Serbia Is Invaded Once Again – The Entente Lands in Greece I THE GREAT WAR Week 63


Last year- 1914- Serbia was repeatedly invaded
by the Austro-Hungarian Imperial army, but managed to repel the invaders each time. Over
the following winter and spring, a typhus epidemic secured Serbian borders but at a
great cost in lives, and over the summer, Serbian enemies had their hands full on other
fronts, but this week, Serbia is invaded once again. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War The big news last week were brand new French
and British offensives on the western front in Artois, Champagne, and at Loos. They failed
to produce the much hoped for breakthrough, but did produce tens of thousands of corpses.
The Austro-German summer offensives had finally been stopped on the Eastern Front along the
entire line by stiffening Russian resistance and autumn mud, and in the Middle East, the
British Indian forces had taken Kut and were setting their sights on Baghdad. This is what
happened next. One other reason that the German offensives
in the east had come to a halt is that their chief architect, General August von Mackensen,
had been called to another theater of war. German army chief of staff Erich von Falkenhayn
had sent the German 11th Army to join his Austrian counterpart Conrad von Hotzendorf’s
forces under the command of Mackensen to invade Serbia from the north and knock her out of
the war. Another Balkan nation, Bulgaria, was going to join the war and attack from
the east. The Bulgarians had seen the enormous success of Mackensen’s earlier offensive
in Poland and Galicia and thought this would be a good time to get the land in Macedonia
they’d been promised after the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, but never given. They were
now promised plenty of land at Serbian expense and they’d agreed last month to join the
Central Powers, though they were going to wait until Germany and Austria had invaded,
since they were justifiably skeptical of the Austrian army’s prowess after its losses
against Serbia in 1914. Taking Serbia out of the war would not only
close its front with Austria-Hungary and free up a bunch of Austro-Hungarian troops, it
would open up a land route from Germany to the Ottoman Imperial capital Constantinople,
so the Germans could then supply the Turks who were still locked down at Gallipoli. On October 2nd, British Foreign Secretary
Sir Edward Grey says the “situation one of utmost gravity” and notes that Austrian
and German officers have arrived in Bulgaria to take direct command of local troops. On
the 3rd, Russia issued an ultimatum to Bulgaria that basically said, “we know what you’re
up to, and you better not do it.” And on October 6, 1915, the Austro-German
combined assault began with a heavy artillery bombardment on Serbian positions on the Danube
and Sava Rivers. German and Austrian bridgeheads were established pretty much right away, and
once the Serbian lines were broken, the weight of the invaders- some 400,000 strong- overwhelmed
them. On the 7th, the invaders crossed the Sava, Drina, and Danube Rivers, on the 8th,
the Serbs evacuated Belgrade, and on October 9th, 1915, Austro-Hungarian Imperial forces
occupied Belgrade, capital of Serbia. Meanwhile, Bulgarian forces concentrated across
the Serbian border to the east. But to the south, in Salonika, allied troops began landing
on the 5th, and by the end of the week, there were 20,000 troops there. Also at the end
of the week, Austria-Hungary invaded Montenegro. This whole front was getting really really
ugly. But what exactly were the Allies expecting
to do in Salonika, in neutral Greece? Well, by now it was pretty apparent that the
only thing that could prevent Bulgaria actively joining the war and attacking Serbia was a
show of force, but where was that going to happen? The Austrian navy was a big threat
in the Adriatic, and there weren’t harbors on the Albanian coast that could support a
big allied landing, so the Greek port of Salonika was pretty much the only choice. Greece, though, was in turmoil and was really
worried about being dragged into the war. I mean, technically Greece had been a winner
in the two Balkans Wars, but it was a rough experience, so Greece had remained neutral
when this war broke out, but there were still huge internal political battles about which
side to support. The King, King Constantine, was for the Central powers. Well, he was married
to the Kaiser’s sister. The Prime Minister, though, Elutherios Venizelos, was a supporter
of the Allies and saw their help as a real chance to expand Greek influence in the Balkans.
So, as the threat to Serbia grew, the Allies sort of bullied Greece using Venizelos as
their inside man who made the offer of allowing British and French troops to land at Salonika,
which they did as I said. But this was a flagrant violation of Greek neutrality, and it sparked
a huge fight between King and Prime Minister, which caused Venizelos to resign. Now, the expeditionary force itself was pretty
tricky for the Allies to arrange. Only the French acceptance of total failure at Gallipoli
allowed them to pull over troops, so they sent a division, and the British managed to
send a division, and they were all under the command of French General Maurice Sarrail,
so 20,000 of them landed, and at the exact same time 20 times that many Austrians and
Germans invaded Serbia from the north, and the Bulgarians were gearing up to the east.
So what was their purpose in Salonika? A show of force? Not likely anymore. But the Allies were certainly making a show
of force on the western front, as their offensives there continued. They didn’t continue with nearly the force
they had during their first week, which had resulted in tens of thousands of casualties
including three British major generals, but there were new developments. At Loos, the
Royal Flying Corps under Brigadier General Hugh Trenchard was making itself known. Early
in the battle, they had flown target sorties to help artillery shells from being wasted.
They had been using new improved wireless transmitters, which made a huge difference
in relaying target information, though many artillery batteries refused to use the information
because they didn’t believe it was accurate. One thing, though, during this battle British
pilots carried out organized tactical bombing for what may have been the first time in history,
targeting German trains, railway lines, and marshaling yards. The Germans made several
counter attacks at Loos this week, hoping to recover lost ground, including an enormous
push at the end of the week, but these resulted in heavy German losses. British tactics were also in play in the Middle
East this week. After last week’s victory at Kut, General
John Nixon, Commander of the British Indian army, wanted the battle’s winner General
Charles Townshend to pursue the enemy all the way to Baghdad. Townshend saw things a
little differently, and this is from his diary from October 3rd: “The army commander does
not seem to realize the weakness and danger of his line of communications. We are now
380 miles from the sea and we have only two weak divisions, including my own, in the country.
There is my division to do the fighting and Gorringe’s to hold the line of communications
from Kut to the sea. Thus there is no possible support to give me if I receive a check.” Thing is, because of the lack of success against
the Turks after over five months at Gallipoli, the war office in London was pretty desperate
for any success over the Ottomans, so it allowed itself to believe there were sufficient men
and enough transport to make the capture of Baghdad feasible. We haven’t looked at the Eastern Front this
week, but the Russians had begun new attacks in the region of Dvinsk. We’ll see more
of that soon. And a note I didn’t have time to mention last week: on September 27th, in
the Italian port of Brindisi, Austrian saboteurs destroyed the Italian battleship Benedetto
Brin, killing 456 sailors. And so we come to the end of yet another week
of war, as the Serbian front becomes active once again and the Austrians occupy Belgrade.
The fighting is still intense on the Western Front, the British are making plans in the
Middle East, and the Allies landed thousands of troops in neutral Greece. And Serbia is invaded once again, this time
by not one, not two, but possibly three larger nations. The Serbs had fought better than
perhaps any other nation in the war, but had paid a terrible price for their continued
independence. Disease was rampant throughout the country, doctors now numbered fewer than
200; there was hunger, refugees, and unlike its invaders, Serbia had lost far more of
its fighting men then it could hope to replace. Winter would soon be upon Serbia and despair,
destruction, and death, death, death would rule. And all for what? I don’t know. Do
you? I got nothing. What a waste. If you want to find out more about how General
Typhus’ rampage in Serbia, check out our episode right here. Our Patreon supporter of the week is Mike
Donahue. If like our show and want to meet us on the original locations of World War
1, consider helping us on Patreon. Don’t forget to subscribe and follow us
on Twitter for all announcements related to our show. See you next week.

