The cavalry, whose hour is come …

I first read Alan Palmer’s The Gardeners of Salonika about 30 years ago, to try to understand what my late grandfather had been doing in Salonika. I have to confess that what really stood out for me in the book, was not the descriptions of the tedious patrolling carried out by the BSF’s XVI Corps in the Struma Valley (which included Fred on his bike), but the dramatic advance of the French colonial cavalry to capture Skopje.

Continue reading “The cavalry, whose hour is come …”

“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…

Continue reading ““508 bottles of beer will be sent to you””

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.

Continue reading “17 September 1918”

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):

Continue reading “Why Dobropolje?”

‘… 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 …””