Britain and France commit troops to operation in Salonika, Greece - HISTORY
Year
1915

Britain and France commit troops to operation in Salonika, Greece

At the request of the Greek prime minister, Eleutherios Venizelos, Britain and France agree on October 5, 1915, to land troops at the city of Salonika (now Thessaloniki), in northern Greece, during World War I.

Earlier in the war, David Lloyd George, Britain’s minister of munitions, had argued for sending Allied troops to Salonika instead of the Gallipoli Peninsula; the idea was shelved when the ill-fated invasion of Gallipoli went ahead in the late spring of 1915. In early October of that year, however, Britain and France each agreed to contribute 75,000 troops to establish a base of operations in Salonika, from which they would attempt to aid their battered ally in the Balkans, Serbia, in its struggle against the Central Powers.

The expedition had three major drawbacks, however: First, it would conflict with the demands of Gallipoli operation, which was ongoing but locked in a virtual stalemate. Second, such a large Allied force could not be fully established in Salonika until the following January, which would undoubtedly be too late to aid the Serbs. Finally, such an operation would violate the neutrality of Greece. Though many in that country, including Venizelos, favored intervention in the war on the side of the Allies, King Constantine remained steadfastly neutral; married to a relative of Kaiser Wilhelm II, his natural sympathies lay with Germany. Lloyd George, for one, dismissed the idea of a violation of Greek neutrality, arguing disingenuously that “there was no comparison between going through Greece and the German passage through Belgium.” In fact, a goal of the Salonika expedition, expressed by Lord H.H. Kitchener, the British secretary of war, was to provoke Greece into intervening and aiding Serbia against the Central Powers.

Another objective of the operation in October 1915 was to defend Greece against invaders from Bulgaria, which entered the war that same month on the side of the Central Powers. In the end, however, the Anglo-French force began arriving too late to aid the Serbs—the Serbian capital, Belgrade, was evacuated and occupied by the enemy on October 9—and was not strong enough for an aggressive offensive against the Bulgarian invaders. Against the objections of Constantine and his supporters, the Allies remained in Salonika, as yet another front in World War I became bogged down in stalemate over the course of the next year.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Apple founder Steve Jobs dies

On this day in 2011, Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Inc., which revolutionized the computer, music and mobile communications industries with such devices as the Macintosh, iPod, iPhone and iPad, dies at age 56 of complications from pancreatic cancer.Born on ...read more

Tecumseh defeated

During the War of 1812, a combined British and Indian force is defeated by General William Harrison’s American army at the Battle of the Thames near Ontario, Canada. The leader of the Indian forces was Tecumseh, the Shawnee chief who organized intertribal resistance to the ...read more

Dalai Lama wins Peace Prize

The Dalai Lama, the exiled religious and political leader of Tibet, is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his nonviolent campaign to end the Chinese domination of Tibet.The 14th Dalai Lama was born as Tenzin Gyatso in Tsinghai Province, China, in 1935. He was of ...read more

Cuban defector lands MiG in Miami

In an embarrassing breach of the United States’ air-defense capability, a Cuban defector enters U.S. air space undetected and lands his Soviet-made MiG-17 at Homestead Air Force Base, south of Miami, Florida. The presidential aircraft Air Force One was at the base at the time, ...read more

Chief Joseph surrenders

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians surrenders to U.S. General Nelson A. Miles in the Bear Paw mountains of Montana, declaring, “Hear me, my chiefs: My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”Earlier in the year, the U.S. government ...read more

First presidential speech on TV

On this day in 1947, President Harry Truman (1884-1972) makes the first-ever televised presidential address from the White House, asking Americans to cut back on their use of grain in order to help starving Europeans.At the time of Truman’s food-conservation speech, Europe was ...read more

Stalingrad must not be taken by the enemy.

On this day in 1942, Joseph Stalin, premier and dictator of the Soviet Union, fires off a telegram to the German and Soviet front at Stalingrad, exhorting his forces to victory. “That part of Stalingrad which has been captured must be liberated.”Stalingrad was a key to capturing ...read more

South Vietnamese generals plan coup

Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge reports to President John F. Kennedy from Saigon that South Vietnamese generals are planning a coup against President Ngo Dinh Diem.Kennedy and his administration had become increasingly concerned about Diem because of the rising tide of dissent ...read more

Yanks win their fifth series in a row

On October 5, 1953, the New York Yankees defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers to win their fifth World Series in a row. It was a record-breaking championship: Joe McCarthy’s legendary 1936-1939 Yanks had won four in a row, but no team had ever won five. The Bombers had squeaked by the ...read more

Chester Arthur is born

On this day in 1829, future President Chester Alan Arthur is born in North Fairfield, Vermont.The precocious and bright young Arthur wanted to become a lawyer and enrolled in Union College in New York at the age of 15. He later supported himself by teaching school while he earned ...read more

Isaac Singer wins Nobel Prize

On this day in 1978, Isaac Bashevis Singer wins the Nobel Prize for literature. Singer wrote in Yiddish about Jewish life in Poland and the United States, and translations of his work became popular in mainstream America as well as Jewish circles.Singer was born in Poland in 1904 ...read more

Henry & June is first NC-17 film

On this day in 1990, Henry & June, starring Uma Thurman, Fred Ward and Maria de Medeiros and inspired by the novel of the same name by Anais Nin, opens in theaters as the first film with an NC-17 rating. Set in Paris, France, in the early 1930s, Henry & June tells the story of ...read more

Blimp crashes in France

On this day in 1930, a British dirigible crashes in Beauvais, France, killing 49 people. The airship, which was Great Britain’s biggest, had first been launched about a year earlier.In the 1920s, the major European nations competed with each other to build larger and larger ...read more