6 RIR attack Kjupri, Salonika.

Sat, 05/05/1917 - Sun, 05/06/1917
Spelling of locations on map vary; Kjupri = Keupri (northern attack arrow).

From 15 March 1917, the 6th Battalion The Royal Irish Rifles was in the Struma Valley at Elisan, in support of the right of the Brigade's frontage, with outposts at Kumli and Barakli on the Belica Stream. On 31 March, the Battalion was ordered to conduct reconnaissance forward of Kumli with the aim of establishing a new line that would serve as a bridgehead over the stream. By 24 March, new positions were constructed without opposition and these allowed the Rifles to scout forward. One of the posts was attacked on 28 March, but withdrew in good order to the Battalion's piquet line. Next day, a raid took place to test the dispositionas and strengths of the enemy in and around Kjupri. Following a successful operation, the raid revealed that the enemy strength was no more than 60 - 70.

These actions were followed by a 29 Brigade attack to secure the ground gained. The key brigade task was given to the Rifles - to attack and hold the village of Kjupri. On their left was the 6th Battalion the Leinster Regiment.

Following the artillery preparation, meagre by comparison with that on the Western Front, the Rifles assaulted at 1900 hours on 5 May 1917. The advance was performed with speed and confidence, despite heavy enemy artillery fire. The Rifles met no serious resistance from the Bulgarian enemy and all objectives were achieved as the Battalion linked up with the battalions on each flank. During the consolidation, 6 RIR established a semi-circle of four posts beyond the village with Number 4 Post sited further forward and out of alignment with the others.

The enemy artillery fire continued for the rest of the night and into the morning of 6 May. The rounds falling increased from around 0330 hours and a counterattack came out of the morning light at 0500 hours. The enemy's main objective was Post 4, but the Lewis gunner dispersed the assault. The Bulgarians reformed and attempted another attack at 0600 hours further to the left; this assault was also checked by Lewis gun and rifle fire. Following an enemy artillery preparation, and significant casualties in Post 4, they launched a main attack at 0645 hours across Posts 3 and 4. It began successfully as the Brigade's artillery defensive barrage was delayed. At first the posts were cut off as the enemy crept further forward, but when the enemy rose to complete the attack, the delayed barrage happened to fall on them just as they were almost on top of Post 4. When the Bulgarians fell back their officers were heard urging them forward but their attempts were met 'by frenzied crys of discord by the rank and file.' The retreating enemy were then harassed by artillery fire.

The resolute defence of Posts 3 and 4 by the Rifles cost the Battalion seven killed and 18 wounded. Brigade Headquarters sent the following message:

The Divisional Commander congratulates you on gaining the required objective and repulsing all enemy counter-attacks. He is confident that the 6th Royal Irish Rifles will treat all subsequent attacks in the same way. The Brigadier adds congratulations also.