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Third Army (Serbia)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Third Army (Serbian: Трећа армија/Treća armija) was a field army of the Army of the Kingdom of Serbia that fought during the Balkan Wars and World War I.

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Transcription

If you’re watching this in 2015, you are no doubt aware of the refugee crisis that’s being going on throughout the year, but you might not be aware that it is history repeating itself, for 100 years ago, another population, another nation, was forced to flee its land from the horrors of war. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week a British army in Mesopotamia had attacked the Ottomans at Ctesiphon, but were forced to retreat down river to Kut, followed by an army many times their size. The Italians had made small gains on the Isonzo at a heavy cost, while the Serbs were being driven from their lands by three invading armies. The Northeast had settled down for the winter, and in the west there was action in the skies. Here’s what followed. The Italian front was cooling off after several weeks of action. The Fourth battle of the Isonzo River came to an end this week. It had been raging since November 10th, but since that was only a week after the Third Battle of the Isonzo River ended, they had been at for pretty much seven weeks solid. The weather had cleared up in late November and the fighting had reached its greatest intensity, but on December 4th, the snows returned and fighting sputtered to a halt on the entire line. The two armies began to settle down for the winter with heavy snows in the Alps and bitter winds on the Corso. Casualties for the battle were intentionally disguised at the time, but the official postwar numbers are around 50,000 for the Italians and 30,000 for the Austro-Hungarians. Let’s be clear, though, just because the battle had ended, the fighting and dying didn’t. The artillery would still roar, aircraft and snipers would still harass infantry, and patrols would go out all the time into the bitter snows to keep watch on the other side. And both sides were busy tunneling under the rock and even placing explosives to cause strategic avalanches. So the slaughter never really came to an end. And slaughter was a good word to describe much of the recent action in the Balkans. Austro-Hungarian, German, and Bulgarian forces, over half a million strong, had invaded Serbia early last month, and though the Serbs and their French allies had fought bravely, the battle for Serbia was over. In fact, the Serbs had only one option really open to them at this point, to retreat to some territory where the enemy could not follow, and thus keep their army intact. The path into the mountains of Montenegro and Albania lay open, but there were no railroads and not even a good road for a wagon, so there was no way an army could make it as a whole. It would have to break up into smaller groups, each taking separate trails. There was no food supply, and starvation seemed a likely outcome for the Serbian army, which still totaled 200,000 men, and the mountains were by this time of year covered in deep snow. The Battle of Kosovo Plain was the final battle before the retreat. Ammunition had been stockpiled, the oxen who pulled the heavy equipment were set free; they couldn’t follow into the mountains. Kosovo Plain is forty miles long and ten miles wide, and it was a fitting scene for the Serbs last stand, for it was There that Lazar, the last of the medieval Serbian Tsars, ruler of an empire that spanned most of the Balkans, had lost his nation in 1389. The battle there in late November was fierce, bloody beyond belief, and several days long, but the end was predictable and it soon came. On November 28th, 1915, German headquarters issued a report that with the flight of the remnants of the Serbian army into the mountains “our great operations is the Balkans are brought to a close. Our object, to effect communications with Bulgaria and the Turkish Empire, has been accomplished.” By now, trains were running from Berlin to Constantinople, and Germany withdrew most German forces from the Balkans, leaving the Bulgarians to deal with Macedonia and the Austrians to deal with Montenegro. But you know what? It wasn’t just the Serbian army that was in flight, it was an entire nation, and on the retreat from Kosovo Plain, the army caught up with the fleeing general population. Winter came early that year, and many of the mountain passes and trails were already choked with snow, and the slopes were lashed by storms. Old women and children fell and died by the roadside, mothers with their babies would seek shelter from the winds and snows behind rocks only to starve. Here’s a firsthand description- one of the few- of the retreat from American United Press correspondent William G. Shepherd (Story of the Great war), “The entire world must prepare to shudder when all that is happening on the Albanian refugee trails finally comes to light. The horrors of the flight of the hapless Serbian people are growing with the arrival here of each new contingent from the devastated district... nearly the whole route... 90 miles... is lined with human corpses and the carcasses of horses and mules dead of starvation, while thousands of old men, women, and children are lying on the rocks... hungry and exhausted, awaiting the end.” There was also another hazard. Though Albania had officially declared itself for the Entente and offered to help the Serbs, many Albanian tribesmen who had suffered at Serbian hands in the Balkan Wars attacked the column of refugees and killed hundreds of them. A thing about Albania and Montenegro here, both of which had been attacked or had cities occupied at times during the war. Montenegro had joined the Entente and declared was on both Germany and Austria-Hungary in August 1914. Albania’s situation was much trickier. The Principality of Albania was only established in February 1914, but the southern part of the country, Epirote, which was ethnically Greek, was granted autonomy under nominal control of Albanian ruler Prince William in June, just a month before the war broke out. In just the few months before the war there had been riots, a planned coup against William by his Chief Minister Essad Pasha, and in general it was a real mess. When war broke out Austria-Hungary demanded that Albania furnish troops for the Imperial Army, but William said no since Albania was neutral. Warlords and local tribal chieftains took control of chunks of northern and central Albania, the Greeks in the south seized control and William fled the country in September 1914. Troops from both Greece and Italy occupied Albania that fall, though Italy stated in December that they were just helping maintain neutrality. Serbia and Montenegro also soon occupied parts of the country and it was basically anarchy in large parts of Albania. When the Serbs now came through in their retreat, they were eventually followed by Austro-German forces who would become the new occupiers of Albania, but that’s still in the future, so we’ll worry about that when we get there, but basically, nobody at all respected Albania’s neutrality. So winter was really coming on everywhere, even further south at Gallipoli. On November 27th, A vicious thunderstorm swept through and drowned over 100 Allied troops. Following the thunderstorm came two days of blizzards, with another 100 men freezing to death. 12,000 men at Suvla were treated for exposure, and the cold particularly affected the Australian and Indian troops. Evacuation was inevitable, since the men could not survive the winter there as things stood, the question was, “when?” Gallipoli had been a stalemate for months, and the western front for over a year, and now the Eastern Front was as well, at least temporarily. The ground was now too frozen to dig into quickly, so if you made an advance you couldn’t protect it from counter attacks. Still, one interesting thing happened this week over there, on November 28th, the German 82nd Divisional staff were surprised and taken prisoner by the Russians near Pinsk. Two generals were captured. And one more note to round out the week: On December 1st, Baron Sidney Sonnino, former Italian Prime Minister and current Minister of Foreign affairs, announced in the Chamber of Deputies that Italy had formally entered the agreement with Russia, France, Great Britain, and later Japan, that none of them would conclude a separate peace with any of their enemies. And the week ends, with a battle ending for the Italians, the Russians surprising the Germans, and people freezing to death and drowning at Gallipoli. And starving and freezing to death in the mountains of Albania. And what of those who survived? Those who made it through the mountains, what of them? The despair must have been unimaginable, then as now, as much of a nation- an entire people- become refugees, driven from their land by war, and in the Serbian case walking to a future that at this point was one of impenetrable blackness. World War 1 brought unimaginable suffering for the civilians on all fronts. Back in winter we talked about the fate of the refugees on the Western Front and you can check that out right here: Our Patreon supporter of the week is Michael Speed (what a great name!) - thanks to Michaels contribution on Patreon we improved our digital map and our animations. If you want to help our show, support us on Patreon. Don’t forget to subscribe and see you next week.

