¡La Constitución Vive! - A Spanish parliamentary monarchy

I just noticed the next election is due for 1924, two years past the usual four, so I guess it might have been delayed by war. Or is it just another glitch of the infobox?
No, that's because of some unexpected and incomming troubles that are going to upset the course of events in Spain.
24. Terrorism in Europe (1890s-1910s)

Europe in 1919 (1)
24. Terrorism in Europe (1890s-1910s)

While the Balkans were a source of jokes and a perfect scenario for adventure novels like The Prisoner of Zenda, its politics were deadly serious. Murders, plots and conspiracies were a part of the politics of the area. Those who used them to rise found themselves later on unable to control them. The Makedonska Revolucionerna Organizacija (MRO - Macedonian Revolutionary Organization -2-) created in 1893 to fight the Ottoman control of the Macedonia and Adrianople regions, had turned into a terrorist organization that, from 1899 onwards, fought against Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia to win full political independence for the region. In Serbia, the Narodna Obrana (NO - National Defence) came to life after the summer of 1912, when the Serbo-Bulgarian alliance expired. It demanded the annexation of those territories with an ethnic Serb population to the kingdom of Serbia and the Principality of Montenegro to create a a single Pan-Serb nation. This included Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Slavonia and the southern part of Hungary, as well as Kosovo and Macedonia. This led to violent clashes between the MRO and the NO and to terrorist attacks in Croatia, Greece, Hungary and Bulgaria. Eventually, the Serbian alliance with Greece aimed against Bulgaria took the Hellenic country out of the targets of the NO, at least for a while.

Furthermore, the interferences of Hungary into Croatian politics led to a wave of terrorist attacks against Hungarian representatives (1901-1904) that forced Berlin to intervene in the area once more. However, when the Croatian terrorists simply changed their targets and attempted to murder the German attaché in Zagreb, a vicious crackdown of the terrorrist cells followed and forced them to hide and stop their activities. Then, Nikolai Hartwig (1857-1923) -3-, the Russian Ambassador in Belgrade, further messed the situation when he began to support and fund the actions of the NO against Bulgaria while trying to stop them from attacking Greece. At the same time, he fought hard to induce Romania into an offensive alliance with Serbia and Greece against Bulgaria, achieving an outstanding success in both roles, specially in the latter when the "Triplice Alliance" was signed on May 1918 between the three countries, even if the NO kept targeting Greece from time to time. From then on, the war in the Balkans was just a matter of time. Meanwhile, Hartwig's counterpart in Sofia, Anatoly Neklyudov (1856-1943), was unable to win the Bulgarians to the Russian side, as they kept playing a dangerous game with both the Russian and German Empires. It must be added that Neklyudov never worked too hard to achieve this goal as he feared that this woud lead to a Serbian-Bulgarian alliance that "may have dangerous results for the peace in the Balkans".

Finally, Piedmont's efforts were to dwarf those of the MRO and the NO and even the Serbian and Bulgarian ones. The Piedmontese Secret Service was led by a promising young officer named Benito Mussolini who would be known for his incredible working capacity and his unlimited hatred to the enemies of his hatred, even if he lacked some sobering qualities that kept his dream-like projects in touch with reality, as he was prone of thinking "too big" some times. After a brief spell with Socialist ideas, Mussolini had fully embraced the nationalist Piedmontese nationalism when he joined the army in 1902, rising fast in the ranks to become a prominent figure in the Secret Service. Soon he headed the "foreign section" that "exported" anarchist terrorists to those countries that had crossed the Piedmont's ways as we have already seen with the Spanish case. Thus, soon bomb attacks ripped through the world's richest cities: from 1905 onwards anarchist terror plagued the world as explosions devastated Wall Street and the London Undergrounds, theatre, cafes and parades in Barcelona, Paris and Saint Petersburg.

Then, the coronation of Jean III of France in 1911 made the alliances to be reconsidered when the French foreign policy changed their course. Even the terrorists had to rethink their targets.

(1) Bosnia should appear as a different country from Croatia. My fault.
(2) Based IOTL IMRO.
(3) I mspite of his bad habits and his temper, Hartwig manages in TTL to live nine extra years.
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25. Speak softly and carry a big wallet: US foreign policy (1916-1919)

25. Speak softly and carry a big wallet: US foreign policy (1916-1919)

Under Jean III and Paul de Cassagnac, France began a hurried return to greatness. The new regime put an end to the political chaos and with it the economy recovered. Then, during the elections of April 1914, there was a brief return to those troubled days when there were claims that the elections had been rigged. However, the tenure of Raymond Poincaré put down those fears. The program of public works that had greatly improved and enhanced the French infraestructure ended in 1915 and was replaced by industrial growth and military spending, as well as a very active propaganda program to stimulate the sense of "Frenchness" among the population, specially in the rural France.

From 1914, Poincaré began a foreign policy meant to block Germany and to restore ties with France's ally, Russia. France also came close during that time to the Kingdom of Piedmont. Huge French loans stimulated the Piedmontese and Russian economies and militaries. The former began to buy Berthier M1907 rifles, which by then were beginning to be mass produced in France, St. Ettiene M 1907 and Chauchat M1915 machine guns, 105 mm Schneider mle 1913 (which were also produced under license in Italy by Ansaldo) and 75mm Mle 1897 field guns, while the latter was mainly interested in 107 mm M1910 field guns, 152mm M1910 howitzers and 280mm M1914 Schneider siege howitzers.

The greatest international success would be the USA-Franco Entente of 1917, when Paris was able to break again into the world stage. After the elections of 1916, president Theodore Roosevelt wasted no time to implement new political and economic initiatives while, at the same time, increasing military spending. The armed forces were expanded, and, by 1919, the US Army had 250,000 soldiers in their ranks, which were expected to rise to 400,000 by 1921. The US Navy were to be reinforced with six new battleships, the Colorado class, an upgunned version of the New Mexico class with strengthened underwater protection system; six Lexington class battlecrusiers (requested in 1911 as a reaction to the building by Japan of the Kongo class), ten Omaha class light cruisers, twenty Caldwell destroyers and three experimental submarines, the T class. This program of expansion resulted in a a 40% real increase in defense spending between 1916 and 1919. However, to cover not only the military but the whole federal budget deficits, the United States borrowed heavily both domestically and abroad, and thus the national debt rose to a 145% by 1919.