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. I love that simplified ultimatum from Russia, "We know what you're up to, and you better not do it".

    If you guys have a merchandise store, you should put that on one of your t-shirts

  2. 50 percent of man in kingdom of Serbia and about 30 percent of all people died in ww1….country of 4 550 000……ty for nice episode about serbs,make smth about kolubara battle!On west point school they teach about Kolubara battle!

  3. Bulgarians attacked Serbs while Serbs were trying to retreat from austrian and german armies….Bulgarians cut or way for retreat trough macedonia so serbs needed to trough albania…Bulgarian did war crimes back than in easstern Serbia,and it were horrible crimes on woman and children….

  4. I can tell you for what Serbia suffered. They suffered so they can keep Macedonia, a land with no Serbian population against who's majority Bulgarian population the Serbs exacted physical and cultural genocide pretty much until the fall of Yugoslavia. The Serbs could have easily secured Bulgarian neutrality by handing over Macedonia which gave them a way better chance against Austria and Germany. It was also likely to get Bulgaria to join their side and attack Turkey, open the Bosphorus Straights for the English to supply Russia and allow the forces that landed in Thessaloniki to land in Kavala and via Bulgaria reinforce the Serbs. The Serbs could have easily been compensated for the loss of Macedonia after the war with more land From Austriar so they can genocide some other innocent population.

