bulgaria threw off the mask and mobilized her army. 
And then came the crowning error of the Allies. 
Field-Marshal Putnik, the Chief of Staff of the 
Serbian Army, telegraphed to London, Paris and Pet- 
rograd asking permission to march the Serbian army 

Introduction 19 

across the frontier and attack the Bulgarians before 
they had completed their concentration. He declared 
the Serbian Army would be in Sofia in five days. Bul- 
garia being disposed of, Serbia could then turn her full 
strength against Austria and Germany. 

Not only was permission refused but it was declared 
that the Allies had the astonishing conviction that the 
Bulgarian mobilization was not directed against her 
and she was warned that if she broke the Balkan Peace 
she would do so at her own risk and peril. On receiv- 
ing this extraordinary communication, M. Pashitch, 
the Serbian Premier, in his loyalty to the Quadruple 
Entente, showed himself even plus royaUste que le roi 
and ordered the Serbian Army, in order to avoid 
all danger of a Serbo-Bulgarian "incident," to with- 
draw five kilometres from the Bulgarian frontier 
(thereby giving up the important position of Saint 
Nicholas which the Bulgarians occupied without firing 
a shot) and announced that any Serbian officer who 
should provoke any frontier incident would be piti- 
lessly shot. Having thus tied the unfortunate Serbia 
hand and foot the Allies looked on helplessly while 
the Central Powers and their Bulgarian ally pro- 
ceeded to cut her throat. 

A week later came the inevitable crash. Three 
hundred thousand Austro-German troops began a 
tremendous attack upon the Danube front, while four 
hundred thousand Bulgarians were hurled across the 
western frontier. Field-Marshal Putnik with his two 
hundred and fifty thousand Serbs performed prodigies 
of valour. For two long months he faced overwhelm- 

20 > From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

ing odds. Cut off from all communication with the 
outside world the Serbs fought with the courage of 
despair. But human strength has its limits and on 
November 24th, all that remained of King Peter's 
army left Serbian territory and began its fateful 
march across the mountains into Albania. The tri- 
umphant invaders were masters of Serbia. Direct 
communication was established between Berlin and 
Constantinople and thousands of tons of ammunition 
were poured into Turkey. The first result of this 
was the abandonment by the Allies of the now hopeless 
enterprise in the Dardanelles. A month later Monte- 
negro fell, Albania was invaded, and the remnants of 
the Serbian Army driven to take refuge in Corfu. 

Such were the fruits of the incredible errors of the 
diplomacy of the Allies. The Salonica expedition, 
as far as the saving of Serbia was concerned, was 
foredoomed to failure from the first. It was la 
moutarde apres le diner, as our French friends would 

But it is when we consider what would have 
happened if the Allies had listened tO' the counsels of 
the Balkan Governments that the colossal nature of the 
errors committed becomes apparent. As far back as 
July, when the Austro-German menace first became 
apparent, the Serbian Government urged the Allies to 
send a quarter of a million men tO' the Danube front. 
If this had been done the Austro-German armies 
would have found themselves opposed by half a mil- 
lion men (250,000 Anglo-French troops and 250,000 
Serbs). With such a guarantee Roumania would at 

Introduction 21 

once have come into the war on the side of the 
Entente. This assurance was given M. Pashitch, the 
Serbian Premier, in the spring of 19 15 by M. Bratiano, 
the Roumanian Prime Minister. This would have 
meant an additional 600,000 men at the disposal of the 
Allies, making a total of eleven hundred thousand 
bayonets on the Danube front. Under these circum- 
stances M. Venizelos, who' was then in power, would 
have forced King Constantine's hand and 300,000 
Greeks would have swelled the forces of the Allies. 

If this had taken place, Bulgaria would not have 
dared to move, or, if she had, would have been dis- 
posed of at short notice. The result would have been 
the creation of a fourth front for the Central Powers 
which they could not have defended with less than 
a million men. And these they had not got. Then 
would have followed the march across the Hungarian 
pusta to Budapest. 

Once the Allies were in possession of the Hungarian 
capital the position of the Austrian Army facing the 
Italians in the Trentino would have become untenable. 
The Italian Army would have poured across into Aus- 
trian territory. With Vienna menaced from two sides 
Austrian resistance would have been broken and Ger- 
many would have been face to face, single-handed, 
with Europe in arms, and defeat in a few weeks or at 
most months would have been certain. 

That this result was not achieved is due to the 
fact that the diplomats of the Allies allowed them- 
selves to be deceived by an astute politican like M. 
Radoslavoff and his unscrupulous German-born 

22 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

sovereign. One of the bravest and most liberty-loving 
nations of Europe was, for the time being at least, 
wiped out of existence and abandoned to the horrors 
of invasion and occupation. The French nation at 
once drew the logical conclusion from the errors com- 
mitted. M. Delcasse, the French Foreign Minister, 
resigned. But this did not satisfy the French parlia- 
ment and the Viviani Ministry, as the result of the 
errors of the Balkan policy, was driven from power. 
But strange to say no such fate overtook the British 
cabinet which continued in office perpetuating the 
errors it had made in Serbia by its handling of King 
Constantine and the Athens Government. 



THE Serbian Army at the outljreak of the second 
campaign consisted of about 250,000 men. It 
was divided into five armies. The First Army was 
under the command of the Voivode, or Field-Marshal, 
Zhivoin Mishitch, the Second under the Voivode 
Stepanovitch, the Third under General Yurishitch- 
Sturm, the Defence of Belgrade under General Zhivko- 
vitch and the Troops of the New Territories (with 
centre at Uskub) under General Petar Boyovitch. 

The composition of these armies varied according 
to circumstances, divisions being transported from 
one army to the other as necessity arose. Thus the 
famous Division of the Shumadia (so-called because it 
was recruited in the country of that name) commanded 
by Colonel Bozha Terzitch (afterwards Serbian 
Minister of War) at the beginning of the campaign 
formed part of the Second Army. Later it was trans- 
ferred to the Third Army, and finally, toward the 
end of October, was sent to join the Defence of Bel- 
grade. Each active Division (First "Ban") had its 
divisions of reserve known as Second and Third 

The recruiting of the Serbian Army was purely 

24 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

territorial, the men of the Defence of Belgrade being 
drawn from the capital and the environs, those of the 
Division of Shumadia from the country of Shumadia, 
the Division of the Danube from the country on that 
river, the Division of Timok from the province of that 
name on the Roumanian frontier, etc. The men of a 
company often came from the same village and a regi- 
ment from the same district. The only exception to 
this rule was the Combined Division (commanded by 
General M. Rashitch) which was composed, as its 
name implies, of men from every part of Serbia. It 
was counted as one of the corps d'elite of the Serbian 

This system of recruiting the army made for great 
cohesion among the troops, as the men, being closely 
allied by race and in many instances blood relations, 
stood shoulder to shoulder in moments of stress and 
danger in a manner they might not do if drawn 
together from far distant provinces. It further allowed 
of speedy mobilization in a country none too well pro- 
vided with railways and other means of rapid trans- 
port and concentration. 

The system, at the same time, had its drawbacks. 
Serbia is essentially a country of peasant proprietors, 
and the Serbian Army is to an overwhelming degree 
a peasant army. A peasant army has always a double 
patriotism, one local, the other national. As long as 
his farm lies behind him the Serbian peasant fights like 
a lion, but once he is being forced to retreat beyond it 
and it is in the occupation of the enemy, half his 
interest in the struggle is gone. I do not for a moment 

The Serbian Army 25 

mean to say that he ceases to fight bravely, as his 
national patriotism is also very great, but there is a 
diminution in his elan. That is why the tactics im- 
posed on the Serbian General Staff by the Allies, after 
the Austro-German forces crossed the Danube, were 
the worst possible for such an army. Their instruc- 
tions were that Field-Marshal Putnik should keep con- 
tact with the enemy and delay their advance as much 
as possible in order to give the xA.llies in Salonica time 
to come to his assistance. In other words, they were 
to try a Serbian repetition of the tactics of General 
Joffre before the victory of the Marne. They were 
warned on no account to risk everything on a pitched 

These were tactics entirely foreign to the nature of 
the Serbian soldier. He is eminently suited for the 
attack. He is most formidable with the "bayonet and 
the butt" and has little comprehension of the neces- 
sities of tactics and strategy. When he sees one posi- 
tion after another being abandoned for strategic 
reasons and mile after mile of territory falling into the 
hands of the invader he becomes discouraged. He still 
fights bravely (up to the very last the Serbs fought 
with courage), but his clan and his enthusiasm are 
damped. The Serbian Staff faithfully followed the 
counsels of the Allies from Belgrade to Pristina, that 
is to say, they retreated, facing triple odds, perform- 
ing prodigies of valour for nearly two months, and at 
the end of that time the Allies at Salonica were as 
unable to come to their assistance as the first day. 

The Serbian soldier possesses a strong dash of 

26 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Oriental fatalism, a heritage, probably, of five hundred 
years of Turkish rule. This enables him to bear up 
under circumstances which would discourage many 
European troops. He is docile and easily accepts mili- 
tary discipline. In physique the Serbs are a strong 
and sturdy race and accept uncomplainingly privations 
such as would drive other armies to revolt or despair. 
They content themselves with the simplest fare (I 
have seen men marching and fighting for days on a 
few cobs of raw maize and a raw cabbage or two), 
and have marvellous powers of resistance to climatic 
conditions, supporting equally well extremes of heat 
and cold. 

But what distinguished the Serbian Army from all 
others was its methods of transport. The roads, or 
rather the want of them, rendered automobile and 
even horse-drawn transport out of the question. The 
patient ox was the pivot of everything in the Serbian 
Army. The baggage wagons, the pontoon train and 
the artillery, even the field guns, were for the most part 
ox-drawn. Nothing else could get through the seas of 
mud en evidence everywhere after any rainfall. As 
the existing railways were all single track they did not 
render the same services as the double-track railways 
in other countries. The burden thrown on wheeled 
transport was therefore much greater than elsewhere. 

As it is the ox that sets the pace the marching speed 
of the Serbian Army is painfully slow, from two and 
a half to three miles an hour. When field batteries 
are drawn by bullocks the development of a battle is 
a very slow affair. There are no horse batteries chang- 

The Serbian Army 27 

ing- position at the gallop or thundering along the 
roads. But as the enemy, as soon as he enters Serbian 
territory, must also abandon horse traction if he 
desires to make any progress at all everybody is on an 
equal footing. 

The Army Service Corps was made up of peasants' 
carts, requisitioned by the military authorities. They 
were all sorts and sizes, some in good repair, others 
threatening ruin or appearing to do so. Some had 
four oxen and some had two. Some had tilts, others 
had none, or mere apologies for covers in tattered 
canvas. The "Komordji," or drivers, rarely wore any 
uniform beyond the Serbian military cap, but tramped 
alongside their teams in the russet-brown homespun 
costume universally worn. Many of the men had been 
out with their teams since the first Turkish War and 
had tramped in rain and shine, in summer heat and 
winter cold, from the plains of Thrace to the frontiers 
of Hungary. They had all left their farms to be cul- 
tivated by their wives and children, whom they had 
not seen for many a weary month. 

But in spite of the patriarchal appearance given to 
a Siberian army on the march by the thousands of ox- 
wagons, the droves of sheep and the countless vehicles 
piled high with hay and straw, it is an admirable fight- 
ing machine, and could hold its own, in its own coun- 
try, against the most up-to-date adversary. 

Its staff officers are well trained and have learnt 
their metier in the armies of France, Germany or 
Russia. They are well-equipped and admirably 
mounted and do their work in smart and business- 

28 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

like fashion. The regimental officers are also well- 
trained, though many belong to the peasant class. 
There is certainly no more democratic army in Europe, 
and in Serbia it is certain that every soldier "carries 
his marshal's baton in his knapsack." 

The Commander-in-Chief was Prince Alexander, 
Crown Prince and Prince Regent. For some months 
past the health of the aged King had prevented him 
exercising active command. But His Majesty was 
heart and soul with his troops, and made a point of 
moving everywhere with the army to encourage them 
by his presence. Wherever he went he was received 
with boundless enthusiasm. His courage and absolute 
indifference to danger excited general admiration. He 
was constantly to be found where the shells were 
falling thickest. It is certainly no sinecure to be an 
officer of King Peter's suite. 

Prince Alexander came only second to his father 
in the affection of the Army. Though then only 
twenty-seven years of age he was already a veteran, 
having learnt his metier in three successive wars. His 
military talents are said to be of a high order. As he 
was at the same time Regent of Serbia, his task during 
the campaign was no light one, as, in addition to his 
military duties, he had to take part in the civil ad- 
ministration of the country and to attend to delicate 
diplomatic negotiations with foreign Powers. 

But the brain of the Serbian Army was Field- 
Marshal Putnik, the Chief of the General Staff. It is 
curious that from the beginning of the war till Oc- 
tober, 191 5, the Allies each had but one generalis- 

The Serbian Army 29 

simo, while Germany had a succession of popular idols 
at the head of her armies, who all, more or less, proved 
to have "feet of clay." Von Kluck, von Moltke, von 
Mackensen, von Gallwitz, and half a score of others 
had their passing moments of popularity. The only 
German general who continued to excite popular 
enthusiasm was Field-Marshal von Hindenburg. He 
possessed those qualities of the old swashbuckler type 
which appeal to the popular imagination. But on the 
side of the Allies no nation possessed a leader who 
enjoyed the confidence and veneration of the entire 
people to a greater extent than did General Putnik, 
the Chief of Staff of the Serbian forces. 

The future generalissimo was bom in 1847, ^"<i 
began his military career as a cadet of the Military 
Academy of Belgrade. When the Turco-Serbian War 
of 1876 broke out he was still a first lieutenant. A 
year later, when Russia took the field against Turkey, 
he had been promoted to captain, and he went through 
that campaign as company leader. When Serbia in 
1885 declared war on Bulgaria, Radomir Putnik was 
lieutenant-colonel and Chief of Staff of the first "Ban" 
of the Danube Division. On being promoted colonel 
he became Chief of the General Staff, and shortly after 
was promoted to the command of the Division of the 

On account of his political sympathies he was forced 
by King Milan to relinquish his command. From that 
moment until the accession of King Peter in 1903 
Colonel Putnik lived in retirement and devoted himself 
exclusively to military studies. When the Karageorge- 

30 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

vitchs remounted the throne of their ancestors King 
Peter recalled Colonel Putnik to active service and 
promoted him to the rank of general. From that 
moment Putnik's prestige did not cease to increase. 
When he was not in active command of a division he 
held the portfolio of Minister of War. 

Small and spare of stature, General Putnik had not 
that outward expression of physical vigour which one 
associates with military energy. His grey beard, 
trimmed to a point, was whitened by the silver threads 
of long nights of anxious vigil and the weight of ill- 
ness. Only the two vertical lines between his heavy 
eyebrows denoted the iron will of the Commander-in- 
Chief of the Serbian Army. When his eyes lighted up 
his whole face was illuminated with a flash of energy. 

When the first Balkan War, the campaign against 
Turkey, was declared, General Putnik was naturally 
put at the head of the Army. On this occasion King 
Peter revived an old Serbian title. He made the 
general a "Voivode," which signifies "dux," or leader, 
in the classical acceptance of the word. The functions 
which were attached to the title in the Middle Ages 
were equivalent to those of the modern commander of 
an army corps. The equivalent to this rank in other 
armies is that of Field-Marshal. 

The man who since his youngest years had not 
ceased to awaken ever-growing confidence and devo^ 
tion among his countrymen had a constitution under- 
mined by illness. His advanced age forced him to 
take every precaution. Attacked by severe, chronic 
asthma, he rarely left his room, living in an apart- 

The Serbian Army 31 

ment kept constantly at hothouse temperature. His 
manner was brusque, and on all occasions he expressed 
himself with outspoken soldierly frankness. 

From the point of view of military science the 
distinguishing characteristic of General Putnik was his 
marvellous memory of topography. Thanks to this 
precious faculty, without quitting his room he could 
follow and direct the movements of the troops under 
his command, and even manoeuvre them with a perfect 
knowledge of the country in which they were operat- 
ing. His soldiers had an absolutely blind confidence 
in his powers. 

General Putnik began life a poor man, and poor he 
remained. After the conclusion of the first Balkan 
War, in recognition of the immense services he had 
rendered his country, a number of wealthy Serbians 
desired to present him with a fortune. This General 
Putnik refused. 'T thank you," he said; "your offer 
has deeply touched me. But what I have done does 
not require any material reward. I am poor, I have 
always been poor, and poor I will remain. I only ask 
one thing. I have many children. If ever one of 
them should be in need of help I hope that in memory 
of me he will find a helping hand." 

The Voivode was literally adored by the whole 
Army. The Crown Prince surrounded him with every 
care. Nothing was left undone to promote the well- 
being of the man who incarnated the soul of the 
Serbian nation. 



AFTER the rout of the Austrian Army under 
Field-Marshal von Potiorek in December, 1914, 
by the Serbians, the forces of the Dual Monarchy 
made no' further attempt to invade Serbia. They 
merely kept a few regiments on the Danube front to 
oppose any possible attempt by King Peter's troops 
to invade Hungary, while a dozen or so batteries kept 
up a desultory artillery duel with the Serbian guns 
defending the Save and the Danube. As Serbia was 
in the throes of the terrible typhus outbreak, the Army 
was not in a condition to undertake an offensive move- 
ment, even if such had been planned or intended. 

This condition of things continued until the early 
summer of 191 5. The respite was a most welcome 
one to the Serbian Army, exhausted by three years' 
constant fighting. It is even questionable if this period 
of truce might not have continued indefinitely if it 
had not been for the critical position of Turkey. That 
Power was facing the Russian Army in the Caucaus 
and the Franco-British force operating in the Darda- 
nelles. The Turks were running short of ammunition 
and war stores of all kinds. This state of affairs had 
been brought about by the refusal of Roumania, in the 


Austro-German & Bulgarian Armies 33 

spring of 191 5 under pressure from the Entente 
Powers, to allow any further supplies for the Turks 
to cross her territory. The collapse of Turkey would 
have been a veritable disaster for Germany, as it would 
have had as its first result the opening of the Darda- 
nelles. This would have allowed Russia to receive 
the munitions, the want of which was paralysing her 
operations on the Polish front and in the Carpathians. 

It therefore became a vital matter for Germany to 
come to the aid of her Turkish ally. The only way 
this could be done was by forcing her way through 
Serbia to Bulgaria and thence to Constantinople. For 
this a German Army was necessary, and this for two 
reasons. Firstly, after the rout of the Austrian Army 
in December, it was doubtful if Austrian soldiers 
could be got to stand up against the soldiers of King 
Peter, and secondly, the Dual Monarchy had difficulty 
in finding the men. Not that the Emperor Francis 
Joseph did not dispose of hundreds of thousands of 
troops. He had large reserves, but unfortunately he 
could not use them. 

This was due to the heterogeneous composition of 
his Empire. Prince Metternich, in the 'fifties declared, 
speaking of Italy, "Ce nest pas un pays, c'est une ex- 
pression geographique." This was equally true of the 
Dual Monarchy. Its curious composition presented a 
complicated problem for its General Staff. It was im- 
possible to send Croatian or Bosnian soldiers against 
Serbia, or men from the Trentino and Tyrol against 
Italy, or Poles into Galicia, or employ Bohemians 
against Russia. They would desert en 'masse to the 

34 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

enemy. Austria had already had prcxDf of this in the 
first Serbian campaign when whole companies of 
Croatians, with their officers and equipment, surren- 
dered without firing a shot. Thirty thousand Austrian 
Croatians and Bosnians taken prisoners in Poland by 
the Russians asked to be sent to Serbia to fight with 
their brothers-in-race against Austria. Austria could 
not even count on her Poles and Bohemians to fight 
against Serbs. It is impossible to count on Slav troops 
to operate against a Slav country. 

If then Germany desired to crush Serbia and effect 
her junction with the Bulgarians, it was clear she 
must herself undertake the invasion of Serbia. The 
importance she attached to it was shown by the choice 
of the generals entrusted with the command of the 
troops. The commander-in-chief was the famous 
Field-Marshal von Mackensen and his principal lieu- 
tenant was General von Gallwitz. The leading role 
played in the great war is a signal proof of the 
former's talents, for it was by sheer merit that he 
forced himself to the front. It is notorious that he 
was persona ingratissima with the Kaiser, who dislikes 
men of strong character around him, men who refuse 
to play the courtier to the War-Lord. General von 
Mackensen had been commander of the army corps 
which had its headquarters in Dantzic when the Crown 
Prince was appointed Colonel of the Deaths-Head 
Hussars in garrison in that city. He proved a most 
difficult and insubordinate officer, and came repeatedly 
in conflict with General von Mackensen. At first the 
Kaiser supported the latter's authority, but later on 

Austro-German & Bulgarian Armies 35 

the Crown Prince won him over to his side with the 
result that General von Mackensen resigned his com- 
mand. He was living in retirement when the war broke 
out. Of course, in common with all other generals 
judged physically fit, he was recalled to active service. 
His brilliant campaign in Poland is in everybody's 
memory, a campaign which earned him his marshal's 
baton. The decision of the Great General Staff to 
entrust him with the command of the army marching 
on Constantinople was a clear proof of the enormous 
importance the Germans attached to the success of 
the campaign. 

General von Gallwitz was a worthy assistant to his 
chief. He was known to be a soldier of great energy 
and decision of character and a tactician of great skill. 
The choice of these men proved that the Kaiser in- 
tended to reach Constantinople coiite que coute. 

But if the leaders were excellent it is more than 
could be said of the rank and file. The quality of 
the troops under the command of Field-Marshal von 
Mackensen is a proof of the fact that as far back as 
July, 191 5, the Germans were beginning to run short 
of men. The 200,000 men the Germans put in the 
field were brought together from all the fronts. There 
were men from Warsaw, Lodz and Brest-Litovsk 
fighting side by side with units from Arras, Ypres and 
Champagne. The quality was miserable. During the 
campaign I had an opportunity of seeing hundreds of 
German prisoners. I invariably found them to be 
youths of seventeen or eighteen years and men of over 
forty. They were pale-faced and narrow-chested, a 

36 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

class of men who, twelve months before, would not 
have passed the doctor. I even saw one man who had 
only three fingers on his right hand. A French surgeon 
told me he had treated a man, who was a typewriter 
with the staff, who was deaf and dumb. 

The only man of really good physique and soldierly 
appearance I saw was a non-commissioned officer, but 
then he was a professional soldier with twelve years' 
service to his credit. He told me that the officers had 
informed their men that the Serbians would bolt at 
the first sight of a Prussian helmet. They had been 
not a little astonished when the Serbians came at them 
with the bayonet and hurled regiment after regiment 
into the Danube. At Krushevatz I met a prisoner who 
did not look a day beyond sixteen years. His pickle- 
haube was so big that it came down to his ears. He 
told me that he was seventeen and a half years old, 
but I doubt it. He certainly looked a round-faced 

It was with such a materiel that Field-Marshal von 
Mackensen invaded Serbia. Of the 100,000 Austrians 
little need be said. They were used to garrison the 
captured towns and guard communications. Their 
leader knew better than send them against Serbian 
troops. The fear felt by them for their conquerors of 
eight months before would probably have caused a 
second debacle. 

But unfortunately for the Serbians it was not on 
his infantry that Field-Marshal von Mackensen relied, 
but on his artillery and machine gun. For every 
Serbian battery the Germans had three, and while the 

Austro-German & Bulgarian Armies 37 

Serbs had a machine-gun section per battalion the Ger- 
mans had one per company. When a force out- 
numbers its opponent by three to one, the quaHty of 
the infantry becomes of secondary importance. A 
pale and narrow-chested soldier in a turning move- 
ment is just as good as a lifeguardsman, and when an 
army finds its rear threatened, the quality of the 
troops operating does not count. In a country cut up 
intO' watertight compartments like Serbia by ranges of 
mountains, a small force is more handicapped than 
when operating in the open country. With the pos- 
sibility of deploying on a front twice as large as that 
of the Serbians, it was possible for the Germans to 
continually threaten the flanks of the Serbian Army, 
whose rear was constantly menaced by the Bulgarian 

The army of King Ferdinand entered upon the cam- 
paign with every advantage on its side. It mustered 
nearly 400,000 men, against whom the Serbians could 
oppose barely 150,000. They had had a rest of nearly 
two years since the conclusion of the second Balkan 
War, and had time to thoroughly re-organize and re- 
equip their army. Germany had in August made them 
a loan of two hundred and fifty million francs so 
that they were financially ready for the campaign. 

In addition the Bulgarian Army had an advantage 
over the German Army in that they were fighting in 
a territory in which they had already operated, and 
doing it with troops which knew the country and 
who were veterans with twO' campaigns behind them. 
They were further burning to avenge the defeat they 

38 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

had suffered at the hands of the Serbians two years 
before. In the period of rest they had enjoyed they 
had manufactured and imported enormous quantities 
of ammunition. For three months before the begin- 
ning of the campaign they had had the advantage of 
the counsel of several score of officers of the German 
staff, who had worked out at the Ministry of War in 
Sofia the whole plan of campaign of the Austro- 
German and Bulgarian armies. 

They had further the certainty that the instant tliey 
joined hands with Field-Marshal von Mackensen's 
army they would be able to receive munitions in un- 
limited quantities, while the Serbians, once they were 
cut off from all communication with the outside world. 
would be unable to renew their stock. The Serbs had 
therefore to husband their ammunition, while their 
enemies had no necessity for doing so. Of this they 
had bitter experience during the campaign. 

One of the chief difficulties with which the Serbians 
had to contend was their ignorance of the strength 
of the army which Austria and Germany were pre- 
pared to bring against them. All they had to go on 
until the actual invasion were the reports brought in 
by the French aviators attached to the Serbian Army, 
and these, of course, gave only a general indication. 
They could only report on the troops massed in the 
vicinity of the frontier, while the Serbian General 
Staff had to reckon with German reinforcements kept 
out of sight which could be brought up by rail in a 
few hours. It was this uncertainty which rendered it 
very difficult for Field-Marshal Putnik to make his 

Austro-German & Bulgarian Armies 39 

plans to meet the Austro-German invasion. If he kept 
too many troops on the northern front he would 
weaken his eastern one, while if he massed his main 
forces against the Central Powers, he exposed Mace- 
donia' to invasion. 

Of course in regard to the strength of the Bulgarian 
Army he knew that to a battalion. He knew that 
opposed to the 1 50,00 men, the maximum force which 
he could spare to hold Bulgaria in check, were 36 
regiments of 4 battalions with reserve formations of 
equal strength, 9 artillery regiments and 4 batteries of 
4 guns each, 24 mountain batteries and 6 battalions of 
fortress artillery, 12 regiments of cavalry, besides 
pioneers, railway troops, pontoon battalions, telegraph 
battalions and other technical units. This formidable 
force, one third stronger than the whole Serbian 
Army, was ready to hurl itself on Serbia's flank the 
moment she was in grips with the Northern invaders. 

All that Serbia could do was to await the attack of 
her enemies and transport her army to the point chiefly 
menaced. This entailed a continual va-et-v-ient of 
troops, divisions being taken from one front and 
hurried to the point of danger on the other, as oc- 
casion arose. And this in a country where the railway 
is single track and the rolling stock none too plentiful. 
No army ever faced more crushing odds or faced them 
with more courage, even if it was the courage of 

Field-Marshal Putnik had also to reckon with the 
unfavourable geographical position of the capital and 
the temporary capital of the country; Belgrade being 

40 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

but a few hundred yards from the Hungarian frontier, 
while Nish, the seat of government at the moment of 
the outbreak of hostiHties, is one day's march from 
the Bulgarian frontier. In addition he was handi- 
capped by the fact that the Salonica-Uskub-Nish rail- 
way, on which so much depended, is, at Strumnitza, 
but three short miles from the Bulgarian frontier and 
thus at the mercy of a sudden coup de main. 



WHEN in August, 1915, I received orders from 
my paper, the New York Tribune, to join the 
headquarters of the Serbian Army I was at Lugano 
in Switzerland where, safe from the pitiless blue pencil 
of the censor, I could record the progress of events 
in Alsace and in the Italian Peninsula, As it was clear 
from the telegrams in the Swiss press that the opening 
of the second Austro-Serbian campaign was imminent 
I left at once for Salonica via Rome, Naples and 

At Rome I had a long conversation (of which I 
have given a summary in the introduction to this 
volume) with M. Coromilos, the eminent diplomatist 
who represents Greece at the Italian court. He was 
frankly pessimistic at the extraordinary course of the 
diplomacy of the Allied Powers and foresaw only a 
catastrophe as the result of it. Reports of the coming 
attack on Serbia by Austria, this time reinforced by 
Germany, were day by day more persistent, but the 
same curious optimism regarding the attitude of Bul- 
garia was visible in the columns of the Italian govern- 
mental organs, which probably drew their inspiration 
from the Quai d'Orsay and the Foreign Office. 


42 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

In Athens I found the prevaiHng sentiment one of 
extreme pessimism. The Greek Kingdom was torn by 
conflicting currents. The Premier, M. Venizelos, was 
frankly in sympathy with the AlHes, but he informed 
me that King Constantine was convinced of the uUi- 
mate triumph of Germany. When I asked him on 
what His Majesty based this conviction he simply 
smiled discreetly and shrugged his shoulders without 
replying. An American confrere who had had a long 
conversation with King Constantine, to whom I put 
the same question, replied that it could not be 
described as a conviction. A conviction is arrived at as 
the result of logical reasoning. In the King's case 
it was simply faith, a sort of heaven-sent revelation. 
The definition of faith in the Shorter Catechism as 
"the evidence of things not seen, the substance of 
things hoped for," was probably a good description 
of His Majesty's mentality. 

The Greek General Staff, which, almost to a man, 
is German trained, made no secret of their sym- 
pathies for the cause of the Central Powers. The 
members of the court, carefully chosen by King Con- 
stantine's consort, the sister of the Kaiser, were also 
strongly pro-German. The notorious Baron von 
Schenck, the agent in Athens for the German propa- 
ganda, who disposed of unlimited financial resources, 
had done his work thoroughly and secured the support 
of a large and influential section of the press. He 
had also enrolled in his service a number of Greek 
politicians susceptible of yielding to the kind of per- 
suasion he used. It is in this atmosphere that King 

The Battle of the Morava 43 

Constantine lived. It was therefore no wonder that he 
had confidence in the power and the greatness of Ger- 
many and the ultimate triumph of her arms, for all 
suggestion to the contrary was carefully kept from 
his ears. 

At the same time the great mass of the people 
were on the side of the Allies. But they had no means 
of making their opinions felt in governmental circles. 
King Constantine was undoubtedly extremely popular 
with the army and with that on his side he did not 
fear any attempt at revolution. He had twice forced 
M. Venizelos to resign when he was at the head of a 
majority in the Chamber. This, of course, was strain- 
ing the constitution to breaking-point, as it was only 
a disguised form of coup d'etat, but having, as I have 
said, the army on his side, he was convinced that he 
could risk such measures. 

On one point, however, M. Venizelos informed me 
the King could be depended on, and that was in regard 
to carrying out his treaty obligations towards Serbia. 
His Majesty had not yet, he declared to me, got to the 
"scrap of paper" theory of his imperial brother-in-law, 
and was prepared to stand by the treaty with Serbia 
in case that Kingdom should be attacked by Bulgaria. 
Some strong influence must, however, have been 
brought to bear on him to make him change this 
view. When, a fortnight later, the moment came for 
Greece to maintain her engagements King Constantine 
dismissed M. Venizelos from power and substituted 
a Cabinet under M. Zaimis, which repudiated the 
Greco-Serbian Treaty as inapplicable to the case 

44 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

where King Peter's dominions were attacked by two 
Great Powers as well as by Bulgaria. This repre- 
sented the final break-up of the Balkan League, and 
the Peninsula, from that moment, returned to the 
anarchial conflict of interests which had for a quarter 
of a century been its leading characteristic. 

At Salonica I found intense excitement prevailing. 
Every report from Nish and Sofia showed that the 
moment of the catastrophe was approaching. It was 
extremely curious to contrast these reports with the 
optimistic telegrams from London and Paris assuring 
us that Bulgaria was the sincere friend and supporter 
of the Entente Powers. People in Salonica read these 
telegrams with the blankest amazement. The remarks 
made on the extraordinary policy being pursued by 
the Allies were far from complimentary to the Foreign 
Ministers carrying it out. 

On September 28th, Bulgaria flung off the mask and 
mobilized her army. Salonica was seething with ex- 
citement, everybody asking what would be the policy 
of Greece. Forty-eight hours later came the royal 
decree mobilizing the Greek Army in its turn. Every- 
body supposed that Greece was going to stand by her 
Serbian ally. But they reckoned without the King. 
The mobilization was the last act of M. Venizelos. A 
few days later he was dismissed from power. German 
influence in Athens had again carried the day. 

These startling weeks had, as their first result, the 
collapse of the castle of cards so painfully erected by 
the Foreign Ministers of the Entente Powers. They 
began to fear that the astute Bulgarian Prime Minis- 

The Battle of the Morava 45 

ter had been making a fool of them (a conviction 
which everyone in the Balkans except the diplomatists 
of the Entente Powers had reached weeks before) and 
they began to concert hasty measures to avert the 
impending disaster. 

When I came down from lunch at the Hotel de 
Rome on September 27th I found the vestibule 
crowded with British soldiers seated around, their 
rifles between their knees and the floor littered with 
their knapsacks. They were the orderlies of the Staff 
Officers who had just arrived from the Dardanelles 
on a French warship. It was clear that an expedi- 
tionary force was about to be disembarked in 

I saw that if I wanted to make sure of reaching 
Nish I had no time to lose, as it was more than certain 
that the first move of the Bulgarians would be to 
attack the Salonica-Nish railway at Strumnitza. I 
accordingly left Salonica on Friday, October ist, in 
the train de luxe which left three times a week for 
the temporary capital of Serbia. It was a thoroughly 
up-to-date train with sleeping and restaurant cars, 
but there its resemblance with similar trains in other 
countries ceased. It crawled along at a snail's pace, 
stopping at every little wayside station, and some- 
times even, for no apparent reason, in the open coun- 
try. The line, since the mobilization had been 
ordered, was closely guarded, but the presence of the 
Greek sentries was the only sign of military activity. 
But once we had crossed the Serbian frontier all this 
changed. The railway wound its way among a sue- 

46 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

cession of low, arid, brown hills on the crests of which 
one could see the silhouettes of guns in battery and 
the parapets of freshly dug trenches. 

At Strumnitza, which is only four short kilometres 
from the Bulgarian frontier, a strong force of 
infantry, cavalry and artillery was encamped. Long 
lines of trenches had been dug along the hills dominat- 
ing the railway and strong redoubts constructed for 
placing guns. The railway guard consisted mostly of 
peasants in the russet-brown costume peculiar to 
Serbia. Though the only outward sign of their mili- 
tary status was their rifie and bayonet, they had the 
air of veterans with their bronzed resolute faces, 
barred by the heavy, drooping moustache. It was a 
curious contrast to travel in a modern train de luxe 
through a country devastated by three years of cease- 
less war. 

On every siding were trains piled high with muni- 
tions, aeroplanes, automobiles and other war material 
all rolling northward as fast as they were disembarked 
at Salonica. When the train entered Serbian terri- 
tory its speed was, if possible, slower than ever. But 
fourteen months of newspaper work on the French 
front had, however, trained me to philosophy in such 
matters. Trains in war time leave when they leave 
and arrive when they arrive, and that's all about it. 

It was nearly midday of the second day when we 
finally arrived at our destination. As is usual in 
Balkan towns the station at Nish is a mile and a half 
or so from the centre of the town and the route lies 
over cobble-stone streets in an incredible condition 

The Battle of the Morava 47 

of disrepair. Nish, in spite of having been Serbian 
for over thirty years, still has all the characteristics 
of a Turkish town, wide, dirty streets flanked on 
either side by rows of one-story houses, with, here 
and there, immense public squares over which the ram- 
shackle public vehicles roll and rock like ships in a 
heavy sea. In fine weather the dominant feature is 
dust which drifts in heavy clouds before the wind; in 
wet weather the streets are a sea of mud of a peculiarly 
tenacious quality. 

At ordinary times Nish has a population of about 
30,000 souls. When I reached it there were nearly 
one hundred thousand and there had been even a 
greater number. These were chiefly refugees who had 
poured into the town during the first Austrian in- 
vasion, and officials who had followed the Government 
when Nish was made the temporary capital. The 
Foreign Office was installed in the Prefecture and the 
other Ministries were lodged fant bicn que mal in other 
public buildings. The diplomatic corps, which had 
followed the Government from Belgrade, occupied 
such quarters as they had been able to find. The Dip- 
lomatic Club, where the members of the corps lunched 
and dined, was installed in rooms above the Bella 
Kaphana, the leading restaurant of the town. The fare 
of the Bella Kaphana bore only a distant resemblance 
to that of the Maison d'Or or the Cafe Anglais, but 
a la guerre comme o la guerre. Later on we were 
destined to look back on the meals there as repasts fit 
for Lucullus. 

The Bella Kaphana was the news exchange of the 

48 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

town. Here at lunch and dinner one met French 
aviators and Red Cross surgeons, British and Amer- 
ican ambulance units, Serbian officers of every arm, 
local journalists and government officials. The prin- 
ciple underlying the efforts of the chef seemed to be 
"When in doubt use paprica," a peculiarly vivacious 
form of red pepper. The result was that almost 
every dish tasted like a torchlight procession and 
brought tears to the eyes of the most hardened. Wine 
was still plentiful and beer (two francs a bottle) could 
be had at irregular intervals when the train brought a 
consignment from Salonica. 

The wildest rumours were current, but little news 
that could be depended upon. The newspapers from 
Salonica were eagerly bought up. They contained 
reports of the steady disembarkation of French and 
British troops and hope ran high that reinforcements 
would soon reach Serbian soil. The greatest en- 
thusiasm prevailed and when at last the arrival of 
French troops was officially announced for the next 
day, the town went wild with excitement. The munic- 
ipality voted twenty thousand francs, which it could 
ill spare, for the decoration of the streets in honour 
of the arrival of the Allied troops. In a few hours 
the town burst out in a mass of bunting, French tri- 
colours and British Union Jacks were everywhere en 
evidence. Lines of Venetian masts, festooned with 
French and British colours, were erected from the 
railway station to the Town Hall. Peasants poured in 
by thousands from the surrounding country and every 
inhabitant of Nish was afoot to welcome the Allies. 

The Battle of the Morava 49 

But hours passed and nothing came. Then it was 
announced that the arrival had been postponed till the 
following day. But again disappointment awaited the 
eager crowds. Day after day passed, till finally, as I 
was returning home one night, I saw town officials 
going round in the darkness gathering in the flags and 
packing them in carts. Next morning the bare poles 
gave eloquent testimony that the short dream of aid 
from the Allies was at an end. 

Depression followed on the former enthusiasm. 
Hour by hour the reports from the Danube and the 
Bulgarian frontier were eagerly read. Every evening 
in the Bella Kaphana the faces of the foreign diplo- 
matists were scanned to see if their expressions would 
give any indication of the way events were trending. 
All we could hear was that the Austro-German forces 
on the Danube front were massing scores of batteries 
of guns of every calibre opposite Belgrade, Semen- 
dria, Ram and other towns on the river banks while 
hour by hour the Bulgarians were concentrating on the 
eastern frontier. It became known that Field-Marshal 
Putnik had asked permission of the Allies to march 
the Serbian Army across the frontier and break up 
the Bulgarian mobilization and that he had not only 
been refused the permission in question, but had been 
given the astounding assurance that the Bulgarian 
mobilization was not directed against Serbia. This as- 
surance was received with derision in Nish where 
everybody knew the Bulgarian attack was only a mat- 
ter of hours. 

Then the crash came. On the 5th of October we 

50 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

received news of the bombardment of Belgrade. On 
that date forty-three guns of 30.5 g.nd 38 centimetres 
supported by scores of field guns and mortars of vari- 
ous calibre opened fire on Belgrade, Semendria and 
other towns along the banks of the Save and Danube. 
The Serbians, who had sent their heavy guns to the 
Bulgarian frontier, had at the Danube only a score or 
two of obsolete Debange guns and some howitzer bat- 
teries. The only heavy ordnance were the two French 
and four British naval guns manned by French and 
British sailors. These were supported by some heavily 
armed Russian monitors on the Danube. This interna- 
tional force was under the command of Admiral Trou- 
bridge of the British Navy. The French guns were 
struck by shells and put out of action the first day of 
the bombardment. The British guns were more for- 
tunate and Commander Kerr was able to withdraw 
them unharmed. They accompanied the Serbian Army 
throughout the entire retreat and rendered yeoman 

The bombardment of Belgrade was one of the fierc- 
est in the history of the present war. Over 50,000 
projectiles fell in the town in the first forty-eight 
hours. Nothing was spared. Over eighty shells struck 
or fell around the American Hospital under the charge 
of Dr. Ryan, and that in spite of the fact that a Red 
Cross flag, visible for miles, was flying from the roof. 

After a number of unsuccessful attempts the Ger- 
man infantry on October 6th managed to get a footing 
on the right bank of the Danube at Belgrade and three 
other points. The capital was only defended by a small 

The Battle of the Morava 51 

body of troops, the gendarmerie and a number of 
Comitadjis or irregulars. The defenders fought their 
assailants hand to hand. The quays of the Danube 
were running with blood and piled with German 
corpses. When they were driven from the quays the 
Serbs continued the fight in the streets of the city. 

A large number of the inhabitants tried to fly when 
they saw the Germans land. But the artillery on the 
other side of the river had opened a curtain fire on the 
environs of the city. Two miles away hundreds of 
shells were bursting, making a zone of fire impossible 
to cross, while overhead German aeroplanes were cir- 
cling, dropping bombs on the defenceless people below. 

It took two days for the invaders to break the heroic 
resistance of the defenders of the capital and to reach 
the positions to the south from which they could 
dominate the town. By October the 15th, however, 
they finally occupied the banks of the Save and Danube. 
Overwhelmed by numbers, badly protected by hastily 
constructed trenches, the Serbian troops fought des- 
perately, supporting courageously three and four at- 
tacks each day, each preceded by a formidable artillery 
preparation, backed up by masses of asphyxiating gas. 
The Germans bought their success dearly. Their losses 
in killed and wounded were enormous, and at one point 
alone, near Zabrezh, the Serbs took over a thousand 
prisoners, with nearly a score of officers. 

Surprised at meeting such resistance, the Germans 
brought up fresh reserves, and soon their forces out- 
numbered the Serbs by nearly three to one, while their 
artillery was over twice as strong as that of the de- 

52 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

fending force. But in spite of this the situation re- 
mained undecided. 

It was the pressure from the Bulgarian front that 
finally made the balance to incline in favour of the 
Germans. Every day brought to Nish fresh reports 
of the massing of troops on the eastern frontier, and 
on October 12th the armies of Generals Jekoff and 
Boiadjeff, without any previous declaration of war, at- 
tacked all along the line. The Bulgarian Army alone 
was a hundred and fifty thousand men stronger than 
the entire Serbian Army of 250,000 men, which had 
in addition to face in the north 300,000 Germans and 
Austrians armed to the teeth. 

It was clear from this moment that the principal 
effort of the Germans was directed against the valley 
of the Morava. Once this was in their hands they 
could force their way down it to the Bulgarian frontier 
and join hands with their Bulgarian allies. This would 
also give them possession of the Belgrade-Nish-Sofia- 
Constantinople railway. As soon as the junction with 
the Bulgarians was effected they could pour troops and 
munitions down to Constantinople. When this was 
done the Franco-British enterprise in Gallipoli would 
become hopeless. The real defence of that force lay 
on the banks of the Danube. This was seen by the 
Allies when it was too late. General Sarrail's force 
was la moutarde apres le diner, as our French friends 
would say. It landed at Salonica two months too late 
to be of the slightest use in saving the situation. 

As soon as the German plan of operations became 
clear, I determined to make an effort to reach the fight- 

The Battle of the Morava 53 

ing line of tlie Serbian force on the Danube front. 
The Headquarters Staff was at Kraguyevatz, a town 
situated halfway between Nish and Belgrade. 

Kraguyevatz is a town of considerable military im- 
portance, as here the chief Serbian arsenal, constructed 
by the Creusot Company of France, was situated. 
Though the distance was only a matter of sixty miles, 
it proved a long and fatiguing journey, the train 
trundling along at about ten miles an hour, and being 
continually side-tracked to allow military trains loaded 
with troops, guns and munitions to pass. 

Kraguyevatz proved to be a pleasant little town, with 
nicely-built houses and well-planted gardens and 
orchards. It is supposed to be specially favoured 
meteorologically, "rare as rain in Kraguyevatz" being 
a Serbian proverb. If the rain, when it does come, in 
any way resembles the deluge coming down when I 
arrived and during my whole stay, I can only regard 
this as a special dispensation of Providence. 

The obtaining of permission to go to the front did 
not prove an easy matter. The reports from the 
Danube were not cheerful reading. The Serbian troops 
were being hard pressed, and at such moments generals 
do not care to have the providing of facilities to jour- 
nalists added to their other troubles. But after a con- 
siderable expenditure of diplomacy, I at last received 
permission to proceed to Palanka, where I was told I 
would find the Division of the Shumadia which was 
holding the entrance of the valley of the Morava 
against the Germans. 

But it was one thing to get permission to go to the 

54 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

front and another thing to get there. I was told to 
take train at 1 1 p.m. to Lapovo and there to change on 
to the Palanka Hne. I was at the station punctual to 
the minute, but this was more than could be said of the 
train. There was a constant succession of troop trains 
crammed with soldiers pouring north to reinforce the 
fighting line, and others carrying wounded from the 
front travelling in the contrary direction. As the line 
is single track this entailed a heavy strain on its re- 
sources, as the sidings were congested and the staff 
overworked. Hour after hour we waited in the pour- 
ing rain. The streaming platforms were glistening 
with wet in the crude light of the arc lamps. Train 
after train emerged from the outer darkness, trundled 
slowly, axles creaking and groaning beneath the load 
of men and guns, through the station and was again 
swallowed up in the obscurity beyond. One had a mo- 
mentary glimpse of the Serbian soldiers, standing 
stoically in the open trucks in the pouring rain, or saw 
the silhouette of the guns, their muzzles pointing sky- 
ward, as they passed, the heads of the horses emerging 
through the openings of the cattle trucks used for their 

But at length, at four o'clock in the morning, our 
train arrived, and after a sojourn of half an hour or 
so in the station moved slowly in the direction of 
Lapovo. Here on arriving we found chaos and con- 
fusion. The Bulgarians, we heard, were approaching 
Nish, and orders had been given to evacuate that town. 
Train after train was pouring into Lapovo disgorging 
its quota of fugitives. The platforms were piled moun- 

The Battle of the Morava 55 

tains high with trunks and baskets and littered with 
ambulance stores, among which were moving hundreds 
of French aviators, Red Cross surgeons and nurses, 
scores of officers and civil functionaries. 

The news they brought was not cheerful. The Bul- 
garians, it was said, would be in Nish in twenty-four 
hours. This was not exactly welcome news for me, as 
all my baggage was still there, and all my money, with 
the exception of the couple of hundred dinars I had 
with me, was in the custody of the Banque Franco- 
Serbe. But experience had taught me to take such re- 
ports cum grano salts. As the Serbs, when I had left 
Nish forty-eight hours before, were still in possession 
of the fortress of Pirot, twenty kilometres from the 
town, I did not anticipate such a speedy arrival of the 
Bulgarians. In any case, I was bound for the moment 
in the opposite direction and would have to leave the 
rest to fate. 

About seven o'clock the train for Palanka arrived, 
and we proceeded on our way. With me were a num- 
ber of staff officers bound for the front and three or 
four French military doctors. Soon the heavy boom 
of cannon announced that we were approaching our 
destination, and at midday our train rolled slowly into 
the station at Palanka. Outside we found every indi- 
cation that we were very near the fighting line. Long 
lines of field guns drawn by teams of patient oxen 
filled the streets, a constant stream of ambulance wag- 
ons bearing wounded was pouring into the station yard 
to reach the sidings where the hospital trains were 
drawn up, while a second stream of wagons, filled with 

56 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

ammunition and food for the troops, was moving in 
the contrary direction. Crowds of fleeing peasants 
thronged the little town, besieging the inns and bakers' 
shops, clamouring for food. As the staff automobiles 
promised had not arrived, the French doctors and my- 
self made for the nearest restaurant to lunch and await 
their arrival. 

It was nearly two o'clock when they put in their ap- 
pearance, and we started for the fighting line. Soon 
after leaving the town we came on an endless line of 
bullock wagons pouring toward Palanka. With them 
were marching scores of peasants' carts piled high with 
furniture and bedding covered over with the bril- 
liantly-coloured quilts which the Serbians affect, on 
which were perched the old women and the children 
too young to stand the fatigues of the march. The 
men, the women and the older children were tramping 
alongside, leading the oxen or driving countless heads 
of cattle and sheep and droves of pigs. Some even 
drove flocks of geese and other inhabitants of the 
poultry yard. When we breasted a steep ascent and 
arrived at the summit, an extraordinary sight met our 
view. As far as the eye could reach, in front and be- 
hind, was an endless procession of vehicles all pouring 
southward. It was clear that the retreat had begun and 
that the baggage train of the division was on the move. 
But there was no haste or confusion, everything was 
being conducted with the greatest order. Only the 
women showed signs of nervousness, glancing back 
with frightened looks toward the north, from which 
we now heard the uninterrupted thunder of the guns. 

The Battle of the Morava 57 

It was clear that a few miles off a furious battle was 

But a second line of hills hid the actual battle- 
field, and it was only half an hour later when we had 
breasted the second ascent that it came in siight. 
Once we had attained the summit a marvellous 
panorama burst upon our view. At our fact was a 
rolling plain shut in right and left by high hills 
through which we could see a river wending. This 
was the famous valley of the Morava through which 
for centuries has poured the tide of invasion. Away 
on the horizon we could faintly distinguish the gleam 
of water showing the course of the Danube. In the 
centre of the panorama, on the Hungarian side of 
the Danube, was a pyramid-shaped mountain. Here, 
I was told, was the headquarters of Field-Marshal 
von Mackensen, who was directing the operations of 
the invading force. Right opposite, between us and 
the Danube, in the middle distance, was another line 
of low hills running transversely across the valley. 
This was studded here and there with clumps of trees 
and small woods, among which could be seen the 
roofs of several villages. Near the crests were the 
Serbian batteries in action against the German forces 
advancing from the Danube to force the entry of 
the valley. We could not see the guns, but the short, 
sharp spurts of flame from their muzzles disclosed 
their positions. The villages, several of which were 
ablaze, were being held by the Serbian infantry, while 
behind the clumps of trees we could see an occasional 
regiment of cavalry under cover. 

58 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

But nothing could have withstood the tremendous 
fire of the German heavy guns. The enemy had 
managed, at the price of endless difficulties, to trans- 
port a number of their monstrous cannon to the right 
bank of the Danube, and these were hammering the 
Serbian lines. Huge shells from the thirty-eight centi- 
metre guns were pounding the crest of the hills, which 
were smoking like volcanoes as these enormous pro- 
jectiles burst. So tremendous was their effect that 
the crests were changing their shape before our eyes. 

As one gun after another came into action the 
Serbian position became untenable. They had no 
artillery with which they could make effective reply 
to ordnance of this calibre, and we could see the long 
lines of grey-coated infantry winding down the slope, 
using woods, ditches and the ruined villages as cover 
from the murderous fire of the enemy. A minute 
or two later a tremendous explosion shook the air, 
and a couple of miles away a pillar of black smoke 
mounted slowly into the sky. The Serbs had blown 
up the last bridge across the Morava. Long lines of 
German infantry began to appear on the opposite 
crest. A couple of Serbian battalions marched up to 
the line of hills from which we were viewing the 
German advance. They immediately set to work to 
throw up a line of trenches. They were the rear- 
guard of the Serbian force, whose task was to cover 
the retreat of the Serbian division. Looking back- 
ward along the road to Palanka, we could see that 
the endless line of baggage wagons had been replaced 
by long columns of infantry. The German guns were 

The Battle of the Morava 59 

still thundering on the front, and fresh masses of 
infantry were arriving on the crest of the hill and 
preparing to pour down the slope. 

Von Mackensen had forced the entry of tlie valley 
of the Morava. 



WHEN it became clear that the Germans had 
forced the entrance to the valley of the 
Morava, I left the fighting line to return to Palanka. 
The chauffeur of our automobile was a stranger to 
the district, and lost his way while traversing a small 
forest. Just as we were about to emerge from this 
a sergeant and a couple of men, reconnoitring on the 
edge of the wood, rushed into the middle of the path 
and made signs to us to stop. We were, they ex- 
plained, making straight for the German lines. With 
some difficulty we turned the automobile on the nar- 
row pathway and retraced our steps. 

The long detour we were then forced to make 
before we gained the highway to Palanka took so 
much time that when we reached it we found the 
German artillery had been put in battery on the crest 
of a range of hills, about three miles away. Seeing 
two staff automobiles, they promptly opened fire. The 
first shrapnel burst about two hundred and fifty yards 
beyond us, just over a group of soldiers. The second 
burst fifty yards or so behind us. Just as I expected 
that they would find the range with the third shot, 
we entered a cutting which concealed us from view. 


The Fall of Nish and Kraguyevatz 6i 

Here we stopped to take a soldier on board who had 
been somewhat badly wounded in the head by the 
first shrapnel, and conducted him to the nearest ambu- 

En route to Palanka I went to pay my respects to 
Colonel Terzitch, the Commander of the Division of 
the Shumadia, at the village where he had established 
his headquarters. He invited me to dine with him 
and his Staff, but said the hour would depend on how 
long it took him and his Chief of Staff to draw up the 
plan of operations for the morrow and issue his 
orders. I spent the intervening time in strolling about 
the village (the name of which has slipped my 
memory) which enjoys, I was told, the proud honour 
of being the largest village community in Serbia. It 
is certainly one of the most prosperous-looking, but 
this is not surprising, as the valley of the Morava 
has the reputation of being the most fertile in the 
kingdom. Its inhabitants are said to be the richest 
peasants in the country. 

The headquarters of the division were installed in 
the village school-house. The mess was the most 
democratic I ever saw. With Colonel Terzitch, his 
Chief of Staff and other officers, sat down the non- 
commissioned officers and the men acting as secre- 
taries and orderlies. All ate the same fare, the only 
difference being that at the officers' table wine was 
served. Colonel Terzitch is one of the most cele- 
brated and capable soldiers in the Serbian Army (he 
was later Minister of War), and his division, re- 

62 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

cruited in the valley of the Shumadia, was as cele- 
brated as its chief. 

