Wednesday, December 14, 2011

THE MIRACLE OF THE KOLUBARA! / November 16, 1914 - December 15, 1914

The Kolubara Campaign
November - December 1914
World War I

"....The Austrians had failed to enter the city of Valyevo, the Serb headquarters and an important center of communications. However, by the beginning of November [1914], Vienna was ready with new troops.

"The new push was on. The Serb command simply had no alternative but to withdraw further inland, to consolidate its forces as much as possible and pray for a lucky break. The city of Valyevo had to be abandoned, and as soon as Vienna got word of this, a carnival mood in the capital city of the Empire set in. Vienna was illuminated; Emperor Francis Joseph sent special congratulations to Potiorek, while the Turks awarded him their highest decorations! Amid all this Austrian jubilation, the Serbs had to swallow another bitter pill. In order to shorten the northern front, Belgrade had to be evacuated! Belgrade, which had been defended with so much pride and such gallantry by the army and by the whole Serb nation. Finding the gates of Belgrade thrown open before them, the Austrians were so certain that finally the Serbian back had been broken, and that surely, it was only a matter of time before the Serb state would exhale its last breath. But there was another battle still to come."

The Miracle of Kolubara River

'Men still talk of the miracle of the Marne, where there is little that is miraculous. There would be more justification in talking of the miracle of the Kolubara.'

British Official History of World War I

"Most of the Serbian forces were then entrenched along the right bank of the river Kolubara (the battle is also referred to as the Suvobor Mountain battle) where they waited for fresh supplies and new moves by the enemy. Sure enough, the enemy was soon to make a move, and as it turned out in the end, it was this Austrian move away from the established front that was to be the lucky break for which the Serbs had waited. Instead of continuing with their advance from the west, the Austrians decided to cut off the Serbian retreat from Belgrade to Nish, and to take to the valley of the river Morava, which cuts through Serbia's north-south middle. To do this, Potiorek withdrew large forces from the western front, which was nothing but an invitation to the Serbs for an attack through the middle of the front. General Misich and his First Army were appointed to do the job by Radomir Putnik, Serbia's Chief of Staff."

Radomir Putnik

Zivojin Misich

"On the third of December, 1914, the famous Battle of Kolubara began. The Austrians were flabbergasted, totally shocked and paralyzed, especially when after some ten hours of fighting they could plainly see that the Serbians were winning! Along the whole of the two hundred and fifty kilometer front

"'This almost miraculous resuscitation poured new life into the Serbian army and revealed the extent of its latent strength. By the complete and harmonious cooperation of all their forces the Serbians dealt  the enemy a crushing blow without much loss of life on their own side. The commanders of the different units expressed their thanks for the harmonious cooperation of the commanders on their wings. The infantry was full of praise for the artillery, and the gunners could not find words to express their admiration for the impetuosity and irresistable onset of the infantry.'" 

Vladislav R. Savic

"Valyevo, whose capture had been celebrated in Vienna, was then re-taken by the Serbs after only two hours' resistance! Belgrade was back in Serbia's hands on December 15th, after only thirteen days of enemy occupation! In ten days, the Serbian victory was so complete that the Serbian High Command was able to issue a communique stating that that, 'Not one enemy soldier remains at liberty on the soil of the Serbian Kingdom.' As one participant in the Kolubara campaign remarked:

"'Only the passing of two or three centuries are needed to make the glorious heroism of the Serbian soldiers stand out as a legend to the generations that are to come. They will scarcely be able to believe what we have all witnessed.'"

Paul Pavlovich
The Story of a People
Pages 196-197

Serbian Heritage Books
Toronto 1983


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