10 Facts About the Battle That Turned the Tide of World War I

A Casualty Clearing Station on the Macedonian Front in 1917 From Rev H R Cooke's diary

The Battle of Dobro Polje is largely forgotten in the great context of World War I, but it is a very defining moment for the Southern Front. The battle was a small one comparatively, but it was monumental in being the very first in a series of events that led to the end of World War I. Dobro Polje is located in modern day Macedonia, and the battle there broke the long-standing deadlock in the Balkans. The battle was won on September 17, 1918 by a tiny Franco-Serbian army, and just two months later on November 11, 1918, Germany became the last of the Central Powers to sign an Armistice.

The Macedonian Front Remained Stable Until the Battle of Dobro Polje

Serbia was invaded by Austria-Hungary in July 1914. The Allied Powers came to the aid of Serbia to try and protect the country, but unfortunately the Allied assistance was too little, too late. Serbia fell to the Central Powers. After the fall of Serbia a front line was established that ran from the Albanian Adriatic Coast to the Struma River.

Bulgarian POWs being interrogated. Military History Now

The Macedonian Front on one side consisted of a number of Allied troops from different countries facing off against the Bulgarians on the other side. There were times when the Bulgarians got help from other members of the Central Powers. Both sides used massive amounts of barbed wire to create their front line. The Allies established what became known as the “birdcage” due the large amount of barbed wire used to halt the advance of the Bulgarians and the German 11th.

The focus of the Allies throughout the beginning of 1916 was just to keep the front where it was. More Allied troops arrived in 1916 and were able to stop the Bulgarians from taking Greece, and therefore kept the front from changing.

In 1917, there was some back and forth of the front line at Lake Doiran, where the Allied troops moved forward in April 1917 and gained ground, only to be pushed back in May. It was not until 1918 and the Battle of Dobra Polje that the Allied forces were finally willing to send the manpower that was needed to move the front line and try to liberate Serbia. By 1918 the Greek Army joined the Allies and helped boost the numbers on the Macedonian front. After nearly three years of a stable front line, a major offensive began in July of 1918 with the Battle of Dobro Polje being the final assault that pushed the front line back and allowed the Allies to move into Serbia.

  • mechadave

    That battle had absolutely nothing to do with Germany giving up the war effort.

    • Rosario Benigno

      It led to Germany’s allies all seeking armistice’s and ultimately Germany itself because it could not face the combined strength of the Allies alone.

      • mechadave

        Absurd. Germany captitulated because of the defeat of the Ludendorff Offensive on the Western Front, and the susequent retreat by the German Army in the face of the Western Allies’ own advances that broke the stalemate. The Austrians weren’t fighting anybody the Germans feared.

        • PeterFV

          No. The failure of the Michael offensive (to give it its more commonly-used term) was the dominant but not the only reason Germany sued for peace. Another was the risk that Crown Prince Rupprecht would withdraw all Bavarian troops from the Western Front. That Germany was starving and strikes were breaking out was a third.

    • Nick Danger

      It’s kind of ridiculous to claim that 1 thing alone was the “cause”. In something as complex as WWI, there were many factors going into decisions.

      • mechadave

        Germany sued for peace because their troops on the Western front were defeated and retreating to the German frontier. No other reason.

        • PeterFV

          No. Read Ludendorff’s memoirs and you’ll understand.

          • mechadave

            Ludendorff’s self serving memiors? No thanks.

    • PeterFV

      No. It was the last straw for the Germans. Ludendorff was at his wits end and inveighed against the Bulgarians in his memoirs.

  • Kevin Conner

    Maybe it didn’t turn the tide, as the headline suggests, but this battle suggests that the tables were turning. Different tactics and a greater increase in military presence resulted in this battle going south for the Kaiser and his Allies, while building up like a snowball that lead the Allied nations to victory.

  • MiddleAgedKen

    I think the outcome was baked into the cake in August 1914. The Central Powers’ only chance was to force a capitulation on the Allies before President (string of expletives deleted) Wilson could connive the U.S. into the war.