During the meal he communicated to me some 
details of the forces attacking his division. These 
consisted of three divisions, and were two divisions 
of the Third German Army Corps, commanded by 
General von Lochow, and the 46th Division of the 
Twenty-Third Army Corps. The infantry divisions 
of the Third Army Corps were the 6th, under General 
Meyer von Radek, and the 25th, under General 
von Jarrolski. The 6th Division was made up of the 
20th, 24th and 64th Regiments of Infantry and a 
battalion of "Jaeger" or light infantry, the 3rd, i8th 
and 39th Regiments of Artillery and the 3rd Regi- 
ment of Cavalry. The 25th Reserve Division was 
made up of the i68th Active Regiment and the 83rd 
and 113th Reserve Regiments, the 13th and 25th Reg- 
iments of Artillery and the 4th Reserve Regiment of 

The 46th Reserve Division, which completed the 
force, was composed of the 214th, 215th and 216th 
Reserve Regiments of Infantry, two regiments of 
artillery and a regiment of cavalry. It had evidently 
been hastily improvised for the Serbian campaign, as 
the troops composing it had been brought from Ypres 
and Arras on the French front and Brest-Litovsk on 
the Russian front. 

The Serbian casualties for the day, Colonel Ter- 
zitch informed me, had been just under 300 men 
killed. The total killed in the three days' fighting had 
been over twelve hundred. The Germans outnum- 

The Fall of Nish and Kraguyevatz 63 

bered the Serbians by two and a half to one. In spite 
of the crushing superiority of the enemy the Serbians 
fought with courage and confidence, defending their 
positions foot by foot. 

As I was anxious to leave for Nish I took leave of 
Colonel Terzitch about ten o'clock and started for 
Palanka. Rain was coming down in torrents, and the 
whole countryside had become a quagmire. The auto- 
mobile churned its way, up to the axles in mud, for 
five or six miles or so, and then came to a standstill, 
completely bogged. We obtained the aid of a passing 
oxen team, but even its efforts failed to move the car. 
There was nothing for it but to abandon our vehicle. 
A couple of hundred yards further we came across an 
empty motor ambulance. This was still able to move, 
so we got in, and slowly and with difficulty we 
ploughed our way to the station, taking over an hour 
to cover the three miles. 

At Palanka there was no train and the station- 
master could not tell me when there would be one, as 
the military transport practically monopolized the line. 
Telegraphic inquiries revealed the fact that our train 
was side-tracked two stations away, but as to when 
it would reach Palanka no one could say. The rain 
was coming down in torrents. The only haven of 
refuge was the station-master's office, which a stove, 
heated red-hot, had brought to the temperature of a 
Turkish bath. As I had had no sleep for thirty-six 
hours I dragged a mail-bag from a corner to act as a 
pillow, and lay down on the floor. I got up every hour 
or two to see what prospects we had of getting away, 

64 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

but each time found the same monotonous procession 
of mihtary trains rolHng through the station. 

To pass the time I got the telegraph operator to ring 
up his colleagues up and down the line, and thus got 
the latest news and rumours, especially rumours, for 
there seemed to be a dearth of reliable news. Strum- 
nitza, we heard, was in the hands of the Bulgarians, 
who had blown up the bridges on either side of the 
town, so that railway communication with Salonica 
was definitely cut. Nish was still in the hands of the 
Serbians, but was emptying fast, the inhabitants flee- 
ing by thousands. But Pirot was still holding out, so 
that the immediate occupation of Nish was not likely. 

As by midday there was still no sign of our train, I 
and a couple of French army surgeons determined to 
go to the village for lunch. Here we found every- 
thing in confusion. The inhabitants were hastily load- 
ing their belongings on carts and wagons and getting 
ready to flee. At the inn we managed to get some 
food, but had to wait till the landlord unpacked knives 
and spoons from the wagon in the courtyard on which 
his household possessions were piled prepared for 
flight. The Germans, we were told, were only about 
seven miles distant, and the occupation of Palanka 
was expected the following morning. While we were 
still lunching a messenger arrived from the station- 
master to say that the long-expected train had at last 
arrived, and requesting us to make haste. Five 
minutes later we were at last en route for Nish. 

Though the distance is only about 60 miles, we were 
sixteen hours in performing the journey. The train 

The Fall of Nish and KraguyevatZv 65 

was filled with refugees, who had fled from the Dan- 
ube towns during the bombardment. In my compart- 
ment were three young girls, school teachers at Bel- 
grade, who passed the time singing the national ballads 
of Serbia. The music of these is singularly beautiful, 
with an underlying note of sadness characteristic of 
all Slav melodies. 

It was six o'clock in the morning when we arrived 
at Nish. The station was crowded with people waiting 
to leave, but the greatest order prevailed. There was 
no sign of panic. Just outside the station I met a Staff 
Colonel of my acquaintance. He told me he and an- 
other officer were leaving for Salonica with dispatches 
for General Sarrail. As the Nish-Salonica line was 
cut they were going by automobile to Monastir, and 
thence by rail to Salonica. He told me that Pirot had 
fallen, and that the Bulgarians were advancing on 
Nish. In the south they were marching on Uskub. In 
the north, in addition to Field-Marshal von Macken- 
sen's army, which I had seen force the entrance to the 
valley of the Morava, a second German Army under 
General von Gallwitz was advancing on Kraguyevatz. 
An Austrian force assembled in Bosnia was preparing 
to invade Serbia from that side. The country was, 
therefore, being attacked from north, east and south. 
The 250,000 Serbians were face to face with 300,000 
Germans and Austrians and 400,000 Bulgarians. All 
telegraphic and postal communication with the out- 
side world, except via Monastir, was now cut, and 
even the Monastir route was threatened. When this 
was cut our isolation would be complete. By the 

66 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

irony of fate the wireless installation at Nish, the only 
one in Serbia capable of communicating with Salon- 
ica, had been completed and sent its first message only 
three days before, and already it would have to be 

The Government and the Banque Franco-Serbe had 
left for Kraljevo. Greece had finally betrayed her ally 
and refused to fulfil her treaty obligations zns-d-vis 
Serbia. The excuse given was that the treaty only pro- 
vided for Greece coming to the aid of Serbia if she 
was attacked by Bulgaria alone, but did not provide 
for any assistance in case that country was aided by 
other Powers. This, of course, was a mere quibble, in- 
vented to excuse Greek desertion. "The fiasco made 
in Bulgaria by the diplomacy of the Allies," the 
Colonel added, "had undoubtedly helped to bring 
about this change of view in Greece." At this moment 
the automobile with the other of^cer arrived. The 
Colonel shook hands, entered it, and was off on his 
long journey tO' the Greek frontier. 

My only anxiety now was to get my baggage and 
take the train to Kraljevo, to find the Banque Franco- 
Serbe and the members of the Government. I was 
afraid that my landlady, an ancient dame of about 
seventy-five years, might have joined the exodus, but 
to my relief I found her still at home, and my baggage 
intact. She greeted me in voluble Serbian, and was 
evidently expressing her delight at my safe return. At 
the post-office I found a few officials still at their 
posts, though they now enjoyed sinecures as far, at 
least, as letters were concerned. A few wires were 

The Fall of Nish and Kraguyevatz 67 

still working for official messages, but the operators 
were ready to cut them and remove the instruments at 
a moment's notice. At the Bella Kaphana I found 
the former crowd had disappeared. A score or so of 
people were lunching in depressing silence. Anxiety 
was everywhere apparent. No newspapers had been 
published for four days, and as the official Press 
Bureau had accompanied the Government, we had 
not even its typewritten bulletins for our information. 

The situation was undoubtedly growing more 
desperate every hour. The Headquarters Staff, I 
heard, was preparing to leave Kraguyevatz for 
Krushevatz and measures were being taken to destroy 
the Arsenal and all its contents. The wounded who 
could be moved had already been evacuated. As I had 
hardly had any sleep for three days, I determined to 
pass the night in Nish and leave the next day for 
Kraljevo. Some timorous souls foretold that when I 
awoke I would find the Bulgarians in possession of the 
town, but I had long ago learnt to discount such 
prophecies. I knew that the garrison which had 
evacuated Pirot was fighting a rearguard action in the 
mountains to the east, and that it would take the Bul- 
garians at least another forty-eight hours to reach 

The next evening, accordingly, after the usual 
interminable wait at the railway station, I left for 
Kraljevo. I had to change at Stalatch and asked the 
guard to warn me when we got there, as the officials 
had long ago ceased to call out the names of stations. 
He promised to do so, but failed to keep his word, 

68 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

with the resnh that I passed Stalatch. I got out at 
Parachin, a station further on, where I had the 
pleasure of waiting seven hours for a train back to 
Stalatch. Here I had to remain all night waiting a 
train to Kraljevo, which I reached about four o'clock 
in the afternoon. 

My first visit was to the Banque Franco-Serbe, 
which I found established in a deserted villa, the 
cashier installed behind a kitchen table. As he told 
me he had no idea how long the bank would remain 
in Kraljevo' or where it would go on leaving that town 
I drew out my total fortune, about a couple of thou- 
sand dinars, which I knew would have to last me 
till I reached the outer world. 

The next problem was to find lodgings. The 15,000 
inhabitants of Kraljevo had been reinforced by over 
60,000 refugees. Every house and cafe was filled to 
overflowing, but finally after a long search I managed, 
by paying Savoy Hotel prices, to obtain a wretched 
room in a tenth-rate inn. The unfortunate diplomatic 
corps had found quarters as best it could, and lunched 
and dined in the public room of the Hotel de I'Europe, 
a third-rate hostelry where there were no cloths on the 
tables and where the serviettes were sadly in need of 
the wash-tub. 

Here, to my surprise, I met a confrere in the person 
of M. Paul du Bochet, a young French Swiss who 
was correspondent of the Petit Parisien. He and I 
with M. Henry Barby of the Journal, of Paris, were 
the only foreign members of the Fourth Estate left 
in Serbia. Du Bochet had been in Cettinje when the 

The Fall of Nish and Kraguyevatz 69 

news of the Austro-German invasion reached him, and 
had hurried at once from the Montenegrin capital to 
join the Serbian Army. He had first gone south and 
had reached Uskub, but only to find that it was being 
evacuated. He left in the last train for Prisrend and 
Mitrovitza, and after four days' constant travelling 
had reached Kraljevo, Here he learned that the Head- 
quarters Staff had left Kraguyevatz for Krushevatz, 
as the former town was now seriously menaced by 
General von Gallwitz's army, 

I told him it was my intention to proceed to Head- 
quarters and get a permit to return to the front. We 
arranged to go together, and left next afternoon, ar- 
riving just in time for the evening mess of the Head- 
quarters Staff. During the meal we heard the latest 
news. Kraguyevatz was seriously menaced and might 
fall at any moment. Automobile transport and the 
railways were working night and day to save what 
they could of the contents of the Arsenal. All that 
could not be saved would be destroyed. Uskub had 
been captured by the Bulgarians, the English Ambu- 
lance Corps under Lady Paget being taken prisoners, 
as she had refused to leave her wounded. Nish was 
now also in the hands of the Bulgarians, while von 
Mackensen's army was forcing its way down the 
valley of the Morava to effect a junction with them. 
Once this was done, the road to Constantinople would 
be open and the Germans would be able to send muni- 
tions to Turkey for want of which her resistance was 
about to collapse. This would settle the fate of the 
Gallipoli expedition. 

70 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

The Serbian troops of the First Army under the 
Voivode Zhivoin Mishitch, facing von Gallwitz's 
army, after abandoning Kraguyevatz, would retreat 
on Kraljevo, while the Second and Third Armies, 
under the Voivode Stepanovitch and General 
Yurishitch-Sturm, would fall back on Krushevatz. 
This would bring the Serbian Army into a critical 
position, as it would then have its back to the range 
of mountains which at this point traverse Serbia from 
east to west, and through which there are only two 
passes, one rurming from Krushevatz to Kurshoumlia, 
and the other from Kraljevo tO' Mitrovitza via Rashka. 
This operation would be like pouring a hundred gallon 
cask through the neck of a pint bottle. 

Once the Serbian armies had crossed this range 
of mountains they would have left Old Serbia, that 
is tO' say, Serbia as it existed before the war with 
Turkey, and would be driven into the Sandjak of 
Novi Bazaar, a territory which only four short years 
before was under the rule of the Sultan. The only 
hope of avoiding this disaster was that the Second and 
Third Armies would check the further advance of the 
German Army descending the valley of the Morava. 
Of that, in view of the enormous superiority of the 
German forces, there seemed little prospect. However, 
as there seemed just a fighting chance that the miracle 
might be accomplished, du Bochet and I determined to 
push forward and join the Second Army. 

The task of the Government was now one of 
colossal difficulty. One third of the kingdom was in 
the hands of the Germans and Austrians. Hundreds 

The Fall of Nish and Kraguyevatz 71 

of thousands of people had left their homes and were 
pouring south, crowding towns and villages. The 
advance of the Bulgarians on the east and south was 
driving another section of the people toward the west 
and north. It was clear that almost the entire popu- 
lation of the country would soon be congregated in the 
Sandjalv of Novi Bazaar with its back to the Albanian 
and Montenegrin frontier. 

In addition as mile after mile of the railways fell 
into the hands of the enemy the rolling stock was 
pouring down from the north and up from the east 
and south, congesting what still remained in Serbian 
hands. Every siding was full to overflowing and still 
the mass of trucks and passenger cars kept accumulat- 
ing. As a consequence, as the line is a single track, 
on which the up-trains must be side-tracked to let the 
down-trains pass, the congestion threatened to bring 
the traffic to a standstill. 

Our first difficulty was one of transport. As we 
could no longer count on the railway, either a horse 
or ox drawn vehicle was necessary. As we had now no 
certainty of being able to return to any town once we 
had left it we had to be prepared to take our baggage 
with us. I had reduced mine to the smallest possible 
quantity. Du Bochet had even less, as on going to 
Montenegro he had left his main baggage at Kraguy- 
evatz and it would, in a few hours, in all probability be 
in the hands of the Germans. 

But transport was difficult to find. All the horses 
and carriages worth taking had long ago been re- 
quisitioned by the military authorities. We hunted 

72 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

high and low for two days. At length we discovered 
an ancient carriage in a deplorable state of repair, and 
a couple of horses which the army had disdained. 
The wheels and springs of the carriage seemed sound, 
however, and that was the main thing. It was more, 
however, than I could say for the horses. One I found 
was completely blind, and the other seemed badly 
broken-winded. As we intended always to leave the 
vehicle a safe distance from the fighting-line and ride 
the animals when actually at the front, the blind ani- 
mal was useless. After some search a third animal was 
discovered, a weedy, giraffe-like chestnut. It was an 
Austrian horse captured during the first campaign. It 
had been badly wounded in the chest by a shell splinter 
and was in no way a desirable acquisition, but it was a 
case of Hobson's choice. For the carriage and the 
two Rosinantes, with the harness and a couple of 
ancient riding saddles, the price was i,ioo dinars, 
about twice their value. But it was that or nothing, so 
we had to make the best of a bad job. As the horses 
looked half -starved we decided to give them a twenty- 
four hours' rest and good feeding before starting. 

On the afternoon of Tuesday, November 2nd, we 
left Krushevatz in search of the Second Army. In 
the forenoon we lunched at the mess of the Head- 
quarters Staff. We found that orders had been given 
for it to leave Krushevatz for Rashka in the Sandjak 
of Novi Bazaar, half way between Kraljevo and 
Mitrovitza. News had been received of the fall of 
Kraguyevatz. The army had not been able to save an 
enormous mass of war material which had to be 

The Fall of Nish and Kraguyevatz 73 

destroyed. This included ten thousand tents, thou- 
sands of uniforms, hundreds of thousands of cart- 
ridges and thousands of shells. The Serbian Govern- 
ment rifle and gun factory installed at a cost of several 
million francs had been blown up. 

The Government and the Diplomatic Corps had 
resumed their nomadic existence, and had left 
Kraljevo for Mitrovitza. The position of the un- 
fortunate foreign diplomatists was not an enviable 
one. They had no means either of communicating 
with their governments or receiving instructions from 
them. But the inexorable advance of the German 
and Bulgarian Armies drove them from one town 
to another. Each time the change was for the worse. 

It was about three o'clock when we left the town. 
The roads, we found, were in a frightful condition. 
They were, for the most part, mere cart tracks and 
perfect seas of mud. The carriage half the time was 
ploughing through twO' feet of tenacious clay. Twice 
it stuck fast up to the axles, and was only extricated 
with the friendly aid of a passing bullock team. 

Both our horses, the giraffe-like chestnut, whose 
name was Julius, and his partner (which I had named 
Caesar), a flea-bitten grey, regarded Serbian mud and 
the effort it entailed on them with profound dis- 

Just at the point where the road from Krushevatz 
joins the main road running to Stalatch I came across 
half a dozen British soldiers belonging to the heavy 
battery which defended Belgrade. They were seated 
at the roadside preparing the inevitable pot of tea 

74 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

without which Tommy Atkins's happiness is not com- 
plete. They told me their battery had been en route 
for Nish and that the guns had already been entrained 
at Stalatch. They were covering the intervening sixty 
kilometres in a couple of bullock carts. They were 
profoundly ignorant of what was happening in Serbia 
or the outside world, but were correspondingly 

They insisted on our sharing their tea, and produced 
a pot of the equally inevitable marmalade, which 
they proudly declared was one of the few objects 
which had survived the bombardment of Belgrade. 
I left them loading up their wagon and giving orders 
to their drivers in weird but apparently effective 

It was dark when we reached Chichevatz, the first 
stage on our journey; a collision with the parapet of 
a bridge broke a splinter bar of the carriage and 
forced us to halt for the night. The problem was 
to find quarters and food. Every village behind the 
front was filled tO' overflowing with the fugitive pop- 
ulation from the country held by the Germans. Every 
public edifice was crammed; people were sleeping on 
straw, twenty in a room, in every available house. At 
the village inn the food supply resolved itself into the 
inevitable "Schnitzel," which in the present instance 
was a badly burnt piece of pork. We were, however, 
fortunate enough to find the local station-master at 
the inn, who hospitably offered us a bedroom in the 
railway station. 

When we got there we noticed that he had already 

The Fall of Nish and Kraguyevatz 75 

begun to pack up ready to leave. With him was a 
young official of the Ministry of Commerce, who 
had been sent tO' destroy the stores and rolling stock. 
Chichevatz was the point at which the Serbian rail- 
way stores were kept. More than a hundred wagons 
had been loaded with accessories, including scores of 
typewriters, paper and bureau materials, uniforms, 
etc., but it was found impossible to move them, as 
every siding between Stalatch and Nish was so crowd- 
ed that there was not room for a single additional car. 

When everything was lost on this section it was, 
I was told, the intention of the Serbian authorities 
to fill the whole track from Chichevatz to Nish with 
rolling stock from one end to the other and blow 
up all the bridges, so as to render the line unworkable. 
The new American engines, which were only delivered 
in 191 5, were placed in a long tunnel on a side line, 
and each end of the tunnel blown up, so as to entomb 
them undamaged. 

The news from the front was not encouraging. The 
Germans were advancing slowly but surely. The great 
disappointment to the Serbian population had been the 
failure to check the advance at Bagrdan. Bagrdan is 
in the line of mountains to the east of Kraguyevatz, 
and its strength as a military position is legendary in 
Serbia. For fifty years the Serbian nation had re- 
garded Bagrdan as the bulwark that would check 
invasion. That it failed to check the German advance 
greatly depressed army and people. 

The failure of the Bagrdan defence to accomplish 
that is not surprising. The Germans were just as 

76 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

well aware of the strength of the position as the 
Serbians, and they took good care not to make a 
frontal attack on it. They simply concentrated enough 
force on the position to- hold the Serbian Army in 
check and then, making use of their superiority in 
numbers, they sent two columns to turn the position. 
This forced the Serbian Army to fall back. 

One of the first results was the capture by the 
enemy of Kraguyevatz. After that the Germans 
steadily advanced on each bank of the Morava. Seven 
Serbian divisions opposing eighteen German divisions 
were odds that not even the bravery of King Peter's 
army could withstand. All night long, train after 
train rolled through the station loaded with military 
stores and packed with fleeing peasants. 

Next morning the station-master roused me at 7.30 
o'clock with the words: "The Germans are coming!" 
From his tone one could have supposed the cavalry 
were at the outskirts. The real reason I soon dis- 
covered was his desire that I should evacuate my sleep- 
ing quarters, as an ox-wagon was already at the door 
to transport the furniture to a place of safety. 

We determined to leave the carriage there and ride 
to the front, as a carriage in a sudden retreat is apt 
to be cumbersome. We accordingly saddled the horses 
and rode to Parachin, twenty kilometres distant. 

Parachin we found in a state of considerable excite- 
ment. The thunder of the guns drawing nearer and 
nearer gave evidence of the approach of the enemy. 
The battle was raging at Chupria, about four miles 
outside the town. The Second Army held the heights 

The Fall of Nish and Kraguyevatz 77 

on both sides of the valley, opposed to a force of 
nearly double its strength. 

The German tactics were simple but effective. They 
opened a tremendous and apparently indiscriminate 
fire on the Serbian position from guns and howitzers 
of every calibre. I noticed, however, that they no 
longer possessed the tremendous pieces I had seen in 
action at Palanka; the 15-centimetre gun seemed the 
heaviest artillery they carried with them. Shells fell 
by hundreds on every square mile of the Serbian 
positions. After two hours or so of this indiscriminate 
bombardment we began to see parties of infantry, 
from twenty to fifty strong, pushing forward. When 
they came within rifle-range they began to deploy and 
opened fire on the Serbian positions. As soon as the 
Serbian infantry began to reply, a field telephone, with 
which each of the German advance parties was armed, 
'phoned back the exact position of the trenches to the 
artillery in the rear. An instant later an avalanche of 
shrapnel and shell was poured on the Serbian lines, 
while at the same time the heavier German guns 
opened a "tir de barrage" on the ground two miles in 
the Serbian rear to hinder the movement of retreat or 
prevent reinforcements being brought up. 

The Serbian infantry complained that except these 
advance parties, which retired as soon as they had 
made the Serbians reveal their position, they hardly 
ever saw a German infantry soldier, and had to retreat 
before a storm of shell and shrapnel. It was clear that 
the capture of Chupria was only a matter of hours, so 
we decided to ride back to Parachin. 

78 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

As the Staff of the Second Army was expected to 
arrive in that town that evening we determined to 
remain there over night. With thirty thousand 
refugees in a town of twelve thousand inhabitants it 
was no easy matter to find a room, but the Mayor 
kindly had a deserted house broken open for us, and 
also, which was even more important, found food 
and stabling for our horses. Next morning the people 
of the next-door house awakened us with the news 
that the Germans were attacking the town and that 
infantry fire was clearly audible. 

When we got out we found this was exaggeration 
but that the Serbian baggage train was pouring 
through the town — a clear sign that the retreat had 
begun. The town was in wild excitement for two 
reasons — firstly, on account of the approach of the 
Germans, and secondly, because orders had been given 
to distribute tO' the inhabitants everything in the mili- 
tary stores to prevent their falling into the hands of 
the enemy. As a result I saw hundreds of people going 
about carrying dozens of pairs of boots, uniforms, 
underclothing, bread, biscuits, etc. 

At midday, the provision and munition columns 
having safely cleared the town. General Stepanovitch 
and his staff, after placing a strong rearguard to delay 
the German advance as long as possible, left for Raz- 
han, a town about twenty miles distant, from which a 
road led to the entrance to the mountain pass leading 
from Krushevatz to Krushoumlia. 



THE return journey to Chichevatz was unevent- 
ful, save for the discovery that Caesar, my 
mount, in addition to being broken-winded, seemed to 
suffer from some sort of heart trouble, which induced 
him to lie down at the most unexpected moments. I 
never discovered how far those attacks coincided 
with a mere desire for repose. I noted that a sharp 
application of my riding whip contributed remarkably 
to his speedy recovery, and that the attacks generally 
came on when there was a particularly nasty bit of 
road to negotiate. 

Our progress was slow, as the road, as far as the 
eye could see, was blocked by moving columns, 
infantry, cavalry, artillery, baggage wagons and pon- 
toon trains pouring like a flood towards the mountains. 
The Second and Third Armies were now in full retreat 
and making every effort to gain the entrance to the 
pass as speedily as possible. The word speed, in con- 
nection with the Serbian Army, has, of course, only a 
relative value, as it can never exceed the pace set by 
the ox-wagons. Speed in the case of Serbian troops 
has therefore been replaced by prolongation of the 
effort, so as to cover the greatest possible distance in 


8o From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

the twenty-four hours. The more I saw of the Serbian 
oxen, the more my admiration for them increased. 
They seemed tireless and their powers of traction were 
perfectly marvellous. The wagons, too, I found, in 
spite of their apparently primitive construction, were 
marvels of strength and efficiency, standing an amount 
of wear and tear that would have wrecked any ordi- 
nary vehicle. 

The problem that faced Field-Marshal Stepano- 
vitch and General Yurishitch-Sturm was no easy one. 
It was to transport the hundred and thirty thousand 
men of the Second and Third Armies, with thirty 
thousand bullock wagons, a hundred batteries of 
artillery, three divisions of cavalry, pontoon trains, 
field telegraph and telephone sections, munition 
columns, and the thousand and one things that form 
the impedimenta of a modern army, through a moun- 
tain defile seventy kilometres in length. 

The entrance to this pass lies just outside 
Krushevatz, and it runs via Jankova Klissura to 
Kurshoumlia, a few miles from the old frontier of 
the Turkish Sandjak of Novi Bazaar, annexed by 
Serbia after the defeat of the Sultan's armies in 1912. 

On account of the encumbered state of the roads 
our progress was slow. Usually when mounted we 
could push on past the slow-moving military columns, 
but in the present instance this was impossible, as a 
flood of peasants and their families, fleeing from 
Chupria, Parachin and a score of other villages, filled 
the road on either side of the marching troops. 

Darkness had fallen when we reached Chichevatz. 

From Chichevatz to Krushevatz 8i 

At the railway station we found the station house 
dismantled. All the furniture was gone and the 
station-master's aged mother was cooking the evening 
meal in an outhouse in which a deal table and a few 
chairs had been placed to serve as a temporary dining- 
room. A section of engineers had arrived to blow up 
the bridge and fire the railway wagons filling the sid- 
ings before the arrival of the Germans. Telegraphic 
and telephonic communication still existed on the 
north to Chupria and on the south to Stalatch. We 
were thus able to follow the progress of the Germans 
hour by hour. During the dinner every now and then 
the telephone bell in the station would ring. The 
station-master picked up his cap and went out to 
answer it. 

The first messages were from Chupria, twenty-five 
kilometres up the line. "The Germans are three miles 
from the town," came the first communication. Then a 
few minutes later : "Shells are falling all round the 
station. We are getting ready to leave." Then after 
an interval of half an hour: "This is our last message. 
The telegraph instruments have been unscrewed and 
loaded on the train with all the personnel. We leave 
in a few minutes." 

After that Chupria was silent and Parachin (sixteen 
kilometres away) took up the tale. "The sound of the 
guns is growing louder every minute," it telephoned, 
"Chupria is in the hands of the enemy." Half an 
hour later: "Our outposts and the 'Comitadjis' " (ir- 
regular Serbian troops who on account of their 
knowledge of the country generally remain in contact 

82 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

with the enemy till the last) "are engaged with the 
German advance guard," Then, in thirty minutes or 
so, came the welcome news: "The Germans seem to 
have halted for the night. The gun fire has almost 
ceased. We can see the enemy's bivouac fires all 
along the horizon." 

It was a curious feeling thus to get news hour by 
hour of the advance of the invaders. It was like a 
night watch by the bedside of someone dying. Bit 
by bit we saw the last fatal moment approaching. 
When the train with the railway personnel arrived 
from Chupria we got a few more details. Field- 
Marshal von Mackensen had halted his army, which 
had been engaged from dawn, just outside Parachin, 
which would be occupied the next morning. The 
train took a few refugees from Chichevatz on board 
and then trundled off slowly to Stalatch, the junction 
ten kilometres or so down the line. 

The majority of the inhabitants of Chichevatz, we 
learned, had resolved not to fly but to await the arrival 
of the Germans. In this they showed their good sense, 
as they would have gained little by flight. The con- 
gestion caused everywhere by the exodus of the popu- 
lation threatened to bring about a national catastrophe. 
As the country still in the hands of the Serbians 
diminished, the mass of people who had fled from the 
districts invaded by the Bulgarians in the south and 
east and by the Germans and Austrians in the north 
was daily being herded closer and closer together. 
Food was getting scarce and lodgings impossible tc 
find. And this on the threshold of winter. Up to 

From Chichevatz to Krushevatz 83 

now the sheep, oxen, pigs and flour that the fleeing 
population had been able to take with them had kept 
them alive, but these provisions were rapidly disap- 
pearing, and then starvation would stare them in the 
face. It was out of the question that the narrow strip 
of territory into which they were being slowly but 
surely forced could provide food for hundreds of 
thousands of starving people. 

The first care of the Government was to provide 
for the needs of the army on which depended the 
last hopes of national salvation. Rations had to be 
found for nearly 200,000 men and 40,000 "Komord- 
jis" (bullock-wagon drivers), and forage for 80,000 
oxen and 20,000 horses. To increase the difficulties of 
the Government, the army and people were being 
forced into a country which had been Serbian for but 
three short years, and of which the administration was 
still in its initial stages. The loyalty of the Turkish 
and Albanian section of the population could not be 
altogether depended upon. It was more than certain 
that the Turkish section (fortunately a small minor- 
ity) would regard the Germans, being allies of the 
Sultan, as their deliverers. It was under such cir- 
cumstances that the great retreat into the Sandjak of 
Novi Bazaar and the newly-conquered Albanian terri- 
tories was begun. It must be admitted that the pros- 
pect was far from brilliant. 

Of the Allies in Salonica we heard little or nothing. 
An attempt by the French to advance in the direction 
of Uskub had, we learned, been repulsed by the Bul- 
garians. The Monastir-Salonica railway was still 

84 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

running, but it was seriously threatened and might be 
cut at any moment. Of the movements of the British 
troops in Salonica we heard nothing. 

All this did not make for cheerfulness and the 
dinner was a depressing affair. As it was certain that 
the Germans could not arrive in Chichevatz till the 
following evening, I determined, about midnight, to 
go bed. This is a fagon de parler, as sleeping accom- 
modation there was none, except on the bare boards of 
the rooms of the station house. 

At this instant the telephone bell rang once more. 
It was a call from Stalatch stating that a railway in- 
spector was coming up on an engine to see the station- 
master. As Stalatch was only a quarter of an hour 
distant I waited till he arrived. The instructions he 
brought were that as soon as the train with the per- 
sonnel from Parachin passed, the bridge outside 
Chichevatz station was to be blown up and the tele- 
graph and telephone instruments were to be unscrewed. 
The loaded trucks on the sidings were to be given over 
to the plunder of the civil population and then every- 
thing that remained destroyed by fire and explosion. 
After that the station staff was to get on a train and 
leave for Krushevatz. All the railway officials and the 
civil functionaries were ordered to make for the town 
of Pristina, about a hundred and twenty miles distant. 

About half -past twelve I went up to a room on the 
first floor of the station house and made up a bed as 
well as I could out of a mass of old newspapers. I was 
not destined, however, to get much sleep. About half- 
past three I was awakened by a shock like an earth- 

From Chichevatz to Krushevatz 85 

quake. The whole building rocked, and every window 
fell in with a crash. A section of engineers had just 
blown up the bridge a hundred and fifty yards away. 
This was followed by a series of minor explosions, 
while the red flare of a conflagration filled the room. 
The blowing up and burning of the hundreds of wag- 
ons had begun. An engine a couple of yards from my 
now glassless windows kept whistling unceasingly for 
half an hour, so that all hope of further sleep was at an 

I got downstairs in the cheerless dawn of a drizzling 
morning to find the inhabitants of the village having 
the time of their lives. Three hundred loaded trucks 
and vans had been given over to plunder. Some of 
them contained thousands of boots, two were filled 
with several million packets of cigarette papers, others 
contained biscuits, tinned meat and vegetables, tea, 
coffee, uniforms and stores of all kinds. One wagon 
filled with perfumery was very popular with the female 
section of the population, peasant women who probably 
had never owned a bottle of scent in their lives. 

After watching this orgy of looting for some time, 
I went off to assist the station-master's mother in pre- 
paring the morning coffee. I also ransacked our pro- 
vision chest and gave madame le chef de gave some tins 
of preserved food for use on their long tramp to 
Pristina, as some slight return for the kindly hospital- 
ity she and her husband had shown us. While we 
were breakfasting we had a visit of a German aero- 
plane. I expected it would drop a bomb or two on the 
station and was somewhat nervous for our carriage 

86 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

and horses, but it turned out to be merely scouting, and 
went off without any hostile action. 

After breakfast we received some unwelcome in- 
telligence. During the night German cavalry sent to 
maintain the liaison between General von Gallwitz's 
Army, operating against the First Serbian Army at 
Kraljevo, twenty-eight miles to the west, and Field- 
Marshal von Mackensen's force had arrived at Var- 
varin, a village only two miles distant. As all that 
separated us from Varvarin was open pasture land, we 
might receive the visit of a patrol at any moment. We 
therefore decided that we would leave at once. But 
our coachman could nowhere be found. With the rest 
of the village he had gone off plundering. It was an 
hour before he turned up, loaded with boots, tinned 
provisions, hundreds of packets of cigarette papers, 
tins of petroleum and bottles of perfume. Meanwhile 
du Bochet and I had been on tenterhooks, never taking 
our glasses off Varvarin for a single instant, and ex- 
pecting every minute to see the lances of the German 
cavalry en route for Chichevatz. 

As soon as our man appeared we lost no time in 
harnessing the horses and getting the carriage under 
way. In order to lighten the task of our wretched 
Rosinantes we decided to cover the twenty kilometres 
separating us from Krushevatz on foot. The drizzling 
rain had now been succeeded by brilliant sunshine so 
that the promenade was an agreeable one. We did not 
hurry, so that it was four o'clock before we arrived at 

There we noticed an unaccustomed animation. The 

From Chichevatz to Krushevatz 87 

whole town, men, women and children, was afoot and 
everybody seemed in the best of spirits. People were 
standing around in groups, with flushed faces, eagerly 
discussing. We soon found the explanation of the 
mystery. As in Chichevatz, the wagons in the railway 
siding had been given over to plunder. Among their 
contents was a consignment of several thousand bottles 
of champagne. These the villagers had promptly ab- 
sorbed, with the result that the whole population was 
in a highly exhilarated condition. At one moment 
there were even some exciting scenes. Among the loot 
were hundreds of rifles and thousands of cartridges, 
and those who were lucky enough to obtain these began 
firing them off in all directions in sheer lightness of 
heart, due to their indulgence in the produce of Rheims 
and Epernay. It is a miracle that there were no casual- 

In the main street we met a number of nurses of 
• the Scottish Women's Red Cross Unit. They in- 
formed us that Dr. Elsie Inglis, the head of the Unit, 
had decided to remain with the wounded and had 
called for fifteen volunteers from the forty-five nurses 
composing the Unit. They were somewhat nervous as 
to how the Germans might behave on entering Krushe- 
vatz. I was in a position to inform them that, as far as 
I had been able to learn, the Kaiser's troops had been 
on their good behaviour in Serbia, and had treated the 
Serbian wounded fairly well. This was probably 
policy on their part, as they were anxious to conciliate 
the population and thus facilitate the occupation of the 

88 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

I had even heard reports that they had bound up 
the wounds of slightly injured Serbian soldiers and 
sent them back to their own lines in order to spread 
the news of how humane they were. They further 
sold salt to the peasants for a few centimes the pound 
(the sale of salt in Serbia is a Government monopoly 
and brings in a large revenue, which makes it an ex- 
pensive commodity), and provided sugar at one fifth 
of the ordinary price. All this, of course, was in- 
tended, so to speak, as a bribe to the population and to 
make them think that the Germans were not as black 
as their reputation. 

I have since met Dr. Elsie Inglis in London, after 
her release by the Germans, and found that she had 
had no reason to regret standing by her wounded. 
Though the Germans handled her and her nurses with 
a certain amount of unnecessary brusquerie and harsh- 
ness, they were not actually ill-treated, and had the sat- 
isfaction of knowing that their devotion to duty had 
not been in vain. 

The initial good treatment of the Serbian popula- 
tion by their conquerors disappeared when they thought 
the necessity for it had passed away. Once they were 
thoroughly masters of the Balkan Peninsula they made 
a "clean sweep" of everything. Sheep, pigs, cattle, 
grain, metals, firewood, etc., everything, in a word, 
which could be the slightest use to the German popula- 
tion, was sent off to the Fatherland and the Serbian 
population left to starve. 

But this is a digression. Rcvcnons a nos moiitons. 
As it was certain that twenty-four hours was the long- 

From Chichevatz to Krushevatz 89 

est period we could hope to remain safely in Krushe- 
vatz, we set about preparations for our further jour- 
ney. As it had become clear that the pulling of our 
carriage in difficult ground was beyond the strength of 
our two horses, we decided to add a third. We there- 
fore purchased the blind animal we had originally re- 
jected. He was the strongest of the three, and when 
placed between the two others his want of vision was 
to a great extent neutralized. 

When I went for a walk in the town next morning 
I found it a great contrast to what it had been the 
week before. The crowds of refugees which had filled 
it to excess were gone, again fleeing before the invader. 
With them had gone a goodly proportion of the regu- 
lar inhabitants. Half the shops and all the hotels 
were closed and the streets were almost deserted. Such 
animation as there was came from the military ele- 
ment. An endless stream of troops and wagons was 
pouring through the town and making for the blue 
line of mountains behind which lay the Sandjak of 
Novi Bazaar. 

An officer I met told me some touching stories of 
King Peter. The aged monarch, in spite of his failing 
health, deemed it his duty to pass his days in the midst 
of his faithful troops. He was always to be found at 
the point of danger and inspired his soldiers by the 
calm courage he showed on the field of battle. He had 
accompanied the Second and Third Armies nearly to 
Chupria and had been almost constantly under shell- 
fire. He travelled up to the fighting-line in his auto- 
mobile, but once he had reached it he mounted on 

90 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

horseback to enter the fire zone. He was everywhere 
received with boundless enthusiasm. The Karageorge- 
vitchs have always been a fighting race, and King Peter 
is true to the blood of his ancestors. 

The same officer, who belonged to the Headquarters 
Staff, gave me a technical resume of the operations of 
the Serbian Armies, the First opposing General von 
Gallwitz in the neighbourhood of Kraguyevatz, and 
the Second and Third trying to bar the route of the 
army of Field-Marshal von Mackensen in its descent 
through the valley of the Morava. 

The splitting of the German army of invasion into 
two was due to the obstinacy of the Serbian defence 
in the valley of the Morava. Field-Marshal von 
Mackensen saw that he could not break the Serbian re- 
sistance by a frontal attack on their positions. He 
therefore brought up two new divisions to reinforce 
the troops under the command of his lieutenant, Gen- 
eral von Gallwitz, and sent this force to threaten the 
Serbian left flank. 

This forced Field-Marshal Putnik to send to the 
threatened point troops taken from the force holding 
the valley of the Morava, and from the force opposing 
on the east the advance of the Bulgarians. The equili- 
brium was henceforth broken. The Bulgarian divi- 
sion attacking the line Zaetchar-Parachin recovered its 
liberty of movement, finding no one to oppose it, and 
was sent to reinforce the army which had occupied the 
line Kniazhevatz-Saint Nicholas (lost to the Serbians 
by the fault of the Allies) and whose mission it was to 
capture Nish. With the reinforcements from the 

From Chichevatz to Krushevatz 91 

Zaetchar-Parachin line the Bulgarians marching on 
Nish were in a superiority of three to one. 

The apex of the angle formed by the junction of the 
two fronts was mined, and the Serbs to re-establish 
their position had to give ground along the whole 
front. This operation constituted a very delicate prob- 
lem on account of the extreme length of the front, the 
difficulty of maintaining the liaison of troops so scat- 
tered, the insufficiency of the means of communication, 
and especially the constant menace that the two flanks 
might be turned by an enemy so superior in number. 

The intervention of the two fresh German divisions 
sufficed to precipitate the march of events. This re- 
sumed the whole tactics of Field-Marshal von Macken- 
sen. He allowed the Serbians to organize their defen- 
sive, then after taking his time to thoroughly recon- 
noitre their positions, he brought up his reserves and, 
directing a crushing attack on a selected point, forced 
the whole army to fall back to a new alignment in order 
to prevent being cut in two. 

There is nothing new about such tactics, but Field- 
Marshal von Mackensen applied them with marvellous 
decision and a propos, calculating everything, foresee- 
ing everything and leaving nothing to chance. His 
immense numerical superiority and especially his supye- 
riority in guns of heavy calibre enabled him to strike 
with sledge-hammer force on the thin, long-drawn-out 
line of battle, which to defeat the constant menace of a 
flanking movement the Serbs were forced to maintain. 
The German Army, in a word, blasted its way from 
the Danube to the line Krushevatz-Kraljevo by means 

92 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

of shell and shrapnel. Its masses of infantry and cav- 
alry were always a menace, but rarely engaged. 

And now they had brought the Serbian Army with 
its back to the mountains and with nO' choice but to re- 
treat, the First Army through the pass from Kraljevo 
to Mitrovitza via Rashka, and the Second and Third 
Armies through the 70-kilometre long mountain gorge 
running from Krushevatz to Kurshoumlia. 



AS the day passed it was clear that the nervousness 
of the inhabitants was increasing. Though those 
who remained had voluntarily made up their minds to 
await the arrival of the Germans, it was evident that as 
that moment approached they were becoming anxious 
as to what their treatment might be at the hands of the 
enemy. Shortly after midday the public crier went 
round summoning the oldest male inhabitants to the 
Town Hall. Everybody knew what this meant. These 
old men were to form the deputation which would pro- 
ceed, bearing a white flag, along the high road toward 
Stalatch to announce to the Germans the surrender of 
the town. The downcast looks of the people in the 
streets showed how deeply they felt their position and 
what an effort it cost them to allow the enemy within 
their gates. 

About three o'clock I heard that isolated patrols of 
cavalry preceding the German advance-guard had been 
seen between Krushevatz and Stalatch. It was clear 
that our departure could no longer be delayed. I paid 
a last visit to the hospital to take farewell of the brave 
women of the Scottish Red Cross who were stopping 
with their wounded. I gave them all T could spare in 


94 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

the way of preserves, as I had heard they had been re- 
duced to dry bread for a fortnight past, and I knew 
that the resources of Krushevatz were completely ex- 
hausted. They told me Mr. Smith, the secretary of the 
Unit, and thirty of the nurses had left that morning in 
two bullock carts making for Cettinje, the capital of 
Montenegro, via Mitrovitza, Ipek and Andreyevitza. 

At five o'clock I had the horses harnessed and we 
left the town. We did not, however, make rapid 
progress, as a couple of miles further on we reached 
the road along which the army was marching. The 
passage of thousands of wagons and hundreds of guns 
had given the coup de grace to the wretched road, at 
no time in the best of repair. It had been churned by 
innumerable wheels and hoofs into a veritable quag- 
mire. Every instant a wagon would stick fast and 
block the line for a mile. Our three horses, panting 
and covered with sweat, were straining at the traces 
and every now and then came to a complete standstill. 
To lighten their task, du Bochet and I got out and 
walked alongside. 

As darkness fell the scene became a sinister one. To 
the left behind the railway station, one building after 
another burst into flame ; the employes were firing the 
storehouses and blowing up the wagons on the siding. 
A few minutes later the whole town was shaken by a 
series of explosions. The stocks accumulated in the 
Obilitchevo powder magazine were being blown up. 

From the eminence on which I stood the spectacle 
was terrifying. Krushevatz was blazing at half a 
dozen points, the whole sky was covered with a crim- 

Retreat Through the Mountains 95 

son glare, while below us the river, blood-red in the 
flames, could be followed to the horizon, where the 
flashes of Serbian guns delaying the German advance 
could be seen. 

On the line of retreat confusion became worse con- 
founded. The whole road was filled with a triple line 
of bullock wagons, their panting teams straining to 
tear them through the tenacious mud. Suddenly there 
came an explosion like an earthquake. An immense 
column of yellow flame shot heavenward, lighting up 
the whole country for miles round. The heavy girder 
bridge over the river had been dynamited. At the 
same instant three immense German shells came 
screaming overhead and burst with tremendous explo- 
sions, one near the Town Hall and two near the rail- 
way station. These nerve-shaking explosions caused 
a wild panic among the oxen, the first I had seen in 
Serbia. The terrified animals broke into a lumbering 
gallop and poured in a surging mass, with our carriage 
in their midst, down the road. Suddenly they came on 
a narrow bridge spanning a small ravine. Those on 
the outside were forced against the parapet. I saw 
the carriage balance for an instant and then, with the 
three horses, crash into the ditch twenty feet below. 
There was a sound of smashing glass, and it was all 
over with our vehicle. 

The only thing was to extricate the kicking horses 
and salve such baggage as had escaped the disaster. 
This was a long and difficult process, as it was as dark 
as pitch and rain was now falling in torrents, but after 
an hour and a half of hard work we finally got our be- 

g6 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

longings ranged alongside the roadside. Fortunately 
the ravine into which our carriage had fallen was 
overgrown with thick brushwood. This had broken 
the fall of our horses so that, apart from some slight 
damage they had done to each other with their hoofs, 
they were not much the worse. We replaced the 
harness by the saddles and bridles as the easiest way of 
transporting them and got the animals safely back on 
the road. 

Our next difficulty was tO' find means of transport 
for our baggage. Our coachman stopped a mounted 
non-commissioned officer of the transport service. I 
do not know exactly what he said tO' him, but I imagine 
he made him believe we were foreigners of distinction, 
persons of great importance whom it was advisable to 
befriend. In any case, he consented to stop the next 
transport wagon that should have room for our bag- 

A few minutes later the Reserve Munition Column 
of the Timok Division (which was fighting a rear- 
guard action to cover the retreat) came up and room 
was found for our belongings. Du Bochet and I en- 
tered a second wagon after tethering Julius and Caesar 
to it. Our coachman remained mounted on the third 
horse. This was the last we ever saw of him. He took 
advantage of the darkness to go off with the horse and 
saddle. Unfortunately for him, in the darkness he 
had taken the blind animal. Two days later we heard 
that he had been seen trying to sell it for 150 dinars 
(about $30), but I do not know if he found a pur- 

Retreat Through the Mountains 97 

Krushevatz, I learned from a cavalry scout riding 
by, was on the point of being occupied by the Germans. 
All the Serbian troops had been withdrawn except 
a few bands of Comitadjis, or Serbian irregulars, who 
were still holding the bank of the river. The three 
shells we had seen explode were the only ones fired by 
the Germans, and were evidently intended more to 
strike terror than to do actual harm. 

Worse news was brought from Stalatch, the last sta- 
tion before Krushevatz. The evening before a railway 
train of seventy wagons had been put together and sent 
off. On reaching a gradient the single engine proved 
too weak to mount it with such a train behind it. There 
was nothing for it but to uncouple half the wagons and 
leave them behind. Unfortunately no one sent word 
of this'to Stalatch. The result was that when the last 
train left that station with the employes and the mili- 
tary guard on board in the darkness it crashed into the 
standing wagons and wrecked the whole train. Forty 
people we're killed and nearly a hundred seriously in- 

This news was not encouraging, but we could at 
least congratulate ourselves that we had been able to 
find transport for ourselves and baggage. The wagon 
we occupied was far from being an ideal means of 
locomotion. Its tilt was not exactly watertight, and 
ammunition boxes, when they are thrown anyhow into 
a wagon, do not form a model sleeping couch. But we 
consoled ourselves by remembering that it was as- 
suredly superior to any accommodation we would have 
had as Gernian prisoners, which might easily have been 

98 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

our fate. We journeyed slowly onwards till about 
midnight, when the park was formed and a halt was 
made for the night. 

At dawn we were again en route. As the rain had 
ceased we were able to get out and walk. The pano- 
rama which met our eyes was grandiose in the extreme. 
To right and left of us snow-capped mountains towered 
to the clouds. Through the centre of the valley they 
formed wound a narrow road skirting a rushing 
stream, the Rasina. As far as the eye could reach, both 
in front and rear, was an endless line of marching regi- 
ments, infantry, cavalry and artillery, and thousands 
upon thousands of white or yellow tilted bullock wag- 
ons. For fifty kilometres in front of us and ten behind 
us rolled this human flood, 130,000 men, 20,000 horses 
and 80,000 oxen, with here and there a pontoon train, 
a field telegraph section or a battery of immense howit- 
zers drawn by teams of twenty-four oxen. 

But behind us we could always hear the inexorable 
thunder of the German guns. At first I wondered 
that the army did not make a stand, as if ever there 
was a position which seemed capable of defence it was 
the valley of the Rasina. About four o'clock in the 
afternoon we reached a point which seemed a veritable 
Thermopylae. This was the point where the Toplitza 
flows into the Rasina. Towering mountains rose on 
either hand, while in the centre, facing up the valley, 
was an isolated hill, to left and right of which were 
flowing the two streams. It was the most unique pKDsi- 
tion of natural strength that I had ever seen. 

But I soon found the explanation of why we were 

Retreat Through the Mountains 99 

pressing on without losing an instant. Field-Marshal 
von Mackensen had sent orders to the Bulgarian force 
at Nish to advance on Kurshoumlia, zna Prokuplje, and 
close the exit to the pass. If this manoeuvre had been 
successful the whole of the Second and Third Armies 
would have been caught in the mountain gorge with 
the entrance held by the Germans and the exit closed 
by the Bulgarians. All that the Serbians had to hold 
back the whole Bulgarian Army advancing on Kursh- 
oumlia from Nish was a division and a half. If this 
force should fail to check the Bulgarians our fate was 

It wa^ therefore no matter for surprise that the 
Serbians strained every nerve to get clear of the pass, 
or that they were unable to halt for a single hour to 
hold back the pursuing Germans. Such rearguard ac- 
tions as were fought were only such as were absolutely 
necessary to protect the march of the retreating 

As the Serbian oxen cannot be driven much beyond 
their ordinar}'^ pace, on such occasions increased speed 
must be replaced by prolongation of the effort. On the 
second day of our march through the pass we were on 
the move, without even stopping to feed or water the 
oxen, from six o'clock one morning till two o'clock 
the next, or an etape of twenty-one hours. Then, after 
a stop of only four hours to feed and rest the exhausted 
animals, the march was resumed. From time to time 
a German aeroplane hovered over the column, but. 
curiously enough, made no attempt to throw lx)mbs, 

100 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

though the slow-moving column offered an excellent 

The next day we had to separate ourselves from our 
wagons, as a fresh arrival of ammunition filled them 
and left no room for our baggage or ourselves. As we 
had now conquered a position as sort of "honorary 
Komordjis" of the Timok division, the major in com- 
mand of the convoy found us another wagon. This 
was in the Provision Column of the division and was 
fortunately nearly empty, so that we were able to^ stow 
our baggage and ourselves in comparative comfort. 
The wagon was well and solidly built, with a fine 
brand-new yellow canvas tilt. This was made from 
an English tent which the driver had obtained just be- 
fore the destruction of the contents of Kraguyevatz 

The driver, a man named Stanco, was destined to 
accompany us right to the end of our Odyssey. He 
was a peasant from the Timok province, and the 
wagon and oxen under his charge were the property of 
his sister-in-law, the widow of his brother who had 
fallen a victim to the great typhus epidemic some 
months before. For three long years Stanco had 
tramped alongside his team. He had been at the siege 
of Adrianople in the war against Turkey, had gone 
through the campaign against Bulgaria, and been 
present at the rout of the Austrian Army under Field- 
Marshal von Potiorek. 

Strange to say, Stanco could speak a little French, 
having been employed in a copper mine in his native 
province run by a French company. Like most 

Retreat Through the Mountains lOi 

*'Komordji," he was a past-master of camp cookery 
and could turn out a savoury meal with the most primi- 
tive materials. He was also, like many men from 
Timok, an excellent performer on a curious native 
flute, made out of a stem of the maize plant. I used 
often to hear him in the middle of the night playing the 
strangely sad and plaintive folk-song of his people. 
He seemed to find consolation in this for his separation 
from his wife and three little children, who were try- 
ing to run his small homestead in Timok. Our chief 
difficulty now was to find bread. Flour was running 
short and the price of the loaf had gone up from two- 
pence to two francs. Other provisions were still, 
however, relatively cheap, as a fowl for instance could 
still be had for seventy-five centimes, or at most a 
dinar or franc. 

The gorge through which we passed the last day 
of our march was one of savage grandeur and had a 
singular resemblance to a mountain gorge in the Scot- 
tish highlands, bare, brown-coloured mountains, topped 
with snow and covered half-way up with stunted trees, 
towering on either hand. But we had little inclination 
to admire scenery. Since midday we began to hear 
sounds of heavy firing in front of us, which showed 
that the Bulgarian Army was forcing its way toward 
Kurshoumlia, and might even yet close the exit of the 

Even the oxen seemed to be affected by the pre- 
vailing anxiety, and stepped out with more than their 
usual vigour. The men of our column rarely spoke. 
They seemed depressed and exhausted with their long 

102 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

march, and hardly even raised their heads to watch the 
German aeroplanes which from time to time circled 
overhead. They were for the most part men from 
Timok, with the dark, swarthy complexion, brilliant 
eyes, and heavy sheepskin caps like inverted beehives 
on their heads. 

They had tramped alongside their oxen from the 
Hungarian frontier to the gates of Constantinople, 
from the plains of Thrace to the mountains of Al- 
bania. They had become indifferent to everything, liv- 
ing as in a painful dream, having in their hearts neither 
hope nor hatred, but only a sort of indescribable re- 
gret, mixed at times with a childish astonishment, at 
the accumulated horrors of the war. We had met them 
by the hazard of our route, we would soon leave them 
never to see them again, and yet I had the conviction 
that if need be they would have fought for us and died 
for us, just because we showed them kindness. Their 
lives day after day were of unchanging monotony. 
While daylight lasted, they tramped stolidly alongside 
their teams. At night we stopped wherever opportu- 
nity offered. The major in command gave an order, 
and immediately men and beasts formed the "park." 
This was done automatically, always with the same 
gestures. In ten minutes, or half an hour at the most, 
the wagons had lined up, the oxen were picketed. In 
the narrow space between the lines of wagons the fires 
were lighted. 

