Bulgaria Digs In At Doiran – The Final Blow Against The Senussi I THE GREAT WAR Week 133


The war has grown larger and larger and ever
more countries have joined the fight, and this week, one neutral nation takes one big
step closer to war. This week, the United States breaks off diplomatic
relations with Germany. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to the Great War. Last week Germany declared unrestricted submarine
warfare, where any ship in the war zone is subject to being sunk on sight without warning. There was scattered small action on all the
European fronts, and more political turmoil in Russia as the Foreign Minister resigned. Let’s jump right in with the big news of
the week. On February 3rd, 1917, the United States severed
diplomatic relations with Germany and their respective ambassadors were recalled. This was an inevitable consequence of Germany
reintroducing unlimited submarine warfare, which violated the agreement reached after
the sinking of the Sussex in 1915. Now, no shipping in the war zone is safe from
sudden death. American President Woodrow Wilson told congress
that if American lives were taken, he would ask for the means to protect them. He also encouraged other neutrals to break
off diplomatic ties with Germany. Most didn’t, though Brazil, China, Chile,
and Argentina sent notes to Germany that they would follow suit if threats to their shipping
were carried out. Still, the first American ship sunk after
the proclamation of the 1st was the freighter Housatonic on the 3rd. Before sinking the ship, the submarine crew
gave warning, allowed the Housatonic’s crew to man the boats, and then towed them 150km
toward land. A British patrol vessel appeared and the sub
fired a signal to get its attention before disappearing beneath the waves. Under the new rules, though, the Housatonic
should have been sunk without warning. This might seem promising, but it turned out
to be an act of grace extended toward a neutral ship that left its homeport before unrestricted
warfare went into effect. It was not repeated. The British ship Eavestone was sunk and its
crew was shelled by the sub as they took to the boats. The captain and three seamen, one an American,
were killed. Something that really was a flagrant violation
of the Sussex agreement was the torpedoing of the Anchor Liner “California” off the
Irish coast with 230 people aboard, including some Americans. There were no American casualties among the
41 victims, but attacks on passenger liners without warning, regardless of the menace
to American lives, were the centerpiece of the crisis between Germany and America. The California sank in 9 minutes and no effort
was made to save the victims. This “overt act”, the specific kind of
overt act that Wilson said he was waiting for before any open enmity broke out, brought
the breaking point nearer. The Japanese Prince and the Mantola were sunk
without warning, and though they were British steamers, there were 30 American cattlemen
on the Japanese Prince, who were all rescued, and an American doctor on the Mantola, who
also survived. These acts were acts of war and were reasons
enough to declare war, but for now Germany’s single offenses were being overlooked. But what will the cumulative effect be? This was something that was just beginning,
but something else was just finishing this week. On the Libyan front, perhaps the most forgotten
front of the war. Ottoman backed Senussi tribesmen had harassed
the British forces in Egypt for over a year, but this week a British expedition set out
from Egypt to break the power of Said Ahmed, Senussi leader, and it came to a head at the
Siwa Oasis. After an all day battle the Senussi were defeated. They evacuataed by night and headed for Shiyata,
but British cavalry cut off their retreat by taking the Munasib Pass and forcing the
tribesmen to disperse south into the waterless desert. The Senussi power in the Western Desert was
now completely broken. But the British were having problems on another
front that was just gearing up after winter, the Macedonian front. Now, east of Lake Doiran the Bulgarian 9th
“Pleven” Infantry Division had taken up defensive positions a couple of months ago. They were led by Major-General Stefan Nerezov
and Colonel Vladimir Vazov, who would soon be promoted to general and take command there. What Vazov, and indeed most of Bulgarian High
Command, wanted was an all-out offensive toward Salonika that would drive the Allies out of
Greece and close that front. The German High Command did not agree with
this. They argued that this front needed to be kept
open to divert troops from the Western Front. This was understandable since the Allies were
currently sending and would continue to send hundreds of thousands of men to Salonika. So since there would be no huge offensive,
Vazov decided to dig in and dig in properly. He requested that Germany supply building
materials like concrete and this the Germans were happy to do. What Vazov’s men constructed over the winter
and spring was perhaps the most impressive defensive lines of the whole war. They included two new main positions with
two rows of continuous trenches, those trenches being up to 2 meters deep and linked with
communications passages. In front of these was a two-lined system of
barbed wire. Behind them were concrete galleries that could
be used as fire positions for artillery or ammunitions platforms. In front of the main position there were smaller
fortifications, while secondary positions were 2-5 km to the rear. The advance positions were called Zemlyaks,
and were little hills connected by a single trench. They were lightly manned but filled with machine
guns. Their purpose was to halt an attacker’s
forward momentum and force him to get down long before he could reach the first trench
line, and leaving him vulnerable. Vazov also ordered concrete bunkers built,
some as deep as 17 meters underground. These were large enough to hold the entire
9th Division’s 34,000 men. The total amount of trenches was dozens of
kilometers long and Bulgarian historians say that it’s larger than the amount of digging
done for the Sofia Metro 90 years later. Vazov also set up farming communities behind
the lines. They were fairly far back but were looked
after by the soldiers to bring in crops and livestock. This was because the supply system was so
shaky, and having a nearby source of fresh food did wonders for the soldiers’ morale. The British had no idea about all of this
until this week on February 9th when they attempted to storm Bulgarian positions. They did have small initial success, but the
counter attacked completely repulsed them. It also left them thinking about just what
they would have to do to break the Bulgarian defenses. Interesting to see defenses on relatively
new fronts being built up to match those of the long stalemate on the Western Front, where
small attacks continued this week. On the 3rd, East of Beaucourt and North of
the River Ancre, the British advanced 500m in a front over a kilometer wide, taking 100
prisoners. The next day in same region the British took
500m of trenches and 100 more prisoners On the Italian front there were similar skirmishes. On the 6th there was intense artillery fighting
in the Astico Valley. In the Sagana Valley an Austrian detachment
trying to take Italian positions on Monte Maso was routed, leaving their guns and ammo
on the ground as they fled. The following day in that valley, the Austrians
tried again on the right back of the Brenta, but Italian infantry and field batteries were
too much for them, while on the 9th, east of Gorizia the Austrians attack Italian positions,
1000 Italian prisoners were taken. And here are a couple of notes to end the
week. On the 4th, Mehmed Talaat Pasha became new
Ottoman Grand Vizier when Said Halim resigned for health reasons. This is roughly equivalent to Prime Minister. Talaat had served as Minister of the Interior
and Minister of Finance and is one of “the three pashas” that pretty much ran the Ottoman
Empire during the war. It was he who ordered the arrest and deportation
of Armenian intellectuals in Constantinople in April 1915 that is usually seen as the
“official” beginning of the Armenian Genocide. And that was the week. The Senussi tribesmen broken in North Africa,
the British running up against unexpectedly strong Bulgarian fortifications in Macedonia,
some small skirmishing in Italy and the West, and a new Ottoman Prime Minister. And the US breaking off diplomatic relations
with Germany. And Germany sinking vessels with neutral American
civilians aboard. So what would follow? It seems there are three choices for the United
States: do nothing and let your people be killed, which was unacceptable, stop shipping,
stop trade – including the lucrative trade with the Entente powers – and limit the rights
of your people to travel the seas, which was what much of Congress considered, but Wilson
rejected, which was also unacceptable, or go to war and fight back. So starting this week, it looks like the war
is going to get even larger and even bloodier. Madness. If you want to learn more about Bulgaria in
the war and how they joined the central powers, click right here. Our Patreon supporter of the week is Adam
Vartanian – thank you for your incredible support on Patreon. You can also support us by buying our official
merchandise. See you next time.

