Military history of Serbia

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The military history of Serbia spans over 1100 years on the Balkan peninsula during the various forms of the Serbian state and Serbian army.

History[edit]

Wars, military campaigns and battles[edit]

Medieval Serbia

Modern Serbia

Formation of medieval Serbian Kingdom and army[edit]

Main article: Medieval Serbian army

The Serbian army during this period was primarily consisted of light cavalry and infantry force armed with spear, javelin or bows. With the increasing wealth from mining, mercenary knights were recruited to complement noble cavalry armed with bow and lance. This enabled the Serbs to fight effectively outwith their mountain strongholds. The core of the army consisted of noble cavalry (vlastela) armed with lance and bow in the Byzantine style in early medieval time. These were increasingly supplemented by western style knights. Mostly Germans in Dušan's reign. Dušan's military tactics consisted of wedge shaped heavy cavalry attacks with horse archers on the flanks. Many foreign mercenaries were in the Serbian army, mostly Germans as cavalry and Spaniards as infantry. He also had personal mercenary guards, mainly German knights. A knight named Palman was the commander of this unit and was the leader of all German mercenaries. Light horses were provided by Hungarian and Cuman mercenaries. Later in the period Serbian lance armed Hussars took over this role. The infantry still included lightly armed javelin troops although the bow and crossbow became the most important infantry weapon in the 14th century. A western style charge by the armoured cavalry and knights was the main tactic with the infantry used to follow up. Unable to gain any Bulgarian territory after the defeat of the Bulgarian Empire in the Battle of Velbazhd in 1330, the Serbs expanded their state to the south conquering most of Macedonia, Epirus and Thessaly from the Byzantine Empire which was in the midst of a disastrous civil war. Without major field battles, the Serbian tactic was based on seizing towns by siege.

In 1346 Stephen Dušan proclaimed himself Emperor but the empire began to fall apart after his death in 1355 due to rivalry among the nobility and the lack of consolidation of the newly conquered territories. In 1371 a Serbian army led by Vukašin advanced on Adrianople only to be surprised in a dawn attack by an inferior Ottoman force commanded by Lala Şahin.

The Serbian leaders were killed and Serbian lands were grabbed by various independent nobles as well as the Ottomans. A decade later, Serbs defeated Ottomans in Battle of Pločnik in 1386. As the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 is generally considered as temporarily the end of the medieval Serbian state until 1402. Despotovina, the successor of the Serbian Empire and the state of Prince Lazar survived for 70 more years, experiencing a cultural and political renaissance in the first half of the 15th century before it was conquered by the Ottomans in 1459. The state was led by Despot Stefan and the Branković dynasty. Despot Stefan widely armed knights with light firearms (musket "Fitiljača"),also with spears, swords, daggers, maces, bow and arrows, crossbows, shields, armours, halberd and cannons. He also introduced Europe style knight tournaments. Even then, Serbian state continued to last in the Hungarian exile until the mid 16th century and the autonomous Serbian principality fell only in 1540.

Post-revolution re-establishment of independent Serbian Army[edit]

The growth of Serbian military force[edit]

During the 18th century, Serbs had fought the Turks as auxiliaries to the Austrian army on both sides of the Turkish border, and had been important in defending the 20-year Austro-Hungarian rule over Belgrade and the northern parts of Serbia. The return of Ottoman rule after the Treaty of Swistowa between Austria and Turkey did not mean the end of Serbs serving under arms as the Sultan needed a serb militia to oppose Janissary corps in Serbia. This ended when the Janissaries got the upper hand and took power under a junta of 4 known as the dahis.