Squatting down on their heels, the men stretched 
their numbed hands to the flickering blaze. Some- 
times one would hear the plaintive strains from the 

Retreat Through the Mountains 103 

violin of a gipsy soldier, or the low sounds of the 
native flute. The men seemed in these sombre days to 
sleep but little. After tramping all day alongside their 
wagons they would remain seated around the bivouac 
fires, dozing or talking in low tones, till the advent of 
the cheerless dawn warned them to feed the oxen and 
prepare to resume their weary march. Nothing seemed 
to interest them, nothing to excite them. They seemed 
deaf to the ceaseless thunder of the guns in our rear 
and front, though they must have realized that if the 
Bulgarians should drive back the weak Serbian force 
holding them in check, they would fall captive to a piti- 
less enemy. I do not believe that they were really in- 
different to the prospect, but with their curious fatalism 
they were prepared to accept the inevitable. This, 
however, did not for a moment make them relax their 
constant effort to push forward without losing a mo- 

It was with relief that we saw the mountain gorge 
gradually broadening, a sign that we were approaching 
Kurshoumlia. About four o'clock in the afternoon 
we at last came in sight of that village, a small group 
of houses, the centre of an amphitheatre of hills. But 
if it was insignificant as regards size and economic im- 
portance, its strategic importance was immense. To 
the rear ran the route to Krushevatz, along which the 
Germans were marching in our pursuit. To the left 
was the route to Nish, zna Prokuplje, by which the 
Bulgarians had been advancing in their attempt to 
reach Kurshoumlia and close the exit of the pass, while 
on the right was a road leading to the route from 

104 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Kraljevo to Mitrovitza, the route along which the First 
Army was passing, pursued by the Austro-German 
forces under General von Gallwitz. The road running 
from Kurshoumlia joined this route at Rashka, where, 
a week before, the General Headquarters had been in- 
stalled on leaving Krushevatz. 

The panorama presented by Kurshoumlia and the 
environs was a marvellous one. On all the hills were 
countless wagons and the bivouacs of the troops. Guns 
were parked in long lines and thousands of horses were 
either picketed or turned loose to crop the short herb- 
age. From the further extremity, on the road leading 
to Pristina, our only line of retreat, long lines of wag- 
ons were moving off, their places being immediately 
occupied by the column debouching from the pass. 

The news we received at Kurshoumlia was not 
cheerful. The First Army, which was retreating from 
Kraljevo to Mitrovitza, was being hard pressed by the 
Germans. The latter were reported to have reached 
Rashka. If this was so, our position was critical in 
the extreme. As soon as the last Serbian regiment had 
left the pass and reached Kurshoumlia, we might ex- 
pect tO' see the first German column debouch from it. 
The Bulgarians who had marched from Nish to attack 
us were still being held at Prokuplje, ten miles distant. 
But the most serious news was that of the German ad- 
vance to Rashka, because if they should reach Mitro- 
vitza and march on Pristina our retreat would be com- 
pletely cut off, and in a week's time we would be the 
centre of a circle of German and Bulgarian bayonets. 

It was for this reason that the whole army was con- 

Retreat Through the Mountains 105 

tinuing its retreat on Pristina, to join hands with the 
First Army which was retreating from Kraljevo 
through Rashka and Mitrovitza. If the movement 
should succeed the whole of the Serbian Army, or 
rather, what was left of it, would be concentrated at 
Pristina, in the triangle of which that town would be 
the apex, and the base a line drawn from Mitrovitza 
to Prisrend. As the population of this territory is nine- 
tenths xA.lbanian and the people were conquered by the 
Serbs less than four years before, too much confidence 
could not be placed in their loyalty to King Peter. The 
position of the Serbian Army was therefore becoming 
more and more desperate every hour. Desertions were 
becoming daily more numerous. We shot three de- 
serters in the camp the evening after our arrival ; but I 
could see from the sullen attitude of the men that the 
carrying out of the sentence was straining things to 
breaking strain. 

In Serbia, as I have already stated, conscription is 
regional; the men in a battalion all come from the 
same district and those in the companies generally 
from the same village. They are many of them blood 
relations, being brothers, cousins, uncles and nephews, 
etc. When once the work of demoralization begins, it 
is difficult to inflict drastic punishment. The three 
men we shot were deserters from other regiments, and 
the men of the Timok division regarded their fate with 
more indifference than they would have shown had 
they been from their part of the country. That the 
fighting in the pass had been severe in the last twenty- 
four hours was shown by the fact that ten wagons 

io6 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

came in filled with harness of the horses killed in the 
recent engagements. General Yurishitch-Sturm did 
not dare to oppose the Germans as long as the mass of 
his army was in the pass, but once the main body and 
the transport train was through in safety, he put up a 
better rearguard fight. A battery of howitzers and 
two batteries of field artillery which came in the night 
of our arrival bore signs of the heavy fighting they had 
been engaged in during the preceding forty-eight hours. 

A ceaseless stream of troops and transport was pour- 
ing toward Pristina. They only remained bivouacked 
in Kurshoumlia long enough to give the exhausted men 
and animals the much needed rest before embarking on 
the 75-kilometres march to Pristina. As we lay on the 
grass on the side of the mountains where the transport 
column was bivouacked, we could hear the triple can- 
nonade from the Germans on the north, the Bulgarians 
on the east and the Austrians on the west, drawing 
nearer hour by hour, showing that the claws of the vise 
were slowly but surely closing in on us. A number of 
pessimists regarded our capture as certain, but as we 
could do nothing till the exhausted bullocks were fed 
and rested, we could only posses our souls in patience 
with such philosophy as we might. 

As I and my French colleague still had the two 
horses which survived the disaster to our carriage 
tethered to our ox wagon, we had always the possibil- 
ity, on the condition that we abandoned all our other 
worldly possessions, of being able to keep out of the 
actual clutches of the enemy by taking to the moun- 



THE exhausted state of our oxen forced us to pass 
three anxious days at KurshoumHa. The sec- 
ond day the dull boom of guns to our right confirmed 
the report that the Germans were at Rashka. We were 
therefore nearly completely surrounded, the Germans 
being to the north, the Austro-Germans to the west 
and the Bulgarians to the east. The only line of re- 
treat was to the south toward Pristina. If both the 
armies we were with and the First Army marching zia 
Mitrovitza reached there in safety, the entire armed 
force of Serbia would be concentrated round that 

Our wagon was lying on the steep slope of a wind- 
swept mountain. Our two wretched horses, which had 
suffered greatly from the scarcity of forage on the 
march through the pass, were turned loose to graze. A 
hundred yards or so behind us on the crest of the hill 
was a bare, sun-parched plateau on which were a series 
of half-ruined trenches, the last vestiges of the war 
against Turkey. Here the artillery had established 
some anti-air guns to drive off any of the enemy's aero- 
planes which might be tempted to bomb the closely- 
packed wagon park. Behind these a Serbian aeroplane 


io8 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

lay under the guard of a sentry. It was ready, at the 
first signal, to go to meet the attack of any German 
airmen. From time to time it also made a flight to 
reconnoitre the position of the army of Field-Marshal 
von Mackensen. The troops holding the Bulgarians 
in check at Prokuplje had also been reinforced by the 
troops which had safely debouched from the pass, so 
that we could breathe more freely. The chances of a 
successful advance by the Bulgarians had now much 

In the afternoon of the day following our arrival, 
I paid a visit to the village of Kurshoumlia. I found 
it crowded to excess. The streets were filled with an 
extraordinary mass of wagons, motor-cars, guns, pon- 
toon trains, horses, men and oxen. A military wireless 
station was crackling away busily sending reports and 
receiving orders from the Headquarters Staff. Long 
columns were still pouring from the pass we had 
quitted the day before. At the other extremity of the 
village other columns, which had been reposing for 
three or four days, were pouring out in the direction 
ni Pristina. As soon as they evacuated their bivouacs 
their places were at once taken by the newcomers. 
The wretched oxen of the arriving columns dragged 
themselves along witli hanging heads in the last stages 
of physical exhaustion. Many had lost their shoes in 
the rocky defiles and were limping badly. Shoeing 
shops had, however, been installed in every wagon 
park. The shoeless beasts were thrown on their backs, 
their feet roped to a wooden tripod, and in a few 

Kurshoumlia to Pristina 109 

minutes the thin metal plates were again attached to 
their h(X)fs. 

We found that the money crisis which had long 
been threatening had now become acute. No one would 
accept the Serbian ten dinar notes, and as those who 
still possessed silver money refused to part with it, 
things were rapidly approaching a deadlock. Nearly 
all the civil population had left and the staffs of the 
Second and Third Armies were already en route for 
Pristina. All that remained in the village were a few 
subaltern functionaries, some military surgeons and 
Red Cross sections and the commanders of the units 
left to cover the retreat and delay the advance of the 

The National Stanitza, or official headquarters, was 
besieged by a crowd of wounded, stragglers and sol- 
diers who had lost touch with their regiments. They all 
demanded bread, but only the wounded were served. 
The others received the curt and apparently harsh 
order, "Eat maize." As if to excuse his apparent 
harshness the commissary turned to me and said in a 
low voice, 'T can't tell the poor devils that all is lost, 
that there is no hope of the Allies coming to our assist- 
ance, and that we have only flour and fodder for two 
more weeks." 

In the streets not a single woman was to be seen. 
All the shops, except a pharmacy, a hairdresser's, and 
a cafe were closed. We entered the latter. Seated on 
the srround were a hundred or so soldiers without 
arms, their uniforms in rags and covered with dust, 
many of them wounded, and all in the last stage of 

no From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

physical exhaustion. They were drinking- raki, the 
national spirit of Serbia. The terrible state of the 
atmosphere soon drove us out, we preferred the 
monotonous solitude of our bivouac. 

As night fell the spectacle was a wonderful one. On 
all the amphitheatre of hills thousands of camp-fires 
were burning. In our bivouac we passed what seemed 
interminable hours. The cold was intense and wood 
was none too plentiful. Seated round the fires the 
"Komordjis," or wagon drivers, turned and re-turned 
before the flames the long linen rags in which they 
envelop their feet before putting on the heavy leather 
moccasins with upward pointed toes which constitute 
their footwear. At night the faithful Stanco made a 
bed for us under the tilt of the wagon with boxes of 
shells for a mattress and cases of Russian rifle car- 
tridges for a pillow. 

But the enemy was advancing continually, and we 
had again to get en route, join once more the endless 
columns marching from morning to night in the mud 
and rain. It was blowing half a gale which drove the 
rain in sheets before it in sudden squalls. 

The whole Serbian Army, with the exception of the 
few divisions required to fight the rearguard actions 
necessary to delay the advance of the German and 
Bulgarian Armies, was now again in retreat. It was 
clear that a certain amount of indecision prevailed as 
to the future operations. The probability of the re- 
treat ending in a disaster was becoming more obvious 
day by day. The embarrassments of the Government 
had reached such a point that the civil and military ad- 

Kurshoumlia to Pristina iii 

ministrations threatened to collapse beneath the strain. 
In fact, the civil administration had already done so. 
The whole of the population of northern and southern 
Serbia was now pouring into the former Sandjak of 
Novi Bazaar and the Albanian province lying between 
Pristina and Prisrend. Ninety per cent, of these peo- 
ple had no money and no food, and even if they had 
had money, unless it was in silver, it would have been 
no good to them, as the peasants and villagers refused 
to accept paper in any form. 

As a consequence, the Government had to rescind 
its order that all the male population above fourteen 
years of age should retreat before the Germans. The 
problem of feeding these hundreds of thousands of 
fugitives had proved an unsolvable one, and they were 
now ordered tO' return to their homes. But it was one 
thing to give an order and another tO' carry it out. 
The tide of human misery which had been flowing to 
the Sandjak and towards Albania had now turned 
back, and was flowing northward. But as they had 
already swept the country clean of every kind of pro- 
visions on their southward march, they entered a desert 
when they started to re-traverse it on the homeward 
journey. Ever)^ minute or two I met groups of gaunt, 
hollow-eyed men and women, dragging themselves 
wearily back along the roads they had had so much 
difficulty in passing a few days before. One often 
came on a dead body or on some poor wretch who had 
Iain down to die. 

The valley from Kurshoumlia along the banks of 
the Kosanitza is one of savage grandeur, black basaltic 

112 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

mountains, their summits capped with snow, towering 
on either hand. I learned on the third day of the 
march that a flying Bulgarian column had climbed over 
these mountains and had attacked an Army Service 
Column which had bivouacked in the village in which 
I had slept the night before. Over forty men were 
massacred, many being tortured to death, and all the 
bullocks and horses driven off by the Albanian rebels 
who had guided the Bulgarians over the mountains. 
From a military point of view the raid was of little im- 
portance, as the raiders were unable even to carry off 
the contents of the wagons, but it was a proof that the 
feeling of the Albanian population towards their Ser- 
bian conquerors of four years ago was still tinged 
with hostility. 

The very strictest measures had to be taken to pre- 
vent horses, forage and material of all kinds being 
stolen during the night. The sentry in our camp one 
night shot an Albanian horse thief dead, which cer- 
tainly did not contribute to improve the relations with 
the man's native village. It was, in fact, a relief when 
we saw on the horizon the line of the old Turkish 
blockhouses which formerly guarded the Albanian 
frontier-line, as it was a sign that the passage through 
the mountain gorge was drawing to an end, and that 
we would soon debouch on the mountain plateau. 

I travelled all day with four batteries of 15.5 centi- 
metre guns, each drawn by fourteen powerful oxen, 
which were coming from Prokuplje, where they had 
been holding the Bulgarians at bay while the Second 
and Third Armies were traversing the Krushevatz- 

Kurshojmlia to Pristina 113 

Kurshoumlia pass. The officers told me they had no 
other orders than to retreat in the direction of Pris- 
tina, and were marching in that direction until they 
should receive fresh instructions. As we climbed 
toward the upper plateau, the cold was intense, a 
violent north-easterly gale driving a violent snow- 
storm before it. But in spite of all obstacles, the end- 
less columns of infantry, cavalry, artillery and bag- 
gage train moved steadily southward, and we had the 
certainty that if the rate of progress was kept up, we 
would be in Pristina in three days' time. 

About two in the afternoon we left the pass and 
entered the plateau. There was an instant improve- 
ment in the road, the rocky and muddy mountain 
route giving way to a fine, broad highway in excellent 
repair, over which one could have driven a motor-car 
at sixty miles an hour. Under these improved condi- 
tions I ordered the horses to be saddled, and my 
French confrere and myself pushed ahead to look for 
quarters for the night. 

These we were fortunate enough to find in the 
gendarmerie headquarters, a large and roomy build- 
ing with stabling for over fifty horses. In fact, it 
was more a fortress than a house. It had been con- 
structed by the Turks fifty years ago as one of the 
centres for maintaining order among the wild Alba- 
nian tribesmen. A couple of score of Albanians were 
employed as stable hands, water-carriers, woodcutters, 
etc. It was significant of the relations between them 
and their Serbian conquerors that if one of them was 

114 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

sent to the well a hundred yards away to draw a 
bucket of water, he was accompanied by a gendarme 
with a loaded rifle. If this was not done, I was in- 
formed, the Albanian would give "leg bail" the instant 
he turned the corner. All the gates were kept bolted 
and barred with a sentry outside to keep the men 
employed within the building from taking flight. As 
the Serbians, twelve months ago, disarmed the whole 
Albanian population, the latter was helpless as far as 
the use of physical force was concerned, but it can 
easily be imagined what a favourable territory it was 
for the activities of German and Bulgarian spies. 

We arrived at Pristina on the afternoon of the 15th 
November. We found that with the flood of Serbian 
refugees, the Albanian element, generally predominant, 
had been somewhat submerged. During the last two 
days' march our bullock wagon was attached to the 
Provision Column of the Combined Division, one of 
the corps d'elite of the Serbian Army. The nineteen- 
year-old wife of the major in command rode with him 
at the head of the column ; for twelve months past 
she had shared all the fatigues of the campaign. She 
told me she was married ten days before the declara- 
tion of war by Austria, and three days after the 
wedding her husband left her to join his regiment. 
Three months later he was brought back to Belgrade 
with a splinter of a six-inch shell in his chest and lay 
for weeks between life and death. As soon as he was 
able to ride a horse again he asked to be at least 
allowed to serve in the army transport. His wife had 

Kurshoumlia to Pristina 115 

accompanied him, and for the past year had shared the 
fortunes of the Serbian Army.* 

Pristina presented an extraordinary spectacle. On 
the ampitheatre of hills surrounding the town were 
camps and bivouacs extending as far as the eye could 
reach, while every road right up to the horizon was 
filled with endless columns, horse, foot, artillery and 
transport, all pouring toward the town. The narrow 
streets were filled to overflowing with Serbian soldiers 
of every arm, French aviators and engineer ofificers, 
British soldiers of the Marine Gun Battery, and 
French, Russian, Greek, British and Roumanian Red 
Cross doctors and nurses. 

A curious optimism prevailed. Rumours of the 
most extraordinary nature were in circulation; the 
Bulgarians had been driven back from Prokuplje, 
Serbian patrols had re-entered Nish, Uskub had been 
recaptured, a Russian Army had entered Bulgaria and 
occupied Negotin, etc., etc. But there is no country 
in the world where one has to be more distrustful of 
rumour than Serbia. The fact that the whole Second 
and Third Armies were continuing their movements 
of retreat discounted considerably the reported suc- 
cesses at Prokuplje and Nish. The recapture of Uskub 
had been so often announced and as often denied, 
that I felt I would want better authority than rumours 
in the bazaar of Pristina. 

On the contrary, everj'thing went to show that the 

* The Major and his wife and the men of their convoy were 
massacred by the Albanians a few weeks later in the vicinity 
of Dibra. 

Ii6 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

position was as critical as ever and growing more 
desperate every hour. No one seemed to know either 
where the Government or the Headquarters were. I 
inquired at half a dozen points, but could only get the 
vaguest kind of reply till by accident I met a colonel 
who was principal aide-de-camp to King Peter. He told 
me the King had arrived in Pristina two hours before, 
and that both the Government and Headquarters Staff 
were at Mitrovitza, forty kilometres distant. The 
situation, he informed me, was getting blacker every 
hour, and unless the Serbian Army could, by a last 
desperate effort, break the circle of bayonets that was 
slowly but surely closing in on it, its fate was sealed. 
The money crisis was as acute as ever, and we were 
rapidly approaching famine prices. I had to pay 20 
dinars for adding a thickness of leather to the soles 
of my boots. At any other time a couple of dinars 
would have been regarded as exorbitant. An attempt 
had been made to relieve the monetary situation by 
putting postage stamps in circulation, but after a day 
or two these in their turn ceased to have the public 
confidence. Maize bread was being sold in the streets 
at 5 dinars the two-pound loaf, instead of 25 centimes. 
The soldiers, however, continued to receive their usual 
rations. There was, I was told, food for the men and 
forage for the animals for ten days more; after that 
time famine would be staring us in the face. This, 
of. course, only referred to the Army; the civil popula- 
tion had been face to face with starvation for a long 



AT Pristina we were able to get some particulars 
of the retreat of the First Army under the 
Voivode Zhivoin Mishitch, which had been marching 
through the mountains on a line parallel to that of the 
Second and Third Armies with which we had been. 
This route ran from Kraljevo via Rashka to Mitro- 
vitza, whence the route lay across the plain of Kossovo 
to Pristina. 

I have already, in an earlier chapter, described my 
visit to Kraljevo, where the Government and the 
Diplomatic Corps had taken refuge on the i8th Oc- 
tober, w^hen the advance of the Bulgarians had 
menaced Nish. A part of the Diplomatic and Consular 
Corps, which had not been able to find lodgings in 
Kraljevo, was quartered at Tchatchak, a small town a 
few miles from Kraljevo. A few days later, the 26th 
October, the turning movement executed from the 
west by the Austro-German forces under General von 
Gallwitz threatened first Uzhitze and then Tchatchak, 
and caused orders to be given for the immediate evac- 
uation of these towns. This was carried out between 
the 26th and 29th October. Simultaneously came the 


ii8 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

news that the Headquarters Staff had evacuated 
Kraguyevatz, and installed itself at Krushevatz. Two 
days later the Government and the Diplomatic Corps 
quitted Kraljevo to traverse the pass through the 
mountains to gain Rashka, on the frontier of what 
was formerly the Turkish Sandjak of Novi Bazaar. 

With the Government the population of all the towns 
threatened by the Austro-German advance poured like 
a flood through the mountain pass. On all the routes 
converging toward the valley of the Ibar marched 
thousands of homeless, starving people. As they ap- 
proached the mountains they found the towns and vil- 
lages becoming smaller and smaller and less able to 
afford hospitality tO' the population in flight. Thou- 
sands were forced to camp in the open in the pouring 
rain, their miserable wagons, filled with such furniture 
and household goods as they had been able to save, 
parked in the mud, surrounded by the cattle, sheep and 
pigs they had been able to drive with them. 

At first the army was in the rear of this fleeing mass, 
fighting a rearguard action with the advancing enemy 
and holding them in check. But soon they were 
menaced on their rear just as the Second and Third 
/\rmies had been, and forced to traverse the mountains 
in all haste so as to gain the Sandjak of Novi Bazaar 
before the enemy could close the other end of the 

As a consequence the retreating army soon swelled 
the ranks of the fleeing population. The troops found 
the roads encumbered with a mass of peasants, 
wagons, herds of cattle, droves of sheep and all the 

The Retreat of the First Army 119 

impedimenta of a nation in flight. It was only at the 
price of tireless effort that the troops, the artillery and 
the baggage train forced their way along the crowded 
roads. The spectacle of this starving multitude was 
continually under the eyes of the retreating troops, 
and naturally did not tend to encourage them. Many 
of the regiments were themselves without bread, and 
wept tears of rage at their helplessness to succor or 
defend their starving compatriots. 

A French surgeon who took part in this terrible 
march gave me the following account of their journey : 

"Our group," he said, "consisted of Drs. Collet 
and Gandart (two surgeons with the rank of Colonel), 
nine surgeon-majors, six assistant surgeons and seven 
nurses. We managed, after a long search, to find five 
ox-wagons to transport the more indispensable part 
of our ambulance outfit and our baggage. We left 
Kraljevo on November 3rd. All we had in the way 
of provisions were a few pounds of biscuits. We had 
not a single cooking utensil. 

"W^e marched on foot, forcing our way with 
difficulty through the mass of people and vehicles 
which blocked the route. By sundown we had not 
discovered any signs of a village, and determined to 
camp for the night in a majestic amphitheatre of deso- 
late, snow-capped mountains. On the opposite side of 
the Ibar, on one of the loftiest summits of the range, 
we could see the ruins of an immense castle. These 
were the ruins of the castle of Maglitch, the 'Castle of 
the Mists,' dating from the time of Stephen Nemanja, 
who reigned in Serbia in the Middle Ages. 

120 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

"Here we installed ourselves as best we could. We 
cut some maize in a neighbouring field to make our- 
selves a bed. Luckily we had met en route a peasant 
driving some sheep, who had sold us one. This we 
roasted whole on a spit made from the branch of a tree. 
When it was cooked we cut it up, by the light of a 
guttering candle, with our pocket-knives, and managed 
thus to stay our hunger, 

"After this meal we lay down on our bed of maize 
straw, pressing one against the other for warmth, for 
the cold was severe. At first the night was fine and 
starlit, but after midnight a wind sprang up, bringing 
with it the rain, which fell in a deluge. 

"At six o'clock, soaked to the skin and frozen to the 
marrow, we resumed our weary march. We marched 
all day without anything to eat, and when at last, 
completely exhausted, we stopped for the night, we 
had not even maize straw to make a bed and were 
forced to sleep on the bare ground on the side of the 
mountain. Some Austrian prisoners who arrived at 
our halting-place had managed to find some wood 
and had built some fires. We gathered round these and 
boiled some tea, which we drank without sugar. We 
passed the night without sleeping beside the fires, and 
at dawn resumed our weary march. It was evening 
before we reached Rashka, where we arrived fam- 
ished, exhausted, and half dead with cold." 

Rashka in its turn became for a week the new 
capital of Serbia. Here the Government, the Diplo- 
matic Corps and the Headquarters Staff took up their 
quarters. A French confrere, M. Henry Barby, who 

The Retreat of the First Army 121 

took part in the retreat of the First Army, met M. 
Pashitch, the Serbian Prime Minister, on the bridge 
over the Ibar, regarding that landscape with a melan- 
choly gaze. "It is here that Serbia had its birth," 
he remarked, "God grant that Rashka may not be its 

But it was impossible for the Government and the 
First Army to remain longer at Rashka. They could 
only stop there as long as the Second and Third 
Armies were between them and the Bulgarians, and 
were in a position to prevent the army of Field- 
Marshal von Mackensen from debouching from the 
Krushevatz-Kurshoimilia pass at the latter village. 
When these armies continued their retreat towards 
Pristina, the First Army, in order to maintain the 
liaison with them, had to resume its march and fall 
back towards Mitrovitza. 

Once there the Government would again find itself 
in contact with a railway, the line which runs from 
Mitrovitza to Uskub via Voutchitrn and Pristina. As 
Uskub had been for a long time past in the hands of the 
Bulgarians, it could only be utilized as far as Lipljan, 
a station thirty kilometres beyond Pristina, whence 
the road runs to Prisrend on the frontier of Albania. 



AS it was difficult to get any clear idea of the situa- 
tion without finding out definitely the position 
of the First Army and the intentions of the Govern- 
ment and Headquarters Staff, I determined to take 
the train to Mitrovitza, forty kilometres distant, where 
the latter was established. It was also rumoured that 
that nomadic banking establishment, the Banque 
Franco-Serbe, was moving with the Government, and 
as my money was beginning to run low I was anxious 
to get a cheque on Paris cashed by it. 

The railway to Mitrovitza runs across the historic 
plain of Kossovo, where five centuries ago Serbia, 
after a last desperate battle, fell under the domination 
of the Turks. The tomb of the Turkish Sultan Murad 
I., who was slain by a wounded Serbian soldier in the 
very moment of his victory, is one of the striking 
features of the landscape. The battle of Kossovo. 
though it ended in the defeat of the Tsar Lazar's 
Serbian Army, is one of the most glorious feats of 
arms in the annals of Serbia, and its memory five 
centuries later spurred on the army of King Peter to 
fresh acts of heroism. 

One of the curious features of railway building 

At Mitrovitza 123 

in the Balkans is tliat the railway stations are always 
at considerable distance from the towns they serve. 
In Pristina the distance is no less than ten kilometres 
or two hours' good walking. The major in command 
of our transport column kindly lent my French 
colleague and myself a two-horse carriage to convey 
us to the station, and about midday we were en route 
across the historic plain of Kossovo for Mitrovitza. 
During the whole forty kilometres we had ample 
evidence that the retreat on Pristina continued. The 
roads were filled with endless lines of transport con- 
voys, while in every station train after train was being 
loaded and sent off. 

In the train I met a Russian confrere, the corre- 
spondent of the Novoe Vreniia. He had been with 
the troops opposing the Bulgarian advance from 
Nish and Prokuplje, and had fallen back with them 
to Pristina. He was desirous of crossing by Ipek and 
Andreyevitza, to send off his dispatches from the 
powerful French wireless station at Podgoritza, in 
Montenegro, now our only means of communication 
with the outer world. 

At Mitrovitza a disappointment awaited us. The 
Government and Headquarters had left by special 
train for Prisrend an hour before. Not only this, 
but orders had been given to evacuate the town and 
the last train, we were told, would leave at one 
o'clock the following day. There was nothing for 
it but to wait for this train, so we tramped off to 
the town situated, as usual, a mile or two from the 
station. We found the inhabitants of Mitrovitza in a 

124 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

state of panic. All the Turkish shops and cafes were 
closed and barricaded. 

There is no doubt the sympathies of the Mohamme- 
dan portion of the population were with the German 
invaders, but as there were large bodies of Serbian 
troops in the town and still more outside opposing the 
German advance, the terrified inhabitants saw the pos- 
sibility, not to say the probability, of a German 
bombardment. Thousands were, therefore, preparing 
to evacuate the city. I saw that the prospects of the 
one o'clock train next day being taken by assault by 
a crowd of terror-stricken fugitives were very great, 
so that when my Russian colleague arrived with the 
news that there would be a special train sent off at 
six o'clock in the morning, we determined to travel by 
it if possible. But meantime the problem was to find 
food and lodging. No one would accept a centime in 
paper money. Fortunately we possessed a small but 
sufficient store of silver pieces, and were able to pro- 
cure a very unsatisfactory meal and a still more un- 
satisfactory bed above a Turkish cafe. 

As the town was plunged in Egyptian darkness and 
there was no amusement in stumbling along narrow, 
deserted Turkish lanes and alleys, there was nothing 
for it but to go to bed at eight o'clock. About mid- 
night I was awakened by sounds of life and movement 
in the street below. There were sounds of rolling 
vehicles and trampling of feet. I thought at first it 
was the population in flight, but the sound was too 
regular for that. I got up and went to the window. 
It was the First Serbian Army in full retreat. 

At Mitrovitza 125 

By the light of the guttering candle swinging above 
the door of our cafe, 1 could see company after com- 
pany, squadron after scj[uadron, and battery after bat- 
tery pouring past. Hour after hour the steady "tramp, 
tramp" of thousands of feet echoed in the narrow 
streets. It was four o'clock in the morning when the 
last battery rumbled through, the roll of the wheels 
drowning the soft patter of the hoofs of the oxen 
drawing the guns. 

And then it began to rain, and such rain ! Talk 
of the "windows of heaven being opened," the whole 
side of the house was out. It came down in sheets, 
it came down in buckets, it rained ramrods. The 
gutters in the centre of the streets became rushing 
torrents, while Niagaras poured from all the over- 
hanging eaves. And in the midst of this deluge we 
had to set out for the station three miles away. The 
road, which yesterday had been muddy, was today a 
"slough of despond." In the Egyptian darkness there 
was no means of avoiding pools and puddles. The 
chilly rain, driven by half a gale, blinded one, and 
every now and then we would splash right up to the 
knees in pools of muddy water. 

At last we reached the station soaked to the skin, 
only to learn that the supposed special train was a 
myth and that there would be no means of transport 
back to Pristina till one o'clock in the afternoon. The 
idea of splashing our way l^ack to our cheerless room 
in the cafe in the rain and darkness was beyond my 
courage. I declared that I would first try to dry myself 
at the immense fire burning: in the station-master's 

126 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

office, and wait for daylight. Every moment the gale 
increased in fierceness, while the cold became more 
intense. The rain had long since turned to snow. I 
thought of the plight of the twenty thousand men of 
the First Army whom I had seen tramping through 
the town, and who were now out in the desolation of 
the plain of Kossovo, on their forty kilometres' march 
to Pristina. 

Just at this moment a locomotive backed into the 
station and stood throbbing and humming opposite 
the station-master's office. "Where is it bound for?" 
I asked him. "Pristina." "Can't we travel by it?" 
He looked at our blue, white and red brassards (which 
meant that we were attached to the Headquarters) 
hesitatingly, but finally said, "No, it's quite impossible." 
He must, however, have consulted someone in author- 
ity, for two minutes later he came running in to 
announce, "If you can be ready in half a minute, you 
can take the engine." It did not take us more than 
ten seconds to climb aboard, and a minute later we 
shot out into the blizzard. Unfortunately we were 
running tender first, so that we had no protection 
against the weather. But we were too glad to get 
away from Mitrovitza to worry about such trifles. 
Every now and then we dashed through flooded parts 
of the line with the water up to the footplate. When 
the line ran alongside the road we could see that it 
was strewn with the dead bodies of horses and oxen 
which had succumbed to cold and fatigue. 

When we got to Pristina station we found it a scene 
of wintry desolation. It was thronged with thousands 

At Mitrovitza 127 

of troops, waiting to entrain, who sought shelter from 
the snow, which was now being driven by a regular 
hurricane, behind sheds, out-houses and station build- 
ings. In the station-master's ofifice I met an English 
officer in the Serbian Service, Captain Piagge, who 
was waiting to entrain with his machine-gim section. 
He gave us the latest news and, what was still better, 
some excellent French brandy from his pocket flask. 
But if the brandy was good, it was more than could 
be said of the news, which was as bad as could be. 
The Serbian Army was menaced from all sides. Only 
one line of retreat remained open to it in the direction 
of Prisrend. The Headquarters Staff had, therefore, 
decided to abandon the tactics of retreat which had 
been imposed on them by the Allies, to take the 
offensive and to risk one last desperate battle to re- 
trieve the situation. 

Since the Austro-German attack on the Danube, 
the instructions of the Allies to the Serbian Staff had 
been to avoid risking everything on a pitched battle 
and to retreat slowly, delaying the advance of the 
enemy as much as possible, until the Allies should be 
in a position to come to their assistance. This the 
Serbians had done for nearly six weeks, with the 
result that they were now almost forced back against 
the mountains of Albania, and the Allies seemed as 
far as ever from being able to help them. 

The Serbian General Staff had therefore decided 
the only chance left was to hurl the whole Serbian 
Army on the Bulgarians' positions in the south, burst 
their way over the Katchanik mountain range and 

128 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

recapture Uskub. Once there, they could give their 
hand to the French force and form a new front facing 
east, with Salonica as their point d'appui on their 
extreme right. It was a last and desperate throw of 
the dice, a forlorn hope to be undertaken with an 
army almost in a state of exhaustion. But there was 
a fighting chance of success, and the retreat on Pris- 
rend meant nothing but disaster. 



AS the blizzard still continued, my French 
confrere and I stopped as long as we could 
in the railway station of Pristina, watching all day 
the entraining of the Serbian Army, now en route 
for its offensive in the Katchanik mountains against 
the Bulgarians. Regiment after regiment and battery 
after battery lined up under the pitiless blast of the 
tempest and in the driving snow to await their turn 
to entrain. The men were chilled to the very bone 
and had before them a long railway journey in open 
trucks, exposed to the fierce gale. On arriving at 
their destination, they would have to begin their weary 
march in the snow-covered mountains, advancing 
against an enemy strongly entrenched. Their task 
seemed one above human powers, but it was the one 
last desperate chance in the terrible game of war. 

No other choice was left to them. The Austro- 
German force, under General von Gallwitz, advancing 
from the north-west was only fifteen short miles away. 
Field-Marshal von Mackensen, on the north, was 
slowly but surely drawing nearer to Pristina, while a 
Bulgarian Army was pouring from the southwest. As 
the whole of the southern frontier from Strumnitza 


130 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

to Monastir was now in the possession of the Bul- 
garians, the circle of steel round the doomed Serbian 
Army was almost complete. Only one single line of 
retreat still remained open to it, the route to Prisrend. 
But that route offered no salvation. The enemy's line 
would close in as inexorably on Prisrend as it was 
doing on Pristina, and at Prisrend no further retreat 
would be possible, the limits of Serbian territory 
would be reached. Beyond Prisrend lay the desolate 
mountain ranges of Albania. 

The fate of King Peter's gallant army therefore 
depended on the last throw of the dice, a desperate 
offensive to break the encircling Bulgarian line in the 
direction of Uskub. If the attempt should be a success 
and should be supported by a simultaneous attack by 
the Allies from Salonica, there was just a fighting 
chance that the Serbs might be able to join hands 
with the French and British troops. If this was done, 
it would at least offer a safe line of retreat into Greek 

The officers with whom I talked in the railway 
station had few illusions as tO' the possible success of 
this desperate effort. Their troops were exhausted 
and discouraged by their three-hLmdred-mile march 
from the Danube. Desertions had been numerous and 
provisions and fodder were running low. The effort 
seemed beyond the strength of the much-tried army. 
But, as I have said, it was the last hope, and as such 
it was accepted. Officers and men braced themselves 
for this final effort. 

But when three o'clock arrived, we could no longer 

The Serbian Offensive 131 

delay our departure for Pristina. We had a two hours' 
tramp before us to reach the town, and by five o'clock 
night would be beginning to fall. In Serbia there is 
little or no twilight, darkness follows a few minutes 
after tlie setting of the sun. As we had to find our 
wagon among a mass of ten thousand parked on the 
mountains round the town, we did not want to reach 
Pristina after nightfall. 

When we emerged from the station a wonderful 
sight met our eyes. As far as the eye could reach, 
the snow-covered plain of Kossovo extended on every 
side. Every feature of the landscape was blotted out 
by a shroud of snow, feet deep. Over this, long lines 
of snow-clad figures could be seen moving, the 
columns extending for miles. These were Serbian reg- 
iments starting on their weary march to the mountain 
range over which they must force their way to attempt 
to join hands with the French. They had a peculiarly 
ghostly appearance due to the fact that every man tried 
to protect himself from the driving snow by wrapping 
himself in the section of tent canvas he carried. 

By this time the wind had fallen, and the curious 
silence which accompanies heavy snow reigned every- 
where. In every direction were the ghostly columns 
plodding in single file over fields and along roads. On 
all sides were dead horses and oxen, singly and in 
heaps, half buried in snow, with swarms of carrion 
crows whirling and croaking overhead. It was a 
realization of the retreat from Moscow such as I never 
expected to see. The gaunt, half -starved faces of the 
passing soldiers did nothing to destroy the illusion. 

132 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

When, after a two hours' tramp, we reached Pris- 
tina a fresh surprise awaited us. All the hills around 
the town, which twenty-four hours before had been 
covered with tens of thousands of transport wagons, 
were absolutely deserted. The red rays of the setting 
sun lit up nothing but rolling miles of virgin snow, 
not a wagon or an ox was to be seen. On climbing 
to the summit of the hill where we had left the 
transport of the Combined Division, with which was 
our baggage wagon, we found nothing left but the 
four field guns which had been placed in battery there 
to defend the convoys against aircraft. All the men 
of the battery could tell us was that the whole trans- 
port had inspanned and left two hours after our 
departure for Mitrovitza, the previous day. One of 
the men thought we would find it in camp near the 
station, but he was not sure. 

The situation was not a cheerful one. There we 
were at nightfall on a snow-covered, desolate moun- 
tain, while the wagon (which contained our food and 
baggage and formed our sleeping quarters) and our 
two horses had completely disappeared. All we pos- 
sessed in the world was the clothes we stood up in, and 
this in a town where accommodation was not to be had 
and food non-existent. Then I remembered that two 
days before I had found lodgings for three French 
Red Cross nurses who were leaving for Prisrend. If 
they had left their rooms might be vacant. They took 
some finding in the darkness, but we finally located 
them. We found them occupied by a Russian 
military doctor and his stafif. He had stabled the 

The Serbian Offensive 133 

wagons and pack-horses of his ambulance in the court- 
yard, while he and his six aides had commandeered 
the rooms. But in war time where there's room for 
six there's room for eight, and he gave up a corner of 
the floor as our sleeping accommodation. 

He informed us the Headquarters Staff of the 
Second Army had arrived in Pristina. This solved the 
question of food till we should find our wagon, if we 
ever should do so. While we were dining at the mess 
that evening we received confirmation of the Serbian 
offensive in the direction of Uskub. It was clear that 
it was looked upon as a forlorn hope, a fighting chance 
that might enable the Serbians to retrieve an ap- 
parently hopeless situation. At the same time no one 
had any illusions as to the desperate nature of the 
task, in view of the terrible privations and fatigues 
through which the troops had just passed. But the 
courage and self-sacrifice of the Serbian soldier seem 
to have no limits, and it was felt that what was 
humanly possible would be done. 

The whole of the next day we devoted to a fruit- 
less hunt for our missing wagon. The only clue to its 
possible whereabouts was that the Transport Column 
of the Combined Division was encamped at Lipljan. 
a village about thirty kilometres distant. On the 
departure of the Russian doctor and his ambulance 
from the house where we had been stopping we had 
offered hospitality to a section of the Scottish 
Women's Medical Unit, which was en route for Pris- 
rend. As the sections had to pass through Lipljan, Miss 
Chesney, the doctor in charge, offered us seats in their 

134 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

automobile. On arriving at Lipljan, we discovered 
that the Transport Column had already left. All we 
could find out was that it was marching in the direction 
of Prisrend. We therefore arranged to continue our 
journey with the Scottish ambulance. 

All day long at Lipljan we could hear the battle 
raging. The mountain range to our left was the scene 
of the fighting. During the whole afternoon I watched, 
with my field-glass, the Bulgarian shrapnel bursting 
along the crest. At one moment a couple of companies 
of Bulgarian infantry even managed to slip between 
the Serbian lines and pushed forward till they were 
able to open fire on the railway station about 300 
yards from where our ambulance was encamped. They 
were unaware that a Serbian cavalry regiment was 
in bivouac behind a number of haystacks about a 
mile away. This regiment hastily saddled and went 
off at a fast trot. A few minutes later they were at 
the railway station. The men drew carbines and dis- 
mounted, and in twenty minutes the Bulgarians were 
driven off. The usual endless line of army transport 
was pouring through Lipljan from Pristina. The con- 
ductors kept looking anxiously at the line of bursting 
shrapnel along the crests of the mountain six miles 
away; they evidently realized that if the Bulgarians 
should win the heights it would be all up with the 
transport on the Pristina and Prisrend road. 

When I went to sleep that night in Lipljan I could 
still hear the sound of the guns. Next morning we 
discovered the Scottish ambulance was gone. About 
two o'clock in the morning there had been a tre- 

The Serbian Offensive 135 

mendoiis outburst of heavy gim-fire in the mountains. 
It seemed so near that the nurses had got alarmed, 
struck camp, loaded their wagons and automobiles and 
gone off. So my French confrere and I were finally 
reduced to tramping our way to Prisrend. Fortunately 
the weather was fine and the roads passable, and we 
covered our 35 kilometres a day without difficulty. In 
the evening we managed to find a blockhouse with a 
gendarmerie officer in command who requisitioned us 
a room in the house of an Albanian peasant named 
Sali Aga. Once the details of price arranged (all, I 
may mention, in the favour of Sali Aga) he received 
us with patriarchal dignity, treating us as honoured 
guests. He killed and prepared a well-fed fowl and 
produced quantities of Albanian cheese and butter. 
Of course the only sleeping accommodation was straw 
alongside the fire, but as at one moment it had looked 
as 'if we would have to sleep by the roadside in the 
open air, we were thankful for even that. 

The next day, about thirty kilometres from Prisrend 
I at last discovered the Commissariat Column of the 
Combined Division we had been looking for for five 
days past, in the hope of discovering our lost baggage 
wagon. The Major in command told me that when 
his column received orders to leave Pristina our man 
Stance had left with our wagon for the railway station 
to await our return from Mitrovitza. Since then he 
had not seen him. This was not cheerful, but the news 
he gave me from the front was less cheerful still. 

At first the Serbian attack on the Bulgarian front 
in the Katchanik Mountains had been successful; the 

136 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Serbians had advanced to Giljane. King Peter's troops 
fought with desperate courage, driving the Bulgarians 
from one mountain summit after the other. But as 
soon as the Bulgarians realized the serious nature of 
the Serbian offensive they brought up reinforcements 
from all sides. With the Germans advancing in their 
rear the Serbians could not fight a long-drawn-out 
battle. It was for them a matter of life or death to 
break through the Bulgarian lines. If they failed to 
do so the two German Armies together with the Bul- 
garian forces coming from Nish, would take them in 
the rear. This would mean the complete encirclement 
of the Serbian Army and its unconditional surrender. 
In addition to the military problem there was also 
that of food supplies. The territory still in the hands 
of the Serbian Army now amounted to only a few 
hundred square kilometres. It was out of the question 
that this could furnish supplies for an army, even for 
a few days. In the transport wagons of the Combined 
Divisions there were, the Major told me, supplies for 
barely two weeks. After these were consumed it 
would be impossible to renew them. Other divisions 
were even in worse case. The same held good of 
munitions. Each division had what they carried with 
them and what was contained in the wagons of the 
Reserve Columns. Ten days would see the last 
cartridge fired. The question of forage for the horses 
and transport oxen was even more acute. The whole 
country had been swept clean of corn, oats, hay and 
maize, and in less than a week's time there would be 
a hundred thousand animals starving. 

The Serbian Offensive 137 

The advance on Uskub had been an effort beyond 
the strength of the exhausted Serbian Army, and 
from all reports it had fought to a standstill, which, 
under the circumstances, was equivalent to defeat. 
The cause of Serbia was lost. The valiant little nation 
which had fought a victorious war with Turkey, had 
repulsed the treacherous attack of Bulgaria, had con- 
ducted a successful campaign in Albania, and ad- 
ministered to Austria one of the most crushing defeats 
in her history, had at last been beaten to her knees 
by an irresistible coalition of her enemies. After 
four years of ceaseless war, in which the flower of 
her manhood had died on the battlefield, Serbia with 
her 200,000 bayonets, the last levies of a heroic people, 
was face to face with 700,000 enemies with practically 
unlimited resources of war material. Her Allies were 
powerless to aid her, so that her King and Govern- 
ment were now forced to take the supreme resolution, 
in this hour of stress. 

On entering Prisrend I found it a cosmopolitan city. 
Hundreds of French aviators, automobilists, engineers 
and Red Cross Units, Russian, British, Greek and 
Roumanian doctors and nurses, and English sailors of 
the naval gun batteries were everywhere en cinifcnce. 
The blue and crimson uniforms of the Royal Guard 
showed that King Peter was in Prisrend. As the 
members of the Government, the Crown Prince Com- 
mander-in-Chief and the Headquarters Staff had also 
arrived, all that was left of the elements of Govern- 
ment in Serbia was assembled within the walls of the 
ancient Albanian citv. 

138 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

The one question on everybody's lips was "would 
it be an unconditional surrender?" in which case we 
would all find ourselves German prisoners forty-eight 
hours later, or would the King, the Government and 
the army leave Serbian territory and take refuge in 
Albania? The final councils did not last long. On 
November 24th the supreme resolution was taken, the 
King, army and Government would refuse to treat 
with the enemy and would leave for Albania. 

To this resolution several factors contributed. One 
of the chief was Serbia's loyalty to her Allies. She 
had undertaken not to sign a separate peace and she 
held her word to the last. She might be defeated, she 
was not conquered. Another factor was the dynastic 
one. It was certain that one of the first conditions of 
peace which Germany, and especially Austria, would 
have exacted would have been the abdication of King 
Peter. It was equally certain that M. Pashitch and 
the other members of the Government would have 
been arrested and probably exiled for life from Serbia. 
There was therefore nothing to be gained by sur- 
render and as long as King Peter, his Government and 
his army escaped the clutches of their enemies, Serbia 
was unconquered. The treasury had long been placed 
in safety abroad, so that there was no want of funds 
to meet the expenses of the Government and army in 

Of course no one had any illusions as to the diffi- 
culties of the task the Government had undertaken. 
It meant that the army must abandon its artillery 
(excepting mountain guns), its transport wagons, its 

The Serbian Offensive 139 

motor-cars, its pontoon trains, its artillery ammuni-, 
tion. in a word everything that could not be carried 
on the back of pack animals would have to be left 
behind. It was further impossible to transport the 
army with any system or order; for that there was 
no time. Each unit, company, battalion or regiment, 
squadron or battery was given its place of rendezvous 
in Albania and told to get there as best it could. There 
were three routes, one to Scutaria, through Monte- 
negro, zia Ipek and Andreyevitza ; another via Lioum- 
Koula, Dibra and El-Bassan to Durazzo ; and a third, 
that taken by the King, the Government and the Head- 
quarters Staff, via Lioum-Koula, Spas and Puka to 

The roads (except the Dibra-El Bassan route) are 
mere sheep tracks over the mountains. Vehicular 
traffic in any shape or form is absolutely unknown. 
Every ounce of food would have to be carried on 
pack animals, or in the men's knapsacks. The same 
held good for forage. And this last effort was 
demanded from an army which had already reached 
the limit of human endurance, which was in a state 
of physical exhaustion, and in many instances without 
food and without munitions. It was under such con- 
ditions that 150,000 men, all that was left of the 
300.000 of three months before, began their march 
across the endless ranges of snow-capped mountains. 

Personally I received good news in Prisrend. Our 
long-lost wagon had been found. Our man Stanco, 
wisely abandoning the attempt to find us among the 
100,000 fugitives crowding Pristina, had set out for 

140 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Prisrend, which he had reached after five day's march. 
The horses, however, were gone. As he was travelHng 
alone he had no one to mount guard at night, and as 
every Albanian is a born horse thief, their fate was 
sealed. On reaching Prisrend he had reported his 
arrival at the Headquarters Staff, leaving word where 
he was to be found. The loss of the horses was of 
no great importance. They could never have faced 
the crossing of the mountains with a hundred kilos of 
baggage on their backs. For that work one requires 
sure-footed, sturdy mountain ponies. 

When I reached Headquarters the first thing I 
noticed was a score of soldiers burning the archives, 
staff maps, etc., a clear proof that the journey to 
Scutaria was resolved on. During lunch I learned the 
latest preparations that had been made. M. Pashitch 
and the members of the Government were leaving for 
Scutaria with a military escort the following day. 
The next day the King and the Royal Household with 
the Royal Guard would start, and on the third day 
Field-Marshal Putnik and the Headquarters Staff 
would leave for Scutaria. As I and my French col- 
league of the Petit Parisien were attached to the Head- 
quarters, Colonel Mitrovitch told me he had reserved 
a pack-horse for our baggage. All that was left of 
bread and biscuits would also be distributed the night 
before the march started. 

It was a curious sensation to look round the large 
mess room, with its hundreds of brilliant uniforms 
worn by the men who had fought five victorious cam- 
paigns, and to think that in forty-eight hours' time 

The Serbian Offensive 141 

they would be in exile, camping among the snows of 
the Albanian mountains, with the splendid armies they 
had commanded shrunk to 150,000 men, deprived of 
everything that goes to make an army in the field. 
Grief and bitterness were written on many a face, 
many would have preferred to be in the fighting-line 
and to have died at the head of their men, rather 
than have seen this tragic hour. 

One thing is certain, no reproach could be cast upon 
the Serbian Army; it had done its duty, and more 
than its duty. It had fought with desperate courage 
against overwhelming odds, and if the armed strength 
of Serbia was crushed, her honour at least was intact. 



WHEN I arrived at the Headquarters mess on 
Thursday, November 23rd, the day of my 
arrival in Prisrend, I received some details of the 
latest movements of the enemy. The Serbian Head- 
quarters Staff had arrived at Prisrend on November 
17th. Two days later it received news that the Austro- 
German Army under General von Gallwitz had occu- 
pied Rashka and Novi Bazaar. 

On November 22nd this force entered Mitrovitza, 
and pushing forward, on November 25th rejoined the 
army of Field-Marshal von Mackensen at Pristina. 
The whole of the Austro-German forces on the 
Balkans were therefore massed in that town. The 
same day the Bulgarians, occupying Lipljan with two 
divisions, joined hands with their Austro-German 
Allies. Advancing toward Prisrend, the whole Austro- 
Germano-Bulgarian Army spread out its forces in a 
semicircle, surrounding all that was left of the Serbian 
Army and bringing it with its back to the frontier of 

On the day of my arrival I paid a visit to the 
citadel, perched on the hill on the slopes of which 
Prisrend is built. Here are the last traces of the 


The Last Days in Serbia 143 

stronghold erected by the Emperor Stephen Doushan, 
the Serbian Charlemagne. At my feet flowed the 
Bistritza, rushing in a torrent down through the town. 
To the east, at the extremity of a gorge, between 
towering mountains, I could see the snow-covered 
peaks of the Shar range, which formed a lofty barrier 
between us and the Bulgarians at Tetovo. To the left 
appeared the city of Prisrend, a vast agglomeration 
of Turkish and /Mbanian houses from which emerged 
the graceful minarets of its fifty mosques. Among 
these one could distinguish the belfry of the single 
Greek Orthodox Church. In an obscure corner was 
hidden a small Catholic chapel, the priest of which is 
subventioned by the Austrian Government. 

In the afternoon arrived the news that the route 
from Dibra to Monastir had been cut, as the Bul- 
garians were at Prilep and advancing on Monastir. 
This extinguished the last hope of some part of the 
Serbian Army reaching that town to take train 
through Greece to Salonica. It was the debacle all 
along the line. 

After dinner in the evening a Major of the "Section 
des operations" of the Headquarters Staff gave me a 
technical resume of the operations on the various 
fronts for the past month. 

"On the 28th of October," he said, "the Serbian 
Army had a small force in the south on the line 
Tetovo-Gostivar-Kitchevo and a detachment on the 
Babuna mountain. There was also a body of troops 
on the line Ferizovitch-Giljane. 

"In Old Serbia the forces were grouped as follows: 

144 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

There was an army corps on the left bank of the West- 
ern Morava on the front Gorny-Milanovatz-Kritsch. 
There was another army corps on the right bank of the 
Great Morava in the neighbourhood of Chupria and 
Parachin. A third army corps occupied the environs 
of Plotch near Nish. 

"The principal idea of the Headquarters Staff at 
this time was to concentrate all the available troops in 
the country between the Western Morava and the 
Southern Morava, and to reinforce the troops of the 
front Giljane-Ferizovitch, and there await the arrival 
of the French troops. 

"On November 2nd the troops on the left bank of 
the Western Morava had to give way before the supe- 
rior force of the Germans, and retire to the right bank. 
The troops which were in the environs of Chupria and 
Parachin were in consequence forced to fall back to- 
ward the mountain of Jastrebatz, while the troops in 
the environs of Nish had to abandon their position and 
fall back on Lescovatz. The position of this force to- 
wards November 7th became very critical, as one of its 
divisions had suffered a severe check in the neighbour- 
hood of Lescovatz. The line of retreat of this army 
corps, Lipljan-Medvedje, was threatened. This was 
the principal reason for hastening the retreat of all the 
army corps, while the troops which held on the right 
bank of the Western Morava were forced to retire to- 
wards Rashka. 

"The troops which had retired to the neighbourhood 
of Mount Jastrebatz were ordered to retire toward 
Kurshoumlia, Prepolatz and Pristina. Their instruc- 

The Last Days in Serbia 145 

tions were to fall back slowly, defending every possible 
position as long as possible. Other smaller detach- 
ments fell back on Jankova Klissiira. 

"Meanwhile the army corps which had received a 
check near Lescovatz had somewhat improved its posi- 
tion. It had been reinforced and made a successful at- 
tack on the Bulgarians which allowed it to utilize the 
line of retreat via Lipljan-Medvedje, which at one 
time was seriously menaced. It was therefore in a 
position to fall back towards Pristina. 