100 thoughts on “Bulgaria Digs In At Doiran – The Final Blow Against The Senussi I THE GREAT WAR Week 133

  1. Hi Indy. Great show and great work. Keep it up. My name is Moatamer Amin from Egypt. I have couple of questions. First, how much in financial cost did World War One cost in USD today? Did it take the full GDP of fighting nations? And second, can you make episode about Egypt in WWI, especially that Cairo was the head quarter of British in the Middle East in this war..

  2. Did anyone else catch the sinking of the SS Housatonic by a submarine as ironic?  The first successful wartime sinking of a  ship by a submarine occurred during the American Civil War.  The Confederate submarine, H. L. Hunley sank a Union blockade ship.  The name of the Union ship was the USS Housatonic.

  3. Question What actually happened to all those trenches after the war? Did they get filled back in? Or can "ruins" of war trenches still be seen today?

  4. Hey Indy! I've always wondered what the painting is behind your head each episode. It looks like a German soldier against a red background? Thanks for this series! I look forward to it each week! Thank you all for saving this for history!

  5. By accident, I found your channel. Absolutely great!

    I had two Great Uncles in WW1, both born in what today is the Ukraine, but in those days, Austrian Empire.

    One immigrated to and then fought for Canada, winning the Distinguished Conduct Medal at Ypres.

