and his superiors in Bursa, and by extension Athens,
exchanged telegrams reflecting both the military and
political battlefields. Gen. Stratigos was, of course, in
the middle of all the back-and-forth vis-a-vis considerations
and decisions, and a thorn in Gen. Papoulas's side. //
Greek Army units advancing toward the Sakarya River.
The Army Insists
At the same time, these considerations were made known to the Ministry
of War by telegram; later, on 25 August, the Army Chief of Staff sent Mr.Stratigos,
who had asked whether continuation of the forward movement was possible or not,
the following response:
Number: 19286 – 25- 8 – 21 - hour 12
To be sent by telegram – cipher – most urgent
To General Stratigos in Bursa
(the corruption of this portion of the cipher may have been due to too many words
being submitted for the structure of the cipher. That which was conveyed:) I am
insistant with regard to my ideas.
These ideas concerned the army’s thoughts regarding retreat after the
completion and conclusion of the operation. The following day we sent the following
To the Minister of War in Bursa
As a continuation to my report number 5154-13303, I present this aspect:
because of the equality between the opposing forces the battle may take the form of
trench warfare. This warfare would be to the advantage of the enemy, which is
continually ameliorating its deficiencies, fortifying its territory and reinforcing.
Continuation of the operation appears dangerous. The army has done what it could.
With regard to the goal of occupying Ankara, only the enemy’s rail line has been
destroyed; we will do the same to a lesser degree from here to Eskişehir today. As
for remaining where we are, perhaps the government can reinforce the position
during its negotiations; but with the one condition that the negotiations not last long;
otherwise, our soldiers will have exceeded their limits of resistance; obtaining a
quick truce based on the success so far achieved will constitute the best case vis-a-vis
morale and the benefit of the army. I request the government’s idea on this matter so
that the requisite military measures can be adopted.
A. Papoulas Personal registry number 55
25 – 8 – 21 hour 12 minute 20
The Government Insists
After this, the army received the following telegram in answer to the one
inviting the Prime Minister to engage in negotiations:
Minister of War Bursa
Number: 163530 26 – 8 – 21
Cipher – Urgent
To the Army of Asia Minor Command
I received your secret telegram today and immediately transmitted it to Athens.
I ask that you await the government’s reply comprising its ideas and
considerations about the thoughts you put forth in your telegram.
Theotokis Identical to the original
Cipher Section Chief
But a while later a telegram which transmitted this publication’s original
text was received. In it, it was stated that Mr. Stratigos had departed for
Athens to brief the Prime Minister on the situation, since the Prime
Minister could not come to Anatolia because of the domestic situation.
Two days later, on 28 August, the army received the following telegram:
Ministry of War
163554 21- 8 – 28
To the Army of Asia Minor Command
Cipher – to be sent at top priority
In response to my telegram number 164530 and your two answering telegrams
of the 26th of the current month, the telegram received from the Prime
Minister at 3 in the morning on 28 August is provided below.
In response to the army’s telegram of 26 August, I deem it necessary that the
line of occupation be moved forward as much as possible so that it is the
definitive line that we will claim during peace negotiations. For now, with
regard to the questions in your report of 22 August, before providing and
presenting a response and remarks about the measures you rightly took in
the face of the assembly of enemy forces across from the 3rd Army Corps,
I deem it necessary that I advise you to disregard political considerations
and any other idea that has been accepted and approved up to now, in your
operation and decisions and conform only to and exclusively to the goal of
achieving what is best for the army. The responses which the government
will provide for your questions will be transmitted to you for your review,
to allow for the free flow action required for the implementation of these
vis-a-vis the military situation.
Theotokis Bursa 28 – 8 – 21
But at this point the army, forced to decide to withdraw along its own
departure lines, and in concert with the abovementioned telegram sent to
the army by the government which showed the government to be in
agreement on this matter, began its retreat.