Roosevelt was interested too in blocking Germany, which he considered to be a threat to the world peace with their expansionism, and Japan, too. The president disliked how Tokio was using the chaos in China to press Sun Yat-sen to exchange Japan support for Chinese concessions. This move failed in face of the British and US opposition to Japan's bullying diplomacy. The British Foreign Office in particular was concerned with the Tokio attempts as they would establish a Japanese protectorate over all of China. Thus, when Roosevelt refused to recognize Japan's "special interests" in Manchuria and Mongolia in April 1917, Japan reduced his pressure and waited for the next chance. This crisis led a to an increased diplomatic flow between London and Washington, as Roosevelt was worried about Japan's ambitions in Asia. This would be the genesis of the "Special Relationship" between the two nations and the signing of the Atlantic Charter (August 15, 1921), an informal alliance that outlined US and UK aims for the world.

To contain Germany Roosevelt opened diplomatic exchanges with the British, as we have seen, and Russian Empire and with the Kingdom of France. Paris, however, was initially doubtful whether France would gain much from an alliance with the United States. After all, in a serious conflict with Germany, the United States were too distant to be able to count on their support; nevertheless, Roosevelt may plain clear that, were war to break out between France and Germany, it was virtually inconceivable that Washington would simply stand aside. Thus, when the USA-French Entente was signed in 1918, the dolar also landed in France and took Poincaré to victory in the elections of May 1918.
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25. Speak softly and carry a big wallet: US foreign policy (1916-1919)

A couple of comments on the choice's of weaponry. Without WWI, the Mle 1897 75mm gun of the French Army will almost certainly still be in heavy usage, and favored in the French Army. It would therefore also seem logical for it to be part of what was exported to Spain. As for the 105mm Mle 1913, yes some should be exported, but more of the 75's. This is however, your choice, but with a smaller gun you need fewer horses, fewer men, and get more guns. It really depends on what the Spanish wish, as the heavier gun is also more effective. If anything, howitzers and mortars would be logical, especially for use in mountainous terrain.
It is a shame that Spain cant get something other than the Berthier. They ITTL, will only have a three round clip. That is two less than anyone else, in an ok rifle, but not nearly as good of one as can be had elsewhere, such as with the Carcano, the Enfield, or the Mauser. Which brings up another question, (forgive me if the reasoning in this was covered elsewhere) but why would the Spanish go for the deficient Berthier when in OTL they had the excellent M1893 Mauser? Additionally the Spanish Army had already purchased Maxim MG's in 1889, which they found to be somewhat unsatisfactory. However the German MG 08, which was developed from that (along with the excellent British Vickers) was an outstanding machine gun. Either of these (I'd go so far as to say the Colt 1895 was about equal to the St. Etienne) were far better choices, and since the Mauser was already in service, it is no far stretch to have the MG 08 being chosen.
In OTL in 1898 the Spanish Army were using good Krupp guns in Cuba, 75mm mountain howitzers. The French were good salesmen with their arms, of all types. Of them all however, the only one worth really being happy with was the artillery, even so, the Germans were overall at least as good.
Railroads are another area the French loaned money extensively in, I could see them subsidizing Spanish Railways, making more, improving others, and possibly linking lines in N. Africa and expanding them.
In any event, this is your TL, just giving some ideas for you. I am enjoying this btw!
Thanks for your comments, the Oldbill!

That weaponry was bought by Russia and the Piedmont, not by Spain, and It was what they bought IOTL, IIRC.

Why the IOTL Italians bought the Berthier while having the Carcano evades me completely.

I wrote about the weapons bought and used by the Spanish a few posts ago. And the railroads too, which were expanded using British and French money.
26. The Balkan crisis of 1919

26. The Balkan crisis of 1919.

Since the end of the Second Balkan War (1899), the kingdoms of Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Montenegro aspired to incorporate the Albanian vilayet into their states. However, the Albanian Revolt of 1901, which led to the creation of the short-lived First Republic of Albania (September 4, 1900), put a temporary end to those claims, even if Bulgarian troops invaded the country and occupied Durrës on September 11 and the young Republic collapsed. Soon the country was invaded by forces from Montenegro (September 23) and Greece (September 29), and this led to Germany and Russia acting at once: soon in Sofia, Pogdorica and Athens were the diplomatic but angered words of Berlin and St. Petersburg reading asking them to withdraw their forces from the area, and so they did, without too much hurry, it must be added.

In November their withdrawal was complete and they had been replaced by German and Russian forces. To settle the issue, the ambassadors of all four Great Powers (United Kingdom, Germany, Russia and France) met in London (March 1901). The Ottoman Empire send a delegation led by Essad Pasha Toptani, who proposed the creation of the Republic of Central Albania under Ottoman suzerainty while Isa Boletini, the first president of the Albanian Republic, demanded the restoration of his authority but both proposals were diplomatically ignored. In April, a Provisional Government was formed led by Ismail Qemali but under the supervision of an International Commission of Control (ICC). The Treaty of London (April 14, 1901) established internationally recognized Albania as an independent state (the Second Republic of Albania). Under supervision of the ICC, a constitution was drafted and Albania became a Principality on October with a national assembly. Prince Wilhelm of Wied was selected as its prince.

However, chaos followed. The Muslim peasants, angered by being governed by Christians lords, rose in rebellion in September 13, 1903, just as the local Greek minority proclaimed the Republic of Northern Epirus. The arrival of German and Russian reinforcements put down the rebellions but, from then on, the throne of prince Wilhelm of Wied, who reigned as Vidi I, rested on foreign bayonets. However, the chronic unstabilty of the kingdom came to a head on January 28, 1910, when Vidi I abdicated and fled the country. However, the new Republican government led by Prenk Bib Doda was hardly more stable than the previous ones. His reformist cabinet finally collapsed in November 1913. The new president, Essad Pasha Toptani, attempted then to turn Albania into a Muslim state and this led to even more unstability when a Christian revolt broke out in October 1915. Eventually, Toptani was forced to resign on December 1916, but the two cabinets that followed only worsened the situation with their extreme reforms that divided the country in two sides, Muslims in one side, the "democratic"parties and the Christian landowners in the other.

