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THE BALKAN
COCKPIT




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CONSTANTINE XII, KING OF THE HELLENES.



THE BALKAN
COCKPIT



THE POLITICAL AND MILITARY

STORY OF THE BALKAN WARS

IN MACEDONIA

BY

W. H. CRAWFURD PRICE



WITH AUTOGRAPHED PHOTOGRAPHS AND MANY
ILLUSTRATIONS BY H.R.H. PRINCE NICHOLAS OF
GREECE AND THE AUTHOR, AND SPECIALLY
DRAWN MAPS OF THE MILITARY OPERATIONS.



LONDON
T. WERNER LAURIE LTD.

8 ESSEX STREET, STRAND



ERRATA re MAPS.

The map facing page 86 refers to the
Serbo-Bulgarian operations described in the
appendix, and is intended to supplement the
map facing page 250.

The maps referred to on pages 60 and -90
were omitted on account of the sudden de-
parture of the author at the outbreak of the
European war.



PREFACE

Several circumstances have combined to retard the
publication of these reminiscences of the epoch-
making events which have opened a new chapter
in Balkan history. Delay in such cases has its
advantages. If some vivid impressions are lost, we
are, on the other hand, able to correct too hastily
drawn conclusions and to appreciate moves on the
diplomatic chess-board which were, at the time,
incomprehensible.

Many excellent and instructive books have been
written on the Thracian campaign. Others have
arrived to describe the experiences of war corres-
pondents with one or other of the rival armies. 1
propose, however, to work along somewhat different
lines. Stationed in the capital city of Macedonia,
I was able to watch the rise and fall of Young
Turkey, the temporary burial of the blood-stained
Christian hatchets, the collapse of Ottoman civil and
military power, the triumphal progress of the Greek,
Servian and Bulgarian armies in Macedonia, the
breakdown of the Balkan Alliance and the subse-
quent war between the quondam allies.

All these passing events I have sought to weave

into a story. I have, as far as possible, avoided dry

v



vi PREFACE

military and historical detail, and though the soldier
will find much that is instructive, and the historian

much that is valuable in the succeeding pages, my

object has primarily been to interest the " man in

the street," and to bring him into closer touch with

the fascinating tale of Macedonian strife.

If, with the facts before me, I have had occasion
to somewhat severely criticise the Bulgarians, I beg
them remember that they have so long feasted upon
praise and flattery, that they must not complain if I
have found it necessary to suggest that their actions
have not always been in keeping with what one had
been led to expect from Christian conquerors. To
render justice is often to condemn, and if, as I
believe, my statements cannot be disproved, then I
submit that my criticism has been both fair and
merited.

The Turks, too, must realise that the motive of
this book has necessitated my pointing out their
failures and not their virtues. The Constitutionalists
did many good things, but these were not instru-
mental in bringing about the Balkan War. " The
evil that men do lives after them ; the good is oft
interred with their bones." Many of us have reason
to regret the departure of old and dear Turkish
friends, and our regret will — if I mistake not — be
shared by many among the Christian populations of
Thrace and Macedonia who will henceforth live
under alien rule.

Greeks and Servians will find little that is un-
pleasant in my criticisms. That result is again due



PREFACE vii

to themselves rather than to any desire on my part
to mete out more sympathetic treatment. Neither
were faultless. Both had to deal with an enormous
and unexpected extension of territory, and " war is
hell." But, on the whole, they carried through their
difficult task with highly commendable ability and
humanity, and their conduct inevitably stands out in
sharp contrast to that of their neighbours.

My acknowledgments are due to my journal for
the use of extracts from my dispatches.

C. P.

[Note. — The author had no opportunity of correcting the
proofs of this book, as he was at the war while it was being
printed.]



CONTENTS



CHAP.

I. THE CONSTITUTIONAL REGIME IN TURKEY
II. THE NURSERY OF DISCONTENT

III. THE BEGINNING OF THE END .

IV. "VERS LA GUERRE"
V. THE GREAT BALKAN WAR

VI. THE BATTLE OF SARANDAPORON .
VII. THE BATTLE OF KOUMANOVO .
VIII. THE WORK OF THE GREEK NAVY .
IX. THE BATTLE OF YENIDJE'VARDAR .