  5. Before this haters ( Croats, Bosnians , Albanians and other haters) start to be toxic, just think about this war, it was war that took out many lives from all sides and all countries and it should never happen again.
    Serbian army proved heroism in this war and it can't be disputed by any comments you try to do it because you can't say this is "Serbian propaganda" if this guy is not Serbian and he is speaking only about true facts that happened…
    Peace to all my friends 🙂

  6. U should check out the defence of Belgrade led by "Dragutin Gavrilović" and its famous speech before the battle, since it would've been dishounorable to leave the city empty the king commanded a batalion of 100 men to hold defence against 10K germans. That story even inspired the Sweedish heavy metal band to make a song "Sabaton – Last Dying Breath".

  7. In answer to your question my only idea is that… Serbia is receiving huge support from Russia. The reason they did so well against Austria and also why Austria declared war in the first place is that Serbia is blocking the construction of the railroad and communication line to Turkey. This is part of the greater battle for dominance between Russsia and Germany. Austria wanted to remove Serbia the obstacle and Russia will go to war to protect its block to Austrian / German advancement. you stated much earlier in your show that the Germans would not wait too long to attack Russia so they are both watching each other's growth and trying to prevent growth and grow faster. If you are German Serbia must go… If you are Russian Serbia must stay.

  8. Ofcourse you couldn't possibly underdtand Serbian people,Indy.We fought so hard for over five centuries to be an independant nation and for majority of Serbs pride of independency is a question of life and death.Someone like you who grew up in a state that was always dominant could never understand the braveness of Pasic,Princip,King Peter,Misic,Putnik and Bojovic.

  9. thanks great war for this great video
    Serbia, invaded many times by huge armies, lost half of their male population and 1/3 of its entire population, it resisted, it never surrendered, never lost faith in final victory, and in the end Serbia triumphed.

    ps: Also point of interest, in 1915 when Serbian army HQ decided to evacuate Belgrade, a single regiment was left (volunteers) to make a final stand in defence of Belgrade, it was under command of major Dragutin Gavrilovic his speech to his soldiers before they went to battle is famous in Serbia here is a speech:

    "Soldiers, exactly at three o'clock, the enemy is to be crushed by your fierce charge, destroyed by your grenades and bayonets. The honor of Belgrade, our capital must not be stained. Soldiers! Heroes! The supreme command has erased our regiment from its records. Our regiment has been sacrificed for the honor of Belgrade and the Fatherland. Therefore you no longer need to worry about your lives they no longer exist. So forward to glory! For the King and the Fatherland! Long live the King! Long live Belgrade!"

    pss: After the battle German commander August von Mackensen was impressed by sacrifice of Serbian troops (germans lost 10 000 men in taking the city) so he ordered a monument be built in honor of Serbian and German soldiers, it still stand in Belgrade today.

  10. Serbia has always been Russia's satelite. In the Yugoslav wars they tried to sit on both chairs so to speak and fell on the ground.

  11. Wait a minute. Did you just said "British was the first to use bombs from a plane" ? It was Bulgaria who used this strategy.

  12. 9:16 They died for their freedom for their Children for the state that was Destroyed and Rebuild over the course of Millennium and so that millions of Serbs who died over the course of 1300++ years of Serbian history did not die for nothing. If they did not fight map of Europe as we know it would not have Serbia in it and Serbs as a People would be scattered in the winds with no land of its own and no roots.

  13. It could be that there was no sabotage about Benedetto Brin battleship: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_battleship_Benedetto_Brin

  14. Bulgaria was never promised Vardarska Macedonia, and Bulgarian govt. had prior to the first Balkan war agreed with the Serbian govt. that if a territorial dispute would come to fruition, Russia will be the judge on what belongs to whom. Bulgarians chose not to wait for Russias decision (Russia was chosen because both Bulgarians and Serbs saw them as a big brother, one of few thigs they agreed on at the time besides their common hatered towards the Turks), and have in fact listened to Austria-Hungary who promised theyd help the Bulgarian offensive in order to take the land that was "promised" to them. 2nd Balkan war starts, AH fails to keep their promise, and Greece, Romania, Montenegro and Ottomans took Serbias side (most likely just to take more Bulgarian land, Altho all of those countries coulda expanded into Serbia, aside from the turks who did not border her, but they could have taken Greek land.

