//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.//
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:
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.
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
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
//END PART III//