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Salonica Front

Bulgarian machine-gunners laying out ammunition belts on the Salonica Front.

Bulgarian machine-gunners laying out ammunition belts on the Salonica Front.

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The Salonica Front opened on October 5, 1915 when 13,000 Allied French and British troops landed at the Greek port of Salonica. Many of the troops came directly from Gallipoli, and were intended to aid Serbia against an imminent invasion. It began the next day.

Bulgarian forces invaded Macedonia on October 11 and stopped the Allied forces trying to advance up the Vardar River valley. Defeated, the Serbian army fled west through Albania to the Adriatic coast.

Greece was neutral and its government divided. King Constantine was pro-German; Prime Minister Eleutherios Venezelos pro-Entente.

The value of the Allied position was debated between those (Westerners) who thought the troops could be better used on the Western Front, and those who supported additional battlefronts (Easterners).

The Front roughly followed the northern border of Greece. Many of the surviving Serbian soldiers joined the British and French on the front in the spring of 1916. Russians, transported from Archangel, Russia via Marseilles, France, were in the line. An independent Italian force in southern Albania completed the line.

French General Sarrail commanded 350,000 men in the summer of 1916, and tried to aid Romania when it joined the Allies on August 27. The Bulgarians again thwarted the Allied efforts.

By early 1917, Sarrail had 600,000 men and led a failed spring offensive. His replacement, General Guillaumat, prepared for a major offensive. In 1918 it was led by General Franchet d'Esperey whose army liberated Serbia, defeated Bulgaria, and reached the Danube, Austria-Hungary's southern border.

Salonica Front is a battle front in Europe.