Nearing Nish

Bulgarians hold the key to Pirot

TELEGRAMS arriving after yesterday morning’s summary was written showed that the fight at and around Veles was on a scale quite as large as suggested, and that the Franco-Serbian successes in this region were more important than was at first thought.

Veles (Kupruln) is the principal town on the railway between Uskub and Salonika, and is less than 30 miles below the former place.

If it is securely held, and if the French forces are considerable as we hope they are, the Bulgarian occupation at Uskub may be terminated at any time.

It is understood, from an answer given in the House of Commons last night, that the British force originally landed (the 13,000 men) are now co-operating with the French and Serbs.

If this is so, we may believe that now British contingents have reached or are not far from Levantino waters and that the movement from the south will rapidly assume the dimensions necessary to effectively hinder the further Bulgarian advance.

Every day that passes, however - it might almost be said, every hour - detracts from the changes of decisive success.

Last night’s news was certainly not encouraging.

The German communique claimed that a junction had been established with the Bulgarian army under General Bodjedjeff in the extreme north-east, as a point north of Prahovo, and that there was a general advance of the Germans southward to within dangerous proximity of Krsgujevatz.

Slightly further progress by the enemy and Serbia’s hope of blocking the passage to Vidin (the railhead of the line to Sofia) seems to have disappeared Moreover, it seems only too clear that the linking up of the Bulgarians and Austro-Germans above Prahovo on the Danube loop south of Orsova, with the withdrawal of the Serbian troops from the salient to which their possession had been reduced, not only leaves open a passage from Hungary to Bulgaria (a narrow mountain path impractable, however, for any great military movement), but apparently frees the Danube for the transport of men and munitions to Bulgaria and Turkey.

This morning comes the further unpleasant news in a semi-official enemy message that the Bulgarians have actually occupied Kraguzevac (or Kragujevatz), Serbia’s chief arsenal and taken by storm the position of Drenova Glava which is said to be the key of the fortified girdle of Pirot.

It seems incredible that the northern penetration should have proceeded so far as Kragujevatz, and an appeal to the map suggests that Kniazevatz is intended, but even this shows how serious the menace to Nish has already become, and how improbable it is that any pressure from so far south as the Vardar can operate quickly enough to save the present capital from falling.

Probably the retaking of Veles by the Allies has been followed by a Bulgarian evacuation of Ishtip and as a further result Uskub may also revert to Serbian possession but with time so pressing these places seem at an almost remote distance from Nish and the possibility of stopping a complete linking up of Teutonic-Bulgarian forces does not appear feasible.