The March on the Drina (1964): World War I in Film

By Carl Savich

In 1964, the Yugoslav Avala Film studio released the movie The March on the Drina, or Mars na Drinu, directed by Zivorad “Zika” Mitrovic, who co-wrote the screenplay with Arsen Diklic. The film starred Aleksandar Gavric, Ljuba Tadic, Nikola Jovanovic, Vladimir Popovic, and Husein Cokic. The historical drama chronicled the landmark 1914 Battle of Cer, the first Allied or Entente victory during World War I. The movie was released on July 17, 1964.

1964 marked the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Cer, also known as the Battle of the Jadar River. The film was made to commemorate that battle. The title chosen for the film is based on the 1914 composition by Stanislav Binicki intended to memorialize the event. Binicki had dedicated the march to Colonel Milivoje Stojanovic, the third commander of the 2nd Infantry Regiment of the Serbian Army, which participated in the battle. Stojanovic was killed in the fighting.


The March on the Drina had become a musical sensation in Europe in 1963 and 1964. Eventually, the song would be recorded around the globe and would become a standard of world music. The march became a no. 1 pop hit in Denmark in a recording by guitarist Jorgen Ingmann. His recording would also become a top five hit in West Germany. In the United States, Patti Page, Chet Atkins, and Frankie Yankovic would record the song. Yugoslav author and journalist Miloje Popovic wrote lyrics to the Binicki march in 1964 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Cer. The march became the title theme of the movie. The march appears at the beginning of the film, in the middle, and at the end.

The movie was also released in Czechoslovakia as Pochod na Drinu and in Greece as I stratia ton ekdikiton.

Avala Films based in Belgrade was founded on July 15, 1946 by the Communist Yugoslav regime. In 1947, it released its first film production, Slavica, written and directed by Croatian-born actor and director Vjekoslav Afric. The film extols the Communist Partisans during World War II. The studio produced films that were consonant with the policies and agendas of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. The March on the Drina was a departure in that the subject matter was a World War I battle won by Serbia under a monarchist regime.

The plot of the film centers on a Serbian artillery battery that is thrust in the battle to stop the Austro-Hungarian invasion of western Serbia in 1914. The trek of the battery is chronicled from its formation and training to its forced march to the Cer Mountain. Even before the start of the war, the members of the battery are shown in Belgrade, preparing to enter the war. The troops pass through Arandjelovac, Ub, Lazarevac, and Veliki Bosnjak before reaching Cer.


The film opens with the Stanislav Binicki march as monuments to Serbian soldiers are shown at Cer.

“This film is dedicated to the known and unknown heroes, as victors during the first battle of World War I. The battle took place on the Mountain of Cer, in Serbia, August, 1914.” The actors in order of appearance are listed. The credits noted that “The March on the Drina” was composed by Stanislav Binicki. The musical adaptation of the song was by Silije Mokranjac. The film was made with the aid of the Yugoslav Army.

The following prologue appears: “After the wars with Turkey in 1912 and Bulgaria in 1913 an exhausted Serbia was on the verge of another war. Belgrade, July 26, 1914.”

The first scene is of a street in Belgrade. It is a month after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo. Franz Ferdinand was the heir to the Hapsburg throne. The assassin was Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb. Austria placed the blame for the murders on Serbia. The Austro-Hungarian government issued an ultimatum to Serbia. War was imminent. Preparations were being made for the ensuing conflict.

Mobilization is announced. Serbian residents gather around a kiosk. The mobilization order is posted on it. Newspapers are being distributed. Serbian soldiers parade on horses ahead of a military band. The crowd cheers the soldiers as a column passes by with unit banners. Women accompany the soldiers and see them off.


1965 Czechoslovakian film poster for the film, Pochod na Drinu.

A man notices the crowd and the parade from a balcony. He calls a paper boy. The boy brings a paper inside the building by climbing stairs that lead to the room. Velimir Hadzi-Vukovic, known as Veca, played by Nikola Jovanovic, is shown in civilian clothes with his uncle.

“It’s war, son,” his uncle Laza, played by Strahinja Petrovic, tells him after reading the paper. He asks him where he is assigned. Veca replies that it is the same battery that he served in before but with a combined division. His uncle wants to obtain his deferment so he will not have to fight in battle. He tells Veca that he has spoken to Mr. Rajkovic and that he can obtain his release. Veca replies that he wants to fight. His uncle sarcastically scoffs: “Our hero wants to go to war again.”

