12 Temmuz 2018 Perşembe

TNT History Mini-Series: Greek Commander in Turkish War Rebukes Rival (1922)/Part III

//Ed. Note: In this portion of Gen. Papaulas's book, he provides a remarkably
frank and detailed description of the battlefield at Sakarya at the outset of 
the conflict on 22 August 1921, including some observations about the 
military and political wisdom of even considering pressing on toward 
Ankara, in a report from the battlefield to his superiors in Bursa.  
Interestingly, his bitter rival Gen. Stratigos hand-carried the report
to Bursa from Sakarya.//

sakarya savaşı ile ilgili görsel sonucu

He was of the opinion that after the army retreated to the (Ardıçı – Çal – Eski Polatlı)
line, that it should stay on the east bank of the Sakarya and must be reinforced here.
The Minister of War, having no knowledge of the details of military matters
such as these, could not have written these telegrams to the army; Mr. Stratigos, the 
government advisor, wrote them.

If Mr. Stratigos wants to deny this let me remind him that at the time these telegrams 
were sent there was no officer other than himself at Bursa.  At that time Mr. Stratigos
and the Minister of War were resident at Bursa.   When it comes to the matter of Mr. 
Dosmanis being there, with regard to my personally encouraging the aforementioned 
individual to go there, Mr. Stratigos knows very well that this General was at odds 
with the Minister of War.  Mr. Stratigos caused this conflict to emerge between the 
army and the Minister of War. But it would be better for us to look at these telegrams
and orders which were sent by the Minister of War, but which exhibit the strategic 
ideas of Mr. Stratigos:

Mr. Stratigos’s Role at Sakarya

At the time when the General HQS was at the (İnler – Katrancı) line beyond the 
Sakarya and the army corps was involved in a truly fruitless battle in front of the 
enemy’s second line of war, the army, bearing in mind its circumstance and that the 
battle would continue with if not more intensity then certainly at the same level of 
intensity, had to discern to what degree it was worth continuing the battle, which 
each day demanded even greater sacrifice.  

Mr. Stratigos was at the General HQS at that time and learned about this viewpoint 
of the army; as the battle took on an even more grave aspect the army was leaning
towards making a definite decision about it.  On 22 August, as Mr. Stratigos was
leaving for Bursa, he was given the report presented below: 

sakarya savaşı ile ilgili görsel sonucu

                             Report of the Army of Asia Minor
Secret                Number 5124-13303
           Command of the Army of Asia Minor
                        To the Minister of War

I have the honor of presenting to you the military situation:

1 – In August the army  headed east and began its forward movement.  
The movement continued in accordance with the arranged plan.
The enemy withdrew its main force to just beyond the Sakarya and 
established a very strong line there, with regard to position and fortifications.
The entire Sakarya front from Gordium to Göksu was fortified; the line was
set up from west to east, from the junction of the Sakarya and Göksu rivers,
and a second line was set up passing from (Ilıca – Tanburoğlu – İncirli).

The possibility of the enemy assembling in such a way was anticipated by 
the army and my Chief of Staff presented and explained this to you at the 
Kütahya Council of War. Since it would be impossible to force a passage 
from the Sakarya against this very strong enemy front, it could only be 
done from south to north.

In this regard, the enemy position on Yıldız Mountain was abandoned by 
them only because of the advance of our detachments from east to north 
and with our successful occupation, the matter was settled and became firm.
As the result of the army advancing from the south Sakarya, the enemy 
forces were moved to the south front, which allowed for the 7th Division 
to cross the Sakarya. 

Despite major difficulties regarding supply, food and communications, and 
the barrenness of the landscape, the army’s movement from the south 
Sakarya was accomplished with laudable speed and comfort.  The army 
(under cover by the 7th Division) moved completely through the narrow 
Sakarya – Akalan area and turned left, beginning to change its direction, in 
order to establish a front toward the north. 

This difficult maneuver was accomplished successfully and on 10 August, 
while the Second Army Corps was to the right and a bit behind (to the 
southwest of Saatli), the army began to attack toward the north front.
The enemy was maintaining the line on its right wing (Yıldız – Sapanca) 
and managing its forces to reinforce its left.  In consequence, the Second 
Army Corps stopped after occupying (Kalikrot/Cali Crotte), as the result 
of a continuing battle.

In this way, the aim of surrounding the enemy’s left was not accomplished
and the position of the army, which was facing the barren landscape to its 
back and whose main lines of communication were on the left, was 
dangerous.  Finally, because of the disrepair of the roads automobiles 
moved with difficulty  and that made supply and food service impossible.

