Sunday, 13 November 2011

Beau Geste Digest: WW1 Special

Earlier today I posted part of a newsletter from Anna at Beau Geste, highlighting some of the extensive range of WW1 figures they produce, together with a little background information on the real life historical troops which inspired their creation

Here is the rest of that newsletter. I hope you enjoy it

Bulgaria's strategic geographic location and strong military made the country a desired ally. In the aftermath of the Balkan Wars, Bulgarian opinion turned against Russia and the western powers. The government aligned itself with Germany and Austria-Hungary, even though this also meant becoming an ally of the Ottomans, Bulgaria's traditional enemy

The Bulgarians held claims against Serbia, Greece and Romania (all allies of Britain and France), all of whom were in possession of lands perceived in Bulgaria as part of its own territory. They declared war on Serbia in October 1915. Britain, France and Italy then declared war on Bulgaria

A page of illustrations from the book of WW1 uniforms by Liliane and Fred Funcken

The formal conclusion of Bulgaria's participation in World War I was marked by the signing of the Treaty of Neuilly in 1919, according to which the country had to return all occupied territories, cede even more of its own land and pay heavy reparations
Bulgarian reservists

Bulgarian reservists military band

Greece, with its strategic position and well-known enmity towards the Turks, was a sought-after ally of the French and British. The Greeks were unwilling to commit to the allies, however, probably due in large part to the pro-German sympathies of King Constantine who was married to the Kaiser's sister

The British and French attempted to woo the Greeks with promises of territorial gains in Turkey but still the Greeks refused to commit themselves to war. However, they did allow British and French forces to disembark at Salonika en route to Serbia. By the time the allied forces were ready, Serbia had already fallen and Austrian and Bulgarian troops stood on the Greek border. Greece promised to "neither help nor hinder" the allied armies, whilst at the same time handing over the key fortress of Rupel to the Bulgarians in the summer of 1916

Three illustrations showing Greek Evzone, elite light infantry

The Austrian and Bulgarian attack on Greece was staved off by British and French forces until Constantine abdicated under French pressure on the 12th June 1917 and his son declared war on the Central Powers on the 2nd July. Greek soldiers then fought alongside the French and British troops in
Greece, finally pushing back into Serbia

Greek troops in 1919
Greek Evzone light infantry

The Young Turk government signed a secret treaty with Germany and established the Ottoman-German Alliance in August 1914, aimed against the common Russian enemy and aligning the Empire with the Central Powers. Turkey formally entered World War I on 28 October 1914 with the bombing of Russian Black Sea port and the Allied Powers declared war on the Ottoman Empire on  November 4

Turkish infantry on the march

Two major factors led to Ottoman involvement on the side of the Central Powers: German pressure and the opportunism of Turkish minister of war Enver Pasha. Other motives for joining the Central Powers were the German victories early in the War and Turkey's friction with the Triple Entente.

Germany's aim was clear: to keep Turkey from joining the enemy and, by gaining Ottoman support, encourage Romania and Bulgaria to enter the Alliance

Turkish infantry military band

There were several important Ottoman victories in the early years of the war, such as the Battle of Gallipoli and the Siege of Kut, but there were setbacks as well, such as the disastrous Caucasus Campaign against the Russians

Turkish troopers dancing

I hope you have enjoyed this very brief summary of the involvement of some of the less well known protagonists of the Great War. Anna is planning to put a few more of these newsletters together so I will review them and post them up on the blog as soon as they arrive

In the meantime, if you want further information on any of the countries referred to in this post, follow the highlighted links in the text

Happy reading!

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