In March 1918 General Elections were called under suppervision of the restored ICC. Doda returned to the premisership and, inmediately, increasing violence between both sides erupted. Eventually, martial law was declared in September 7, but a coup d'etat throw the country into disarray in July. The uprising met with serious resistance and a great part of the country remained loyal to Doda. Thus, civil war ensued. The Great Powers met again in London. To avoid a foreign intervention that could lead to Bulgaria, Greece or Montenegro invading the country, a Non-Intervention Committe was created November 18. It included representatives from the British, German and Russian Empires, France, the United States and Spain. However, the British premier, David Lloyd George, had little hopes about the Committe, as he was aware of the continued shipment of arms to the Loyalist from France. He and his German counter-part, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, proposed to halt all the exports to Albania, but both the Ottomans and the French kept selling arms to both sides and the ICC was unable to stop it. On March 8 1919, a bill preventing exports of arms to Albania by British ships from anywhere was passed by the British Parliament. On March 14, both houses of Congress in the United States passed a resolution banning the export of arms to Albania, much to the displeasure of Paris. The Spanish delegate, Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, proposed to post observers to Albanian ports and borders, and both France and the Ottoman representatives agreed to the plan.

Thus, it was decided to deploy also international naval patrols to close the Albanian harbours. By early May, the United States withdrew its ships, as the naval patrols did not justify their expense. They were to be replaced, as planned, with observers at ports. Then, on May 19, an explosion on board the pre-dreadnought battleship Bouvet, which was part of the French naval patrol, occurred in the Piraeus Harbor. Most of her crew were sleeping or resting in the enlisted quarters. Around 21:30, Bouvet was rocked by a major explosion, followed by a large cloud of red-black smoke; picket boats raced to the scene to pick up her crew, but in the span of just two minutes, Bouvet capsized and sank. A total of 75 of her crew were pulled from the water; 24 officers and 619 enlisted men died in the sinking. Initially it was claimed that it has been an accident, as the ship was in poor condition at the time due to her age, which likely contributed to her rapid sinking, though there was some speculation that her ammunition magazine exploded. While the commander of the ship, Capitaine de vaisseau Rageot de la Touche, who saved his life because he was in a meeting in Athens, referred to it as an "accident", Augustin Boué de Lapeyrère, Minister of the Marine, said to King Jean III that he "feared at first that she had been destroyed" by an unknown enemy, although he suggested that Germany had something to do with it.

While this was being discussed, L'Express du Midi, a conservative and royalist newspaper, leaked part of the report of the French Navy where it was stated that the cause of the explosion had been the detonation of a mine. Fragments of the artifact had been recovered and identified as Bulgarian in origin. The Bulgarian government denied that point, but a national uproar raced through the cities and villages of France. Bulgarian Prime Minister Teodor Ivanov Teodorov, protested the innocence of his country in a letter to the ICC while adressing other to the German Kaiser and the Russian Czar where he stated "Bulgaria will not stand idle while our enemies plan our destruction" (May 22, 1919). Then, on May 29, 1919, the Bulgarian First Army (General Kliment Boyadzhiev), crossed the Serbian border and began to advance towards Belgrade while the Second Army (General Georgi Todorov), was deployed against Greece. On May 31, France, in support of Serbia, ordered general mobilisation. On the next day, German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, while declaring Erklärung des Kriegszustandes, or "Statement on the war status", asked Paris to suspend its general mobilisation. Before giving the French answer, Stephen Pichon, the French Foreign Minister, asked the US ambassador to France, William Graves Sharp, whether France could rely on American backing in the event of a German attack. Sharp, knowing the mind of his president, confirmed that the American government would support his French ally. When France refused the German demand on June 1, Germany mobilised and declared war on France. On the same day, President Roosevelt announced the mobilization of the US Army and called up the National Guard and, three days later, Hungary did the same.

Thus, the German war machine put itself into motion as the First Army (Generaloberst Alexander von Kluck), the Second Army (Generaloberst Karl von Bülow) and the Third Army (General Max von Hausen) crossed the Belgian Border on June 4, while the French Plan XIX was activated and the First (General Charles Lanzerac), Second (General Olivier Mazel) and Third (General Louis Franchet d'Esperey) Armies mirroed the German move and entered Belgium as the Fourth Army (General Henri Gouraud) invaded Luxemburg and the Fifth (General François Antoine), Six (General Antoine Baucheron de Boissoudy) and Seventh (General Maurice Sarrail) Armies attacked the German lines in Alsace-Lorraine.

Two days later the Russian Empire announced its neutrality, claiming that his alliance with Germany was only for defensive purposes.
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27. Second Canalejas Ministry (1918-1921) -2-

The opening speech of the Conference of 1919
given by King Alfonso XII

27. Second Canalejas Ministry (1918-1921) -2-

The cornerstone of Canalejas' foreign policy was the Conference of the Mancomunidad Hispana that was planned to take place in October 1918, The last one was the one of 1905, during the troubled days that followed the Japanese invasion of the Phillipines and the Argentinian civil war. Canalejas was eager to have this conference with the member states of the Mancomunidad as he feared, correctly, that the Spanish influence in the American Continent had been decaying with the rising of the United States as a continental power. Thus, he wanted to reconnect with those countries that still kept a strong link with the "madre Patria". To his surprise, the appeal was more succesful than the had hoped.

Argentina was the first country to confirm his participation to the conference (June 1918), soon followed by Chile, Cuba, Peru and Puerto Rico. However, to Canalejas's astonishment, México asked for an invitation to the conference. In the following days, similar requests arrived from Costa Rica, Venezuela and Bolivia. Canalejas, delighted and surprised, accepted their requests and postponed the Conference until March 1919 to have time for all the countries involved to prepare their delegations and topics to discuss. Thus, just as Albania was rocked by its civil war, the former colonies of Spain met with their ancient homeland in Madrid, on March 12, 1919. It began with the Mexican petition to join the Mancomunidad, which was also joined by the other three non-member states invited to the conference.

Mexico had endured a hard post-independence period. After the fall of Iturbide in 1835, Mexico had fought a long and hopeless war to keep Texas, which only brought shame to the country when, after the Mexican-American War of 1848, Mexico was forced to give up not only Texas, but also more than one-third of its land to the United States. After that, the Segunda República Méxicana (Second Mexican Republic) entered a time of reforms that mirroed the ones introduce in Spain a decade earlier. This period (1848-1910) was characterized by economic stability and growth, significant foreign investment and influence, investments in the arts and sciences and in the railroads. It saw also an improvement of the Mexican foreign relations with the United States and Spain. However, the foreign investments in Mexico were beginning to worry its president, Adolfo de la Huerta, who feared that his country could follow the example of Guatemala and Honduras, that had been reduced to a semi-colonial situation in face of its creditors.

