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The Great War

News Reports From the Front
100 Years Ago This Month

October 1915 Bulgaria enters the war

October 1

A general Balkan war is expected to breakout hourly, as Bulgarians troops are already massed on the Serbian frontier. Greece is expected, to come to Serbia's rescue and Romania will fall in line with Greece and Serbia, if war is declared.

According to the Bulgarian government it has not the slightest aggressive intention, but is firmly resolved to be fully armed to defend her rights and independence. Bulgaria says, in view of the movements of troops affected by her neighbors and the dangers threatening her from the Austrian and German offensive against Serbia, to proclaim an armed neutrality, while continuing conversations with the representatives of the two belligerent governments, is only natural.

Public opinion in Greece is strongly against a literal interpretation of the Serbian Greek compact that obliges Greece to support Serbia in case of attack by another Balkan state. Members of the Greek government have insisted that Greece was released from this arrangement by the actions of Serbia that led to the start of the world war.

Great relief has been caused around Greece following the mobilization of the Army. The people apparently are glad to exchange the uncertainty of politics for the possibility of war. In unofficial circles in Athens it is believed that a struggle between Greece and Bulgaria cannot be avoided eventually.

Romania partially mobilized two months ago at the time the Austrian and German ultimatum was delivered demanding the transit of munitions to Turkey through the kingdom. There is good grounds for belief that Romania, through her allegiance with Italy, is bound to the common cause against Austria, and that only the propinquity of the Balkan name has kept her out of the war. While no official news on the attitude of Romania is known, a decision will probably be announced at the first warlike move by Bulgaria towards Serbia.

Meanwhile on the Western Front, the French are bearing the brunt of the fighting now in progress. It is believed here that besides the gain of ground and the improved position of the Allies generally, the recent successful operations must soon relieve the pressure on Russia and perhaps prevent the Austrian and German's from sending any large force against Serbia.

October 8

The German invasion of Serbia is now in full swing. German and Austrian forces are seeking to push their way southward in an attempt to seize the railway stretching from Belgrade to Constantinople.

It now seems certain that Bulgaria will align herself with the Central Powers. The matter doubtlessly will be brought to a head by the landing of Allied troops in Greece. This landing is regarded here as placing Greece on the side of the Allied powers, as she is considered as having virtually acquiesced to this counter move against Bulgaria.

The only means for prevention of a Balkan war, in the opinion of high authorities in Bulgaria, seems to be the immediate cession by Serbia to Bulgaria of the Serbian province of Macedonia.

Bulgaria, it is generally believed, is only awaiting an opportune moment to throw the weight of her army against the Allies. Austrian and German officers have arrived in Bulgaria, just as they did before Turkey through in her lot with a Germans, is taken to mean that Bulgaria, too, has definitely decided to join them.

Such a move by Bulgaria would result in the Allies being called upon to keep their promise to support, with all the means in their power, those Balkan states which remain friendly to them.

The Greek government however has decided to issue a declaration of benevolent neutrality towards the all belligerent states at war.

According to Greek news reports, after agreeing to the mobilization of his army as precaution, the king asked his Prime Minister what was the objective of the concentration of the Greek Army on the Macedonian frontier. The Premier answered that the object was twofold - first to defend the country and second to go to the aid of Serbia in case she was attacked by Bulgaria. The King then remarked that while he agreed so far as defending the country was concerned, he did not see why Greece was called upon to help Serbia. The Prime Minister recalled the obligations imposed upon Greece by her treaty of alliance, but the King retorted that when Greece asked for Serbia's aid against Turkey in May 1914 it was refused.

To further arguments on the part of the Prime Minister the king replied that the Prime Minister was contradicting himself, for when the Allied Powers asked Greece to assist Serbia at the time of the Austrian attack in 1914, the Prime Minister made a promise of such assistance conditional upon the armed cooperation of Romania and the benevolent neutrality Bulgaria. These conditions however have not been met, the King pointed out.

Shortly after the meeting with the King, the Greek Prime Minister resigned. The resignation was precipitated by the landing for French troops on it soil, which the Prime Minister had allowed, but the Greek King called a breach of Greek neutrality, in spite of the fact that these troops are destined solely to aid Serbia.

There are no misgivings in England however that Greece will cooperate in any way with Bulgaria. The Greek cabinet crisis has not impeded the landing of Allied troops in Greece, and the fact that these forces are on Greek soil is considered the best guarantee that Greece ultimately must align herself with the Allied powers.

On the Western Front torrential rains and cold, and biting winds Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, were unfortunate for both sides, but especially for the attackers, because they prevented reconnaissance, made all aircraft attacks difficult, depressed the men and interfered with artillery observation work, while the spongy earth lesson the effects of the shellfire.