Additionally, the government knew from the report presented by the army
at the Kütahya Council of War that the army was thinking that the
departure lines (entry line, arrival line, communications line) meant holding
the (Eskişehir – Afyonkarahisar) line. However, the army suddenly
received the following telegram from the Minister of War, in Bursa, asking
which line we would occupy.
4- 9 – 21 hour 17 15790
To the Army of Asia Minor Command
Based on my secret telegram of 26 August, number 153534, the following
matters are transmitted below; I would like to immediately learn the results
of the army’s investigation and its opinions with regard to these matters:
1. What is the army’s view about which line must absolutely be occupied?
2. What is the nature of the movement the army deems appropriate to reach
3. What is the military advantage of this line compared to the lines held in
the forward movement toward Ankara?
Theotokis Arrival: 5 – 9 – 21
Since the line the army would withdraw to was long known by the Minister
of War and the instructions related to this retreat issued by the Prime Minister were
personally transmitted by the Minister of War, this telegram was quite unexpected
for the army. The same day, as the army was approaching its own departure lines, the
following telegram, sent from Bursa, was received from the Minister of War:
Bursa Registry number: 15802
4 – September – 1921 Secret
To the Army of Asia Minor Command
(received 7 – 9 – 21 hour 22)
Based on my telegram number 15790 sent a bit earlier, I am informing you
that the government deems it beneficial to convey the below considerations to the army:
It has been made known to the army many times that the government needs
to avail itself of the military situation as the basic element of its political operation.
This situation must be as follows: in the event that the initiative to
completely crush the enemy morally and materially comes to naught, the
aforementioned enemy’s threat to our occupying soldiers should be greatly
minimized and delayed as much as possible. It was judged that this aim of a
raid initiative toward Ankara could be realized. The results needed to realize
this initiative were enumerated in the report provided by the army commander
during the Kütahya conference. Among these results were the destruction of
communications and, in particular, after the occupation of Ankara, the complete ,
destruction of the rail line by transporting the rails to the rear as the army retreats.
Also, it would be important to completely destroy all sources that could
satisfy the needs of an army.
In this way, there would be a great distance without communications and,
at the same time, all needs would have to be brought in from afar. Any attack attempt
by the enemy would be quite difficult and, in light of the approaching winter, the
danger of our remaining in a defensive mode would decrease and fade away.
However far toward Ankara the army has advanced, we can and should seize all the
results, to include the largest portion of the forward movement to the aforementioned
city that has been made so far and whatever else might be obtained from the forward
movement. Also, we can and should create a situation in which we are as close as
possible to the farthest point of the forward movement. It is left to the army to decide
which of the possible lines would serve this goal. We await the army’s response to
the question posed on this subject in our telegram of 28 – 8 – 21.
Because of the enemy’s distance from its main bases, its lack of
communications and the security from attack offered by the land buffer between us,
the enemy danger will be reduced to the minimum and since the enemy will be
forced to make extensive preparations and, as we occupy a line far enough away
from this danger, we can announce that we have begun to make lasting organizations
and arrangments in the occupied land, with this announcement creating a defacto
situation on the ground. This lasting organization will immediately make it necessary
for us to avail ourselves of all the resources in the occupied land and direct efforts
toward full administrative control. Additionally, the aforementioned organization
will allow the army to reduce the portion of its forces allocated to security in the
occupied land and this will be beneficial for our solving and putting the security
matter of the occupied land in order. Thanks to arrangements related to the
communications, supply and food needs of the army that will stay on the first line,
we will be able to reduce the number of soldiers serving at the current front. If we
wait until winter it will be impossible to reduce the number of soldiers on the first
line; so with the gradual reduction of troops we will reach the limit of the military
forces we have under arms. We will do this to the degree that it will protect the
resources of the occupied land, along with reducing both military and financial
expenditures significantly. The government believes that only in this way can there
be an effect on Europe that will cause it to intervene to the benefit of Greek rights
for future political initiatives and prepare the basis for forcing Turkey to accept,
without objection, a fait accompli. This basis is essential to achieve peace. In this
way, it will be impossible for Turkey to retake the land we have occupied with its
own forces and since continuation of this serious situation would result in its
complete and definite annihilation, it will avoid doing so.