X. THE TURKISH DEBACLE .
XI. SALONIKA BEFORE THE OCCUPATION
XII. TOWARDS SURRENDER

XIII. THE CAPITULATION OF SALONIKA .

XIV. SALONIKA AFTER THE CAPITULATION
XV. FROM USKUB TO MONASTIR

XVI. DEFEAT AND VICTORY

XVII. THE BULGARIAN MARCH TO SALONIKA
XVIII. THE GRECO-BULGARIAN WRANGLE .
XIX. THE GRECO-BULGARIAN WRANGLE — continued
XX. THE LAST DAYS OF KING GEORGE OF GREECE
XXI. THE SERBO-GRECIAN ALLIANCE
XXII. THE WAR OF THE ALLIES .

IX



PAGB
I

7

20
29

43
58
67

79
86

96
104

"3
117

139
149
163
168

185
199
220
231

243



x CONTENTS

CHAP.

XXIII. THE STAB IN THE BACK

XXIV. THE OPENING MOVES .

XXV. THE BATTLE OF KILKICH

XXVI. THE CAPTURE OF DOIRAN
XXVII. STRUMNITZA AND DEM1R HISSAR

XXVIII. MOUNTAIN WARFARE
XXIX. BULGARIAN ATROCITIES

APPENDIX ....



PAGE

263

275
284

305
3I6

328

345
361




GREEK TOBACCO GROWERS IN MACEDONIA.




MACEDONIAN VALACE PEASANTS.



THE BALKAN COCKPIT

CHAPTER I

THE CONSTITUTIONAL REGIME IN TURKEY

Though the " Star and Crescent " had floated for
centuries over the Government offices, though fez-
crowned governors meted out Oriental justice in the
Turkish tongue, and though, in town and country,
the evidences of power denoted the supreme place
held by the Moslems, it must not be supposed that
the subject races of Macedonia ever considered
these other than the signs of a temporary occupa-
tion, or that they failed to ceaselessly work, pray,
and agitate for the day when, to their certain belief,
the Turk should be sent back to Asia. Nor is it
possible to dissociate these ideas of territorial expan-
sion from the critical situation which continued to
exist in the Orient until the Balkan War sealed the
fate of Mohammedan power in Europe. The Christian
races hated the Turk, who, knowing this, not only
strove to safeguard his position, but further sought
to impress upon his neighbours a due appreciation
of his predominant force. The attitude of Bulgaria
and Greece to Turkey was irrevocably bound up

1 A



2 THE BALKAN COCKPIT

with the relations of their co-religionists ta their
governors within the Ottoman Empire itself.

When, in November, 1908, the first delegates to
the new Ottoman Parliament arrived at Constanti-
nople, Constitutionalism ran riot. I heard Moslem
deputies speak of the glorious events that had
ushered in an era of equality for all the myriad races
of the Empire. I saw turbaned Turkish Hodjas,
smock-frocked Greek and Bulgarian priests, and
gabadined Jewish Rabbis unitedly heading trium-
phal processions, the while the air was rent with
shouts of " Brotherhood."

Two years later one could have safely said that
whatever conscientious endeavour the Turks may
have put forth to act up to their fraternal promises,
their efforts had been singularly unsuccessful. It
may be held that their actions were misinterpreted ;
it may be advanced that, do what they might, the
Mohammedans could never have convinced their
fellow-citizens of the honesty of their intentions ;
but the fact remains that ere twenty-four fleeting
months had passed, inter-religious strife was more
acute, and the mutual mistrust of Moslem and
Christian was, if anything, greater than before the
Constitution. There was evident an entire lack of
confidence which even the Turks no longer attempted
to conceal. During the summer of 1910, in explain-
ing the Government's point of view to me, the
unseen head of the Young Turkish Party informed
me that they wanted the Christians to look upon
them as a " Paternal Government." The vital
importance of the admission doubtless escaped him,
but I was forcibly impressed by the difference




A RETROSPECT.
King Peter at Salonika during the Turkish Regieme.




AX ESCORT OF TURKISH GENDARMERY IX' MACEDONIA.



THE CONSTITUTIONAL REGIME 8

between a " Paternal Government " and the
" Brotherhood " of which I had heard so much two
years previously.

Yet a further departure from the paths of Con-
stitutionalism was indicated in the statement made
to me about the same time by a highly placed official
that " Macedonia has always been held by force,
and we too must hold it by force." Young Turkish
policy had already confirmed this attitude, and the
Christian races had received abundant proofs that
the Mussulmans intended to be recognised as
masters in their own country.