"It was in consequence possible to save the Serbian 
armies, and this in spite of the fact that the retreat had 
to be carried out through a country possessing few 
roads. What rendered the position extremely difficult 
was the fact that the pressure from the German armies 
in the north was combined with a Bulgarian offensive 
coming from the south, and was deployed on a line 
running from Vranje to Lescovatz. 

"The Serbian Army at Rashka then received orders 
to occupy the line Rashka-Novi Bazaar to bar the route 
to Mitrovitza. All the remaining Serbian armies were 
moved to the Plain of Kossovo, and in a position to re- 
inforce the troops in Macedonia and undertake a gen- 
eral offensive. The troops in Macedonia received or- 
ders if possible to recapture Giljane and prevent the 
Bulgarians debouching from the Katchanik. 

"In the battle near the Katchanik the Serbs succeeded 
in recapturing the very important position of Jegovatz ; 
but the task before them was beyond the strength of 
troops exhausted by weeks of fatigue and hardships. 
The forcing of the strongly-entrenched Bulgarian lines 

146 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

by an army whose rear was threatened by the two Ger- 
man and the Bulgarian Armies was beyond its strength, 
and it had to fall back on Prisrend." 

From November 24th to 26th we were occupied in 
making preparation for our departure. The Head- 
quarters Staff, headed by Field-Marshal Putnik, num- 
bered, with its escort, over 300 persons, with more 
than 400 riding and baggage horses. The aged 
Voivode was, as I have already said, a martyr to 
asthma and unable to mount on horseback or face the 
bitter cold of the Albanian mountains. It is, however, 
utterly impossible to traverse the mountain roads in a 
wheeled vehicle of any sort. In consequence, it was 
resolved to construct a sort of sedan chair in which the 
veteran leader could be carried across the mountains 
on the shoulders of Serbian soldiers. 

The French in Prisrend, consisting of the Aviation 
and other units, numbering altogether nearly 250 offi- 
cers and men, resolved to cross the mountains by the 
same route as the Headquarters Staff, starting the day 
before it, immediately behind the King and the Royal 
Household. This detachment was under the command 
of Colonel Fournier, the French military attache, hav- 
ing as his lieutenant Major Vitrat, the head of the 
French Aviation Section. This section had rendered 
immense services to the Serbian Army throughout the 
whole retreat. Major Vitrat is an officer who would 
do credit to any army. I have rarely met a man of 
more decision of character, and certainly none of 
greater courage. His example inspired the Aviation 

The Last Days in Serbia 147 

Corps from its pilots to the last of its transport 

The French detachment was composed of three sail- 
ors from the naval gun battery of Belgrade, 94 auto- 
mobile mechanicians, 125 officers and men of the Avia- 
tion Section, and 5 wireless operators. The personnel 
was utilized according to its aptitude. A commission 
for the purchase of the necessary pack animals was 
formed of two observing officers of the xA.viation Sec- 
tion, one a captain of hussars and the other a captain of 
artillery. The officers brought together what money 
they still possessed for the purchase of the provisions 
necessary for the journey, a matter of 18,000 francs. 

This proved the most difficult part of the organiza- 
tion, as food and fodder were becoming rare. A cer- 
tain amount of corn for the 70 pack horses of the ex- 
pedition was found at a price of one franc the "oka" 
(the Turkish "oka" is about three English pounds), 
and ten sheep which accompanied the column and were 
killed and eaten as occasion rec|uired. 

The next difficulty was the cjuestion of transport of 
half a dozen sick men in the detachment. Horses for 
their transport could not be found, and it was out of 
the question that they could be carried on stretchers by 
their comrades. Colonel Fournier solved the difficulty 
by ordering their transport by aeroplane. The Section 
still possessed six machines capable of flying, in spite 
of the fact that for two and a half months they had 
been exposed night and day without shelter to wind, 
rain and snow. On Thursday, November 25th, the six 
aeroplanes started offi across the mountains on their 

148 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

flight to Scutari. This was the first time in mihtary 
annals that the aeroplane had been pressed into the 
ambulance service. But the innovation was a most suc- 
cessful one, the aeroplanes arriving in Scutari in less 
than half the number of hours that it took the rest of 
the detachment days in its march across the snow-clad 

It was, indeed, with a certain envy that we watched 
the start of these ambulance-aeroplanes when we re- 
membered the difficult task that lay before us before 
we could rejoin them in Scutari. Du Bochet and I ar- 
ranged to travel with the French column, and handed 
to Major Vitrat the list of provisions which we could 
contribute to the common stock. The first etape, that 
from Prisrend to Lioum-Koula, is along a fairly good 
road. It was resolved to send on the pack animals the 
day before and to cover the thirty kilometres to Lioum- 
Koula, which is the last village on Serbian territory, in 
the automobiles of the Aviation Corps. As the road 
from this point onward is a mere sheep track across 
the mountains, utterly impracticable for wheeled 
vehicles, the automobiles would there be destroyed in 
order to prevent their falling into the hands of the 



IT was seven in the morning of Friday, November 
26th, when we started on our march across the 
mountains of Scutari. Despite the depressing circum- 
stances, the aviation detachment was in high spirits at 
the prospect of returning to France after a year of 
hardship in Serbian campaigning. At Lioum-Koula 
we were to destroy the automobiles, preHminary to 
starting on our 120 mile tramp. We had, however, to 
begin the ceremony prematurely, as six miles from the 
start one of the motors gave out. As there was neither 
time nor inclination to repair it, the vehicle, a ten-ton 
motor lorry, was run by hand into a field alongside the 
road, flooded with petrol and set on fire. An instant 
later it was blazing merrily while the irrepressible 
younger spirits of the detachment executed a war 
dance around it, solemnly chanting Chopin's "Funeral 

But it was at Lioum-Koula that we had the grand 
feu d' artifice. Near a bridge across the Drin the right 
bank of the river drops precipitously nearly 150 feet. 
One after another the huge motors were drenched with 
petrol and set on fire. The chauffeurs steered straight 
for the precipice, jumping clear as the cars shot over. 


150 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

The immense lorries rolled, crashing to the bottom, 
where they formed a blazing pile. 

Twelve hours later I saw a crowd of 500 wretched 
Austrian prisoners gathered around the ruins. They 
had crawled down to warm themselves, and to roast 
chunks of meat cut from dead horses, at a blaze that 
had cost the French Republic a c|uarter of a million 
francs. The rest of the landscape was blotted out by 
the whirling blizzard through which the fiery tongues 
of flame were darting. Every now and then the explo- 
sion of a benzine tank would scatter the Austrians, 
but the temptation of warmth proved too much for 
them, and they soon returned. 

Five minutes after the last car was over the preci- 
pice. Major Vitrat formed up his men, told off his ad- 
vance and rearguards, gave the word "en avant, 
marche," and the column swung off through the driv- 
ing snow on the first etape of its long march. We had 
intended accompanying^ it to Scutari, but found that 
the bullock wagon with our baggage and our pack 
horse, which had left Prisrend the previous day, had 
failed to arrive. It did not put in its appearance until 
five o'clock in the evening, and as a violent snowstorm 
was then raging, I did not care to tackle the mountain 
ascent in the dark to try to find the French bivouac. 
There was, therefore, nothing for us to do but to join 
the Headquarters Staff. 

The event of the day was the arrival of the Voivode 
Putnik. The veteran Field-Marshal had been a martyr 
to asthma for years past. He practically had not left 
his room for two years. This was always kept at a 

Across the Mountains of Albania 151 

temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit. A seven days' 
mountain journey in a sedan-chair, carried by four sol- 
diers, must have been a terrible experience for him. 
But the capture of their beloved Voivode by the Ger- 
mans would have been regarded by the Serbians as a 
national disaster. 

The next day it was still snowing, and the start for 
Scutari was delayed another twenty-four hours. As 
two years before, during the Albanian campaign, the 
Serbians had demolished all the houses in Lioum- 
Koula except four, accommodation was limited. I 
found lodgings in a huge ammunition tent. The 
gendarme in charge objected to my smoking cigarettes, 
which he said was strictly forbidden by the regulations, 
but he said nothing about the score of guttering candles 
burning on cartridge-boxes, or the spirit-lamp on a box 
labelled "shells," over which the wife of the colonel 
was preparing tea. When I drew his attention to this 
he declared the regulations were silent on the subject 
of candles and spirit-lamps, but distinctly mentioned 

All day and night the troops bound for El-Bassan 
poured through Lioum-Koula. As we had nothing to 
do, I went out for a walk about five miles along the 
road. Every five hundred yards or so I came on dead 
bodies of men who had succumbed to cold or ex- 
haustion. Coming back I encountered Captain Piagge, 
the English officer in Serbian service whom I had met 
at the Pristina railway station, when he was leaving to 
take part in the last desperate effort to advance on 
Uskub. When 1 had last seen him his machine gun 

152 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

section numbered about eighty- four men. At Lioum- 
Koula it had dwindled to twenty-six. He had all his 
guns intact, however, and delivered them, as I after- 
wards heard, safely at El-Bassan. The sufferings of 
the Serbians in the Katchanik Mountains had, he told 
me, been terrible. His section, after passing the whole 
day in the blizzard at Pristina station, had, at mid- 
night, with the temperature far below zero, been em- 
barked on open trucks for its six hours' journey to 
the fighting-line. The men had nothing to eat except 
some maize bread and a few raw cabbages. As soon 
as they left the train they had started on their march 
into the mountains. At first they were successful, 
driving the Bulgarians from one mountain ridge after 
another. But fatigue and privations soon told their 
tale, and in forty-eight hours his men had fought 
themselves to a standstill and nothing was left but re- 
treat on Prisrend. 

Probably not since the crossing of the Alps by 
Napoleon had such a military expedition been under- 
taken as the traversing of the Albanian mountains by 
the Headquarters Staff and the remains of the Serbian 
Army. But Napoleon made his march after long and 
careful preparation, while the unfortunate Serbs began 
theirs when their army was in the last stages of desti- 
tution, without food, with uniforms in rags, and with 
utterly inadequate means of transport. 

The sight presented by Lioum-Koula on the eve of 
departure was unique. On the mountain side for miles 
nothing could be seen but endless fires. They were 
made by the burning of the thousands of ox- wagons, 

Across the Mountains of Albania 153 

which were unable to go further, as the road for 
vehicles ceases at Lioum-Koula. Fortunately the snow- 
storm had ended and had been followed by brilliant 

Next morning at nine o'clock the Headquarters Staff 
set out. It included 300 persons and 400 pack animals. 
The road wound along the banks of the Drin, which 
had to be crossed twice by means of picturesque old 
single-span Turkish bridges, since destroyed to impede 
the Bulgarian advance. 

The first mistake made was that of transporting the 
sedan-chair of Field-Marshal Putnik at the head of the 
procession. Every time it halted to change bearers, 
which was every fifteen minutes, the whole two-mile- 
long procession, following in single file, had to stop 
also. As a result, instead of reaching Spas before sun- 
down, we only reached a village at the base of the 
mountain after darkness had fallen. 

Here a long council was held as to whether we should 
bivouac in the village or undertake the mountain climb 
in the dark. After a discussion lasting three-quarters 
of an hour, during which the mass of men and animals 
stood shivering in the freezing cold, the latter course 
was decided upon. It was one of the most extraor- 
dinary adventures ever undertaken. A narrow path 
about four feet wide, covered with ice and snow, winos 
corkscrew fashion up the face of the cliff. On one 
hand is a rocky wall and on the other a sheer drop into 
the Drin. 

This road winds and twists at all sorts of angles, and 
it was up this that we started in the black darkness, 

154 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

with the sedan-chair of General Putnik still heading 
the procession. Every time it reached a corner it was 
a matter of endless difficulty to manoeuvre it around. 

On one occasion we stood for thirty-five minutes in 
an icy wind, listening to the roar of the Drin, invisible 
in the black gulf 500 feet below. Horses slipped and 
fell at every instant, and every now and then one would 
go crashing into the abyss. It was a miracle that no 
human lives were lost. 

It was ten o'clock when, tired, hungry and half 
frozen, we reached bivouac at Spas. Here we found 
that, though dinner had been ready since four o'clock 
in the afternoon, it could not be served because all the 
plates and spoons were on the pack animals, which had 
remained in the village below. Neither had the tents 
arrived, and as Spas contains only five or six peasant 
houses, accommodation was at a premium. Colonel 
Mitrovitch, head of the mess, told us he had reserved 
a room for us in a farmhouse a quarter oi a mile away. 

The house really was twO' hours distant, over fields 
feet deep in snow. When we got there at midnight we 
discovered that there were already nearly a score of 
occupants ; but at least we were able to sleep in some 
straw near the fireside, instead of in the snow outside. 

Next morning we set out at six so as to get ahead of 
the main body of the Headquarters Staff. The day 
was magnificent and we slowly climbed foot by foot to 
the cloud-capped summits of the mountains. Up and 
up we went, thousands and thousands of feet. Every 
few hundred yards we came on bodies of men frozen 
or starved to death. At one point there were four in a 

Across the Mountains of Albania 155 

heap. They were convicts from Prisrend penitentiary, 
who had been sent in chains across the mountains. 
They had been shot either for insubordination or be- 
cause they were unable to proceed. Two other nearly 
naked bodies were evidently those of Serbian soldiers 
murdered by Albanians, 

By midday we reached the summit of the mountain, 
a wind-swept plateau several thousand feet above the 
level of the sea. For fifty miles extended range upon 
range of snow-clad mountains, the crests of which had 
never been trodden by the foot of man. Nothing could 
be seen but an endless series of peaks, glittering like 
diamonds in the brilliant sunshine. The scene was one 
of undescribable grandeur and desolation. 

After traversing the plateau we began the descent, 
skirting the edge of precipices of enormous height and 
traversing narrow gorges running between towering 
walls of black basalt. Every few hundred yards we 
would come on corpses of Serbian soldiers, sometimes 
singly, sometimes in groups. One man had evidently 
gone to sleep beside a wretched fire he had been able 
to light. The heat of it had melted the snow, and the 
water had flowed over his feet. In the night during 
his sleep this had frozen and his feet were imprisoned 
in a solid block of ice. When I reached him he was 
still breathing. From time to time he moved feebly as 
if trying to free his feet from their icy covering. We 
were powerless to aid him, he was so far gone that 
nothing could have saved him. The only kindness one 
could have done him would have been to end his suf- 
ferings with a revolver bullet. But human life is 

156 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

sacred, and so there was nothing to do but pass on and 
leave him to breathe his last in these eternal solitudes. 

On this part of the journey it was a matter of life 
and death to reach the end of, the ctape and find some 
shelter. If we had been surprised by darkness in the 
desolation of these wind-swept mountain gorges, where 
the narrow pathway ran alongside a fathomless abyss, 
our fate was sealed. In addition to the forces of na- 
ture we had also to reckon with the wild and lawless 
Albanian population. The hardy mountaineers who 
live among these fastnesses have many qualities, but 
the life of feud and strife of their savage clans does 
not make for the development of respect for human 

We spent the night in an Albanian peasant's hut in 
the village of Fleti, a collection of half a score of 
houses, surrounded, like most Albanian villages, by a 
dry stone wall. The Albanian population refused to 
accept our Serbian silver money, and we were forced 
reluctantly to bring out our small store of ten and 
twenty franc gold pieces. In ordinary times one of 
these would represent a small fortune to the Albanian 
mountaineers, but they were evidently resolved to ex- 
ploit the Serbian retreat commercially to the best of 
their ability. 

We started next morning at dawn. Soon after mid- 
day we overtook King Peter and his Staff. Despite 
his seventy-six years he marched on foot with a vigour 
a younger man might have envied. During all the four 
hours we marched with the Royal Staff His Majesty 
never once mounted his horse, which a soldier was lead- 

Across the Mountains of Albania 157 

ing behind him. When we stopped for the night at the 
village Bredeti the King had a march of ten hours to 
his credit. 

It was at this point that we came across the first 
gendarmes of Essad Pasha, the ruler of Albania, who 
eighteen months before had driven the Prince von 
Wied, the marionette King nominated by the Great 
Powers at the instigation of Germany and Austria, 
from his throne. These gendarmes had been sent out 
by their iron-handed master to protect the journey of 
King Peter and his Staff. They were a picturesque 
lot, many of them going barefooted in the snow, but 
there was no doubt of the first class quality of their 
rifles and revolvers. For the most part they wore 
Serbian unifonns — that is when they wore any uni- 
form at all — of which the Nish Government had some 
months before made Essad Pasha a present of several 

The attitude of the Albanian population towards 
the Serbs could not be described as friendly, but at the 
same time they gave no outward signs of hostility. 
They rarely saluted the Serbian officers and showed no 
desire whatever to offer hospitality. In the case of the 
Members of the Serbian Government, the King and his 
suite and the Headquarters Staff, Essad Pasha had 
requisitioned accommodation in the rare Albanian vil- 
lages, but anyone not belonging to one of these units 
had every chance of faring badly. All they had to de- 
pend on were the "bans" or wayside caravanserai. 

These huge, barn-like structures consist of nothing 
but four walls with a shingle roof, the latter generally 

158 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

far from watertight. Here men and horses are quar- 
tered pell-mell. Everybody annexes as much space as 
he can and lights a fire for warmth and cooking. As 
the "hans" have no chimneys and the smoke is left to 
find its way thorugh the open doors or through the 
roof, the condition of the atmosphere may be imagined. 

As du Bochet and I had pushed ahead of the Head- 
quarters Staff, we had naturally lost the advantage of 
being billeted in the farmhouses requisitioned by Es- 
sad's gendarmes. 

On arriving at Bredeti we had therefore to claim the 
hospitality of the local "han." We lit our fire in the 
square yard or two of space we had been able tO' com- 
mandeer. But the atmosphere soon proved too much 
for us. I do not know by what means they arrive at it, 
but the eyes and lungs of the Serbian soldiers seem 
smoke-proof. They sit and converse cheerfully in a 
smoke cloud through which you cannot see a yard. As 
we had not acquired the smoke habit, in an hour's time 
we were driven to flight. Blindness and suffocation 
seemed the penalty of a more prolonged stay. 

We therefore, in spite of the snow and freezing cold, 
fled to the exterior. Here, as some protection against 
the weather, we determined to put up a small tent we 
carried with our baggage. It was barely three feet 
high and open at one end, and was, in consequence, 
but an indifferent shelter against the inclement w^eather. 
However, having made Stanco build a blazing fire 
near the open end, we entered it and went to sleep. 

Three hours later we awoke to find the wretched 
tent in a blaze. We struggled out with difficulty and 

Across the Mountains of Albania 159 

managed to save most of our belongings from the 
flames. But the tent and sleeping-rugs were gone, 
and there was nothing for it but to remain seated 
round the camp fire till the advent of the dawn would 
allow us to resume our weary march. 

On the next ctapc a new experience awaited us. 
The road ran for miles through a rocky gorge, through 
which a river flowed. The route lay along the bed 
of this, and the only means to travel was to step from 
one stone to the other. There is nothing so nerve- 
racking as to have to keep one's eyes constantly glued 
to the ground, where each step presents a new prob- 
lem. Of course, every now and then one of the 
stones would turn under our feet, and this meant a 
plunge up to the knees in the icy water of the stream. 

As far as the eye could see there was nothing but 
this rocky bed, winding between towering basaltic 
cliffs. The task of transporting a thousand men and 
horses under such conditions was almost superhuman. 
If the Albanians had been openly hostile not one man 
could have come out alive. When we reached the 
village where we stopped the night we had the greatest 
difficulty to obtain accommodation, until it l)ecame 
known we were not Serbians. Then every hospitality 
was shown us, but prices were enormous. The Al- 
banian, like most peasants, is grasping and fond of 
money, but once you cross his threshold, your person 
and property are sacred. I never had the slightest 
fear once I entered an Albanian house. 

But on the road everything is possible. The tribes 
live at war with one another and respect for human 

i6o From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

life is non-existent. It would have been as much as 
our lives were worth to travel an hour after darkness. 
But during the daylight an armed party inspires a 
certain respect. 

The men physically are probably the handsomest 
in Europe. I have never seen anywhere such beauti- 
ful children as those in Albania, and their parents seem 
extremely fond of them. But the little people seem 
tO' lead very serious lives. I never by any chance 
saw half a dozen playing together. They sat round 
in silence looking at us with wondering eyes, especially 
when du Bochet and I spoke French together. Not 
one Albanian in a hundred knows how to read or 
write, or has. ever been more than twenty miles from 
home. And it was through such a country the Ser- 
bians had to transport an army, and that with the 
Germans and the Bulgarians in close pursuit. 

The last stages of the march were probably the 
hardest, as fodder for the animals and food for the 
men were practically unprocurable. Money difficul- 
ties also increased daily, the Albanians refusing to ac- 
cept Serbian silver or notes, at any rate of exchange. 
They would, however, give food and lodgings for 
articles of clothing, shirts, underwear, socks and boots. 
On the last stage we had, therefore, to resort to the 
primitive system of barter, buying a night's lodging 
with a shirt, and a meal with a pair of socks. 

In the mountains just before Puka I discovered the 
first trace of wolves. The carcasses of dead horses, 
which were now numbered by scores, showed signs of 
having been torn by them. A part of the French 

Across the Mountains of Albania i6i 

Aviation Corps, which was preceding us, got lost in 
the snow and darkness here, and had to spend the 
night in the open without protection. A dozen were 
frostbitten, but no fatal casualties. After six days 
we finally reached the Drin again, now a broad and 
swiftly flowing stream. 

Thence the march to Scutari may be summed up 
in the word mud — mud of the deepest and most tena- 
cious kind; sometimes it only reached to the ankles, 
sometimes to the knees, but it was always there. 

The twenty-five miles between the Drin ferry and 
Scutari represents physical effort of no mean order. 
It was the finish for scores of unfortunate pack-horses. 
During the last two days they got practically no food. 
On these days we found dead horses every hundred 
yards. When at last, at four in the afternoon, we 
came in sight of the towers and minarets of Scutari 
everyone heaved a sigh of relief. 



I DO not suppose since the Children of Israel 
crossed the desert any "promised land" was ever 
looked forward to with such yearning as that felt by 
the remnants of the Serbian nation for the first sight 
of Scutari. During the final etape, the "Tarabosh," 
the fez-shaped mountain which dominates the town 
and lake, was for them what the "cloud of smoke by 
day and the pillar of fire by night" were for the fol- 
lowers of Moses. The sight of the score of minarets 
denoting the actual position of the town created the 
belief that in an hour or so our long anabasis would be 
at an end. But this was more or less an optical 
illusion. The flatness of the plain makes objects seem 
nearer than they really are, and it was a long seven 
hours' tramp from our last halting-place till we 
reached the banks of the river on the other side of 
which were the outlying suburbs of the town. 

Our final day's march was not the least interesting 
one. After climbing our last hill and winding our way 
down a tunnel-like descent covered with immense 
boulders, we debouched on the plain of Scutari. Here 
we found grassy slopes covered with clumps of spread- 
ing trees, mostly walnut and oaks. The miserable huts 


At Scutari 163 

of the mountaineers had now given place to well-built 
stone houses. Instead of the poorly-clad, half-starved 
inhabitants of the hills, we now met handsome, well- 
clothed men and tall and graceful women. We were 
now in the country of the Myrdites. 

We were again marching along the banks of the 
Drin, which is, at this point, a broad and imposing 
stream, pouring its meandering course towards the 
lake of Scutari. As far as the eye could reach there 
was a succession of large, closely- wooded islands, 
canals, lakes and flooded prairies, from which rose 
hundreds of poplar trees, bordered by immense banks 
of sand, over which we could see Serbian cavalry 
moving, reduced by the distance to little black dots. 

In the shops in the villages ,we now found tobacco, 
excellent cofifee served a la Turqiie, and little bundles 
of smoked fish from the lake. The slow and soft 
language of the Turks made a curious contrast to the 
harsher and more nasal Albanian. Montenegrin 
soldiers, with their khaki-coloured skull caps and short 
cloaks a I'ltalienne, had now replaced the truculent- 
looking gendarmes of Essad Pasha, with their belts 
full of revolvers and their general look of brigands 
d'operette. We traversed the river in large boats with 
raised bo-ws, reminding one of the gondolas of Venice 
or the caiques of Constantinople. The boatmen were 
tall, handsome men with swarthy, resolute faces, bril- 
liant black eyes, drooping moustaches and aquiline 
noses. After the rude and rich Serbia, the monotonous 
deserts of Macedonia and the savage desolation of 

164 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

upper Albania, we had now the Orient, with its curious 
and attractive Eastern chann. 

Our final difficulty was the fording of the river. 
The ferrymen refused to accept Serbian paper-money 
and all our silver was gone. Fortunately at this 
moment a Montenegrin officer of gendarmerie rode 
up and to him we appealed. He settled the difficulty 
in summary fashion by a plentiful distribution of 
blows from his heavy riding-whip to the men manning 
the boat. The latter, it appeared, had orders to trans- 
port everyone coming from Serbia free of charge, so 
that their effort to extort money from us was only a 
gentle attempt at a "hold up." 

Our first visit was to the hotel where we knew the 
French Aviation Corps was lodged. Here we were 
given details of the journey of the corps, which had 
fared even worse than ourselves. Seventeen of their 
horses had died en route, so- that the 250 officers and 
men composing the party had none too much in the 
way of food during the final Stapes. A section of the 
company had also lost its way in the marshes outside 
Scutari, and only reached the town after tramping 
without stopping for over twenty hours. Twelve men 
had frost-bitten feet and had to go intO' hospital, but 
all had recovered. At Scutari they found their six 
comrades who had come by aeroplane with the sick 
men from Prisrend. The journey by air had been 
accomplished in one and a half hours, the men on foot 
had taken nearly eight days. After indulging in the 
unusual — and very expensive — luxury of a whisky- 
and-soda we had lunch with the equally unaccustomed 

At Scutari 165 

luxuries of table-cloths and serviettes and then went 
in search of quarters. These were not easy to find, as 
the Serbians were now pouring by thousands into the 
town. But du Bochet, during his previous visit to 
Scutari, had made the acquaintance of the Governor 
of Scutari, the Montenegrin Voivode Bozha Petro- 
vitch. We paid a visit to him at his official residence 
and he sent a non-commissioned officer with us to 
requisition a lodging. 

The latter found us a room in the house of a 
"notable" of the town, a young Turkish Albanian. 
It was situated in a side street. Behind an immense 
gateway was a large courtyard and gardens, in the 
centre of which stood the house, a typical Turkish 
edifice of the better class. We were given a large room 
on the ground floor. Round the whole room ran a 
low divan on which we would sit by day and sleep by 
night. The windows, Turkish fashion, were closely 
barred. Every evening at eight o'clock a little Turkish 
servant, always silent but always smiling, arrived, and 
after carefully removing his shoes as a sign of respect, 
opened an immense cupboard, from which he took 
mattresses, pillows and large and handsome silk quilts 
embroidered with large blue and yellow flowers, with 
which he proceeded to make up our beds. 

The question of sleeping quarters settled, the next 
question was that of food. We found the Head- 
quarters Staff installed at the Hotel de la Ville. As the 
dining-room was somewhat small for the number of 
officers composing the Staff, we arranged with the 
ever courteous but much harassed Colonel Mitrovitch 

i66 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

to send our man Stanco to fetch our meals, which we 
ate at our lodgings. 

This settled we went for a tour of the town. An 
intense animation filled the streets. Seated along the 
walls of the houses or cross-legged round the open 
windows of their small shops, or wandering about in 
groups, Albanians in white skull-caps and Turks with 
crimson fezes and heavy, brilliantly-embroidered 
waist-belts, looked on impassible and apparently indif- 
ferent to the invasion of their city. A continual flood 
of new arrivals inundated the town. There were 
"Komordjis" from Timok, veritable tctcs dc brigands, 
with their brilliant eyes, shaggy beards and immense 
sheepskin bonnets; soldiers from Old Serbia in their 
muddy uniforms, with rusty rifles and heavy sandals 
covered with caked clay ; gigantic mountaineers from 
the Uzhitze districts, with their deep, guttural speech 
and heavy step, civilians in torn and muddy clothes, 
women in men's dress, riding breeches, and military 
boots, and officers in stained and dusty uniforms. 

The convoys which had struggled across the moun- 
tains were now pouring in, hundreds of Serbian oxen, 
with their magnificent spreading horns, but starved 
and lame, thin-flanked pack horses, hardly able to drag 
themselves along under their heavy loads, and cavalry 
soldiers, tramping along on foot, leading their ex- 
hausted mounts. 

Every barracks was full, all the private houses had 
been requisitioned, and still the flood of fugitives 
kept pouring into the town in a double stream, one 
arriving by the route we had followed, from Lioum- 

At Scutari 167 

Koula, and the other by the Montenegrin road z'ia 
Ipek and Andreyevitza. The placid Turks, the tall 
and sinewy Albanians and the Myrdite mountaineers 
in their barbaric costumes, looked on in silence. But 
one felt that in them was rising a feeling of sullen 
rage, mixed with fear. 

This invasion of Scutari had the same effect it had 
had everywhere else. Provisions began to run down 
and in a few days there was no' more bread obtainable. 
Taken completely by surprise ( for they had only a day 
or two's warning of the decision of the Serbians to 
retreat into Albania) the Montenegrin Government 
had not had time to make preparations. Besides, what 
preparation could they have made ? For months past 
Montenegro herself had been short of provisions. Time 
after time the inhabitants of the capital had been 
forced to- look on helpless, when before their very eyes, 
Austrian torpedo boats "held up" and took off to the 
Bocche de Cattaro the ships laden with maize en route 
for Antivari. 

Under these circumstances it may readily be 
imagined that the inhabitants of Scutari were far from 
hailing the Serbian invasion with enthusiasm. The 
Austrians must have got wind of this, for every morn- 
ing at ten o'clock, with clock-work punctuality, an 
aeroplane appeared over the town and began dropping 
bombs. The first day a number of people were killed 
and wounded. On the other visits the casualties were 
fewer as everyone sought cover, but the material 
damage was considerable. The two points at which 
the bombs were aimed were the chief barracks and the 

l68 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Italian Consulate. These were about a hundred and 
fifty yards from one another. As the house I was 
quartered in was exactly in the centre of this line we 
got full advantage of all the bombs that missed. 
Fortunately there was a stable with thick walls and 
strongly-vaulted roof, which was practically bomb- 
proof, in which we could take refuge and from which 
we could watch the explosions in safety. As during the 
whole course of the war no aerial attacks had been 
made on Scutari the object of the new departure was 
undoubtedly to render the Serbians unpopular with the 
inhabitants of Scutari, "Jc^^^-^s" whose presence had 
brought misfortune on the city. 

As soon as the Headquarters Staff arrived in 
Scutari it began, with admirable energy, the work of 
reorganizing the wrecks of the Serbian Army. It was 
without definite news of the various armies, for the 
initiative regarding the operations of the retreat into 
Albania had been left in the hands of the individual 
commanders. The first necessity, however, was to 
collect provisions and arrange for their distribution. 
Then, as the debris of the army arrived, the men were 
placed in barracks and, when these were full, in camps 
and bivouacs. 

The guiding spirit of the Headquarters Staff was 
Colonel Zhivko Pavlovitch, an energetic and inde- 
fatigable Colossus, the Chief of Staff of Field-Marshal 
Putnik, His influence was quickly apparent. Day 
by day the number of bivouacs on the hills behind 
Scutari became more numerous. With the renaissance 
of order the morale of the troops improved. The 

At Scutari 169 

hundreds of soldiers wandering aimlessly about the 
streets disappeared. The division of the Danube had. 
by a miracle of energy, succeeded in bringing over th( 
mountains by the Ipek route, a number of batteriei 
of field and mountain guns. These, in the most diffi 
cult places, they had dragged along by ropes. 

The troops which had marched by the Dibra — El- 
Bassan route in the hope of reaching Monastir and 
proceeding thence by rail to Salonica to join the Allies 
failed to reach the former town before the Bulgarians. 
In forty-eight hours Colonel Zhivko Pavlovitch had 
succeeded in getting in touch with them and had con- 
centrated them around Kavaya, Tirana and El-Bassan. 
These troops were later embarked at Durazzo for 

A few hours after the entry of the Serbians into 
Scutari the officers of the British Adriatic Mission 
arrived in the town. The object of this mission was 
to take measures for feeding, re-equipping and re-or- 
ganizing the Serbian Army in Albania. This was also 
the desire of the Headquarters Staff. Unfortunately 
the Italian Government was opposed to the idea. It 
declared that it was not in a position to assure the 
safe passage of the transports with food, clothing, 
arms, etc., across the Adriatic. 

That this was precarious was proved by the action 
of the Austrian fleet at Durazzo and San Giovanni di 
Medua, when a squadron of eight vessels suddenly 
appeared on December 9th in those ports and sank all 
the shipping, steamships and saiHng vessels then in 
the roads. 

170 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

When I arrived at Durazzo some days afterwards 
M. Gavrilovitch, the Serbian Minister Plenipotentiary 
in that town, gave me a description of this incursion, 
which I cannot do better than give in his own words : 
"I was sitting working in my office," he told me, 
"when one of my attaches came in and annotmced that 
a squadron of warships was in sight. I went out to 
the terrasse of the Legation whence I had a view of 
the Adriatic. With my field-glass I distinguished a 
squadron of eight ships, cruisers and destroyers, 
steaming toward Durazzo. When they came nearer I 
could distinguish the Austrian flag. As I was con- 
vinced they were going to seize that town, I im- 
mediately got out the archives of the Legation, the 
cypher, etc., and burnt the whole in the courtyard. 
I fully expected to sleep that night in Ragusa as an 
Austrian prisoner. 

"Half an hour later the warships arrived in the 
roads and cast anchor. We expected tO' see a landing- 
party put off every minute. But hesitation appeared 
to prevail. The Austrian Admiral was probably doubt- 
ful of the forces at the disposal of Essad Pasha and 
the resistance he might encounter. The ships lay there 
inactive for two hours, and then suddenly opened fire 
on all the shipping in the harbour. They sank two 
steamers and a number of sailing vessels. You can 
still see their funnels and masts emerging from the 
water. After that they weighed anchor and went ofif 
to San Giovanni di Medua, where they repeated their 
exploit. They then quietly returned to the Bocche de 

At Scutari 171 

What renders this affair so mysterious is that 
Brindisi, where scores of Italian warships of all cate- 
gories are lying, is only two and a half hours' steaming 
for the swiftest Italian destroyers under forced draft. 
I crossed from Durazzo to Brindisi a fortnight later, 
on the Italian destroyer the Ardito, and we covered 
the distance in about three hours with, I was told, ten 
knots in hand of our full speed. As the Italian Lega- 
tion at Durazzo possessed a wireless station that was in 
constant communication with Brindisi, the Italian 
Admiral there must have had news of the approach 
of the Austrian squadron five minutes after it ap- 
peared above the line of the horizon. How, under 
these circumstances, it was possible for it to cruise 
undisturbed in the Adriatic for five hours and bombard 
two xAlbanian harbours remains a dark and fearful 

On October 7th two Albanian non-commissioned 
officers arrived at Scutari from San Giovanni di 
Medua. They had arrived there from Durazzo in a 
motor-boat. They reported that they had accompanied 
two officers, sent by Essad Pasha to escort King Peter 
to Durazzo. A few miles from San Giovanni di 
Medua they had been stopped by an Austrian sub- 
marine which had taken the officers prisoners. It 
allowed the two non-commissioned officers to continue 
their voyage, but told them to warn the Governor at 
Scutari that the whole of the entrance to San Giovanni 
di Medua was mined. This, of course, may only have 
been "bluff," but there was no means of making sure 
one way or the other. 

172 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

We began to see that if we wanted to leave Albania 
we would have to get to Durazzo or perhaps Valona. 
The route by San Giovanni di Medua, though the 
nearest (it is only 25 miles from Scutari by an 
excellent road), was too uncertain to be safe. We 
therefore began making preparations for our journey 
to Durazzo. Colonel Mitrovitch kindly furnished us 
with three riding-horses (we had with us on this part 
of the journey M. Nikolitch of the Press Bureau of 
the Headquarters Staff, who was en mission to 
Salonica), a horse for our baggage and a mounted 
gendarme and two infantry soldiers as our escort. 
These, with the faithful Stance, who led our pack- 
horse, made us a party of seven. As all except Stanco 
were armed we were in a position to defend our- 
selves if attacked. 

M. Yovan Yovanovitch, the Under Secretary of 
State for Foreign Affairs, also kindly telegraphed to 
Essad Pasha, to send one of his gendarmes to meet 
us at Alessio (the point where the authority of the 
Montenegrin Government ceases) to escort us thence 
to Durazzo. Thanks to the courtesy of M. Pashitch, 
the Premier, we also obtained 450 francs worth of 
gold, as between Scutari and Durazzo, Serbian money, 
silver or paper, would be useless. Our Turkish host 
also' gave us a letter to his uncle, who was one of the 
"notables" of Alessio, and who, he said, would, if we 
desired it, find us additional guides and escort. Under 
these circumstances we set out on December 12th on 
our journey to Durazzo, with every prospect of getting 
there with a minimum amount of difficulty. 



IT had daily become more and more clear that there 
was little chance of being able to leave Albania 
by the port of San Giovanni di Medua. This was, I 
must confess, a disappointment to us, as it imposed on 
us a fresh march to Durazzo, and perhaps even 
Valona. The one would mean another week of hard- 
ships and the other at least a fortnight, as we would 
be forced to traverse the whole of Albania from north 
to south. The only consolation was that we would be 
able to convince ourselves de visu of the condition and 
numbers of the Serbian soldiers who had been able to 
take refuge in the territory ruled over by Essad Pasha. 
We started for Alessio, the first ctape on our 
journey, at eight o'clock on the morning of Sunday, 
1 2th December. The weather was fine and mild, but 
a dense fog hung over the lake of Scutari and the 
surrounding country. The road, however, was — for 
Albania — an excellent one, and was being still further 
improved by the work of about 1,500 Austrian prison- 
ers. The influx of such a mass of Serbians made a 
good road to Alessio a necessity, either for the con- 
veyance of provisions to Scutari or for the transport 
of the Serbian troops, if the difficulties of revictualling 
them should force the authorities to evacuate them. 


174 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

So good indeed was the road that we were able to 
trot our horses the greater part of the distance. This, 
of course, did not advance us much, as we had, at the 
end of the march, to await the arrival of our pack- 
horse and the two soldiers on foot, but it was less 
tiring than riding hour after hour at a walk. There 
is nothing so fatiguing as to have to crawl at a foot- 
pace along a road that one sees stretching before one 
for miles. 

When we drew near Alessio, however, we had to 
leave the high-road, as the last mile or twO' was 
flooded, and follow a path running along the face of 
the hills. At first this was negotiable, but after a 
couple of miles or so it became so bad that it was 
dangerous to remain mounted, as our horses slipped 
and stumbled on the rocky ground. As we were 
generally skirting declivities of considerable depth a 
fall would probably have been fatal. To' our left were 
wide stretches of flooded meadows with here and 
there a red-roofed Albanian peasant house. Just as we 
were approaching a sharp angle in our paths we heard 
a succession of shots and saw a number of bullets 
strike the water round some cows which were standing 
knee deep in the flooded meadows. A few minutes 
later we saw some Albanian peasants armed with 
rifles come out of their huts and begin to dodge from 
tree to tree, always keeping under cover till they 
reached the water edge. 

As we were moving along the hillside completely 
exposed to their view we felt somewhat nervous, as 
they might consider we belonged to the party which 

Scutari to Durazzo 175 

was firing at them, but which we could not see, as it 
was concealed by the bend in the path, and open fire 
on us. Our gendarme made a sign to us to halt, passed 
the bridle of his horse to me, drew his carbine and 
went off to reconnoitre. He was gone about ten 
minutes, during which the firing continued, but evi- 
dently, from the noise of the reports, from a greater 
distance. When he returned he told us that the firing 
had been the work of a score or so of Serbian cavalry 
en route for Alessio, who had been emptying their 
carbines in sheer lightness of heart. This tendency on 
the part of the Serbian soldiers to fire off their rifles 
in this indiscriminate way was a great and ever- 
growing nuisance. It had begun shortly after we 
left Krushoumlia and was a clear sign of relaxing 

When we passed the party in question, our gen- 
darme (who held the rank of sergeant) spoke sharply 
tO' the non-commissioned officer in command, but only 
got an impudent reply, while his men regarded us with 
sullen ill-will. I imagine they had been imbibing 
some of the native raki, and that this accounted for 
their reckless mood. In any case, as soon as the route 
permitted we put spurs to our horses and got ahead 
of them, as we were unanimous in thinking that it was 
better to precede them than fall heir to any local 
animosities they might arouse. 

It was about four o'clock in the evening when we 
arrived at Alessio. We had some difficulty in finding 
the beg or local dignitary to whom our host in Scutari 
had given us a letter. When we finally found him 

176 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

we discovered he could speak nothing but Albanian. 
He was a picturesque figure, as his costume was freely 
embroidered with gold and silver and his handsome 
silver-studded belt was filled with an arsenal of silver- 
mounted knives and revolvers. Through an interpret- 
er he informed us that a telegram had been received 
from Essad Pasha, stating that a gendarme would be 
given to us to act as escort. When we interviewed the 
latter, however, he informed us we would have to 
wait another thirty-six hours in Alessio till the weekly 
Italian mail from Scutari arrived, as he had also to 
escort it to Durazzo. 

As we were unwilling to lose another day we deter- 
mined to push on without this addition to our force. 
We got off the next morning at seven o'clock. The 
route lay over an old Turkish causeway of cobble- 
stones as large as a child's head, worn as smooth as 
glass by constant floods, over which the horses 
sliddered as if they were on roller skates. After riding 
for four or five miles, during which my horse nearly 
fell at least twice a minute, this proved too much for 
my nerves, and I got down and led him. A mile fur- 
ther I had to mount again, as we found that a river 
crossed this road at right angles and that half the 
bridge spanning it was gone. The extremity of the 
broken half remaining was buried in the water. 

My horse waded in and soon the water was right 
up to his withers. On reaching the broken bridge I 
found that it did not touch the ground in the river- 
bed, but was suspended about four and a half feet 
from the bottom. My horse had therefore to rear 

Scutari to Durazzo 177 

up, place his fore feet on the bridge and then give a 
spring on to the wet and shppery planks. xA.s he could 
give a chamois points for sure- foot edness he managed 
this apparently impossible feat, but came a cropper 
on the greasy planking, and we nearly rolled over the 
side again into the river. Fortunately the stump of 
a rotten side-post brought us up and we were able 
to struggle up. 

After another mile or two of cobblestone causeway 
in ever-increasing disrepair, we got to a muddy kind 
of jungle through which a vague path seemed to wind. 
A heavy thunderstorm had been banking up on the 
horizon when we left Alessio and now it burst over us 
with all its fury. In a minute or two the mud had 
become a swamp through which we stolidly splashed 
our way, half blinded by the driving rain. Fortunately 
we came across a wayside hut in which were half a 
dozen truculent looking Albanians. One was in 
agonies of toothache, and asked me if I was a "hakim" 
or doctor. I had a few tablets of aspirin with me and 
gave him one, told him to take it and lie down till it 
took effect. In five minutes he was so soundly asleep 
that I got alarmed. I thought the dose might have 
a bad effect on a man who had probably never taken 
medicine in all his life. But when he woke up with 
his toothache gone a few hours later, his gratitude 
knew no bounds. He went out and hunted up lodgings 
for us in the house of a peasant friend. The latter 
drove a pretty stiff bargain, a gold louis for a night's 
lodgings, but once the commercial matter settled, 
treated us with patriarchal dignity as honoured guests. 

lyS From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

The walls of his house were made of wattle through 
which wind swept in a perfect gale on one side and out 
the other. It required the immense fire we had built 
in the centre to keep us from freezing, but the rush 
of air had one good point, it completely dried our 
soaking clothes. 

We learnt that an hour away we would find the first 
of three fords over the Mati river, and as there were 
prospects that ferrying facilities might be primitive, 
we were off soon after sunrise next morning. The 
way lay through forest glades, and as brilliant sun- 
shine prevailed, the ride was an enjoyable one. Our 
enjoyment came to an abrupt conclusion when we 
reached the ford. At this point the river is over a 
hundred yards broad. The ferry was a long and 
clumsy native boat, able to contain four horses and 
about twenty passengers. On the bank chaos and con- 
fusion reigned. Over three hundred people and about 
a hundred and fifty horses were waiting to cross. The 
ferry was run by a truculent Albanian aided by four 
rowers. On the banks a score or so of ruffianly natives 
were noisily shouting for "backsheesh" as the price 
of their assistance in embarking men and animals. 
They demanded ten francs in gold for each passenger 
and twenty francs for each horse. 

Everybody was talking at once and every journey 
of the boat was preceded by endless discussions. 
About an hour later the ItaHan mail arrived with at 
least a score of pack-horses. The "Kavass" of the 
Italian consulate, who was in charge, at once com- 
mandeered the ferry by the simple process of laying 

Scutari to Durazzo 179 

right and left with a heavy-thonged whip tumbling out 
the horses already on Ixjard and expelling the pas- 
sengers. After his party had passed without the 
Kavass paying the ferryman anything but a shower 
of blows from his riding-whip, the former pandemoni- 
um recommenced. As we were seven passengers and 
five horses, there seemed little prospect of our being 
able to find accommodation. All day long we watched 
this scene of confusion, and when darkness fell the 
ferry ceased operations for the night. 

We had therefore again to find lodgings. At this 
moment a particularly ill-favoured Albanian came up 
and offered us sleeping room in his hut, with stabling 
for our horses. He made the extortionate charge of 
two gold louis, or forty francs. When we got to his 
hut (a small one) we found it already in the posses- 
sion of seven Austrian prisoners. I will sleep in a hut 
with almost anything, but I draw the line at Austrian 
prisoners, who had probably not had their clothes 
off for a matter of six months. As they refused to 
leave, I declared that I would rather go and sleep in 
the stable where our horses had been placed. As the 
night was not cold we could put them out of doors 
without danger. This we did, and found the stables 
quite as comfortable and rather more water-tight than 
the peasant's hut. 

After dinner we held a council of war. It was clear 
that seven passengers and five horses was a large 
order for the ferry. As our riding-horses were really 
little use to us, I proposed that we should send two of 
them back to Scutari under the charge of the gendarme 

i8o From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

and one of the soldiers. This would reduce our party 
to five, with two pack-horses. If we were at the river 
at dawn when the ferry started work there was every 
chance we could get across. At this moment we all 
started. A carbine had been fired just alongside the 
hut, I and du Bochet grabbed our revolvers and ran 
outside. We were just in time to find our gendarme 
firing a second shot from his carbine, and saw the 
white-clad figures of a number of Albanians running 
off in the darkness. The gendarme had heard 
whistling all round the hut, and suspected this was the 
signal of a band of horse thieves (as it in all prob- 
ability was). He watched them creeping nearer in 
the darkness and had then let fly at them. As they 
had evidently bolted we returned to the hut. Five 
minutes later we received the visit of three of Essad's 
gendarmes, who wanted to know what the reason for 
the firing had been. They were accompanied by our 
rascally landlord, who, I strongly suspect, had given 
his thievish neighbours the hint that we had turned out 
our horses in the field. I arranged that the horses 
should be attached and that the gendarme, the soldiers 
and Stanco should mount guard in turn all night. As 
a result all our horses were still there when we awoke 
next morning. 

We gave the gendarme and the soldier their march- 
ing orders and lOO dinars as inaticum for their return 
journey to Scutari, and betook ourselves to the ferry 
boat. We were fortunate enough to be the first to 
cross, for the trifling fare of 90 francs in gold, or 
nearly £4. In ordinary times the charge would have 

Scutari to Durazzo i8i 

been 25 centimes for each passenger and 50 centimes 
for each horse, or a total of 2 francs, 50 centimes 
(2 shilHngs). The ferryman and his rascally assistants 
were making about £100 per day. My only hope was 
that they would get their deserts when the Serbian 
troops began to cross. The ctape to the next ford 
was uneventful, and we reached it before sundown. 
The first ferry had, of course, held back the crowd, 
so that at the two remaining ferries no time was 
lost, and the prices were only one franc a head for 
passengers and two for each horse. We passed the 
night in bivouac on the other bank and started next 
morning for the third ford. This was about the worst 
day's march of the whole journey. About a couple of 
miles from the river we entered a swampy jungle 
through which hundreds of paths seemed to run. In 
half an hour we seemed completely lost. All we could 
do was to steer by the compass. On consulting the 
map the course seemed to be south with about two 
points to the west. We took this course and began to 
burst our way through the jungle, splashing up to the 
knees in mud, tearing our clothes and scratching our 
leggings on hundreds of thorns. The chief difificulty 
was with our horses. We could edge our way among 
the trees, but the laden pack animals had to rasp 
their way by main force through trees and under- 
growth. The condition of our baggage after three 
hours of this regime may be imagined. But we were 
in luck as regards our direction, for when we finally 
struggled clear of the jungle we found ourselves barely 
five hundred yards from the ferry. The boat was 

i82 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

unable to accommodate horses, so we had to unload 
them and swim them across and reload them on the 
other side, an operation which took time. 

The road on the other side, though hilly, proved to 
be in good condition, and two hours later we were 
safely installed in the village of Ishmi, perched on the 
western slope of the mountains. Here for the first 
time we came in view of the sea. Forty-five kilo- 
metres away we could see the gleam of the Adriatic, 
with the white houses and graceful minarets of 
Durazzo nestling at the base of a high hill. 

The accommodation at Ishmi was, for Albania, 
unusually good. The peasants with whom we lodged 
killed and broiled a fowl, and provided us with new- 
laid eggs and sour milk. Our host, a young Albanian 
who spoke a little Italian (he had been employed by 
an Italian company which owned a timber conces- 
sion), offered to guide us to Durazzo by an easy path 
over the mountains. For this we gave him a gold louis 
and a pair of boots. 

Next morning we set out in brilliant sunshine. 
Though we were only a few days from Christmas, 
by midday it was oppressively warm — but the road 
was so good we could swing along the whole day 
at a steady four miles an hour. We slept the night 
at Presa, in the house of a relative of our guide, and 
next day completed our last etape tO' Durazzo. Three- 
quarters of this was along an excellent high road 
which runs from Tirana to Durazzo and offered no 

As we drew near Durazzo we began to see abundant 

Scutari to Durazzo 183 

signs of the presence of the remnants of the Serbian 
Army. On all the hills on either side of the road 
camps and bivouacs had been installed. On the road 
a constant stream of country carts were pouring empty 
toward the town, while an equal number filled with 
stacks of flour and potatoes, straw, hay, and huge 
pieces of freshly-killed meat were moving in the 
opposite direction. In addition to the carts innumer- 
able fatigue parties, each man with an empty sack on 
his shoulder, were marching in the direction of 
Durazzo, and other parties, bending under the weight 
of their burdens, were returning to camp. Mounted 
officers were riding in all directions and groups of 
soldiers were running field telegraphs along the roads 
and across the fields to put the various camps in com- 
munication with one another and with Durazzo. 

The camps and bivouacs were laid out in orderly 
lines, trenches to run off the water had been dug, 
horses were picketed in symmetrical rows or turned 
loose to graze on the mountain side. It was clear 
that military order and discipline had been already 
re-established and progress towards reorganization 
had already been made. Of course many of the men 
still bore evident signs of the hardships they had 
undergone, many were seated around in the camps and 
bivouacs still too weak and exhausted to undertake 
any military duties. But these were the minority. As 
we came closer to the town the number of camps 
increased and an ever-increasing animation was 
everywhere visible. It was a convincing proof of the 
marvellous vitality of the Serbian soldier. I had the 

184 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

impression that in a few short weeks the army would 
be again a fighting machine ready to take the field. 

Around Durazzo there were encamped about twenty 
thousand men, with probably four or five thousand 
horses. Many of the cavalry horses were in very poor 
case, but those that had survived the hardships of the 
march across the mountains were the animals posses- 
sing stamina and staying power, and a week or two's 
rest would make them fit for service. Of course there 
were no field guns or Serbian Army service wagons. 
All these had been either buried or destroyed before 
leaving Serbian territory. But as the pursuing enemy 
would also be unable to bring over his field guns he 
would be equally handicapped. But the men were sadly 
in need of boots and uniforms. The long tramp over 
the mountains had given the coup de grace to foot- 
wear that had already been tried by the long retreat. 
The uniforms were in rags. In many instances they 
were badly burnt, showing how closely their wearers 
had had to gather round the bivouac fires on the freez- 
ing mountain heights. 

With the soldiers were the men of the new "classe," 
youths of eighteen and nineteen who had been called 
out to join the colours. These had, however, suffered 
terribly during the passage into Albania. Not belong- 
ing to any military unit, they had no organization or 
commissariat. They had started out with a loaf or two 
of bread in their haversacks, and when this was gone 
they had simply starved. Many were without great- 
coats, and had faced the mountain snow with nothing 
but their ordinary peasant's costume. When they ar- 

Scutari to Durazzo 185 

rived at Dibra, El-Bassan and Durazzo they were 
walking skeletons. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, suc- 
cumbed to their privations. 1 was told that between 
thirty-five and forty thousand had managed to reach 
the bivouacs. 

The great want was the insufficient number of 
surgeons and Red Cross Units to cope with the number 
of sick. It would have been necessary to establish 
special camps for these and give them special attention 
and treatment, but unfortunately this was out of the 
question. The floods and inundations which covered 
the lower part of the plain behind the town and 
towards Valona made it difficult to find good camping 
grounds, and in many instances the sick and starving 
were unable to make the effort necessary to reach 
the higher grounds. 

When we reached the entrance to Durazzo the 
soldier of our escort and Stanco had to give up their 
rifles, for which they were given a receipt. By order 
of Essad Pasha no Serbian soldier in arms was to enter 
the town. In fact, no soldiers were allowed to enter 
it at all unless they were in possession of a regular 
pass proving that they had business there. 

We were disappointed to see a three-masted sailing 
ship flying the American flag weighing her anchor 
just as we entered the town. Du Bochet thought that 
he, being Swiss and neutral, might have been able to 
reach Italy on board her, as the vessel, being Amer- 
ican, would escape seizure or torpedoing by the Aus- 
trian submarines. We learnt afterwards that she 
would not have been a very safe ship to travel on, as 

i86 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

she was strongly suspected of being in the pay of Aus- 
tria and to be cruising in the Adriatic to spy and 
report to the Austrian Admirahy at Pola. 

