Today Serbia is celebrating the centenary of the Battle of Cer.
The Battle of Cer was the first victory of the Allies, which occurred after the first Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia in late July 1914, when Belgrade came under heavy artillery bombardment and the country was ravaged, houses burned, wells poisoned, unspeakable atrocities committed against civilians, young and old, women and children as well. The ailing King Peter, riddled with arthritis, walking with great difficulty and with a grieving heart, made his way to the troops on the frontline and to boost their morale addressed them with these words:
“Heroes, you have taken two oaths: one to me, your King, and one to your country. From the first I release you, from the second no man can release you. But if you decide to return to your homes and if we should be victorious, you shall not be made to suffer.” (p. 582 Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West, Canongate Classics 1993)
They all stayed and went on to prepare for a counter attack.
The Battle of Cer was won singlehandedly by the Serbian army against a better equipped and larger enemy army. The battle lasted nearly ten days on the slopes of the Cer Mountain, from 15 August to 24 August. Henry Barby, a French journalist, wrote on 19 August 1914: “The history of Austria-Hungary has been studded with a remarkable collection of defeats and the reign of Franz Joseph has been particularly fecund in military disasters. But until today, the old monarch was able to claim that he had only ever been beaten by the Great Powers, by France in 1850, and by Prussia in 1866. Today, it is Serbia, a tenth of the size of Austria, with a tenth of the population, which has inflicted a first and resounding defeat.” (Battle of Cer – Wikipedia)
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This is an excerpt from “My Dad, Volunteer in WWI”. At the time of the Battle of Cer, Bogdan Stojic, my father, was on military training in Osijek, Slavonia, getting ready to be sent to the front. – (To be continued)
Copyright © 2014 Irina Dimitric