I have always held that Europe was in a
very large measure responsible for the deplorable
travesty of Constitutional Government offered by
the Committee of Union and Progress. The slave
elevated to power becomes often the worst of
tyrants ; the youth pushed into position beyond his
years anon develops an overbearing manner ; the
uneducated, sufficiently flattered, startle mankind by
their arrogance. As with individuals, so with com-
munities. The mere organisation of a bloodless
revolution did not transform an intelligent telegraph
clerk into a wise Minister of the Interior, or an
eloquent schoolmaster into a sagacious Minister of
Finance, any more than the course of history was
changed by the mere act of overthrowing a despot
and setting up parliamentary government in his
stead. The Young Turks lacked experience, and
it is little wonder that they lost their heads. The
fault lay not so much with them as with the Europe
which flatteringly hailed them as twentieth-century
reformers, dubbed them " Gladstones," " Bismarcks,"



4 THE BALKAN COCKPIT

" Napoleons," and the like, and gave over un-
reservedly a mighty, complex empire into their
inexperienced hands. With a criminal disregard
for the lessons of recent history, European statesmen
put on rose-coloured spectacles, reclined on diplo-
matic divans, and saw little save prospective valuable
commercial concessions in the smoke which curled
from the Ottoman " hubble-bubble."

Enthusiasm got the better of judgment. The
unconditional acceptance of the new order of things
by the Powers, the fatal surrender of International
control in Macedonia and the increased power
vested in an untried Constitution, were no less
unfortunate for the Young Turks than for the
populations which they were so suddenly called upon
to govern. If, while welcoming the step in advance
taken by Turkish democracy, and while manifesting
a paternal interest in the development of Constitu-
tional Government, the Powers had not only main-
tained but temporarily strengthened their control
over the gendarmery and the financial administration
of Macedonia, the story might have had a different
ending. The gendarmery, following the withdrawal
of executive control from its foreign officers just as
it was developing into a useful, crime-preventing
body, went rapidly to pieces until little was left of
it save the uniform. The benefits of the financial
control were, in a large measure, preserved only by
the transference of the International Commissioners
to the Turkish Ministry of Finance. In short, at
this stage, Europe should have insisted upon the
appointment of Advisors with executive authority to
aid the young, inexperienced Ottomans to carry on



THE CONSTITUTIONAL REGIME 5

the administration of the country in a constitutional
manner. The Turks should have been given clearly
to understand that they were on their trial and that
their new government was accepted on approval
only.

Instead of this, chauvinism was allowed to get
the upper hand. The young Orientals, with a thin
veneer of Parisian mondainity or Berlin militarism,
were puffed up until their heads swelled to bursting
point, and we heard little save talk of the aboli-
tion of the Capitulations, the Turkification of the
Christian races and the progressive recapture of all
the lands over which the " Star and Crescent " had
once floated. I well remember, in the fall of 1908,
travelling to Constantinople in company with a
young officer, who described to me how Greece,
Bulgaria, Servia, Egypt, Tunis and Morocco were
soon to become once again part of the Ottoman
Empire.

" And Spain," I queried, " are you not going to
retake the old Moorish kingdom ? "

" Yavash, yavash " (meaning in this sense " little
by little "), he answered. " We cannot do it all at
once."

It cannot be gainsaid that the Christian Mace-
donians while, as has already been stated, clinging
to their Utopia of emancipation, at first accepted the
promises of the Young Turks at their face value.
The spectacle of rival " komitadji " leaders hugging
one another in the streets of Salonika was absurdly
picturesque, but it manifested the desire of the
Macedonians to live at peace with one another
and with the Constitutionalists. They thought that



6 THE BALKAN COCKPIT

"Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality" really meant
" Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality." They dis-
covered their mistake long before it dawned upon
a trusting Europe. The elections proved the first
awakening. While I sympathised with the Young
Turks in their determination to keep the power in
their own hands in the first representative Chamber,
the Christian view of Mussulman ideas of " Equalitv "
received a rude shock when it found districts divided
up in a wholly illogical manner and the elections
scientifically farmed in order to ensure the return
of a majority of Mohammedan deputies.