In fact, we saw her back at her moorings next 
morning, and during the night we noted she used to 
hang out what seemed an unnecessarily large number 
of lanterns. As there was always an Austrian sub- 
marine cruising just outside the harbour this excited 
grave suspicion. She had been wandering about from 
one port to another — Italian, Austrian and Albanian — 
for two months past. As the amount of business she 
did did not seem sufficient to pay her working ex- 
penses, the reason for her being in these waters was 
not apparent. All this, as I have said, exposed her to 
considerable suspicions, and she was kept under very 
close observation. But as her papers as an American 
merchant vessel were all in order and she was never 
taken in flagranti delicto of espionage, nothing could 
be done to interfere with her movements. 

The harbour presented a desolate appearance. Near 
the shore the funnels of two steamers sunk by the 
Austrians during the bombardment of the port on 
December 9th emerged from the water, while further 
out could be seen the tops of the masts of the sailing 
vessels sunk on the same occasion. Near the jetty a 
small steam transport was lying. She was a vessel 
of about 1,200 tons, and had safely made the run from 
Brindisi with food for the Serbian Army. She had 
taken over six hundred Serbian refugees eager to 
reach Italy on board, but could not leave, as an Aus- 
trian submarine was known to be cruising outside. 

Scutari to Durazzo 187 

The refugees had been on board her for over five 
days. The sufferings of six hundred people packed 
Hke herrings in a barrel in the ill-ventilated hold of 
a small tramp steamer may be imagined. 

In the town we found that, as usual, famine prices 
prevailed, due to the influx of Serbians. We had to 
pay twenty francs a day for a most doubtful-looking 
room in a fourth-rate Albanian inn. I suppose it would 
have been dear at a franc and a half in ordinary 
times. But though prices were high, this seemed due 
more to commercial speculation than to absolute dearth 
of provisions. There were a large number of shops 
run by Italians in which sausages, ham, macaroni, 
biscuits, fruit, wine, etc., could be procured. Such 
luxuries as pickles, Worcestershire sauce, chutney, 
Liebig's extract and Bovril were also visible in the 

Beer was also procurable, the first we had seen for 
two months. The bottles were small and the quality 
indifferent. But if the bottles were small it was more 
than could be said of the prices. We incautiously con- 
sumed three bottles without first inquiring the price, 
and were somewhat staggered when we got a bill for 
eighteen francs. The price in Italy would have been 
about fourpence apiece. 



ONCE installed we sallied forth to see if we could 
obtain any reliable information regarding the 
military situation and the prospects of obtaining a 
passage to Italy. 

As regards the military situation there was little 
difficulty in obtaining information. The remnants of 
the Serbian Army were still pouring into Scutari via 
Montenegro and by the Albanian route via Lioum- 
Koula and Puka. The same held good regarding the 
"classe" or young men liable to- military service. Over 
fifty thousand men, soldiers and recruits, had managed 
to reach the environs of Scutari. Troops of the Second 
and Third Armies and young recruits were still arriv- 
ing at Dibra and El-Bassan, and being pushed on 
towards Durazzo. Round Durazzo over twenty thou- 
sand were already encamped. It was calculated that, 
all told, about one hundred and fifty thousand 
Serbians, soldiers and recruits, had escaped from the 
disaster at Prisrend. 

But unfortunately we learned that the Bulgarians 
were in close pursuit and that Dibra would in all 
probability have to be evacuated. This was actually 
done before we left Durazzo' five days later, and the 

At Durazzo 189 

troops moved on to El-Bassan. The Combined 
Divisions and some other units were still to be counted 
on as a military force, and were delaying the Bul- 
garian advance, I received the sad news of the convoy 
of the Combined Division with which we had travelle"d 
to Pristina. It had been attacked in the mountains 
by an Albanian clan and most of the "Komordjis" 
massacred. Among the victims were the major and 
his wife from whom I had had hospitality, as well as 
the veterinary surgeon attached to the column and his 
little fifteen-year-old son. 

The advance of the Austrian and Bulgarian forces 
was beginning to arouse considerable anxiety, as it 
would still further complicate the already difficult 
problem of the re-victualling of the Serbian Army. 
Unless food was promptly forthcoming it would be 
impossible to count on any help from the Serbian 
Army in resisting or delaying the advance of the 
enemy. Two solutions were put forward. One pro- 
posal was that the Serbian Army should be withdrawn 
from Albania and conveyed to some other centre to 
be re-equipped and reorganized. The other proposal 
was that it should remain in Albania and be reorgan- 
ized there. But for this it would be necessary to 
guarantee that the Adriatic should be efficiently 
policed, and this Italy seemed unwilling to under- 
take. It was also the desire of the Headquarters Staff 
that the Serbian Army should not quit Albania. 

The Serbian Army is a peasant one and has little 
comprehension of the problems of tactics and strategy 
and still less of those of international politics. As 

190 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

long as it was in Albania it saw the line of blue moun- 
tains on the horizon and knew that Serbia lay on the 
other side. But if conveyed to foreign countries it 
would feel depayse, torn up by the roots. Not one Ser- 
bian soldier had ever seen the sea, and if transported 
across it for hundreds of miles he would feel himself 
lost. It is possible to explain to a British or French 
soldier that when he is fighting in France, in Egypt, 
in Gallipoli or in Mesopotamia he is still fighting for 
his country and defending its cause. But such argu- 
ments would be lost on the Serbian soldier, they are 
beyond his primitive mentality. But of course every- 
thing depended on the maintenance of supplies, and 
for this it was necessary to clear the Adriatic of hostile 
war vessels, notably submarines. It would further be 
necessary to largely reinforce the Italian troops at 
Valona and send strong detachments to central and 
northern Albania to oppose the advance of the Aus- 
trian and Bulgarian Armies. It was specially necessary 
to check the advance of the latter from Dibra and 

It was evident that if the Bulgarians should reach 
Durazzo the fate of the forty or fifty thousand 
Serbians, including the Headquarters Staff, at Scutari 
would be sealed, as they would be completely isolated 
and shut in between the Austrian and Bulgarian 
Armies. During my stay in Durazzo the Austrian 
submarine was continually en evidence. She even en- 
gaged in an artillery duel with the small transport in 
the harbour, which was armed with a couple of small 

At Durazzo 191 

The following day when I called on Essad Pasha T 
found him anxious but far from depressed. He had 
that day formally declared war on Austria-Hungary 
and Bulgaria and had the Consuls of these countries 
arrested, and had placed them on board the American 
three-master to which I have made reference above. 
He told me the Allies could count on him to the 
death. It was certain that after his expulsion of the 
Prince of Wied, the puppet King imposed on Albania 
by the Central Powers, that the latter would show 
him no mercy. Of the ultimate victory of the Allies 
he had no doubt, though in common with everyone 
else he deplored the errors of their policy in the 
Balkans. He frankly admitted the critical nature of 
the situation created by the presence of the Austrian 
and Bulgarian troops in Albania. He himself, beyond 
his 6,000 gendarmes, did not dispose of any organized 
troops. It was clear that if Italy could not guarantee 
the safety of the transports of the Allies in the 
Adriatic, nothing remained but to evacuate the Serbian 
Army, and even do it promptly. 

On leaving- Essad Pasha I went to call on Baron 
Allioti, the Italian Minister in Durazzo, at the Lega- 
tion — the handsomest and most imposing building in 
the town. It is flanked on one side by the Consulate 
and the Italian hospital, and on the other by the wire- 
less station, by which the Minister is in telegraphic 
communication with Brindisi. He informed me that" 
Italian torepdo boats were coming over to escort the 
transport in the harbour to Brindisi, and promised 

192 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

that du Bochet and myself would be given means of 
reaching Italy. 

On leaving the Legation I met the Italian battalion, 
which had just arrived, marching through the streets. 
They seemed a fine, sturdy body of men, in their 
workmanlike grey service uniforms. There were two 
more battalions in a village twO' hours' distance from 
Durazzo and others echelonned along the route from 
Valona. The road, however, was in bad condition 
owing to floods. The battalion in Durazzo had been 
eight days on the march from Valona. I was 
extremely glad that the promise given us by Baron 
Allioti made it unnecessary for us to undertake the 
march to Valona. After the experience we had under- 
gone in the retreat from Prisrend and our journey 
from Scutari, we had no desire to negotiate another 
hundred miles of swamp and mountains in Albania. 

The following morning we received instructions to 
present ourselves at nine o'clock in the evening to 
Lieutenant Musellardi, of the Italian Navy, who was 
acting as captain of the port. We expected that at 
that hour we would go on board the transport lying 
in the bay. But when we reached the jetty we were 
informed that we would cross on the Italian destroyer 
which was coming to escort the transport to Brindisi. 
By this time a score or so of persons had assembled on 
the jetty who were to be our fellow travellers. These 
included Prince and Princess Alexis Karageorgevitch 
and their suite and a number of Serbian stafif officers. 
Two Albanian sailing-boats with huge lug sails, such 
as one generally sees during the coasting trade on the 

At Durazzo 193 

Albanian coast, were rocking alongside the quay to 
convey us to the destroyer as soon as she should 
appear. But hour after hour passed. It was nearly 
midnight when two quick flashes in the Egyptian dark- 
ness of the horizon announced the arrival of the 

The baggage was hastily loaded on the boats, which 
at once pushed ofif and made in the direction the 
flashes had been seen. But it is one thing to go in 
search of a small vessel like a destroyer at night in an 
open bay and another thing to find her. For over an 
hour we cruised backwards and forwards in the black 
darkness. A heavy sea made the boat roll heavily, so 
much so that some of the passengers began to pay their 
tribute to Neptune. Then the destroyer risked yet an- 
other flash from her searchlight and we could at last 
locate her. 

Once alongside the passengers and luggage were 
transferred with all speed to the destroyer, which 
turned out to be the Ardito, a thirty-six knot boat, one 
of the swiftest in the Italian Navy. Three more 
destroyers and a couple of French cruisers were, we 
were told, lying outside the bay. The period of wait- 
ing till the transport with the 600 Serbian refugees 
got up her anchor and got under way was the most 
anxious moment. Every instant we expected to see a 
torpedo launched from the Austrian submarine, which 
we knew, from optical proof, was cruising outside. 

But nothing happened, and the Ardito, with her 
clumsy protege (whose fastest pace was about seven 
knots) slowly but surely crawled out of the roads. 

194 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Half an hour later we rejoined the other destroyers 
outside and confided to them the task of escorting the 
transport. As soon as the transfer was effected the 
Ardito suddenly put on speed and began to walk 
through the water at twenty-six knots an hour. Every- 
body on board heaved a sigh of relief, as a ship 
travelling like an express train furnishes an almost 
impossible target for a submarine. Two and a half 
hours later we entered Brindisi harbour. There for 
miles on either hand lay scores of Dreadnoughts, 
battleships, battle cruisers, armoured and protected 
cruisers, destroyers, torpedo boats and submarines, all 
with steam up night and day. This display of Italy's 
naval strength only deepened the mystery of her 
apparent inaction in presence of the Austrian sub- 
marines and cruisers. With steam coal at over a hun- 
dred francs a ton it must have cost a small fortune 
to keep this magnificent fleet under steam pressure 
night and day. This only increased the surprise felt 
by the uninitiated at the apparent inaction of the 
Italian fleet. 

Just as a grey and cheerless dawn was beginning to 
appear I set foot on Italian soil, which I had quitted 
nearly foar months before. But in these four short 
months much history had been made, and one of the 
bravest, if one of the smallest, nations of Europe had, 
for the moment at least, ceased to exist. 



AFTER my arrival in Italy I had an opportunity 
of discussing the position of the Serbian Army 
in Albania with a number of diplomatists and military 
men. I found opinions much divided. The British 
and French were in favour of the Serbian Army being 
revictualled, re-equipped and reorganized on Albanian 
soil. The British Adriatic Commission had already 
sent missions of oflfiicers to Scutari, San Giovanni di 
Medua and Brindisi. The Commission was under the 
command of Brigadier-General Taylor, who had his 
headquarters at Rome. 

But the first condition for the successful achieve- 
ment of the object of the Commission was the cer- 
tainty that the transports containing food, arms, 
clothing, etc., should be able to reach their destina- 
tion in safety. For this it would be necessary to assure 
them against attack by Austrian submarines. This 
was the task of the Italian navy. But the Admiral 
commanding at Brindisi was of opinion that it offered 
insuperable difficulties. The Albanian coast has no 
harbours. Durazzo and San Giovanni di Medua are 
open roadsteads. It is only possible to land goods in 
favourable weather. Only small vessels can be em- 


196 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

ployed, as large ones cannot approach the coast. This 
naturally increases the number of the transports, and 
the difficulty of escorting and protecting them would 
overtax the powers of the fleet in Brindisi. 

The Italian staff was also of opinion that the 
Serbians were not in a position tO' resist the simul- 
taneous invasion of Albania by the Austro-German 
and Bulgarian Armies. This would have entailed the 
necessity for Italy of reinforcing her garrison at 
Valona and occupying other strategic points in 
Albania. This Italy was unwilling to do, as the diffi- 
culty of feeding and maintaining a large army there 
was too great. In addition the Italian troops might 
have found themselves face to face with German 
troops. Italy, however, had not declared war on Ger- 
many and was anxious to avoid possible points of con- 
tact with that Power. 

While these discussions were going on between the 
three Governments events were moving rapidly. The 
Bulgarians advanced from Dibra to El-Bassan and 
threatened Durazzo, while the Austrians captured 
Mount Lovtchen and made themselves practically mas- 
ters of Montenegro and threatened Scutari. 

The position of the Serbian Army became critical 
in the extreme. There were over fifty thousand men 
in and around Scutari. If the Bulgarian Army at El- 
Bassan should reach Durazzo it would cut Albania in 
two halves and would leave the Serbian forces at 
Scutari no' port of embarkation except San Giovanni 
di Medua. The problem of embarking such a force 
from a small open roadstead seemed insoluble. As 

The Evacuation of Albania 197 

the members of the Government and the Headquarters 
Staff were still at Scutari the capture of the troops 
there would have been an absolute disaster. As it 
was the task of transporting them to Durazzo and 
San Giovanni di Medua bristled with difficulties of 
every kind. 

The next question to be settled, in case the evacua- 
tion was decided on, was the destination of the 
Serbian troops. Various places were suggested, 
Corsica, Tunis, Algeria, etc., but the spot finally 
selected was Corfu. The island, it is true, was Greek, 
and the Powers did not dispose of it as their property. 
But it was difficult for Greece to refuse hospitality to 
the Serbians as Serbia was an allied state. There had 
been a difference of opinion between the Serbian and 
the Greek Governments as to the obligations imposed 
on them by the Greco-Serbian Treaty of 19 13. Serbia 
argued that by it Greece was bound to come tO' her aid 
if she was attacked by Bulgaria; the Athens Govern- 
ment took the view that it only became operative if 
Bulgaria alone attacked Serbia, but did not force 
Greece to come to the aid of Serbia if other Powers 
took part in the attack. But the treaty had not been 
denounced by either party, there was only a difference 
of opinion as to its interpretation. Greece and Serbia 
were therefore still technically allies, so that it was 
difficult for the former to refuse hospitality to the 
army of King Peter. 

The island of Corfu offered many advantages. It 
was only a few hours' steaming from the Albanian 
coast. The risks of a long voyage for a large fleet 

198 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

of transports were therefore got rid of, and the evac- 
uation could be carried out rapidly, as the same vessels 
could go backwards and forwards between the 
Albanian ports and the island. Climatically Corfu 
left nothing to be desired, as the temperature is much 
the same as that of Serbia. It might have been a 
risky matter transporting a mountain people to the 
warm climate of Algeria or Tunis. 

Then the future operations of the Serbian troops 
had to be kept in view. It was clear that as soon as 
the army was rested, reorganized and re-equipped, 
it would again take the field. There were only two 
possible fields of action, Albania or Salonica. Under 
those circumstances it was desirable to keep the 
Serbian Army as near its future theatre of operations 
as possible. If the distance to be covered was small 
a small fleet of transports would suffice, as the same 
vessels could go backwards and forwards in a few 
hours. If the army had tO' be brought from Algeria 
or Tunis, a large fleet of transports would be neces- 
sary, and this would increase the cost, the loss of time 
and the risk of attack from submarines. 

As soon, therefore, as it was decided to transport 
the Serbian Army to Corfu no time was lost in carry- 
ing out the operation. A large fleet of transports at 
once took the work in hand. An Italian force was 
sent to Durazzo to protect that town against attack, 
while the embarkation was going on. A part of the 
Serbian Army at Durazzo descended the coast to 
Valona. The embarkation was made from three ports, 
San Giovanni di Medua, Durazzo and Valona. Not 

The Evacuation of Albania 199 

only were the troops transported, but several thousand 
horses were brought away safely. 

British, French and Italian vessels took part in 
conveying the troops, while the warships of the three 
Powers policed the Adriatic with such success that the 
Austrian submarines were kept at a respectful dis- 
tance. But it became clear that Essad Pasha and his 
troops would also have to leave Albania, as the Bul- 
garians and Austrians were now converging on 
Durazzo from all sides. After the Italian troops had 
successfully covered the embarkation at Durazzo they 
had themselves to beat a retreat to Valona. 

All these difficult and delicate operations were suc- 
cessfully carried out, and though the Austrians and 
Bulgarians became masters of all Albania, they failed 
in their principal object, the surrounding and capture 
of the Serbian Army. A part of their forces advanced 
as far as Valona, but that town had little difficulty in 
defending itself. The invading force was unable to 
bring any artillery, beyond mountain and machine 
guns, across the mountains, so that it could not under- 
take an attack on a town defended by heavy Italian 
batteries brought by sea from Italy. 

The Italians need not have had any anxiety regard- 
ing the Austrian and Bulgarian occupation of Albania, 
as this would come automatically to an end as soon 
as the expeditionary force at Salonica successfully 
invaded Bulgaria. That day the Bulgarians were 
forced to evacuate Albania, and even do it hurriedly, 
if they did not want to find themselves cut off from 
all return to Bulgaria. 

200 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

The day this happened the Austrians had to evacu- 
ate the country, as they had lines of communication to 
guard running from Bosnia to \'alona, through a ter- 
ritory which has no railways and few roads. Fifty 
per cent, of the population was absolutely hostile to 
them. Even the Catholic part of Albania was only 
pro-Austrian as long as the Dual Monarchy sub- 
sidized it, and would under no circumstances have 
taken up arms in defence of Austrian interests against 
a foreign foe. 



ONCE it had been decided to transfer the 
Serbian Army to Corfu, preparations had to 
be made with all haste to receive it. It was no small 
matter to convey over a hundred thousand soldiers, 
with all that remained of their horses, mountain gims, 
machine guns and impedimenta of all descriptions, in 
a country denuded of good roads, to three open road- 
steads, and then embark them on transports. It must 
be remembered that this had to be done under the 
constant menace of attack by the Austrian Army in 
Montenegro and the Bulgarian troops at El-Bassan. 

But not only was it necessary to embark them in 
Albania, preparations had to be made for receiving 
them at Corfu. Corfu is an island of 100,000 in- 
habitants, and possesses only such resources as are 
required for their daily necessities. It is needless to 
say that it was out of the question to call upon the 
authorities or the population to provide even a tenth 
of the provisions necessary for the maintenance of 
the Serbian Army. It would have been a poor 
exchange to save them from starvation in Albania to 
allow them to die of hunger in Corfu. 

The solution of the problem was left in the hands 

202 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

of the French Commanders, General de Mondesir and 
Admiral de Gueydon, and the French Minister, M. 
Boissonnais. Two bases were organized, a maritime 
base and a land base. The task of the former was 
to bring the Serbian troops on shore as fast as the 
transports arrived, and also to land the enormous 
mass of provisions and merchandise of all kinds sent 
from France and England. The harbour of Corfu 
presented a sight such as had never been seen in its 

Scores of transports with the troops arrived daily 
and tramp steamers of every sort and size crowded 
the roads. The first great difficulty was the want of 
boats of all kinds, for landing men and goods. Those 
that the port possessed in ordinary times were, of 
course, totally insufficient. But the sailor has the repu- 
tation of being the "handy man" able to make use of 
the most unpromising material. The French Man-o'- 
War man is little behind his British comrade in this 
respect. Admiral de Gueydon's men showed them- 
selves full of resource and ingenuity. Everything that 
would float was pressed into service, ships' boats, 
barges, fishing vessels, skif¥s, and even rafts. So well 
did they work that they were soon able to disembark 
20,000 men a day with 1,200 tons of provisions. 

The tours de force realized by the maritime base 
inspired the land base with healthy emulation. In fact, 
all through this difficult period the military, naval and 
civil authorities worked hand in hand for the common 
aim, the prompt succour of the Serbian Army. Red 
tape was reduced to a minimum. General de Mondesir, 

The Serbian Army at Corfu 203 

Admiral de Gueydon and M. Boissonnais held a daily 
conference. This daily exchange of views suppressed 
all necessity for reports, letters, and useless cor- 
respondence which would have only delayed and com- 
plicated the work on hand. 

The first duty of the land base was to assure a 
supply of bread. There was no want of flour, as 
large cargoes had been sent from France. But it was 
not sufficient to have flour, it was also necessary to 
find a means of baking it. The first difficulty was to 
find wood to heat the ovens. Corfu is rich in olive and 
orange trees, but it is not with such wood that fires can 
be made. As a first step the land base requisitioned all 
the available private ovens. Then a couple of com- 
panies of engineers set to work to construct field 
bakeries. Ships were sent off to Epirus to purchase 
wood from the Greeks. But until their return and 
until all the baking organization was completed, bread 
rations had to be distributed with a certain parsimony. 

In a day or two's time, however, all difficulties 
were overcome, and two field bakeries of :i^2 ovens 
each, employing 490 men, were at work night and 
day. Each oven furnished 120 three-pound loaves 
every two hours, or 240 rations, as each soldier 
received a pound and a half of bread each day. The 
64 ovens therefore furnished more than sufficient to 
feed the whole Serbian Army, and the refugees who 
had accompanied it. 

At first some difficulty was experienced with the 
meat. The authorities distributed, with laudable 

204 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

prodigality, large quantities of Australian frozen meat 
to the starving troops. But the Serbian soldier had 
never seen frozen meat in his life, and as the author- 
ities omitted to give them directions for unfreezing it, 
he simply threw it into boiling water and proceeded 
to cook it. When the meat was taken out it was 
found to resemble a section of a pneumatic tyre, and 
proved just about as digestible. This caused not a 
little perturbation in the camps, till it was explained 
to the men that frozen meat must first gradually thaw 
and return to its normal condition before any attempt 
is made to cook it. 

Of course the organization of the various camps 
was not an affair of hours or even days. The weather 
at first was most unfavourable, to an extent that 
caused great doubt as to the wisdom of choosing 
Corfu as a reorganization base. During the first few 
weeks it rained with persistence and a force that might 
have rendered a seal anxious. The unfortunate Serbs 
had no tents, and such huts as they were able to con- 
struct were a poor protection against the torrential 
downpour. If it was not raining it was hailing. 

The result was that the various camps became seas 
of mud, while the roads began to give way under 
the excessive strain imposed upon them by the mass 
of traffic between the camps and the port. All this 
imposed fresh work on the officers and men conduct- 
ing the various operations and assuring the provision- 
ing and equipping of the troops. It also hampered 
considerably the training of the recruits. 

The Serbian Army at Corfu 205 

The Serbian soldiers, too, were badly clothed to 
meet such inclement weather. Their un forms were 
in rags and their footwear for the most part in a 
lamentable condition. There were large numbers of 
new uniforms and boots sent from France and Eng- 
land, but it was not possible to begin the distribution 
till the men were organized into regular military units, 
sections, companies, battalions and regiments. 

The new unifonns for the Serbian Army were sent 
from France and England, while the new footwear 
had been purchased in the United States. As soon as 
the army had received its new equipment, the various 
units were at once formed, and the reorganization of 
the mass of men as a fighting machine was begun. 

Of course the length of time required for the recon- 
stitution of the units was not great in the case of men 
who had already served, and possessed a military in- 
struction. But with the army were thousands of young 
men of the new "classe" who were totally untrained. 
These, after they had rested from the hardships 
they had undergone during the retreat, had to be 
clothed, armed and instructed. The army was further 
without artillery or means of transport, as all guns 
and wheeled vehicles had had to be destroyed before 
it left Serbian soil. All that it possessed were the 
officers' chargers and several thousand cavalry and 
pack-horses that had served to carry provisions during 
the retreat across the mountains. There were also a 
number of mountain batteries and machine gun sec- 
tions with their mules. 

2o6 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

It speaks well for the quality of the Serbian soldier 
that by the month of April certain units were again 
thoroughly reconstituted and were sent off to Salonica 
to take their place in the fighting-line. 




L. L. C. 

Washington, D. C. 
November, 1919. 


DURING the world-war just terminated, with its 
clash of peoples on a score of fronts, it was 
difficult for the public to follow the various phases 
and realize their relative importance. Military tactics 
and strategy were often divorced from policy, with 
the result that the co-ordination of the effort suffered, 
and the war, instead of being waged by the Allies as 
a whole on a well-defined plan, was split up into a 
series of water-tight compartments, each of which was 
regarded by those fighting in it as the crucial one for 
the decision of the whole war. Some fronts were 
given undue prominence, others excited little or no 

An example of the latter was the Salonica front. 
The Army of the Orient was the Cinderella of the 
Allies, as far as treatment was concerned. This front 
was in certain quarters regarded as one of merely 
secondary importance. The Army of the Orient, under / 

the command of General Sarrail, was considered to 
have the mission of holding the line from Monastir 
to the Aegean, so as to exercise pressure on the Ger- 
man, Austrian, Bulgarian and Turkish forces defend- 
ing it, immobilize them and prevent their utilization 
elsewhere. But there was no intention of so reinforc- 
ing the Allied Army as to permit of it undertaking an 

212 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

energetic offensive and, coiite que coute, cutting the 
Berlin-Constantinople Railway. 

This was, however, a completely false conception 
of the mission of the Army of the Orient. The 
Salonica front was not one of secondary importance ; 
it was a front of capital importance. On no other front 
would such immense and far-reaching effects, military 
and political, have resulted from a successful offensive. 

In stating this I am not expressing a merely 
personal opinion. During the eighteen months I spent 
with the Headquarters Staff of the Serbian Army, I 
had continual opportunity of discussing with officers 
of the highest rank the importance of the whole 
Balkan front, and in the ten months I passed on the 
Salonica front, of discussing the real mission of the 
Army of the Orient. I found them unanimous in their 
opinion as to the importance of the operations in 

In their opinion, the objective of the Army of the 
Orient was the cutting of the Berlin-Constantinople 
Railway. It was notorious that Germany drew im- 
mense resources from Asia Minor, and that Bulgaria 
and Serbia were also laid under contribution. A 
swarm of German officials had been sent down to 
these countries, which had been cut up into sections 
like a chessboard, and were swept clean of every- 
thing that could be made use of. All day and every 
day trains filled with food were rolling up to Ger- 
many from the Balkan States and Asia Minor, while 
the trains travelling from Germany to Constantinople 
were filled with munitions, without which the resist- 

Introduction 213 

ance of Turkey to the British and Russian Armies 
would at once have collapsed. 

The possession of the Berlin-Constantinople Rail- 
road further assured the Central Powers the master}^ 
of the Dardanelles. As Germany controlled the 
entrances to the Baltic, Russia was practically isolated 
from her Allies. The only means they had of forward- 
ing war material to her was zna Vladivostok or Arch- 
angel. In other words "Mittel-Europa" was realized 
and a situation created which, if it could have been 
made permanent, would have assured to Germany the 
domination of Europe, the first step to world 

There is not the slightest doubt but that the cutting 
of the railway would have brought about the im- 
mediate collapse of Turkey. This would have meant 
the reopening of the Dardanelles, the reprovisioning 
of Russia, then still in the field, with munitions, of 
which she was sorely in need, and the delivery to the 
Allies of the immense quantities of food stuffs ac- 
cumulated in Southern Russia after the closing of the 
Straits. At the same time the collapse of Turkey as a 
military Power would have set free the British armies 
in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Palestine and the Russian 
army in the Caucasus for service elsewhere. 

The appearance of the Allied fleets in the Black Sea 
would undoubtedly have called a halt to the intrigue 
of the pro-German court camarilla surrounding the 
Czar and even if the Russian revolution had taken 
place, the Kerensky army, as a "force in being," would 
have been maintained, Bolshevism would have been 

214 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

nipped in the bud and the whole course of the war 
might have been changed. The failure to recognize 
these elementary truths constitutes the second capital 
error of the Allies in the Balkans and undoubtedly- 
prolonged the war by at least two years. 

Once Bulgaria and Turkey were disposed of, the 
Army of the Orient could have reoccupied Serbia, 
moved on the Danube and threatened Budapest. The 
Hungarian capital would then have been menaced 
from three sides — from the Danube, from the Rou- 
manian front and by the Russian Army then operating 
in the Bukavina. The country around Budapest being 
one immense plain, on which there are no fortresses 
of any importance, the defence of the capital would 
have been most difficult, and would have called for an 
immense number of men, which Austria at that mo- 
ment did not possess. 

The chief arguments of the opponents of the 
Salonica front were ( i ) the excessive demands it 
made on tonnage, (2) the difficulties of communi- 
cation, and (3) the mountainous nature of the 

The excessive demands made on tonnage for the 
transport of troops and war material was due to the 
failure of the Allies to utilize all the means of trans- 
port at their disposal. For eighteen long months they 
only made use of the sea route. As a transport steam- 
ing at ten knots (the speed imposed on it by the 
scarcity of coal) took ten days to make the voyage 
from Marseilles to Salonica, a ship could only deliver 
a cargo per month. At the same time the Mediter- 

Introduction 215 

ranean and the Aegean were swarming with subma- 
rines and a large proportion of the transports were 
sunk. It was only in December, 1917, that some one 
in the War Office in London perceived that if troops 
and stores were forwarded by land tO' Taranto in the 
South of Italy, they could be shipped over to Greece 
in a single night, thus avoiding the submarine danger. 
One ship going backwards and forward between Italy 
and the Greek ports could therefore do the work of ten 
running from Marseilles to Salonica. 

As soon as this was realized a clause giving the 
Allies the right to disembark troops and stores at Itea, 
the Greek railhead in the Gulf of Lepanto, whence they 
could be forwarded by rail to Salonica, was inserted 
in one of the many ultimata sent to King Constantine. 
The Italians also constructed a "route Carossable" 
from Santi Quaranta to Monastir, a marvel of military 
engineering, by which they were able to send thousands 
of tons a day of war material by motor-truck. 

As regards the second difficulty — the means of com- 
munication in Macedonia itself — an immense improve- 
ment had been made. When the expeditionary force 
first landed, in 1915, there were only three lines of 
railway — and these single track — and such roads as 
had existed under the Turkish regime. But the three 
hundred thousand men composing General Sarrail's 
force, reinforced by thousands of Macedonian peas- 
ants, in less than a year and a half, constructed thou- 
sands of kilometres of roads and hundreds of kilo- 
metres of light railways. 

Mountains, on which a year before only sheep tracks 

2i6 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

existed, were made accessible to heavy guns. An im- 
mense amount of motor transport was accumulated, 
and hundreds of thousands of pack animals were at the 
disposal of the Allied Army. The Army of General 
Sarrail was, therefore, if reinforced, in a position to 
undertake a successful offensive. The Serbian ad- 
vanced lines were in January, 19 17, only a matter of 
eighty miles from Nish, one of the principal stations of 
the Berlin-Constantinople Railway. 

The third objection — the mountainous nature of the 
country — was greatly exaggerated. It did not offer, as 
I will show in a subsequent chapter, any insuperable 
obstacle to military operations. The brilliant cam- 
paign of Field Marshal Mishitch, which culminated in 
the capture of Monastir, is a proof of this. He at- 
tacked, with inferior numbers, an enemy intrenched in 
most formidable mountain strongholds and drove them 
from one position after another. In fact the superior 
skill of the Serbians in mountain fighting gave them a 
distinct advantage over the Germans in a country like 
the Balkans. The knowledge of the country enabled 
them to seize advantages to outmanoeuvre an enemy 
who was not accustomed to that kind of warfare. It 
may further be argued that in no country has there 
ever been so much fighting as in the Balkans. 

The mountainous nature of the country did not pre- 
vent the States composing the Balkan League from in- 
flicting, in 1912, a crushing defeat on Turkey; neither 
did it prevent the German-Austrian-Bulgarian Armies 
in 191 5 from driving the Serbian Army into Albania. 
On that occasion, as I have described in the first sec- 

Introduction 217 

tion of this book, two hundred and fifty thousand Serbs 
resisted the invasion of seven hundred and fifty thou- 
sand Germans, Austrians and Bulgarians for over two 
months. The fact that they were able to do so is only 
attributable to their superior skill in this kind of war- 

But the Salonica front had not only immense mili- 
tary importance, its naval value could hardly be over- 
estimated : — by this I mean its naval value to the 
enemy. If, by any chance, the Germans and their 
allies had driven the Army of the Orient out of Salon- 
ica and seized the city and bay, the effect would have 
been simply catastrophic. 

The port of Salonica is one of the most magnificent 
in the world ; a land-locked harbour miles in extent, in 
which the navies of the world could lie at anchor. If 
this had fallen into the hands of the Germans, they 
would at once have formed it into a submarine base of 
the most formidable kind. Then would have followed 
the invasion of Greece. Once the Germans were in 
firm possession of that country, they would have es- 
tablished other submarine bases in the rocky and in- 
dented coast line of Greece, and in the hundreds of 
islands forming the Archipelago. Once they were 
firmly established there the task of driving them out 
would have been one of superhuman difficulty. 

The result would have been that hundreds of sub- 
marines and submarine mine-layers would have been 
let loose in the Aegean and the Mediterranean. It 
would have been perfectly possible for them to have 
stopped all traffic by the Suez Canal, thereby cutting 

2i8 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Great Britain off from direct communication with 
India, and depriving the large British Army holding 
Egypt from receiving supplies and munitions. The at- 
tack by the Turks on the Suez Canal would then un- 
doubtedly have been resumed, as the difficulty of pro- 
viding the army defending Egypt with munitions 
would have rendered the chances of success more than 

Under these circumstances, the Suez Canal being 
put out of commission, the Germans would have left 
no stone unturned to bring about trouble in British 
India. That this was their programme is proved by the 
prosecution of Hindoo conspirators held in 19 17 in San 
Francisco. With the Suez Canal cut, the only means 
of communication between Great Britain and India 
would have been the long and difficult voyage zna the 
Cape of Good Hope. 

It was therefore, for the Allies, a life and death 
question not only to maintain themselves in force on 
the Salonica front, but it was also of highest impor- 
tance that this front should be so reinforced as to allow 
the Army of the Orient to take an energetic offensive 
and cut the Berlin-Constantinople line. 

There was, in addition, the danger that the Russian 
collapse might any day set free some hundreds of 
thousands of German troops for service in the Balkans. 
There is no doubt that the Grand General Staff at 
Berlin was thoroughly alive to the immense results 
which would follow from successful operations at 
Salonica ; in fact, the loss of Salonica would have been 
irreparable. Once Germany was master of the Aegean 

Introduction 219 

and the Mediterranean, victory for her would be in 
sight. That the Gennan Grand General Staff did not 
undertake these operations only proves how hard 
pressed it was on other fronts. This renders the 
failure of the Allies to realize their opportunity all the 
more inexcusable. 

On the Salonica front the only possible policy was 
therefore an energetic offensive. But in certain British 
circles it was argued that this front could perfectly well 
fulfil its mission by simply defending the entrenched 
camp of Salonica. This, supported by the guns of the 
fleet, was, they declared, impregnable. 

There could be no greater error. Any abandonment 
of the line running from the Albanian frontier across 
the plain of Monastir and along the Moglene mountain 
range to Lake Doiran and the Struma valley would 
have been disastrous. It would have permitted the 
German troops and their allies to seize Greece and 
threaten Salonica both by land and sea. Once masters 
of Greece, Germany would have had little difficulty in 
rendering the access to Salonica by sea or land either 
impossible or a matter of extreme difficulty. 

The entrenched camp could have been closely in- 
vested until such time as the Germans and their allies 
had established themselves solidly in Greece and Greek 
Macedonia and concentrated overwhelmingly superior 
forces for an attack. With the Aegean Sea swanuing 
with hostile submarines the position of the force de- 
fending the entrenched camp would have been precari- 
ous in the extreme. The prize was too great for the 
Germans not to put forward every effort to win it. 

220 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Such a policy would have cut off all communication 
between the Italian force in Albania and the Army of 
the Orient. Shortly after the capture of Monastir the 
liaison was successfully established between the Italian 
armi of occupation in Albania and the forces of Gen- 
eral Sarrail, so that the fighting line was practically 
continuous from Valona on the Adriatic to the Gulf 
of Cavalla on the Aegean. The successful expulsion 
of the Germans and Bulgarians from Greek Macedonia 
entailed ten months of hard fighting and cost the Army 
of the Orient forty thousand men. Its abandonment 
would have meant the loss of thousands of kilometres 
of i-oads and hundreds of kilometres of light railways 
constructed at a cost of millions of dollars. In addi- 
tion the unfortunate population would have been de- 
livered over to the tender mercies of a ruthless and 
cruel enemy. 

No more suicidal policy could, therefore, have been 
imagined than any abandonment of the conquered ter- 
ritory by the Allies and the idea of confining the task 
of the Army of the Orient to the defence of the en- 
trenched camp was in the opinion of all competent 
authorities on the spot with whom I discussed the ques- 
tion, strategically and tactically unsound. 

But the months passed and nothing was done. The 
only momentary act of energy was the brilliant six 
weeks' campaign of Field Marshal Mishitch which re- 
sulted in the capture of Monastir. But as he possessed 
no reserves he was unable to follow up his victory. 
Not only did the British Government refuse to send 
reinforcements but the Army of the Orient was melt- 

Introduction 221 

ing away as the result of the ravages of malaria. The 
armies sweltering on the plains round Salonica fell 
victim to it by tens of thousands. At one time there 
were not hospital ships enough to repatriate the sick. 

In the early months of 1917, I had occasion to visit 
Paris and London and made it my business to find out 
the views of the French and British statesmen regard- 
ing the Salonica front. In Paris I had long conversa- 
tions with M. Briand, then Prime Minister, M. 
Stephen Pichon, the present Minister of Foreign Af- 
fairs, General Malterre, the famous French military 
writer, and a score or so' of other public men and sol- 
diers. I found them unanimous in favor of an ener- 
getic offensive on the Salonica front and equally 
unanimous in deploring the shortsightedness of the 
British military authorities. 

When I spoke with M. Briand and urged the im- 
portance of the Salonica front he replied to me: "My 
dear Mr. Gordon Smith, you are preaching to the con- 
verted. It was I who sent the Army of the Orient to 
Salonica and who have kept it there. If you see Mr. 
Lloyd George in London tell him from me that M. 
Briand is more convinced than ever of the strategical 
and political importance of the Salonica front." 

A week later I was in London and found myself 
face to face with a stone wall. The public knew noth- 
ing about Salonica and cared less. The "Daily Mail" 
had on January i8th published an article proposing 
purely and simply to withdraw the whole army from 
Salonica, a repetition of Gallipoli. The impression 
made in Paris by this article was simply disastrous, so 

222 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

much so, that the censor "got busy" and issued a stern 
warning to the press to abstain from discussing the 
situation in Salonica. 

The mihtary censorship would allow no discussion 
of the situation in the Balkans. All the correspond- 
ents of London journals were expelled from Salonica 
with the exception of Mr. Ward Price, correspondent 
of the Newspapers Proprietors Association (a syndi- 
cate of the London journals) and Mr. Ferguson of 
Reuters Agency. As all their dispatches were strictly 
censored first in Salonica and a second time in London 
no news of any importance was allowed to transpire 
and the word Salonica had practically disappeared 
from the columns of the London press. It was openly 
declared that it was on the Western front alone that 
the war would be decided and no discussion of this 
theory was permitted. 

After a number of conversations with Lord North- 
cliffe, I obtained his permission to state the case for 
Salonica in a letter to the Editor of the "Times." 
This I did in terms of extreme moderation but was 
informed two days later that it had been suppressed 
by the censor from the first line to the last and 
returned to the "Times" with the orders "not to be 
published" stamped on every page. 

This was, of course, in the days before General 
Foch had been given supreme command and entrusted 
with the direction of the whole war. General Sir Wil- 
liam Robertson, Chief of the Imperial Staff, and all 
the men surrounding him were out-and-out "West- 
erners" and refused to listen to any proposals to 

Introduction 223 

undertake an offensive elsewhere. As a result the 
Army of the Orient, its ranks ravaged by malaria, due 
to the failure to advance out of the swampy plains 
surrounding Salonica, was melting away uselessly in 
complete inaction. It was an open secret that in Eng- 
land the military men had completely got the upper 
hand and had seized not only the military but also 
the political conduct of the war. The War Office and 
the Foreign Office were at daggers drawn. The Im- 
perial General Stafif turned a deaf ear to all counsels 
which did not square with their preconceived views. 
It was only after weeks and weeks of sapping and 
mining that the civil power was able to assert itself 
once more. Mr. Lloyd George planned in secret the 
organization of the Supreme War Council in Ver- 
sailles. When its creation was intimated to General 
Sir William Robertson he at once, in protest, tendered 
his resignation which (probably much to his sur- 
prise) was promptly accepted. Colonel Repington, 
the military writer of the "Times," also an out-and- 
out "Westerner" to whom the Salonica front was 
anathema, rushed to the assistance of his chief with 
such a want of moderation of language that he was 
promptly haled before the courts and fined £ioo under 
the Defence of the Realm Act. Then General Maurice 
tried his little coup d'etat and when the steam roller 
had passed over him also the power of the Imperial 
General Staff to impose its will on the statesmen 
was at an end. Mr. Lloyd George triumphed and 
General Foch was entrusted with the supreme direc- 
tion of the war. The result was a complete change 

224 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

of policy and strategy in the Balkans. General Sar- 
rail was recalled and replaced by General Guillaumat, 
one of the most brilliant commanders from the 
Western front. As soon as he had the Army of the 
Orient reorganized and reinforced General Franchet 
d'Esperey, the commander of the Fifth French Army 
Group, was sent out to take command at Salonica 
and an energetic offensive was at once begun. 

As before, the chief attack was entrusted to the 
Serbian Contingent of the Army of the Orient. It 
attacked with splendid clan the Bulgarian entrench- 
ments on the Dobra Polie, drove in their centre and 
then rolled the opposing army up right and left. 
Through the breach thus made poured the French 
and British contingents, the retreat became a rout 
and in five days time the army of King Ferdinand 

The Serbs continued their triumphant advance, the 
Berlin-Constantinople Railway was seized and the 
Danube front reached. In a fortnight's time Turkey 
collapsed, the Dardanelles were opened and the Allied 
fleets entered the Black Sea. Austria, menaced by the 
attack of the victorious Army of the Orient, saw the 
game was up and sued for peace. The German 
Empire was therefore menaced from the rear. Field 
Marshal von Hindenburg saw that under these cir- 
cumstances nothing could save the situation and 
begged for an armistice. Thus the war which began 
in the Balkans, for the Balkans, ended in the 

That this would have been the inevitable result of 

Introduction 225 

an energetic offensive had long been clear to every- 
one on the spot but unfortunately the voices of those 
who advocated it had been the "voices of those crying 
in the wilderness." It is only when the historian 
begins a detailed study of the world war in all its 
phases that the astounding errors of the Entente in 
its Near Eastern policy will become apparent. 

But the consequence of these terrible errors was 
not only to prolong the war but it caused unheard of 
suffering to the victims of these errors. What Serbia 
suffered is indescribable. Over twenty-five per cent, 
of her population succumbed, her territory was ruth- 
lessly plundered and she has piled up a war debt that 
will tax her economic resources to the uttermost for 
many a day to come. As she had to incur this debt 
mainly through the incredible blunders of the states- 
men of the Entente who refused to listen to her warn- 
ings, the least that the Allies can do is to pass all 
the credits with which they supplied Serbia to profit 
and loss. 

In the following pages I propose to give an account 
of the marvellous services rendered to the Allied cause 
by the Army of King Peter. 




AS my main object in this volume is to furnish 
a description of the role played by Serbia in 
the World War, the greatest amount of space will 
naturally be devoted to the operations of the army of 
King Peter. 

But as these operations were only the continuation 
of operations already begun by the Franco-British 
force under the command of General Sarrail (known 
as the Army of the Orient) we must, in order to 
completely understand the role of this army, hark 
back to the month of September, 19 15, and consider 
the genesis of the Salonica front. 

The creation of this front was not a voluntary act 
on the part of the Entente Powers. It was imposed on 
them by the enemy. Since the end of 19 14 the con- 
duct of the war and all initiative had passed into 
the hands of the Central Powers. This was inevitable 
owing to the fashion in which the Allies had organ- 
ized the conduct of the war. They possessed no cen- 
tral authority, no common council empowered to carry 
on the war as a whole. 

Each time some German success placed them face 


Operations on the Salonica Front 227 

to face with a fait accompli the Powers composing 
the Quadruple Alhance began hastily to take council. 
Paris consulted London, London got into touch with 
Petrograd and Petrograd obtained the views of Rome. 
But while the Allies were thus, to use a vulgar but 
graphic expression, "'chewing the rag," events were 
moving swiftly. The contrast in the enemy camp was 
complete. There the will of the Kaiser was the only 
factor that counted. When he pressed the button 
Vienna, Sofia and Constantinople moved like one man. 
Napoleon once said "I' Autriche est toujours en 
arriere, d' im idee, d' une annee, d' iin corps d' 
armee." This ironical phrase of the great captain 
completely describes the situation and policy of the 

When therefore in September, 1915, it began to 
dawn on the statesmen of the Entente that the astute 
M. Radoslavoff and his still more astute King had 
been fooling them they began hastily to cast about 
to repair the errors committed. Their first act was 
to get into communication with Greece to find out 
the attitude and policy of the Athens Government. 
Greece had an offensive and defensive treaty of 
alliance with Serbia according to which Greece was 
bound to come to the latter country's aid in case of 
an attack by any third Power. But by the terms of 
this treaty Serbia undertook to put 150,000 men on 
the Serbo-Bulgarian frontier. As it was obvious that, 
in view of the impending attack by Germany and Aus- 
tria on the Danube front, it was impossible that Serbia 

228 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

could find these troops, M. Venizelos suggested that 
the Allies should provide them. 

To this the Allies consented and on October, 19 15, 
began disembarking troops at Salonica. At the same 
time M. Venizelos ordered the mobilization of the 
Greek army. But at this point a fresh complication 
arose. Though Bulgaria had mobilized her army she 
had not attacked Serbia so that the casus foederis 
provided for in the treaty did not actually exist and 
Greece was still nominally neutral. M. Venizelos was, 
therefore, forced, as a matter of form, to issue a pro- 
test against the landing of the Franco-British troops 
on Greek soil. At the same time the Greek general 
commanding at Salonica — General Moskhopoulos, — 
was ordered to make no opposition to the landing but 
on the contrary to show the French and British com- 
manders every courtesy. 

But both the Allies and M. Venizelos reckoned 
without Greece's pro-German King. A week later he 
dismissed M. Venizelos from office and replaced him 
by M. Zaimis, who was pledged to a repudiation of 
the Graeco-Serbian Treaty and the continuation of so 
called neutrality on the part of Greece. At the same 
time no active opposition was made to the continued 
disembarkation of Franco-British troops. But the 
succession of Greece had radically changed the situa- 
tion. Instead of being flanked by 300,000 Greek allied 
soldiers the handful of men landed (about 20,000) 
constituted the entire force that was to save Serbia. 
These were afterwards reinforced by the loth British 
Division from Gallipoli, 13,000 men. France also sent 

operations on the Salonica Front 229 

some further reinforcements so that at the opening 
stage of the campaign the army under General Sar- 
rail numbered nearly 40,000 men. 

On October nth actual hostilities began. On that 
date Bulgarian troops under General Boyadzhiyefif 
crossed the Serbian frontier at various points and the 
Serbian army, which was resisting the fierce attack 
of the Austro-Germans on the Danube front, found 
themselves taken in the flank by overwhelmingly 
superior forces. The first object of the Bulgarian 
army was to cut communications between Serbia and 
Salonica. This was accomplished by the capture on 
October 17th of Egri-Palanka and on October 21st 
of Varanje. On that date the Serbian Government 
and the foreign legations were forced to leave Nish 
for Kraljevo. 

The chief objective of the invading Bulgarian army 
was the capture of Uskub (Skoplie). The strategic 
importance of Uskub lies in the fact that it is not 
only the principal town of the Vardar Valley but it 
is the point where the Salonica-Nish railway has its 
junction w^ith the branch line to Mitrovitza, in the 
Sandjak of Novi-Bazaar, on which the Second Serbian 
Army was retiring. If the Franco-British force could 
have captured and held Uskub, a safe line of retreat 
would have been secured for the Second Serbian 

But it was not to be. On October 20th General 
Todorofif took Veles (Kuprulu) and two days later 
the victorious Bulgarian army entered Uskub. This 
placed the Serbian forces in the lower Vardar Sector 

230 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

in a perilous position and forced them to fall back on 
the Babuna Pass which commands the entrance to the 
Pelagonian Plain and covers the towns of Prilep and 
Monastir. The last hope of the Franco-British force 
for preventing a disaster was to effect a junction at 
Veles between the Serbian forces operating down the 
Babuna Pass and the French force advancing up the 
Valley of the Vardar. If Veles could have been won, 
the Allies, advancing over the flat plains to the east 
of the Vardar, known as the Ovche Polie, would have 
threatened the Bulgarian communications between 
Uskub and Kumanovo. 

The attack on the Krivolac-Veles Sector was as- 
signed to the three French divisions under the com- 
mand of General Sarrail. The guarding of the rest 
of the Valley of the Vardar from Krivolac to Salonica 
was entrusted to the small British force under General 
Sir Bryan Mohon. On October 27th two battalions 
of the loth British Division moved up from Salonica 
and took over the Kosturino — Lake Doiran front. 
The same day the French entered Krivolac and began 
the advance upstream to Gradsko. 

Little hope was felt however of reaching Veles, 
the difficulties were almost unsurmountable. If this 
movement failed the last chance of establishing con- 
tact with the Southern Serbian Army was through the 
difficult country between Krivolac and Prilep. But 
first of all the position at Krivolac itself had to be 
assured. This was rendered difficult by the fact that 
the enemy kept up a continuous bombardment from 
the east of the river, Qn October 30th two Bulgarian 

Operations on the Salonica Front 231 

battalions attacked the bridgehead on the left bank, 
but the attack was not pushed home and was easily 
repulsed. The French pushed forward to the heights 
of Kara Hojjali on the other side of the river and 
held them against repeated attacks. Four days later 
the French captured the bridges over the Tcherna 
River. A week later these detachments pushed across 
the Tcherna and seized the villages of Krushevatz and 
Orkva. The Bulgarians made desperate but vain 
efforts to recapture these positions, losing 4000 men 
in four days. The French continued to push forward 
along the left bank of the Tcherna and seized the 
lower slopes of Mount Archangel. 

The Bulgarian positions were so seriously menaced 
that they rushed troops from Veles to the threatened 
points, the 49th Reserve Regiment, the 3d Macedonian 
Regiment and the 53d Regiment arriving in rapid 
succession. Anglo-French troops sent to reinforce the 
Serbians holding the entrance to the Babuna Pass 
aided them to repulse a Bulgarian' attack on Iznor. 
But with this effort the Allies had shot their bolt. 
Ever increasing pressure from the Bulgarians forced 
the Serbians, on November i6th, to fall back on Prilep 
and the Babuna Pass fell into the hands of the enemy. 

Encouraged by this success the Bulgarians renewed 
their attacks on the French troops holding the 
Tcherna and Rajec rivers. The French resisted 
valiantly for over a fortnight, but when on November 
25th the Serbian armies were forced to again retreat 
further operations ceased to have any object or value. 
The troops were withdrawn to the right bank of the 

232 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Tcherna and were massed around Kavadar. Thence, 
always keeping the liaison with the detachment falHng 
back from Krivolac, they fell back through the Demir 
Kapu. This was a delicate and dangerous operation, 
for though the defile of the Demir Kapu is fairly 
broad at its entrance, its exit, twelve miles distant, is 
a narrow, rocky gorge, 500 yards long, from which 
the defile takes its name, Demir Kapu being Turkish 
for "Iron Gate." 

After some days severe fighting the French troops 
on December 9th succeeded in traversing this gorge 
in safety and took up fresh positions on the Boyemia 
River, with the Tenth British Division on their right. 

By this time considerable reinforcements both 
French and British had disembarked at Salonica but 
the greatest difficulty was experienced in making use 
of them owing to the state of communications. The 
roads to Doiran were mere cattle tracks which were 
soon churned into a quagmire in which it was im- 
possible to move transport and guns. The position of 
the British force round the lake became so critical 
that General Sir Charles Monro, who had l>een in 
command of the whole British Mediterranean Expedi- 
tionary Forces with headquarters at Malto since 
October 28th, urged on General Sarrail the necessity 
of the immediate withdrawal of the French Divisions 
from Serbia. If this was not done there was danger 
that the German and Bulgarian forces would drive 
back the small British force holding the Strumitza 
Valley and would cut ofT the retreat of General Sar- 
rail's army. On December 5th the Bulgarians at- 

Operations on the Salonica Front 233 

tacked the British fiercely in overwhelming numbers 
and nothing but the tenacity of the Tenth Division, — 
composed of four crack Irish regiments, the Munster, 
Dublin and Inniskilling Fusiliers and the Connaught 
Rangers — saved the day. In falling back on positions 
to the right of the Boyemia line this Division lost 
1500 men and 8 guns. 

But even the Boyemia line proved untenable. The 
small Franco-British force was too much en I'air, too 
far removed from the Salonica base. In addition the 
Bulgarians, who on December 2d had occupied 
Monastir, threatened their flank and rear. 

It therefore became questions of retiring on to 
Greek territory. This at once raised political difficul- 
ties. The Greeks were alarmed at the prospect of an 
invasion of Germano-Bulgarian troops in pursuit of 
the retreating allied army. A large number of Greek 
troops were concentrated around Salonica and it was 
known that at Athens in certain circles the idea of 
disarming and interning the retreating French, British 
and Serbian armies was gaining ground. 