Contents

History

First Balkan War

During the First Balkan War, the Third Army participated in the Battle of Kumanovo (23 - October 24, 1912) along with the Serbian First Army and the Serbian Second Army. It was composed of four infantry divisions and one infantry brigade (76,000 men), deployed in two groups, the first one at Toplica and the second one at Medveđa. It was assigned to the westernmost attack, with the task of taking Kosovo and then moving south to attack the left flank of the Ottoman Army.

World War I

In World War I, the Third Army fought in the successful Battles of Cer, Drina and Kolubra in 1914. But in Autumn 1915 they were defeated by the Bulgarians and Germans during the Kosovo Offensive.
The Third Army was reestablished at the Macedonian Front in 1916 and fought several battles against the Bulgarians, until it was disbanded on 28 March 1917.[1]

Pavle Jurišić Šturm remained commander of the Third Army until August 1916, when he was replaced by Miloš Vasić.

Organization

First Balkan War

Divisions and brigades Regiments and batteries
Gen. Božidar Janković[2]
Šumadija Division I line:
Col. Đorđe Mihailović
  • X infantry regiment (I line)
  • XI infantry regiment (I line)
  • XII infantry regiment (I line) - Lt. Col. Milivoje Stojanović
  • XIX infantry regiment (I line)
  • Šumadija field artillery regiment (9 batteries)
  • Šumadija divisional cavalry division
Morava Division II line:
Col. Milovan Nedić
  • I infantry regiment (II line)
  • II infantry regiment (II line) - Lt. Col. Dušan Vasić
  • III infantry regiment (II line)
  • Morava field artillery division (3 batteries)
  • Morava divisional cavalry division
Drina division II line:
Col. Pavle Paunović
  • V infantry regiment (II line)
  • VI infantry regiment (II line)
  • Drina field artillery division (minus 3rd battery attached to Javor Brigade)
  • Drina divisional cavalry division
Morava brigade I line:
Lt. Col. Stevan Milovanović
  • I supernumerary infantry regiment (I line) - Lt. Col. Živojin Bacić
  • II supernumerary infantry regiment (I line)
  • 9th battery (detached from Morava field artillery regiment)
  • cavalry division
Army cavalry:
  • two squadrons of cavalry
Army artillery:
  • 2nd mountain artillery division
  • 3rd mountain artillery division
  • 3rd howitzer battery
  • 4th howitzer battery
  • 4th heavy battery 120 mm
Chetnik detachments
Maj. Marjanović
  • Medveđa
  • Kuršumlija
  • Lukovo
  • Kolašin

World War I : August 1914

Commander : Pavle Jurišić Šturm

Divisions and brigades Regiments, battalions, detachments and batteries
I Drina Infantry Division
II Drina Infantry Division
Detachments guarding Drina river:
  • Obrenovac detachment
    • 6 infantry battalions
    • 1 cavalry troop
    • 2 artillery batteries
  • Šabac detachment
    • 8 infantry battalions
    • 1 cavalry troop
    • 2 artillery batteries
  • Loznica and Lesnica detachments
    • 6 infantry battalions
    • 1 cavalry troop
    • 3 artillery batteries
  • Ljubovija detachment
    • 2 infantry battalions III
    • 1 artillery battery
  • Debelo Brdo detachment
    • 1 infantry battalion III
  • Jadar Chetnik detachment - 500 chetniks
  • Rudnik Chetnik detachment - 500 chetniks

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ Armies in the Balkans 1914-1918 pag. 13
  2. ^ "The Greatest Serbian Commanders". Serbian History 101. Archived from the original on 06-04-2011. Retrieved 4 June 2011. Check date values in: |archivedate= (help)
This page was last edited on 30 October 2017, at 19:34
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