Veca wants to fight at the front. He rejects his uncle’s suggestion that he be part of a commission. As a commission member, he would not see frontline duty in the war. He is asked if he wants to be hungry, thirsty, and in mud. He replies that it was great. He preferred it to being in the commission. During the two Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, he had joined the army but had been recalled from the front by his family, which was a wealthy and prominent banking family. He was an only son.

Veca is angered by the efforts to shield him from military service. He relates that many of his friends died in the war while he survived in the commission. He is adamant that he will join the battery to fight. His uncle seeks to persuade him: “I know what duty means”. He would, however, be five times more useful in the commission. “Anyone can stand behind a gun”. His uncle tells him that he was ten times more useful in the commission. Not everyone should be on the front lines. Someone has to coordinate and organize the procurement of supplies. Guns have to be purchased.

Veca remains unconvinced. He is determined to become a soldier on the front no matter what his uncle demands. He is dissatisfied that he did not get an opportunity to fight in the last wars: “I wasn’t any use to the Serbs, to myself or to this bank.” He disparagingly concluded that he was merely a pen pusher.

The first theme of the movie emerges: The young man who wants to be a part of the war. He is a man of privilege. Unlike the peasant recruits, he has a choice. He can let others fight and die for him. This reveals the choices men and women face in all countries and societies in wartime. Who is to die? Who is to live? By choosing to fight, Veca demonstrates his commitment to duty, guided by loyalty and self-sacrifice for his country. He does not have to be a soldier, but his duty and honor compel him to be.


The next scene is at the train station. Veca takes a bouquet of red roses to Milena on the train. He tells her to give his regards to his uncle Uros. His cousin Kosta Hadzi-Vukovic, known as Kole, a Captain in the Serbian Army, is played by Aleksandar Gavric. Kole says goodbye to his wife Milena and son. The train leaves the station as both Kole and Veca watch. Kole goes to headquarters. He tells Veca to meet him there.


In the next scene they are in a café as Kole is making a speech. Veca listens by his side. “We have to go because they want to trample on us!” he declares. They drink and celebrate. Major Kursula, known as Badza, played by Ljubisa Tadic, enters in a carriage drawn by two white horses. He greets Kole. He is wearing a military uniform with boots and a sword on his hip. He tells the crowd that Kole used to be carefree but that now he is domesticated. He is now reduced to washing diapers, buying perfume for his wife, and keeping money in the bank.


When asked if the stories are true that he is going to be married, Kursula replies that he intended to marry, but that the advent of a new war prevents him: “It’s just that Serbia cannot have two years of peace in a row.”

Veca reveals that Kole is his cousin, but is more like a brother. He tells them that he used to be his hero: “Like a God.” Kursula asks who Veca is. He replies: Artillery Lieutenant Velimir Hadzi-Vukovic. He is asked why he is in civilian clothes. He tells them that he wants to leave with his battery but that he is also a candidate for a deferment.

His uncle enters and tells him that Veca’s father Trifun has arranged everything. He just has to appear before Colonel Zdravko Lukic the next day and he will obtain his deferment. He tells his uncle that he wants to fight. His mind is made up. The people gathered in the cafe sing a patriotic song: “Oh Serbia, Mother dear.”

The next scene is in Arandjelovac on August 10, 1914 at a military training camp. At the camp, one soldier recalls how Veca was sent away in the past and did not have to fight. He is told that those were orders. Veca stated that he is doing well in the battery. He concedes that it is tougher dealing with his family. He tells the soldier that everyone wanted to have him deferred. He tells him that he wants to show them that he can make it. He understands how they feel. They are concerned for his safety. He was sent away last time. But he is determined to show them that he can make it as a frontline soldier.

The second theme of the movie emerges: The soldier who wants to redeem himself. The theme is one of redemption and expiation. He has to prove himself.

One soldier, Bogi Petrovic, known as the gambler or kockar, played by Zoran Radmilovic, has brought cards. He is reprimanded by and gets into a conflict with the Sergeant or Narednik, played by Bosnian Muslim actor Husein Cokic. He jokes that he pays in cash like the Lieutenant’s father, Trifun. When censured for gambling he replies that while today they gamble at cards, tomorrow they will be gambling with their lives.