This caused the Allies to take drastic measures 
and on November 23d they presented the Skouloudis 
Government (which on November 7th had replaced 
the Saimis Cabinet) with a note stating that "In view 
of the attitude adopted by the Hellenic Government 
toward certain questions affecting the security of the 
Allied troops and their freedom of action (two 
privileges to which they are entitled in the circum- 
stances in which they landed in Greek territory) the 
Allied Powers have deemed it necessary to take cer- 

234 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

tain measures, the effect of which is to suspend the 
economic and commercial facihties which Greece has 
hitherto enjoyed at their hands." 

King Constantine and his Government disavowed 
any intention of attacking or interning the Anglo- 
French troops. Their attitude was less clear as 
regards the Serbian troops and they were much op- 
posed to the idea of withdrawing Greek troops from 
the zone of the Allied Armies or conceding to the 
latter the full use of railway and harbours. 

The Greek Government offered to establish a "cor- 
ridor" by which the Allied troops could retire on 
Salonica and embark there. Missions sent from 
France and England, headed by M. Denys Cochin and 
Lord Kitchener, failed to get anything but vague 
assurances from King Constantine. The blockade 
was accordingly maintained until December 12th, 
when the Athens Government gave way and consented 
to withdraw all the Greek troops except one division 
from Salonica. 

On that date the entire Franco-British forces were 
on Greek territory holding a front running from 
Karasuli on the Vardar railway to Kilindir on the 
Salonica-Dedeagatch line. These two points are con- 
nected by a branch line of railway. It was on this 
line that the Allies prepared for the supreme attack 
by the enemy. But this attack never came. Why the 
Central Powers failed to take advantage of their 
opportunity to finally crush the Allied resistance and 
capture Salonica has never been explained. The 
Athens Government pretended that they deserved the 

Operations on the Salonica Front 235 

credit for this as the Bulgarians feared the inter- 
vention of Greece if they invaded Greek territory; but 
in view of the subsequent treason of the Greek King 
and Government in surrendering Fort Rupel this 
seems Httle probable. 

It is more likely that the Germans counted on King 
Constantine's "neutrality" to render the positions of 
the Allied forces untenable and lead them to abandon 
the whole Salonica front, the more so as the Ger- 
mans were openly boasting of a coming invasion of 
Egypt and announcing their offensive on the Verdun 
front. In addition there was wrangling between 
Berlin and Sofia as to whether the forces in the 
Balkans should be under the supreme command of a 
Bulgarian or a German General. Vienna and Sofia 
were further in hot dispute as to the ultimate fate of 
Salonica, both Austria and Bulgaria claiming the right 
to annex it when captured. Whatever may have been 
the reasons for the hesitation of the Central Powers 
the fact remains that the Franco-British armies were 
able, unmolested, to take over their new positions on 
Greek territory. 

When this was accomplished the whole mission and 
scope of the Army of the Orient had changed. Its 
original objective was an energetic offensive to save 
the Serbian army and prevent the Austro-German 
forces under General von Mackensen joining hands 
with the Bulgarians. In this it had failed. The 
Serbian Army, as I have described in the first part 
of this book, had been driven back to the confines of 
Serbia and forced to retreat into Albania. Salonica, 

236 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

instead of being a mere port of disembarkation, had 
changed to the base of a new defensive front, that 
of Macedonia. The task of General Sarrail's army 
was no longer that of driving out the Germano-Bul- 
garian army but was to prevent the port of Salonica 
falling into the hands of the enemy. 

The first care of the Allied Commander-in-chief 
was to prepare the defence of the entrenched camps 
of Salonica, This was no easy task as the total num- 
ber of soldiers at his disposal at this date did not 
exceed 200,000 men. On account of the smallness of 
his army General Sarrail could not dream of holding 
either the outer or the inner ring of mountains which 
surround the city and plain of Salonica. 

As a consequence the western line of defence was 
established on the Vardar. Towards its mouth this 
river is marshy, forming a natural obstacle to enemy 
attack, and this made it possible for the line to be held 
with the minimum number of men. But the sector had 
one serious drawback, the fact that malaria raged here 
six months in the year. From the village of Topshin 
on the Vardar the line ran east to Langhaza and 
Beshik Lakes, reaching the Gulf of Orfano at Stavros. 
The total length of the line was fifty miles. 

Behind this line lay the Chalcidice Peninsula into 
which, if hard pressed, the Army of the Orient could 
have retired. As this is bounded on the western side 
by the Gulf of Salonica and on the eastern side by the 
Gulf of Orfano the guns of the fleet could have 
powerfully aided the land forces and rendered the 
peninsula practically untenable for the enemy. Gen- 

Operations on the Salonica Front 237 

eral Castelnau, Field Marshal Joffre's chief of staff, 
who made a tour of inspection on December 20th, 
declared his opinion that the entrenched camp of 
Salonica was practically impregnable. 

Nothing was neglected to still further strengthen 
the natural advantages of the position. A deep and 
elaborate system of trenches with formidable barbed 
wire entanglements was constructed from which 
numerous machine gun batteries commanded all the 
points from which the enemy could attack. 

But if the military situation was fairly satisfactory 
it is more than could be said of the political one. As 
the Army of the Orient was on what was technically 
neutral territory, French and British politically en- 
joyed no more rights than the enemy. The presence 
in Salonica of Austrian, German, Bulgarian and 
Turkish consulates, together with hundreds of Ger- 
man and Austrian civilians and thousands of Turks 
and Bulgarians, was a constant menace against which 
a large force of military police had to be employed. 

This soon found evidence that the various con- 
sulates, as was to be expected, were centres of enemy 
espionage. Their activities were undoubtedly at the 
bottom of the enemy air raids and after one of these 
General Sarrail ordered the consuls to be arrested. 
This action on the part of the French commander-in- 
chief caused loud protest from the Greek Government. 
This, however, died away when the French were able 
to bring proof that the consulates were not only the 
headquarters of enemy propaganda and espionage but 
were actuallv used as storehouses for arms and muni- 

238 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

tions with which it was evidently the intention of the 
enemy to arm the enemy section of the population in 
case of a serious reverse to the Allies. 

In spite of the loud assurance by the Greeks of 
their "benevolent" neutrality the policy of the Athens 
Government was viewed with profound (and as it 
afterwards turned out well merited) suspicion. The 
defence of Eastern Macedonia, of which the vital 
point was the great iron girder bridge of Demirhissar, 
on which the railway line from Doiran to Seres 
crosses the Struma, was in Greek hands. The 
northern extremity of the bridge was guarded by 
Fort Rupel, the key position of the Stnuna entrance 
into Greece. Fort Rupel was the most powerful 
fortress on Greek soil. But as General Sarrail had no 
confidence that the Greek garrison would put up an 
energetic defence against the Bulgarians he gave 
orders that the bridge of Demirhissar and a smaller 
one at Kilindir, near Doiran, should be blown up. 
This was done on January 12th. 

A week later General Sarrail was officially en- 
trusted with the supreme command of the Army of 
the Orient. Up to that time, General Sir Byran 
Mohon, the commander of the British contingent, had 
been independent of General Sarrail and subject only 
to the orders of General Sir C. C. Monro, the Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the British Mediterranean Expe- 
ditionary Force. 

General Sarrail's first act on assuming supreme 
command was to seize the fortress of Kara Burun, the 
"Black Headland," which commands the entrance to 

Operations on the Salonica Front 239 

the inner Gulf of Salonica. This action caused some 
sensation at Athens and led to loud protest from the 
governmental press. 

During the winter months operations were chiefly 
confined to skirmishes between the cavalry of both 
si^es occasionally reinforced by light artillery. Mean- 
while reinforcements, British and French, were arriv- 
ing steadily so that by the end of the winter the Army 
of the Orient had increased to 300,000 men. Enemy 
air raids both by aeroplanes and Zeppelins were fre- 
quent, but after one of the latter was brought down in 
the Vardar marshes and its crew captured no further 
attacks by dirigibles were attempted. Such was the 
position of the Army of the Orient when in the spring 
of 1916 the transportation of the reorganized Serbian 
army from the Island of Corfu to Salonica was begun. 



WHILE the French and British contingents were 
opposing the advance toward Salonica of the 
Germano-Austro-Bulgarian armies the Serbian army 
was carrying out its now legendary retreat through 
the desolation of Albania and its transport to the 
Island of Corfu. 

This retreat and transport I have described in the 
first part of this work. The total number of Serbian 
soldiers who were able to effect this retreat was about 
150,000. Of these about 5000 succeeded in reaching 
the Salonica front, 10,000, mostly sick and wounded, 
were transported to the French military centre at 
Bizerta in Tunis and the remainder found refuge in 
Corfu. Of these large numbers were sick and all were 
in a state of extreme exhaustion. As the decision to 
convey King Peter's army to Corfu was only taken 
at the last moment no preparations had been made to 
receive them on that island. The result was that the 
era of hardship and suffering was not closed for the 
Serbs. As a consequence hundreds succumbed to 
exhaustion and wounds received during the retreat. 

But there remained about 100,000 men who, after 


Reorganization and Disembarkxnent 241 

being rested and reorganized, would still be good for 
active service. With that incredible devotion to duty 
which characterizes the Serbian army it at once pro- 
ceeded, with admirable energy, to reorganize a new 
fighting force and equip it for the field. 

It was decided to form three Armies (each of two 
divisions of infantry) with the necessary technical 
and special arms; a division of cavalry of four regi- 
ments; the units necessary for the General Head- 
quarters and, in addition, the Commander and Staff 
for the reserve troops to be drawn from the 10,000 
men at Bizerta as soon as these should have recovered 
from their wounds and sickness and be able to return 
to active service. 

The Divisions of Infantry consisted of four regi- 
ments, each of three battalions, one regiment of the 
first "Ban," the divisional Cavalry, the divisional 
Artillery (field, mountain and howitzer batteries), di- 
visional engineer troops and the necessary sanitary 
and commissariat sections and the army transport 

It was further decided to form first a division and 
later, if possible, an army corps, of the Jugo-Slav 
volunteers from the Russian front and elsewhere. 
The fundamental basis of the new organization was 
definitely laid down at a conference held at Paris in 
the month of March at which were present officers 
delegated from the Serbian Army and officers rep- 
resenting the French Ministry of war. All questions 
regarding equipment, field transport and provisioning 

242 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

of the new Serbian Army were taken over by France 
and Great Britain. 

At this conference it was decided that in view of 
the political and military situation the Serbian 
Army, after its reorganization, should be transported 
to the Salonica front, with a view to undertaking as 
an autonomous army, military action in co-operation 
with the Allies to drive the enemy from the territory 
occupied by him and force him to capitulation. It 
was further decided that the Division of Serbian Vol- 
unteers operating in Russia should, for the time being, 
be left in that country to co-operate with the Russian 
armies and the army of Roumania, whose entry into 
the war on the side of the Entente was momentarily 

Thanks to the patriotism and admirable military 
qualities of the Serbian soldier, his high conception 
of duty and his marvellous spirit of self-sacrifice and 
thanks also to the systematic and energetic efforts of 
the Serbian high command, the work of the reorgani- 
zation of the Serbian army was accomplished with a 
speed and thoroughness worthy of all praise. 

When the army arrived in Corfu in the early winter 
of 19 1 6 it was in the last stages of destitution. All 
that the men possessed were their broken footwear 
and their ragged uniforms. Of arms nothing was 
left but the rifle and bayonet each man carried and 
the few machine guns they had been able to transport 
on muleback through Albania. By the month of May 
reuniformed, re-equipped, formed into companies, 
battalions, regiments, brigades and divisions, with its 

Reorganization and Disembarkment 243 

staff completely reformed, it was again ready for the 
field. And this effort had been demanded from men 
who had been constantly at war since 19 12, who 
had fought the Turks, the Bulgarians, the Albanians, 
the Austrians and finally the combined German, Aus- 
trian and Bulgarian annies. This resurrection of 
King Peter's army as a fighting force was one more 
proof of the wonderful virility of "The nation that 
can never die." 

While the Serbian army was preparing at Corfu for 
the new campaign the war material for the army was 
being assembled in France. This was concentrated at 
the towns of Orange, Lunel and Mantauban in the 
South of France. As the entire artillery, pontoon 
train, field telegraphy, ambulance, transport wagons, 
motors, horses and all the thousand and one things 
that go to make up the impedimenta of a modern army 
in the field had to be transported to Salonica the 
task was a formidable one. At Salonica camps and 
magazines had to be established where this material 
could be stored till it was distributed to the troops. 

But if the military part of the transportation of 
the Serbian army to the Salonica front ran smoothly 
enough it is more than could be said of the political 
part. The Entente Powers knew that the Mediter- 
ranean and the TEgean were swarming with enemy 
submarines. They also knew that the Central Powers 
would leave nothing undone to interfere with and if 
possible prevent the safe transport of King Peter's 
army. They, therefore, proposed that instead of 
making the long voyage round cape Matapan, where 

244 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

it was notorious the submarines lay in wait for ships 
bound for Salonica, the transports should land at Itea 
or some other port in the Gulf of Corinth and be 
forwarded by the Larissa railway to Salonica. 

But to this the Skouloudis Government raised end- 
less objections. They claimed that the passage of the 
army would disorganize the ordinary traffic. Then 
the Serbs might bring infectious diseases intO' the 
country and, last but not least, the permission to cross 
Greek territory accorded to the Serbian army might, 
be regarded as a breach of Greek neutrality and em- 
broil them with the Central Powers. The real reason 
was of course, that the pro-German King Constantine 
desired to put every obstacle in the way of the Allies 
and delay as long as possible the arrival of the Serbian 
reinforcements on the Macedonian front, in the 
interest of his imperial brother-in-law, the Kaiser. 

But while these long-drawn-out negotiations were 
going on at Athens the Serbian Headquarters began 
the transport of the troops by the sea route, pre- 
ferring to take the risk of submarine attacks rather 
than lose any more time. For the transport France 
provided 21 vessels, Italy 5 and Great Britain 3. The 
army showed the greatest enthusiasm, the men being 
impatient to reach the new front where they could 
strike another blow for the liberation of their be- 
loved Serbia. 

The first transport left the island on April 8th. 
The embarkation of the First Army and the division 
of cavalry took place at the port of Govino. That 
of the Second and Third Armies at the port of 

Reorganization and Disembarkment 245 

Moraitika. The horses were embarked at the port of 
Corfu. The first troops to leave were the divisions of 
the Drina and the Danube, composing the Third 
Army, and the division of cavalry. Then followed the 
divisions of the Shumadia and Timok, composing the 
Second Army, and finally the divisions of the Morava 
and the Vardar, composing the First Army. The 
total number of voyages required was seventy-five. 
The transportation lasted two months, the first vessel 
sailing on April 8th and the last on June 5th. This 
latter carried the Headquarters Staff which was the 
last unit to leave Corfu. 

Thanks to the tireless vigilance of the convoying 
fleets the Serbian army was transferred from Corfu 
to the Macedonian front without the loss of a single 
man. In order to reduce the danger of attack by 
enemy submarines the transports passed through the 
Corinth canal, thus avoiding the dangerous route by 
Cape Matapan. All that was left at Corfu was the 
Ministry of War, a battalion of old men of the Last 
Defence, a few gendarmes, some hospital units, a num- 
ber of sick in convalescence and some labour com- 
panies, a total of about 10,000 men. When the troops 
left the island the Mayor of Corfu issued a procla- 
mation in which he paid high tribute to the excellent 
conduct and admirable discipline of the Serbian army. 
Not one single crime, not one theft had been com- 
mitted by this army of 150,000 men during the four 
months it spent on the island. In spite of the fact 
that when the Serbian army arrived it suffered in- 
tensely from cold, being without tents or other shelter. 

246 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

the troops had not cut down a single one of the thou- 
sands of olive trees which are one of the principal 
sources of the prosperity of the island. 

The military authorities at Salonica decided that 
the Serbian army should disembark on the Chalcidice 
Peninsula, at the little port of Mikra. Here floating 
pontoons were established alongside of which the 
transports were moored and disembarked troops and 
material. The necessar}^ magazines, field bakeries, 
etc., had been established in advance so that the feed- 
ing and provisioning of the troops proceeded smoothly 
from the first day of their landing. 

A large number of bathing-houses had been erected 
where the troops were bathed and their effects dis- 
infected. When this was accomplished each unit was 
sent to the camp at Sedes, where it remained five days 
in quarantine before being sent to the permanent 
camps. These camps had all been prepared in advance 
with food magazines, field bakeries, pure water supply, 
etc. They had been laid out by advance parties of 
Serbian troops, assisted by the 17th French Colonial 
Division which was encamped at Mikra Bay. The 
camps were very spacious, the troops having large 
quantities of ground for drill and manoeuvres. The 
only drawback was the complete absence of trees. As 
a result of this the army suffered very much from the 
torrid heat of June and July. 

Simultaneously with the landing of the army began 
the disembarkment of its war material which, as I 
have said, was assembled in the South of France. As 
fast as it arrived it was distributed to the troops who 

Reorganization and Disembarkment 247 

began at once, tinder the direction of a mission of 
French officers, to familiarize themselves with the new 
material. In spite of the tropical heat the training of 
the troops in the handling of their new war material 
was carried on in such an intense and energetic 
fashion that by the second half of June the army, 
completely equipped (with the exception of a small 
amount of artillery and transport) and trained, was 
ready to take the field once more. 

The Prince Regent Alexander, Commander-in- 
Chief of the army and the General Headquarters were 
installed in Salonica. The Headquarters occupied a 
handsome and spacious house in the Ouartier des 
Compagnes which had formerly been the Austro-Hun- 
garian Consulate, while Prince Alexander established 
the royal Konak in a villa on one of the side streets 
at right angles, the main highway running along the 



THE last Serbian transport landed its quota of 
troops at Mikra on the 6th of June, 19 16. A 
few days later the Headquarters Staff arrived. The 
entire Serbian army was then on the Macedonian 

But if there was a momentary lull in military 
operations on a grand scale, events of great political 
import were taking place. The complete abandonment 
of the offensive by the Allies and their retirement 
within the entrenched camp of Salonica had greatly 
encouraged the enemy and caused him to decide on an 
attack. The weak point of the Allied line was the 
position to the East of the Struma. The right bank 
of that river and the Greek frontier were guarded by 
French troops, but, except for the destruction of the 
Demirhissar bridge, nothing had been done to cover 
the eastern flank. It is true that this was occupied by 
Greek troops, but General Sarrail was filled with deep 
distrust of the soldiers of King Constantine. The 
positions they held should have guarded the .\llies 
from enemy attack through the Struma valley. The 
entrance to this was commanded by Fort Rupel, the 
most formidable fortress in Greece. This fortress 


Final Constitution of the Army 249 

was strongly garrisoned by Greek troops and behind 
it lay two Greek army corps, one having its head- 
quarters at Seres and the other at Kavala. 

A few days later the French Commander-in-Chief 
received proof of how little confidence could be placed 
in the loyalty of the Greeks. On May 26th the Bul- 
garian army suddenly advanced on Rupel. The Com- 
mandant of the fort, after the merest pretence at 
resistance, surrendered it to the enemy. The key of 
the Struma valley was therefore now in the hands of 
the Bulgarians. It was subsequently discovered that 
this act of betrayal by the Greeks had been plotted 
months before. As far back as March General Yan- 
nakitsas, the Greek Minister of War, had sent instruc- 
tions to all the Commandants of fortresses in Greece 
ordering them not to offer any resistance to the Bul- 
garian or German armies. 

The surrender of Fort Rupel was a source of grave 
embarrassment to General Sarrail. It meant that he 
would have to immobilize a large number of troops to 
guarantee the holding of the Struma Valley as there 
was, of course, no dependence to be placed in the 
Greek forces making any serious effort to defend it. 
On the contrary the Greek troops became a direct 
menace to the Allies. 

It is needless to say that this act of treachery led 
to an instant irremediable breach l>etween the Allies 
and the Skouloudis Government. A blockade of the 
Greek ports was at once established. This, on June 
2 1st, was followed by a peremptory demand for the 
immediate dismissal of the Skouloudis Government 

250 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

and its replacement by a cabinet d'affaires which 
should be entirely without political color and which 
should guarantee the continuance of "benevolent 
neutrality" vis-a-vis the Entente Powers. 

The Powers further demanded the complete demob- 
ilization of the Greek army, the dissolution of the 
Chamber of Deputies, the dismissal of certain objec- 
tionable police officials and the holding of fresh elec- 
tions. It was stated that this note would be supported 
by a naval demonstration. This, however, proved 
unnecessary as M. Skouloudis resigned in all haste 
and was succeeded by a cabinet under M. Zaimis. 

On June 3d General Sarrail proclaimed the city of 
Salonica and the territory occupied by the Allies under 
martial law. Thanks to the arrival of the hundred 
thousand Serbs and other French and British rein- 
forcements, the total number of troops under the 
supreme command of General Sarrail now amounted 
to about 400,000 men. 

On July 30th a considerable force of Russian 
troops disembarked at Salonica and were, a fortnight 
later, followed by 30,000 Italians under General 
Count Alfonso Petitti de Roreto. The arrival of the 
Russians, who had made half the circuit of the globe 
to reach the Macedonian front, created a great sensa- 
tion. All Salonica turned out to welcome them. It 
would be difficult to imagine a finer body of men and 
as they swung along the quays and past the Square 
of Liberty, where Flocas and half a score of other 
large cafes are situated, the thousands lining the 
streets cheered them to the echo. Much speculation 

Final Constitution of the Army 251 

was indulged in as to the effect upon the Bulgarians 
of the presence of Russian troops. When it was re- 
membered that it was to Russia that Bulgaria owed 
her very existence and that 400,000 soldiers of the 
Tzar, who died to free Bulgaria from the yoke of the 
Turk, lie buried on the plains around Plevna it was 
thought that in very shame the soldiers of King Ferdi- 
nand would not fire on their former liberators. 

Such at least was the feeling of the loyal Serbians. 
When the arrival of the Russians was announced in 
their naivete they believed that their presence would 
be a source of embarrassment to the Bulgarians. They 
did not see how, in alliance with the Turks, from 
whose yoke Russia had set them free, the soldiers of 
King Ferdinand could open fire on the troops of the 
country which had liberated them. Up in the front 
line trenches the Serbian soldiers wrote on a piece of 
paper word of the arrival of the Russian contingent, 
wrapped it round a stone and threw it into the Bul- 
garian trenches. But they did not know their Bul- 
garians. The reply, which was shown me by Colonel 
Pavlovitch, the Commander of the Divisions of the 
Shumadia, contained the words : "Our bayonets are 
just as sharp for the Russians as for you." 

The Italian division also was composed of picked 
troops, men who had seen active service on the Izonzo 
front. As they tramped up Venizelos Street, swinging 
along with light, elastic tread in spite of their heavy 
packs, they were a body of troops of which any com- 
mander might be proud. The dark faces of the men, 
bronzed by the sun of the Izonzo and the snow-chilled 

252 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

winds of the mountains, showed them to be veterans. 
As is always the case in the ItaHan army, their engi- 
neer contingent was a corps d' elite. The regiment of 
"Pontonieri" had one of the most admirable bridging 
outfits I have ever seen, strong, light and compact. 
The men were for the most part natives of Venice, 
accustomed to working in the lagoons of that city. I 
saw the pontoon section at work later at the front and 
can testify that they were smart and efficient soldiers, 
who knew their business thoroughly. 

With the arrival of the Russian and Italian contin- 
gents the Army of the Orient was definitely consti- 
tuted. It was, in many respects, the most remarkable 
force in military annals, consisting as it did of French, 
British, Serbian, Russian and Italian troops. But 
though this certainly made for picturesqueness it did 
not make it as efficient a fighting machine as it would 
have been had it consisted of troops of a single na- 

Each army enjoyed military and administrative 
autonomy. Each army had its own commander and 
its own headquarters staff. The French contingent 
was commanded by General Cordonnier, the British 
contingent by Lieuteuant-General G. F. Milne, the 
Serbian army by the Prince-Regent Alexander, the 
Italian division by General Count Alfonso Petitti de 
Roreto and the Russian division by General Leontieff. 
The supreme command of the entire Army of the 
Orient was in the hands of General Sarrail and the 
General Headquarters Staff working under his orders. 

At first there had not even been unitv of command. 

Final Constitution of the Army 253 

During the operations on Serbian soil the movements 
of the British contingent were directed from Malta 
by General Sir C. C. Monro, commanding the British 
Mediterranean Expeditionary force. Of course, Gen- 
eral Monro made every effort to maintain close liaison 
with General Sarrail, but it need not be pointed out 
what a handicap this dual command was in moments 
when it was necessary to take prompt decisions. 

General Sarrail was a soldier of eminence who had 
played an active and a brilliant part on the Western 
front in France. He had the reputation of being an 
energetic and resourceful leader. During the retreat 
to the Marne he commanded the Third French Army, 
which held the sector round Verdun. He was chiefly 
responsible for the field entrenchments round that city 
(he belonged to the engineering arm of the French 
army) which afterwards allowed the French to suc- 
cessfully resist the attacks of the German Crown- 
Prince's army. 

He had, however, the reputation of taking a more 
active interest in French party politics than is advis- 
able in a soldier. By many his rapid advance and the 
confidence he enjoyed was ascribed to the support he 
received from the Radical-socialist party. This made 
him many enemies among military men and caused 
much division of opinion as to his real merits as a 
soldier. When he first arrived in Salonica he organ- 
ized a Political Bureau as a part of the General Head- 
quarters Staff to which a numl^er of militarized depu- 
ties from the French Chaml>er belonged. This was 
later, by orders from Paris, dissolved and the soldier- 

254 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

deputies recalled. Many people believed further that 
he occupied himself too much with political moves in 
Athens and in Greek Macedonia to the detriment of 
his military eflfort. 

At the same time his task was no easy one. All his 
plans had to be communicated to the Headquarters 
Staff of the various contingents. As there were five 
of those there was an increased danger of leakage 
and this in a city swarming with enemy spies. There 
was no means of preventing the enemy learning the 
numbers and constitution of the Army of the Orient, 
as every man had to be disembarked from shipboard. 
As hundreds of Greek harbor workers were in enemy 
pay the Germans and Bulgarians knew, to a company, 
the composition of the Army of the Orient. They 
were able to obtain easily information of the sanitary 
condition of the army, knew the number of sick re- 
patriated and the number in hospital. Every regiment 
sent up to the front was noted and the positions and 
concentration of the troops were known to the Mace- 
donian population, which contained thousands of 
Greeks, Turks and Bulgarians, each a possible spy. 
Athens was in daily wireless and aeroplane commu- 
nication with the enemy headquarters so that King 
Constantine was able to keep his imperial brother-in- 
law, the Kaiser, informed of every move of the Allies. 
As the Greek General Staff had been carefully selected 
for its pro-German sympathies the ministry of war 
at Athens was nothing more nor less than a branch 
of the Grosse General Stab in Berlin. 

Another problem confronting General Sarrail was 

Final Constitution of the Army 255 

the question of communications. In the whole of 
Macedonia there were only three railroads, and these 
single-track, the Salonica-Monastir line, the Salonica- 
Uskub line and the line to Seres and Kavalla. The 
means of communication were hopelessly inadequate 
to provide for a field army of half a million men. 
Before, therefore, military operations could be under- 
taken on a large scale thousands of kilometres of 
roads and hundreds of kilometres of light Decauville 
railways had to be constructed. The three hundred 
thousand men under the command of General Sarrail 
and tens of thousands of Macedonian peasants were 
put to this heart-breaking task on Salonica territory. 

Once the roads were constructed motor trucks, 
horse and ox draw^n wagons and pack animals had to 
be provided by the thousands. Only by this formid- 
able service d'arriere, a service which absorbed one 
full half of the total force, could the army in the field 
be kept supplied with food and munitions. Telegraph 
and telephone lines had to be laid over hundreds of 
square miles of territory while a formidable pontoon 
train had to be held in readiness for bridging the nu- 
merous streams and rivers. 

But the worst enemy of the Army of the Orient was 
the malaria. The country between Salonica and the 
mountain range is notoriously ravaged each year by 
malarial fever of the most virulent kind. Whole di- 
visions were placed hors de combat. When the Shu- 
madia division was holding the Topshin sector it had 
over 2,000 men down with malaria out of a total of 
ten thousand. At one time the sick rate of the Army 

256 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

of the Orient rose to 10,000 a week. The number of 
fatal cases was very great and in cases where the men 
survived the period of convalescence was very long 
and the number of relapses very high. 



THE failure of the Army of the Orient to save 
the Serbian army and its retirement on the en- 
trenched camp of Salonica caused, as I have stated, 
a complete change in the situation in the Near East. 
Salonica from being a mere port of disembarkation 
for the army operating in Serbia became the center 
and base of a new defensive front, the front of Mace- 

The Headquarters of the Army of the Orient were 
permanently established in that city, vast spaces were 
laid out around the city as camps and cantonments 
for troops, centres for supplies of ammunition, rail- 
way material, food, clothing and base hospitals. Mar- 
tial law was established in the city and the local police 
was reinforced by hundreds of military police of all 
the nationalities represented in General Sarrail's poly- 
glot army. 

The city of Salonica lies at the bottom of a basin 
formed by a double range of mountains. These moun- 
tain barriers enclose a plain shaped like a fan of 
which the city was the centre, while the principal sticks 
are formed by the roads and railroads running to 
Monastir, Uskub and Seres. 


258 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

On the Southwest of Salonica the imposing massif 
of Mount Olympus, its summit snow-covered all the 
year round, towers 10,000 feet toward heaven. Forty 
miles to the west the Vermion (or Neagush) ridge 
just fails to link up the Olympus group with the line 
of mountains formed by the Greek frontier. This 
ridge, running due north and south, culminates in 
the Kara Tash (or Black Rock) 6,234 feet high. 

The outer circle of mountains runs from the Vis- 
tritsa (Haliakmon) to the northwest under the name 
of "Nerechka" (or Peristeri) intO' Serbia, then, under 
the name of Nidje Planina, to the Vardar. On this 
latter range, the giant of the chain, the Kaymakchalan, 
which played such a role in the Serbian offensive, 
towers 8,284 feet into the clouds. From the Vardar 
this mountain chain, under the name of the Belasitza 
and Pirin ranges, nms along the frontier till it joins 
on the north the Bulgarian Rhodope. Toward the 
Aegean it is continued by the lower spurs of the 
Kruska and Beshik and the rocky peninsula of Chal- 

Through the rich Bottiaian plain flow the rivers Vis- 
tritza to the southwest, the Bistritsa to the west and 
the Vardar to the north, while on the east, between 
the inner and outer circles of mountains, the Struma 
flows down to the sea through the rift in the Belasitsa- 
Pirin chain. It was here that the Greeks constructed 
Fort Rupel, the strongest fortress in the Kingdom, 
and intended to close the pass against invasion from 

There are also a large number of lakes in the va- 

The Salonica Base 259 

rious valleys but the only ones of importance are 
Lake Tachinos, on the east, through which the Struma 
flows to the sea and Lake Langhaza and Beshik 
(Greek Volvi) which almost isolate the Chalcidice 
mountains from the eastern Macedonian system. 

As may be readily understood in such a rugged 
country communications are difficult. To the north 
the Valley of the Vardar with its single line of rail- 
way furnished Serbia with her one link with the 
Aegean. The ancient Roman road, the Via Ignatia, 
on its way west from Byzantium to Dyrrachium (Du- 
razzo), passed through Pella, now Yanitza, the capi- 
tal of Philip of Macedon and the still older capital 
of Aigai (Vodena) and then turned north to Fiorina, 
Monastir, Okhrida and El-Bassan. 

This ancient Roman road is to-day the only easy 
exit to the northwest and the Salonica-Monastir rail- 
way line, after making a detour south to Veria (the 
Berea of the Acts of the Apostles) joins it near Vo- 
dena and then follows it right up to the terminus at 

Towards the east the railway line from Salonica 
runs a most circuitous course, first going due north 
to Doiran, then east to Demirhissar and thence 
through Seres and Drama to Constantinople. 

The third line of railway, Salonica-Nish, runs due 
north to Karasuli and Ghevgeli and then through the 
Demirkapir Ghevgeli pass to Uskub. Such were the 
main topographical features of the territory in which 
the Army of the Orient was called upon to operate 
and the meagre means of communications which ex- 

26o From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

isted at this moment of the landing of General Sar- 
rail's force. 

The city itself offered few advantages. In spite 
of the fact that Salonica contained over 200,cx)0 in- 
habitants the city proper had few houses that had 
any architectural pretensions. Except for the sea 
front, where the principal hotels were situated, the 
Place de la Liberte, where the Cercle de Salonica 
(the principal club of the city) and the chief cafes 
were found, the rue Venizelos and the Via Ignatia, the 
streets were narrow, crooked and sordid, the typical 
thoroughfares of an Eastern city. The paving is of 
the most wretched description and the lighting utter- 
ly inadequate. Mud and filth reign supreme and on 
a wet day the streets become almost impossible. 

A contrast to the city proper is the aristocratic 
Ouartier des Compagnes, which lies just beyond the 
White Tower, the chief landmark of the city, which 
owes its existence to the ancient Venetians. From the 
White Tower half way to Mikra Bay all along the 
sea front lay a succession of magnificent Villas owned 
by the millionaire merchants of the city. Chief among 
these was the Villa Allatini in which the late Sultan 
Abdul Hamud was imprisoned after the Young Turk 
revolution. Here also were the consulates of the va- 
rious nations and here were established the headquar- 
ters of the various international contingents making 
up the Army of the Orient. The Headquarters of 
General Sarrail and his staff was housed at the other 
extremity of the town near the docks. 

Like many Oriental cities Salonica, seen from the 

The Salonica Base 261 

sea, made a most imposing appearance. The build- 
ings on the water front, the picturesque White Tower, 
the scores of magnificent Villas in the Ouartier des 
Campagnes, with their beautiful gardens running 
down to the beach, the many tall and graceful mina- 
rets of the numerous mosques, the towers and cupo- 
las of the Greek Orthodox churches, stood out against 
the background of green hills topped by the old Turk- 
ish citadel. It was only when the traveller landed 
and had to traverse the narrow dirty and crooked 
streets that he realized the real sordidness behind the 
magnificent fagade. 

(I speak of it in the past tense for of the mag- 
nificence and wretchedness of Salonica nothing to- 
day remains. The whole city from the docks to the 
White Tower was completely destroyed by the great 
conflagration of August, 191 7. In that month a 
fire started at the Via Ignatia on the eastern side of 
the city and swept a lane transversely down to the 
White Tower. As there is no Fire Department in 
Salonica worthy of the name, the whole existence 
of the city was menaced. The troops of the garri- 
son and the sailors from the allied fleets fought the 
flames valiantly and at one time seemed to have got 
the fire under control. Then suddenly the "Vardar," 
the north wind which in Salonica blows with hurri- 
cane force, sprang up, caught the fire broadside on 
and caused it to sweep the city throughout its breadth. 
In the presence of a catastrophe of this magnitude 
human courage was powerless and in a few hours 
nothing was left of Salonica but a mass of blackened 

262 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

ruins. The origin of the fire was never satisfactorily 
explained but there is good reason for believing that 
it was due to incendiarism, the more so as enemy 
aeroplanes made an attack on the town simultane- 
ously and by means of incendiary bombs helped the 
work of the flames.) 

As may be imagined such a city did not offer ideal 
accommodations tO' a military expedition on the scale 
of the Salonica one. The army had not only to con- 
tend with material shortcomings but the composition 
of the population added to the difficulties of the High 
Command. No city in Europe had such a mixed 
population as Salonica. One half was composed of 
Spanish Jews who landed there some centuries ago, 
driven out of Spain by the fierce persecutions to which 
they were subjected. Though they had ceased all re- 
lations with Spain since that time they still contin- 
ued to speak the Spanish tongue. Their newspapers 
were written in Spanish printed in Hebrew charac- 

Under the easy-going regime of the Turks the Sa- 
lonica Jews had the commerce of the city entirely in 
their hands. Over ten thousand of them were 
"dumne" or Jewish converts to Mohammedanism, 
who had grafted the Talmud on the Koran in a curi- 
ous fashion and produced a religion which was a 
curious mixture of the Jewish and Mohammedan 
faith. These "dumne" took an active part in Turkish 
politics and engineered the young Turkish revolution 
which drove Abdul Hamid from his throne. It was 
from the balcony of the Cercle de Salonique that Field 

The Salonica Base 263 

Marshal Chefket Pasha, Djavid Bey and Enver Bey 
proclaimed the revolution. It was from Salonica that 
Chefket Pasha's army corps began its march on Con- 
stantinople that cost the Sultan his throne. 

As may be imagined after the political role they 
had played the Jewish population of Salonica did not 
welcome the invasion of the Greek and Bulgarian 
troops of the Balkan League with any enthusiasm 
when, in 1912, after defeating the Turks, they made 
their triumphal entry into Salonica. They still less 
welcomed the invasion of Greek merchants and busi- 
ness men which followed the military one and which 
at once began to challenge the commercial supremacy 
of the Jewish community. All their sympathies were 
with the Turks whose easy going methods of gov- 
ernment had given them ample opportunity to monop- 
olize the commerce of the city. 

In addition to Jews and Greeks there was a large 
Turkish population, about 40,000, who sympathized 
with the Germans as the Allies of the Sultan and 
hoped for the success of their arms. There was fur- 
ther a large Bulgarian section which hoped that a 
German victory would be followed by a Bulgarian 
annexation of Salonica. 

As a consequence the Army of the Orient at Sa- 
lonica was surrounded by a hostile population. Thou- 
sands of Greek, Turkish and Bulgarian spies filled 
the town. Such a thing as military secrecy was out 
of the question. The arrival of every steamer was 
watched and every company and unit counted as they 
landed. In every cafe scores of spies listened to the 

264 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

conversation of men back on leave from the front. 
The difficulty of keeping the plans of the Allies secret 
was further increased by the fact that they had to 
be communicated to the Headquarters of the French, 
British, Serbian, Italian and Russian contingents, 
danger of leaking being thus quintupled. 

In the whole course of history no military force 
was ever organized under such extraordinary condi- 
tions as was the Army of the Orient. The White 
Tower became a second Tower of Babel round which 
surged Latin and Slav, Mohammedan, Christian and 
Jew, Anglo-Saxon, Greek and Levantine. Order was 
kept in the streets by British policemen, Italian cara- 
binieri, French Gendarmes and Provost Marshal's 
guards drawn from the Serbian and Russian contin- 

The railway lines were Austrian-owned with Greek 
employees. The Austrian management was, of course, 
at once eliminated, but it was difficult, if not impos- 
sible, to replace the Greek personnel by trained rail- 
way men from the Allied ranks. At no time were the 
Greek railway employees characterized by any great 
efficiency and in many instances their loyalty was 
more than doubtful. The rolling stock was in a very 
dilapidated condition while the track was not much 
better. Derailings were of daily occurrence and col- 
lisions were not infrequent. 

Under these circumstances if the Salonica front 
had had the whole-hearted support of the Entente 
Governments the difficulties would have been immense. 
But the problem General Sarrail had to solve was 

The Salonica Base 265 

rendered doubly difficult by the fact that in London, 
Paris and Rome divided counsels prevailed and the 
support accorded to the expedition was of the most 
half-hearted kind. 



BY the end of the first week in June, as I have 
already stated, the last Serbian battalion was 
landed at Mikra Bay and King Peter's army was 
ready to take the field. As I have indicated above, 
thanks to the aid furnished by the Allies, it was, 
materially, well equipped for the task before it. The 
only other point was its morale. After four years 
of constant warfare, after its struggle with the Turks, 
the Bulgarians, the Albanians, the Austrians and the 
Germans, after its retreat through the desolation of 
Albania, there would have been nothing surprising 
if its courage had been depressed and its elan blunted. 
But the contrary was the case. No army ever entered 
on a campaign with higher courage or a grimmer 
determination to carry its colors to victory than did 
the soldiers of Serbia in 1916. 

What was the cause of this apparent miracle? It 
was due to the fact that during the two years of war 
the aspirations of Serbia for the realization of the 
final union of all the branches of the Serbo-Croatian 
race into a single state had been slowly but surely 
gaining ground. The harder the blows of destiny, 
the firmer the resolve of the Serbs to achieve this 
unity of their race or die in the attempt. 


The Operations — The First Phase 267 

For it must be remembered that the four and a half 
milHon inhabitants of Serbia are only a fraction of 
the total Serbian race. In addition to the half mil- 
lion Serbs inhabiting Montenegro there were yet an- 
other eight million Serbo-Croats (Serbs, Croats and 
Slovenes) under the yoke of Austria. For half a 
century the idea of achieving Velika Srhia or Greater 
Serbia had inspired the Serbs of the Danubian King- 
dom. This meant the annexation of Bosnia-Herzego- 
vina, part of Dalmatia, a considerable stretch of Hun- 
garian territory and the Serbian-speaking portion of 
the Banat of Temesvar. 

The unjust and indefensible action of the Peace 
Conference of Berlin in 1878, in handing over Bos- 
nia and Herzegovina to Austria for temporary "oc- 
cupation and pacification," instead of allowing these 
provinces to unite with their Serbian brothers-in- 
race, had roused deep resentment in Serbia, a resent- 
ment increased and strengthened by the high-handed 
action of Austria-Hungary in 1908 in declaring that 
she would no longer be bound by the treaty of Berlin 
and would purely and simply annex these two Serbian 

From that date a latent spirit of revolt smouldered 
among the Austrian Serbs. This the Vienna Govern- 
ment met by measures of rigorous repression. But 
though every Serb desired to achieve, sooner or later, 
the national unity, the Belgrade Government did not 
take active steps to bring about any revolutionary 
movement on Austrian soil. National unitv still re- 

268 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

mained a pious aspiration, much as Italia irredenta 
had been for the ItaHans for half a century. 

And it might have long remained so but for the ac- 
tion of Austria. That Power made the act of a fanat- 
ical youth of 1 8 years of age, who threw the fatal 
bomb at Sara-jevo which killed the Archduke Franz 
Ferdinand and his consort, the pretext for forcing a 
war on Serbia. 

At first the only ambition of the Serbians was to 
defend their native soil, but as the war went on every 
Serb began to realize that his country had embarked 
on a duel to the death with the Dual Monarchy. No 
half measures were possible. If the Austrian Em- 
pire remained in existence after the war Serbia, as 
an independent state, would have ceased to exist. The 
defeat of Austria meant at least the creation of 
Greater Serbia. 

The knowledge that it was a fight to the death 
gradually grew on every Serbian-speaking man, 
woman and child, a fight from which they would 
either emerge a free and united people or be forever 
crushed under the heels of Austria. The revolu- 
tionary movement for a Greater Serbia began to 
spread l>eyond the frontiers of Austria to the country 
of their brothers-in-race the Croats and Slovenes and 
the idea the unity of the entire Serbo-Croatian, or 
Jugoslav, race rapidly took form. 

A number of eminent Jugoslavs succeeded in reach- 
ing London where they formed a National Committee 
presided over by Dr. Ante Trumbitch. This commit- 
tee got into touch with the Serbian Government at 

The Operations — The First Phase 269 

Corfu and in June 1916 the Pact of Corfu was drawn 
up the Magna Chart a of tJie future Kingdom of the 
Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. By it the national as- 
pirations of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes were crys- 
tallized into a definite project. It was this final and 
definite realization of all that they had fought for, all 
that they were fighting for, that inspired the army 
which landed at Salonica. Two years before their 
only idea had been to successfully defend their coun- 
try against Austrian aggression, in 19 16 they were 
fighting to bring about the unity of their race, a re- 
sult that could only be achieved by the complete de- 
feat of the Central Powers and their Allies. 

Though their numbers had shrunk to a hundred 
thousand bayonets the Serbs entered on the struggle 
with courage undismayed and with whole-hearted 
confidence in the cause for which the Allies were fight- 
ing. Beyond the blue line of the mountains lay their 
beloved Serbia and they swore to reconquer it or 
perish in the attempt. It was the spirit of the "nation 
that can never die," the indomitable resolve to bring 
about the triumph of right. 

When, then, General Sarrail assigned to the Ser- 
bian army its sector on the Macedonian front the 
troops responded with enthusiasm and alacrity, in 
spite of the fact that it was plain that to the army 
of King Peter was given the most arduous part of 
the task of the Army of the Orient. 

As soon as the Serbian amiy arrived at Mikra 
Bay General Sarrail began the final constitution of 
the Macedonian front. To the British continsrent 

270 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

under the command of Lieutenant-General G. F. Milne 
(who had on May 9th succeeded General Sir Bryan 
Mohon) was entrusted the defence of the part of 
the front to the east and north-east of Salonica. On 
June 8th, the date of the arrival of the last contin- 
gent of Serbian troops at Mikra Bay, General Milne's 
forces began to occupy advanced positions along the 
right bank of the Struma from Lake Butkovo to the 
northern extremity of Lake Tachinos. After the 
demobilization of the Greek army in the last weeks 
of July the front held by the British had been extend- 
ed to Chai Agiz where the Struma River enters the 
Gulf of Orfano. Later on, between July 20th and 
August 1 2th, General Milne took over the line south 
and west of Lake Doiran in preparation for the gen- 
eral offensive that was to coincide with Roumania's 
entrance into the war. 

The French contingent occupied the centre of the 
front, the line held by it running from Lake Doiran 
to a point west of the Vardar where it joined up with 
the sector held by the Serbian army. The French 
sector was the shortest of the three but it was perhaps 
strategically the most important as it extended across 
the Valley of the Vardar, the direct line of route for 
an invading army marching on Salonica. The French 
contingent opposed a composite Germano-Austro- 
Bulgarian army under the command of General von 
Winckler. The British and Serbian contingents were 
at first faced by purely Bulgarian armies under the 
command of General Lodoroff, though the army fac- 

The Operations — The First Phase 271 

ing the Serbians was also later strongly reinforced by 
German troops. 

The Serbian contingent, as I have already stated, 
consisted of three armies and an independent cavalry 
division. The First Army, consisting of the Morava 
and Vardar Divisions, was under the command of 
the Voivode (Field-Marshal) Mishitch. The Division 
of the Morava was commanded by Colonel C. Milo- 
vanovitch and the Division of the Vardar by Colonel 

The Second Army, under the Command of the Voi- 
vode Stepanovitch, was made up of the Shumadia and 
Timok Divisions. The Division of the Shumadia 
had as its commander Colonel Zivko Pavlovitch, who 
had, in the preceding campaign in Serbia, been As- 
sistant-Chief of the Headquarters Staff under Field 
Marshal Putnik. The Division of the Timok was 
under the command of General Militch. 

The Third Army, composed of the Drina and Dan- 
ube Divisions, was under the orders of General Mi- 
losh Vasitch. The Division of the Drina was under 
the command of Colonel Smilavitch and the Division 
of the Danube under that of Colonel Angelovitch. 

The whole Serbian army was under the Supreme 
Command of the Prince-Regent Alexander with Gen- 
eral Boyovitch as Chief of the Headquarters Stafif. 

Though the occupation of the sector assigned to the 
Serbian army did not take place till the month of 
June it was preceded by certain operations by the Ser- 
bian Volunteer corps which had been established and 
organized at the Chalcidice camp. This corps, on 

272 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

May 9, 191 5, left that camp and six days later it was 
distributed along the Front Donji-Kalcnik-Comji- 
Kalenik-Kleshtina-Chechovo-Vukovik-Link. Part of 
its forces protected the route Florina-Korcha. The 
special task of this sector was to prevent communica- 
tions and smuggling of munitions and provisions be- 
tween the Bulgars and Greeks east of Lake Prespa 
and Korcha and, at the moment of the concentration 
and operations, to cover the left wing and flank of 
the army. 

A month later the Serbian contingent began to take 
up the positions assigned to it. On June 8th the 
Shumadia Division was sent to take up a position near 
the Dogandi railway bridge over the Vardar and oc- 
cupied that front on June nth. On June loth the 
Serbian Volunteer Battalion was dispatched to Kor- 
cha with the object of closing all routes leading from 
Albania to Korcha and vice-versa so as to complete 
the work of the Volunteer corps and absolutely close 
these routes to all communication and smuggling. 

On July 4th the Shumadia and Drina Divisions 
were sent to the border front, the Shumadia Division 
holding the Kozhuch-Kovil-Kukurus-Shozar-D. Ro- 
divo line while the Drina Division held the G. Rodivo- 
Meteric-Tepesi-Chegan-Gornichevo front. 

The mission of these two Divisions, together with 
the previously dispatched Volunteer Corps and Volun- 
teer Battalion, was to cover the concentration of the 
Serbian army. 

General Sarrail paid this army the high compliment 
of assigning to it as its field of operations the most 

The Operations — The First Phase 273 

formidable portion of the total front, the towering 
Moglene mountain range, a natural fortress of almost 
impregnable strength. This mountain range is the 
natural barrier defending the plain of Monastir. 

The average height of the mountains is about S-OO^ 
feet, though at several points this is exceeded, the 
cloud-capped summit of the gigantic Kaymakchalan 
towering up nearly 10,000 feet above the plain. These 
mountains are, for the most part, bare masses of gran- 
ite, denuded of all vegetation and rising step by step 
by precipitous clif¥s, up which an attacking force has 
to climb, often on hands and knees. 

It was in this region that on July 25, 19 16, the 
Serbian army began the attack on the Bulgarians. On 
that day the Division of the Shumadia drove the en- 
emy back from certain positions on the Moglene 
range, notably the villages of Pojar and Strujisino. 
On the following day the Bulgarians brought up re- 
inforcements and for twenty-eight hours a violent bat- 
tle raged. Both sides repeatedly attacked with the 
bayonet but in spite of every effort the Bulgarians 
were powerless to regain the lost positions. 

The vigor and the precision of the Serbian artillery 
fire proved too much for the enemy. But at the same 
time the success of the Serbs was only partial, for 
though they succeeded in gaining a footing on the 
rocky sides of the mountain range, the Bulgarians 
still held the summit. The operations in the last week 
of July were therefore chiefly of a preparatory char- 
acter and paved the way for the second phase. 

During the first half of August there was a lull in 

274 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

the fighting, which the Bulgarians made use of to 
entrench themselves strongly and line their front with 
barbed wire entanglements. 

Hostilities were resumed on August 17th. On that 
date the Bulgarians began a furious offensive along 
the whole front. This was developed in two direc- 

On the one hand they attacked the Serbian posi- 
tions on the Moglene range, held by the Shumadia 
and Timok Divisions, trying to hurl them back on to 
the plain, and on the other they attacked the troops 
of the First Army holding Fiorina with the object 
of driving them from that point to the other side of 
Lake Ostrovo. 

The Bulgarian plan was revealed by documents 
found on Bulgarian officers taken prisoners. The at- 
tack was entrusted to the First Bulgarian Army. Its 
mission was to drive the Serbs from their position on 
the Moglene range and to occupy a line running from 
the Lake of Ostrovo along the base of the mountains. 

If the plan had succeeded the Serbian army would 
have been forced to fall back on the entrenched camp 
of Salonica, as on the plain it would not have found 
positions capable of prolonged defence. This offen- 
sive was begun just at the moment Roumania entered 
the war and the evident desire of the Bulgarians was 
to inflict a crushing defeat on the Serbians so as to 
be able to send troops from the Macedonian front 
to reinforce its army facing the Roumanians on the 
Dobrudja front. 

The effort, however, proved disastrous to them. 

The Operations — The First Phase 275 

Not only did their attack on the positions on the Ka- 
tunatz and Pojar, held by the Second Serbian army, 
though executed with over 7,000 men, fail completely, 
but the Bulgarians were driven from certain of their 
positions by the furious counter attacks of the Serbs. 

By August 2 1st they had been driven almost com- 
pletely from Mount Vetrenik and Mount Kukurus. 
All they held were a few positions on the crests. The 
Serbian success on the Vetrenik was particularly im- 
portant as it is one of the highest points on the 
Moglene range. 

On August 22d the slopes of the mountain were in 
the hands of the nth Serbian Regiment, belonging to 
the Shumadia Division, while the crests, which termi- 
nated in a precipitous cliff, known later as the "Rock 
of Blood" on account of the sanguinary struggle for 
its possession, wxre still held by the enemy. The fact 
that King Peter's soldiers stormed their way up the 
rocky sides of these precipitous mountains speaks vol- 
umes for their dash and tenacity and the brilliant 
fashion in which they were led. 

The Bulgarian losses were very great. On the first 
day of their offensive they had 400 killed and 600 
wounded. The following day entire regiments were 
decimated; Bulgarian dead lay piled up by hundreds. 
Their losses w^ere so great that the troops were com- 
pletely discouraged and they practically abandoned the 

This successful defence of the Serbs was of the 
greatest importance. If the Bulgarians had succeeded 
in piercing the lines of the Second Serbian armv the 

276 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

position of the Serbian troops in the neighborhood of 
the Lake of Ostrovo would have been critical. 

The Bulgarians were, however, much more success- 
ful in the direction of Fiorina. They were able to 
seize that town, as well as the important position of 
Malka-Nidge which lies behind it. Fiorina was onh- 
occupied by a weak advance guard furnished by the 
First Serbian army, which was unable to resist the 
onslaught of the Bulgarian main body. A Serbian 
Division, sent to the assistance of the troops holding 
Fiorina, for several days resisted the attack of two 
and a half Bulgarian divisions. 

Finally the Serbian troops were forced to fall back 
on the country behind the Lake of Petroko and the 
Lake of Ostrovo. The intention of the Bulgarians 
was to prevent the Serbs establishing their position at 
this point and to drive them to the opposite side of 
the Lake of Ostrovo. 

But as soon as they came in contact with the main 
Serbian forces the Bulgarians met with such obstinate 
resistance that their operations were brought to a 
standstill. They had, therefore, to content themselves 
with their partial successes at Fiorina and Malka- 
Nidge. But as they lost 10,000 to 12,000 men in the 
operations their success was dearly bought. 

The Serbs also lost heavily in the desperate struggle, 
having about 5,000 men hors de coriibaf. But their 
partial success at Fiorina did not justify the Bulga- 
rians taking a single battalion from the Macedonian 
front to aid their troops facing the Roumanians in the 

The Operations — The First Phase 277 

Dobrudja. This marked the end of the second phase 
of the operations on the Macedonian front. 

The third phase was entered upon on September 
1 2th. On that date the First Serbian Army, rein- 
forced by French and Russian troops, undertook a 
strong offensive toward Fiorina. At the same time 
the Second Army began an attack on the Moglene 
front, but this was merely a demonstration, the real 
attack being on the Fiorina line. After two days of 
artillery preparation the Serbs, by a vigorous attack, 
carried the Bulgarian positions, not only at Malka- 
Nidge but also at the Mola Reka. 