Even if Guatemala and Honduras were absent to the conference, their situations were mentioned many times as they exemplified the worst fears of de la Huerta, as Guatemala was virtually owned by United Fruit Company (UFC) and Guatemala by the UFC and Standard Fruit Company, which had been given tax exemptions, land grants, and control of all railroads on the Atlantic side by presidents Reina Barrios, Barillas and Cabrera to such an extent that the directing boards of those companies controlled both countries in a bigger degree than their national governments. Nevertheless, Adolfo de la Huerta, who led the Mexican delegation himself, was determined not only to avoid change this situation and travelled to Madrid with that intention. However, de la Huerta's demands of help was to put Canalejas in a difficult situation as the U.S. interference in the internal affairs of Mexico was not only notorious, but too well known by Madrid.

On their part, both Guatemala, Costa Rica and Colombia had generally enjoyed greater peace and more consistent political stability than many of its fellow Latin American nations. However, the latter was under pressure from the United States, specially with Roosevelt in the White House, as Washington was interested in the Department of Panama, where they had helped to build an artificial waterway. To this problem, Canalejas had no solution to offer. Beyond regulating new trade agreements between the countries taking part in the conference,the military treaty of mutual defence between Spain, Chile, Cuba, Peru and Argentina (1) and opening the way for a future incoporation of the four non-member states to the Mancomunidad, when the conference came ot its end on April 21st, Canalejas felt very dissapointed by its overall results, as he had set his aims to achieve a closer relation of the members of the Commonwealth and reality proved to be quite far away from his initial goals.

On the home front, Canalejas had no better luck. The lack of a majority was slowling if not utterly stopping his attempts to introduce a labor reform much needed by the country. However, the conservatives and the great names of the industry fought it into a standstill. Thus, with the Parliament blocked, Canalejas resorted to have his laws passed by Royal Decrees. Then, when Canalejas was going to dissolve the Parliament and call for new elections, on June 1st, the world went to war. The conflict changed the situation and Canalejas hurriedly met Antonio Maura, Pablo Iglesias and Francesc Cambó (the new leader of the Catalan Lliga Regionalista) to find out the chances of setting a coalition government in all but name. While Maura proved to be very receptive to the idea, but initially Canalejas found his price to be too high: the Conservative leader was in favour of closer ties with the French-US Entente, and that meant war, something that Canalejas wanted to avoid as the considered that the country was not ready to take part in the conflict and had little to win and too much to loose.

His meeting with Iglesias was highly frustrating for the Spanish prime minister. The Socialist MPs were more than enough to grant him a majority in the Parliament but the political cost that such an alliance would certainly decimate the Liberal chances of winning the next elections while, at the same time, spreading chaos and dissent among the ranks of the party. On his part, Iglesias was not to offer his support for free, and that finally closed the issue, as having Socialist ministers was out of the question. Finally, the meeting with Cambó was just a formality that went to nowhere, too, as Canalejas was unwilling to have any deals with the Catalan leader, who was one of the most vicious critic of Canalejas' social reform. Furthermore, Cambó had neither enough MPS to grant stability and his own political primacy in Catalonia was threatened by the rise of new parties (the Partit Republicà Català -PRC, Catalan Republican Party-, a Center-Left Catalan nationalist party created in 1917 by Francesc Layret and Lluis Companys, and the Federació Democràtica Nacionalista -FDN, Nationalist Democratic Federation-, also a Center-Left Catalan nationalist party created in 1918 by Francesc Macià) and the crisis of the Lliga itself, as Lluis Nicolau d'Olwer, Jaume Bofill i Mates and Antoni Rovira i Virgili left the party in 1919 to create Acció Catalana (AC, Catalan Action), a Right nationalist formation. This split marked the decadence of the Lliga. However, Maura was also to face his own schism when, in late 1920, Angel Ossorio left the Conservative party to create the democristian Partido Social Popular (PSP - People's Social Party).

Finally, in late June, Canalejas reached an agreement with Maura. It gave political stability to Spain but at the price of killing the social reforms. However, this had not inmediate effects due to the economic boom that the war meant for Spain. From 1919 to 1921 the Spanish textile production rise in a 300%; the production of coal was doubled, making possible to reduce the Spanish reliance on English coal; there was also an important increase in food exports (a 50% increase on average) while money flooded the pockets of the big names of the Spanish industry. It was, as a Catalan bussinesman said then, "an extraordinary age, an incredible dream where all bussines enterprises were easy and very profitable". It was the, during this "golden age", when México (April 4, 1920), Venezuela (July 22), Costa Rica (August 4) and Bolivia (August 14) began the process to become part of the the Mancomunidad Hispana. In January 1921, they were formally accepted and the Mancomunidad grew from six to ten members. At the same time, Brazil began to test the waters about a possible association with the Commonwealth, even if it was not a former Spanish colony, which made Canalejas to begin to court Portugal. However, in spite of all this prosperty and diplomatic successes, the social problems were still there, even if the war and the economic prosperity had somehow temporally muted them.
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While Portugal or Brazil will want close relations with Spain, I think it's not likely that they become members of the Mancomunidad.
28. The frontlines in 1919: the Western Front -1-

28. The frontlines in 1919: the Western Front -1-

The German plan was based on the Schlieffen plan of 1905, the brainchild of the Chief of the German General Staff, Generalfeldmarschall Alfred von Schlieffen. This plan was based on an isolated Franco-German war which would not involve Russia, the German ally, and it called for Germany to attack France: The attacking forces would move through the Dutch province of Maastricht and Belgium, securing Luxembourg with a flank-guard to protect both Germany and the main force from a French offensive. After this, the German forces would march south to cross the Seine to the west of Paris to force the French back from the westernmost sections of the Marne and surround Paris. However, this strategy was undermined by an unexpected event: the Russian neutrality. Caught by surprise and concerned about the former ally, Generaloberst Hemult von Moltke, von Schlieffen's succesor in the General Staff, moved 180,000 men east to protect the border with Russia. Thus, the offensive thrust was weakened even before the attack began. However, as if fate wanted to compensate Germany for Moltke's faults, a flawed deployment also impaired the Belgian defence. King Albert, as C-i-C, advocated a concentration on the River Meuse, between Namur and Liège, so that the Belgian Army could delay the Germans further forward until Franco-American support arrived. However, the Chief of Staff, General Antonin de Selliers de Moranville, cautiously stationed most of his forces centrally behind the River Gette, where they could cover Brussels and, if necessary, fall back on Antwerp.

