A Potpourri of Sidelights and Shadows from Turkey – Dr Alexander MacLachlan – 1938, Kingston, Canada
Foreword: These sketches are gathered, for the most part, from the last decade of the writer’s forty years of educational missionary service in Turkey.They have been written at the urgent request of our children and a few personal friends and relatives; and, as will appear without any pretance of literary style.They are here thrown together without regard to logical or chronological sequence; and have been written at times as far apart as 1922 and 1937; and at places as far distant from each other as Smyrna, Asia Minor and Athens, Greece in the Near East, Kingston, Canada and Balboa Island off the Pacific coast of Southern California in the Far West.
Included between the boards are “Notes on the Genesis and Development of International College, Smyrna, Asia Minor.”The historical setting of the first group of sketches, “The story of a fortnight’s personal experiences in Smyrna covering the period of the Great Disaster” occupying the first 28 pages, belongs to the closing phase of one of the most serious criminal blunders of the Paris Peace Conference, viz: The authorized military occupation of Smyrna and Asia Minor by Greece. This unrighteous war had lasted nearly three and a half years with disastrous consequences to both Turkey and Greece.
This sketch is filled out from pencilled jottings made in my hospital cot on board “H.M.S. King George Fifth” while on route from Smyrna to Malta. While the details of the events are still fresh in my mind, I will note down in the following pages the story of my experiences during the week preceding the week following Saturday, September 9th, 1922, when the Turkish Kemalist troops re-occupied Smyrna.
During the fortnight preceding the occupation I spent a part of each day in the city, in close touch with the changing phases of the rapidly developing new situation. Each day it became more evident that we were approaching a crisis that was likely to have far-reaching consequences. The mystery of a large and well-equipped army fleeing before another of not more than one-third of its numerical strength, after what was nothing more than an initial partial reverse near Afion Kara Hissar, left no end of possibilities for speculation as to the real cause and meaning of it all. Would not the larger force realize the possibility of converting a rout into a victory, and some point of vantage along the way turn on their pursuers before reaching the city?
There were Turks who feared this and Greeks who devoutly hoped for it, and indeed there were some unmistakable evidences of an attempt to re-form the Greek army on the very confines of Smyrna for such a stand, but the effort failed. Throughout the previous fifteen days there was tense excitement which by Monday preceding the occupation had developed into a state of panic in the city. Greek and Armenian refugees were now pouring into Smyrna at the rate of from seven to ten thousand daily, from the towns and cities in the Hermus and Meander valleys, being driven out from these areas by the retreating Greek army in its flight towards the coast. Both railway lines were being taxed to their belongings they were able to bundle together in their hasty flight from their homes. So crowded indeed were these trains, even to all possible standing room, that some of the weaker among the refugees, including small children, perished during the journey to Smyrna. While the trains stopped at Paradise station near the Campus, some of the College staff and students rendered valuable service in supplying cold water and other refreshments to the refugees who crowded not only the open spaces on top of the railway wagons, but also the couplings between the cars.At the end of the previous week there had been disturbing rumours of the presence in the neighbourhood of Oedemish, of a large concentration of chette bands who were expected to approach the city from the south, and might therefore, especially as they were largely mounted bands, reach Smyrna some days in advance of the main Turkish army which was approaching down the Hermus valley.
In this case, the College Campus would intercept the line of approach of the chettes and exposed to their depredations. I discussed this possibility with one of my Turkish friends in the city who confirmed the report that there were anywhere from 3000 to 5000 of these irregular forces in the area referred to, who could with ease reach the city well in advance of the regular army, unless they were restrained from doing so. He agreed therefore, in case either he or I got definite information of their approach, to come out at once to the Campus and accompany me to go out and meet them as they approached, warn them that the College was an American institution and that any interference with it would not only be resisted, but would create serious complications for the Turkish Government and also themselves. Fortunately, as will appear later, they were held back by orders from military headquarters until after the arrival of the main army, and we were spared the necessity of resorting to our provisional plan, which might or might not have succeeded in its purpose of avoiding serious trouble with these irresponsible freebooters.
On Wednesday afternoon of this week word came up from the city that Mr. Sterghiades, the Greek High Commissioner, wished the College to take over the large Greek Orphanage at Boudjah with its 250 orphans. My colleagues who were in the city that afternoon and to whom the proposition first came gave assurance that some arrangement would surely be made whereby we could do so, and suggested the preparation documents for legalizing the terms of the agreement. On Thursday these were formally accepted by the College Cabinet, and Mr. Ray Moremen of the College staff was sent to Boudjah to take charge of the institution and run up the American flag. On Friday morning when I went into the city for the formal transfer of the orphanage to the College, Mr. Sterghiades had already gone on board, but his ship was still in the harbour. After my signature to the terms of acceptance was appended the documents were sent on board for his signature; and I have good reason to believe this was Mr. Sterghiades’ last official signature during more than three years of his tenure of office as High Commissioner for the Greek occupation of Asia Minor.
The property now occupied by this orphanage was the beautiful residence and extensive grounds purchased by the Greek nation and presented to Mr. Venezelos in recognition of his services in adding Asia Minor to the Kingdom of Greece. It had been purchased about two years previously from Mr. Takvor Spartali, from whom I had bought the original home of the College in the city, more than thirty years previously.
Late on Thursday evening, September 8th, a verbal message came to us from Sir Harry Lamb, British High Commissioner in Smyrna, advising me that about 11 o’clock that night a special train was being sent up to Boudjah to bring into the city the British residents from that suburb, (which is only a mile and a half beyond the Campus) and would stop at Paradise station on its way back, to bring us and any other Britishers connected with the College, under the protection of the Consulate and the warships. It was easy at that point to decline the preferred protection, for I felt we were not taking any serious risk by remaining at our post.