The overthrow of the Dahis was nominally in the name of the Sultan but in fact was the work of an uprising of Serbs led by Karađorđe with only token support from troops sent by the Sultan. That Belgrade had fallen to Serb forces put them in a strong negotiating position with the Sultan and consequently what the Serbs expected in terms of autonomy was more than the Sultan was able to offer

The final break with Istanbul came with the Battle of Ivankovac in which the Serbs were victorious. This was followed by further victories at Misar and Deligrad. The rebels not only defeated the Turkish army, but also inadvertently Napoleon himself who equipped and instructed the Turkish army to strike from three sides, and who saw every withdrawal of the Turkish army as the advancement of Russia. Though allies in ideology, Austrians also feared Russian intentions. Russia preferred to see the Balkan peninsula divided and the Serbian uprising as an incentive to the Greek Liberation Movement. Unaware of the rules of top politics, as early as February 1806 Serbs appealed to the Russian Tzar to support their right to the national state in the Balkan provinces where they could rise the army of up to 200,000 men. Though almost illiterate and uneducated in military profession, Serbian leaders recognized the importance of strategic factors, the role of the army and security challenges of those times while making decisions.

Uniform and weapons, which is belongs to Regular soldier of Serbian Uprising Army from 1809/10.

After their refusal to accept the terms of Russian-Turkish Treaty, the Serbian army suffered defeat in 1813. Russia, which was in expectation of another invasion of Napoleon, signed an agreement in Bucharest, which was rather indefinite for the Serbs.

It was up to them now to agree with the Turks on tax rates and the sale of weapons. The Turks were to reestablish the former garrisons. The hajduks (outlaws also freedom fighters) were allowed to flee to Russia and Germany, while Russia designated Austria as the protector of Serbia’s autonomy, the country whose Chancellor supported the Ottoman Empire. At the national assembly in Kragujevac, where the elders refused this offer, it was stressed that “this land belonged to our forefathers and that we have redeemed it with our blood”. If a Russian has promised the Turks fortifications, he will have to deliver them some other fortifications”.

The commitment of soldiers and the commanders till the last moment, their bearing in face of a much more numerous enemy, the Turks would remember well. The very thought of this and the possibility of seeing this again made the Turks yield later on. When the new uprising broke out in 1815, they were more ready to yield.

During the uprisings the Serbian army was of the national character. The leaders of the Serbian army drafted farmers only when a battle was ahead. They provided equipment and weapons themselves. In addition to this mass of fighters drafted on call, during the first Serbian revolutionary statehood there were standing regiments of skilled and armed lads who were paid for their service. They were called becari or lads, and they served as some sort of security for the Duke Kardjordje and other dukes. They protected fortifications and secured borders.

Prince Miloš following the Second Serbian Uprising disbanded the army but it was not disarmed. Though it was not until King Milan cancelled this Swiss system of armed reserve corps, the peasants of Timok Krajina refused to lay down their arms and started an uprising which the standing army would soon suppress.

Russia's influence on military development[edit]

Infantry uniform in 1845

The 19th century was marked by upgrading the system of national but also of the standing army in the autonomous Principality and later Kingdom of Serbia. The army kept abreast of times with the then current European experiences, economical powers.

The Serbian effort to organize an adequate standing army will be opposed by Austria and the Ottoman Empire. On the other hand, the already attained autonomy was not certain, and without the armed forces and military organization, the idea of further struggle for independence was inconceivable.

With the Yedren Treaty (1827–1829), Russia gained patronage over the Serbian Army, so and thus had its impact on the Serbian Army. A small army after its won army was organized by Russia, active officers were from Russia, Russian laws and exercises were introduced. In the period 1830–1835 an infantry battalion, equine squadron and a gun battery were formed. The first group of 12 youths was sent to Russia to be educated as officers. The first Law on the Establishment of Garrison Army was adopted in 1838. The army fell under the competencies of the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

By the end of 1847 the standing army of Serbia barely totaled 2.438 officers, professional military members and soldiers. The infantry was augmented by another battalion consisting of four companies.

Austria did not favor Serbia’s growing statehood and its Army’s. In 1860 junior Serbian officers came from the Austro Hungarian Army into Serbian Army. Also other civilians, mostly Slovenians, doctors, engineers, musicians and branch officers, came into Serbian Army. In 1867, Serbia adopted the Law on Accepting Foreign Officers.

But it was France that had a predominant influence on the growth of the Serbian Army, while Prussia had less influence following its victory over Napoleon III. As to the military theory it was based on the thoughts of German military writers, who still kept Napoleon’s military thinking alive.

