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Maurice Sarrail

French General Maurice Sarrail decorating officers near the frame of German Zeppelin shot down on May 5, 1916 by naval gunners in view of the citizens of Salonica, Greece. General Sarrail commanded the Allied troops at the front that included French, British, Serbian, Russian, and Italian troops, as well as a battalion of Montenegrin soldiers. The Zeppelin's frame is in the background, and civilians are among the observers of the ceremony.
Text (reverse):
Salonicco — Il Gen. Sarrail distribuisce decorazioni nei pressi della carcassa dello Zeppelin
Salonique — Remise de décorations à des officiers devant la carcasse du Zeppelin par le Gen. Sarrail
Salonica — Gen. Sarrail decorating officers before the Carcass of a Zeppelin
Editeur Hananel Naar — Salonique
Proprieté réservée
Handwritten:
Orient - Vive la (?) Victor

French General Maurice Sarrail decorating officers near the frame of German Zeppelin shot down on May 5, 1916 by naval gunners in view of the citizens of Salonica, Greece. General Sarrail commanded the Allied troops at the front that included French, British, Serbian, Russian, and Italian troops, as well as a battalion of Montenegrin soldiers. The Zeppelin's frame is in the background, and civilians are among the observers of the ceremony.

Image text

Reverse:

Salonicco — Il Gen. Sarrail distribuisce decorazioni nei pressi della carcassa dello Zeppelin



Salonique — Remise de décorations à des officiers devant la carcasse du Zeppelin par le Gen. Sarrail



Salonica — Gen. Sarrail decorating officers before the Carcass of a Zeppelin



Editeur Hananel Naar — Salonique



Proprieté réservée



Handwritten:

Orient — Vive la (?) Victor

East — Long live the Victor!

Other views: Larger, Back

A prominent republican with socialist views, General Maurice Sarrail was dismissed by Joffre, and sent to the Salonica Front in Greece where French and British troops, many from Gallipoli, had established a front. Politically, Greece was divided between its pro-German King and its pro-Entente Prime Minister.

In 1915, Sarrail tried to aid Serbia when it was invaded by German, Austro-Hungarian, and Bulgarian armies, but was defeated. Two Serbian refugee armies joined Sarrail's force. An Italian army corps in Albania operated independently. Russian troops transferred from Archangel to Marseilles joined the line.

Commanding 350,000 men in the summer of 1916, Sarrail began moving north to Serbia and west to Albania. The Bulgarians attacked on August 17, driving back the Serbs on Sarrail's left. The French Orient Army supported the Serbs, and the line stabilized by August 27, the day Romania entered the war.

To support his new ally, Sarrail attacked on September 10, and seized in Monastir in Serbia, but failed to aid Romania.

Greek political divide worsened, and Royalist troops surrendered to the Germans. The Allies blockaded Greek ports and forced Greece to demobilize its army and surrender its fleet. Prime Minister Venizelos established a government in Salonika and began building an new Greek army. Tsar Nicholas had been reluctant to move against a fellow monarch, but the February Revolution deposed him, and Sarrail suppressed Royalist troops. He antagonized Britain by using British troops to do so.

By early 1917, Sarrail had 600,000 men. He planned an offensive to begin the night of April 24-25 with a British diversionary attack. Sarrail delayed the offensive, but failed to tell his ally. His May 23 offensive failed.

French and British politicians increasingly questioned the value of the armies in Greece. On December 10, 1917, Sarrail was removed, replaced by French General Guillaumat.

France

Roles held by Maurice Sarrail

Role Start Date End Date
Combatant - General