October 1915

On the Western Front, the new German Fokker Eindecker fighter planes were beginning to gain air supremacy on the 1st October 1915. Developed in April 1915, the first single seater Eindecker (“Monoplane”) was the first purpose-built German fighter aircraft to be fitted with a synchronization gear, enabling the pilot to fire a machine gun through the arc of the propeller without striking the blades. The Eindecker granted the German Air Service a degree of air supremacy until early 1916 when new French and British aircraft ended the dominance. The period of was known as the “Fokker Scourge,” during which Allied aviators regarded their poorly armed aircraft as “Fokker Fodder”.

 

On the 5th October 1915, the first of the British and French forces landed in the northern Greek city of Salonika. Britain and France each committed 75,000 troops in an effort to establish a base of operations in Salonika. This was an attempt to give assistance to Serbia in its struggle against the Central Powers; however, the forces were not established until January 1916. By this time, the Serbian capital Belgrade was evacuated and over-run by the Bulgarian invaders. Another front was established as stalemate prevailed.

 

On the 6th October 1915, Bulgaria enters the war against Serbia.

 

On the 7th October 1915, Austria-Hungary invades Serbia, attacking from the north.

 

On the 11th October 1915, Bulgaria attacks Serbia from the east, and the poorly supplied Serbian army was out-numbered with not sufficient troops to defend two fronts. Belgrade falls to the Germans and the Bulgarians sever Serbia’s north-south rail line.

 

From the beginning of the war in August 1914, British women performed many important tasks. A large majority worked in industry or on the land, enabling the men to take up arms and join the army. Women were also recruited to join the medical profession as nurses on both the Western Front and some volunteered to go to Serbia. One such woman was Flora Sandes. She joined a group of Red Cross women to become a nurse in Serbia at the outbreak of the war in August 1914. With Serbia being outflanked and the army having to retreat, rather than be sent home, Flora Sandes joined the Ambulance Unit of the 1st Serbian Army, 2nd Regiment, early in October 1915. She was incorporated into the 2nd Regiment as a private soldier. She became the only English woman to fight in the trenches in the Serbian Army.

 

In German occupied Brussels, Nurse Edith Cavell was executed on 12th October 1915. She had been a matron in a Brussels hospital since 1907. When the Great War broke out in 1914, her clinic was taken over by the Red Cross. After the German occupation of Brussels in November 1914, she began to shelter British, French and Belgian troops. She assisted them in getting into the neutral Netherlands. The Germans had their suspicions and she was arrested on 3rd August 1915. She was charged with harbouring Allied soldiers, which was in violation of German Military law. At her court martial, she was found guilty of treason and under German military law was sentenced to death. Despite pressure for mercy, internationally, she was shot by a German firing squad. She was buried next to Saint-Gilles Prison. After the war, her body was brought back to England to be transferred to the grounds of Norwich Cathedral for repatriation. En route, a memorial service was held at Westminster Abbey.

 

On the 14th October 1915, Bulgaria declared war on Serbia, and two days later Bulgarian troops joined the Austro/Hungarian and German invasion of Serbia. With the Serbs attacked from three sides, their only course was to retreat across the Albanian mountains to the Adriatic Sea. Bulgarian forces repulsed an Allied attempt to assist the Serbs. The German high command demanded the Bulgarian army did not cross the border into Greece to pursue the defeated British and French troops. This allowed the allies to regroup and create a Macedonian Front along the Central Powers southeastern flank.

 

Sir Charles Monro was despatched from the Western Front to the Gallipoli peninsula on the 16th October 1915, where he replaced Sir Ian Hamilton as regional Commander-in-Chief. Within days of his arrival, Monro recommended to Lord Kitchener, the Minister for War, to evacuate the peninsular. Kitchener visited Gallipoli and confirmed Monro’s recommendation to evacuate the peninsular. Winston Churchill, who had initiated the Gallipoli campaign, was unimpressed with Monro’s recommendations by writing, “He came, he saw, he capitulated”.

 

On the 18th October 1915, in the eastern section of the Italian Front, the Italians launch their third offensive of the year, known as the Third Battle of Isonzo. Flanked by mountains, the Isonzo River runs north to south along the Austria/Italian border. The terrain favoured the Austrians and ill suited an offensive by     the Italians. Although prone to flooding, the Italians chose to attack the Austrians in the eastern section rather than the Austria/Hungarian dominated sections of the border. Although the Italians had greater numbers of troops they failed to capture the two objectives of their attack, Mount Sabotino, and in addition, Mount San Michele. The offensive lasted two weeks with the Italian army suffering heavy casualties.

 

Aristide Briand replaces Rene Viviani and Theophile Delcasse as both Premier and Foreign Minister of France on the 30th October 1915. Viviani resigned his position as Premier, which he had held since June 1914, owing to undistinguished leadership together with French military defeats in the war.

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