At a military meeting, Colonel or Pukovnik Zdravko Lucic, played by Branko Plesa, is shown in front of a wall map of Serbia and Bosnia, explains that the 5rd and 6th Austrian Armies are moving to the Drina. The 5th has crossed the Drina, putting the Serbian 3rd division under pressure. He says that it appears that this is the Austrian attack plan, to cross the Drina, but that it is not logical due to the terrain. The Austrian 2nd Army based in Srem and Banat is bombing Belgrade and Obrenovac. He tells them that Austria is planning to attack Sabac.

Kursula is asked for his opinion. He remarks that the Austrian attacks across the Sava and Danube are merely tricks or feints meant to mislead. He concludes that the attack will be across the Drina. One army will be attacking from the north and two on the Drina.


Orders are for the division to gather at Ub. Lukic tells them that “our regiment will head the division, along with the artillery division”. They will be the spearhead of the counter-offensive. They are told to get ready to move out.

Kursula and Kole argue. Kursula asserts the main Austro-Hungarian attack will be across the Drina. General Stepa Stepanovic, however, had told him it would be illogical. He failed his exam because of it. But he is convinced, nevertheless, that the attack will be across the Drina.

Kole is asked by Colonel Lukic whether his battery is ready for the action. Likic informs him that he can replace the Lieutenant, Veca. Kole replies that Veca is the only son of a prominent family but that he wants him to remain.

They set off on a forced march. Kole assigns Miloje, played by Vladimir Popovic, a Porucnik or Lieutenant, to check the bridge. Veca says that he should have been given the assignment. Veca is resentful. He takes it as a personal snub.

On the march they talk of the infidelity of wives during wartime. They are rebuked by the Sergeant. The gambler Bogi falls off his gun. Veca is told that the cook Trajko predicted that Bogi would fall and he did. Veca cuts him off.


The next scene is in Lazarevac on August 14, 1914. Corporal or Kaplar Janicije, played by Dragomir “Gidra” Bojanic, asks the cook to tell him his future. He heard an owl twice and fears he will die. He fears that something bad is going to happen. The cook tells him: You are going to war. Something bad always happens. The cook seeks to reassure him and placate him. He emphasizes: Home. Happiness. Wife.

The next scene takes place in Ub, on the same day. It is raining. A soldier tells Veca about his brothers who were killed in the last two wars. He misses his family and the routine of daily life. Veca tells him: “Damn this war! But we have to, because they attacked us.” The reply is: “That’s right, Sir, we have to defend ourselves.” Bogi Petrovic, the gambler, asks a woman at a window, played by Ljubica Sokic: “Where is your husband?” She replies:” In the Army. On the Drina.”

At a military meeting, Kursula is told by Lukic that headquarters believes that the Austrian attack will be across the Drina by the 5th and 6th Armies. Kursula must deploy his units to the village of Veliki Bosnjak. He is asked about his battery. Kole tells him that they have not slept since the day before, that they are tired, but that morale is high. He is told by Lukic that morale is important. Kole informs them that “we’re going west, to the Drina.”

The artillery battery is ordered to move ahead of the infantry which causes a heated argument. Soldiers of the two units engage in invective and direct insults at each other.


The battery is shown moving their cannons drawn by horses. Kole is asked by Miloje: Why did we give up Sabac so quickly? Kole tells him: Better not let the men know.

The Sergeant asks if he can go off and save his family, wife and children, in Sabac. Kole tells him that Sabac has already been taken by the Austrians. Kole tells him not to tell the others. Kole learns that Belgrade has been evacuated.

Kole is told that the Serbian command wants to take Sabac back. “Where we’re going we’ll be knee high in blood”. The destination is top secret: The Cer Mountain. The Austrians are nearly there. General Stepa Stepanovich is there.

Veca tells Miloje that he hears thunder but there are no clouds or rain. He is told that it is artillery, five or six batteries. Veca then takes that as lack of experience and says that the talk is that he ran in the previous wars when he was reassigned to the commission. He is reassured by Miloje: You were transferred.

A Serbian refugee column passes a bridge and encounters the battery. They are moving across a bridge with carts drawn by oxen. One of the soldiers, Aleksa, asks: Have you seen the Drina division? He is concerned about his brother. He is told: “You peasants always whine”. Why did he join? He replies: Who else would join? They ask if any of the refuges are from Sabac.

The next scene is in the village of Veliki Bosnjak, August 15.

Kole is told by Miloje that Veca has fit in as part of the artillery battery but that Kole has not accepted him. Kole is told: Veca needs to feel like a man. They drink beer.