Dr Reed, my son-in-law, went over to the railway depot to say good-bye to our Boudjah friends as they passed through. The train arrived somewhat after midnight, and when a number of our friends who were in the train saw him and learned that we had decided to hold on, the left the train and came with him to the Campus where we shared our homes with them for the following week. It was on this Thursday while lunching with Admiral de Brock and his Staff on board the “Iron Duke” that I learned of the capture by the Turks of the new appointed Commander in Chief of the Greek Army, General Tricoupis.
Throughout this week frequent appeals came to me from Greek and Armenian friends, both in the city and in our immediate neighbourhood at Paradise, for permission to come to the College as a place of refuge from impending danger. It seemed best however that we should not, at this time, encourage the desire to make our premises an asylum from threatening danger which had not yet developed. Every such request, therefore, was met with the explanation that, if and when, in our opinion, there was real danger to life, the American flag would be run up on “MacLachlan Hall”, the main building of the College, and that this would be our signal of welcome to any and all who wished to take advantage of such protection as our premises afforded.
The reports brought into the city by the refugees from the burning towns and cities in the interior, of the excesses committed by the Greek army in its retreat, was usually made the basis of these appeals for protection. The immediate cause of alarm in these cases was the fear of what Smyrna also might suffer at the hands of the defeated and demoralized Greek troops, especially in view of the open threat, which for some time had become a commonplace by the Greeks, that if they had to leave Asia Minor they would make sure before doing so to leave Smyrna in ashes. There was also great fear of bitter reprisals from the victorious Turkish troops for the excesses suffered by their co-religionists in the burned cities and towns in the line of retreat of the Greek army.
I doubt if this threat on the part of the Greeks to destroy Smyrna was over a part of the official Greek program; and the plot to burn the Turkish quarter of the city, which became known within three or four days of the arrival of the Turkish army, and of which there seems to be convincing evidence, was more likely the plan of a local Greek organization. Measures, however, were taken (I understand by the allied representatives) which effectually prevented the carrying out of this crime.
By the Wednesday preceding the entry of the Turks, long stretches of the waterfront in the city were piled high with the bedding, boxes, and other paraphernalia of these unhappy refugees who now lived, slept, and ate by the side of their household goods. By Thursday afternoon the city was without government of any kind, apart from that which was nominally extended to it by the allies, whose ships were in the harbour; for the Greek officials had already taken their departure, and although a state of panic prevailed, lawlessness was by no means rampant. Indeed, law and order prevailed to a remarkable degree until Saturday morning, a fact which was doubtless largely due to ignorance on the part of the populace generally that the Greek officials had already left the city.
Friday, the Armenian Archbishop, Tourian1, came to see me at Paradise, and we had a long conference on the situation. He was particularly interested in the fate of the 400 Armenian orphans who occupied our old College premises in the city. We shared this concern with him for various reasons, and especially as about thirty of the older boys were in the lower College classes and in our Agricultural Department. We had the added interest for the protection of our property. I therefore undertook to see the American naval authorities the following morning and request that guards be sent to the orphanage premises.
Only a few days previous to this the Archbishop had been greatly distressed by the energetic efforts of the Armenian General, Torcum or Torgum, in the service of the Greek army, to mobilize a military force from the Armenians of military age in the community to co-operate with the Greeks. This General succeeded in rounding up a considerable number of recruits, using, it was claimed, as his authority for doing so, a letter from King Constantine. I saw this General and something of the turmoil he was creating in the Armenian community one morning as I was passing the Armenian Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace. It was only through the energetic protests of the Archbishop and his active interference in the matter with the Greek authorities that those mobilized were released, and the whole scheme fell through.
During Friday night we were disturbed by the arrival of a considerable body of Greek troops that encamped in the open spaces and roadway adjoining the Campus on the north and west. We awoke on Saturday morning to find ourselves so completely hemmed in on these sides that when I attempted to make my usual visit that morning before breakfast to the Agricultural Department I was obliged to abandon it, on account of the complete blockade of the road that separates the Farm from the Campus proper.
The division here encamped, though wearied by days and nights of constant marching, seemed to be under very thorough discipline and was headed for the port of Chesme, but in error had taken the road to Sevdekeui instead of the one over the hill to the sea along which runs the road to Chesme. The error, it seems, had not been discovered until they reached Sevdekeui, and had cost them the loss of five or six precious hours in making their return journey to Paradise which they did not leave until about 10:30 a.m. by which time the Turkish cavalry was beginning its entry into Smyrna from the opposite or northern side of the city.
I was interested to learn later that the officer in charge of this Division was Colonel Plastiras, who shortly afterwards became the hero of the bloodless revolution that followed closely on the return of the Greek army to Greece, and that deposed King Constantine. On this Saturday morning, September 9th, in Smyrna, chaos and confusion were added to panic, and when I came into the city about nine o’clock from Caravan Bridge side, abandoned horses, oxen, and mules wandered about the streets and approaches to the city; and various kinds of military transport equipment were strewn everywhere. Here and there street gamins were unwinding their koushaks (girdles) and lassoing these animals and either riding them about the streets or hurrying them away into side streets to their homes. Never was horse flesh so cheap in Smyrna.
The remnant of the retreating army, in every degree of exhaustion and abandon, were also wending their way by different streets to the water-front. Here and there creaked and groaned a wooden wheeled ox cart piled high with household or military camp equipment, and in each case two or three soldiers, doubtless men who were no longer able to walk, were stretched on top of these slow-moving vehicles of eastern transport. The general impression that morning among persons supposed to be well-informed was that the vanguard of the Turkish army would reach the city about Monday morning, the 11th.