Modernization and reorganization of the army using the French model[edit]

It was no longer possible to improvise with infantry and artillery. An idea of a modernized army was promoted by the most distinguished Serbian politicians and soldiers of those times. All these ideas as well as his experience gained in his later education in France and Vienna general Milivoje Blaznavac passed on to Ilija Garašanin as well as the idea of opening the Artillery School ( Military Academy). On the other hand, the vested interests of France in Serbian Army because of the Crimea War led to close cooperation on building a gun factory and on staff education. Then created relations would lead to appointing a Frenchman Hippolyte Monden (1861–1865) Minister of the Army Ministry, who was charged with making a complete study on Serbia. However, it should be noted, that the idea of military professional leading the army followed the death of Prince Miloš as in his exodus of the Karađorđević dynasty he banished the most distinguished modernization promoters, Blaznavac being among them.

Establishment of new ministry[edit]

Uniform of Serbian Infantry Officer from 1900

It was Monden who actually established the Army Ministry, and under his competences fell the Ministry of Civil Engineering as bridges, roads, water supply systems and later railway system were a prerequisite in all European countries for mobilization and military operations. Monden’s right hand was Blaznavac. Russian Laws and Regulations were substituted with French or were somewhat tailored to suit Serbian circumstances. Pension funds for officers and NCOs were established, health care service was reorganized, and horse breeding as a prerequisite for raising the army was improved. The Serbian Assembly adopted a Law on National Army. Only the French posit their trust in this army of 100–150,000 soldiers who had reports from Monden as well as experiences in Crimea wars and Garribaldy's operations. The national army, now equipped with numerous artillery weapons, made visible progress thanks to the nation's zeal.

The Serbian officers’ complaints of the Russian command and of armaments, and of the lack in professionally trained active NCOs and active commanding officers, resulted in an increase in the number of cadets in schools, in establishing a wider peace keeping formation. Following an imposed war on Bulgaria in 1885, King Milan became the military commander in chief and initiated the most important reform which set foundations for future liberation wars in the period 1912–1918.

In all periods, it was of paramount importance for the strengthening of the Serbian Army for the ruling dynasty and the most prominent political factors to agree. In the periods marked by the domination of political factors over the army and its needs, it was sometimes difficult to make even the crucial demands pertaining to the army.

A prominent place was held in the tradition of the Serbian Army by the following leaders: Karađorđe, Prince Miloš, Hajduk-Veljko, Tanasko Rajić. The units which bore the names of these champions of Serbian people on their flags never disgraced them.

Organization of army before Balkan wars and World war I[edit]

At the beginning of the 20th century the Serbian army was reorganized in accordance to newly adopted Law of the organization of the military (Zakon o ustrojstvu vojske) from 1901. According to the law all males between 17 and 50 years were subjects of military service, army was divided into National army composed of men of age between 20 and 45 years, and Last defense troops composed of youths of age between 17 and 20 years and veterans between 45 and 50 years. The National army was further divided into three age classes called poziv ( literally call ). The troops of I poziv (1st line or class) were composed of men aged 20–37, II poziv of men 31–37 and finally III poziv of men aged 37–45 years. Territorially state was divided into five divisional areas:

Morava divisional area:

  • Vranje regimental district
  • Prokuplje
  • Pirot

Drina

  • Užice
  • Valjevo
  • Šabac

Dunav

  • Beograd
  • Požarevac

Šumadija

  • Čačak
  • Kragujevac
  • Kruševac

Timok

  • Negotin
  • knjaževac
  • Zaječar

Divisions were named by divisional area and class f.e Drinska divizija I poziva roughly translated as Drina division I class/call, regiments were called by branch, ordinary number, class and sometimes by specific name f.e I pešadijski puk I poziva Miloš Veliki or 1st infantry regiment of I class Miloš Veliki . Consequently the divisions and regiments were doubled and their names differed only by class they belonged to f.r Drinska divizija I poziva and Drinska divizija II poziva or Drina division I class and Drina division II class. Divisional areas were further subdivided into 3 regimental districts each which were further subdivided into battalion districts. Organizationally each divisional area provided: 1 I class infantry division of 4 infantry regiments, 1 II class infantry division of 3 infantry regiments and 3 III class infantry regiments each. Accordingly the total strength of fully mobilized army would be 5 I class infantry divisions ( 20 infantry regiments ), 5 II class inf. divisions ( 15 inf. regiments ) and 15 III class inf regiments. There was also one cavalry division which was recruited from all divisional areas, as well as various independent artillery, engineering and other units. Military service in peace lasted between 14 and 18 months for infantry and between 16 and 24 months for artillery and cavalry. Finally there were 5 supernumerary infantry regiments made of surplus unassigned personnel of all divisional areas. They were used to reinforce II class inf divisions to 4 regiment standard or they formed independent infantry brigades with additional artillery and cavalry units. Before the World war I they formed Combined infantry division. In the peace time there weren't any standing army, only professional part of military was around 3,000 men strong officer's and NCO's corps which conducted the training of conscripts which numbered approximately 40,000 every year. They formed 20 training regiments ( 4 in each divisional area ) called cadre regiments. In the war time the bulk of the officers and NCO's were drawn from reserve personnel with limited military education.

divisions were organized as following:

I poziv ( class ) inf. division:

  • 4x infantry regiment
    • 4x infantry battalions
      • 4x infantry companies
    • machine gun squad ( 4 MG )
    • 1 or 2 replacement battalions
  • cavalry regiment
    • 2–3 squadrons
      • machine gun squad
    • replacement squadron
  • artillery regiment
    • 3x artillery battalions ( called divizion )
      • 3x battery ( 4 art. pieces )
    • replacement battery
  • pioneer half-battalion
  • telegraph squad
  • supply units, pontoon train, medical and various other non-combatant units

totally:

25,513 men

20 machine guns

36 cannons

5110 horses

1538 oxen ( for supply train )

1645 wagons

the divisions could have up to 28,000 soldiers, depending of the size of cavalry regiment and replacement units which varied from division to division. II poziv ( class ) infantry divisions had 3 infantry regiment, artillery battalion ( divizion ) with 12 guns and cavalry squadron, totally about 15-17,000 men.

Equipment[edit]

In the eve of Balkan wars Serbian army was armed with German made Mauser M1899 rifles (7×57mm Mauser) as main infantry weapon of I and II class troops and with older Russian made Berdan II riffles for III class troops. Main machine gun was German Maxim M1908 7 mm machine gun. Main artillery weapon was French made Schneider M1907 75 mm field gun also made in mountain version, beside this type the III class regiments operated several batteries of outdated slow-loading French made De Bange M85 80 mm field guns. Heavy artillery consisted of 22 outdated Schneider M1897 120 mm slow-loading howitzers, 12 Schneider M1897 120mm long guns, and 6 slow-loading Schneider-Canet M1897 150 mm mortars. During the Balkan wars and right before First world war Serbian army also acquired number of modern heavy guns: 32 Schneider-Canet 120mm M.1910 and 8 Schnaider-Canet 150mm M.1910.

Serbian Air Force history since formation[edit]

The idea to form air forces in the Serbian Army was first mentioned in the General Army Formation Act from 2 August 1893. This act envisioned that within each division of the Army of the Kingdom of Serbia be formed one air force balloon company.

Twenty years later, in 1912, a group of Kingdom of Serbia officers were sent abroad to school- to a Pilot Training Program in France. At the same time aircraft were purchased and by the Act of the Minister of War Marshal Radomir Putnik, on 24 September 1912 an Air Force Command was established in Niš. This places Serbia as one the first 15 states in the world to have had military air force at those times. A year later, during the siege of the town of Shkodra, Serbian Air Force had their baptism of fire. The first planes used in the Serbian military aviation was the Blériot XI and Farman HF.20.