CHAPTER II

THE NURSERY OF DISCONTENT

Universal Military Service. — The first really
great blunder of the Young Turks, however, was
the enlistment of Christians in the army. The
Government's position was a somewhat difficult
one. There was, in some directions, a demand
on the part of the Christians to enjoy what they
were pleased to call, for some unaccountable
reason, "the right of serving their country." Many
leading Young Turks, on the other hand, offered a
determined opposition to the movement. Some dis-
trusted the Christians; others feared the obvious
unpopularity of the scheme. My own opinion,
often expressed to the Committee leaders, was that
the change was inadvisable on account of its radical
nature, and I favoured the fixing of a time limit
which would have delayed the application of univer-
sal service to the non-Mussulmans until the next
generation, schooled in the new-born idea of civil
brotherhood, had reached an age at which it could
be called upon to bear arms. The no-compromise
party gained the day, however, and the Consti-
tution was subjected to its first real strain, as a
result of which its vitality was considerably
weakened.

7



8 THE BALKAN COCKPIT

Little attention need be paid to stories of alleged
ill-treatment of the non-Mussulman recruits (though
the reports current at the time were by no means
unfounded), but the Christian enjoys a somewhat
higher standard of living than the Moslem, and the
conditions under which masses of men are herded
together in the Turkish army are frankly unattrac-
tive. Further, the average Mussulman soldier is so
docile a creature that the sudden appearance of a
stubborn Bulgar or an argumentative Greek in
the ranks must have sorely tried the patience of
many an old-fashioned Ottoman officer. Generally
speaking, however, Turkish military men proved
themselves much more tolerant than the civil officials,
and it was not unfitting that the subsequent opposi-
tion to Young Turkism should have had its origin
in the army.

But the conscription of non-Mussulmans was
attended by consequences more immediately serious
than the mere fomentation of discontent. Rather
than join the Ottoman colours, thousands of young
Christians — the very flower of Macedonia manhood
— left factory, or field, or flock, and fled, the more
honest of them to other climes, the rest to the
mountains, there to augment the bands of political
"komitadji," or highway robbers, with which the
country-side was already infested. For a land
already suffering acutely from a shortage of labour,
the emigration of able-bodied youths was the more
serious development. It still further diminished the
yield of a magnificent agricultural country which,
although under-populated, was nevertheless incap-
able of accomplishing the primitive task of feeding



THE NURSERY OF DISCONTENT 9

itself. It meant a heavy addition to the already
large percentage of uncultivated land ; it brought
in its train increased poverty, and prepared the
terrain for that revolutionary propaganda which
so very quickly followed.

It might have been expected that the gravity of
this result of their lack of foresight would have been
sufficiently obvious to have warranted the application
of immediate remedial measures by the Young
Turks. Strange as it may appear, however, the
movement gave intense satisfaction to the more
powerful and chauvinistic wing of the party.
Dr Nazim Bey informed me with great enthusiasm
that 1 200 young Greeks had quitted the Island of
Lemnos alone in order to escape service in the Otto-
man army, and wagged his head, wisdom-wise, when
he added that this exodus would be a benefit to the
Empire.

"Why?"

" Well, because they will be replaced by Mussul-
mans from Bosnia ! "

Those self-same Bosnians whom a Turkish Valli
of Salonika had some few days previously charac-
terised as " dirty and lazy." Empire-building,
according to the most powerful wire-puller in the
Committee of Union and Progress, consisted in the
driving out of bodies of young, strong, intelli-
gent natives, and the substitution in their stead
of lazy, dirty, feeble, dull-witted aliens, incapable
even of speaking the language of their adopted
country.

The Bosnian Immigration. — The normal unfold-
ing of our story has brought us to the Bosnian



10 THE BALKAN COCKPIT

Immigration Scheme which, while it exercised
but little influence upon the march of events,
is instructive in that it gives us an additional
insight into Young Turk methods. It therefore
warrants a passing attention. The importation of
the Bosnian " Mohadjirs " was a serious attempt on
the part of the chauvinist section of the Committee
to " settle " the Macedonian question. The argu-
ment was, in brief, as follows :

In Macedonia to-day there are more Christians
than Mussulmans. If we can increase the Moham-
medan population until the followers of the prophet
are in the majority, the infidels will be overpowered,
and the " question " will automatically disappear.
This method of reasoning was somewhat original,
hardly statesmanlike, and frankly unconstitutional.
But it triumphed without encountering serious oppo-
sition, and then began the immigration of the dregs
of Bosnia. I call them " dregs " advisedly, because
no Bosnian worth anything in his own country would
have dreamt of emigrating to Macedonia, even after
he had listened to the enticing word-picture of
Koranic bliss drawn for him by the silver-tongued
emissaries of the Committee.

