25/4/1917 Britain attacks in the Balkans

There has been relatively little fighting in the southern Balkans over the last number of months. The Germans have been content to leave the Allies alone in Salonika while the Allied force there has not been strong enough to attempt a push north. Disease has taken more of a toll on both sides than the efforts of their enemies.

Now though the British make an attempt to push north against the Bulgarians holding the line against them. Attacking near Doiran, the British make some initial gains. However the Bulgarian defence under General Vasov is dogged; they are also favoured by the terrain. The British advance is contained, with Bulgarian counterattacks recovering many of the positions lost. Any dreams of an Allied breakthrough in the Balkans remain unrealised.

image source: Vladimir Vasov (Wikipedia)

7/1/1917 Romania overrun

Romania’s rash decision to declare war on Austria-Hungary has proved a terrible mistake. The country has now largely been overrun by the Central Powers, her armies smashed by the implacable might of Falkenhayn and Mackensen.

Bad weather and Russian reinforcements now bring an end to the enemy’s advance. Bucharest has fallen, together with the south and centre of the country. The remnants of the Romanian army hang on in Moldavia, where they desperately hope that they can preserve the independent existence of their country.

image source (Wikipedia)

24/12/1916 Germany seizes Romania’s granaries

The German food situation is grim. The British navy prevents Germany from importing food or fertilisers from overseas. The dislocation of war has led to a significant decline in domestic agricultural production. This year’s potato harvest has been struck by blight. Germans are calling this the “turnip winter”, as they are having to eat turnips (normally used as animal feed) instead of potatoes.

But there is one bright star on the horizon. When Romania joined the Allies, there was consternation in Berlin as Germany no longer had access to Romanian grain exports. Now, though, Romania has mostly been overrun by Falkenhayn and Mackensen. In their advance they have managed to seize the country’s granaries intact. The Germans will be able to eat bread made from Romanian wheat after all. Their food situation is still desperate but the conquest of Romania will allow Germany to continue fighting the war.

7/12/1916 Greece: the royalists’ revenge

Greece now has two governments. Eleftherios Venizelos leads a pro-Allied government in Salonika. Venizelos wants to bring Greece into the war on the Allied side. As Salonika is now under French and British occupation, many see Venizelos as little more than their puppet. Meanwhile in Athens another government is loyal to Greece’s King Constantine, who is determined to keep the country out of the war.

The recent French attempt to occupy Athens and force a change in Constantine’s line has been a fiasco, with royalist forces obliging French to beat a hasty retreat. Since then Athens has seen a brutal purge of Venizelos’ supporters. Many of his partisans have been arrested and their homes or businesses ransacked. There are reports of some Venizelists being roughly mistreated or even murdered. The Archbishop of Athens excommunicates Venizelos, with Constantine issuing a royal warrant for his arrest.

In Salonika meanwhile Venizelos formally declares war on the Central Powers. This however is an empty gesture as he lacks any serious military force of his own.

6/12/1916 Bucharest falls

Romania’s bold counter-attack against the invading armies of Germany, Bulgaria and Austria-Hungary has failed. The shattered remnants of the Romanian army are now in retreat, hoping to find some safety towards the Russian frontier.

With the defeat of the Romanian army, Bucharest is now untenable. The Romanian king has already abandoned the city. Now it falls to the enemy, with Germany’s Mackensen installing himself in the royal palace.

image source:

German mounted troops in Bucharest (Wikipedia)

3/12/1916 Romania’s counter-offensive fails

Romania is engaged in a desperate battle for national survival in the face of invading German, Bulgarian and Austro-Hungarian armies. Mackensen leads a mainly Bulgarian force from the south while Falkenhayn commands an invasion force advancing from Transylvania in the west.

The Romanians have concentrated their forces and launched counter-attack on Mackensen’s force, hoping to smash his army before Falkenhayn can come to his aid. In some respects they are trying to emulate the 1914 German victories at Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes, where widely separated Russian armies were defeated in detail.

The battle started well for the Romanians. Mackensen was pushed back and many prisoners taken. But Mackensen and Falkenhayn are not incompetents like Samsonov and Rennenkampf, the unfortunate Russians defeated in 1914. Mackensen quickly recovers from the initial shock and mounts a spirited defence, aided by a contingent of Turkish reinforcements. Falkenhayn meanwhile launches attacks all along his front to aid his colleague.

The Romanian counter-offensive collapses. Flung back in all sectors, the Romanians now retreat to avoid encirclement. The gates of Bucharest lie open for the enemy.

image source:

map (Wikipedia)

August von Mackensen (The First World War in 261 weeks)

1/12/1916 Romania’s desperate counter-attack

It is barely three months since Romania’s rash decision to enter the war. The Romanians are now engaged in a desperate battle for survival, with German, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian forces pushing into their country from the south and west. The Romanians hope for Russian assistance but help is not arriving quickly enough.

Knowing that if they remain on the defensive they will be overwhelmed by the superior forces against them, the Romanians decided to strike back. The two invading armies are still separated from each other, so the Romanians concentrate against the force invading from the south, a mainly Bulgarian army commanded by Germany’s Mackensen. The Romanians hope to destroy or at least push back this army before Falkenhayn’s men advancing form Transylvania can come to their aid. In this kind of bold Napoleonic stroke they are trying to emulate the German victory at Tannenberg in 1914, which saved East Prussia from Russian invasion.

Today the Romanians attack. The attack appears to be going well, with Mackensen’s men being pushed back and the Romanians taking many prisoners.