Corfu - Greece
Corfu is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. In the backstreets of a Greek tourist hot spot, a Serbian museum recalls a neglected chapter in First World War history.
The Serbian Campaign was fought from August 1914, when Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia at the outset of First World War, In 1915, as German, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian forces battered Serbia, 400.000 of the country’s soldiers and civilians alike fled into the mountains of Albania and Montenegro. The weather was terrible, the roads poor, and the army had to help the tens of thousands of civilians who retreated with them with almost no supplies or food left. But the bad weather and poor roads worked for the refugees as well, as the Central Powers forces could not press them hard enough, and so they evaded capture. Many of the fleeing soldiers and civilians did not make it to the coast, though - they were lost to hunger, disease, attacks by enemy forces and Albanian tribal bands. The circumstances of the retreat were disastrous, and all told, some 155,000 Serbs (200.000 died), mostly soldiers, reached the coast of the Adriatic Sea, and embarked on Allied transport ships that carried the army to various Greek islands (many to Corfu) before being sent to Salonika.
Starved and worn down by the hardship of the march, at least 30,000 of the Serbs died soon after reaching the island, mostly victims of flu brought on by cold, rain and exposure to the elements. Some were children. Most of their remains were buried at the sea near the small island of Vido, close to Corfu. A monument of thanks to the Greek nation has been erected at Vido by the grateful Serbs; consequently, the waters around Vido. By the Serbian people, Island are known as the Blue Graveyard
Corfu became the seat of the Serbian government-in-exile as well as an important base for supplying relief to the front in Salonika, on mainland Greece. In mid-April 1916, the first of 125,000 Serbian troops, escorted by French and British warships, traveled from Corfu to Salonika, where they would relieve a much smaller army and fight alongside their French and British allies.
Consequence of war
Before the war, the Kingdom of Serbia had 4.5 million inhabitants. The Kingdom of Serbia lost 1,100,000 inhabitants during the war (both army and civilian losses), which represented over 27% of its overall population. According to the Yugoslav government in 1924: Serbia lost 265,164 soldiers, or 25%, of all mobilized people (by comparison, France lost 16.8%, Germany 15.4%, Russia 11.5%, Italy 10.3%.)
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