Veca’s father Trifun, played by Bozidar Drnic, comes in a car. He tells Veca that his transfer has been arranged. Veca refuses to accept it. He tears the letter up. His father tells him: You’ve decided to get killed. Get in the car.

Kursula and Kole are told by Lukic at another military meeting that Kursula’s battalion and Captain Hadzi Vukovic’s battery will be the front ranks of the division in the ensuing attack. He orders them on a forced march to Cer. He tells them that the order does not come from him or General Stepa. The order comes from Serbia. Tonight Serbia will be on Cer. If you do not get there tonight, you never will.

The men are shown eating. The Sergeant tells Aleksa that the Drina division is in town and to go and ask about his brother.

Wounded soldiers pass by. Men with bandages on their heads walk by in a column. The cook observes: They’ve taken a right beating. Are they from Cer? Wounded soldiers are on carts. One soldier notices that a wounded soldier is dead. He unceremoniously pushes him off the cart announcing that he is taking up two seats. The others are appalled by the callousness and brutality. The cook says: He is only doing his job. Someone else will bury him. Aleksa tries to talk to his wounded brother Proka who is on a cart being taken to Valjevo. He is too severely wounded. The battery is ordered to move out.

On August 15, they reach Cer Mountain, Cerska planina. Kole joins Kursula, who tells him the location of Tekeris and Trajan Peak. Kole is not familiar with the terrain.

Veca declares to Kole that he is determined to stay and fight on. He relates how his father tried to have him taken away. He tore up the letter addressed to Kole. Kole ruefully reveals to him: He taught him how to ride, drink, and womanize. He did not, however, want to teach him about this job, about being a soldier, which is so bloody. They both realize it is too late to turn back now.

The third theme of the film is the loss of innocence. Veca now understands as does Kole that they cannot control events any longer. The die is cast. They accept the results and consequences of their actions. Both men are resigned now. Veca breathes a sigh of relief.

The troops advance to the hill. They encounter patrols. What is that light at the top of the hill? Kole thinks it is “our machine gun detachment”. Our patrol? They send a patrol to find out. They stumble upon sleeping Austrian troops, not the patrol of the 2nd Division. They notice a newspaper, Wiener Zeitung, The Vienna Times. The Serbian patrol flees into the woods. They have stumbled upon Austro-Hungarian troops on Cer Mountain and have caught them by surprise.

A Czech officer of the Austro-Hungarian Army surrenders. He reports to Kursula that the Austrian 8th Corps and the 21st Landwehr division are on the hill. He is Feldvebel Novotny, played by Predrag Tasovac. Kursula tells him: “Afraid? You should be. You can’t just waltz in and take over Serbia!” (“Ne moze u Srbiju tek tako da se upadne!”)


The next scene is on Cer on August 16 as the troops advance. They pass the bodies of Austrian soldiers killed in the fighting.

Serbian troops fire their French 75 cannons. Austrian troops scatter. Kursula calls divisional headquarters inquiring where “our artillery is”. His position is being bombarded by artillery. He requests that Kole start using his guns. Kole’s battery starts firing shells but cannot find the location of the Austro-Hungarian guns.


After he finds the spot, Kursula orders an attack. Serbian infantry charges across the mountain. Kursula is informed that two Austrian infantry detachments have surrounded them.

Kole exclaims that “they have found us” as shells explode near them. He requests that someone find the Austrian howitzer. Two Austrian columns attack Kole’s position as shells explode around his position. They prepare to retreat. They do not want to be taken prisoner and lose the cannon.

Kole orders a cease fire and tells Veca, Miloje and the Sergeant to get the horses and withdraw to Tekeris. They withdraw their guns with their horses in a single column through the forest. As their battery begins taking large casualties, they are forced to make a fast retreat, leaving their guns.

The next scene is in the village of Tekeris on August 16.


Ljubisa Jovanovic as General Stepa Stepanovic, referred to in the movie only as General Stepa.

Kursula meets with General Stepa Stepanovic, played by Ljubisa Jovanovic, who asks why he left Cer so quickly. He says the Austrians “hit our flanks”. He chased them off Trajan but their regiment from Lesnica attacked them. General Stepa tells him it is the Austrian 9th division. Stepa asks what he thinks of the Austrians.

He replies that they are not what we thought. They are unaccustomed to fighting in the mountains with knives and bombs. They have large numbers and are well-equipped.

