Dobro Pole (Добро Поле, Dobro Polje) is WW1 location on Nidze mountain in Municipality of Novaci on the Macedonian – Greek border. This is the location where one of the most important battles during the First World War happened. According to many historians, the Battle for Dobro Pole marked the beginning of the end of World War 1.
The Battle of Dobro Pole
With the relocation of German units from the Macedonian to the Western Front in spring 1918, the position of the Central Powers on the Macedonian front further deteriorated. The morale among the starving Bulgarian army was at an exceptionally low level, with many soldiers deserting their positions. In this situation, the command of the Entente saw an opportunity to put additional pressure on the Central Powers, who were already retreating on the Western Front, through a strong offensive on the Macedonian Front. The main attack was planned on the locality called Dobro Pole (Dobro Polje, Добро Поле – literate translation – Good Meadow).
Dobro Pole is a locality between the peaks Sokol (Сокол – Falcon / read more…) and Veternik (Ветерник – Windy place) of Nidze Mountain and many allied generals believed that the attack on this location would be a suicide since as an open field it would be easily defended. On the other hand, the breakthrough of this location would mean a total collapse of the entire Bulgarian defense, therefore, the Allies were willing to take that risk.
The attack began on September 14, 1918 with an artillery bombardment of several positions. On September 15 at 5:30 pm followed the infantry attacks. According to the testimonies of the local population which remained in small number in the nearby villages –
“The earth was burning from the heavy bombardment.”
Photos: Serbian Army at positions near Dobro Pole and victims of military actions
On the side of the Allied forces in the front row were the 122nd French Infantry Division, 17th French Infantry Colonial Division, and Serbian Shumadiska Division, and in the second row were two Serbian divisions – Timochka and Yugoslav.
Bulgarians managed to endure the heavy bombing, so the flight had to be won by the infantry. Serbian armies slowly penetrated the steep slopes and the more they approached, more frequent were the Bulgarian counter attacks. Using flamethrowers the Bulgarian machine-gun nests were destroyed and after eight hours of battle, the Bulgarian line was breached.
In two days since the beginning of the attack, defense positions of the Bulgarians and Germans in this area were relocated 25 km wide and 10 km in depth. The commander of the 11th German Army ordered the withdrawal of German and Bulgarian units of the line near the village Polchishte.
Ten days after the Dobro Pole battle the Allied forces were in Gradsko (Градско) which was then a communications center of the Central forces and thus the communication between the German command and the Bulgarian army on the frontline was terminated.
On 29 September, the Allies entered in Skopje and were already on the state borders of Bulgaria. Scared to be occupied by the Allies, a Bulgarian delegation on 29 September 1918 Thessaloniki signed a truce with which military operations between Bulgaria and the Allies stopped on September 30, 1918.
Although the terms of the armistice were very difficult for Bulgaria, their delegation signed the truce.
With the signing of the armistice ceased all hostilities in the region on the Macedonian front. On the other hand, the Serbian Army continued fighting with the German and Austro-Hungarian armies in the liberation of Serbia.
Defeats that suffered German and Austro-Hungarian army first caused a collapse of Austria-Hungary, which on November 4th, 1918 signed a capitulation, which led to the decay of the dualistic state and the Hapsburg monarchy.
Failures on the Western Front, the events in the Balkans, and the internal crisis and unrest forced Germany on November 11, 1918, to sign an armistice with the Entente Armies.
The road leading to Dobro Pole is a mountainous road in extremely poor condition and is only available with terrain vehicles. It is bad and unmarked terrain and is recommended to be visited accompanied by a licensed mountain guide or to rent a jeep taxi.
Bronze Hand Monument
The local population in Macedonia and “Bronze Hand Monument”
The consequences from the Macedonian front were extremely devastating for the local population in Macedonia. This was particularly evident, near the front line and especially in the regions of Mariovo and Bitola.
With the formation of the frontline, the local population was forced out of their homes and were sent to other parts of Macedonia. The refugees were allowed to take only the most essential luggage with them and thus leaving their livestock, barns, houses, and food behind. Later their houses were robbed by the armies who took the food and the livestock and used the materials from the houses, as building materials for the trenches. Thus were destroyed entire villages as Gradeshnica, Staravina, Budimirci, Zovich, etc.
Part of the population had nowhere to go and later have returned to their homes, but only a few of them survived to tell the stories about the events on the front.
In village Gradesnica also well known is the story of the monument “Bronze Hand” which in 1938 was placed on Dobro Pole.
Namely, in 1938, a French delegation led by Louis Cordier hired the sculptor Marcel Ganguilhem, who was also a soldier who lost his arm during the breakthrough in 1918. Marcel made a bronze monument with the Serbian authorities on September 19, 1938, was placed on Dobro Pole.
In addition, there were a number of other ceremonial activities, which according to the stories of the locals were discontinued by a telegram to Louis Cordier, informing him about a hostile German activity before the Second World War.
Over time the monument was lost so that today there is no mark on this place, which would have marked its historical value.
An interesting fact which speaks of the importance of the Battle of Dobro Pole is the fact that in the center of Paris, today there is a street named Dobro Pole (Rue du Dobropol).
- Read more: Bronze Hand Monument on Dobro Pole >>>