Thus, when the German attacked Liege and Namur in force, bringing with them powerful 30.5cm and 42cm 'Big Bertha' howitzers, King Albert barely had time to send reinforcements to those places. The asault of Liege began on June 7, which held out four days until the the howitzers battered the forts into submission, allowing the German right-wing armies to resume their advance. The non-appearance of French forces persuaded the Belgian Army to withdraw towards Antwerp on June 8 and three days later the Germans entered Brussels, after bombarding Namur into submission. In spite of the Belgian resistance, the German forces still managed to cross Belgium more or less on time according to their plans. Then, they harmed themselves when they detached five corps from their right wing to attack Namur, Maubeuge and Antwerp, where the Belgiam army would held until June 19, when, seriously depleted by the vicious fighting, they began to withdraw to Ghent.

On the previous day, June 18, with its mobilization completed and all the units on the frontline, the French army began its offensive against the German forces in Belgium and Alsace-Lorraine. The French plan, Plan XIX, was an update of the Plan XVI of March 1909, which anticipated a German manoeuvre through Luxembourg and Belgium. The original plan was rewritten by General Victor Michel in 1911 (1). Michel thought that as the Germans would make their main effort in central Belgium, this longer front would need the re-organisation of French reserve units and its integration with the regular army. This plan (Plan XVII) was rewritten again in 1914, when the Conseil supérieur de la guerre agreed that the French army could enter Belgium but only when the Germans had already done so (Plan XVIII), and again in 1917, after the Franco-American Entente (Plan XIX): the French-German borders were to be defended and limited offensive were to be carried out to in Lorraine to provoke the Germans to attack the French fortifications and bleed them white; furthermore, it devised an offensive in Belgium to block the enemy advance before it reached Brussels. This plans included the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) and the Belgian army, as well as using Colonial forces, as Michel had began an intense recruitment program in the colonies to raise twelve Infantry Divisions.

However, the implementation of Plan XIX was not as complete as Michel had designed due to the political storm caused by the financial needs of the military, that led to a tax reform in France in 1912. Not even with the political troubles stopped the Armament Program of 1912, which included an expansion of the artillery corps, which saw an expansion of the heavy artillery with 40 new regiments, equipped with the Canon de 155 C modèle 1911 Schneider (2), which was replaced by the Canon de 155 Grande Puissance Filloux (GPF) mle.1917 in 1918, also adopted by the US Army in 1919. An attempt to reinforce the field regiments with a 105 mm Schneider gun was delayed until 1916 (the Canon de 105 Modele 1916 Schneider) for lack of funding, and then it only entered service in limited numbers. However, the flush of fresh dollars arriving to France from 1917 onwards, helped very much to improve the French military program and, by 1919 the French army could field seven field armies plus a reserve army. Even then, it was obvious that the AEF that president Roosevelt had promised to send to Europe would take a time to reach France and its first units would need at lest tree weeks to join its allies.

In Alsace, the 6th and 7th Armies began agressive patrols well beyond the border to lure the Germans to attack. However, the delay to move forward to wait for the mobilization to end had given time to the German defenders to prepare for the defense. On June 19th, the patrols of the French 7th Army (General Sarrail) sounded the defences of Mulhouse; but on the 21st the German Seventh Army (General Max von Bohem) launched several strong counter-attacks that forced Sarrail to stop the patrols to reconsider the situation, while forming a defensive line in Altkirch. On their part, the 6th (General Baucheron de Boissoudy) had more luck in their patrolling into the Vosges, as initially the Germans withdrew until they counterattacked on the 24th. The French patrols informed on the 29th that the German forces were gathering in strenght, which was confirmed when they launched a strong attack on June 1st. The French were able to successful defend Nancy and the Moselle line. These opening moves left the French with only a small corner of Alsace and a few posts in the eastern foothills of the Vosges.

In Belgium, as the aerial and cavalry reconnaissance reported that the Germans had advanced faster and deeply than expected, the French forces were ordered to form a defensive line: the 1st (General Lanrezac) had to reach Mons; the 2nd (General Mazel), Charleroi; and the 3rd (General Franchet d'Esperey) Dinant. On the 20th, the French forces were in position and able to face the onslaughts of the German Second (General von Bülow) and Third (General von Hausen) Armies. However, on the 22nd, the aerial reconoissance reported that the German First Army (General von Kluck) was advancing against Mons to flank the French forces. This was a nasty surprise, as it has been reported that von Kluck was busy fighting the Belgian army at Antwerp, and forced the French to withdraw to the south in a series of almost endless rearguard actions all the way from Le Cateau to Saint Quentin, protected by the cavalry units equipped with the Peugeot AM ("automitrailleuse") and AC ("autocannon") armoured cars, and from there to the Marne, where the exhausted French soldiers were greeted by the 5th army (General Antoine) redeployed from Alsace, by the troops brought from the Piamontese and Spanish borders and by the two first Corps of the AEF, which had finally arrived to France and hurriedly send to the front.

(1) ITTL his view is accepted and he does not resign.
(2) A French version of the the Schneider 152 mm M1910 howitzer sold to the Russian Empire in 1910 (which by that time was looking beyond Germany).
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29. The frontlines in 1919: the Western Front -2-

The German 1st Guard Dragoons charge
against the US 7th Cavalry on July 4th, 1919

29. The frontlines in 1919: the Western Front -2-

Even if initially the plan was to stop and to use the Oise, Serre, Aisne, and Ourq rivers as a line of defence, in the end the French forces moved back until they reached the Marne river. On July 2, 1919, von Moltke confirmed the order of battle for the main attack: Paris was to be encircled and thus the French forces were to be entrapped. The Fourth (Generaloberst Albrecht, Duke of Württenberg) and the Fifth (Generaloberst Wilhelm, German Crown Prince) would put pressure on both flanks of the Verdun salient while the Second (General von Bülow) and Third (General von Hausen) Armies would attack on the center of the enemy line to fix the French forces there while von Kluck's First Army would move around the west of Paris and begin the encirclement. The enemy armies were a spent force and von Moltke did not expect too much resistance from them.

