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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Sunday 5 June 2016

Lake Doiran 1916-18

I had the pleasure of visiting another battlefield I have read and written about - Lake Doiran on the Greek-Macedonian border.

In August 1916 the allied advance out of Salonika reached Doiran, a strong defensive position with hills rising from the lake. Three French and one British division attempted unsuccessfully to displace the Bulgarian 2nd Thracian division with heavy casualties.

Both sides dug in and conventional WW1 trench warfare ensued. In April 1917 the British amassed 43,000 men, 160 guns, 110 mortars and 440 machine-guns for an assault on Doiran, now defended by 9th Pleven Division. Successive assaults failed to make significant progress.

The Bulgarian positions

The third battle of Doiran in September 1918 followed a similar pattern, this time the British forces were reinforced by Greek divisions. However, despite a massive artillery bombardment and initial success, very little progress was made. It was the Serbian and French success in the Vardar Valley that forced the Bulgarian army to withdraw from Doiran.

Lake Doiran today is a beautiful sight, with little to remind the visitor of the dreadful events a century ago. The Doiran memorial stands on Colonial Hill in the centre of the British line and lists the casualties that include regiments from every part of the U.K. There is a cemetery further down the hill for the British dead and a sadly unkempt one for the Greeks. The Bulgarian positions are just over the border in Macedonia (FYROM), but their strength is obvious from the memorial.

The Memorial.

British cemetary

Greek cemetary.

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