Albania is a small Balkan nation that has only recently become independent. The country is in a disordered state with no effective central government. Following the invasion of their own country, the Serbian army is retreating through the mountains of northern Albania, hoping to reach the coast and rescue by the Allied navies. The Serbs are suffering terribly from exposure and lack of food, with many of the soldiers dying on the roadside as they desperately try to escape the invaders of their country. The large numbers of civilians fleeing with them are experiencing even more terrible sufferings.
The problems of the Serbs are exacerbated by the uncharitable response of the Albanian population. Many of them are resentful of the Serbs’ violation of their country’s neutrality and are responding by attacking and robbing them whenever opportunity arises. There are reports that the Austro-Hungarians have supplied the Albanians with arms to assist them in their resistance.
The Serbian army is not the only one that has made its way into Albania. Italian troops have landed in the southern port of Vlorë, known to Italians as Valona. Italy is Serbia’s ally so one might think that the Italians are coming to the rescue of the retreating Slavs. But no, the main aim of Vlorë force is to assert Italian rights in Albania. Under the secret agreement that brought Italy into the war, Albania was to become an Italian protectorate. Now the Italians are trying to cement their claim to what they see as their just desserts. The Italians set to work on chasing away Greek forces who have crossed into the southern part of the country.
Albania (The Balkan Wars)