The positions at Malka-Nidge had been strongly 
fortified by the Bulgarians on plans drawn up by Ger- 
man staff officers. These were a succession of 
trenches with redoubts for the guns and lines of 
barbed wire entanglements. 

The assault of the Serbs was made with such irre- 
sistible force and the surprise of the Bulgarians was 
so great that the latter were hurled back in disorder, 
abandoning 40 guns and a large quantity of material 
of all kinds. The losses of the Bulgarians at this 
point were estimated at about 2.000 men. 

It was not a mere check entailing the loss of a po- 
sition but it was the defeat and destruction of a por- 
tion of the Bulgarian army. 

Driven back from Malka-Nidge the Bulgarians re- 
tired on the line Krusograd-Sovie-Starkov Grob-Kay- 
makchalan, which lies for the most part along the 
Greco-Serbian frontier line. But the Serbs did not 
give the Bulgarians any rest even on this new line. 

278 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

On September 17th they gained a footing on the Kay- 
makchalan and on the i8th they occupied the highest 
crest. It was then that the long and bloody struggle 
for the complete possession of the mountain began. 

The Bulgarians had always attached great impor- 
tance to the position. During the whole of the sum- 
mer they had worked on its fortification till it bristled, 
from base to summit, with lines of trenches and 
barbed wire entanglements, so that this position, nat- 
urally extremely strong — at its highest point it reached 
over 8,000 feet and on the eastern slope it is almost 
precipitous — was made seemingly impregnable. 

The Bulgarians knew that as long as they held the 
Kaymakchalan they could prevent the Serbs from de- 
bouching on the Czerna Reka (Black River) and on 
the plain of Monastir, either by Fiorina or by the 
Moglene front. The Kaymakchalan was, therefore, 
the central point of the Bulgarian defence on the east- 
em side of the Czerna Reka. 

When, therefore, the Third Serbian army succeeded 
in seizing the highest crest of the Kaymakchalan, 
\yhich was at the same time the most elevated point 
on the whole front, it became a necessity for the Bul- 
garians to drive them from it at any cost. With this 
in view on September 23d they resumed the struggle 
with fresh troops brought from four different divi- 
sions and began a desperate attack on the Serbian po- 
sitions on the Kaymakchalan. 

The attack began on September 24th and reached 
its fiercest phase on September 26th. This was, up to 
that time, the bloodiest battle of the whole campaign. 

The Operations — The First Phase 279 

The result of the Bulgarian effort was, however, small. 
The enemy only succeeded in getting a footing in the 
Serbian advanced trenches. This small success had, 
however, been so costly that they were incapable of 
further effort. 

They were completely exhausted by their vain at- 
tempts on the Serbian positions. Their companies 
of 280 men had shrunk to 90 bayonets and of fifteen 
officers per battalion only four were left. The 2d 
Bulgarian Infantry Regiment had 73 officers and 
3,000 men placed hors de combat. 

In addition to being exhausted the Bulgarians were 
demoralized. The soldiers refused to make further 
assaults which they saw would only end in their being 
annihilated. It is known positively that the First Bat- 
talion of the 45th Bulgarian Regiment refused to obey 
when ordered to attack the Serbian positions. 

Under these circumstances the power of King Fer- 
dinand's troops to resist the Serbian counter-attack 
may be imagined. On September 30th the Serbs were 
in complete possession of the Kaymakchalan. The 
Bulgarians fled in confusion abandoning five guns. 
For some days there was some intermittent fighting 
around some of the smaller hills in the neighborhood 
of the Kaymakchalan, but after that mountain was 
captured the enemy were less able to maintain the line 
they had occupied after their retreat from Malka- 

On October 3d they voluntarily abandoned the po- 
sitions of Starkov Grob, Sovicet and Krusograd. The 
Serbian troops, which were following close on their 

28o From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

heels, crossed the Greek frontier, passed on to Serbian 
soil and debouched on the Czerna Reka, which they 
crossed at various points reaching the Bulgarian lines 
which directly defended Monastir. 

The French and Russians advanced successfully to 
the north of Fiorina and soon the whole of Greek 
Macedonia on the right bank of the Vardar, with the 
exception of the crest of that part of the Moglene 
mountains against which the Second Serbian army 
was operating, was completely cleared of Bulgarians. 
The Serbian troops descended on to the plain of Mon- 
astir and began the struggle for the possession of that 

The resistance of the Serbs was the more merito- 
rious in view of the fact that at Ostrovo the Bulga- 
rians had the numerical superiority and on the Mo- 
glene front the country was in their favor. They held 
the crests of the mountains while the Serbs had to at- 
tack the slopes. 

The Malka-Nidge and Kaymakchalan positions 
were so fortified that they could without exaggera- 
tion be described as natural fortresses. It is true that 
the Serbian attacks were powerfully supported by 
artillery, but the heavy Serbian losses bore eloquent 
testimony to the fact that they were not entirely ar- 
tillery battles. 

Up to the September 23d, that is to say before the 
last effort of the Bulgarians to recapture the Kay- 
makchalan, the Serbian losses amounted to 10,000 
killed and wounded. 



WHILE the Serbian Army was carrying on its 
offensive in the sector assigned to it, events 
were happening at the other extremity of the front 
which did much to neutrahze its relative success. 

Simultaneously with the Serbian offensive active 
operations were ordered on the French and British 
fronts. The object of all these operations was, as I 
have stated, to facilitate Roumania's entry into the 
war by so engaging the Bulgarian troops in Macedonia 
as to render it impossible for them to detach any of 
their forces to reinforce their army facing the Rou- 
manian frontier. The intervention of Roumania took 
place on August 2y, 191 6. The offensive of the 
French contingent was inaugurated on August 20th 
by a heavy bombardment of the town of Doiran. So 
violent was this that the Bulgarians were forced to 
abandon Hill 227 to the south of the town which the 
French at once occupied and with it the railway sta- 
tion of Doiran. The next few days were taken up 
with a heavy artillery duel, powerful howitzers play- 
ing an important role on both sides. 

The next move of the French was the capture of 
"Tortoise Hill" near to the village of Doldjeli, which 
lies a mile and a half to the southwest of Doiran. 

282 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Then a sudden change came over the whole situa- 
tion. The German Staff was perfectly well informed 
as to the condition of the Army of the Orient and 
what it could do. They knew that the persistent re- 
fusal of the Allies (for which the British Imperial 
Staff was chiefly to blame) to reinforce the Salonica 
front had left General Sarrail without the power of 
undertaking an offensive on a really large scale and 
pushing it home. Not only were his forces numeri- 
cally insufficient but the material at his disposal left 
much to be desired. Guns which were no use on the 
Western front were considered good enough for Sa- 
lonica. Thus the Army of the Orient had numbers 
of Debange guns, which though at one time an ex- 
cellent weapon, could no longer be regarded as up to 
date, modern artillery. Many of the mountain guns 
given to the Serbs were of an old pattern, quite in- 
ferior to those in the hands of the enemy. 

The insufficiency of the numbers of his troops ren- 
dered it difficult if not impossible to so hold the line 
as to guard against a sudden attack in force on any 
given point. The enemy a few days before the entry 
of Roumania into the war took advantage of this to 
invade Greece in three main groups. On the eastern 
sector they advanced south from Demirhissar, the 
Greek troops withdrawing before them. The Greek 
forts of Lise and Starshiste surrendered on the first 
summons without offering the slightest resistance. 
Two days later the enemy communique stated that the 
Vrundi Balkan (or Shartiya Planina) had been 

The Salonica Revolution 283 

crossed and that the Bulgarian armies were advancing 
on Seres. 

Meanwhile, on the eastern frontier, the Bulgarians 
crossed the Nestos (or Mesta Su) in the "Kaza" of 
Sari Shaban and sent out an advance guard to re- 
connoitre the road to Kavalo. 

Further west, on the central sector of the Vardar 
Valley, a simultaneous advance was made by General 
von Winckler. In spite of repeated attacks, however, 
his troops failed to recapture the village of Doldjeli. 
Both there and on the Struma British troops checked 
the Bulgarian advance. 

On August loth General Milne sent out a brigade 
of cavalry, accompanied by a battery of field artillery, 
which carried out a "reconnaissance in force." They 
found a fairly strong contingent of the enemy on the 
Barakli-Prosenik line. After a sharp engagement the 
reconnoitring force withdrew to the right bank of 
the Struma. 

On August 2 1st, in spite of the enemy's opposition 
the Anghista bridge was destroyed by British yeo- 
manry, engineers and cyclists, but after this operation 
no further obstacle was put in the way of the Bul- 
garian invasion of Eastern Macedonia. The British 
forces withdrew to the Struma-Lake Tachinos line 
and left to the Greek armies garrisoning the country 
the task of dealing with the invader. 

Kavalo was the headquarters of the 4th Greek army 
corps. The 6th Division, under the command of Gen- 
eral Bairas, was stationed at Seres. In the temporary 
absence of the general this division was under the 

284 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

command of Colonel Christodonlou. The advanced 
fort of Phea Petra was the first place to offer resist- 
ance to the Bulgarian armies on the road between 
Demirhissar and Krushavo. The commandant of the 
fort, Major Kondhilis, refused to surrender it to the 
Bulgarians and lost his life in a fruitless effort to de- 
fend it. This gallant act on his part was not without 
its effect on the garrison of Seres. Colonel Christo- 
donlou and the men of the 6th Division put up a good 
fight in which they claimed to have inflicted heavy 
loss on the enemy, themselves losing two officers and 
100 men. 

The only result of this gallant action in Athens was 
to cause King Constantine to relieve Colonel Chris- 
todonlou of his command and to issue strict orders 
against any further armed resistance to the invader. 

Unfortunately these orders were strictly obeyed. 
The Bulgarians advanced without resistance to the 
environs of Drama and Kavalo. For some days they 
hesitated about seizing these towns, but on August 
26th they occupied the forts around Kavalo but were 
promptly shelled by the guns of the British fleet, which 
brought about a pause in their operations. 

In the meantime Colonel Christodonlou, who had 
succeeded in escaping from the Bulgarians, arrived in 
Kavalo with two regiments. But he did not find 
himself in congenial company. The commander of 
the 4th Army Corps, Colonel Khatzopoulos, was one 
of those Greeks to whom even the Bulgarians and the 
Germans were less distasteful than M. Venizelos. He 
faithfully carried out the orders of the Athens Gov- 

The Salonica Revolution 285 

eminent that no resistance should l)e offered to the 
invading anny. On September 12th, therefore, he 
surrendered with the forces — 8,000 men — under his 
command. The Bulgarian troops entered Kavalo. 
Colonel Christodonlou with 1,500 of his men and a 
large number of the civilian inhabitants took refuge 
on the British and French warships in the harbor and 
were conveyed to Thasos and Salonica. 

The 4th Greek Army corps was disarmed and in- 
terned in "honorable" captivity in Seres, whence they 
were soon after removed to Germany and interned 
at Gorlitz in Silesia. 

This disgrace to Greek arms was more than even 
the population of Athens could stand and a danger- 
ous excitement made itself manifest in the capital. 
In order to calm this and to conciliate the indignant 
Powers of the Entente General Dousmanis, the Chief 
of the General Staff, who had given the actual orders 
for the surrender to the Bulgarians, was given 45 
days' leave of absence and was temporarily replaced 
by General Moskhopoulos, who up to then had been 
in command of the 3d Army Corps at Salonica. Colo- 
nel Metaxas, assistant chief of Staff, was also relieved 
of his functions. 

But these pretended functions deceived no one and 
indignant meetings were held in Athens at which 
M. Venizelos and other patriotic leaders took part. 
At one of them, held on August 27th, the ex-Premier 
adjured King Constantine, even at the eleventh hour, 
to put himself at the head of the nation and defend 
the national honour and the territory of Greece. M. 

286 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Venizelos at the same time warned him that "if our 
cry is disregarded we shall then see what we can do 
to prevent the ruin into which we are being drawn. 
We cannot look on fatalistically while the catastrophe 
approaches without taking means to counteract it." 

To this appeal, however, King Constantine turned 
a deaf ear. The military clique gave him its whole- 
hearted support. At the same time the "Reservist 
League," which it had formed out of the more unde- 
sirable elements of the population, was let loose on the 
streets of Athens to spread a reign of terror among 
the citizens. 

The excitement at Salonica was even greater than 
in Athens. Indignation meetings were held daily at 
the White Tower, but for the first day or two those 
taking part in them contented themselves with noisy 
demonstrations and comminatory resolutions. It was 
not until August 30th that things came to a head. 
When I came down to lunch at the restaurant of 
the Olympus Palace Hotel on the afternoon of that 
day, I was informed that a revolution was to start 
at two o'clock. The idea of a revolution starting at 
a given hour seemed a trifle "Opera Comique" to me, 
but a number of excited individuals at an adjacent 
table were pointed out to me as the leaders of the 
movement. They were lunching in haste and discuss- 
ing volubly in Greek, some of them drawing up hur- 
ried proclamations on the back of the menu cards. 
Two o'clock came and they still had not reached the 
cofifee and liqueur stage and we were told the revolu- 
tion was postponed till three o'clock. 

The Salonica Revolution 287 

Finally at that hour things began to get under way. 
Excited crowds thronged the streets and in a short 
time loud shouting proclaimed that something was 
happening. A few minutes later about a couple of 
hundred Cretan gendarmes, led by a lieutenant, came 
marching down Venizelos street. This was the "revo- 
lution" en route for the Headquarters of General 
Sarrail to inform him that Salonica no longer owed 
allegiance to King Constantine. The "revolution" 
50 far had been of the "rose water" order. Twenty- 
four hours later it took a somewhat more tragic turn 
when the Cretan gendarmes marched to the barracks 
to bring out the Greek Infantry regiment in garrison 
there. The regiment refused to join the movement and 
slammed the gates in the faces of the revolutionists. 

The latter promptly opened fire, to which the garri- 
son replied. The only damage done was the killing 
of a couple of soldiers and a passing civilian struck 
by a stray bullet. As the revolutionaries had no ar- 
tillery they were unable to do much damage, but they 
surrounded the barracks and prevented all egress. As 
the troops inside had neither food nor water things 
soon reached a crisis. The Colonel in command sent 
word to General Sarrail that he would surrender to 
the French but not to the revolutionaries. A regi- 
ment of Zouaves was accordingly sent to the barracks 
to receive his surrender and disarm his men. A cer- 
tain number declared they would join the revolution- 
aries. The rest were disarmed, placed on board a 
couple of steamers, shipped off to the Piraeus, and the 
revolution was a fait accompli. A Provisional Gov- 

288 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

ernment was installed at the head of which was Colo- 
nel Zimvrakakis. 

A short time afterwards news was received that 
M. Venizelos accompanied by Admiral Koundouriolis 
and General Danglis had left Athens and landed on 
Crete and proclaimed the revolution. Chios, Mytilene 
and other islands joined the movement. On October 
9th M. Venizelos, Admiral Koundouriolis and Gen- 
eral Danglis landed in Salonica and established their 
Government. Forty-eight hours later this declared 
war on Bulgaria and proceeded to recruit a volunteer 
army to fight alongside the Army of the Orient. 

Meanwhile there had been some resumption of mili- 
tary activity on the French and British sectors. On 
September loth the British crossed the Struma both 
north and south of Lake Tachinos. A number of 
small villages were occupied and the Northumberland 
Fusiliers drove the Bulgarians out of Nevoljen but 
afterwards retired and the activities of the force grad- 
ually died down. The net result of the total opera- 
tions had been a brilliant success for the Serbians on 
the western part of the line, which, however, for want 
of reserves they were unable to push home, and the 
Bulgarian invasion of Drame, Seres and Kavalo. 
Thanks to the defection of King Constantine's troops 
this had been a success, but as the British and French 
troops on the Struma and Doiran fronts had more 
than held their own the Bulgarian advance was 
brought to a standstill and something like the previ- 
ous position of stalemate again became the order of 
the day. 



AFTER the capture of Fiorina and the forcing of 
the Bulgarian positions on the Kaymakchalan, 
I profited by a lull in the operations of the First and 
Third armies to visit the positions on the right flank 
of the Serbian front held by the Second army under 
the command of Field Marshal Stepanovitch. 

To reach these I left Salonica by the Monastir rail- 
way, my destination being Vertekop, a station about 
40 miles from Salonica as the crow flies but about 
70 by rail on account of the extraordinary detour 
made by this line, which first runs southwest to Veria 
and then turns at an acute angle due north toward 

The first difficulty was to find the train at the Sa- 
lonica station. It was supposed to start at midnight 
so that it had to be found in the darkness of the night. 
As there were over a score of tracks each packed with 
flat trucks and freight cars this alone was an adven- 
ture. As all the tracks were filled from end to end, 
this meant climbing over the buffers of coupled freight 
cars and splashing about in the puddles of water that 
usually lay between the tracks. On account of the 

290 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

danger of enemy air raids the whole station was in 
black darkness and as most of the employees only 
spoke Greek it was no easy matter to locate anything. 

The train when I did find it consisted of an end- 
less succession of flat cars, box cars and cattle trucks, 
the latter used for moving the horses and mules nec- 
essary at the front. Up near the engine was a single 
passenger coach which had certainly seen better days. 
Window glass was conspicuous by its absence and 
one of the doors would not shut and had to be tied 
with string to keep it closed. As six passengers were 
placed in each compartment the possibility of sleep 
was reduced to a minimum. Though all the passen- 
gers were punctually on board at midnight it was 
nearly four o'clock before we got under way. The 
average speed was about seven or eight miles an hour 
and the stops were frequent and interminable. As the 
line was single track we were side-tracked at nearly 
every station to let empty trains coming from the 
front pass. The result was that it took us over ten 
hours to cover the sixty miles separating us from 

Vertekop was the chief munition "dump" for the 
Second Serbian Army and all round the station were 
high piles of shells, munition boxes, tinned food and 
war material of every kind. A few hundred yards 
outside the station was a huge base hospital where the 
tired traveller, forced to wait over in Vertekop, could 
count on being received with cordial hospitality. This 
hospital was run by the British. 

The station was run by a triumvirate of station 

Operations of the Second Army 291 

masters, French, Serbian and British. As I was bound 
for Dragamantzi, the Headquarters of the Second 
Army, a matter of ten miles away, I had to telephone 
for a riding horse and a wagon for my baggage. Un- 
til those arrived I sat in the office of the Serbian sta- 
tion master and drank endless cups of the weak tea 
which is always on tap in the Serbian army and 
watched the pitiless rain pouring down on the piles 
of war material accumulated all around the station. 

A constant stream of military wagons, motor 
driven and horse drawn, kept pouring into the station 
yard to load up. Most of the work was done by 
German and Bulgarian prisoners who worked under 
the kindly eye of some grey-bearded old Serbian 
Checcha or soldiers of the third "ban." The predom- 
inating feature was mud, sometimes watery, some- 
times clayey, but omnipresent. All round the station 
it was churned into a quagmire a couple of feet deep 
through which trucks and wagons tore their way with 

After a couple of hours wait my horse and wagon 
arrived and I faced the pitiless down-pour. As I 
jogged along at a slow trot (all the horse could do in 
the sea of mud), I could realize the immense difficulty 
of keeping the army in the field supplied. Every now 
and then I would come across an army truck com- 
pletely bogged with half a score of sweating drivers 
working to extricate it from the "slough of despond." 
The language they used about Macedonia, its climate 
and the war generally, was sulphurous. 

The mountains begin right behind Vertekop so that 

292 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

the road to Dragamantzi winds among a succession 
of bleak, granite-faced hills. Once these are passed 
one debouches on a second plain on the northern ex- 
tremity of which, fifteen miles away, the mountains 
of the Moglene range tower into the clouds. 

No one dropping into Dragamantzi would ever 
have imagined that the peaceful little village was a 
centre of warlike activities. Its six hundred inhabi- 
tants were mostly Turks. All day long from the vil- 
lage schoolhouse, where a couple of score of children 
sat crosslegged round the teacher, came a droning 
chant as they all repeated their lessons in unison. The 
only sign of the military occupation was when a staff 
automobile would shoot along the street carrying offi- 
cers to or from the front. The only other sign of 
war was the continuous drone of the heavy gims which 
echoed from the distant mountains. 

In a meadow near the exit of the village a score 
of tents were pitched. A narrow stream meandered 
through it, crossed by a simple plank bridge. On the 
other side a solitary tent was pitched. This was the 
home of Field-Marshal Stepanovitch, commander of 
the Second Serbian Army, the most taciturn soldier 
in the service of King Peter. When he was not in 
his tent, immersed in his maps and plans, he wan- 
dered alone. The only persons he ever spoke to were 
the little village children who little knew that the man 
in the shabby uniform was one of the greatest gen- 
erals in an army that counts many soldats d' elite. 

From the camp stretched a network of telegraph 
and telephone wires running to the headquarters of 

Operations of the Second Army 293 

the divisions and over the plains to the mountains 
where they Hnked up brigades, regiments and bat- 
taHons fighting amid the snow clad summits and con- 
trolled the thunderous diminuendo and crescendo of 
scores of batteries of every calibre. Every now and 
then the peaceful quiet would be broken by the shrill 
ring of a telephone bell or the tick-tack of a telegraph 
instrument. And yet from this scene of perfect peace 
a fierce life and death struggle was being directed in 
the mountains a score of miles away and the combat 
surged back and forth in response to the will of the 
taciturn soldier bent over his map in his solitary tent. 

At mess, in a whitewashed building that had once 
been a stable, furnished with a table composed of a 
couple of planks laid on trestles, I heard the latest 
reports of the long and weary struggle going on in 
the distant mountains. The position was one of stale- 
mate. Each side had dug itself in and while the Serbs 
were strong enough in artillery to checkmate any at- 
tempt of the Bulgarians to advance, they were not nu- 
merically strong enough to try conclusions with the 

Next day I rode on to Soubotzko. the Headquar- 
ters of the Division of the Shumadia. No one drop- 
ping into Soubotzko would have imagined that it 
was one of the storm centres of the Balkan cam- 
paign. It presented a picture of peace such as would 
have gladdened the heart of any pacifist. The two 
streets that form the village, the shorter one at right 
angles to the other, running along a sluggish stream 
of doubtful purity, were lined with a few wretched 

294 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

shops in which soap, petroletim, sugar and a few other 
strictly necessary articles were to be found. Luxuries 
there were none, unless one counts the inevitable tins 
of concentrated milk and a few stray boxes of sardines 
in that category. At the angle where the streets join, 
the solitary mosque of the village, and a marble foun- 
tain with a Turkish inscription, formed the last souve- 
nirs of the regime of the Sultan. 

Here, once a week, the populace of the surrounding 
country poured in on foot and on donkeys to hold a 
market. The goods on display did not have, however, 
a total value of more than a hundred francs or so, 
consisting mainly of onions, chestnuts, paprika and 
such oddments as pins, needles and thread. I saw one 
red-turbaned merchant spend the whole day cross- 
legged in front of a couple of dozen boxes of matches. 
As these sold for a cent apiece, even if he had dis- 
posed of his whole stock (which he certainly did not), 
his gross receipts would not have been twenty-five 
cents. The populace seemed almost to have realized 
the commercial conditions of that Sandwich Island 
where the inhabitants lived by taking in each other's 

From time to time a grey-bearded man with a red 
fez climbed on to the marble fountain and made a 
speech. At first I thought he was a political agitator, 
as he spoke with apparent eloquence and conviction, 
but I discovered he was only the town crier making 
known the latest municipal decrees. From the freez- 
ingly cold reception given to his pronouncements, I 

Operations of the Second Army 295 

imagine he was proclaiming some fresh taxation, or 
something of the sort. 

From 9 o'clock in the morning hundreds of peas- 
ants, the men, Turkish fashion, mounted on donkeys, 
and the women walking on foot, poured into the vil- 
lage. Even the small boys rode, while their mothers 
walked behind, the outward tribute to the predomi- 
nant position of the male. The feminist movement 
has a long distance to go in Macedonia. The chief 
business of the males on market days seemed to be 
to sit cross-legged on the ground in the various cafes 
(wooden sheds with beaten earth floors open to the 
streets) and consume an endless number of micro- 
scopic cups of coffee. 

As the immense majority of the people are Ma- 
hometans, 90 per cent of them wore either fezes or 
turbans. But their language was Serbian, though 
some of them had also a slight knowledge of Greek. 
It is a curious thing that in Greek Macedonia I met 
with every type of language except Greek. I have 
seen Roumanian villages, Bulgarian villages and Ser- 
bian villages, but never a Greek one. That the ma- 
jority of the population was Mahometan is explained 
by the fact that by Turkish law only Mahometans 
could own land. After the conquest of Macedonia 
by the Turks the native Serbian populatiop went over 
to Mahometanism to save their possessions, and their 
descendants are now followers of the Prophet. 

The village lies in the centre of the plain. Five 
miles away towers the range of mountains which sep- 
arates Greek Macedonia from Serbia. Opposite lie 

296 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Mounts Kukurus, Vetrenik, Katunatz and Pojar, 
while to the left towered the cloud-capped Kaymak- 
chalan, the giant of the range. The summits of the 
mountains were covered with snow, which glittered 
in the brilliant winter sunshine. 

No one could believe that on the forty-mile front 
to right and left half a million men were in death 
grips and that the faces of the adjacent mountains 
were scarred by lines of trenches and pitted by bat- 
teries and redoubts. The only reminder of war was 
the dull boom of the guns all along the front. Now 
and again a salvo from the heavy French battery a 
mile or so away would shake the windows and stop 
for an instant the chattering of the red-turbaned 
crowd. But an instant later business resumed its sway 
and peace once more reigned. 

And yet the village is the headquarters of a division. 
If one looked along the street and across the fields 
one saw on every hand long lines of field telegraphs 
radiating like a spider's web in every direction. If 
one traced them to their source one found they ran to 
what in time of peace was the primitive town hall of 
the village. Here, in its whitewashed rooms, devoid 
of all furniture but tables and chairs, sat the colonel^ 
commanding the division, Colonel Zhivko Pavlovitch 
(one of the most famous soldiers in the Serbian army, 
who fought with distinction during five years' cease- 
less war), and his staff. All day long telephone and 
telegraph wires were humming — wires that ran all 
over the plain to batteries of every calibre or climbed 
to trenches away up above the snow line in the moun- 

Operations of the Second Army 297 

tains. To the rear they controlled railways and mo- 
tor transport, which kept moving up an endless line 
of supplies and munitions. 

In the evening in the messroom (a whitewashed 
room, once a village shop), one found the thirty-odd 
officers composing the staff. The room was lighted 
by a couple of oil lamps and half a dozen candles. 
These shone on the bronzed faces of men who had 
been helping to make history in the Balkans for the 
last half decade. There was not a single man who 
had not been in a score of battles, who had not 
tramped the Balkans from the Danube to the gates 
of Constantinople, from Nish to Durazzo. 

The spirit that reigned was essentially democratic. 
No army on active service is better disciplined than 
the Serbian army. In no army is more demanded 
from every officer, from sub-lieutenant to the com- 
mander-in-chief. But apart from matters of service, 
the spirit is, as I have said, essentially democratic. 
The officers were of all ages. The chief of staff, who 
sat next to me, was a colonel of thirty-four years of 
age. On the other side of Colonel Pavlovitch was 
a grey-haired colonel of artillery, who bore a singu- 
lar resemblance to the late Field-Marshal von Moltke. 
The lieutenant-colonel at the head of the intelligence 
bureau was little over thirty ; others, again, had grown 
grey in service. But the impression they all made 
was that they knew thoroughly what they had to do 
and how to do it. 

Until late in the night the windows of the head- 
quarters were ablaze with light. Every move on a 

298 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

twenty-mile front was being controlled with the ease 
and precision with which a pianist plays his instru- 
ment, while the diminuendo and crescendo of the dis- 
tant batteries fell and rose like notes played by a vir- 

A couple of days later I rode out with Colonel 
Loukitch, the chief of the Military Police of the di- 
vision, whose duties naturally took him at all times 
over the whole battle line to visit the front. It fell 
to him to examine Bulgarian prisoners and deserters 
(the latter averaged ten a day for the division alone, 
a proof that the morale of the enemy was not all it 
should be), to keep check on enemy espionage and 
to direct the spies sent out from the Serbian Head- 
quarters. To the base of the Pojar we had a ride of 
about seven miles across the plain. A great part of 
the way lay over the dry bed of the river, which in 
winter time shrinks to a stream a few yards wide 
while in spring, when the mountain snows begin to 
melt, it spreads out over a couple of miles. As the 
whole bed of the river is covered with water-worn 
pebbles it was not easy to negotiate on horseback the 
smooth stones rolling under the hoofs of our mounts. 

When we reached the centre of the plain one could 
form a good idea of the difficulties facing the Second 
Serbian army. To our right towered Mount Vetre- 
nik, its lofty summit terminating in a precipitous 
cliff, christened by the Serbs the "Rock of Blood," 
on account of the toll of lives the attack on it had 
cost both them and the enemy. In the centre rose 
Mount Katunatz and alongside it the Kukurus or 

Operations of the Second Army 299 

"Corn Cob Mountain," so named from its peculiar 

On the left rose the Pojar, a mountain rising in 
three sections, the first extremely steep, while the 
two summits above were approached by an easier 
slope. Of this range the whole of the mountains were 
in the hands of the Serbs, with the exception of the ex- 
treme summit of the Vetrenik. That rocky eyrie was 
still in the hands of the Bulgarians. All day long we 
could see the shells from the Serbian and French 
heavy batteries in the plain splintering on its rocky 
sides. The flashes from the mountain artillery on the 
steep sides of the Kukurus and Katunatz also showed 
that the Serbs were bombarding the enemy on the 
mountains in the rear which were invisible from the 

It was nearly noon when we reached the village 
at the base of the mountain. As is customary in this 
region every village exists in duplicate, the village 
in the plain and the village in the mountain. In the 
winter time the villagers inhabit the plain, but when 
the spring comes and the snows have melted they 
move up to the village above, to pasture their flocks 
and herds. As we rode up to the upper village we 
met a steady stream of peasants carrying their primi- 
tive household furniture, making for the village be- 
low as the ever descending snow line gave notice that 
winter was at hand and that it was time to move 
if they did not want to be snow bound. 

Their change of residence in 1916 must have been 
a much easier job than in former years, for they had 

300 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

at their disposal the well-made mountain road con- 
structed by the Serbs to bring up their guns, instead 
of the sheep paths which formerly constituted their 
only highway. Up this road was marching a steady 
column of pack animals and light military carts car- 
rying munitions and food to the troops above. The 
mountain village proved a picturesque old place. A 
score of houses stood in gaunt ruins. The village, it 
appears, had shown too much hospitality to the Bul- 
garians and as a punishment the French had burnt 
a part of it. Apart from this it had suffered but little, 
though the remains of formidable Bulgarian trenches 
with barbed wire entanglements could be seen running 
right and left. These had been stormed at the point 
of the bayonet by the Serbs a fortnight before. 

This had enabled the troops of the division to push 
on to the summit above where they were now facing 
the Bulgarian entrenchments. Here we found half 
a score of batteries in position facing the enemy bat- 
teries on the Dobra Polie, a position separated from 
the summit of the Pojar by a gentle valley (hence 
the name Dobra Polie or "Good Meadow") about two 
miles broad. In the Serbian entrenchments we were 
on the frontier line, the Pojar being Greek and the 
Dobra Polie Serbian territory. 

While we were enjoying the generous, if primitive, 
hospitality of Colonel Panta Djoukitch (food and 
drink are at a premium on a shell-swept mountain 
top) the Bulgarians favoured us with a full dress bom- 
bardment which lasted a couple of hours but which 
did no damage, most of the shells exploding harm- 

Operations of the Second Army 301 

lessly on the mountain side. The position was evi- 
dently one of stalemate; the Serbs were not, in suffi- 
cient force to risk an attack on the Dobra Polie but 
at the same time they disposed of an artillery for- 
midable to discourage any attack on the part of the 
enemy. Some of it, however, could hardly be de- 
scribed as modern, consisting as it did of French guns 
dating back twenty years. But inferior as it w^as, the 
Serbs knew^ how to use it to advantage, as the Bul- 
garians found to their cost. 

The Bulgarians were evidently having a busy day 
of it as they favored us with a few shells on our 
homeward ride across the plain, but beyond making 
the stones fly in the dry river bed they did little dam- 

Three days later I went to visit the positions on the 
summit of Mount Vetrenik. As the whole of the 
road winding up the face of the mountain was under 
fire from the Bulgarian guns and even rifles on the 
upper plateau, the ascent had to be negotiated in the 
darkness. We, therefore, first rode to Bachovo, the 
village at the base of the mountain where we were 
to dine and sleep till two a. m., when we were to 
begin the four hours climb. 

Our hosts were three military surgeons of the am- 
bulance installed in the village and a couple of officers 
in charge of the transport. As the village was under 
fire we had to dine by the light of a couple of gutter- 
ing candles on the second floor of a peasant's house. 
Heavy horse blankets covered the windows in order 
to prevent the gleam of our primitive illumination be- 

302 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

traying us to the enemy batteries above us. During the 
whole meal we could hear ceaseless rifle fire from the 
summit of the mountain. I thought that an attack 
must be in progress, but my hosts explained to me 
that as the Serbian and Bulgarian trenches on the 
summit are only about fifty yards apart, to prevent 
their being rushed in the darkness, each side kept pour- 
ing a ceaseless rifle fire into no-man's-land in order 
to establish a barrage. This was costly in ammunition, 
but as the total Serbian garrison on the summit was 
less than 500 men they could take no chances. 

Every now and then the French heavy battery a 
couple of hundred yards in our rear would send a shell 
whizzing just over our heads. An instant later we 
could hear the shattering crash as it burst among the 
rocks 4,000 feet above us. 

When coffee was served one of my hosts asked me 
if I was fond of music and on my answering in the 
affirmative he proposed to bring in a Gipsy soldier, 
who was a violinist of talent in addition to possess- 
ing a fine tenor voice, and the company cook, who, 
it appeared, was a virtuoso on the accordion. They 
were brought in and for two and a half hours we had 
one of the most extraordinary and original concerts 
it has ever been my lot to hear. 

The Gipsy violinist certainly did not belie his repu- 
tation. He was a Serbian Kubelik as far as mastery 
of his instrument was concerned, while the cook ele- 
vated the accordion to the dignity of an organ. As 
the part of the room in which they played was plunged 
in complete darkness the effect was extraordinary. 

Operations of the Second Army 303 

And all the while they played there was the accom- 
paniment en sourdine of the pom-pom-pom of the 
ceaseless rifle fire from the mountain top, while every 
now and then the melody would be drowned by the 
scream of a six-inch shell from the heavy battery 
passing a few feet above our heads. The repertoire of 
the two virtuosi turned out to be an extremely large 
one, including selections from "Cavalleria Rusticana" 
and "I Pagliacci." As for the soldier's voice it de- 
served all the praise his captain gave it. He and his 
comrade further proved their quickness of ear by exe- 
cuting the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Way 
Down upon the Suwanee River," after I had hummed 
them over to them a couple of times, with a precision 
and muestrio that Sousa might have envied. 

So long indeed did this impromptu concert last that 
we gave up all idea of going to bed and sat up till 
our horses arrived for our climb to the summit. The 
ride was uneventful, except for the fact that it was 
a bit nerve-racking to skirt precipices in the Egyptian 
darkness and to be deprived of the soothing influences 
of a pipe or a cigarette. But as the glow from a 
cigarette is visible a thousand yards away, we had to 
abstain from" the consolation of "M}- Lady Nicotine." 

It was six o'clock in the morning when we arrived 
at the last stage of our journey, a point about 500 
feet below the upper plateau. As the dawn was ap- 
proaching and it was not advisable that the Bulga- 
rians on the heights above us should catch sight of 
us, we decided to leave our horses and climb straight 
up the mountain side, instead of running the risk of 

304 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

being surprised by daylight by continuing to follow 
the winding road we were on. We accordingly dis- 
mounted and sent back our horses under the charge 
of the orderlies and began the last part of the ascent 
on foot. After forty-five minutes stiff climbing we 
arrived at the Serbian lines where we were welcomed 
with true Serbian hospitality by Colonel Tomsitch, 
the officer commanding the battalion of the nth Regi- 
ment, holding the summit. After partaking of the in- 
evitable coffee, we began a tour of the positions. At 
that season of the year it was risky work moving about 
the plateau as it was denuded of the cover furnished 
by the foliage of the trees in summer and fall. The 
absence of foliage enabled the Bulgarians from their 
rocky eyrie above, to follow the movement of anyone 
traversing the plateau. One had, therefore, to dodge 
from tree to tree. From time to time the whistle of 
the bullet in tmpleasant proximity to one's head 
showed that the enemy was on the qui vive. 

We managed, however, to gain the front line 
trenches without mishap and could get a full view of 
the Bulgarian positions. In front of the Serbian 
trenches and to the right there was about fifty yards 
of fairly level ground. Then the ground rose sharply 
till it reached the base of the cliff, the famous "Rock 
of Blood," which formed the highest peak of the 
mountain. So near were the Bulgarian trenches that 
one had to inspect them by means of a periscope, as it 
would have been as much as one's life was worth to 
have raised one's head above the parapet. The near- 
est enemy trench was only about fifty yards away, 

Operations of the Second Army 305 

while the "listening posts" were only half that dis- 
tance apart. 

An amusing incident had happened in one of those 
a few days l^efore. A young Bulgarian soldier had, 
it appears, received a letter from his mother in which 
she impressed upon him the necessity of not losing 
his life in the war. a point of view with which he 
was in complete agreement. She further told him 
that perhaps the best way to do this would be to give 
himself up to the Serbs, as she had heard that they 
treated their prisoners with humanity. This also ap- 
pealed to him but his chief difficulty was how to carry 
it out. A few days later, with four other soldiers, 
he was sent to occupy a listening-post, only thirty 
•ards removed from the Serbian lines. 

He saw that his chance to desert had come. He, 
also saw, however, that, encumbered with heavy boots 
and great coat, it would be difficult for him to make 
a dash for the Serbian lines without being shot by his 
comrades before he reached them. Half an hour later 
he and his comrades laid their rifles against the para- 
pet in order to have their hands free to eat their even- 
ing meal. This was his chance. He swept the five 
rifles together, clasped them in his arms and in an 
instant was "over the top" and rushing toward the 
Serbian trench, pursued by the objurgations of his 
incensed comrades. As soon as he arrived in the Ser- 
bian trench a patrol was sent over to capture the now 
defenceless quartet, but when it reached the listening- 
post they were gone. They had prudently bolted for 
the trenches behind. The reception the poor devils 

3o6 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

got from the German officer in charge in the rear was 
probably one they would remember, for their Teuton 
masters, on such occasions, were apt to make free use 
of their riding whips. 

In order to -encourage the growing tendency of the 
Bulgarian soldiers to desert we had brought with us 
from Soubotzko a packet of picture post cards, pre- 
pared by the photographic section of the General Staff, 
representing Bulgarian prisoners in the Serbian lines, 
giving evidence de visu of how well they were treated 
and signed on the back by the men represented in the 

These were to be sent into the Bulgarian lines to 
convince the enemy soldiers that the tales spread in 
the Bulgarian ranks by the German officers of the 
cruelty of the Serbs were a myth. I asked Colonel 
Tomsitch how these cards would be conveyed to them. 
"Oh, that's quite simple," we replied. "We just call 
out to them, 'Don't shoot, we've got something for 
you.' Then a Serbian soldier goes out and lays them 
half way between the trenches and a Bulgarian comes 
and fetches them." "But will the Gennan officer with 
them allow them to read them?" I asked. "He's never 
in the front line trench," the colonel replied. "He 
occupies a dug-out in the rear and only comes to the 
front line in case of attack." 

During the months that the two armies had been 
facing each other on the Vetrenik a sort of modus 
znvendi had been established. A "gentlemen's agree- 
ment" had been come to not to attack during meal 
times. As soon as either side heard the rattle of the 

Operations of the Second Army 307 

tin plates showing the food had arrived the other side 
called out "half an hour" and during that time there 
was a lull in the firing. This did not prevent both 
sides coming at each other with the bayonet and the 
butt as soon as the period of grace had expired. 

Life on the Vetrenik, except for an occasional raid 
from one side or the other, was deadly monotonous. 
The Serbs were not in sufiicient force to risk an as- 
sault but at the same time their trenches had been 
made so formidable that the Bulgarians did not dare 
to attempt an attack. They simply sat facing one 
another like chiens de faience, waiting for some move- 
ment on either flank which would force the hand of 
the enemy. 

It had originally been agreed that I should wait 
till darkness fell before attempting the descent of the 
mountain, but towards the afternoon the wait became 
so tedious that I asked Colonel Tomsitch if there 
was really any great risk in going down in daylight. 
"Of course, there's always a chance that they'll open 
fire on you," he replied, "but, I think just now they're 
hard up for ammunition. They have not fired a dozen 
rounds in the last three days. I doul)t if under the 
circumstances they would w^aste a shell on a single 
man. We'll try them out to see how they stand." 
We then telephoned to a mountain battery to begin 
firing. For a quarter of an hour we sent shell and 
shrapnel splintering among the rocks above but not one 
shot came in reply. "That settles it," said the colo- 
nel, "they must be hard up for ammunition. I think 
you can risk it." 

3o8 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

He then called a non-commissioned officer to guide 
me down the mountain and charged him strictly to see 
that I ran as few risks as possible. This the non-com. 
considered would be achieved by descending the 
mountain side with vertiginous speed. He seemed 
more like a chamois than a human being. But en- 
cumbered by heavy riding-boots and spurs I could 
not emulate his speed. The sun, moreover, was blaz- 
ing in a cloudless sky and I soon developed a tem- 
perature that threatened heat apoplexy. In a quar- 
ter of an hour I felt I must either rest or succumb 
to the heat and as I thought a Bulgarian bullet was 
preferable to sunstroke, I sat down in the lee of a 
rock which protected me from one line of Bulgarian 
positions and started to smoke a cigarette. My sol- 
dier-chamois stood below making wild signs for me 
to make haste but I stuck where I was till I felt suffi- 
ciently rested to resume the descent. It was a curious 
feeling to know that five hundred Bulgarian eyes on 
the cliff above, less than a thousand yards away, 
were looking down on me. I kept my eyes glued to 
the sky line, ready to jump if I saw the flash of a gun. 
But they probably thought the game was not worth 
the candle or shells were too valuable, for nothing 
happened and I finished my cigarette in peace. 

An hour and a half later I was back in Bachovo 
drinking the welcome cup of the tea always on tap in 
a Serbian post. As my horse had been resting all 
day I put him to a sharp trot on the home stretch 
and an hour later I was back in the mess-room, at 

Operations of the Second Army 309 

The impression I had gained by my visit to the 
front of the Second Serbian army was that unless 
it was reinforced the position was one of stalemate. 
But I little thought that, thanks to the indecision of 
the Allies, this state of things on this front would 
endure, as it did, for nearly two long years. 



THE capture of Fiorina and the pushing forward 
of the Allied lines to Kenali and the seizure of 
the Kaymakchalan and the descent of the Third Ser- 
bian Army to the bend of the Czema Reka or Black 
River marked the conclusion of the first phase of the 
offensive of the Army of the Orient. 

Unfortunately the force under the command of 
General Sarrail proved unable at once to follow up 
its advantage and keep on forcing the Germano-Bul- 
garian army to continue its retreat. To this various 
factors contributed. It is difficult at the present mo- 
ment, before all the facts have transpired and until 
we have access to documents at present shut up in the 
Archives of the General Staff of the Army of the 
Orient and in the pigeon holes of the French and Brit- 
ish Foreign Offices, to come to any definite conclusion 
and apportion the blame. 

General Sarrail has been accused of want of energy 
and resolution in commanding his troops and many 
have declared that a more energetic leader would have 
obtained better results. But many things militate 
against this view. It is certain that up to 1916 the 


Second Phase of the Operations 311 

forces at his command at no time exceeded half a 
milHon men. On account of the nature of the coun- 
try, the fighting hue requires a service d'arriere of 
most formidable proportions. For every fighting man 
on the front there had to be a man in the rear driv- 
ing a truck, leading a mule, repairing a road, con- 
structing a railway, driving an ambulance, unloading 
a ship or guarding railways, roads and bridges. Then 
the sick on his hands, thanks to the malaria, were num- 
bered by tens of thousands. 

Another handicap was the polyglot conditions of 
his army, with its five autonomous commands, 
French, British, Serbian, Italian and Russian. Each 
contingent had its own weapons and its own ammu- 
nition. The shell for a French 75 would not fit a 
British or an Italian field gun. The same held good 
of small arm ammunition. 

Every operation had to be carried out under the 
standing menace of Greece. As long as the Kaiser's 
brother-in-law occupied the throne of that country 
there was no absolute security for the flank and rear 
of General Sarrail's army. It w^as notorious that if 
it had suffered a serious reverse the army of King 
Constantine would at once have fallen on its rear and 
yet months went by and the Ministers of the Allied 
Powers in the Greek capital contented themselves with 
bombarding King Constantine with diplomatic notes, 
more or less comminatory, but never followed by any 
energetic action, which were just about as efficacious 
as the proverbial "mustard plaster on a wooden leg." 

312 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

The diplomatic action in Athens in 191 6 was a melan- 
choly replica of that at Sofia twelve months before. 

Then it was notorious that the British Imperial 
Staff regarded the whole Macedonian front with deep 
disfavour and gave it only the most grudging support. 
Such reliefs as were sent out barely replaced the vic- 
tims to malaria. After Lord Kitchener's visit to Gal- 
lipoli and Salonica a year before he had actually pro- 
posed that the Allies should, purely and simply, evac- 
uate Salonica simultaneously w4th Gallipoli. It re- 
quired the energetic personal intervention of Field 
Marshal Joffre to prevent this suicidal project being 
carried out. But though on his urgent representation, 
the decision to evacuate Salonica was rescinded, the 
prejudice against that front still prevailed at the War 

All this did not make for resolution and energy in 
the supreme command at Salonica. The situation was 
further complicated by an open breach between the 
commander-in-chief and his next in command, Gen- 
eral Cordonnier, head of the French contingent. The 
exact cause of the breach has not officially transpired, 
but the version commonly current in Salonica was to 
the effect that it was due to a difference of opinion 
regarding the operations against Fiorina. General 
Sarrail, it is stated, became irritated at the slowness 
of the operations on the eastern sector, the more so 
as Paris and London were daily calling for energetic 
action to aid Roumania's entry into the war. 

General Sarrail, accordingly, went in person to the 
front and after a survey of the positions, ordered 

Second Phase of the Operations 313 

General Cordonnier to attack. The latter, it is said, 
refused, declaring- that the artillery preparation had 
not been sufficient and that the number of troops at 
his disposal was not large enough to justify an at- 
tack. General Sarrail criticized his subordinate's 
views with such vivacity that General Cordonnier re- 
signed his command on the spot and a few days later 
took a steamer to France where he laid his views be- 
fore the Paris ministry. But General Sarrail, having 
the cable at his disposal, got in his version first. The 
result was that the French Government was in posses- 
sion of two diametrically opposing statements and had 
no means of coming to any conclusion as to who was 
right. It, therefore, gave orders to General Roques, 
Minister of War, to leave for Salonica and hold an 
investigation on the spot. 

No hint of his journey was allowed to transpire, 
with the result that he arrived at the Headquarters 
at Salonica absolutely unexpectedly. 

On November ist, when returning from a ride to 
the summit of the Kaymakchalan, I was surprised to 
see General Sarrail's private railway car side-tracked 
at Ostrovo station. A French soldier working at 
the station informed me that General Sarrail and the 
Minister of War had arrived that morning to confer 
with General Vasitch. the commander of the Third 
Serbian Army. 

When I arrived at mess that evening the presence 
of General Boyovitch, the Chief of the Serbian Head- 
quarters Staff, and a number of staff officers showed 
that important decisions were being weighed. From 

314 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

what I could hear General Roques had, on the whole, 
adopted the point of view of General Sarrail but at 
the same time warned him that public opinion in 
France and England expected him to do something 
to justify the confidence placed in him. Unless the 
half million men under his orders did something to 
justify their existence their commander-in-chief was 
given to understand that he might expect to be re- 
called to France. 

It was, therefore, a question of at once resuming 
the offensive, with the capture of Monastir as the 
objective. General Sarrail asked the Crown Prince 
Alexander to undertake this with his army. His 
Royal Highness entrusted the carrying out of this 
offensive to Field-Marshal Mishitch, commanding the 
First Serbian Army. The Field-Marshal accepted 
the mission on condition that his forces should be re- 
inforced by a French division and by the division of 
Russian troops and that the whole force should be un- 
der his direct command. This request caused some 
little heart-burning in French military circles as it 
was the first time that French troops had ever been 
placed under the command of a foreign general. I 
must, however, hasten to state that this feeling was 
only momentary and that no one at the conclusion of 
the operations paid higher tribute to Field-Marshal 
Mishitch than General Jerome, the commander of the 
French division working under his orders. 

The troops under the direct command of Field- 
Marshal Mishitch, therefore, consisted of the First 
Serbian Army (made up of the Morava and Vardar 

Second Phase of the Operations 315 

divisions) reinforced by a brigade from the Timok Di- 
vision borrowed from the Second Serbian Army ; the 
French division commanded by General Jerome and 
the Russian division under the command of General 
Leontieff. The operation of this force was, of 
course, supported by the offensive of the Third Ser- 
bian Army, under General Vasitch, which had crossed 
the Kaymakchalan and now held the bend of the 
Czerna river on the plain below. 

In front of the Serbian and French troops on the 
Fiorina front extended the plain of Monastir, about 
ten miles broad and twenty-five miles long. To the 
east is a range of mountains in a cleft of which nes- 
tles the town of Monastir. To the west, beyond the 
Czerna river, lie a mass of mountains dotted with 
villages. On this side the difficulty of an offensive 
was immense, the mountain peaks towering one above 
the other as far as the eye could reach. 

To the Russian division Field-Marshal Mishitch en- 
trusted the operations on the mountains to the east. 
The French held the plain and the line of trenches 
at Kenali which directly menaced Monastir, ten miles 
distant. For himself he reserv^ed the most difficult 
part of the operations, the driving of the enemy from 
the mountain fortresses to the west of the plain. 

The Serbs had no illusions as to the enormous diffi- 
culty of their task. They had to attack an enemy of 
equal, if not superior, force entrenched in a series of 
mountain positions, each more formidable than the 

In the first days of October after their victory on 

3i6 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

the Kaymakchalan the Serbs of the Third Army were 
faced by the triple barrier of the Czerna Reka, the 
rough Morihovo plateau and the Selechka Mountains. 

On October 4th that army reached the Czerna Reka 
through Petalino. Two days later they forced their 
way past the Dobra Polie (where the Bulgarians still 
held in check the troops of the Second Anny, occupy- 
ing the Pojar, the Katunatz and the Kukurus) and 
descended to Budimirca and Grunishte. On October 
9th they crossed the Czerna Reka at the important 
point known as Skochivir, where, as its name indi- 
cates, the sluggish-flowing river breaks into rapids 
in the narrow defile into which it is forced by the close 
proximity of the Selechka and Starkov Grob Moun- 

The First Army under the direct orders of Field- 
Marshal Misitch crossed the Czerna Reka between the 
villages of Dobroveni and Brod and on October nth 
gained a footing in the latter village. The Serbs, 
however, met with desperate resistance. This was, 
however, broken on October 17th by the capture of 
the villages of Volyesedo and Brod. The enemy 
fell back precipitately toward the north pursued by 
the Serbian cavalry. The capture of Gardilovo threat- 
ened to cut off the Bulgarian forces facing the French 
and Russians on the Kenali River-Sakulevo line. 
They begaij to fall back across the Czerna Reka by 
the bridge at Bukri. This retreat uncovered the way 
to Monastir, but until the enemy was driven from the 
mountain positions to the west it was not possible for 
the French to take full advantage of this success. 

Second Phase of the Operations 317 

With the object of driving the Germans and Bul- 
garians from the mountain positions the Serbs pushed 
north from Gardilovo toward Baldenci. On October 
19th and 20th they captured a large number of guns 
and about i,ooo prisoners, among the latter a German 
officer and 43 men, part of the reinforcements which 
had arrived from East Prussia a few days before. 
Encouraged by this success the Serbs pressed forward 
with renewed vigor toward Baldenci and north of 
Skochivir, but just at this critical moment there came 
a break in the weather. Furious rain storms impeded 
the advance of the Serbs and held up the army of 
Field Marshal Mishitch at the very moment that speed 
of movement was most essential. 

This delay allowed the enemy to bring up fresh 
German troops to reinforce his beaten army. Encour- 
aged by this support the Bulgarians on October 22d 
tried to recover the ground lost three days before, but 
all their attacks were repulsed with heavy losses. A 
vigorous counter-attack by the Serbs advanced their 
lines 700 metres farther north. 

Two days later the enemy was driven from the 
steep sides of the Starkov Grob and the Serbians 
seized the fortified height at the confluence of the 
Czerna Reka and the Stroshwitza. For the next few 
days there was fierce fighting to the north of Brod. 
Gardilovo, which had succumbed to a Bulgarian coun- 
ter attack, was recaptured by the French on October 
28th. The open weather greatly interfered with the 
operations but in spite of rain and mud the Serbs 
pushed forward slowly but surely. Their objective 

3i8 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

was the bridge at Novak which serves the eastern en- 
trance to Monastir. On October 29th the Serbian ar- 
tillery fire demolished the wooden bridge over the 
Czerna River at Bukri. The Bulgarians attacked the 
Serbian right wing south of the villages of Polog and 
Budinirca on November 4th and 5th but the attacks 
were repulsed. Renewed on November 7th and 9th 
they had no better success. 

On the following day came the Serbian reply, de- 
livered with crushing force by the Division of the 
Morava, under the command of Colonel Milovano- 
vitch. This division, of which the headquarters were 
established at Vrbeni, received orders to storm the 
heights of Mount Chuke, on which the Bulgarians had 
established positions of great strength. On October 
8th I rode out to the observation post established a 
few miles from Vrbeni, from which a magnificent view 
of Mount Chuke could be obtained. This mountain, 
which constitutes the southernmost point of the Se- 
lechka range, rises some 1,500 feet above the valley. 
Half way up to the first summit, which is about 1,000 
feet high, lay the village of Polog, which the Bul- 
garians had strongly fortified. Five hundred feet 
above lay the second rocky crest, the summit of the 
formidable natural fortress. It was clear that the 
Serbs had before them a task that would have dis- 
mayed troops of less dauntless courage. 