The Morava division has arrived to support the advance. They prepare for the next attack.

Veca left his gun during the retreat. Miloje tells him not to worry about it.

Lukic tells Kole that he had no choice but to withdraw. He is informed that they will retake the positions. The Morava division will attack with them. This will be the decisive moment.


Veca talks to the cook Trajko in a destroyed Serbian Orthodox church. He asks if he can predict the future with his cards. He says he cannot. Veca reproaches him: Then you lie. He replies: “Yes, I lie”. He admits that it is to console them.

Kole comes and says he is writing a battle report. He has to indicate why a cannon was lost. Veca is resentful. He perceives it as a reproach. Miloje comes and reports that they are returning to their positions. They discuss the attack. They must go around their original route to reach their positions.

Miloje advises Kole that he has to believe in Veca. Kole is left to ponder.


The next scene is on Cer on August 16 as the Serbian troops attack. They return to their former positions and prepare their artillery. The Morava division has joined the attack. Austrian troops retreat as Serbian gunners fire artillery. Veca is seen directing the artillery.

A howitzer shell hits their position. Kole tells Miloje to find the location of the howitzer. Veca is struck by a shell.


Kursula has taken Trajan. The orders for the gunners are that they fire their cannon ahead of him towards Kosanin Grad. Kole is told to provide continuous fire to protect Kursula’s advance. The 6th division is on their left.

Veca is badly wounded. He is bandaged. He tells Miloje if Kole asks about him, not to tell him.


A Serbian gunner locates the howitzer in the woods to the right of the bridge. Kole orders that they target the howitzer. Kole asks for Veca. Unknown to Kole, Veca dies.

They have trouble finding the range of the Austrian gun. After a shell lands nearby and is examined, they find the correct range and destroy the cannon. They cease firing. Veca, Bogi Petrovic, and the Sergeant are killed.


Miloje tells Kole that the Austrians are running away towards Cer. Kole replies that they will pursue them to the Drina River.

Kole sees the dead Veca and takes him in his arms.

Kursula is told that Kosanin Grad has been taken. He says: “Tell artillery that we are going after them down to the Drina”. Kursula curses the Drina as he slumps and dies beside a tree, struck by shell fragments.


The camera pans over the bodies of Serbian and Austrian soldiers killed in the battle on the hillside.

In the final scene, Kole is shown on horseback with his left arm in a bandage, riding in a column. The Austrian troops have been defeated and expelled from Serbian territory. The battle is over.


The Drina is shown in the background. The movie ends as “The March on the Drina” theme is heard in the background.

The film is a realistic and good faith effort to present the Battle of Cer as it actually occurred. It is an accurate and meticulous recreation of the battle. The costumes and the setting were flawless. The terrain was accurate.

How accurate was the film as history? Historical accuracy was excellent with a focus on verisimilitude and factual detail. The movie was a dramatization or recreation, however, and not a strictly historical depiction. There was much that was left out. The military commander of Serbian forces, for instance, Radomir Putnik, was not mentioned. General Stepa Stepanovic was referred in the movie as General Stepa with his last name being omitted.

The most glaring omission is any reference to the Karadjordjevic monarchy, to King Peter or Prince Alexander. The movie had a narrow focus only on the battle and the circumstances and events surrounding it. As a film made in a Communist country, the film had to tow the official party line. The film had to be politically correct. In 1964, this meant omitting any reference to the monarchy or to the Serbian Orthodox Church. Even references to Serbian military leaders had to be severely restricted.

This fit it with the Communist ideology that saw all the people of Yugoslavia as equal. No one people or nation was to be elevated in importance or stature over the others. The Communist regime acknowledged the historical significance of the Battle of Cer but did not want to be perceived as endorsing Serbian “nationalism”. The movie was contextualized as a period piece, depicting the ancien regime, an order that had passed into history and that could thus be analyzed and examined dispassionately, objectively, and clinically. Like the Confederacy in Gone with the Wind (1939), the Serbian dynasty was seen as a relic of a bygone era with little or no significance, relevance, or impact for the contemporary scene. The Communist regime that emerged in Yugoslavia after World War II had overthrown that dynasty. A new political system had been created. The defunct, discredited, and discarded monarchy was seen as the antithesis of the current political system in the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia.