The French defensive line run from Meaux to Revigny, with the 1st (General Pierre Roques, who had replaced Lanrezac after he was sacked for his lacklustre perfomance in Belium), the 2nd (General Mazel), the 3rd (General Franchet d'Esperey) and the 5th army (General Antoine) deployed from left to right, but, due to a mistake in the communications, the AEF had advanced to take positions along the Amiens-Montdidier line and this was only discovered when they met the cavalry units of the advancing von Kluck's First Army. Meanwhile, not wishing to be bottled up against the coast and destroyed, King Albert ordered his army to pull back westwards on July 3, in a fighting withdrawal that caused fearsome casualties to the little Belgian army. However, the infantry fought solidly, making life difficult for the Germans, whittling away the strength of their offensive and eventually causing the Germans to stop their pursuit at the Yser Canal on July 5th.

"For all we have and are,
For all our children's fate,
Stand up and take the war.
The Hun is at the gate!"

French soldiers marching to the Marne (1)

Initially, on July 5, the mass of advancing German infantry against the AEF was met with murderous fire from the US M1916 (2) machine guns, but, once the Germans switched to an open formation and attacked again with mass artillery barrage. After seven hours of vicious figthing, the AEF was finally forced to withdraw. However, the high losses suffered by von Kluck's army forced the Germans to make a pause to reorganize their forces. When they were to resume their advance on July 7th, shocking news changed the direction of their next move. This was the end of the First Battle of the Somme.

The German attack against the Marne line (June 5-6) had turned into a nasty surprise for von Moltke as its units were not only pinned down by the murderous fire of the Chauchat machine guns of the defenders, who not only held stubbornly in their positions, but also flanked when, on July 6th, Roques launched his army against the unprotected flank of von Bülow's 2nd Army. The German General attempted to inform von Moltke, who was at the OHL in Luxembourg and out of communication. Thus, von Bülow was on his own and, considering that his army was in danger of encirclement, he issued orders for his command to retreat to the Aisne River which turned into a general retreat. When von Kluck heard the news, he ordered first his mauled troops to stop where they stood. Thus ended the Battle of the Marne and the German threat against Paris.

Two days later, the offensive against Verdun came also to an end. The result of the German defeat at the twin Battles of the Somme-Marne was a strategic but not a tactical defeat: the German Schlieffen Plan failed to crush France, but the German army occupied a good portion of northern France as well as most of Belgium. Paris had been saved and France was still in the war. However, this war was not going to be a short one. The France army and the AEF advanced to exploit the victory, facing only rearguards. Even then, the advance was too slow to catch the Germans, who on June 10 began to dig in on high ground on the north bank of the Aisne (1st and 2nd Armies), to Reims and a line eastwards past the north of Verdun, (3rd, 4th and 5th Armies) while the 6th and 7th armies were ordered to end their attacks and dig in as the 7th army was transferred from Alsace to the right wing.

While the French were able to use the undamaged railways behind their front to move troops quickly,
the Germans had to take long detours, wait for repairs to damaged tracks and replace rolling stock.

Von Moltke, broken and ill, was replaced by the War Minister, General Erich von Falkenhayn, on June 10, and the fight moved to Picardy, Artois and Flanders as both armies tried to envelop the northern flank of the opposing army under a hot summer season. On the German side this pursuit of an opening was soon replaced by a subtler plan, but the French commanders persevered with total obstinacy. A newly formed Tenth Army, under General Victor d'Urbal, was deployed north and found intself struggling desperately to hold Arras. The American Expeditionary Force was transfered then northwards from the Aisne, in order to be used as part of a third effort to turn the German flank. On his part, Falkenhayn planed a strategic trap for the Allied outflanking manoeuvre. One army, composed with troops transfered from Lorraine, was to hold the Allies while another, composed of troops released by the fall of Antwerp and by four newly raised corps, would sweep down the Belgian coast and crush the Allied flank.

From June 20 to August 12 the so-called "Race to the Sea" took the war further north as the German armies attempted to advance towards the Channel. Thus, from June 20 to July 14 (First Battle of Albert -June 20-30-; First Battle of Arras -July 1-10-; Battle of La Bassée -July 12-14-) both sides made unsuccessful attempts to turn the northern flank of their opponent. The AEF, now three corps strong after the arrival of a new corps in late June, was deployed between La Basséé and Ypres and prepared itself to attack towards Menin when the German offensive began. Suddenly, the American forces under General Frederick Funston found themselves barely holding their ground. A German offensive began by July 12 but it was only able to take small amounts of ground at great cost to both sides (First Battle of Messines -July 12 - August 3-; Battle of Yser -July 15 - August 1). Then, Falkenhayn's attempts to capture Ypres in the First Battle of Ypres (July 20 - August 12) ended in failure and, by August 12, the German general called off the advance along the coast as taking Ypres was impossible. The German pressure over the Belgian army, which threatened a disaster, had been ultimately averted through the opening of the sluices and the flooding of the coastal area. At Ypres the Allied line, though battered and terribly strained, was in the end unbroken due to the dogged resistance of the AEF and the timely arrival of French reinforcements. Both sides were now forced to dig in until the figthing came to a standstill that turned the battles of manoeuvre into static, attrition operations. Although in the Vosges Mountains there would be no established front until early 1920, the Western Front had bogged down in the trenches.

The "End of the Line": the Western Front reaches the sea near Nieuwpoort, Belgium.

During those troubled days of the last weeks of July, the president of the Reichsbank said to the corresponsal of The Times "it is a fight between France and Germany, to the bitter end, to the last Germans if need be. France has wanted it, so let it be. We want no quarter from France, we shall give none. Now it is death, destruction an anihilation for one or other of the two nations. Tell your British people that. And say the words come not from a fanatic, but from a quiet bussinesman who knows the feeling of his people. Tell Britain not to be mislead by peace talks. There is not going to be any peace. This is going to be a long war" (3).