One of my first errands was at the American Consulate, where I expected to meet the senior American Naval Officer, then in the Harbour. It was while I was talking with this gentelman in the office of Consul General Horton, we were startled by a mad rushing stampede in the street just outside the room where we stood and above the din could be heard the cry: The Turks are coming”. Incredible! It must be only another of these panicky rushes of which I already, within the past forty-eight hours, had seen two or three; for reasoning people had seemed to take it for granted that the Turks could not reach Smyrna before Monday at the earliest.
The panic and stampede, however, continued and increased; so I stepped into the hallway to ascertain, if possible, the cause of it all. There I found the Turkish cavasses of the Consulate resisting the pressure and appeals of the mob from without in the street; for, of course, the American Consulate would surely be a safe refuge at a time of such impending danger. All appeals for permission to enter were being stoutly refused. On inquiry from one of the cavasses as to the cause of all the turmoil, I was told that apparently Turkish cavalry were actually coming down the Quay from the direction of the Point. On being assured of this by someone who said he had seen them I remarked to an American junior naval officer who was then standing by me, that having witness the coming back of the Turks, and at once received the suggestion that we go together to the Quay.
It was with difficulty that we were able to stem the tide of the frightened populace rushing up the Consulate street from the waterfront. But before we had passed more than half of the sixty yards that separates the Consulate from the Quay, we had the whole of the comparatively wide street to ourselves. Just as we reached the broad waterfront, the leading files of the Turkish cavalry, with banners flying, but with sabres sheathed and rifles slung across their backs, were passing before the end of the street on which the American Consulate is situated. At that moment the Quay, apart from the Cavalry Column, seemed quite deserted; but at once, in less time that it is taking me to type out these lines, other persons wearing hats (this is the European quarter of the City) were here and there stepping out on the sidewalk, north and south of where we stood.
It was only when the keenness of our interest in the Turks had somewhat abated that we became conscious of a spectacle no less interesting than the one that had drawn us to the Quay; for between the long line of cavalry that was close to the curb and the edge of the water, there straggled along the last remnants of the Greek army moving along in the same direction as the victorious Turks, but with a very different objective, namely, Chesme, some thirty miles further along, and their port of embarkation for Greece and home.
One’s sympathies, under such circumstances, could not fail to go out to the “under dog”, whether he be Greek or Turk. However unjust may have been the occupation of western Asia Minor by the Greeks in 1919, and however cruel the tragedy that accompanied the landing of the Greek troops in Smyrna, on May 15th of that year, here were men who at the call of “King and Country” had been fighting continuously, some of them since the beginning of the last Balkan war nearly twelve years before, for what they believed to the just cause of their homeland, and who were now, through no fault of their own, obliged thus to drink to the last dregs the bitterness of defeat and humiliation.
Some of them seemed scarcely conscious of the fact that their victorious enemies were at their side, making their triumphal return into Smyrna. They, at least, seemed to pay no heed to them, and in turn, they received as little attention from the Turkish cavalry, except now and then, when one of these stragglers was observed to be still carrying his rifle; and then a trooper would break rank, and taking the rifle from the shoulder of the soldier, break it on the pommel of his saddle and throw it to the pavement. Even this seemed to be regarded rather as a welcome release from a burden than with resentment by the weary, footsore, Greek soldiers.
This happened twice while we watched the strange spectacle of victors and vanquished moving along the Quay in parallel lines. It was while we watched at this point that a bomb was thrown at the Turkish cavalry about one hundred yards from where we stood, from an upper window, at or very near the Post Office, without, however, drawing return fire from the Turks. A short distance further on, and a few moments later, a second bomb was thrown, and again from an upper window, on the passing cavalry, wounding an officer. This bomb burst within a very few paces of an English friend of mine who had passed along the Quay before us in his Cadillac car a few moments previously. Strangely enough, here again, there was no attempt at reprisal on the part of the troops, who continued their march quietly along the Quay to the Governor’s Palace and the Barracks.
My officer friend and I then walked together northward along the Quay, meeting other bodies of cavalry, until we reached the Smyrna Theatre, which then, and especially during the following week, was the American Naval Headquarters on the Quay, and the scene of some of the most terrible experiences during the burning of the city, - particularly during the following Wednesday and Thursday nights. It was along this portion of the Quay that tens of thousands of terror-stricken men, women, and children sought refuge from their burning homes and from the hand of their enemy.
Business errands occupied my time for the next hour until I started for Paradise about 12:30 in the College car. Later I chanced to pick up Hussein, the College postman, who was my only passenger on the way home. An errand with my Oculist (one of my old boys of thirty-one years before) in the middle of the Armenian Quarter took me up through that section of the city. As we passed along, the streets were completely deserted, apart from the groups of mounted Turkish patrols who were moving about here and there, calling out as they rode through the streets: “Korkma! Korkma! bir shay olmayajack!” (Don’t be afraid! Nothing will happen).
By the time we reached the Basmahane Station of the Smyrna and Cassaba Railway we found concentrated there perhaps fifty to seventy of these mounted patrols. As we approached with the car bearing the American flag a way was opened for us to pass through their ranks. At the moment of our approach a group of Turkish schoolboys were assembled and standing close by, apparently with the purpose of extending a formal welcome to their victorious troops.