Another heavy casualty list made public here indicates the price that has been paid for by the recent British victory on the Western Front. The Germans say that French losses in killed, wounded and prisoners in the recent fighting were at least 130,000 in those of the British 60,000 while the German losses were not one fifth of that number.

On the Eastern Front, Russia has been relieved to some extent by the withdrawal of German troops to meet the offensive in the West and to supply a contingent for the attacks in Serbia.

October 15

Bulgaria has declared war on Serbia. The Balkans, therefore, have taken their place with the Russians and the Western Front as a center on which the interest of the world shall rest for some time to come. The Austrian and Germans, after their capture of Belgrade, are advancing southward, while the Bulgarians sent forces to endeavor to interrupt communications North and South of Nish, the wartime capital of Serbia, and attack the Serbs on the flanks if they are driven back by the Germans

The situation is admitted to be a very serious one, not only for Serbia, but for the whole Allied cause. It is asserted that the Serbians are inflicting very heavy losses on the Austrians and Bulgarians, but with her army of about 250,000 men they are believed of little chance of making any prolonged resistance against three or 400,000 German and Austrian and probably 200,000 Bulgarian troops. Serbia is are arranging for the transfer of the capital to Monastir, in the extreme southwestern corner of the kingdom.

Belgrade, the old capital of Serbia is in possession of an enemy army for the second time since the outbreak of the war, while other Austrian and German troops have crossed the Danube River and are attempting to make a great drive into the heart of Serbian territory.

The capture of Belgrade had been expected, as it was not thought that the Serbians would make any serious attempt to save the city. It is situated on a point of Serbian soil at the junction of the Save and Danube Rivers, jetting towards Austria, and could consequently be attacked from three sides operations which the Austrian and German saw little difficulty successfully carrying out.

The real test of strength will come when the invaders reach the main Serbian positions in the mountains, where the Austrians were so severely defeated in December last.

The Serbians plan depends considerably upon the amount of assistance they will receive from Allied troops, but it is not believed that they will make any attempt to make a decided stand north of the mountain which already have proved to be a line offering superb facilities for defense.

Nothing can be gained, according to the Times military correspondent, by trying to minimize the fact that the Austrian and Germans have achieved a signal initial success in the Balkan campaign. Unless from 300,000 to 400,000 Allied troops are sent to the aid of Serbia, and are sent in time, the chances of a successful Serbian resistance are not great.

The possible transfer of Allied forces from the Gallipoli Peninsula to meet the Central Power advance into Serbia, is admitted by the Globe, which says that the government is divided on the subject. The Globe considers it vital that the German plan to link up the Central Powers with Turkey be frustrated, and that to this end all other considerations must momentarily be subordinated.

The coming of Allied troops to the Serbian front may prove the turning point of the war. England and France realized the paramount importance of Serbian territory for both belligerent parties. Solely through Serbia is Russia connected with the West and only through Serbia can Germany reached Turkey to make an unbroken front from Baghdad to Ostend. Only after crushing Serbia can Germany invade Egypt or India, and by accomplishing this task she can draw fresh troops from Turkey. Bulgarian and Serbian soil provides rich granaries which are necessary to Germany. Serbian copper mines can supply urgently needed metal.

Austrian and Germany are urging Albanians to fight against Serbia to free Macedonia which is inhabited equally by Albanians and Bulgarians. It is announced that Prince William, former ruler of Albania, who has been on the Serbian front with German troops, has returned to Albania.

The Greek Minister at Paris today reiterated that Greece's neutrality would continue to be one of benevolence towards the Allied powers, but it will not intervene in the war on behalf of Serbia at present.

The Romanian government has given the Italian government to understand they will cooperation on the side of the Allies, however, the Romanian government will choose his own time for taking the field against the Austrians and Germans.

Russians started a formidable offensive in Galicia coincident with the opening of the Central Powers campaign against Serbia. The attack may have been undertaken with a view to the political effects on the Balkan situation where the continued neutrality of several states is believed to be due largely to this severe reverses suffered by the Russians during the summer campaign.

October 22

Reciprocal war declarations between Bulgaria and Great Britain and Serbia, have marked another phase in the Balkan situation. Russia regarded herself in a state of war with Bulgaria from the moment the latter country attacked Serbia, and Italy has declared war against Bulgaria.

Berlin insists that the Allies will arrive too late to be at of any value to the Serbs. In four weeks not more than 150,000 troops can be transported over the single line railroad from Saloniki in Greece to Nish. The 250-mile stretch between Saloniki and Nish is believed in Berlin to be too much for the entire expeditionary force to cover before the invaders can arrive at Nish. As the distance between the Austrian and German's and the Bulgarians is only 150 miles, the military critics point out that it would be difficult to prevent a union of the invaders.

