The Central Powers' invasion of Serbia began on 7 October 1915 as Austro-German troops attack ed from the north. A week later, the Bulgarians declared war and attacked from the east. The outnumbered Serbs were poorly supplied and stretched too thin to defend both fronts. Belgrade then fell to the Germans and the Bulgarians captured Kumanova, severing the country's north-south rail line.
|The Retreat Begins|
Serbian Field Marshal Radomir Putnik ordered a full retreat of the Serbian military south and west through Allied Montenegro and into neutral Albania on 25 November 1915.
|Transport Abandoned on the Roads|
The retreat got fully under way by mid-December with the troops joined by civilian refugees. King Peter and Putnik accompanied the columns. Boys, who could become soldiers in the future, were also encouraged to join.
|Through the Mountains|
The roads were terrible and transport had to be abandoned. The weather in the mountains was equally bad.
|Field Marshal Putnik Became Ill and Had to Be Carried|
The same conditions also limited the pursuit by the enemy. Nonetheless many others were lost to hunger, disease, hypothermia, and raids by Albanian tribal bands. Some estimates of the dead during the retreat are as high as 200,000.
|Exhausted Survivors Arrive|
About 155,000 exhausted Serbians — mostly soldiers — started reaching the coast by January 1916. Allied ships carried them to various Greek islands, particularly Corfu, for refitting before being sent to Salonika.
|Respite in Corfu|