Anti-aircraft field gun "Schneider" m-907,75mm, near Belgrade 21 July – 3 August 1915

The pilots soon applied the experience gained in the Balkan wars to World War I battles, thus becoming a worthy opponent to the stronger enemy forces. On 17 September 1915, according to the Julian calendar, that is 30 September in Gregorian calendar, Serbian Air Defense members shot down the first of many enemy airplanes over Kragujevac. This day was, by the Act of king Aleksandar I, proclaimed the Air Defense Artillery Division’s day. At the Thessaloniki front line, with the support of the Allied force, Serbian Air Forces were reorganized. First, Serbian-French joint escadrilles were formed, and by the end of 1916 a Nieuport division, while at the beginning and in mid-1918 the First and Second Serbian Fighter Escadrilles were formed.

The period between two world wars was marked by a significant growth of our Air Forces, accompanied by the production of modern and sophisticated aircraft, with then ongoing organizational-formation changes within the Air Force. As of 1924, 2 August, the Saint Elijah day was observed as the patron saint day of Serbian Air Forces, with the Saint Elijah the Lightning Bearer as a patron saint of military and other pilots of then existing Yugoslavian Kingdom.

During the April War in 1941, in 9 war days, 145 pilots died in air combats, while 576 members of the Air Force perished on ground. In that period 1416 combat flights were performed, downing 60 enemy aircraft. Especially, the 5th and 6th Fighter regiment pilots showed exceptional their bravery, and also bombers pilots, causing significant casualties to the enemy at airbases in Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria.

After World War II the Air Force underwent several developmental stages, the first major air force modernization being performed from 1953 to 1959. Aircraft made in the West are introduced thus broaching the era of jet aviation. With the forming of first helicopter escadrille in 1954 the chopper units were also incorporated within the Air Forces branch. At the beginning of 1960s supersonic fighters were introduced, followed by intensive growth of Serbian aviation industry in that period. A number of jet planes prototypes were constructed, which served as basis for the development of training fighters and fighter aircraft, such as ”Galeb” and “Jastreb”, “G-4” and “Orao” and the most advanced fighter aircraft MiG-29 was introduced in mid-1980s.

Since its establishment, the Air and Air Defense Forces has numbered tens of thousands of pilots, more than 5000 aircraft, and four types of missile launching mid-range systems, a number of small-range missile launching systems and 15 radar types.

Mihajlo Petrović

Serbian Air force (Serbian Aviation – Srpska Avijatika) was the fifth ever air force founded in the world in 1912. Serbian Military Aviation was created when the aviation as vital part of the ground units was the question of the prestige under the military commands of the world. When we see what was Serbian position into the account, it was really hard to form the air force knowing that Serbia was very small and poor at the beginning of 20th century. The real reason why Serbia hurried to form the Aviation unit was the growing tension between the Kingdom of Serbia and Austria-Hungary. Also, it was the question of preparing the Balkan countries for the final driving out of Turkish forces from Europe. Serbia was not only aware of all these problems but was also forced to equip Serbian military with the aircraft and the balloons (of course with a great material renunciation). Serbia had purchased the first two balloons in 1909 from Augsburg; the same place where almost 30 years later the Royal Yugoslav Air Force had purchased the Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3 in 1937. The time of purchasing these balloons was the time of the growing crisis about the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina under Austria-Hungary, which could have easily caused the war with this great military force. The first six military pilots were trained in France. They finished the course in the beginning of the First Balkan war. On 24 December 1912, the head of the military Minister Radomir Putnik signed the papers about forming the Aviation Command situated in Niš which included : the Aircraft squad which counted 11 military aircraft, the Balloon squad, the Pigeon post and the Base. This date is the date of forming the Military Aviation of Serbia and as well as the whole Yugoslavia. Its first combat experience, Serbian Aviation had experienced in March 1913 over Shkodra which was in the Central Force hands. On the first combat flight, sergeant-pilot Mihajlo Petrović was killed as the second victim of World Military Aviation. The first victim of military aviation was a Bulgarian pilot Topradzijev who was killed in 1912 when he was flying back from the reconnaissance mission over Edirne, Turkey.

