General Georgi Todorov, Commander of the Bulgarian Second Army from 1915-18, with his staff. Todorov became Commander-in-Chief just before the Allies began their final advance from northern Greece (Photo © IWM Q 52818)

100 Years Ago - Bulgaria exits the First World War

Posted on on 30 September 2018
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Bulgaria was the first of the Central Powers to drop out of the Great War, under an armistice which came into effect on 30 September 1918.

The Allied advance from Salonika forced the Bulgarians to seek a ceasefire on the Macedonian front.

The city of Skopje fell to French-led troops on 29 September 1918, ending a three-year occupation.

French and Serbian forces had broken through the Bulgarian lines west of the Vardar river after launching offensives from the Allied base at Salonika (present-day Thessaloniki) in Greece in mid-September.

Under pressure also from British and Greek attacks to the east, Bulgaria withdrew from the entire front, requesting a ceasefire amid mounting domestic unrest.

Bulgaria entered the First World War in October 1915, joining Austria-Hungary and Germany in invading Serbia.

Its involvement ended with the Armistice of Salonika, signed on 29 September 1918 and coming into effect the next day.

The terms included immediate evacuation of territories still occupied in Greece and Serbia and demobilisation of the bulk of the Bulgarian army.

Bulgaria’s defeat left the Central Powers exposed to attack from the Balkans, just as the Allied armies on the Western Front were breaking through the German army’s principal lines of defence in France.

Faced with these threats, Germany’s supreme commanders Hindenburg and Ludendorff met government ministers - also on September 29 - to press for a ceasefire.  The First World War  had only weeks to go, but there would still be much bloodshed before the Armistice on November 11.

The story of the 'forgotten' 1915-1918 campaign is told in Salonikaa film released online by the UK-based charity, Away from the Western Front. It's written and presented by Alan Wakefield,  Head of First World War and Early 20th Century Conflict at the Imperial War Museum - IWM.  See also The Salonika Campaign Society.

See also in Centenary News:

'Tout Le Monde à La Bataille' - Allies strike across the Western Front, 26-29 September 1918

Images courtesy of Imperial War Museums, © IWM Q 52818

Posted by: CN Editorial Team