Serbia's military position is critical. Her armies are threatened with being crushed as no army has been crushed during the war. According to the Germans, the German and Austrian operations are proceeding successfully along the whole front. The Germans by an enveloping movement compelled the Serbians to evacuate Pobarebac almost without a struggle. After the evacuations the Serbians retire to the heights in the Southwest, which were strongly fortified. On the following days heavy fighting occurred there. The country offered great difficulties there being few roads.

The Serbians made a stout resistance on the whole line, but suffered great losses under the bombardment of German heavy artillery. Especially on the mountain of Vranovo, but finally, after long resistance, the Serbians yielded their strong positions.

The spirit of the Serbians to resist their attackers was demonstrated by the fact that they did not abandon the plateau behind the mountain after the Germans had one important heights, but continued holding the ground, fighting under generally unfavorable tactical conditions, until they were slowly press back. News correspondents were unanimous in emphasizing the bravery and persistence of the Serbians who, they say, can often hold positions until hand-to-hand encounters become necessary to force their abandonment. In some places the civilian population, even women and children, are participating in the fighting.

It is reported that the central powers have decided to undertake still another campaign, this time against Montenegro. According to this report 20,000 Austrian and German infantryman, with artillery, have arrived in Sarajevo, in Bosnia, about 60 miles north of the Montenegrin border.

The Romanian cabinet, after again going over the war situation, made a pronouncement in favor of Romanian neutrality. All necessary precautions have been taken on Romania's frontiers. Russia meanwhile has asked for permission to march troops through Romania to Serbia's assistance.

Greece's decision not to join forces with Serbia, at present, although causing profound disappointment in England, and being regarded by many London commentators as violating its obligations to Serbia. To move Greece away from its stand on neutrality, Great Britain has made a formal offer of the island of Cyprus to Greece as soon as Greece undertakes to intervene in the war on the side of the Allies.

Thus far, Greece has not replied to the offer of Cyprus. It is believed the offer will create an excellent impression in Greece since it is an actual concession and not a mere promise, which Germany might suggest but would never be carried out. The offer differs from the German offers degrees, insomuch as it is not contingent upon the final triumph of the Allies, but would take effect as soon as Greece reformed her part in the suggestion agreement.

Great Britain's reported offer to cede the island of Cyprus to Greece to induce Greece to join the Allies is opposed by the London Post, which editorially characterizes the offer as bad diplomacy. Other British newspapers also have lifted their voices against such action, such offered the term nothing more than a bribe. According to the Post: "The only thing that distinguishes our bribe from German bribes is that Germany offers other people's territory and we offer our own."

October 29

The first phase of the Austrian, German, and Bulgarian campaign in Serbia is complete. Not only have the invaders of Serbia realize the important objective of joining forces in the northeastern corner of the country, but they have enhanced this military advantage by procuring free passage down the Danube.

A flotilla of steamers is said to be already waiting to transport war material and with it, Bulgaria's ammunition shortage should soon be relieved and its general sense of power greatly strengthened.

The status of political affairs in the Balkans is almost equal in interest to the military situation. The belief is growing here that neither Greece nor Romania is likely to enter the war, at least, until the Allies gain some decisive successes. Greece apparently regards this as more important then the offer of the island of Cyprus, and Athens belives that the Allied troops have come too late into the Balkan field.

Since the Bulgarian army is driving a wedge into the heart of Serbia and the Serbian railway system in the north and central districts, as well as the principal rail lines have been cut, it may be said without exaggeration that there is no longer any possibility of successful intervention on behalf of Serbia.

Now that Communication between the Austrian and German and Bulgarian army's has been accomplished, transfer of munitions to Constantinople is expected to begin within a few days. The military experts expect that the German Emperor will spend Christmas in Constantinople at the head of his victorious troops.

The Greek government has informed the Allied powers that it does not see its way clear at present to accept the proposals, including the cession of Cyprus, offered in return for Greek military cooperation with Serbia.

In its statement, the Greek government said that the Austrian and German attack on Serbia, releases Greece from the obligation of armed intervention, and that independent of that, it is materially impossible for Serbia to give Greece support of 150,000 men stipulated in the treaty in case of war with Bulgaria, and that the Allied powers have not furnished an equivalent number of troops for the defense of Greece.

The note expresses the gratitude of Greece for the offers made and thanks England for the offer of the Cyprus. It recalls the Greek sympathies for the Allies and the benevolence of the neutrality maintain thus far.

Meanwhile on the Eastern Front, for almost the first time since the great Austrian and German offensive movement began last May, Russian military officers now describe the situation along the whole 670-mile front as satisfactory to them. The Russian authorities attribute their success to withdrawal of Germans troops for the Serbian campaign than to the vigor of the Russian attacks.

On the Western Front King George of England, while visiting his troops in the field, his horse, excited by the cheers of his troops, rear it up and fell. Thinking was Bruce severely it will be confined to bed for the present.

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