Breakthrough on the Salonika Front: The Contribution of the Serbian and British Armies

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As part of RUSI’s commemoration of the centenary of the First World War, Serbian Colonel Marko Zelenovic will lead a discussion on a key, but less well known, turning point: the Salonika Front.

Following the declaration of war on 28 July 1914, ferocious fighting began between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Serbia. Belgrade itself was taken in November before being recaptured in December 1914 as the Central Powers attempted to quickly knock Serbia out of the war.

By October 1915 the situation was bleak for the Kingdom of Serbia. Bulgaria had declared war and the country faced renewed invasion by German and Austro-Hungarian armies. With little choice but to evacuate, the Serbian Army embarked on an epic retreat through the mountains of Albania. Little known outside of the region, this 'Calvary', as the retreat was known, saw thousands dying of wounds, illness and exhaustion. 

With the Serbian army falling back, the Central Powers seemed to have achieved a vital war aim of establishing an unbroken line of communication between Berlin and Istanbul.  

Four years later, however, Serbian forces, advancing as part of the Allied Army of the Orient, achieved a decisive victory at Dobro Pole paving the way for the liberation of Skopje and the capitulation of the Bulgarian Army.

How this unique feat was accomplished and how the Serbian Army rose from defeat to victory on the Salonika Front will be discussed by Serbian Colonel Marko Zelenovic, a noted expert on this period and a Royal College of Defence Studies alumnus.

The event will explore the leadership of the Serbian forces, the role of their British, French and Greek allies and the coordination and planning that led to final victory.

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