Mihajlo Petrović was the first trained Serbian airplane pilot. He completed his training and exams at the famous Farman pilot school in France and was awarded the international FAI license No. 979 in June 1912. His Serbian pilot's license carried the number 1.

Serbian Air Force in the Balkan Wars and Shkodra operation[edit]

The First Balkan War broke out in October 1912. Serbia, Montenegro, Greece, and Bulgaria waged it against the Ottoman Empire in a final attempt to liberate the last of the territories that the Turks still occupied in Europe. The Serbian army advanced south through Kosovo into Macedonia, then turned west toward the Adriatic coast, through central Albania. At the same time, the Montenegrin army advanced into Albania from the north and laid siege to the historic fortified city of Shkodra.

In February 1913, the Serbian Army High Command formed a separate Coastal (Primorski) Army Corps in order to assist the Montenegrin army on the Shkodra front. Air support for this formation was assigned to the newly established "Coastal Airplane Squad", the first Serbian air combat unit, with 3 airplanes and 4 pilots under the command of major Kosta Miletić.

Serbian Air Force Allied campaign during the First World War[edit]

Serbian army in Corfu, 1916–1918

World War I started with Austro-Hungarian declaration of war on Serbia on 28 July 1914. The S.A.F (Serbian Air Force) saw action from day one. At the beginning of World War I, Serbian pilots who were actually skilled and experienced from the Balkan Wars had succeeded to give the valuable information about the number, the movements, and the position of the enemy troops. They contributed to early Serbian victories in 1914 at Cer Mountain, Kolubara and Drina river. At the beginning of 1915, armed with machine guns and bombs, Serbian pilots succeeded to fight back the enemy by attacking their aircraft flying over the Serbian sovereign territory or by bombing the important targets in the background positions.

Serbia formed one of first truly powerful air defense units in Europe. This is due the massive onslaught of German and Austro-Hungarian aircraft. Serbian air defense units and air warning units were formed officially on 8 June 1915. The first airplane shot down by ground fire unit in World War I happened over skies of Serbia. During the German air attack on city of Kragujevac on 30 September 1915, air defense artillerist Radivoje "Raka" Lutovac – from regiment "Tanasko Rajić", shot his first hit, by his artillery modified gun, a Farman airplane with two crew members. Without any sophisticated cannon sights, he was aiming through the bore of his gun. This day is also a holiday of Serbian air defense. But the full control of the Serbian sky had been established in April 1915 when one well equipped and armed French squadron arrived as help from the allied forces to Serbian Aviation. Until the beginning of "Mekenzen" offensive in October 1915, French and Serbian pilots had succeeded to establish dominance in the air and to follow the enemy movements over the rivers Drina, Sava and Danube. They were also constantly bombing the hinder, the traffic and concentration of the enemy.

During the time of 1914–1915, the first Serbian-made planes were produced. They had been made mostly by craftsmen in various furniture factories. These early Serbian planes were used for training, since they were underpowered. While construction was Serbian, airplane motors were French-made. This aircraft design had the name 'PINGVIN', or 'Penguin class'. Only few of these were ever made. Although modest, this domestic design was inspiration for creating Serbian air industry after the First World War.

In the course of the Austro-Hungarian offensive and the retreating of the Serbian military, the French and Serbian pilots succeeded to stop the movements and intentions of the enemy. This information was very valuable to Serbian Military Command, who were retreating under the constant and strong pressure of the enemy who also was helped by the Bulgarian Army. The plan for retreating was that the soldiers together with the civilians would go through Albania and Montenegro, all the way to the Adriatic Sea. In the course of the retreat, the French and Serbian pilots did the first operation of carrying the injured soldiers with aircraft. The French-Serbian pilots had also organized the maintenance of the connection with the units retreating through Albanian coast to Durrës and Vlorë.

Evacuation of wounded Serbian soldiers by airplanes of the S.A.F and French Air Force (Armée de l'Air) represented first air-lift of injured soldiers in history.

Although Serbia was occupied in late 1915, by German, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian armies, the Serbian government and armed force refused surrender. The entire Serbian army withdrew through Albania, into Greece, where they together with French and British forces created the Thessaloniki front.