In this situation, it would not be long before a serious danger appeared.  It 
was necessary to quickly repel the enemy to the extent possible from the 
east bank of the Sakarya and bring the army’s front in parallel with the river 
and thereby ensure communications along the length of the river. With this
goal in mind, an attack was ordered.  Our central force occupied the 
foreboding Tanburoğlu Hill positions and in spite of the enemy’s obstinate
resistance, today the enemy is being scattered, step by step, toward the 
occupied line.  Right now this line as as follows:

The line: Koyuncu Hills, approximately 4 kilometers southwest of Temköy
 - Bendesi Pasture, 3 kilometers west of Kalikrotu Hills – Bassikent, which
is south of Koyuncu Hills – (Ardiç Hill – Çal Hill – Sivri – Karsaklı) Hills,
which are west of Bendesi Pasture.  The army is trying to advance its left
wing in order to improve communications via Beylik Bridge and Kavuncu 

At this hour food and supply services for the 7th Division are being provided
via Beylikköprü and food and supply services for the rest of the army are 
being provided via Kavuncu Bridge.  A new bridge has been set up a bit 
south of the mentioned location.  The Üzümbeyli mobile hospitals are 
gradually being vacated and afterwards the position at Kurt Tacri will 
be vacated. Because of a shortage of transport vehicles the evacuation is
being done slowly.  The enemy opposite the army front is maintaining 
heated contact with the army and according to information that has been 
obtained, the enemy is fortifying the dividing line on the left wing 
(Selameti – Çoluk Suları) and the hill line west of Çoluk Su.
We estimate that the enemy forces are equal to ours.  After the Eskişehir 
battle the enemy had 14 infantry divisions; subsequently, two infantry 
divisions (5th and 7th) came from Cilicia and two other divisions (17th, 
18th) were added.  Based on this calculation, the enemy currently has a total
of 18 infantry divisions and 5 cavalry divisions.

During the July operation, the forces of the enemy divisions decreased 
significantly and it has been reinforced with five classes of reserves and 
one class of new recruits; in this way each division amounts to 5,000, of 
which 3,000 are fighters.

If it is accepted that the enemy suffered a 10% loss of manpower during the
Sakarya battle, then each of its infantry divisions now has 2,700 fighters.  
In other words, the enemy currently has a fighting force of 50,000 infantry 
and 5,000 cavalry.  With a superiority based on an abundance of officers, 
the succesive fortified lines it has occupied, familiarity with the land 
and heavy artillery, the enemy is in better condition than we are.

sakarya savaşı ile ilgili görsel sonucu

Prior to the July operation, we had nine infantry divisions, each with 8,500 
fighters, for a total fighting force of 75,000.  Now, each of our divisions has
just 5,200 fighters for a total fighting force of 47,000.  The infrequently 
arriving reinforcement detachments amount to a few small units for covering
our communications lines.  An independent infantry division cannot be 
expected for another 15 days.  There is a major lack of officers and the number
and quality of our heavy artillery is less than the enemy’s.  The one 
advantage we hold over the enemy is our attack position and for this reason
troop morale is higher.  Nevertheless, it must be considered that with the 
gradual diminution of our fighting force an attack will soon be impossible.  
It is also possible that as the troops perceive this force diminution their
 morale will fade, as well.  Before that happens any decision to be taken
 about the operation should be made quickly.
The occupation of the land east of the Sakarya has limited our 
communications significantly.  But it should be noted here that if the 
operation continues toward Ankara, then our communcations would have
to be extended anew; However, our means of transport, particulary 
transport automobiles, are suffering degradation each day  and since they 
are not being fixed, our means  gradually decrease.

The enemy is obstinately defending the 100 kilometer-distance that separates
us from Ankara every step of the way and, in particular, with successive 
fortifications and heavy artillery is trying to slowly wear us down.  Given the
equality in our forces, it is not feasible to implement an extensive 
encirclement operation that with one blow would result in victory. 

Certainly, the enemy’s fatigue and losses are gradually increasing and one 
day the enemy may abandon the defense of Ankara due to lack the strength.  
But at this point, such a happy event cannot be counted on with certainty. 
These are the conditions the army finds itself in today; it is my duty to clearly 
state and explain these conditions to you.

In the report I presented on 15 July at Kütahya I stated that the army would 
either continue or stop the operation, depending on the situation that appeared
during the advancing operation.  The army advanced even beyond the 
opposite bank of the Sakarya and now presents to you the conditions within
which it finds itself.

Perhaps with a final effort we will achieve victory, with the goal of occupying
Ankara; however, it is also possible that this will result in a tragedy.  Such a
tragedy could turn into a crushing defeat that would have an inaspicious effect
on the successes already achieved and the political negotiations.  Henceforth,
with the stoppage of the operation, the options are setting up a defensive 
position behind the Sakarya  and, in fact, occupying a major position at the 
bridgehead on the east bank of this river.  After success in this regard,  
stopping and resting would be appropriate.  However, this will never settle
the matter.

         sakarya savaşı ankara ile ilgili görsel sonucu                        
Since the army certainly does not know the overall situation it cannot judge 
whether the advantages expected from the occupation of Ankara would be 
politically important to the degree that all the sacrifices and even disaster and
the complete loss of the Asia Minor cause would make the risk worthwhile.  
Nor can it judge whether the results achieved up until today will be sufficient 
for the government to enter into beneficial negotiations.

Based on these reasons, I request your guidance with regard to the 
government informing the army of its order.  I only ask that this decision be
transmitted as soon as possible in light of the fact that as time passes our 
enemy is securing new reinforcement troops, mending it fortifications and 
the upcoming season will present the operation with many more difficulties 

Main General Headquarters
Commander, Army of Asia Minor
A.       Papoulas



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