Many thousands of the lower order of Bosnian
Mussulmans were, however, induced to pack up
their rugs and coffee pots and come over into
Turkey. For the furtherance of this propaganda
enormous sums of money were expended from the
private funds of the Committee, and the Govern-
ment, while too poor to hand over a whittled-down
pittance for the support of the widows and orphans
of the Adana massacres, yet felt itself sufficiently



THE NURSERY OF DISCONTENT 11

rich to vote fortunes in aid of this new patriotic
adventure. The " Mohadjirs " themselves, when
they arrived, were dumped down often with a total
disregard for their own needs or those of the district
which received them, and an attempt was made to
keep them alive by doles of money wholly insuffi-
cient for even their meagre requirements. Once
enticed to Macedonia, no adequate arrangements
were made either for their present or future well-
being, with the natural consequence that numbers of
the immigrants subsequently returned to Bosnia at
the expense of the Austrian Government. Many of
those who remained found it necessary to steal to
live, and some of them, caught in the act of stealing,
degenerated to murder. I have already sufficiently
enumerated their qualities to make it clear that they
were anything but desirable citizens, and it is not
unfitting that a large proportion of them should have
been numbered among the refugees who, at a later
date, fled before the Bulgarian advance, and that
they should thereafter have been kept alive for
months by funds subscribed for that purpose by
the charitable public of Europe. The observant
passer-by in Salonika might frequently, during the
period following the Turkish war, have seen an
Austrian Lloyd liner anchored off the Austrian
Consulate General, and had he troubled to ask, he
would have learned that those boat-loads of destitute
humanity whom he saw being rowed off to the
steamer were the last of Dr Nazim Bey's " Mohad-
jirs " going back to their native Bosnia.

The Disarmament. — The disarmament of the
Macedonian population in 1910 had preceded some



12 THE BALKAN COCKPIT

of the phases of the constitutional regime which we
have already considered, but it exercised so para-
mount an influence upon subsequent events and was
so essentially the genesis of the Balkan League,
that it demands special consideration at our
hands.

It cannot be denied that, in principle, the dis-
armament of the Macedonian peasantry was a most
necessary measure. When the Young Turks took
up the reins of government they inherited a terrorised
country in which every peasant was a walking
arsenal. Men, armed by the Revolutionary Com-
mittees, went their way with their "Mannlicher"
or " Gras " slung over their backs, and bands of
murderous ruffians infested the mountains, seeking
every opportunity for slaughter and pillage. Peace-
ful inhabitants lived under a reign of terror, and,
on many occasions, when journeying in the interior,
have I passed along a blood-stained defile where a
group of unfortunate peasants had met their death
from bandits' bullets fired from the heights above.
As a measure to establish security of life in the
country, the disarmament was therefore an admir-
able conception.

While the Turkish Government should be credited
with an honest desire to suppress banditism and out-
rage, it is undeniable that they were infinitely more
concerned by the presence in Macedonia of a mass
of armed Christian peasantry who were terrorised by
their revolutionary leaders. The Porte determined
to neutralise these possible auxiliaries in the event
of a war with Bulgaria or Greece, and therefore
prosecuted the disarmament more vigorously than



THE NURSERY OF DISCONTENT 13

would have been the case had its sole concern been
the establishment of a greater measure of public,
security.

The Greeks gave little trouble. There was some
obstinate resistance at Naoussa — an aforetime Greek
revolutionary centre where very harsh measures
were resorted to by the authorities — but, in general,
the Hellenes delivered up their arms and went back
to their farms doubtless rejoicing in the prospect of
a more peaceful existence.

The disarmament of the Bulgarians, however,
offered a much more serious problem. While the
Greeks dreamt little of conquest, and very largely
contented themselves with the measures necessary
for the preservation of their ow r n Hellenic colonies,
the Bulgars were playing for bigger stakes. Bad
Turkish government was to be made worse, Euro-
pean intervention was to be provoked, Macedonian
autonomy was to be established, and the autonomous
state was subsequently to be effectually Bulgarised
so that, upon the expected decomposition of the
Ottoman Empire, the autonomy would be forthwith
incorporated in the Bulgarian kingdom. Conse-
quently their organisation, directed from Sofia, was
more perfect and obstinate. Bands had again been
organised in the interior, others had crossed the



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