    The other fought under the Austrian Empire in Italy.
    The fact that you cover so much of the "rest of the war" that most others gloss over, such as the Austrian/Italian front is wonderful.

    He was in the battle you highlighted here.

    The conditions for the regular Austrian troops was appalling. He didn't have proper boots or clothes, and had to share a rifle. An Austrian officer was killed near him, and to save his feet, he took the officer's boots.

    A few days later, another officer noticed his boots, accused him of theft, and sent him to the rear to the stockades, where he spent the rest of the war, probably saving his life.

    After the war, he too went to Canada, but his wife and son stayed behind. They died under Stalin and his Ukraine policy.

  6. Seems U.S. was sending trade but also war items to Britain. Why would Wilson, not just go in zone where they were going to get sunk? Seems Germany was correct they were already part of the war. Only problem is U.S. has 50 million bodies to send to front lines. What were the chances that U.S. would ally with the Germans?

  7. I'm portuguese and i heard a story in the news about a portuguese solider that fougth the germans alone covering the retreat of his friends.Thanks for reading and keep up the good work.

  8. I have read 8 of the books at your amazon store (read before I knew of this series). You really should include Tim Cook's At the Sharp End, Shock Troops and Vimy. These have some of the finest and explanations and descriptions of trench warfare on the Western Front (from the Canadian perspective but it can be applied to the experience of the entire front.) They also clearly explain the development of artillery and infantry coordination and detail the experience of the individual soldier. Truly fantastic! Additionally, Battle Tactics Trench Warfare by Stephen Bull is a terrific light summary of trench warfare and includes many great photos and illustrations and offers defensive drawings, lesser known weapons, and bombing squad tactics. Finally, Margaret MacMillan has 2 books for those interested in pre-war politics and the post-war results of WWI, The War that Ended Peace: the Road to 1914 and Paris 1919.

  9. hey indy and fellow creators. I've been playing battlefield 1 which got me thinking, were there any battles involving armoured trains like in the game? hope you guys can get back to me thanks!!

  10. if those americans were on british ships, it was their own fault.

    and if 'neutrals' had not smuggled weapons into UK and UK not used the highly illeagal Q-ships, 'unrestricted u-boat warfare' would not have been necessary.

  11. I recently heard a programme on Capital Swedish radio, where the theory was presented that if Germany had waited a short while to re-introduce Unrestricted Submarine Warfare, the United States wold not have been able to build up and ship its troops in time to make a difference in the conflict. Thus effectively meaning that the Central Powers could have won the war had not the Kaiser cast his die prematurely, so to speak. Any thoughts?

  12. I am so glad BF1 brought me here. I've been hooked to this channel for 6 months now. Very interesting and educative videos!

  13. Real case – In one of the battles during the campaign, 34 Senegalese soldiers from the 2nd French division were captured. The Bulgarian soldiers fed them, and the Senegalese thanked with "Merci". Because this word is used by the Bulgarians too, and many at the moment did not realise that the word has French origin, the Bulgarian soldiers were amazed how for such a short time the Senegalese learned to speak Bulgarian. When the Bulgarians ordered the captives to stay aline in order to be carried away and locked, the Senegalese fell on their knees and begged for their lives to be spared. The Bulgarian officers, who were clueless of what's goin on, the ones who spoke French began interrogation. The captured Senegalese soldiers said that before to be sent to the front, the French high command told them that they will be fighting versus Bulgarians, ""who are cannibals and prefer the meat of dark-skinned people"", that's why they should not fall in captivity in no case. They were assured that this is not true and the Senegalese calmed down. The Bulgarians released three of them afterwards, so they can go back to their command and tell them that the Bulgarian soldiers are not cannibals.

    Funny, this seems to be main thing the French commandment tried to convince their troops – that they wiill be eaten if captured, as Sergeant Gers Olivier (Olivier Gers) noted in his diary during his participation in the Doiran campaign.

    The assaults around Doiran in 1918 were the true horror. Then and there 60 000 Anglo-French soldiers left their bones, while Vazov alone gave ~500 (five hundred) lives. My great-grandfather was on Doiran and long time after the war he used to call general Vazov "the Mincer". The man was simply brilliant strategist.

  14. In fact I'm dissapointed of this material because you were too laconic. You neglect the Eastern front in general. Nothing about Dobrudjia campaign and the fall of Bucaresti. Nothing about Tutrakan and Dobrich. For Doiran – you said that the English soldiers had some kind of succes there. I respect their sacrifice, because they died for their country but you must not distort he historical fact. The English losses in Doiran are colosal. Loyd George, himself said that England had never before lost so many good men at once. The statics are eloquent – Tzardom of Bulgaria lost 2 000 good men, England lost 12 000 good men. The army of the Antante was not only defeated. It was totally massacred in Doiran.

