Rifles at capture of Jenikoj

Fri, 06/09/1916 - Sun, 12/31/1916
Seres to Salonika road crossing River Struma and the railway line from Dorian (Bulgars to the north). Spelling of locations on map vary; Jenikoj = Yenikeui

From January to August 1916, the Army in Salonika was fairly inactive as the Bulgarians had not crossed the border into Greece. The 6th Battalion The Royal Irish Rifles had arrived in the Rendina Gorge in the New Year, following the Allies' retreat from Serbia, remaining there until relieved in February.

The move to Ajvasil, on the shore of Lake Langaza, was followed by training and manoeuvres from 19 to 23 April. The Brigade moved to Likovan, halfway between Salonika and Seres and the battalions were employed on road construction. This ended when, on 6 June 1916, the Brigade was ordered into the Struma Valley to take over positions from the French beginning at the western end of Lake Tahinos and running westwards. Then in mid-July the Brigade moved to Dremiglavia, north of Salonika and west of the Seres road.

With hot weather came a change in dress to sun helmets and shorts. As the heat increased, so did diseases, and soon there were over 1,000 sick in the Brigade. This led to the formation of composite companies and battalions as the Brigade was directed back to Dremiglavia, where positions in the line were occupied on the night of 27 August. The next day the Rifles were shelled by Bulgarian artillery, the first action seen since December 1915.

A reconnaissance in force was carried out on Komarjan by a company formed by the 6th Battalion The Royal Irish Rifles. The company crossed the Struma in rafts and making close fighting contact with the Bulgars, took prisoners. By 2030 hours, the company was back on the home bank having lost one killed, one wounded and one missing. The minor operation captured 24 prisoners and identified an enemy piquet position holding Komarjan. The action was repeated on 23/24 September at the opposite end of the Brigade's front when Major Graham's company carried out a deeper operation without loss.

These actions were the prelude to an operation on 30 September to capture the important village of Jenikoj as a preliminary to cutting the railway line running from Dorian to Adrianople and Constantinople. The preliminary operations to capture the villages of Karadzakoj, Bola and Zir by 81 Brigade of the 27th Division with a composite force of Rifles and Leinsters, led by the CO of 6 RUR, covering 81 Brigade's left flank. The attack, beginning at 0300 hours, was a complete success and despite enemy counterattacks, Jenikoj was held, allowing the Crown Prince of Serbia to visit the troops there on 12 October to congratulate them on their advance. Operations continued on 31 October and the Rifles crossed the railway line, advancing as far as the Prosenyk stream.

The 6th battalion was relieved on 3 November, going forward to the line again on 23 November, remaining at Nevoljen, with a company outpost to the north at Topalova. It was relieved on 28 December and returned to billets in the village of Orljak, south of the River Struma, where three companies worked on the defences and constructing a camp for the Headquarters of the 10 (Irish) Division, while the fourth trained.