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, led by General Stepa Stepanović, according to the plans of Vojvoda Radomir Putnik , a brilliant strategist, against a better equipped and larger enemy army. For this victory, General Stepanović was promoted to the rank of Vojvoda – Field Marshal. The battle lasted nearly ten days, from 15 August to 24 August.
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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