From the street corner to the south of the station the broad thoroughfare leading up to the “Tilkilik” in the Turkish Quarter presented one solid mass of red fezzez as far as the eye could reach. Turning this corner into the street leading to Caravan Bridge station, and thence to Paradise, not a living soul was to be seen. From this point to Caravan Bridge the population is almost entirely Greek, with only a few Armenian and Jewish homes. The shops were all closed as were also the houses, with their shutters fastened and with no sign of life anywhere. We passed one dead body some distance along this road, but whether it was of a Greek or Turk I am unable to say.
After crossing the Aidin Railway a short distance south of the Caravan Bridge station, the roadway began to be strewn with carts and wagons, some of them still loaded with merchandise on its way to the city, and some of them empty; all of them where the cartmen on hearing the Turks were in the city had unhitched their animals from their loads and rode them away in haste to shelter and safety. Others again emptied their loads in the roadway and took their carts with them. From this point until I reached Paradise the road was strewn with transport vehicles and merchandise of various kinds. It was not until we were well on towards Paradise that we saw the first human beings in the person of a mother and her little girl, who were apparently quite ignorant of the cause of all these strange conditions.
Firing began in the neighborhood of Paradise just as I crossed the railway line at Paradise station, and by the time I reached the entrance gate crowds of people from that area were gathering in the short avenue that leads from the carriage road to the entrance of the College premises.
On the previous day, Friday, September 8th, at our request, twenty American sailors from the U.S. Destroyer “Litchfield” had been sent up to the College as a precautionary measure, to act as a guard in case of disturbances on the Campus. These were now in control and rendered most valuable service throughout the many trying days that were to follow. We had already authorized them to admit to the Campus, when the time came to do so, any and all, with the exception of soldiers in uniform, who sought refuge there, after the American flag had been raised on the main building; but that all so admitted must be unarmed.Machine guns were placed in the driveway by the gate lodge, just inside the entrance gate, and the sailor guards undertook to search for arms all who should seek the protection of the College.
By the time I reached the Campus there was rather stiff firing on all sides of us, and so orders were given that the flag be at once hoisted. Immediately the flag appeared there was a rapid convergence of our Armenian and Greek neighbors in the avenue leading to the Campus where the guards, after disarming the panic-stricken fugitives, permitted then to pass in. Large stacks of arms were thus soon accumulated in one of the front rooms on the ground floor of the Gymnasium building, and these included every variety, from the old-fashioned blunderbus to the modern rifle, revolver, bomb, and knives of every fashion.
Many of those who sought refuge brought with them whatever of their personal belongings and household goods they were able to carry. Some of them brought their bedding and a sewing machine on their shoulders; others a loaded cart piled high with their household equipment, while other carts, loaded with transport of various kinds which had been on its way into the city, were now deflected to the Campus for protection. In many cases it was a horse, bearing all the valuable household possessions, led by the father and followed by the wife and children. Again it was a donkey similarly loaded that was being dragged along by the mother of a family, while at the end of a rope attached to the donkey would be a goat with its young, followed by the children of the family, each bearing some treasured articles, such as copper cooking vessels from their home.
It was indeed a motley crowd that very soon had congregated with us from every point of the compass. Of course, our well-to-do Greek and Armenian neighbours, merchants, lawyers, etc., were all included. Cattle, sheep, goats, oxen, and horses were converging on us from all sides; but when these were in herds they had to be refused admission. Not so, however, when they were serving as beasts of burden to salve the personal belongings of the poor.The women and children of those admitted this Saturday afternoon were given sleeping space in the College buildings while the men and boys were assigned places under the protection of the high south wall of the Campus. Among those received earlier in the week into our homes with our British friends from Boudjah were the Russian Consul General and his family.
By three or four o’clock in the afternoon the heaviest of the rush was over, though throughout the later portion of the afternoon and evening, as also on the following day, Sunday, others continued to come. It was quite impossible to count how many were thus under our protection, though a fair estimate would probably be about 1500 in all.
About four o’clock an American naval officer came up from the city to look into a report on the situation in Paradise. I asked him on his return to Smyrna to have a request presented to the Turkish military commander for guards to be sent out to the College to help control the situation, especially in the area surrounding the Campus which was still very much disturbed. In response to this request fifteen cavalrymen, commanded by a chaoush (Sergeant), reached us about nine o’clock that evening. This chaoush explained that during the past fifteen days and nights they had not been out of their saddles for more than half an hour at one time; and when we enquired if he and his troopers had eaten anything that night he replied that they had not; but that their horses were more in need of refreshment than they themselves were.
Soon, however, both men and horses were abundantly supplied with substantial fodder; and as soon as the chaoush was at liberty to discuss with me the disposition of his guards in the surrounding locality we decided that, as conditions were now somewhat quietened down and were likely to remain so until the morning, we would delay their active duties until men and horses alike had enjoyed a night’s rest. The men were quartered in the Day Boys’ large lunch room on the ground floor of the Gym building, while the horses were tethered to the trees before the door of this room.
It was decided that early the following morning, Sunday, I should reconnoitre along with the chaoush the neighbourhood surrounding the Campus and suggest where “Posts” should be placed, so that, with these as centres, the whole area could be most effectively patrolled by his mounted guards.
Sunday morning, September 10th, opened quietly enough with only occasional shots to remind us that the Cretans in the Kara Baglaria district on the further or western side of the ravine which forms the boundary of the College Farm on that side (and between whom and the Greeks on the Prophet Elias side of the ravine there has existed for many years a kind of racial feud) were still on the war path. (Much of the firing the previous afternoon had come from this further side of the ravine).