(1) Some unknown French soldier felt inspired during the hot summer of 1919 and wrote a few poetic lines. They would be worth of Rudyard Kipling, wouldn't they?
(2) TTL version of the M1919.
(3) This words were said by the mentioned president IOTL to the corresponsal fo the New York Sun, replacing "France" with "Britain" and "Britain" and "British" with "America" and "American".
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30. The frontlines in 1919: the Italian fronts

Napolitean soldiers manning their positions
around Monte Castellone

30. The frontlines in 1919: the Italian fronts

When the Kingdom of Piamont invaded the Republic of Venice, the Venetian army applied their Tassoni Plan. Devised by General Giulio Cesare Tassoni, it relied on German support. The Venetian army was to withdraw to the fortified Verona, first, and then to the Vicenza - Padua line and hold there to the arrival of Germans reinforcements. However, the unexpected violence of the Piamontese onslaught, which came as a heavy blow on June 1st, 1919, and the fast mobilization and speedy advance of the Piamontese army led by Marshal Luigi Cadorna broke havoc among the Venetian units, that withdrew in disarray. The attackers marched almost unopposed along the excellent road toward Verona, spearheaded with their Lancia Model 1916 and Model 1918 armored cars (1).

Thus, by June 22, Cadorna forces entered Padua and Tassoni had to order a general withdraw to the Piave Line, as the defence of Venice was then impossible. There, reinforced by the timely arrival of two Germany corps that were redeployed during their way to Prussia to be hurriedly send South, where they would be joined by more German, Hungarian and Croatian forces. However, logistics were to prove the bane of the Piamontese army, whose advance began to slow down when the soldiers began to tire out after the grueling marches towards the Piave. Thus, by July 20, the Piamontese advance came to a halt on the western side of the Piave River. That same day, the Venetian government of Giuseppe Zanardelli would release the "Udine Adress", named after the new capital of the Republic, Udine, stating that, in spite of the military situation, Venetia was to fight to the bitter end. The death of Zanardelli, two days later, added more fuel to the almost histerical mood that pervaded the remants of the Northern Republic as the nation mobilized not only for a total war, but also for a conflict that could only end with victory or total annhilation.

A IZ Model 1916 Armored Car during the
advance towards Verona
However, the Piamontese did not refrained themselves against Venetia. The attack of the Army Group South, led by General Enrico Caviglia, was, apparently, uncannily following the general lines if the Schlieffen plan. Naples had constructed an impresssive fortification system with four defensive lines (the Pescara Line, than ran from the Adriatic Sea to the border with the Papal States following the course of the Vomano River (2); then, the Garigliano Line ran across the Peninsula from just north of where the Garigliano River flows into the Tyrrhenian Sea in the west, through the Apennine Mountains to the mouth of the Sangro River on the Adriatic coast in the east (3); the Trigno line, which was a series military fortifications some 10–20 mi (16–32 km) south of the Garigliano Line, from Colli al Volturno to the Adriatic Coast and a similar distance north of the Volturno Line. Near the eastern coast, it ran along the line of the Trigno river. The line mostly consisted of fortified hilltop positions; and, finally, the Volturno Line (4): it ran ran from Termoli in the east, along the Bigerno River through the Apennine Mountains to the Volturno River in the west.

As the Pescara Line stopped in the Papal States, Caviglia had designed a feint attack against the line, to hold the enemy attention there while the bulk of his army group would invade Rome and thus flank the enemy defenses. Bearing in mind that the armed forces of Rome could only muster around 20,000 men and there were little fortifications, Caviglia hoped to cross the Papal States in two weeks, thus flanking the Pescara Línea. This way, his troops could reach the western fortifications of the Garigliano Line before they could be properly manned. This was not to be.

Even if Pope Benedict XV had immediately declared the neutrality of the Holy See when hostilities began, Caviglia went on with his invasion. The Papal army made a single stand at Mentana (June 2, 1919). General Jules Repond, a former Swiss military officer who led the Papal army since 1910, was able to defeat the first assault causing heavy losses to the attackers, but in the second assault the enemy artillery just smashed most of his defences. By early morning of June 3, Caviglia entered in Rome and Pope Benedict XV was secluded in the Vatican. The Pope excommunicated at once all the Piamontese leadership, but, otherwise, remained a prisoner of the invaders. Meanwhile, as the Piamontese calvary raced through the Liri Valley, the Sicilian artillery opened on them from Monte Cassino (June 3) and the surrounding heights. The "easy" war for Caviglia's Army Group had come to an end. By June 15, the Neapolitan forces had completed their withdrawal from the Pescara Line and were ready to defend their positions.

The Piamontese forces try to cross the Piave River
September 1919

The First Battle of the Garigliano (June 20-30) ended in failure as the frontal assaults were easily repulsed by the defenders in their uphill positions. However, they were able to conquer Hill 875 and Hill 915, to the north of Terelle. However, this advance soon proved a terrible mistake has the Piamontese position around Pontecorvo could be fired upon by the guns placed in the heights that flanked the city and its defences. On July 12, under a scorching heat, the Piamontese try again. Centering upon Monte Castellone and Colle Sant Angelo, the attackers soon faced a problem that doomed the offensive: the insufficiency of artillery shells to cut barbed wire. After three weeks of endless battles, with positions changing hands several times, Caviglia calls of the attack. The Second Battle of the Garigliano (July 12-27) ends when both sides begin to run out of ammunition. Caviglia can claim victory has he has taken Colle Sant Angelo, from where his guns overlook the surrounding area, but not Monte Castellone.

During the next two months boths sides recuperate the losses (60,000 Piamontese vs 50,000 Neapolitan, 30,000 Venetian and 10,000 German/Croatian/Hungarian) suffered since the beginning of the war as Caviglia increased the number of guns and shells for the next offensive. Then, on October 15, the Piamontese army attacked again, but this time on the Piave line. Cadorna had used the lull since June to mass an impressive artillery force that was used in a mass bombing to obliterate the defences on the other side of the Piave. The massive artillery barrage covered the crossings and three beachheads were established. When the offensive was called off on November 1st (First Battle of the Piave), the beachheads held and both sides had suffered heavy casualties (30,000 Piamontese vs 18,000 Venetian and 5,000 German/Croatian/Hungarian). In spite of the bombardment, the Venetian machine guns and field guns managed to bleed white the attackers, who were unable to expand their positions after the initial crossing of the river.

The battle would resume again in the south on November 7th as Caviglia launched a new attack (Third Battle of the Garigliano) against Monte Castellone plus subsidiary actions against the enemy positions on the Aurunci montains to keep the enemy reserves fixed and unable to act against his main target. However, after three failed attacks against Monte Castellone, the Piamontese general called off the offensive on November 10th. From then on, Caviglia was to give up any more actions in the south until he had devised a way to break through the enemy lines without having to endure the painful way of making his way from hill to hill.