Maurice Farman MF.11 biplane 1916 at Thessaloniki front line
Serbian Air mechanics on Farman MF.11, Corfu, March 1916

French pilots had left the Shkodra area in December 1915. When the last aircraft was destroyed, Serbian pilots together with the Serbian Army had crossed to Corfu Island. In the period of World War I, Serbian pilots had succeeded to show the importance of the military aviation to all ministers and to secure the place of aviation in its modernized version. The French squadron has improved the opinion about the Air Force because it has represented the secure collaborator in all phases of battle. In the second part of World War I on the Thessaloniki front line, the Air Force had played a big part for it was equipped and armored with modern weapons and modern aircraft. As the war industry grew really fast, the Serbian Aviation obtained modern aircraft. After the re-organization in Corfu, the Serbian Aviation squadron had been moved to Mikra; not far away from the Thessaloniki. The material conditions of the Serbian Army caused that all available, trained, and capable aviation staff be referenced to five French squadrons. These squadrons were added to Serbia on the Allied Forces Conference in Paris. The Serbian Command wanted to have certain level of independence over its own Air Force and it secured the independence under Command of the Serbian squadron in Mikra. There was also a strong will for the formation of an independent Serbian Aviation Squadron. These five Serbian-French squadrons formed the "Serbian Aviation" which was working as an integral part with the ground troops. Allied forces squadrons such as British, Italian and Greek forces who actually had their own aviation units, also helped the formation. In the certain phases of World War I, the Central Force Air Forces succeeded to establish the dominance in the air, but at the end of World War I (especially at the time of breaking out the Thessaloniki's front line), allied forces commands had realized the value of this course, and the Serbian-French units, together with the allied forces Air Forces, had succeeded to beat the enemy in everything. The year 1918 in the summer was a year of the absolute control of the sky over this area by the allied forces. Successive and strong break up which Serbian Armies did as well as their break up in the River Vardar Valley, caused the Bulgarian capitulation when the Serbian Army after only 45 days had succeeded to move the enemy lines for 600 kilometers, to be the winner for the third time in this, Austria-Hungary was defeated. The German Army was very exhausted and lost its great supporter. They had been actually forced to sign the armistice. On the Thessaloniki's front Serbian Aviation did 3,000 combat flights, participated at all main operations and receipted the end of World War I in the associated unit which counted 60 modern aircraft. The staff of this unit consisted of 70 pilots, 40 reconnaissance pilots, and other aviation specialists. This aviation had staff and equipment with enormous experience.

Establishment of the Serbian-French air force cooperation in 1918[edit]

Serbian aviation was a part of rebuilt Serbian Army, a part of the allied Eastern Army (consisted of French, Great Britain, Greece and Italian soldiers). Supreme commander of the eastern Army was a French general named Franshe D'Epere. The Air Force commanders were French officers and squadrons were staffed with French and Serbian personnel.

First Serbian squadron in 1918

By the order dated 17 January 1918, the two Serbian squadrons were to be formed and staffed with Serbian personnel. In April 1918 Prva Srpska Eskadrila (First Serbian Squadron) became operational with 12 Dorand AR type I A2 and 3 Nieuport XXIV C1 from French-Serbian composite Squadron AR 521 and commanded by French officer (Serb national) lieutenant Mihajlo Marinković. During May and June, the French-Serbian composite Squadron AR 525 Druga Srpska Eskadrila (Second Serbian Squadron) became operational. Captain Branko Vukosavljević was the first Serbian squadron commander who was appointed to lead to Prva Srpska Eskadrila (First Serbian Squadron) in August 1918.

Below is an order of squadrons attached to Serbian Army for the September offensive.

