13 Temmuz 2018 Cuma

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

//Ed. Note: Gen. Papoulas completes his recounting of the Battle 
of Sakarya with the following exchange of telegrams and some
commentary about the role of Gen. Stratigos in fomenting
the Greek Army's confusion at the front line.//

Gen. Papoulas being shown the minarets of Bursa, Spring 1921.

The Army’s Thoughts

In order to be clear about the basis within which the army worked and how it 
understood the national interest, we herewith provide verbatim the answer the 
army provided to the nonsense of the Minister of War or, more rightly, his advisor
Mr. Stratigos:

                                                        To the Minister of War

          I have the honor to report the arrival of your order number 15809, which 
was received today and which orders us to remain on the line we currently occupy.

This order also puts on the army the responsibility for the conduct of this 
extensive operation, as well as for the initiative that will have a profound effect
 on the political and military situation.  In this regard, I present these matters 
below: 1 – up until now the army has remained faithful to the contents of the 
report that was accepted and approved at Kütahya; 2 – when the army saw that 
it would be inappropriate to move forward toward Ankara, this was presented in
 report number 19303, which was sent by means of General Stratigos on 22 
August.  We received the Prime Minister’s response, number 13554 of 23 August,
 which was sent from Bursa.  This response recommended that our decisions and 
movements be made without being affected by political considerations, that they
 not be linked to either political considerations or any idea previously accepted and
 approved, and that we conform only and exclusively to advantageous and 
beneficial military concepts.  

Following the presentation of the aforementioned report, on 23 August I 
informed you of my decision regarding withdrawal to behind the Sakarya and, as 
this movement was conducted with exemplary success, I ordered the occupation of 
the west bank of the Sakarya on the night of 30/31 August.  I waited 4 days after 
pulling back from the Sakarya; because no new order came from the government,
 on 3 September, in accordance with the 15 July report and the Prime Minister’s 
order number 15353, I gave the order to gradually move in order to occupy the 
Eskişehir line.  The same day, I received your order number 15355, which made 
known the Prime Minister’s response; this response of the Prime Minister did not 
impose on the army the requirement for the adoption of the other decisions. I did 
not deem it appropriate to respond to this last order until the end of the first 
operation.  On 5 September at hour 21, after the start of the movement I ordered,
 I received your order number 15790, which directed me to inform you of our
 investigations related to which line we thought would be most appropriate to 
occupy.  Because the army’s opinion related to the return to the Eskişehir position 
from Sakarya had been known since the Council of War discussions at Kütahya, 
and because this opinion was approved by the government, I could not imagine 
that an intermediary line of occupation between the Sakarya and the positions east
 of Eskişehir would be under consideration.  Consequently, I suppose and perceive
 that an investigation of positions to be occupied in the future is under consideration
 and I will present this investigation in the very near future.  Additionally, on 5 
September General Stratigos called the Deputy Chief of the General Staff by 
telephone from Eskişehir, said that he had read the army’s orders and that these 
orders were suitable to the ideas of the government.                                                                                       

          Consequently, when today, 7 September, I received your order number 15800
 directing us to remain at the occupied positions, I was dumbfounded; I had no 
knowledge of instructions number 13007, which were said to have been sent by 
means of General Stratigos and which were mentioned in this order, and I still have
 not received the aforementioned instructions.

            Yesterday I informed you about the occupation of the (Yeni Yaltıklı – Penik)
 line; however, these intermediate lines have no military importance and the distance
 from the main Eskişehir line is quite short.  The army should freely occupy a 
definite line when it has the initiative in a military operation, not under enemy 
pressure. The army has had to dispatch forces from the front to reinforce the 2nd 
Infantry Division and, in particular, the Afyonkarahisar group. In short, as the cold 
season has come and the rains are approaching, any further delay would not be
 favorable.  Based on these aforementioned reasons, the army believes that, at this
 time, it must continue the ordered march in order to transit the few kilometers that
 still separate it from Eskişehir.

          From the beginning, the army has conducted the operation in accordance with 
the presented and approved program and is continuing the initiative in a strictly 
orderly fashion, based on the means it has on hand, mindful not of the enemy but 
of itself.  Additionally, please allow me to present another operation. In my report 
number 19003 of 19 August, I requested that I be replaced if the government does
 not have confidence in the army command.  Once again I repeat this request of mine
 and ask that you urgently respond so that no doubt or hesitation remains that might
 have an effect on the conduct of the operation.

A.       Papoulas

          Note – the resignation in question was submitted because of a heated telegram  
from the government, which was not receiving the reports summarizing the military 
situation in an orderly manner because of the disruption of communications. 

sakarya muharebesi ile ilgili görsel sonucu

          I received the following telegram in response to the above telegram:

          Minister of War
          15819                                                                                           8 – 9 – 21
                                    To the Command of the Army of Asia Minor

          Your telegram number 19970 has been received.  With regard to your 
request concerning confidence in the army command, l reiterate what I wrote 
in the last paragraph of my order number 155595 of 23 August.  In addition, let me
 here clearly state to you that if during the time that I have administered the Ministry
 of War, I had any idea or notion about the need for a change in command I would 
have done so immediately.  Consequently, the matter of ..... trust in the command is
not  a subject under discussion.  I think that you received order number 15802, 
which was in cipher, without any corruption of the original and in its proper form;
 and because responses were requested again from you to three questions, which I 
had posed previously, in my order number 15790, which you received on the fifth 
of the month, I request that you inform me as quickly as possible with regard to the
 reasons and the meanings you discern from this order of mine.  When it comes to 
the continuation of the operation ordered by the army and which is ongoing, the 
response sent by the Prime Minister, number 16554 of 23 August, which you stated 
in your telegram had been rerceived, continues to definitively remain in force.

          Theotokis                       20152

          Very well. So as can be understood, the Ministry had fallen into contradictions.
  Actually, on one hand saying that we must conform to the Prime Minister’s telegram, 
which recommended completely free movement in the operation, and on the other 
hand wanting an answer to the order that called for an expansion of the front.

          I must confess that if I had not known the Minister’s sangfroid, I would have 
thought he had lost his mind.  So what had happened in this period?  Because the 
Minister had a blind faith in Stratigos he signed order number 13790 that the 
aforementioned individual wrote to the army, without even reading it.  Consequently,
the orders signed by the Minister but written by someone else were naturally 

          Here we must make and explain the point that neither the Prime Minister nor 
his Cabinet members knew about the Minister’s orders or Statigos’s impact on these 
matters.   After all of these affairs, this man wants to be seen as the defender of the 
crimes he himself committed because of his impropriety, incoherence, insanity and 
indifference, and of people who have committed crimes that I am unaware of.

Dead Greek soldiers being buried near Sakarya, August 1921.


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