The Battle on Kajmakcalan remained remembered in history by the large number of casualties suffered by both sides, the Bulgarian and Serbian armies were stationed at the opposite sides of this frontline section, in which also there were on both sides a large number of Macedonian forcibly recruited soldiers.
Kajmakcalan (Кајмакчалан, Kaimaktsalan) is the highest peak of Mount Nidze (2.521 m) and during the WW1 (First World War) one of the key positions on the Macedonian front. The road leading to the summit Kajmakcalan is a mountainous road in extremely poor condition and is only available with terrain vehicle. It is bad and unmarked terrain and is recommending to be visited accompanied by licensed mountain guide during the months end of June, July, August, September, until mid October. Starting from a previously arranged gathering place in Bitola, our licensed mountain guide with a 4×4 jeep will take you on an 10-12 hour adventure to visit one of the most bloodiest, and horrific sites from the First World War on the Macedonian front where the battle for the summit Kajmakcalan took place.
The legend of Dr. Rajs hart and the military ossuary
In early fall 1916, began a long-expected offensive of Entente, through promotion of Serbian and French forces north of Bitola (Monastir) through Meglen mountains, while Bulgarians were mostly on the other side of the front, with German forces serving as logistics, established in deep trenches.
Kaimaktsalan Battle was run between 12 and 30 September 1916, when the first Serbian Army managed to take the top St. Elijah, and to drive Bulgarians in the Mariovo region, where they set a new defensive line. Between 26 – 30 September the peak Kajmakcalan was several times taken by both sides, until the Serbian army took over and kept it on 30 September. Human sacrifices were enormous on both sides, mainly because of the battle man to man.
By taking Kajmakcalan, Serbian and French army allowed to continue with further operations, in which on November 19, 1916 they have liberated Bitola (Monastir). On the peak Kajmakcalan, even during the WW1, Serbian forces began to build a monument, which later in 1921 was converted into a church and consecrated with ossuary in which were gathered the bones of the dead from the surroundings. The number of dead and missing on this place was so big and many years even after the WW2 the shepherds on these areas were finding skulls and other bones.
The church “St. Peter” (Sv. Petar) , on the summit Kajmakcalan keeps a legend for Rudolph Archibald Rice whose hearth after his death in 1928, was wrapped in gold and placed in urn in the church on Kajmakchalan.
Dr. Rice as it is known among the locals was not a doctor, but a professor, criminologist, photographer and correspondent for newspapers in several countries, reporting the events directly from the front.