Immediately after breakfast I took the chaoush over to the farm which lies just beyond the western end of the Campus, and after explaining to him the sources from which our peace was most likely to be disturbed, suggested that among other points where Posts should be placed, one should be fixed at the Farm headquarters, and another at the College Settlement House near Prophet Elias. Word was now brought to us that there were some dead bodies in the roadway that separates the Farm from the Campus, and so, before returning, we went along this road about a hundred yards beyond the corner of our premises, where we found the body of a lad of about fifteen, who turned out to be the son of one of the women who had taken refuge on the Campus the previous afternoon. A little distance further along this road was the dead body of a man from the neighbouring village of Sevdekeui, who, as well as the boy, had apparently been sniped while trying to reach the Campus.
The bodies of two or three Greek soldiers were also lying in this road a short distance on the other side of the gate leading into the Farm, and it was clear that one of our first duties that Sunday morning was to see that those bodies received proper burial. On returning to the Campus I deputed some one to attend to this, suggesting that a Greek priest whom I had noticed among the refugees should accompany one of the American sailors who was put in charge of the burial party. They were, of course, buried by the roadside where they were found.
About this time the Chapel bell rang for our usual Sunday morning service at 10:30, and almost at once the Chapel was overcrowded with our Greek and Armenian refugee friends. The service was conducted by Dr. Reed, Dean of the College, who preached a most helpful and appropriate sermon for a congregation assembled as we were that morning, under such very peculiar and trying conditions.
Immediately the English service was over, the Chapel was again crowded with Greeks and a graduate of the College, Mr. George Mylonas, conducted a second service for them in their own language. This service was scarcely completed when a new and entirely unexpected experience awaited us.... This Armenian Archbishop, Tourian, was assassinated in an Armenian Church in New York City in 1934 during a service, by young Armenians on political grounds. Some of the assasins were hanged.
THE BATTLE OF PARADISE
Shortly after 12:30, and just as we were about to sit down to lunch, we were startled by the rattle of machine guns in our immediate neighbourhood, the first result of which was to send everybody scampering under cover. It was some time before even those of us who ventured to remain in the open were able to diagnose the situation. Our first discovery was that the machine guns responsible for the sudden commotion were being worked from a position perhaps one hundred yards to the north-west of the Farm, on the rising ground beyond the high bridge that spans the ravine at this point. The next symptom of the actual situation was the bursting of shells, in close proximity to these machine guns, causing clouds of dust; and it was the direction from which these shells were coming that gave us our first definite clue to what was actually happening. For on looking southwards in the direction of Sevdekeui, great dust clouds betrayed the approach, along the main road leading from that village to Paradise, of a considerable body of troops, which we soon learned was a Greek force of about 6000 with a field battery of four guns.
The action, which lasted until about half past three, at first placed only the Agricultural Department and the western end of the Campus in the direct line of fire between the opposing forces. But as it developed and the Turks brought heavier guns on Mount Pagus, the old citadel, into position and action, the whole of the Campus and all our homes were directly between the opposing forces, and consequently in the direct line of their fire. We realized this rather unpleasant, and yet excitingly interesting situation, as the shells whistled over our heads and when the rifle fire was cutting the leaves from the trees before our doors.
Earlier in the day most of the west end Campus people had left their homes and come over to our end. The Reeds and their guests, however, had remained, and in the opening phases of this action I took the College car and hurried across the Campus to bring them over to our home, which was then less exposed. They had taken refuge in their cellar, but were easily persuaded that our end of the Campus was “a better ’ole”, and came back with me in the car.
For the first time in my life, and I trust also the last, I was able not only to watch a battle in progress, but also with the aid of a good pair of field glasses to study its developing phases from an exceptionally good point of vantage, viz: from the gallery windows of the College Chapel. From here the windows on the south side gave a very clear view of the Greek share in the action, as well as of the two lines of attack by the Turks. One of these was by their cavalry which passed to the attack from both the east and west sides of our Campus, and the other by their infantry, which, coming over the hill road from the Karatash side of the city, passed south behind the first low ridge of hills beyond the ravine.It soon became evident that the Greek army was seeking to avoid a heavy action or a direct issue, and that its movements were being directed to escape by road leading due west over the range of hills that now separated it from the sea, along which the road to Chesme and embarkation lay; while the direction taken by the Turkish infantry was as clearly with the purpose of cutting off their escape in that direction.
The cavalry galloped southward in two separate columns with the evident purpose of outflanking the Greeks from the east, and so with the co-operation of their infantry hemming them in from both east and west. The movement of the main body of the Greeks westward toward the sea was screened by a low-lying hill, and it was more than two hours before it became clear that the Turks had succeeded in preventing the success of the Greek plan. It also became evident that the main object of the Greek action, once it was joined, was to screen the carrying out of this plan, for apart from the shelling by their field battery only a very small proportion of their forces were actually engaging the Turks.
The heaviest part of the action developed about three o’clock and the suddenness with which the firing ceased gave ground for the supposition, which afterwards proved to be correct, that the Greek army had surrendered. During the nearly three hours that the action lasted the shelling went on continuously, as did also the rifle fire, making our position on the Campus and exceedingly uncomfortable one; for although no shells fell on our premises many fell within a few yards of them, while hundreds of rifle bullets fell short of their mark and within our boundaries.
As I had disappeared shortly after the opening of the action without announcing where I was going, and remained at my chosen point of vantage until the firing had ceased, I found on returning to Kenarden Lodge that I had, quite unwittingly, been at the cause of a great deal of needless alarm on the part of my friends, who could not venture to institute a search for me while the action continued.