  15. Hi! is there a special

    show about armored cars? There were a lot in the war who's exploits have not been covered in the normal series, Austria even had vehicles from 1904 i think, there were also combined projects in Russia. I know that they were moved to the back after trenches developed on the western front and after 1915 mostly disbanded, but how many other theaters were they used in, which ones performed well, etc.
    "Rolls being more valuable than rubies" or something from Lawrence?

    Thanks!

  16. How the hell is it "madness" for the US to join the war when you yourself state that the other options weren't acceptable?  You really need to accept that sometimes – as tragic as it may be – war is the best option.  Merely because people will die does NOT automatically mean a war is "madness" or "immoral" for all involved – it's all about the context.  Again, this channel seems more interested in moralizing than admitting that real life isn't black and white where there is always some ideal solution that only madmen or sadists fail to take.  So, what is the magical solution to all the "madness" of the war?  Unless you can provide such – great tactics to win battles without many casualties, ways for a nation to make another surrender without anyone dying, and so forth – then this self-righteous attitude is unfair and self-indulgent.

  17. Were there any harsher penalties for retreating without taking ammo and supplies with you? I would think the central powers would start to crack down on actions like that since resources were starting become a problem.

  18. Acording to a Wikipedia article the ottoman-backed Libyans kept the warfare going against the Italian troops in the colonies around Tripoli up until the end of the war causing thousands of casualties

  19. Another great thing about this week-for-week format is the sense of the time scale you get, something you don't really get from reading books about the war, even if they were thousands of pages. It's been 2,5 years, such a long time already, and it's going to go on and on, and every week many men died, every week Europe went on destroying itself.
    And not to get too political here, but if you imagine that after all of WW1 you get the arguably worse WW2, those institutions and organisations for European cooperation that a growing number of people nowadays want to have removed start to make a lot more sense.

  20. Why are so many acting like Germany is the "good guy" as if there's a "good guy". Fucking please, Indy would be dissapointed in you all

  21. You know…when I first started watching this series over a year ago I thought I couldn't wait for the US to enter the war. Now, after Romania, the first 6 months in France, the abuse in Solanika, and the myriad of horrors this war produced, I'm kind of wishing we had just stay out of the whole thing. This show has made a huge impact on my view of World War I, and war in general. Great job Indy and crew, carry on the good work.

  22. Hello Indy and team. I have a question for out of the trenches as someone who is of Lebanese descent I can remember my grandfather claiming to be older in reality than he was on paper because of the lack of paperwork documenting his birth due to the confusion caused when the Ottoman Empire was dissolved are there other examples of this that you can think of, and can you tell me what role Lebanon played during the Great War? love the show please keep up the great work!

  23. this level of detail would actually be nice for so many other subjects in history.

    Thanks @the great war for this :O epic channel

  24. I'm currently in a class that requires you to give numerous speeches. I've been watching a lot of these videos and I can honestly say that Indy's speaking voice is starting to carry over into my own. Love the videos, and I appreciate the subconcious speech lessons I get from watching them lol

  25. It's really too bad that you didn't have that kind of map at the beginning. I really appreciate the clarity it gives in showing who controls which areas during the conflict. Maybe later you can re-edit the old episodes so they use it.

  26. The US entered the war because …. ?
    It is not like other neutral nations who traded with Uk were not affected ? Why was the US more special ?
    The argument of Wilson sounds like this: We are entering the war to protect the lives of US citizens who want to visit war zones….

  27. Thank you so much for these! They have such great production value and have so much interesting information, not to mention the freat delivery. Thanks again! 🙂

  28. I've always wonder why the German high command stop us from attacking Salonica and push the allies back to the sea, but didn't think about the global strategy to tight some french and brit troops. However our generals were right and the Germans wrong, with most of the man population mobilized our economy couldn't last long and after the first defeat our soldiers mutinied. This caused a chain reaction bringing the war to the end.

  29. As a Bulgarian, i would like to thank you, for paying attention to one of the most important battlefields of all Bulgarian history.
    Everything was well explained as we studied at school. All facts and numbers. If you need any information about that front in the future, please contact me, i will be more than happy to help you guys. Once again Thank you.