Commander: Major Du Perier De Larsan Order of battle

Squadron Aircraft Type

Prvi vazduhoplovni odsek (subordinated to I Serbian Army) Druga Srpska Eskadrila [Former AR 99/399/ 525 Squadron] 12 Dorand AR type I A2, 7 Nieuport XXIV C1, 5 Breguet 14 A2

Drugi vazduhoplovni odsek (subordinated to II Serbian Army) Prva Srpska Eskadrila [Former AR 82/382/521 Squadron] 6 Dorand AR type I A2, 3 Nieuport XXIV C1, 3 Breguet 14 A2

523 Escadrille [Former 87/387 Sq] 5 Breguet 14 A2, 11 SPAD S VII C1

No 502 Squadron 4 Dorand AR type I A2, 3 Nieuport XXIV C1, 3 Breguet 14

No 503 Squadron 4 Dorand AR type I A2, 3 Nieuport XXIV C1, 1 Breguet 14

No 507 Squadron 11 SPAD

Airfields: Vertekop, Lembet, Jenidže Vardar

Technical depot: Vertekop [previously in Mikra]

Total of 81 airplanes.

Dissolution of the Serbian Air Force after the WW1[edit]

With the establishment of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Kingdom of SHS), an Army Aviation Department was formed with Serbian and ex-Austro-Hungarian (Croatian and Slovenian) personnel. In 1923, a major initiative was launched to replace World War I era aircraft still in service with more modern designs. Contracts were placed abroad and with newly established local factories. Later in 1923 the Aviation Department was renamed the Aviation Command and placed directly under the control of the Ministarstvo vojske i mornarice (Ministry of Military and Navy). In 1930, the Aviation Command was renamed the Jugoslovensko Kraljevsko Ratno Vazduhoplovsto (JKRV) which translated is the Yugoslav Royal Air Force.

Gallery[edit]

Tradition[edit]

Serbian military music[edit]

Day of the Serbian Armed Forces[edit]

The Day of the Serbian Armed Forces was elected to be 23 April. On that day, on Palm Sunday, in Takovo in 1815, prominent elders met and reached a decision to start the Second Serbian Uprising for the liberation of Serbia from the Turkish authorities.

The Second Serbian uprising resulted in a positive starting point in the long run. Initially it was a military operation of the Serbian history, but in the later period ensued political and diplomatic activities, which led to the Serbia being freed from supreme Turkish authorities and the Second Serbian Uprising in some ways is the foundation for the creation of the Serbian government and Serbian armed forces. As a product, and independence was followed by the creation of the standing army and the establishment of the Guard which consisted of 76 men who were selected "in stature and reputation of" from finest families in Serbia.

Since the creation of a standing army, the first "conscripts" and later "soldats", went unnoticed by the Porte, the National Assembly made the name "Soldat" official. This is when first recruits were introduced, who remained in the army for ten years, bearing in mind that their service period was not determined. A standing army was living in the barracks and receiving salary. They received uniforms." These first Serbian regular army formations were modeled after the Austrian army, which confirms that both at that time the experience of foreign armies were invaluable in creating our army.

Second Serbian Uprising was precisely the combination of events led by faith in the liberation of Serbia using existing military assets and military organization, which led to the final liberation and recognition of modern Serbia as a state with full international legality and recognized by the powers at Berlin congress in 1878.[1]

See also[edit]

References and sources[edit]

  • Konstantin Jiriček. Istorija Srba. ( 1864 ), knjiga I, str. 211 – 236.
  • Momir Jović, Kosta Radić. Srpske zemlje i vladari ( 1955 ), str. 68 – 80.
  • Andrija Veselinović; Radoš Ljušić (2001). Srpske dinastiǰe. ISBN 978-86-83639-01-4. 
  • John Matthews, Bob Stewart. Warriors of Christendom ( 1998 ), Chapters I and II.
  • Đorđe Radojčić. Antologija stare srpske književnosti ( 1960 ), str. 90 – 92.
  • Andrija Veselinović; Radoš Ljušić (2001). Srpske dinastiǰe. ISBN 978-86-83639-01-4. 
  • Pavle Vasić, Uniforme srpske vojske 1808–1918, Prosveta, Beograd, 1980.
  • Ćorović, Vladimir (1921). Istorija Srba [History of the Serbs] (in Serbian). pp. 201–215. ISBN 978-86-13-00641-1. 

External links[edit]