<– Part 217 – September 15, 1918 | Part 218 – September 22, 1918 | Part 219 – September 29, 1918

In Bulgaria, the Vardar Offensive continues its gains for the Allies, as the front is 16 miles wide and 4.5 miles deep by the end of September 16. The following morning, at 4 am, Greek forces scaled a cliff barehanded to take a key Bulgarian artillery and observation position on Mount Preslap. By the 18th, the advance had taken 9.5 miles.

On September 16, at Doiran, an artillery duel began, running 2 days until British forces attacked at 5 am on September 18. A pincer movement took prisoners, but was pushed back by artillery and a Bulgarian counterattack, losing all gains. At Dobro Pole, the Entente scored a victory, as the Bulgarians lost 5,700 (3,000 of them prisoners) to the Entente’s 2,200. At 4 am the next morning saw more shelling, and, finally, Doiran was taken after 5 hours of fighting. However, the offensive was halted due to a lack of manpower. Bulgaria has lost 1,500 casualties and 1,200 prisoners, while the Greeks have lost 2,400 and the British 3,900. On September 20, news that Dobro Pole has fallen reached the Bulgarian army, who began retreating (and deserting) to defend their homeland.

On September 18, at Épehy, the British attacked the Hindenburg line. Although they have lost 600,000 men in the past 6 months, 180,000 of them within the last 6 weeks, this is the first major offensive since they have rested, and comes on the heels of the victory at Havrincourt. The attack was launched at 5:20 am with a creeping barrage; the thrust is aimed at a fortified area 3 miles deep and 20 miles long. The center saw enormous success thanks to Australian divisions, who captured a mass of prisoners equal to their entire force, though suffering high casualties themselves. Due to the casualties, they refused to attack in support of a neighboring British unit, and were charged with being AWOL rather than desertion. The battle is an encouragement to the Entente, as it shows that the German defense is weakening and final success is possible. The British have suffered 1,300 casualties and captured 12,000 Germans.

On September 19, the British began an offensive against Turkish forces in Palestine. Called the “Battle of Megiddo” by a British officer with a fancy for BIblical proportions, it was intended to be smaller, but actions by T.E. Lawrence to destroy Ottoman raillines saw 3,000 tribesmen rise up in revolt, drawing Turkish soldiers away to put them down. At 1 am, a British bomber destroyed the telephone line connecting the Turk’s headquarters from the forces in the field. At 4:30, the artillery barrage began, with the infantry attacking 20 minutes later. The Desert Mounted Corps is advancing up the coast with little opposition. In the words of Lt. Col. Rex Osborn, “From 10.00 hours onwards, a hostile aeroplane observer, if one had been available, flying over the Plain of Sharon would have seen a remarkable sight – ninety–four squadrons, disposed in great breadth and in great depth, hurrying forward relentlessly on a decisive mission – a mission of which all cavalry soldiers have dreamed, but in which few have been privileged to partake.”

The next days have seen ports, villages, and cities captured by the rapid British attack, and the last Ottoman army west of the Jordan river withdrew September 21. At Nablus, a retreating Turkish army was bombed and strafed by British airplanes every 3 minutes for an hour, destroying the entire unit. T.E. Lawrence wrote that “the RAF lost 4 killed. The Turks lost a corps.” Nablus was captured later that day, and the Jordan river crossings the next. The entire British force is now occupying miles of Turkish territory unopposed, as the lightning advance of infantry, cavalry, and airplanes seems to be heralding a new era of lightning-fast war.

In the Adriatic, the French sub Circé was sunk on September 20 by a torpedo fired from the Austro-Hungarian sub U-47.

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