How's your Macedonian? You might want to brush up on it if you have a French ancestor who fought and died in Skopje in the First World War. Aleksandar Dimitrijevic, who blogs as Volan, has just posted a number of photographs and videos of the French Military Cemetery in Skopje. (Then called Üsküp or Uskub.)
Almost 3000 French, Senegalese and Moroccan soldiers of the Armée d'Orient are interred there. Some died in the Fall of Serbia in October-November, 1915, wiped out by the Bulgarian, Austrian and German Armies. The Serbian Army was weak, having lost many soldiers in battles in 1914 and more to a typhus epidemic in 1915. The Central Powers' intention was to clear all of the Orient Railway to Istanbul, in order to be able to supply the Ottoman Empire. The British and French had promised help to the Serbians, who fought against terrible odds, outnumbered and outgunned, and with the local windstorm the Kossova, raging around the battle, which lasted weeks. The Allied reinforcements arrived from Salonika, too few and too late, and died with the Serbians. Only a few survived, with the remnants of the Serbian Army, beaten back across Albania to the sea. After quite a wait, the survivors were rescued and taken to Corfu. Others fell in 1918 when the city was retaken.
Only 930 of the graves have names. Christians and Moslems, crosses and crescents are side by side.
Another source of nice photographs is
Many thanks to Aleksandar Dimitrijevic for supplying his photo and more information.
©2009 Anne Morddel