In reviewing the situation that Sunday afternoon in the quiet atmosphere of the tea table and after the excitement of the previous hours, we suddenly realized that we had no news of our colleague, Mr. Ray Moremen, since he had gone to Boudjah on Thursday afternoon to take over the Greek orphanage. Before going he had arranged with the sergeant of the American guards, one of whom was constantly posted on the College clock tower, a code of both day and night signals between the Campus and the orphanage, a distance, as the crow flies, of about two miles.
Inquiry brought out the fact that no signals had been exchanged during the three days and nights since Moremen had taken over his important charge, and it was clearly time we knew what was happening over there, especially under the conditions then generally prevailing in this whole area. It seemed best, therefore, that I should take the College car and run over and at least assure Moremen that we had not altogether forgotten him. I left the Campus about five o’clock, and my brother-in-law, Mr. Frank Blackler, who was now our guest, decided to come with me and visit his house in Boudjah; and as we passed the railway station a German friend, who lives in Boudjah, asked if he might join us.
As we entered the village, a place of some thirteen to fourteen thoousand inhabitants, a strange feeling took possession of us that serious events were either expected or had just taken place, for we could see no sign of human life anywhere in town. Doors, windows, and shutters were everywhere closed.
Our way to the Orphanage, which is at the other side of the town, took us through its main thoroughfare, and as we passed along it we observed two objects lying in the roadway a little distance ahead of us, which on nearer approach proved to be dead bodies. I drew up the car as we came alongside and at once recognized the faces of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar de Jongh, old residents of Boudjah, whom I had known for more than thirty years. There were still, however, no signs of human life about us, and less than a hundred yards beyond this point I dropped Mr. Blackler at the front door of his garden.
From here I noticed that a Turkish soldier stood guard in the street about a hundred yards further along, and as I approached he challenged my further advance, even though a large American flag was conspicuously displayed on the front of the car. On explaining who I was, we were permitted to pass on to the karakol [police station], some sixty or seventy yards beyond, where there were gathered a few soldiers and two or three officers whom I saluted and received their recognition in turn.
Here my German friend left the car; and having received permission from the guard on duty here to pass some distance along the street which at this point turns sharply to the right and to the entrance of the Orphanage, I passed on without making any attempt to inform myself of what had been taking place. Indeed, my one concern was to see Mr. Moremen and know how he fared, and then as soon as possible get away from what was clearly a very tense and possibly dangerous situation.
On reaching the large double iron gateway, with its small side gate leading into the Orphanage, it required fully five minutes to get any response to my continued heavy knocking; and when the response came it was merely the opening of a very small aperture in the stong iron shutters of the small gate, which was closed almost before I could explain my errand. I could only hope, therefore, as I heard the steps receding along the gravel driveway inside, that I had been recognized as a friend and not as an enemy. It was again some minutes, however, before the gateman returned to open the small gate barely wide enough to permit me to pass.
Mr. Moremen met me half distance along the driveway and reported all well, but was disappointed that during the three days and nights since he left the Campus he had not been able to get any response to either his night flares or his daytime wig-wagging from the College tower. In explanation of the delay in admitting me he told me that about half an hour earlier there had been a sudden burst of rifle fire in the village, and that some villagers who had just sought refuge there by climbing over the high wall that surrounds the Orphanage grounds brought word that some people had been killed in the street, including an Englishman and his wife. (Mr. and Mrs. De Jongh referred to above, although generally regarded as belonging to the Boudjah British community because of their connection with the English Church there, are really Danish subjects) [in reality British with Dutch roots].
I offered to bring Mr. Moremen back with me to the Campus, but he declined, saying that he would take his chances with those who now looked to him as their protector. I returned to the Paradise road through the village by a more direct route, picking up Mr. Blackler at the back of his garden, only to discover on reaching this road that it was blocked by ten or a dozen Turkish cavalry, who, we at first suspected, intended to prevent our exit from the village. I drew up the car on reaching them and suggested to them that they remove the bodies we had seen lying in the street - a proposition they showed no disposition to consider. We then hurried back to Paradise, glad to be out again on the open highway.
It was not until the following day that I got details of the situation in Boudjah that had so preplexed us that afternoon, and as the account on Monday’s experiences will occupy considerable space in itself I will now briefly relate what took place there that Sunday afternoon. It seems that a small occupying force of twelve or fifteen infantry and about the same number of cavalry had been sent that afternoon to take over the administration of the village. On reaching the western entrance, on the Paradise road, they were met by the Turkish inhabitants bearing a Turkish flag to bid them welcome. The troops, however, refused to enter the village (which is almost exclusively Greek) unless some Greeks should also come out with a white flag in token of surrender. The Hojah and his friends therefore withdrew, and shortly returned with some of their Greek friends, bearing the flag of truce as requested.The troops now entered, and while making a tour of the village were fired on in the broad street of what is known as the “Apano Mahala” in the Greek quarter. The shots came from some of the houses in this street, and three of the Turkish soldiers were killed and five wounded. At once the troops took the law in their own hands, and rushing about shot down anyone who happened to be in the street at the time. It was thus that my friends had been shot, and also six or seven Greeks in various parts of the village, only a few minutes before we entered.
So ended my experiences, so far as they are worthy of note, on Sunday, September 10th, the second day of the Turkish re-occupation of Smyrna, and one of the most exciting for me in all the thirty-five years of my life in Turkey up to this time. More trying days, however, were still ahead.
Monday, September 11th
A FRIENDLY INTERVIEW WITH CHETTEES
About half past eight o’clock this morning, as I happened to be standing in front of the Gymnasium, two mounted men rode in, one of whom, a black Arab, shouted a “Good Morning” in English to everybody in general as they passed the Gate Lodge. They were rather disreputable specimens of cavalry, and as they rode on to the Campus I approached them and returned their greeting in English, only to discover that the free and easy “Good Morning” of his general greeting all but completed his knowledge of English, while his orderly spoke only Turkish, and I followed up the conversation in that language.