  15. I've heard it said all wars arise from population pressure. While I've never made a study of it, it is a compelling argument.

  16. Bulgaria literally lagstabbed Serbia. They should have followed it with a "Well? What is it?" gesture.

  17. Kinda redundant ending every episode asking if the war was worth all the lives lost. Obviously not. But what was Serbia, for instance, supposed to do faced by Austro-Hungarian aggression — just accept their terms to save lives? Life isn't worth living if anyone can push you around, to be honest. Sometimes one just has to fight, as wasteful and redundant as it may seem in retrospect.

  18. You say "What a waste". But, tell us, if you can, why did nations, year after year, continue to feed their men into the wood chipper? And don't say "stupid leaders". That answer has rung hollow for the last 100 years..

  19. You messed up the situation in Greece a bit. The king was for remaining neutral, and he was the one that stopped Greece from entering into the war. Venizelos was for joining the war with the Entente, and tried to since the outbreak. There was never a serious chance that Greece would join in the side of Germany.

  20. Basically Greece joined the side that they thought was gonna win, NOT the side that they supported ! 😉

  21. This is the speech that field marshal August von Mackensen held before departing for the Serbian front in autumn of 1915.
    „You are not going to the Italian, or Russian, or the French front. You are going into a fight against a new enemy who is dangerous, tough, brave and sharp. You are going to the Serbian front, to Serbia, and Serbs are the people who love their freedom and who are willing to fight for it to their last. Do your best so this minuscule enemy does not overshadow your glory and compromise the success you’ve achieved so far in the glorious German army“.  And after capturing Belgrade, he was fascinated by the resist, courage and heroism of his enemy and he erected a monument that says  „Serbian heroes rest here“, in both Serbian and German. That was a rare historic example of the victor who honoured his enemy’s army in such a manner.

  22. Indy i'm sorry to tell you that you mispronunciated "Brindisi".
    The accent is on the first vowel

    "Brìndisi"

  23. Bulgaria looks at Serbia, than at Russia. "That your buddy?"
    Russia "Yes"
    Bulgaria "I'ma attack 'em."
    Russia "Better not."
    Bulgaria "I'ma do it."

    Sounds about right.

  24. On the map at 3:00 the city south of Podgorica is Shkodra, Albania, not Kotor Bay. The lake is called Scutari lake.

  25. Indiana Neidell, Near the end of week 63 in your Great War Series you asked the question, "what was it all for?" I can't imagine that you are not aware of Dr. Anthony Sutton's work on this subject or that you are not familiar with Colonel House and his Rasputinesque influence over W. Wilson. In fact, this series withholds much of the pertinent information that fleshes out this story. We know who gained from this conflagration and we know how. Why have you brushed past these facts?

  26. My people fought bravely!!! We didnt even had military power like france or germany but we fought back for our land! Serbia and Montenegro!!! Rest In Peace….WW1 was very bad.

  27. While my people was backing away bulgaria wanted to cut us off , we uad to deak with austro hubgary germany and bulgaria…they hate us and love us

  28. Wrong,there were 800000 German and AH troops,agains 250000 Serbs that defended their country,retreated through Albania,came back in 1918 and.took Ljubljana 🙂

  29. "They didn't break through, but did produce tens of thousands of corpses" that's the most sad and funny line I've heard on this channel so far

  30. No after balkan war Bulgaria attacked serbia to get macedonia before war they agreed that russian king should say to witch countries will mecedonia go but bulgarya attacked serbia and serbia won and got whole macedonia

  31. "And for what ?"
    Well, I don't think it was the choice of Serbia whether to go to war or not.
    In fact, Serbians complied to 9 of the 10 items in the Austrian ultimatum.
    Even Germany officials commented that this response makes declaration of war impossible… Yet, Austrians were anyway determined to fight.

