Visit the Macedonian Front Visit the Macedonian Front

Visit the Macedonian Front

Short History WW1 Short History WW1

Short History WW1

Discover the Macedonian Front Discover the Macedonian Front

Discover the Macedonian Front

Everyday life on the Macedonian front Everyday life on the Macedonian front

Everyday life on the Macedonian front


Visit the Macedonian Front

Between the end of 1915 and the signing of the armistice on 29 September 1918, a number of battles were fought along the Macedonian Front line. In these places, the remains of the battles are visible today.
Trenches, shelters, ammunition residue and other military materials used by the two belligerent factions are there today. These battlefields are also known to the local population, who remember the battles of the Great War of 1915-1918. Of course, the best known are those of Kaymakchalan and Dobro Pole, but also those of Dojran, Crveni Steni, Crna Reka, Prespa, Tikves, the village of Snegovo, Pelister Lakes, Sokol and others. Today, in some of these places, there are commemorative plaques that remind us of the events and battles of the 1914-1918 war. In some places, old plaques have been removed or stolen for many decades, and the only memories are the remains of trenches and shelters.

- The Kaymakcalan Mountain (2524 m.) is one of the most famous places in the history of the First World War, where, one of the most atrocious battles of the Macedonian Front took place from August to October 1916. The strategic importance of the place explains the hardness of the battles - control over Pelagonija and Mariovo. Many soldiers were killed during the fighting. Today, the St. Peter Chapel and the mass grave of the Serbian soldiers bear witness to this battle

- Dobro Pole is located east of Kaymakchalan (1875 m.) and it is here that Serbian troops succeeded in breaking through the Bulgarian lines, which led to a destabilisation of the front line and the capitulation of Bulgaria on 29 September 1918. The battle of Dobro Pole began with the formation of the Macedonian Front in 1916. Until the breakthrough of the Front on 18 September, after four days of Allied offensive, there had been no significant change in the front line. Today, the only way to reach Dobro Pole is by all-terrain vehicle or by walking for several hours, and the few trenches and the traces on the rock where a commemorative plaque used to be found are testifying to the battle of Dobro Pole during the First World War.

- Tikves - hardly anyone in Macedonia is aware of the Tikves' battles in the First World War. In the autumn of 1915, in an attempt to help the retreating Serbian armies, the French and British armies tried to cross the Vardar River. During this attempt in Tikves, they collided with the Bulgarian armies. The fighting lasted from October to early December in the regions of Rosoman, Gradsko, Krivolak and Demir Kapija. In December, after the final defeat of the Serbian army, the French and British armies withdrew to Thessaloniki.

- Crveni Steni is a mountainous area on Mount Baba, where the front line stretched from autumn 1916, and more precisely from the occupation of Bitola, until the end of the war. The French and Bulgarian armies opposed each other several times on Crveni Steni. Today, the place is a landscape that forms part of the territory of Pelister National Park.

- Sokol is the summit of Mount Nidze (1882 m), located between Kaymakchalan and Dobro Pole. The front line passed through the summit from 1916 to the breakthrough of the front in September 1918. Until 1918, Sokol was not a battlefield. In the plans of the Allies, the breakthrough of the front should have occurred precisely in the area between Dobro Pole and Sokol at the time of the fiercest battles there. The defeat of the Bulgarian armies at this place, and at Dobro Pole, led to the breakthrough of the front.

- Snegovo village, located north of the town of Bitola, on the hillside of Oblakovska Mountain, next to the front line in the period between 1916 and 1918. Like Crveni Steni and the peak 1248, the village of Snegovo is a place where fierce battles took place to control the town of Bitola. Today, the village of Snegovo is uninhabited. Only the remains of the trenches bear witness to the battles of the First World War.

- The Crna River, in particular the Crna Loop, is one of the most important places in the history of the First World War on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia. The battles took place on different parts of the river in Pelagonija, Mariovo and Tikves. The Crna River was a source of water for soldiers on both sides of the river, as well as a recreational and refreshment area during the summer. The most significant battles took place in the meander of Crna River near the villages of Brod and Skocivir in 1916, and in the autumn of 1915 near the villages of Rosoman, Manastirec and Trstenik.

