The capture of Rupel fort



On 10 May 1916, the German Military attaché in Athens announced to the Greek government that the German Staff deemed necessary the occupation of the Rupel pass because the Etente forces had crossed the Struma river. The Greek government protested to Berlin immediately, but on 22 May the German and the Bulgarian ambassadors in Athens notified that their forces were going to occupy the Rupel pass. They stated that they would respect the integrity of the country, but the continuing offensives of the Entente forces compelled to a quick reaction.

The threatened area was occupied by Army Corps D with 7th Infantry Division in Kavala, 6th Infantry Division in Serres and 5th Infantry Division in Drama. The forts of Rupel, Phaia, Petra and Perithori had been attached to 6th Infantry Division, that was at full-strength. On 24 May the French captured the fort of Kastanousa, north of Kilkis, and two days later the German-Bulgarian force became their advance towards Rupel.

Salonika Fortress Command, quickly informed by major Ioannes Maouroudes, the commander of the fort, ordered to present a vigorous defence. Therefore the commander of the 6th Infantry Division deployed his troops in order to obstruct the passage to the Bulgarian Army, and asked to the Entente forces whether they wished to intervene. At the same time the Germano-Bulgarian troops went on and notified to Greek screening troops that they had the order to capture fort Rupel. But when major Maouroudes gave the gun on order to fire at the head of the enemy’s column, the Germano-Bulgarians halted their movements and withdrew beyond the frontier.

Only twenty-five minutes later, at 15.05, the commander of 6th Infantry Division, major general Andreas Bairas, received from Athens the order that resistance should not be offered and the screening troops were obliged to withdraw without engaging in battle. He immediately gave the order to cease all resistance and at 19.00 two Bulgarian battalions encircled fort Rupel and demanded its immediate surrender. Major Maouroudes refused, but the commander of the Bulgarian detachment sayd that the garrison was obliged to evacuate the fort during the night, otherwise it would be isolated.

At 05.00 on 27 May major Maouroudes met German Rittmeister Georg Thiel, the squadron commander of 1./Dragoner-Regiment Nr. 10, the divisional cavalry squadron of the 101. Infanterie-Divison. He accepted the surrender of the fort and all the equipment that would remain in it. At the same time the guns of the fort was quickly loaded on the vehicles sent by the Command of the 6th Infantry Division, and them and the garrison departed towars Siderokastro. The materiel remained in the fort was captured by Bulgarians.