  32. As regards the "first aircraft tactical bombing" – there are at least 2 other claims than the one mentioned in this episode.
    Italians claim the first bombing happened in the Italo-Turkish war over Libya and the Dodecanese.
    Contrary to the mention in another episode, Italy did not win – Turks held in Libya, but Italians held in Dodecanese islands.
    They agreed to swap the lands – so, Turks evacuated Libya.
    However, Balkan War 1 errupted, and Italians refused to evacuate Dodecanese.
    The second claim about aircraft is by Bulgaria.
    The first bombing happened when Bulgarian pilots dropped bombs over Adrianople when Bulgarians assaulted the city.
    Funny fact – in WW1 Bulgarian Air Force had more aircraft than USA and Japan combined. LOL

  33. bulgaria was given part of macedonia as was the part of the deal just they wanted more and that is the reason for second balcan war so u said that bulgaria didnt had nothing in macedonia that is not correct she had but she lost that cus she wanted more part of greece teritory and part of serbian teritory

  34. I know it's an old video but some matters have been dragged a long way. I won't go into tedious detail but I need to clarify some things about the conflicting interests and legality of claims in Macedonia.
    Firstly, the first Balkan war came as to liberate the Balkans from the Ottomans who were under the new Young Turk party starting a cruel turkification process from Sandjak to Thrace. The atrocities committed prompted Serbia, under the patronage of Russia to form a bloc of Balkan nations to confront the Ottomans. This eventually resulted in the formation of an alliance between Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro.
    Now before the war the alliance issued an ultimatum to the Ottoman Empire in which it demanded all of it's Balkan lands be given wide autonomy and envoys from neutral foreign countries (like Switzerland and Belgium) be employed as governors, so as to protect the various minorities without bias. The Ottomans refused and war broke out.
    The Bulgarians and Serbs agreed to split Vardar Macedonia down a sideways line, from the southern border with Albania to the northern one with Bulgaria. Serbia's main prize in the war was going to be Albania and sea access which it desperately needed to circumvent Austro-Hungarian economic sanctions and restrictions. An important part of the agreement between Serbia and Bulgaria was that in case of post-war disagreements between the two in regards to Vardar Macedonia they would seek arbitration from the Russian Tzar. And both agreed to accept whatever Russia decided.
    After the victory in the First Balkan War, most of the Balkans was liberated from the Turks. And Serbia played a major role in all theaters of the conflicts. When it achieved it's own war goals it helped the Montenegrins take Skadar, helped the Greeks take Salonica and the Bulgarians to take Edrine and break the stalemate in Thrace. All vital cities that wouldn't have been taken without Serbian help and helped end the war in the favor of the league.
    But in the peace conference in London, both Austria and Italy pushed for the independence of Albania, a push that was successful. And so under threat of war Serbia was forced to evacuate Albania, even the Montenegrins who sacrificed a lot of lives to take Skadar, weren't allowed to keep it. With this Serbia was left without any considerable territorial gains and with vital national interests lost. Have in mind that most of Vardar Macedonia was liberated by Serbia and during it many decisive battles were fought there between the Serbs and Turks, the only patch liberated by the Bulgarians was a small strip around the city of Strumica in South East Macedonia.
    Despite all that, after the London Conference the Bulgarians started pushing for even more land (They were coaxed on by the Austrians), despite them getting the most territorial gains during the war. They demanded Serbia not only give them what they agreed upon but also renounce all claims on Macedonia and evacuate the entire territory. Serbia was outraged and called in the arbitration of Russia. The Russians decided Serbia should keep Macedonia.
    And soon after the Bulgarians launched a surprise night attack on both Serbian and Greek lines in order to secure their hegemony in the Balkans. This marked the start of the Second Balkan War. In which Bulgaria would be defeated by the Serbs and Greeks and subsequently invaded by both Romania and the Ottoman Empire. Despite all that, the Bulgarians would still gain significant territorial gains from the war. Gains that could have been much larger if they respected to what they agreed upon.

  35. What do you mean what? They were fighting for their country's liberty,answer is so simple isn't it? You could have read Dragutin Gavrilovic speech instead of asking question why serbian people died?

  36. Serbia knew they were screwed as soon as the Bulgarians asked for the offensives to be German led instead of led by a 6th generation inbred “General”

  37. You ask what it was all for with Serbia?! If there was any country that had a reason to fight it was Serbia, and this is coming from someone of Croatian ancestry. If you don't see what they were fighting and dying for you have to be blind.

  38. As soon as I heard the name Conrad von Hotzendorf i thought *MISSION FAILED*. But the Germans are with him so they can carry.

  39. It would be interesting to make episode about Stevan Sindjelic and Batle on Cegr. It woul be very interesting for all, for sure.

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