From these considerations, the meaning of the requirement put forth in
our telegram of 28 – 8 -21 is quite clear; the need is for our line of occupation to be
moved as far forward as possible so that during the start of peace negotiations our
line is suitable for the certain annexation of the occupied land. To register and
make this point I deem it necessary that there should be an expansion of the main
line, not just to the east but probably to the north and south, as well. Let me add
that it is very important that we extend ourselves toward the sea because that will
cut off Istanbul from the rest of Turkey.
I hope that the army command will make its arrangements vis-a-vis the military
position in accordance with these vital reasons to the extent possible, in that these
explanations and vital reasons will form the basis for the government’s advantage
in its future political initiatives. We must also not fail to mention here that in
determining the form of implementation for this position, all the military
requirements and, foremost, the morale of the detachments and the effects of the
type and nature of the anticipated military movement on the detachments will
similarly be taken into account. Determining the scope and extent of this military
operation and, in particular, the decision to immediately begin the occupation of
the line designated in the context of the vital reasons mentioned above, or whether
it would be preferable to occupy the line gradually, is the purview of the Army
General Command, based on considerations related to the fine points of military
In this regard, the army should investigate the matters mentioned below
and provide us with the results of these investigations:
1. What is the army command’s idea about which line must absolutely
2. What is the appropriate way to seize this line?
3. Compared to the lines occupied because of the Ankara initiative,
what are the military advantages of lines like these?
As I previously informed you by telegram regarding the matter in question,
the questions listed above must be answered immediately; because your responses
will allow the government to put forth our true situation, by preventing any sort
of misinterpretation or alteration.
For anyone with any common sense, there would be no doubt that this telegram
could not have been written by the Minister of War, who has absolutely no knowledge
of military matters, and that this was the work of General Stratigos, who was in truth
alone in Bursa at that time.
The army was bewildered. Actually, Stratigos, speaking with the mouth of the
Minister of War, was essentially recommending that we extend our front in all directions
and especially toward the east and north. He wanted us to extend to the east by staying
to the east of the Sakarya and to extend to the north toward the Black Sea. In addition,
the aforementioned individual had the idea of reducing our existing force by demobilizing
certain classes, while our communications were being repaired and improved.
At the same time he was making this proposal, it was necessary that our forces
be multiplied in order to be able to defend the occupied front. Two days later the army
received the following telegram, which ordered the army to remain in its positions
beyond the Sakarya and not to destroy the rail line. It was clearly understood from this
telegram that implementation of Mr. Stratigos’s plans were under discussion.
6 – 9 – 21 number
Hour 12 minute 50 15800
To be transmitted at top priority
Your operational order, number 19362 of 3 September, which was just received
by post and which designated the last line for the army to coalesce to the east of
Eskişehir after the destruction of the rail line, was written before you received my
urgent cipher number 13790 of 3 September. Consequently, since the army ordered
the movement to the west before its ideas were presented to the government in any
form, it does not constitute a reply the aforementioned cipher order. The detailed
instructions, number 15802, sent to you yesterday via General Stratigos, clearly show
the thoughts on this subject of the government, which requested an investigation of the
line to be occupied by you.
Upon the arrival of this telegram, as long as you are not being harrassed by the
enemy, stop all movement to the west and as quickly possible I request that you inform
me of your ideas and considerations about the line of occupation, in accordance with the
latest government instructions.
Make known the line occupied by the army today and after your ideas and
considerations are conveyed to the government remain on this line until you receive
the order of the government, which will be sent to you.
I feel I must call attention to the point that while the army has embarked on an
operation of this scope and decided on and implemented such an action, which has very
profound effects on the political and military situation, the government has no
information about the situation and awaits news about events that have henceforth
become a fait accompli.
Secret registry number:
19932 – 7 -9 -21 identical to the original Mr. Dolagramanikas
Megali Idea-The Big Idea