The film emphasized the class strata of society in 1914. The peasants were depicted as the lowest strata of society that was juxtaposed against the wealthy classes. The peasant recruits were depicted as downtrodden and exploited. The emphasis was on the deterministic factors of society. The economic and class structure determined the role that everyone played or was to play. The outcome was predetermined. In Communist and Socialist terms, the war was a colonial or imperialist war of expansion for resources and territory.

The film does not present the Austro-Hungarian side. There is only a single perspective or point of reference or view.

The March on the Drina is an effective and convincing recreation of the Battle of Cer. The film shows the banality and futility of war. But when forced to fight to defend themselves, wars can bring out the worst and also the best in human nature. Life goes on, even in wartime. Human nature does not change.

The movie is an accurate dramatization of the events, but it is not meant to be a historical documentary. The characters and personal dramas are fictionalized to flesh out the plot. The scenes depicted in the film are fairly accurate representations or recreations of actual events.

The commander of Austro-Hungarian troops in the battle was General Oskar Potiorek. He had been the Governor of Bosnia and Hercegovina before the war, from 1911-1914. Potiorek had invited Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg to Sarajevo and was in the car when they were killed by Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914.

Potiorek commanded the 6th Army in the upper Drina region of Bosnia. The 5nd Army under General of Infantry Liborius Ritter von Frank was stationed on the lower Drina in Bosnia. These were known as the Balkanstreitkrafte. Two Corps from the 2nd Army were deployed near Sabac in western Serbia. The total troop strength was 200,000.

The Serbian forces consisted of the 2nd Army commanded by General Stepa Stepanovic. The 2nd Army was deployed along with the 3rd Army under Pavle Jurisic Sturm. The total troop strength was 180,000 men.

An easy victory was anticipated by Austrian military commanders, the invasion and conquest of Serbia was to be like “a brief autumn stroll”. Potiorek was confident of success, dismissing Serbian troops as undisciplined “pig farmers”.

On August 12 the invasion of Serbia began, with the 5th Army’s VIII and XIII Corps crossing the Drina, heading towards Valjevo and the Jadar valley. Potiorek wrote in his diary: “Today my war has begun”. The VIII Corps, commanded by General der Kavallerie Arthur Giesl von Gieslingen, was heavily Czech in composition, while the XIII Corps, commanded by General of Infantry Adolf von Rhemen zu Barensfeld, consisted of a large Croatian contingent. The 2nd Army’s IV Corps crossed the Sava River and seized Sabac in northwestern Serbia.

On August 14, the 21st Division advanced into Serbia with three of its regiments reaching the Cer Mountain, a plateau twelve miles long and four wide, made up of hills and ridges between 1,000 and 3,000 feet in height. On the 15th, the Serbian Combined and Sumadija I Divisions, supported by a Cavalry Division, were deployed against the advancing Austrian troops. Serbian troops surprised the Austrian soldiers who were asleep and unprepared for the attack. Intense close quarter battles ensued. Heavy losses were sustained by both sides. On the 16th, the Serbian 3rd Cavalry Regiment under Nikola Colovic defeated the 1st Battalion from the 21st Landwerh Division commanded by Major General Artur Przyborski. By the 20th, the 21st Division retreated from the Cer Mountain causing the immediate failure of the 5th Army’s offensive and resulting in a Austrian retreat along the entire front.

One result of the Austro-Hungarian defeat at Cer was to allow Serbian and Montenegrin troops to launch an offensive in September in eastern Bosnia, advancing with infantry and artillery to within a dozen miles of Sarajevo before being driven back. The town of Zemun was captured by Serbian troops on September 6.

Potiorek made two key military blunders in planning the attack. He attacked when his forces were understrength. He did not make use of the strength available to him, thus, negating the numerical superiority he held over the Serbian forces. He chose to attack over mountainous and wooded terrain, which favored the Serbian forces. The terrain also hampered his supply lines and mobility.


The Serbian casualties were 16,500, with 3,000-5,000 killed, and 250 taken as prisoners of war. The Austro-Hungarian casualties were 23,000, with 6,000-10,000 killed, and 4,500 taken prisoner.

Potiorek was relieved of command on December 22, 1914 after the military disasters not only at the Battle of Cer but also at the subsequent Battle of Kolubara where he suffered large casualties. He was replaced by Archduke Eugen of Austria.

The March on the Drina is an effective and accurate recreation of a landmark battle of World War I, the first Allied or Entente victory of the war against the Central Powers. Focusing on the battle itself and on the men who fought it, it presents a realistic and graphic picture of war.