  30. In Doiran Bulgarian troops were left not only without food and often without ammo, but also without shoes or winter equipment while facing an enemy many times bigger on numbers and better equipped than Bulgarian troops. From then in Bulgaria there is a saying "five men on a knife" because the allies were five times more. Later after the war general Vazov visites London and one of the British generals says: "Take down the flags, general Vazov is passing". I'm saying this as a fun fact. (sorry for bad English).

  31. Hey what are you going to do when you get up to the end of the war. Are you going to go to world war 2 or are you not going to make any videos anymore

  32. Please keep on telling us what happened. I bet this will all make sense one day.
    Please?
    Now that the greatest purveyor of death is upon us in it's mighty wrath, are there more horsemen of the apocalypse than we have been told there are? Do you mind if I'm sticking to 4…jessayin. I'm already older than the veterans of this w a r were when I was born. And still we haven't learned. A civilization built on violence will fail. Empires fall. That's what they do. If we as people don't get our act together, so will we. To the future!

  33. Talaat didn't order the arrest and deportation of the Armenian intellectuals (politicians, teachers, artists…), he ordered their murder. almost all of those intellectuals were slaughtered

  34. Lots of great photos with Mannlicher 1886 or 1888/90. Those Bulgarians had some impressive fortifications too.

  35. Why didn't they shell the attacking enemy while keeping him pinned to one position trough machine gun fire? I'm sure it would have been possible to have an artillery shell fly only 100m or so, to reduce the chance of accidentally hitting your own trenches to 0

  36. great videos!
    thanks for putting effort into pronouncing slavic names.
    greetings from voivodina, serbia.

  37. General Vladimir Vazov is a great man for us Bulgarians, one of the major boulevards in Sofia is named after him, after the war he became mayor of the city. He is brother of Ivan Vazov ("the Patriarch of Bulgarian literature") and General Georgi Vazov (who led the Siege of Adrianople (1912–13) during the Balkan war). It's a legendary family.

  38. As an American, I have always found it silly that we made such a fuss over the sinking of passenger liners. This is because passenger liners (most famously the Lusitania) were smuggling weapons and munitions to Britain. It seems to me that sinking ships that are carrying weapons to an enemy nation is a perfectly reasonable act in wartime. Of course, the American public was lied to about this by the government.

  39. Germans really were the unfortunate victims of an international conspiracy.
    They had no chance, world was gradually turned against them, and they were stabbed in the back at the same time.

  40. The country size of your map is pretty wrong. Bulgaria looks way too off and smaller than it actually was (and is today), Greece is oversized and so is Serbia. Im not talking about their borders, im talking about the scale

  41. Hello, I have two questions. First, how long did it take a Uboat to sail from Germany to Ireland. And second, politicaly, what is the difference between the English blockade to Germany and the German unrestricted submarine warfare. I mean, what would have an English boat done if a neutral nation boat had attemp to ship supplies or food to Germany?

  42. This channel is absolutely amazing. The only comparible production in terms of detail is Dan Carlins "Blueprint for Armageddon"-series of podcasts on WW1.
    I would love if you came up this something similar for the spanish- or russian civil war or even WW2.

  43. What final blow against the Senussi ?

    We kept the war going against Italy until the 60's when we got independence

    And there is king idrees the first who is a Senussi (I think he is the cousin of Ahmed)

  44. It almost seems like Germany vs EVERYBODY in WW1.
    P.S. Austro-Hungerians were a bunch of losers, they don't count, anyway. And the same goes for the Turkeys.

  45. The Bulgarians were stronger than expected, im sure the british thought it will be an easy victory, they were completely wrong. I Love Bulgaria!

  46. Seaman is i funny word, i once was a seamen too, then i was born, luckily, i don`t remember that.

  47. Why are people stupid enough to actually get on a ship and go over to the uk or even across the atlantic? like do they not see nor hear about all these sinkings?

  48. Let's be honest here. If there is a global war going on, at land, at sea and in the air, with a deathtoll in the millions, and you know that germany has engaged in unrestricted warfare: the last thing you would do is getting on a ship (a british ship at that), that's travelling to Europe!!
    One could almost say these American travellers asked for it…

  49. What Germany didn't take into account is that the Americans with just 10,000 men ill trained and equipped (mainly because Mexico would not allow the US access to the railroads) penetrated 350 km into Mexican territory without any serious opposition by either the Mexican government or Villa's guerillas. It also gave vital experience to a number of US officers that would rise to prominence in both World Wars. What type of allegience could Mexico provided Germany if war did start with the US?

  50. In his diary General Vladimir Vazov talks about the importans of victory in Doiran. He writes that even we lost the war, english paid respect to Bulgaria an stoped our neighbors to rampage in bulgarian teritory.

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