- Peak 1050 is strategic high point east of the town of Bitola which allowed the control of a large part of Pelagonija. By the end of 1916, the front line passed near peak 1050 under the control of the Bulgarian army. From the winter of 1916-1917, until the end of the war, the Allied armies unsuccessfully tried to conquer it several times. Today, in the vicinity of peak 1050, remains of well-preserved trenches and shelters on both sides can be found.

- Dojran and its surroundings is one of the many places where the most violent battles of the Macedonian Front took place during the First World War. The British army has tried to break through the positions of their opponents several times. The military cemeteries Polykastro (Greece) and Valandovo (Greek military cemetery), and the damage to the St. Ilija's church in Star Dojran testify to the violence of the battles. Near Dojran, in Kale Tepe, trenches and shelters of the Bulgarian army can be found. During the battles, the population of Dojran was forced to leave. On several occasions, the city was burned down by British artillery.

- Mariovo, particularly the villages of Mariovo, is the region where the most violent battles took place on Macedonian territory, from the summer of 1916 until the end of the war in 1918. Thousands of soldiers were killed near the Crna River, villages of Makovo, Rapesh, Staravina, Zovik and Gradeshnica. Almost all the villages in this region have been destroyed and their population has left. The remains of the war are still visible in Mariovo villages; after the war, the local population recycled military equipment such as barbed wire, tin or weapons for their own use. The war continued to have consequences long after it was over; unexploded munitions continued to cause injuries, even after the Second World War.

- Prespa and Ohrid are less known places of battles. Battles took place there from 1916 to 1918. The front line passed through the villages Slivnica, Oteshevo and Pestani. Compared to other parts of the front, the battles in these areas were not so violent. For three years, the positions of the two belligerent parties remained unchanged. Their military efforts targeted the surroundings of Bitola, Mariovo, and the Vardar Valley. Today, however, some place names bear witness to the battles of the First World War (Bulgarian summit on Galichica) as well as weapons found by divers in lakes and mountaineers on Mount Galichica.

Military Cemeteries

Today, in the territories of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia and Serbia, there are numerous cemeteries and military monuments that bear witness to the severity of the battles and the consequences of the war. Many graves remain unknown and many soldiers have not been buried. Some of them - Serbian soldiers - were buried in the waters of the Ionian Sea near Corfu Island; these cemeteries are known as the Blue Cemetery. Many of the other unidentified soldiers have been buried in mass graves.
The largest military cemeteries of the First World War today can be found in Thessaloniki in a place called Zeitinlick, a military base during the war. Troops of French, British, Serbian, Italian, Greek and Russian armies were buried in these cemeteries. In the territory of the Republic of Macedonia, the largest military cemeteries and the majority of them are located in Bitola, including the French military cemetery, where more than 6,000 French soldiers are buried. The Serbian military cemeteries, with more than 1,300 soldiers, and the German cemeteries, with about 3,400 soldiers, are located next to the French military cemetery. Not far from Bitola, in Mariovo, there are small military cemeteries of the Serbian, Bulgarian and French armies. The most important one is in the village of Gruništa where Serbian soldiers are buried in two places. There is also the tomb of a Bulgarian officer. Other important places are Prilep (German military cemetery), Skopje (French and British military cemetery), Novo Selo (Bulgarian military cemetery) and Valandovo (Greek military cemetery). The remains of 1,683 German soldiers were buried in the Prilep military cemetery. Austro-Hungarian, Bulgarian and Turkish soldiers were buried in the same cemetery, but also Romanian, Russian and Serbian soldiers who died as prisoners and Albanian workers. At the Skopje military cemetery, a small number of dead soldiers were buried in operations after the breakthrough on the front. In addition to these military cemeteries that are maintained by embassies of the countries whose soldiers are buried, there are also remains of military cemeteries that were neglected and destroyed in the period after the First and especially after the Second World War. This is the case with the Serbian cemeteries of Skocivir, Dobroveni, Zivojno, the Bulgarian cemeteries of Zovik and Capari, as well as the German military cemetery of Gradsko.

Today, on 11 September each year, there are different commemorations in the military cemeteries of Macedonia. Delegations from the German, French, Serbian and other embassies whose countries fought in 1914-1918 pay tribute to the dead soldiers and civilians.




The photos

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The Manaki photos

The Manaki photos - The photos are in the property of the National archive of the Republic of Macedonia, department in Bitola. The photos are edited by the Macedonian Centre for photography.

The original photos are in the property of the European association for local democracy – ALDA.  Photographer: Zoran Shekerov



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