A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 209

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THE RETREAT OF THE SERBS


His rearguards could not hold back the enemy. They swept over the frontier and converged upon the important town of VaJievo, commanding the roads to Belgrade, Obrenovac, and otherstrategicalpoints. BythecaptureofValievo,onNovem- ber ji, the Austrian commander surmounted the first series of barriers which formed the natural defences of Serbia, and planted the centre of his great army in the middle of the Serbian high- lands. At the same time he swung his right wing over the )i eights far to the south. Ridge after ridge was lost by the Serbs, who grew more demoralized as the superior numbers and irresist- ible artillery power of the enemy pressed them back continually. Ail along the line the Serbs gave way. Their centre w^s tlnown back on the KoluVmra river on ]Sfo\'embcr 20, and on November 28 the great part of the mountain defences, including ihc passes of the Suvobor heights, were stormed or turnecVby the ijivaders. Belgrade, the capital of* Serbia, had fallen, and the line of the Austrian advance stretched for 70 hiiles from the Danube towards Cacac, or Chachak, in the Morava valley. On December i the weakening Serbian army held only the jockywedgebetweentheMoravavcdicys. Inthemiddleofthis wedge was the arsenal town of Kragujevatz, defended on the north-west by the Rudnik ridge, with peaks rising from 3,000 to .^,500 feet. Some fifteen miles westward of the Rudnik ridge was another high and snow-buried tract of mountain, the MaljcJi ridge. Then between the Rudnik and the Maljen extended the lower heights of Suvobor, over which ran the passes to Cacac and Kragujevatz. The ground at Suvobor rose in fold after fold to a height of 2,000 feet. It was the gateway into the central high- lands of Serbia, and the ist Serbian army had surrendered it to the enemy almost without a blow and withdrawn to the lower slopes. All the ridges of Maljen westward were also lost to the Serbs on November 25 and the 4th army was retreating up the valley on the western Morava. Far to the south, along the railway leading to Saloiiica, by which the Serbians usually received their supplies, armed bands of Moslems and other insurgents broke theirlineofcommunicationwiththeouterworld. TheAustrian staff believed that with the forcing of the Suvobor ridges the resistanceoftheSerbianshadbeencompletelybroken. Butthe Serbian army had obtained supplies of shells and ammunition, and its leaders resolved on a last desperate effort. The order for the counter-attack was given 011 December 2,

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