Battle Of Doiran

Meanwhile in Salonika Allied forces were reading for a major offensive intended to end the war. The final assault began along the whole front in the Lake Doiran area. "Pip Ridge" was a 2000' high heavily defended mountain ridge with fortresses built around it.

The Battle of Doiran is now a forgotten episode of the Great War, overshadowed by the doings of Haig in France and Allenby in Palestine. There was no full contemporary account of the Battle in any British Newspaper. Sir George Milne's dispatch was not published and did not appear in the Times until January 23rd 1919, and then only in truncated form. The very name of the battle is unknown to most. Yet, in singularity of horror and in tragedy of defeated heroism, it is unique among the records of British arms. The real work of the assault was entrusted to the men of the 22nd and 26th Divisions, who were to attack the Doiran hills, co-operating with the Cretan Division of the Greek Army and a regiment of unreliable Zouaves. In the early light of an almost unclouded morning the British and Greek forces advanced in order of battle. The noise of our guns had abruptly ceased before daybreak, and there came that awful pause in which defenders and attackers are braced up to face the ordeal, with fear or desperation, with cool courage or with blazing ardour. Slowly the pale grey smoke lifted in layers of thin film above the ridges, blue shadows deep in every fold or hollow and a dim golden glow on scrub, rock and heather. No one could tell what had been the effect of our gunfire upon those fortified hills.

The infantry soldier relies upon the guns behind him, trusting in their power to smash a way for his advance by killing or demoralizing the enemy and cutting up his defences. In this case, if he had any hopes or illusions, the infantry soldier was quickly un-deceived. Our attack on ' Pip Ridge' was led by 12th Cheshires. The battle opened with a crash of machine-gun fire, and a cloud of dusty smoke began to blur the outline of the hills, Almost immediately the advancing battalion was overwhelmed in a deadly steam of bullets which came whipping and whistling down the open slopes. Those who survived were followed by a battalion of Lancashire men, and a remnant of this undaunted infantry fought its way over the first and second lines of trenches - if indeed the term " line " can be applied to a highly complicated and irregular system of defence, taking full advantage of every fold or contortion of the ground. In its turn, a Shropshire battalion ascended the fatal ridge. By this time the battle of the " Pips" was a mere confusion of massacre, noise and futile bravery. Nearly all the men of the first two battalions were lying dead or wounded on the hillside. Colonel Clegg and Colonel Bishop were killed; the few surviving troops were toiling and fighting in what appeared to be inevitable and immediate death. The attack was ending in a bloody disaster. No orders could reach the isolated cluster of men who were still trying to advance on the ridge. Contact aeroplanes came roaring down through the yellow haze of dust and smoke, hardly able to see what was going on, and even flying below the levels of the Ridge and Grand Couronne.

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