“508 bottles of beer will be sent to you”

Early in the morning of September 18th this apparently inconsequential message was telephoned to each British Divisional HQ. It was the signal that the attack at Doiran was to be launched at eight minutes past five that morning, one and three-quarter hours before sunrise. The offensive opened with…

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17 September 1918

It was not until the early evening of 16 September that Serbian troops finally reached the summit of the Kozyak, having had attack after attack thrown back. Even then they came across a German battalion on the northern slopes, covering the withdrawal of the Bulgarian defenders, so keeping up momentum was difficult.

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Why Dobropolje?

That the Bulgarians and Germans were not expecting an assault on the Dobropolje is hardly surprising, given the nature of the terrain. Alan Palmer describes it thus, in ‘Defeat of Bulgaria – The Central Powers Begin to Crack’ (published in History of the First World War No. 107 by Purnell for BPC Publishing Ltd, London, in cooperation with the Imperial War Museum):

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‘… the success of the entire offensive depends upon rapid penetration …”

In his book Balkan Breakthrough – The Battle of Dobro Pole 1918  (Indiana University Press, 2010), Richard Hall writes that several days before the start of the offensive, Serbian soldiers were told by their high command: Continue reading “‘… the success of the entire offensive depends upon rapid penetration …””

Introducing Desperate Frankie

As we enter September we come to the centenary of the last month of hostilities for the BSF. September 1918 saw the final allied offensive – which for the British was the Second Battle of Doiran – which brought about the Bulgarian armistice at the end of the month. Continue reading “Introducing Desperate Frankie”

Gustav Holst in Salonika : exhibition now on!

It is nearly 100 years since composer Gustav Holst went to Salonika to work as a musical organiser and educator with the YMCA. It is very appropriate, then, that his sojourn with the British Salonika Force should  be commemorated by the Holst Birthplace Museum with a special exhibition. Continue reading “Gustav Holst in Salonika : exhibition now on!”