What the Habsburg Army failed to achieve alone, it managed with help of the Allies from autumn 1915: the Central Powers gained substantial territory, forcing the Serbian army to retreat.
Under the command of General August von Mackensen, the Austro-Hungarian and German military units began an offensive against Serbia on October 6, 1915. A few days later, after an alliance treaty with Berlin, Bulgaria declared war on their beleaguered neighbours.
Meanwhile, the French and the British attempted in vain to relieve their Serbian allies. The latter, plagued moreover by epidemics and insufficient supplies, had been unable to withstand the foes’ superior numbers and more advanced weapons. The enemy invaders marched into Belgrade on October 9 and Niš on November 5.
Bad weather conditions slowed down the German and Austrian advance, saving, however, the Serbian Army from encirclement. They retreated to Durazzo and San Giovanna di Medusa on the Adriatic Sea. From there, supported by the Entente allies, they reached the island of Corfu where they could regenerate and reform.
Meanwhile, the Central Powers were able to record further successes. The capitulation of Montenegro on January 23, 1916 and the retreat of the Italians, now fighting on the side of the Entente, opened up favourable conditions for the Germans and Austrians to conduct further military operations, especially since the war fronts only stabilised in North Albania and along the Bulgarian-Greek border. This afforded Berlin and Vienna direct access to Istanbul, useful in particular as a supply line for troops stationed in the Dardanelles.
Angelow, Jürgen/Gahlen, Gundula (Hrsg.): Der Erste Weltkrieg auf dem Balkan. Perspektiven der Forschung, Berlin 2011
Fryer, Charles E.J.: The Destruction of Serbia in 1915, New York 1997
Gumz, Jonathan E.: The Resurrection and Collapse of Empire in Habsburg Serbia, 1914–1918, Cambridge 2009
Reichl-Ham, Claudia (Red.): Der unbekannte Verbündete – Bulgarien im Ersten Weltkrieg, Wien 2009
- The Fading-Out of the Balkan Front
- The War before the War
- Sarajevo and the July Crisis
- Ethnic Conflicts and the Brutalisation of the Battles
- Disillusionment for the Army – The Failed ‘Punitive Expedition’
- ‘The Allies’ Successes’
- The Occupying Regime in Different Regions
- Romania's Entry into the War and Defeat by the Central Powers
- Greece on the Side of the Entente
- 1918 – Peace between Romania and the Central Powers
- Consequences of the War on the Balkans