Ten days later, the Center Powers launched a surpirse attack against the Piave beachhead of Colfosco, which was destroyed after fifteen days of heavy fighting (Second Battle of the Piave, November 20 - December 5). After this, the Italians fronts became inactive as both sides went to recover from their losses and to reconsider their situations.

(1) The Lanzia 1Z and 1ZM.
(2) Similar to OTL Rome Switch Line
(3) OTL Gustav Line
(4) OTL namesake.
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31. The frontlines in 1919: the Balkan front.

Serbian guns opening fire against the invading
enemy armies in the early days of the war
31. The frontlines in 1919: the Balkan front.

The Serbian campaign started on May 29, 1919, as the Bulgarian First Army (General Kliment Boyadzhiev) crossed the Serbian border and began to advance towards Belgrade. Then, on June 1st, 1919 the Hungarian artillery bombarded Belgrade as the Hungarian First (General Hermann Kövess von Kövessháza) and Second (General Sándor Belitska) Armies also attacked Serbia. Despite the reorganization and modernization that the Serbian army had underwent under French guidance since 1913, the defenders were crushed. On June 3rd, Belgrade fell in Hungarian hands and by June 12 all the Serbian resistance broke down. There was no official surrender as the government had fled to Romania on June 7th. To both Sofia and Budapest surprise, the Serbian army seemed to melt down and to vanish. Thus, by the end of the campaign, only 14,000 Serb soldiers had been captured, 9,000 of them wounded, and 23,000 killed in the fifteen day campaign. Apparently, the remaining Serbian soldiers (around 200,000 of them), had simply thrown away their uniforms and equipment and returned to their homes and farms.

Of course, both Hungarian and Bulgarian commanders on the field became suspicious with this strange behaviour of the defeated, as it looked so "non-Serbian" to them , specially the latters, who had fought against them not so long ago. However, they had little time to wonder about this mistery. Two months later, on July 7, an uprising in Užice caught by surprise the local garrisons. The Serbian guerrillas began to liberate more villages and conquered Ravna Gora, which was their high water mark in that campaign. From then on, the combined forces of the Hungarian and Bulgarian occupying forces pushed back the guerrillas. On September 19th, a bomb exploded in the General Post Office of Zagreb, marking the beginning of the Serbian terrorist campaign against the invaders that spread its actions in Bulgaria, Hungary and Croatia. Even if the guerrillas were defeated and forced to go underground by November, it was clear that Serbians had no intention to neither give up fighting nor to allow their invaders to have a moment of peace, as the Great Uprising of 1920 was to prove, as we shall see.

The other Balkan front was the Montenegrin campaign. Attacked from the west by the Croatian First Army led by General Stjepan Sarkotić on May 30 and then from the north by the Hungarian First Army (June 10). Under such an onslaught, the Montenegrin forces led by King Nikola I and General Janko Vukotić faced impossible odds but fought valiently, like in the Battle of Mojkovac (June 12), where the Montenegrin army inflicted heavy casualties on the Hungarian forces and temporarily forced a numerically superior foe to retreat. However, when Berane was taken by the attackers (June 14) and the whole western defensive line was thus broken and flanked, the Montenegrin resistance collapsed and the defenders either fled to the south or to Albania. The eastern defensive line, based around Mount Lovcen, held longer, but by June 19, with the pressure increasing from the north by the Hungarian forces, the Montengrin began to withdraw to Albania or to Bar, where a few Montenegrin soldiers embarked to Greece. Hardly 1,200 Montenegrin soldiers managed to reach Albania and to cross the border. On June 21, the last defenders surrendered in the capital, Cetinje.

Constatine I of Greece:
the new Alexander.
In 1919, King Constantine I of Greece wanted his country to remain neutral. This was based more on his judgement that it was the best policy for Greece, rather than venal self-interest or his German dynastic connections. However, when Bulgaria attacked Serbia, the ally of Athens, he volunteered himself to serve as "the first soldier of Greece". However, Bulgaria stroke first: on May 29, the Second Army (General Georgi Todorov) advanced on a 230 kilometer long front. For six days, the Bulgarian forces achieved all their objectives in the face of weak Greek resistance. The Greek Prime Minister, Venizelos, asked for French help, but Paris had little to spare then. As the Greek forces began to recover, the Bulgaria Fourth Army (General Stiliyan Kovachev) joined the offensive, which came to an end on June as the Greek resistance stiffened. The depth of the advance reached in the east 80-90 kilometers and an area of 4,000 square kilometers was occupied. Kavala, Serres and Drama were taken by the attackers. In the west, however, the Greek lines held for two weeks, until the Bulgarias stopped their offensive there. To bolster the Greek resistance, Paris promised to send two divisions, which were to be followed by another three from the US Army. However, the French reinforcements were not to depart to their destination until September and the Americans until late 1919. The question was if Greece could hold until then.

On July 9, Todorov's soldiers attacked again: their target was Salonika. Their initial attacks were held off for two days, until a desperate action by the Bulgarian units overran the thinly manned defensive line of the Greek 19th Division south of Dorian Lake and the line collapsed. On July 13, Salonika fell into Bulgarian hands and three Greek divisions were trapped by the sudden enemy advance. Three days later, 30,000 Greek soldiers surrendered. However, the Greek Army was able to resist in the Edessa-Veroia-Katerini Line. France, in spite of their own situation, hurried the departure of the two promised divisions, that were to arrive to Greece two weeks later, help to defend Florina and Vevi from the next Bulgarian assault (August 5-17).

This two Summer offensives were the last Bulgarian actions of the year. Sofia asked German help, that was to arrive in September, with the 302nd Division and military supplies. Meanwhile, France send a third division to Greece, the 11th Colonial Division and promised to send more troops, and with the Montenegrin and Serbian soldiers that escaped to Greece in that summer and the following months, a division were created. However, they were not to be ready until early 1920. However, the arrival of the Bulgarian First and Second Armies to the front made the situation to look grim, indeed.

Nevertheless, but for some skirmishes, the Macedonian front remained calm during the last months of 1919 as the Bulgarian forces had to replenish their exhausted ammunitions stocks.
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