First Blood to the Allies

Bulgarians get a nasty shock

French help Serbs to victory

THERE is, at the moment of writing, no official confirmation from purely Serbian or Allied sources of the occupation by the Allies of Strumnitza on the south-western corner of Bulgaria, but the statement is quite possibly true.

Strumnitza is a position without importance but the news of its capture is welcome as evidence that the Allies are striking swiftly. Strumnitza is about 40 miles north-North-west of Salonika, is ten miles from the Serbian frontier and about 15 from the Greek.

It had already been understood that French troops had joined hands with the Serbs who were in contact with the Bulgars and that an advance from Valondova towards Strumnitza was in progress so that this claim and the additional news that various points dominating the railway have been occupied by Allied forces, is apparently well based.

The message states that “the protection of the line is regarded as assured,” but we had better wait a little while before accepting this as actually the case. It will not be long now before definite news comes along.

Earlier telegrams announcing the departure of the Allied troops from Salonika, suggested that they would probably just get into touch with the Bulgarians marching towards Valondova and that the first fighting would take place at Ghevgeli in the Doiran district. Ghevgeli is on the Greco-Serbian frontier, 50 miles north west of Salonika and Valondova is 15 miles north-east of Ghevgeli.

The Bulgarians were reported to be 50,000 strong in the sector of Valondova and it is clear that they had had a big thrashing, other wise the advance upon and capture of the Strumnitza could not have taken place so quickly.

The general position is by no means clear and on the northern line the obscurity is considerable.

The Germans claim to have advanced twelve miles south of Belgrade, to have captured the heights, including the strong Avala position, and to be advancing towards the more powerful Serbian mountain defences.

For the Bulgarians the claim is that they have taken the eastern forts of Zaitchan, the fortress that guards the Timok Valley and the railway from Nish to the Romanian border. A message from Nish admits that they are also threatening Rumanovo and Vranie, in the centre, with the idea of driving a wedge between the Serbians and the approaching Allies.

On the other hand the Serbians have defeated the German attempt to surround their Semendria wing, and this morning’s telegram certainly suggest that the Bulgarians are not likely to achieve any big success.

In another 24 hours it may be possible to disentangle the facts from the mass of confused “information” and in any case it is much too soon to take an optimistic view of the situation.

It was suggested here on Saturday morning, in commenting upon the fact that the Germans had once more forced their way to the top of Hartmannsweilerkopf, that in the afternoon or evening communique the recapture of these positions by the French would be announced. And it was so.

The paragraph, in the evening report, dealing with the Vosges fighting, read as follows: “a vigorous counter-attack enabled us to recapture all our positions at the summit of the Hartmannsweilerkopf and to carry in addition a fort previously occupied by the enemy.