Unsuccessful Allied Offensive in Macedonia

British troops in the trenches near Lake Doiran in May 1917.

May 9 1917, Orle–The British had attacked the Bulgarian lines around Lake Doiran unsuccessfully in late April, in support of a French offensive which was to have begun two days later.  However, bad weather and logistical failures meant Sarrail’s attack was put off until May 9.  The British again attacked in support the previous night, but just as in late April failed to take any ground; silhouetted by Bulgarian searchlights, the attacking troops were quickly mowed down by Bulgarian machine guns.  The few gains that were made were untenable given Bulgarian command of the heights of the Petit Couronné, and were surrendered the next day.

The next morning, the main offensive began north of Monastir.  This was a very multinational effort, with French, Russian, Italian, and Serbian troops all taking part, in addition to Britain’s attack the previous night.  The Russians had the most success, breaking through the Bulgarian front line and in one case advancing a mile beyond.  However, they were not supported on their flanks, and found themselves quickly cut off and fired on by machine guns from both sides; most were killed or captured.  The French, Italians, and Serbs also made small gains, but many of them were tactically untenable, and by noon Allied momentum had run out.  German reserves shored up the Bulgarian positions, and further attacks over the next few days were even less successful.

Today in 1916: Germans Fail to Repulse South Africans at Kondoa Irangi

Today in 1915: British, French Assault Aubers, Vimy Ridges

Sources include: Alan Palmer, The Gardeners of Salonika.  Image Credit: Imperial War Museum.