When I asked the leader what he wanted, he replied: “Oh, we were just passing and came in to see that everything was all right here.” I assured him that we were quite all right and were not in need of help of any kind.
I then asked him: “Who are you, and where did you come from ?” eliciting the frank reply: “Oh we are chettes, and we come from Oedemish and Tourbali”.
He then recited some of their exploits during the past few days, and added rather boastfully the important information that: “We could have been in Smyrna two or three days before Mustapha Kemal, only we were not allowed to come”, all of which specially interested me because it confirmed our fears of a week previously that these very undesirable bands from that area might reach us before the arrival of the regular army and make trouble for us on the Campus.
Immediately after disposing of these “gentry”, I had a call from the Aide de Camp of General Mursel Pasha, who was commanding the cavalry Division of the First Army, which was now encamped on the Race Course, some six hundred yards to the south-east of the Campus. He presented the respects of his General and informed me that as our mounted guards, who had been with us since Saturday night, belonged to this Division of cavalry which was leaving our area about 10:30 that morning, he regretted the necessity of taking them from us. We were sorry to lose them, for they had rendered very efficient service during the thirty-six hours they had been with us.I expressed our appreciation of their services and asked him to convey our thanks to the General. He then explained that Mursel Pasha would be pleased if I could make it convenient to call on him before he left the Race course, and I assured him that it would afford me pleasure to do so.
He then changed the subject of conversation by asking me who those people were about our premises, and I explained that they were mostly our neighbours, with some others who had come to us for protection on Saturday afternoon after the arrival of the Turkish army in Smyrna. I further pointed out that we had been careful to disarm all who had sought refuge with us, and in evidence pointed to a pile of rifles lying over by the Gymnasium. I explained to him carefully that, although we steered clear of politics and racial rivalries of every kind, our gates were always open to any and all who regarded their lives in danger, and further reminded him that, at the time of the Greek occupation in May 1919 we had similarly afforded an asylum to all the Turks in our neighbourhood.
This seem to satisfy him, but again he reverted to his original question, explaining that he had intended to inquire as to what Millet (community) or race our refugees belonged. In reply I explained that doubtless the great majority were Greeks, and the rest mostly Armenians. He caught at the last word “Armenian” with the rather pointed remark: “I am afraid if there are any Armenians you will have to hand them over.” I gave no indication that the remark had impressed me, for it was a subject I did not wish to follow up at that moment, especially as we had a group of thirty or forty Armenian students then in the College.
Instead, therefore, of following up this remark, which clearly indicated the Armenians were, for some reason which I could not divine, under some special ban, I at once suggested, as the College car was then standing at the door (for this conversation took place on the verandah of Kenarden Lodge), that he turn over his mount to his orderly and come with me at once over to the Race Course in the car.I was frankly worried over his remark re the Armenians until some three hours afterwards, when the mystery, as will appear later, was fully cleared up.
My call on the General was of the usual formal kind under such circumstances; thanks on my part for the efficient services of his guards, regrets on his part for the necessity of withdrawing them, etc. When I ventured to congratulate him on the swiftness of their campaign in getting through from Afion Kara Hissar to Smyrna in fourteen days, he corrected my figures to “fifteen days”, and added the significant words: “Bizden degil Efendim, Allahtan oldu” (Sir, it was not we who did it. It was God). This I learned afterwards, was the explanation of their success given by many Turks.
In expressing his regrets for having to withdraw his guards, he suggested that I send at once to the commanding officer of the First Army and request that other guards be sent. When I happened to mention that I know General Noureddin Pasha, he told me that it was he who was commanding the First Army, and that I should, in that case, go at once and see him personally and that he would surely give me all the guards I wanted.
Shortly after returning to the Campus, therefore, I went into the city to present my respects to Noureddin Pasha, who had been Military Governor of Smyrna during a portion of the time in 1918 when we had some two thousand British military prisoners of war on the Campus, at which time I had come into close friendly relations with him.
On my way to the city that morning I found the carriage road strewn throughout with every variety of military equipment cast aside by the retreating Greek army. There was also loot of various kinds, doubtless the work of chette bands that began to reach the neighbourhood the previous afternoon. Some of it was also clearly the property of refugees, which in their flight they had found too burdensome to carry further. There were many rifles, transport wagons, and army supplies, with here and there a dead horse or mule. Among many articles of household equipment I noticed a number of sewing machines in the ditch at one point. As I descended the hill by the cemeteries [must be the Caravan Bridge area] there were quite a number of dead bodies lying in the roadway, all within a distance of two or three hundred yards, and apparently all Greek villagers, judging by their clothing. On my way back from the city I made a careful count of these dead bodies and found there were twelve or thirteen in all. Four days later, when I was brought into the city to be put on board warship, these bodies were still lying in the roadway unburied.
When I reached the Governor’s palace where Noureddin had his headquarters and sent in my card, the French Admiral was with him, but he at once sent out his Aide, who took me in the adjoining reception room where we chatted together freely until the Admiral left. One of my first enquiries was as to how conditions in the city were that morning, and received the reply: “Not very satisfactory”, and to my rejoiner, “Who is making trouble for you, the Greeks?” his reply was: “No, the Greeks have been behaving very well, but the Armenians have been behaving damnably.”
To my query, “Why in what way ?” came the following explanation: “On Saturday afternoon they killed some of our patrols with bombs. They did the same again yesterday, and a report has just come in that more of our patrols have been killed this morning.
