A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 214

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THE EFFORT OF SERBIA


from the Rudnik ridge and the heights of Kosmai. Their front stretched from Grocka on the Danube to Konatice on the Kolu- bara river. Some fifteen miles behind them was the city of Bel- grade, which they were endeavouring to retain for the honour cUid prestige of their empire. The failure of the movement of invasion was patent to the world. General Potiorek sorely needed the possession of Belgrade to palliate the overthrow of the third Austrian plan of conquest of Serbia. General Putnik reckoned on this. The loss of Belgrade had become a gain to him. By means of his lost capital he was able not. merely to shatter tlie centre and southern wing of the invading armies, but also to make a new concentration of force against the powerful remnant of the enemy's strength. Right in the centre of the Austrian front was a hill through wliich ^an the railway from Salonica to Vienna. General Stephanovitch brought up his heavy guns by this railway on the night of December io, and then at dawn he flung his troops forward, under the cover of his gun fire, and stormed up the hill. At the s^une time liis left wing advanced up tlie Kolubara river towards its junction with the Save, some eight miles behind the Austrian front. The enemy had to draw back, for fear of being suddenly taken in the rear, and sent two monitors up the river to check the Serbian cavalry division, which was trying to work over the marshes and cut off the entire Austrian force. But this movement of the Serbian left wing was only a feint. wasintendedsimplytomaketheAustrianlinewaver. While Potiorek was manceuvring his troops in answer to the feint, Stephanovitch made another frontal attack. Then for three days there was a violent, swaying battle along the base of the little triangle of Serbian soil that ended in a point at Belgrade. The Austrians fought manfully, and, indeed, gave the Serbiaiis one of the best fights in their long and warlike history. Instead of merely clinging to their hill entrenchments, they made fierce and tenacious attempts to break the Serbian front. But it was in one of these counter-attacks, near the central height where the railway entered a tunnel, that the resistance of the Austrians was broken. After the Serbian riflemen, with their machine guns, had thrown back the enemy, the Serbian artillery caught the retiring troops. This produced a panic in the dense retreating column, and the Serbian infantry^ left their trenches at a run and formed

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