Serbian Campaign

Serbian Campaign
Date July 28, 1914 – November 3, 1918
Location Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, Albania
Outcome Central Powers Victory in 1915
Occupation of Serbia
Allied Powers victory in 1918
Flag_of_Austria-Hungary_1869-1918 Austria-Hungary
Flag_of_Bulgaria Bulgaria
Flag_of_the_German_Empire German Empire
State_Flag_of_Serbia_(1882-1918) Serbia
Flag_of_the_Kingdom_of_Montenegro Montenegro
Flag-of-the-United-Kingdom United Kingdom
Unit Strength
Flag_of_Austria-Hungary_1869-1918 462,000 State_Flag_of_Serbia_(1882-1918) 420,597
Casualties and Deaths
Total: Total:
Flag_of_Austria-Hungary_1869-1918 265,500
Flag_of_Bulgaria 37,000
Flag_of_the_German_Empire 12,000
State_Flag_of_Serbia_(1882-1918) 320,000
Flag_of_the_Kingdom_of_Montenegro Unknown
flag-of-france Unknown
Flag-of-the-United-Kingdom Unknown
Part of the World War I

The Serbian Campaign began in late July of 1914. It started with the Austria-Hungary invasion of Serbia which is considered a main factor in the outbreak of World War I. The campaign swiftly included forces from the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Russia. The warfront extended from the Danube River to the southern regions of Macedonia and then once again to the north.

Major Serbian Casualties

The Serbian army suffered severe casualties during this conflict with its troops falling from 420,000 to 100,000 along the way. Upwards of almost another 800,000 Serbian civilians were victims of the war as well. Over half of these people were males. Serbia was the country hit hardest with the loss of 25% of its mobilized population. This is compared to losses by France of 17%, Germany at 15%, Russia at 11.5% and Italy’s 10%.

Leading to the Serbian Campaign

The First Balkan war involving the Balkan League and Ottoman Empire was fought in 1912 and 1913. Bulgaria attacked both Greece and Serbia in mid-June of 1913. This led to them losing most of Macedonia to the two countries they had invaded.

The Second Balkan War, which lasted just 33 days, was precipitated by the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. This in turn led to the “July Crisis.” An ultimatum was given to Serbia by Austria-Hungary intended to lessen the power of the Kingdom of Serbia in the northern Balkans. The rejection of these demands led to the declaration of war by Austria and Hungary against Serbia.

Start of the Serbian Campaign

The Serbian Campaign began on July 28, 1914. The next day, Serbia’s largest city and capital, Belgrade, was heavily bombarded by their opponent’s artillery. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had a huge advantage in manpower as the comparative populations of Austria and Hungary were a dozen times higher than that of the Serbian Empire.

The Battle of Cer

The Battle of Cer is so named due its proximity to Cer Mountain, although it is sometimes referred to as the Battle of the Jadar River. Many of the clashes occurred in the town of Sabac. Over 3,000 Serbs perished in the conflict, but low morale by the Austro-Hungarian forces led to their retreat and a Serbian victory.

It is believed that upwards of 10,000 of the Austrian and Hungarian troops were killed, many of them drowning in the Drina River upon their withdrawing. Another 4,500 of their troops were captured and held as prisoners of war.

The Battle of Drina

As part of the aftermath to the Battle of Cer, Serbia decided to go on the offensive and attack the Hungarian region of Syrmia. To counter this, General Oskar Potiorek launched his own offensive against Serbia in hopes of forcing the Serbian contingent back to protect their homeland.

This time the Austro-Hungarian army eventually held the upper hand, although both sides suffered comparable loss of life.

The Battle of Kolubara

Coming off their success in the Battle of Drina, the Austrian and Hungarian forces decided to keep the pressure on with another attack on Belgrade. While initially successful, ultimately, with the assistance of ammunition from Greece and France, the Serbians were able to crush their foes’ outlying positions and return to their capital city and retake it as well.

Aftermath of the Battles

On December 7, 1914, the Serbian Parliament adopted a declaration stating the war goals of the country. The charter contained the Serbs’ willingness to persevere through any battles that would protect them as well as the non-liberated territories of Slovenia and Croatia.

For all intents and purposes, the Serbian Campaign lasted throughout World War I. It ended with the Treaty of Neuilly which afforded Serbia some relatively minor geographical concessions from Bulgaria.

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