The assault on the Chuke positions was ordered for 
the following morning. In view of this the artillery 
preparation began on the evening of Octol>er 8th at 
seven o'clock and was continued with the greatest 

Second Phase of the Operations 319 

violence till ten o'clock the next morning; batteries of 
all calibre, from mountain guns to heavy howitzer 
batteries, taking part in it. 

It was about nine o'clock in the morning when I 
arrived on the summit of the mountain on which Colo- 
nel Milovanovitch had established himself to direct 
the attack of his division. On the windswept pla- 
teau the commander of the Morava division had placed 
his campstool between two boulders. Behind were 
grouped a dozen ofBcers of his staff with whom were 
three or four French artillery officers. Under cover 
of the rocks and boulders the telephones were installed 
which placed Colonel Milovanovitch in touch with a 
score of batteries, large and small, distributed in the 
valley below and on the lower slopes of the Chuke. 
From our coign of vantage we had a complete view 
of Mount Chuke, only three short miles away. The 
battle developed itself with the precision of a cine- 
matograph show. 

When I arrived at nine o'clock every battery was 
pouring shell and shrapnel into the village of Polog. 
In the dry water courses, behind rocks, boulders and 
one or two stone w^alls that zigzagged along the face 
of the mountain, we could see the dark masses of the 
Serbian infantry awaiting the order to attack. Every 
instant the artillery fire grew fiercer. The thunder 
of the guns rolled in a crescendo and diminuendo, 
according to the curt orders transmitted over the net- 
work of telephone lines. We could see the side of 
the mountain being searched by shell and shrapnel 
from base to summit. The Bulgarians evidently real- 

320 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

ized that the infantry attack was impending and tried 
to send reinforcements to Polog. Three times their 
infantry debouched round the shoulder of the moun- 
tain but each time the pitiless rain from the batteries 
drove them back to cover. 

Meanwhile we could see the Serbian infantry leav- 
ing cover and swarming up in a succession of rushes 
toward the village. Finally they were within strik- 
ing distance. A curt order from Colonel Milovano- 
vitch and the artillery fire directed on the village sud- 
denly ceased, as the Serbs rushed with fixed bayonets 
toward Polog. At the same moment shot and shell 
began to rain on the ridge above to establish a barrage 
and prevent the Bulgarian troops massed behind it 
making any effort to come to the aid of the defend- 
ers of the village. An instant later the long lines of 
Serbian infantry disappeared into the village. Then 
followed a few minutes of anxious waiting. Sud- 
denly long brown columns began to debouch from 
Polog. Turning my field glasses on them I saw they 
were Bulgarian prisoners. The Serbs had taken the 
village at the point of the bayonet. 

But little respite was given them, they had to brace 
themselves for the second effort, the capture of the 
first ridge. At little after three o'clock we could see 
the lines of Serbian infantry pouring out of the vil- 
lage and swarming up the slope above. Every gun the 
Bulgarians could bring to bear was trained on the 
advancing troops. But the Serbs are past-masters of 
mountain fighting and know how to take advantage 
of every scrap of cover. We could see them crawling 

Second Phase of the Operations 321 

through the ravines, working their way along the dry 
water courses, in and out of the boulders and trees, 
everywhere that nature had provided barriers against 
the bullets and shrapnel of the enemy. 

Steadily, relentlessly they pushed forward. Then 
once more the fire of the Serbian batteries ceased, a 
sign that the last assault was imminent. A few 
minutes after four with an overwhelming rush the 
ridge was carried. 

But there still remained the crest of the mountain. 
Colonel Milovanovitch called on his men for a final 
effort. They responded nobly and in the gathering 
dusk massed themselves for the supreme effort. Foot 
by foot they fought their way toward the summit. By 
this time darkness had fallen and we could only fol- 
low their progress by the spurts of flame from their 
rifles and the lines of bursting shells. About six 
o'clock a telephone message announced that the Bul- 
garians on the left bank of the crest were making a 
last desperate effort to send reinforcements to the 
threatened positions. The French heavy batteries in 
the valley below were at once ordered to smother this 
shoulder of the mountain under shell fire. It was 
efficacious and a c^uarter of an hour later a telephone 
message announced that the pressure was relieved. At 
seven o'clock the order to assault was given and the 
Serbians, forgetting the fatigue of their eight hours 
of desperate battle, rushed forward with irresisti1)le 
elan. As one battery after another shut down its fire 
an uncanny silence settled down on the Chuke, only 
broken by the distant rattle of rifles and machine gun 

322 From Serbia to Jugoslavia' 

fire. There was an anxious wait then the shrill ring 
of the telephone bell broke the silence. Colonel 
Yourousitch, the Chief of Staff, leaned over the re- 
ceiver. "The Serbs hold the summit," it announced; 
"the enemy is in full flight. We have captured seven 
howitzers, one field gun, nine machine guns and over 
600 prisoners including five officers." 

The battle of Chuke was won. Colonel Milovan- 
ovitch rose from the camp stool from which he had 
not moved since early morning, and snapped his field- 
glasses together. An instant later the horses of the 
Staff arrived. The Colonel swung himself into the 
saddle and with a curt "Good night, gentlemen,'' to 
the group of French officers galloped off into the dark- 

Quarter of an hour later nothing was left on the 
wind-swept mountain top but the men of the Field 
Telegraph Corps rolling up the long lines of telephone 
wires and loading them on the wagons that would 
carry them forward to spin the net afresh in the rear 
of the retreating enemy. 

During the assault on Polog and Mount Chuke 
the French and Serbian troops on the plain made a 
demonstration to prevent the Bulgarians sending any 
help to the troops holding the mountain. Strong 
patrols were sent forward to simulate an attack. The 
Bulgarians sent thousands of men to man the line of 
trenches facing Kenali. As soon as they saw that the 
trenches were manned the French and Serbian artil- 
lery poured a tremendous fire into them with disas- 
trous effect. 

Second Phase of the Operations 323 

Two days after the fall of Chuke the Bulgarians by 
a series of counter-attacks tried to regain the lost 
ground hut were driven back on each attempt, leaving 
over 1000 prisoners in the hands of the Serbs. On 
November 12th Iven, a village further north, fell into 
Serbian hands and the whole of the First and Third 
armies were across the Czerna Reka. On November 
13th the village of Tepavci was taken with over a 
thousand prisoners mostly German. Two days later 
Chegel fell and the victorious Serbs and French 
pushed forward to the 12 12 metre hill, the key posi- 
tion on which the fate of Monastir depended. 

This the Bulgarians defended with the courage of 
despair. The French brought up a regiment d'elite, 
the 2nd Zouaves, the enfants perdus, who swarmed to 
the attack with their bugles sounding the old battle 
call of Algeria. 

'Tl y a la goutte a boire la-haut 
II y a la goutte a boire." 

The capture of the 1212 metre hill sealed the fate 
of Monastir. From it the heavy guns could not only 
shell the city but also the only line of retreat across 
the Czerna Reka at Novak. If this line of retreat 
had been closed the whole Germano-Bulgarian Army 
would have been driven to disaster in the marshes 
which fill the northern end of the plain of Monastir. 
The German Stafif saw that there was not a moment 
to lose. On November i8th the Germano-Bulgarian 
army was pouring through Novak in rapid retreat 

324 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

leaving only a strong rearguard to hold back the 
advance of the French troops lining the trenches at 
Kenali. At midday on November 19th, the fourth 
anniversary of the capture of the city from the Turks 
in 1912, the victorious Allies entered Monastir. The 
Serbs did not want the French to alone enjoy this 
triumph so the 4th Serbian Regiment of Cavalry 
swam their horses across the Czerna Reka and gal- 
loped for the town, the dripping troopers entering it 
from the north side at the same moment that the 
French regiments, with bands playing and colors 
flying, marched in from the south. 

Thus closed as brilliant a series of operations as 
was fought on any front in the World-war. The in- 
domitable Serbs, the army of the "Nation that will 
never die," were once more in possession of the second 
largest town in King Peter's Kingdom. 

But unfortunately with this effort the Army of the 
Orient had shot its bolt. It had no reserves to follow 
up the fleeing enemy and turn their retreat into a rout. 
King Peter's gallant army had fought itself once more 
to a standstill. The men of the First and Third 
armies had, by eight weeks ceaseless campaigning, 
reached the limit of human effort. 

As a consequence the enemy returned practically 
unmolested in the direction of Prilep, where it again 
proceeded to entrench itself, and the whole weary 
game of trench warfare began afresh. 

The Second Army on the Pojar-Vetrenik line 
facing the Bulgarians on the Dobra Polie were not 
in sufficient force to take the offensive which would 

Second Phase of the Operations 325 

have cost more lives than the depleted Shumadia and 
Timok divisions could spare. The fact that the Bul- 
garians held the rocky, precipitous crest of Mount 
Vetrenik on the west of the Dobra Polie and the sum- 
mit of the steep sugar-loaf -shaped Mount Sokol on 
the east allowed the Bulgarian artillery on these posi- 
tions to enfilade any force advancing across the valley 
from the Pojar to attack the positions on the Dobra 
Polie. Another division would have rendered a suc- 
cessful attack possible but this was not at the dis- 
posal of Field Marshal Stepanovitch. The result was 
that the war resolved itself into a position of stale- 
mate which lasted nearly two years. 



THE capture of Monastir, important though it 
was politically, had little tactical and less 
strategic significance. The failure of the Army of the 
Orient to pursue its advantage, due to the lack of 
troops to follow the fleeing Bulgarians and transform 
their retreat into a rout, neutralized, to a great extent, 
the momentary success achieved. The enemy was 
given time to occupy and entrench strong mountain 
positions, barring the advance of the Serbs to Prilep 
and the Babuna Pass. It was even in the power of the 
enemy to bombard the city of Monastir with long 
range artillery, which they did for weeks, more than 
half of the city being laid in ruins. 

The positions of the Army of the Orient toward the 
end of January, 1917, were as follows: The Morava 
and Vardar Divisions held a line running from the 
Kaymakchalan through Petalino, Budimirca, Gru- 
nishte and Iven to beyond the 1378 metre hill. This 
line faced the Bulgarian trenches barring the advance 
on Prilep and the Babuna Pass. 

From the base of the Kaymakchalan the line ran 
almost at right angles, along the summits of the 


The General Offensive 327 

Pojar, Katunatz, Kukurus and Vetrenik mountains to 
the Vardar Valley which was held by the French 

The French were linked up with the British forces 
stretching across the Valley of the Struma. The only 
result of the brilliant offensive of Field Marshal 
Mishitch had, therefore, been to free the city and 
plain of Monastir of the enemy and to drive them 
into mountain positions about twenty-five miles to the 

The First Serbian army was so exhausted by the 
effort it had made that General Sarrail ordered it to 
be brought to the rear and given some weeks of well 
deserved rest. In consequence the Morava and Var- 
dar Divisions were, toward the end of January, 
19 1 7, brought back to the neighbourhood of Fiorina 
and their places in the front line taken by French 

After that things settled down to their fonner 
condition of stalemate where the operations were con- 
fined to long range artillery fire with an occasional 
trench raid. It was at this moment that I left Salonica 
to visit Rome, Paris and London. It was then that I 
realized how divided were the counsels of the Allies 
in regard to the Salonica front, the French favouring 
an energetic offensive and the British General Staff 
opposing it. 

There was, however, in the following months, some 
slight improvement in the political situation. After 
the conference held at Rome in December, 191 6, the 

328 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

necessity for closer co-operation of the Allies became 
more clearly apparent and some time later the 
Supreme Council at Versailles, composed of the 
Premiers of France, Great Britain, Italy and a rep- 
resentative of Russia, came into being. Its constitution 
brought the dispute between Mr. Lloyd George and 
the Imperial General Staff to a head, with the result 
that General Sir William Robertson resigned and was 
replaced by General (now Field Marshal) Sir Henry 
Wilson, a soldier who possessed the confidence of the 

A more energetic political attitude was adopted in 
regard to the Near East and drastic measures were 
taken to curb the pro-German intrigues oi King Con- 
stantine, and when that monarch proved recalcitrant, 
he was deposed on June 12th and replaced by his 
second son, Prince Alexander. M. Venizelos was ap- 
pointed Prime Minister, Greece declared war on the 
Central Powers and their Alhes and proceeded to 
mobilize her armies. 

In the month of October General Sarrail was re- 
placed at the head of the Army of the Orient by Gen- 
eral Guillaumat, a soldier of great energy and decision 
of character, who had distinguished himself on the 
Western front. He at once began a thorough reor- 
ganization of the Salonica front. Large reinforce- 
ments were sent from France and England and the 
newly mobilized Greek army was added to the forces 
in Macedonia. 

On March 18, 19 18, the Allies at last succeeded in 

The General Offensive 329 

realizing unity of action by the appointment of Field 
Marshal Foch to the Supreme command of all the 
Allied forces. One of his first actions was to order 
the Army of the Orient to prepare for a j^eneral 
offensive. General Franchet d'Esperey, who com- 
manded the Fifth French army group on the Western 
front, was sent to Salonica to carry out the operations. 
He arrived on that front toward the end of June, 
1918. After a rapid survey of the positions he ar- 
rived at the conviction that the departure of the 
greater part of the German troops, together with the 
reinforcement of the Army of the Orient, to which 
were added the Greek divisions (nine in all), had 
created a situation on the Macedonian front which 
would allow the Allied troops to undertake an 
offensive on a large scale with, this time, every pros- 
pect of a definite result. 

The favourable turn of events on the Western front, 
and the weakening of the morale of the Bulgarian 
troops, due to the extreme lassitude caused by the 
prolongation of the war, which was clear from infor- 
mation reaching the Allied lines, greatly increased the 
chance of a successful offensive. 

The idea of a general offensive was conceived for 
the first time toward the beginning of July (about the 
5th of the month) that is to say, shortly after the 
arrival in Salonica of General Franchet d'Esperey and 
the entry of Field-Marshal Mishitch on his new func- 
tions as the Chief of the General Staff of the Serbian 

330 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

The first instructions were given on July 27th and 
the definite decision to attack was taken August 9, 
19 1 8, that is to say, nearly two years after the cap- 
ture of Monastir in November, 19 16. 

The plan of General Franchet d'Esperey was, by 
operations undertaken on the Serbian front, in the 
mountainous region lying between the Souchitza and 
the Lechwitza rivers, to bring about a rupture of the 
enemy's lines on a front of 30 kilometres (20 miles) 
and by rapidly following up this success to widen the 
breach and by a vigorous forward push to reach the 
Demir-Kapu-Kavadartze line. By these operations 
two results would be achieved: 

(a) The separation of the Bulgarian forces in the 
Valley of the Vardar from those holding the Monastir 

(b) The cutting of the enemy's principal lines of 
communication, those which ran along the valley of 
the Vardar and those which linked up Gradsko with 

Every precaution was taken to keep the plans of 
the Allies absolutely secret and to assure the rapidity 
and vigour of their execution. 

The Allied commander-in-chief counted, as the 
natural consequence of this manoeuvre, that the 
enemy would be forced to abandon trench warfare 
and adopt a war of movement. The result showed 
that these expectations were justified and even 

The forces on both sides were : 

The General Offensive 331 

( 1 ) On the whole Macedonian front : 

Allied Enemy 

Battalions 289 297 

Fighting effective 177,562 181,160 

Machine guns , . 2,682 2,539 

Machine rifles 6,424 

Guns (including trench mortars, 

58 and 240) 2,069 1.850 

Guns, yj millimetres 289 

Squadrons of cavalry 47/^ 26 

Aeroplanes (about) 200 (about) 80 

(2) On the Serbian front: 

Allied Enemy 

Battalions ,. . . . 75 26 

Fighting effective 36,500 1 1,600 

Machine guns , 756 245 

Machine rifles 2,610 

Guns (including trench mor- 
tars) 580 146 

Guns of };j millimetres 74 

Squadrons of cavalry 18 3 

Aeroplanes 81 24 

In consequence, the Allies, on the Serbian front, 
w^ere three times stronger than the enemy, both in 

infantry and artillery. The reinforcements attached 

to the Serbian army for these operations are included 
in the effectives given above. 

332 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

These reinforcements were made up as follows: 

(a) Two divisions of French infantry (the 122nd 
division of Infantry and the 17th division of Colonial 

(b) Thirteen batteries of light artillery. 

(c) Aeroplanes, Stokes guns, fire-throwing appa- 
ratus, labor detachments, etc. 

The front was further strengthened by being di- 
minished almost by half by bringing in the two 
divisions on the extreme flanks, the Timok division on 
the east and the Morava division, with the detach- 
ment from Prilep, on the west. The front of opera- 
tion of the Serbian armies was thus reduced from 60 
to about 30 kilometres (40 to 20 miles). 

As soon as the decision to take the offensive was 
adopted the following preparatory operations were 
undertaken : 

(a) The construction of new roads and the repair 
of those already existing. About 30 kilometres of new 
roads and numerous footpaths were constructed in 
very mountainous regions and on very difficult 

(b) The construction of a Decauville narrow- 
guage railway linking Dragomantzi and Bizovo (15 
kilometres) and the augmentation of the daily carry- 
ing capacity of the existing Vertekop-Soubotzko nar- 
row-gauge line from 300 to 700 tons. 

(c) The transport and placing of the artillery, the 
construction of redoubts and artillery ammunition 

(d) The transport of munitions to the gun posi- 

The General Offensive 333 

tions (7 days' supply for the old and 4 days' supply 
for the new batteries). 

(e) The establishing of new telephone and tele- 
graph lines. 

(f) The reinforcement of the aviation and the 
establishment of an aerodrome at Yenidje-Vardar, etc. 

The relieving of the flanking divisions was carried 
out, for the Timok Division on August 28th, for the 
Morava Division on August 27th and for the Prilep 
detachment on August 15th. 

The arrival of the I22d French Infantry Division 
on this sector was terminated on September 8th and 
that of the 17th Division of Colonial Infantry on 
September 9th. 

The entire preparations were thus terminated about 
the middle of September, 19 18. 

At the moment of beginning the attack the Serbian 
forces were distributed as follows : 

Second Serbian Army. 

Souchitza-Soko front (17 kilometres) 

Division of the Shumadia : — Sou- 
chitza-Kamen, 6^ kilometres, 85 
17th division of Colonial infantry: 
First line -i Kamen-Testerast Kamen 3.8 kilo- 

metres; 112 guns 
I22d division of French infantry : Tes- 
terast Kamen-Sokol, 5^^ kilometres, 
136 guns 

334 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Second line - 

First line 

Division of the Timok behind the 17th 
Division of French Colonial infantry 

Jugoslav division behind the 1226. di- 
vision of French infantry 

Corps artillery, 18 guns 

First Serbian Army 

Division of the Drina : — Soko-Gradech- 

mitza Pass, 11 5^ kilometres; 100 

Division of the Danube: — Gradechnitza 

Pass — Lechnitza, 5 kilometres; 81 


C Division of the Morava, behind the 
Second line -I centre of the line 

t Corps artillery, 14 guns 

Artillery under the direct orders of the High Com- 
mand at Floka, 12 guns. 

The idea of the manoeuvre was the follov^^ing: — 
To bring about a breach in the part of the enemy line 
between the Kamen and the Soko, facing the Second 
Serbian Army (95^ kilometres) and to extend it at 
once right and left along the whole Serbian front, 
to undertake the pursuit of the enemy with the two 
second line Serbian divisions (the Jugoslav and Timok 
divisions) in the direction of Demir-Kapu and Kava- 
dartzi, by pushing forward with the greatest energy 
and to execute a similar movement in front of the 

The General Offensive 335 

First Serbian Army in the direction of the Czema 

The attack on the Serbian front was to be followed 
by an attack near Doiran and another near Monastir 
so as to widen the breach on both sides. 

The artillery preparation for the general offensive 
began on September 14th. In principle, this was to 
have been as short as possible and should only have 
lasted a few hours. But at the request of certain di- 
visional commanders it was decided to prolong it for 
24 hours. 

It began at 8 o'clock in the morning. The weather 
was fine but not very clear. At the hour fixed all the 
guns opened fire on the enemy's two fortified lines. 
Reports received at midday from the First Army 
stated that patrols sent out by the Shumadia division 
were received at certain points by rifle fire and gre- 
nades. At the extreme left breaches were opened at 
several points. The first line trenches were for the 
most part destroyed. The enemy shelled a number of 
points in the rear of the division of the Shumadia. 

The 17th Division of Colonial Infantry reported a 
number of lucky hits with its trench mortars, but the 
dust raised by the bombardment was so great that it 
was difficult to observe the results. The enemy artil- 
lery responded very weakly. 

In front of the I22d Division of French Infantry 
the artillery preparation was carried out according to 
plan. The return fire of the enemy was intermittent. 

The heavy artillery of the corps shelled all the 
enemy units signalled by aeroplanes and such posi- 

33^ From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

tions as it had been able to locate from its observation 

The artillery preparation of the First Army also 
began at 8 o'clock. Patrols were sent out to report the 
progress of the destruction effected by the guns. The 
enemy artillery responded in very feeble fashion. The 
Serbian listening posts learnt that the bombardment 
had caused heavy losses to the enemy, torn up his 
telephone lines and destroyed the trenches. Observa- 
tions were, however, very difficult on account of the 
heavy dust caused by the bombardment. 

The action of the artillery continued all afternoon 
on the front of the two Serbian armies. On the front 
occupied by the division of the Shumadia the effect 
of the fire was generally speaking good. In front of 
the 17th French Colonial Division many trenches 
were torn up and the woods behind them shattered. 
From three o'clock onward the enemy returned the 
fire with more vigour. In front of the 1226. French 
division all the destruction foreseen was realized. The 
corps artillery held the enemy artillery in check and 
proceeded to register its batteries in the direction of 
Koziak. The aviation reported no movement in prox- 
imity to the front, but about half past four an aero- 
plane signalled that five convoys of fifty wagons each 
were moving in the direction of Kosisk. A patrol was 
sent to open fire on them. 

In general the destructive fire on the front of the 
Second Army was very well executed and the artil- 
lery, from this point of view, may be considered to 
have accomplished its task. The rear of the 17th 

The General Offensive 337 

Colonial Division suffered from the fire of the enemy 
artillery. The division suffered some losses. 

In the course of the night the artillery maintained 
its curtain fire and kept the ruined trenches of the 
enemy continually under shell fire. 

The artillery of the First x^rmy, in the course of 
the afternoon, undertook certani concentrations of 
fire and a number of barrages on the enemy lines 
facing the Division of the Drina and a strong prepar- 
atory bombardment of the Sokol. But all the same, 
Serbian patrols sent out were received with rifle fire. 
The return fire of the enemy artillery gradually weak- 
ened and he contented himself with intensifying his 
barrage on the Rovovska Kossa. 

During the night Serbian patrols raided the enemy 
trenches, penetrating them at certain points. At some 
points they even pushed forward to the supporting 
lines. It was found that the whole line of enemy 
trenches facing the Division of the Drina had been 
practically destroyed. 

The same held good of the front facing the Division 
of the Danube. Here, however, the patrols were 
checked by a powerful barrage, supported by machine 
guns, rifle fire and hand grenades. 

During the night the infantry took up its positions 
of attack. The second line troops were moved up to 
within a thousand yards of the first line, the Division 
of the Timok behind the 17th French Colonial Di- 
vision and the Jugoslav division behind the I22d 
French division. 

At half past five on the morning of September 15th 

338 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

the three first hne divisions of the Second Army 
attacked on the whole front. With such vigour was the 
assault given that the Division of the Shumadia ad- 
vanced beyond the Slonovo Uvo to the north and 
reached the eastern summit of the Vetrenik. On the 
1570 metre hill it captured 300 prisoners, 2 howitzers 
and 2 field guns. On the Vetrenik it took one officer, 
20 soldiers, a machine gun and a small minnenwerfer. 
The enemy fled by small groups from the Gola Rudina 
to the Poiate. 

The loth Regiment of the 17th French Colonial 
Division reached the summit of the Kravitza. The 
prisoners taken numbered 21 officers, 125 noncom- 
missioned officers and 791 men. A great mass of 
material was also captured. 

The I22d French Division captured the Dobra Polie 
but was checked in its advance toward the north. A 
major and a captain were among the prisoners. 

The reserve divisions then moved forward to the 
foot of the captured positions. As the result of a 
counter attack on the 17th Colonial Division its 
reserves were used up but these were at once reconsti- 
tuted by detachments taken from the Serbian unities 
in the immediate vicinity so that the positions con- 
quered were maintained. 

In the afternoon the division of the Shumadia, by 
a brilliant attack, captured the whole of the western 
summit of the Vetrenik and pushed forward its ad- 
vance guard toward the north, attacking the Gola 
Rudini. It captured a howitzer batter)^, which it im- 
mediately turned against the enemy holding Borova 

The General Offensive 339 

Chuke, and sent forward detachments to capture that 
position. The manoeuvre was intended to facilitate 
the action of the 17th Colonial Division which had 
been stopped in its forward movement by the fierce 
resistance of the enemy. 

At four o'clock the division carried the Borova 
Chuke and sent some infantry detachments towards 
the 1606 metres hill, the Olla Chuke and Poroy. At 
this moment the Gola Rudina was also captured and 
by five o'clock the left flank of the division reached 
the Souchitza River, while a detachment pushed on 
toward Chlem. Later the Shumadia Division cap- 
tured the Kravitchki Kamen. In doing this the 
Shumadia Division had not only accomplished the 
mission confided to it but had done much more as, 
by its capture of the Borova Chuke and the Kravitchka 
Kamen, it contributed to the final capture of all the 
enemy's front line positions. It played a decisive role 
in the day's fighting though, according to the original 
plan, it should only have executed an attack of sec- 
ondary importance. 

The 17th Division of French Colonial Infantry 
about one o'clock in the afternoon captured the Golak- 
Kravitchki Kamen line of trenches. Its left wing 
advanced toward the Kravitchki Kamen-Olla Chuke 
and Borova line. The enemy, reinforced by the entire 
53d regiment of Bulgarian infantry, launched three 
counter-attacks against this division. They were so 
violent that the division had to fall back behind its 
advanced lines and, as stated above, bring up all its 
reserves. The Serbian General Headquarters at once 

340 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

sent orders to the Field Marshal commanding the 
Second Army to send his second line division to the 
support of the 17th Colonial Division and to aid it in 
the accomplishment of its mission. This was done 
at once, the enemy was repulsed and the division at- 
tained its objective, carrying the summit of the Sokol 
by a night attack. 

In spite of the exhausting effort made l>y the 
Second Army in this day's fierce fighting it was called 
on to make yet further sacrifices. The General Head- 
quarters telegraphed to the Field Marshal command- 
ing it pointing out the importance of its continuing its 
advance during the night to follow up the retreating 
enemy and keep contact with him. 

The First Serbian Army, after an artillery prepara- 
tion of the same intensity and the same duration as 
that of the Second Army, began its attack at 5 130 
a. m., by an attack on the Sokol. This was carried 
out by the Division of the Drina. By a quarter past 
six the right wing had seized the right hand peak 
while certain groups managed to secure a footing on 
the left hand peak and in the depression to the west. 
But this company and the left of the 1226. French 
Infantry Division had to fall back before the fire of 
the enemy artillery. On the whole the right wing of 
this division did not achieve any notable success and 
the commander of the column received orders to con- 
tinue his action in liaison with the left of the division. 

Patrols from the Division of the Danube had dis- 
covered that the artillery preparation had had as its 
result a destruction of the enemv's defences sufficient 

The General Offensive 341 

to justify a general attack. The fire of the artillery 
was continued but chiefly directed on the rear of the 
enemy. On some points the enemy artillery responded 
by a vigorous fire. Orders were given to continue the 
artillery preparation till three o'clock so as to give 
the Second Army time to carry out the task as- 
signed it. 

At that hour the Field Marshal commanding the 
First Army gave orders for an attack all along the 
line. As a first result of this, two companies suc- 
ceeded in getting a footing in the Grba and on the 
isolated mamelon alongside it, but as the 1338 metre 
crest of the Rovovoka Kossa was still in the hands 
of the enemy, and also on account of the difficulties 
of the terrain and the intensity of the enemy's fire 
these companies had to regain their trenches. 

At five o'clock in the afternoon the infantry of the 
Division of the Drina advanced toward the enemy 
positions on the Sokol-Gradechnitza part of the front, 
but was brought to a halt by an excessively violent 
machine gun fire coming from the Veza and the sum- 
mit of the Sokol. On the part of the front between 
the Pass of the Gradechnitza and the Rovovoka Kossa, 
the first wave of the Serbian attack reached the 
enemy trenches. 

The divisions received orders to continue the attack 
during the night and to capture the enemy's first line. 
The manoeuvre succeeded completely and the right 
wing of the right division captured the Sokol at the 
same moment as the I22d French division. This suc- 
cess was extended to the 1338 metre hill so that by 

342 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

5 130 a. m., the whole of the enemy's first line was in 
the hands of the First Army and the advance of the 
infantry continued in the direction of the Lechnitchka 

All the enemy's first line positions facing the right 
of the Division of the Danube were captured, but 
the action of the left wing was much hampered by 
heavy enemy artillery fire. The centre and the right 
wing continued to push on in the direction of the 

In spite of the unfavorable atmospheric conditions 
the Serbian aviation displayed great activity, carrying 
on reconnaissances in the enemy lines and rear, keep- 
ing up the liaison of the infantry, shelling the retreat- 
ing convoys of the enemy and generally acquitting 
itself brilliantly in its various missions. In addition 
the aeroplanes bombarded the railway station and 
camp of Gradsko. The fact that two Serbian pilots 
were forced on account of wounds to come down on 
enemy territory and that most of the apparatus re- 
turned riddled with bullets gave proof of the courage 
of the Serbian aviators. 

In the course of the day's fighting on September 
15th over 3000 prisoners were taken while 33 guns 
were captured. The Bulgarians in addition, rather 
than surrender them, threw a large number of guns 
into the ravines in the mountains where they could 
not be found. The losses for the day were: 17th 
Division of the French Colonial Infantry, 1200 men; 
I22d Division of French Infantry, 500 men; the Di- 
vision of the Shumadia, 500 men, and the Division 

The General Offensive 343 

of the Drina, 200 men. The other units had sHght 

On September i6th the 17th Division of the 
Colonial Infantry and the I22d Division of French 
Infantry remained on the conquered positions. The 
principal task of the day was entrusted to the Jugo- 
slav Division which was ordered to carry the Koziak, 
the most important point of the enemy's second line. 
The Division of the Timok advanced by the ravine of 
the Poroy to attack the Topolatz. The Jugoslav di- 
vision which had approached the Koziak during the 
night succeeded about midday, after a fierce combat, 
in carrying the 18 10 metre crest with its left wing 
while certain sections of its right wing, about eleven 
o'clock, got a footing on the 1825 metre crest. 

The enemy thoroughly understood the great im- 
portance of the Koziak position and sent reinforce- 
ments to this essential strategic point from all sides. 

In the course of the afternoon these reinforcements 
(the 53d and 8ist Bulgarian Regiments) made a 
series of counter attacks on the Koziak and even suc- 
ceeded for an instant in recapturing the 18 10 metre 

But a vigorous attack by the Jugoslav Division 
drove them once more from the position and the 
Serbs remained finally master of the mountain 

The First Serbian Army, after breaking through 
the enemy's first line positions, continued its advance 
with all speed. By 10 o'clock the Division of the 
Drina had passed the Gradechnitza and directed its 

344 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

march on the Gradechnitchka Kossa. The retreat of 
the enemy giving way before these units was very 
disordered and forced them to abandon many of their 
wounded and an immense quantity of material. 

On the left wing of the Division of the Danube the 
enemy offered obstinate resistance in order to cover 
his retreat on Razimbey. 

The Division of the Morava was on the march 
toward Koutchkov Kamen and deployed in the direc- 
tion of the slopes of Mount Koziak, placing itself to 
the right of the Second Army, that is to say between 
the Jugoslav Division and the Division of the Drina. 
It stopped at this point. 

The First Army had made an exceptional effort on 
a very difficult terrain, crushing the obstinate resistance 
of the enemy on successive lines, strongly forti- 
fied. It advanced to a depth of fifteen kilometres. 
The cavalry division attached to the First Army fol- 
lowed close on the heels of the infantry awaiting the 
favorable moment to intervene. 

The Serbian aviation was again very active. Its 
chief activity was in the neighbourhood of the bridge 
of Razimbey, where the converging roads were 
blocked with convoys of all kinds, which the aero- 
planes attacked with machine guns and bombs. It 
also furnished valuable information regarding the 
movement of the enemy and was able to ascertain that 
he was constructing trenches in all haste on the 
Kutchkov Kamen and that three enemy batteries were 
advancing from Poltchichte on the Koziak. One 
Serbian pilot was wounded by a rifle bullet. 

The General Offensive 345 

The Serbian Army had succeeded in its mission, 
which was to make a breach in the enemy's centre and 
then roll up the Bulgarian troops right and left so as 
to widen this to such a degree that the enemy's forces 
would be split in two parts. 

The Serbian troops marched without respite during 
the whole of the night and all day on September 17th 
kept forcing the Bulgarians to further retreat. By 
eight o'clock in the evening the Timok Division com- 
pleted the occupation of Topolatz and approached 
Sutdena Voda. The Jugoslav Division in co-operation 
with the Division of the Morava, after capturing 
Kutchkov Kamen, continued its advance to^ Alsar, 
while the divisions of the First Army continued to 
pursue the fleeing enemy. At eight o'clock in the 
evening it passed the Bechichte-Melnitza line, while 
the Drina Division at the same hour reached the 
Vitolichte-Melnitza line. 

The Division of the Morava, supported by the Jugo- 
slav Division, at 4:45 p. m. captured the Kutchkov 
Kamen and continued its march toward the north. By 
a night march the cavalry division advanced beyond 
Poltchichte while the Division of the Danube, keeping 
the liaison with the nth Division of Colonial In- 
fantry, reached the bridge of Razimbey. 

By 8 p. m. on September i8th the Timok Division 
occupied Blatetz and continued to pursue the enemy in 
the direction of Golulatz. By sundown, the Jugoslav 
Division, which in the afternoon had captured and 
burned the village of Rozden, reached Mrejintze and 
Kanopichte. The Shumadia Division passed the night 

346 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

on the Topolatz and the 17th Division of Colonial 
Infantry on the Koziak. 

The division of cavalry of the First Army sent a 
brigade with a battery of mountain artillery via Polt- 
chichte, Vitolichte and the massif of the Tchaterna 
toward Kavadon. The commander of the division, 
with the 2nd Brigade and a battery of field artillery, 
advanced on Razimbey via Vitolichte and later re- 
joined the 1st Brigade. 

The Drina and Morava divisions in spite of the bad 
roads and rocky nature of the ground continued to 
push steadily forward. By night the former divisions 
had reached Vitolichte while the advance guards of 
the Morava divisions reached the Czerna of Polochko 
to the south. 

On account of the ever growing difficulties of the 
terrain the Serbian Headquarters ordered the cavalry 
division with the First Army to be transferred to the 
Second Army. In consequence on the night of Sep- 
tember 1 8th it was concentrated at Razden with orders 
to take part in the operations of the Second Army 
on the following day in the direction of Kavadar. 

On September 19th solid bridge heads were estab- 
lished on the left bank of the Czerna Reka which 
assured the passage of the main body of the army in 
the bend of that river, from which the enemy's lines 
of communication Gradsko-Prilep were threatened on 
the one hand, and on the other, the whole fortified 
system of the bend of the Czerna Reka and the region 
of Monastir. 

The operations of the Second Serbian Army on Sep- 

The General Offensive 347 

tember 20th were only a continuation of the preced- 
ing operations which were destined to bring it to the 
banks of the Vardar on the east and to the Czerna 
Reka on the west between its course and the right 
wing of the First Army. 

With this in view, the Division of the Timok 
pushed forward its two columns on the front Gornia 
Drabovitza-Barova, on which the enemy was now 
putting up a stronger resistance to the advance of the 
columns to the left and less resistance to the column 
on the right. The Jugoslav division continued its 
action, which had for its objective the conquest of the 
Drtchevitchko Brdo, on which its right column was in 
action during the whole day, because the enemy was 
putting up a strong resistance in order to protect the 
Vardar railway line. 

The left of this division advanced in the direction 
of Kavadar and Vozartzi. This column acted in 
liaison with the cavalry division, which was operating 
in front of the infantry. In the course of the day it 
seized the bridge at Vozartzi which had not been 
destroyed and entered Kavadar. This division cap- 
tured twelve field guns. 

As regards the other divisions of this anTiy that 
of the Shumadia was in the environs of the village of 
Glavitch, while the 17th division of Colonial Infantry 
was in echelon in the region of Mrejintze-Rozden. 

The terrain was excessively difficult and the roads 
were in a state of collapse which rendered the pro- 
visioning of the troops of the Second Army almost 
impossible. The use of motor trucks was out of the 

348 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

question. The circulation of the camionettes and 
horse-drawn vehicles encountered the greatest difficulty 
though the weather was dry. In general the terrain 
was not suited for military movements and the repro- 
visioning of large bodies of men. The Serbian troops 
displayed exceptional energy and ability to do without 
many necessary things in order to triumph over the 
obstacles they encountered. 

On the right of the First Army the left wing of the 
division of the Morava, at half past ten in the morn- 
ing, seized the heights to the northeast of Godiyak 
on which, at eleven o'clock, it placed a battery of 
mountain guns. It then pushed forward struggling 
against the difficulties of the terrain and breaking 
down the resistance of the enemy, which was weak. 
The reserve of the division was still on the right bank 
of the Czerna Reka. About five o'clock the enemy 
launched a counter-attack on the heights occupied in 
the morning and succeeded in recapturing one to the 
northeast of Godiyak, while the height to the west 
remained in the possession of the Serbs. This action 
was carried out by combined detachments of Ger- 
mans and Bulgarians. 

In the course of the day the left column succeeded 
in capturing Galichta and the first summit to the 
north of the village. It was not possible to ascertain 
the importance of the enemy effectives. During the 
night the Serbs consolidated the positions seized. 

During the night the commander of the division of 
the Morava was unable to establish the liaison with 
his right column. Dispatches which reached him later 

The General Offensive 349 

announced that it captured the positions to the north 
of the Pravednik, on which the advance guard passed 
the night, while the main body remained in the village. 

In order to inform the commander of the army of 
the difficulties met by the troops of the division of the 
Morava the general commanding that division sent 
the following description of the country over which 
his right column was marching: "The whole of this 
country is absolutely deprived of all means of com- 
munication. The distance which separates Polochko 
from Godiyak is only about 20 kilometres (13 miles) 
as the crow flies, but the country is so difficult that 
everyone loses himself. No night patrol sent out 
has, up to the present, returned so that I have not 
yet received a single report from my subordinates." 

The right column of the division of the Danube, 
composed of two regiments and two groups of field 
artillery, advanced on the Vepretchani-Sama Bouka 
line and shortly after midday reached the latter posi- 
tions. The left column — a regiment and a group of 
field artillery — was stopped in its advance by the 
resistance which it met with at the bridge-head on the 
right bank. All further movement was arrested by the 
barrage fire of the enemy. Six groups of enemy artil- 
lery were observed in the direction of Razimbey. At 
half past five in the evening the column had still failed 
to seize the bridge-head so that the nth division of 
Colonial Infantry, forming the neighbouring column, 
could not advance toward Techanichte, both columns 
being stopped by powerful enemy artillery fire. 

The right column kept its position, however, in 

350 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

spite of a surprise attack delivered about eight o'clock, 
accompanied by a heavy rifle and machine gun fire and 
the throw^ing of hand grenades. 

The regiment at the head of the division of the 
Drina crossed the Czerna Reka shortly after nine 
o'clock in the morning and continued its march on 
Godiyak. The crossing was effected on two bridges 
formed of captured ox-wagons. At half past five in 
the evening the first echelon and the artillery attacked 
the enemy's rearguard, which still occupied the hill 
without a name, to the east of Godiyak, the pass near 
it and the upper crest of the Sama Bouka. At half 
past five the whole of the first echelon deployed, rein- 
forced by a battalion. This attack, executed in co-op- 
eration with a part of the division of the Danube, 
was forced to slow down by the difficulties of the 
ground, but it brought the Serbs very close to the 
enemy positions. The fusillade did not cease during 
the whole night. 

The Germano-Bulgarian army was split in two and 
it was now a question of rolling it up right and left 
in order to thoroughly isolate the two portions and 
crush them in detail. Through the gap thus made 
poured the victorious Army of the Orient. The 
knowledge that victory was in their grasp spurred the 
Serbian troops to fresh efforts and caused them to 
forget their fatigue and the terrible natural difficulties 
with which they had to struggle in the mountainous 
country in which they were fighting. 

On September 21st the division of the Morava cap- 
tured the Sedan Chuke and the Sama Bouka, but on 

The General Offensive 351 

account of insufficient artillery preparations had to call 
a halt. The enemy had received considerable rein- 
forcements and kept up a heavy rifle fire on the 
Serbian right while he tried to hold the left wing in 
check by an intense artillery fire. Finally the Serbs 
pushed a number of small detachments across the 
river. But at the bridge-head the enemy resisted ob- 
stinately. Finally at eleven o'clock in the night the 
right of the Division of the Drina by a vigorous 
attack seized the bridge-head and pushed forward 
rapidly. The retreating enemy blew up over twenty 
ammunition depots. 

On the following day (September 226.) the Timok 
division of the Second Army, which the evening 
before had reached the Vardar, pushed forward 
detachments to Davidovo and Miletkovo to cut off the 
retreat of the 5th Bulgarian Division, and occupied 
Kuretmitza on the left bank of the Vardar. The left 
wing captured Dubliani and the mountain crests to the 
northeast and advanced on the Kiriz-tepe position, on 
which the enemy had begun to entrench himself. The 
cavalry division pushed on to Hudovo. Here it 
learned that the 2nd Bulgarian Infantry Regiment, 
with two batteries of field artillery, had taken up their 
positions to cover the retreat of the 5th Division 
which was retiring on Radovichte. 

The Jugoslav division crossed the Czerna Reka at 
the point where it joins the Vardar and at Krivolak 
and pushed on toward Mujantzi and Pepelichte. The 
enemy's cavalry offered feeble resistance. 

The enemy, in addition to the positions mentioned 

352 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

above, held the Kolatz and the western slope in the 
direction of the Monastery of Tchitchevo and posi- 
tions to the west of the railway station of Drenovo 
from which he held Vozartzi and the route to Kavadar 
under the fire of his artiller}^ After four counter- 
attacks, which all failed, the enemy retreated on Koba. 

The division of the Shumadia held the Gomia 
Drabovitza-Barovo line. The cavalry division con- 
tinued the pursuit of the enemy in the direction of 
Chtip with a view of reaching the summit between 
Toplik and Dragovo which would increase the liberty 
of movement of the Serbian troops in this sector. 

When the second army entered Krivolak it cap- 
tured three locomotives and 170 wagons filled with 
flour and salt, two new German aeroplanes, two auto- 
mobiles and material of all kinds. 

The Morava Division of the First Army continued 
its pursuit of the enemy in order to completely cut 
his lines of communication Gradoko-Drenevo-Prilep. 
The enemy burnt all his depots of provisions and 
munitions to the west of Paitzi. The enemy was in 
full retreat on all sides, such resistance as he offered 
being intended to cover the destruction of his stores 
and depots. This was carried out with such precipita- 
tion that cin hospital with 100 wounded was burnt 
down, all the patients perishing in the flames. A depot 
for sick horses was also destroyed. This work of 
destruction was entrusted to a special corps of Ger- 
man troops. 

On the 23d of September the Second Serbian Army 
continued its victorious march. At four p. m., the left 

The General Offensive 353 

wing of the Timok division occupied Kiriz-tepe. The 
right of the Jugoslav division pushed forward to the 
highest crest on the Kara-HodzaH range while at half 
past five the left column pushed on to Choba, the 
enemy fleeing in disorder. 

The 17th Division of Colonial Infantry pushed 
forward to the Kolatz-Tchitchevo line while the 
Shumadia division moved on the Trennik-Przdevo 

The right of the division of the Morava of the 
First Army forced the defile to the north of Drenovo 
and completely cut the enemy's communications with 
Gradsko. This rapid advance surprised the enemy, ac- 
cording to the prisoners taken, and prevented his con- 
centration at Drenovo. They fled toward Prilep in 
great disorder. The left flank of the Morava division 
reached Paris, to the north of the main road, thus 
further cutting the enemy's communications. 

The division then pushed on so as to reach and 
hold the Vardar from Gradsko, in the north, to the 
Babuna. In the course of the day it captured 7 guns, 
12 limbers, 46 horse-drawn wagons, 6 travelling 
kitchens, 30 horses, 20 oxen, 2 provision depots and 
a large quantity of arms, munitions and other 

On September 24th the Timok division fought the 
whole day to capture the principal crests of the Beli 
Kaman but met with obstinate resistance. 

The left wing of the Jugoslav divisions, operating 
in liaison with the cavalry, had more success and at 
three o'clock in the afternoon carried the Toplik- 

354 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

Dragovo positions, the routed enemy fleeing in the 
direction of Chtip, throwing away rifles and knap- 
sacks as they ran. This position was defended by the 
1 2th Regiment of German Landsturm. The division 
of cavalry continued the pursuit until a late hour in 
the night. It captured among others the Colonel com- 
manding the 85th Bulgarian regiment and his 

The booty captured by the Jugoslav division was 
enormous. It included 19 guns (13 heavy artillery) 
including one 210 mm. gun, 30 limbers, 40 to 50 nar- 
row-gauge locomotives, a great number of wagons, 
railway material, provision depots and engineering 

The Morava division of the First x^.rmy in the 
course of the day reached the Vardar between Grad- 
sko and the Vodenitchka river, while the Drina divi- 
sion pushed forward toward the Babuna on the right 
and Voinitza and Golik on the left. 

On September 27th the Timok division of the 
Second Army, after a fierce combat, captured the prin- 
cipal summit of the Beli Kamen and the positions to 
the northwest and east. The capture of these im- 
portant positions made the Serbs definitely masters 
of the valley of the Vardar. In the course of the 
day the Second Army took 214 prisoners, 3 mountain 
guns, a number of machine guns, 5 motor trucks, 10 
wagons of salt, 200 tons of wheat, an enormous quan- 
tity of hay and straw and a very great number of 
wagons and oxen. The fact that the division of 
Timok alone took prisoners from the 4th, 14th, 20th, 

The General Offensive 355 

46th, 54th, 65th, 67th and 84th Bulgarian Regiments 
and from the 12th German Regiment showed the com- 
plete demoralization of the enemy. 

The following day, the cavalry, following close on 
the heels of the retreating enemy, entered Kotchane. 
The Morava division of the First army, advancing 
toward St. Nikola, met with resistance at the village 
of Novo-Selo, which was held by German troops, but 
after several unsuccessful counter-attacks they fell 
back precipitately. 

The Division of the Drina early in the morning 
attacked Veles. By the evening they were in the 
vicinity of the town, of which railway station and 
other buildings were in flames. The morale of the 
enemy kept falling daily. Even the fresh troops they 
brought up only put up a mediocre resistance. The 
Germans declared that the Bulgarians abandoned them 
and left them to face the Serbs alone. 

During the whole day of the 27th of September the 
victorious advance continued. The aim of the enemy 
in holding the line to the south of St. Nikola was to 
cover the only line of communication with Bulgaria, 
the route from Kumanovo to Kriva Palanka. But the 
Division of the Morava broke down all resistance and 
drove the Bulgarians back in rout. It was, however, 
when the Serbians occupied the line of communication 
Kumanovo-Kriva Palanka that the Bulgarians felt the 
full force of the disaster. 

The armies of King Ferdinand and that of his 
German ally now began to enter on their death agony. 

356 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

which was prolonged for yet another forty-eight 

On September 28th the Bulgarians still put up a 
somewhat obstinate resistance on the front Ostrech — 
the 1050 metre hill — Tzarevo Selo. The advance 
guard of the Jugoslav division pushed forward toward 
the latter town but met with considerable resistance 
in the villages in the environs. The division of the 
Morava, after capturing the St. Nikola position, 
reached, at four o'clock in the afternoon, the Baslovo- 
Tzutzub front. At St. Nikola the Serbs captured 4000 
pounds of bread and a large depot of rye and wheat, 
which bore eloquent testimony to the haste of the 
enemy's retreat. 

The division of the Drina resumed the pursuit of 
the enemy at half past five in the morning. It met 
with some resistance on the right flank but soon con- 
strained the Bulgarians to resume their retreat. The 
left wing met with no resistance to its advance till 
Djurichte was reached. Here the enemy attempted to 
make a stand but the Serbs carried the village shortly 
before five in the afternoon and continued their pur- 
suit of the fleeing enemy. 

On September 29th, the 3d and 5th Bulgarian di- 
visions moving on Pliatch Kavitza left a strong rear- 
guard to hold the line Ostrech — the blockhouse of 
Tzarevo-Selo-Bogdanovatz and cover their retreat. 
This force was attacked by four battalions and two 
batteries of artillery of the Jugoslav divisions and 
driven from its positions. The Jugoslav division then 

The General Offensive 357 

pursued its advance on Tzarevo Selo and the upper 
valley of the Bregalnitza. 

The division of the Timok pushed on to Vinitza 
and Tchavka, the main body passing the night in the 
former town. The division of the Shumadia con- 
centrated to the east of Kotchane, sending forward a 
detachment toward Tzar and Vrl. 

The First Amiy also continued to advance rapidly, 
its outpost being placed in the evening on the Topo- 
lovik-Ketenovo-Vakouf line. A strong detachment 
was sent to occupy the Kuklitza-Vidim-Stratzen, there- 
by completely cutting the enemy's communications be- 
tween Kumanovo and Kriva Palanka. The division 
of the Drina all day long kept driving the enemy 
before it and halted for the night on the Rudjentze- 
Ollavoke Plavina line, to the south of Voinik. The 
division of the Danube formed the reserve of the First 
Army, marching in echelon behind the division of the 

The divisional cavalry of the Danube and Drina 
divisions were directed on Alescandrovo on the Skop- 
lie (Uskub) — Kumanovo line in order to cut the rail- 

It was the following day that the coup de grace was 
administered to the Army of King Ferdinand. The 
preceding day Bulgarian plenipotentiaries had arrived 
at Salonica to sue for peace and a few minutes before 
midnight an armistice was signed putting an end to 
hostilities, to go into effect at midday of September 
30th. As a consequence the movements of the xA.rmy 
of the Orient on that day up to the hour of the sus- 

358 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

pension of hostilities were made up with a view of 
placing the army in superior tactical and strategical 

The cavalry division and the divisions of the 
Shumadia and Timok with the Jugoslav divisions 
were placed en cordon along the frontier of Bul- 
garia, ready to march into that country if the enemy 
should not carry out the conditions of the armistice. 

There still remained, of course, the German and. 
Austrian troops not only in Serbia but also in Al- 
bania. Until they either surrendered or were driven 
from these countries the mission of the Army of the 
Orient operating in Serbia and the Italian army ope- 
rating in Albania was not finished. This task occu- 
pied the next six weeks and was completed just about 
the time Germany, seeing that with the collapse of 
the Germano-Bulgarian army her cause was irre- 
mediably lost, sued for an armistice on the Western 

The resistance offered by the retreating German 
and Austrian troops was considerable and retarded 
the Serbian advance the more so as they deliberately 
and methodically destroyed all the means of communi- 
cation as they retreated, tearing up the railway, blow- 
ing up bridges and tunnels, cutting telegraph and tele- 
phone lines and removing or destroying all the roll- 
ing stock. 

Finally, however, on October 12th, the Army of the 
Orient captured Nish. The first troops to enter that 
city were the French cavalry division and the divi- 
sion of the Morava. With the capture of Nish the 

The General Offensive 359 

Berlin-Constantinople railway was definitely cut and 
Turkey isolated from the Central Powers. A few 
days later the Sultan sued for peace. The defection 
of Turkey was followed by the collapse of Austria, 
leaving Germany single-handed against the world in 
arms. The Kaiser and his generals saw the game was 
up and that even if they could hold the enemy in check 
on the Western front the Army of the Orient, to- 
gether with the Italians and the Roumanians, could 
invade Germany by the rear. 

They, therefore, sued for an armistice. Thus the 
war which began in the Balkans, for the Balkans, 
ended in the Balkans. The brilliant and victorious 
campaign of the Army of the Orient completely justi- 
fied the arguments of the "easterners" and rendered 
it doubly regrettable that a section of the Allies were 
so short-sighted as to refuse to make the effort eight- 
een months before. If the Salonica front had been 
reinforced by 200,000 men at the end of 1916 or in 
the early months of 19 17, the war would have come 
to an end in six months. That it dragged on till 19 18 
is largely the fault of those responsible for this short- 
sighted policy. 

The whole world suffered by this terrible error but 
most of all Serbia. During two long years that coun- 
try was handed over to the tender mercies of a cruel 
and ferocious enemy. The story of Serbia's cruci- 
fixion has yet to be told, but what is already known of 
the horrors of the Bulgarian occupation transcends 

But in any case the martyred Kingdom had at 

360 From Serbia to Jugoslavia 

least got out of the furnace of six years of ceaseless 
war which had consumed the manhood of one of the 
bravest peoples in the world. Its armies had fought 
from the Danube to the frontiers of Thrace, from the 
Black Sea to the Adriatic and the ^gean. It had for 
six long years borne the burning heat of the Balkan 
summers and the freezing cold of the winters. It had 
been driven into exile, but had there reformed its 
depleted ranks, disembarked on foreign soil and 
forced its way over every obstacle to the reconquest 
of its beloved Serbia, the indomitable army of the 
"Nation that can never die." 

But the nation has had its reward. As the fruits 
of its victory eight million of its brothers-in-race 
rallied round the Serbian Piedmont and Jugoslavia, 
long a dream, has at last, become a reality. Croatia, 
Slavonia, Dalmatia. Bosnia, Herzegovina, the Banat 
and the Batchka hailed King Peter as their ruler and 
now thirteen million Jugoslavs have once again as- 
sumed their proud mission as the "Guardians of the 
Gate," holding in their hands the Key of the East. 
Germany's dream of "Mittel-Europa" and world do- 
minion, thanks to the realization of Jugoslav unity, 
has forever vanished like the "baseless fabric of a 
vision, leaving not a wrack behind." And as long 
as Jugoslavia, free and independent, endures, the world 
can sleep in peace. On ne passera pas. 



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