Bulgarians attack 10th (Irish) Division, the Balkans.

Mon, 12/06/1915
10th (Irish) Division on Kosturino Ridge
10th (Irish) Division on Kosturino Ridge.

Following the evacuation of Gallipoli, the 10th (Irish) Division was sent to the Balkans and landed in Salonika, Greece on 5 October 1915. The Irish Division included battalions from The Royal Irish Regiment, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, The Royal Irish Rifles, The Royal Irish Fusiliers, The Connaught Rangers, The Leinster Regiment, The Royal Munster Fusiliers and The Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

Although the intention was to support the Serbians against the Bulgarians, the Bulgarians had been steadily driving the Serbian army out of northern Serbia south towards the border with Greece. When the Bulgarians advanced against the Franco-British Force, the Irish Division relieved the French in the Belashitza Mountains on a line from Kosturino to Lake Dorjan in southern Serbia. Unfortunately, the Kosturino ridge, like too much of the ground held by the Allies, was dominated by Bulgarian held ground to the north. Torrential rain began to fall on 26 November and soon turned into a blizzard as temperatures fell to freezing. The battalions could not dig deep into the rocky ground and, exposed to the elements without overhead shelter, the troops were soon sodden and frozen. Worse still, not all had been issued with warm clothing.

When the weather improved it was the Bulgarians who seized the initiative and began a preparatory bombardment from 4-5 December. When they attacked they succeeded in gaining a foothold to the east of Kosturino on 'Rocky Peak'. On the peak, the 5th Inniskillings were in the centre, 6th Faughs* on the right and 6th Inniskillings in reserve. The line had to be held to support a French withdrawal.

A heavy enemy bombardment on the afternoon of 6 December preceded a Bulgarian assault that resulted in a foothold on Rocky Peak. A bayonet charge soon cleared the enemy and later that night a half-company of 5th Faughs reinforced the position. The battle had only begun and the following morning would see savage bayonet fighting in the mist.

Faughs = Royal Irish Fusiliers