Primary Documents - Colonel Frantzis on the Vardar Offensive, 29 September 1918
As the Allies increased pressure upon German forces on the Western Front, so German troops were hastily transferred from assisting Bulgaria, leaving Bulgarian forces severely weakened and increasingly demoralised.
The moment was consequently considered ripe for a major Allied offensive against Bulgarian forces, newly aided by a Greek force donated by pro-Allied Prime Minister Eleutherios Venizelos. The Allied forces in the region were led by French General Franchet d'Esperey; he determined to launch the Vardar Offensive on 15 September 1918.
Allied success was immediate and impressive; within little over a week Bulgaria solicited for a ceasefire and on 29 September 1918 Bulgaria signed an armistice, thereby exiting from the war. In consequence of Bulgaria's military defeat King Ferdinand shortly afterwards abdicated.
Reproduced below is the text of a statement issued by Colonel Frantzis, Greek Military Attaché in London, on 29 September 1918.
Click here to read d'Esperey's official report summarising the offensive. Click here to read British regional commander Sir George Milne's account. Click here to read d'Esperey's official telegram to Venizelos in praise of Greek troops. Click here to read Venizelos' own statement issued to local Greek commanders. Click here and here to read Milne's statements similarly lauding Greek efforts. Click here to read a statement issued by the Bulgarian government requesting a ceasefire. Click here to read the terms of the Bulgarian armistice. Click here to read the text of Tsar Ferdinand's abdication statement.
Colonel Frantzis, Greek Military Attaché in London, on the Vardar Offensive, 29 September 1918
Salonika, September 29th
The Italian, Greek and French troops operating on the left wing of the Allied Armies continued the pursuit of the retreating enemy rearguards towards Kichevo, and advanced to the north of Ochrida and to the west of the lake of the same name, where they reached the Elbassan road.
In the centre French cavalry entered Uskub, while the Serbian armies, supported by French and Greek forces, continued their advance on Kumanovo, Egripalanka and Djumaia.
Farther to the east some British and Greek divisions advanced in the direction of Pechevo and Petrie.
Our troops are winning new successes. In the region west of Prilep our troops, in cooperation with French troops, captured Barbarec pass and made good progress in the Treska valley. In the region north of Strumnitza, our troops occupied the crest of Plaskavitza Planina to the east of Ichtib and continue to press back the enemy.
Three heavy batteries fell into our hands. To the east of Strumnitza, our troops, cooperating with the English, progressed along the valley of the Strumnitza in the direction of Petritch.
On the Struma front several Greek patrols made a thrust into the enemy lines, keeping him constantly out of breath. The Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Army of the Orient says, in a communiqué, the following about our troops:
The Greek troops are once more displaying their brilliant aptitude for mountain warfare by conquering high-handedly the roads issuing in the valley of high Treska and rapidly progressing in a northerly direction.
To the right, crossing in a few hours the Plaskavitza summits, the Greek divisions have incessantly repulsed the Bulgarian divisions that were vainly trying to stem their advance and captured in a single point three heavy batteries and plenty of war material.
In the Strumnitza region, in liaison with British troops, they continued to press back the enemy, who are hastily destroying great quantities of provisions accumulated in the valley.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VI, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
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