”He told me that within two or three hours after their arrival in the city on Saturday two Armenians came to see Noureddin Pasha, who informed him that there existed in Smyrna an Armenian organization bearing a worthy name, but whose real object was to bomb Turkish troops if and when they returned to Smyrna. They further reported that there were about two hundred members of this organization, whose names they gave as also the address of their headquarters in the city. Orders were at once issued to surround and seize these headquarters, and on doing so large supplies of bombs were found, as also evidence that there were many depots of these bombs in various places throughout the city.
I had been shown one of the letterheads of this organization, and if my memory serves me correctly it bore the designation “Armenian Relief Society”, which very naturally aroused the suspicion that appeals were being made by it to the English-speaking countries for funds to carry on their criminal anti-Turkish propaganda.
I must add here, in all fairness to the Armenian community, that in so far as the existence and purpose of this organization were known to the Armenians of Smyrna, not only did they withhold their sympathy and support from it, but they also utterly disapproved and condemned it. Only quite recently a prominent Armenian of Smyrna and a graduate of an American College in Turkey, who had been impoverished by the Smyrna disaster and who regarded this organization as responsible for the terrible calamity that had overtaken his community there, told me there were members of that organization who had escaped and who still defended the purpose and the means employed by it to destroy Turks.
During this conversation with the Aide-de-Camp there was a great commotion in the street, and in response to my enquiry as to what it was all about he suggested that we step out into the large vestibule from the windows of which we could look down into the street from which the noise was coming. Looking down into the street, which here runs east and west, past the konak, we saw some four thousand Greek soldiers who had been taken prisoners the previous afternoon during the battle at Paradise. They were in ranks of four deep, closely packed together, and moving at somewhat of a dogtrot pace in the direction of the barracks [must be Sarı Kışla, on the waterfront] into which they were passing. The street was packed with Turks, who were apparently jeering at the Greek troops. As we looked down on this solid mass of citizens and soldiers, it appeared as if each soldier had his hands on the shoulders of the man in front of him. I soon discovered this was not the case, and that they were simply holding up their hands and shouting something which I couldn’t distinguish, but the Aide explained to me was: “Mustapha Kemal, Yashasin” (Long live Mustapha Kemal). He then asked: “Do you know why we are making these Greek soldiers go through the streets thus and shout as they are doing?” I replied, “Yes, I think I do, for I was in Smyrna the day on which the Greeks landed and saw what happened to the Turkish officers as they were being driven along the Quay by Greek soldiers.
”I confess it was a sickening sight, whether the victims were Turkish officers who were obliged to shout: “Long live Venezelos”, or Greek soldiers similarly obliged to shout: “Long live Mustapha Kemal”, and yet it is fairly indicative of the spirit of vindictive reprisal that has always characterized the relations of these two races.
As we returned to the waiting-room and orderly announced that the General would now be glad to see me. I was in some doubt as to whether he would remember me, but the doubt was soon dispelled; for on entering his reception room he came across the floor to greet me in the most cordial manner, and at once recalled some of our experiences together when he was Military Governor of Smyrna, nearly four years previously. He followed this up with some pleasant banter about the last battle of the Great War having been fought at Paradise. Then, in a more serious vein, he referred to the action of the previous afternoon as being a great surprise, not only to the Turkish command, but also the Greeks as well.
He said he had very definite information as to the existence of this Greek force to the south of Smyrna, but had naturally taken it for granted, as the way was open, that it had escaped over the hills to Chesme. His first intimation that this was not the case was a telephone message from the outposts near our Campus about noon on Sunday that a considerable Greek force was approaching the city along the road from Sevdekeui to Paradise. Later he had learned from the prisoners taken that the Greeks were equally ignorant of the fact that Smyrna had been occupied by the Nationalists; and that the first intimation they had of the presence of the Turks in Smyrna was when they were fired on by their outposts at Paradise.
On explaining that our guards were being taken from us that morning he at once issued an order for others to be sent, and suggested that I call on General Kiazim Pasha who was to be district commander in that area; and a few minutes later, when I was calling on Kiazim, he received Noureddin’s order for guards to be sent out to Paradise area. The failure of these guards to reach the Campus until a late hour that night was doubtless responsible for the serious depredations of the chette bands in our neighbourhood that afternoon, of which the writer was to be one of the victims.
Immediately after my call on Noureddin Pasha and before leaving the Konak, I met a Turkish friend whose opinion and information I have always found worthy of confidence and who, on being asked how he regarded the situation in the city that morning, replied that it was not encouraging, and gave it as his opinion that the action at Paradise the previous afternoon had already had unfortunate consequences on the situation in the city, and would probably have more serious consequences. In explanation, he pointed out that up to Sunday noon, while there had been some untoward incidents, especially in the Armenian quarter, the general situation was pretty well under control. When, however, all the best disciplined troops then in the city, were sent out to oppose the approaching Greek forces at Paradise, the less disciplined element in the army which was left behind, as well as the rabble in the city itself, being left free from military restraint, at once took advantage of the absence of regular troops and began to create disorders; that since then the situation had steadily become worse and would probably continue to do so. I mention this because I believe it helps to diagnose the conditions which developed into the greater disaster of Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
I got back to Campus that day, Monday the 11th, about one o’clock, and immediately on my arrival, before leaving the car, someone hurried to tell me the Agricultural Department was being looted. I at once called to Sergeant Crocker to bring two or three of his guards and come with me in the car. Osman, the College cartman, also joined us and we sped across the Campus to the western exit. Turning into the road that separates the Campus from the Farm, I began at once to blow the horn to warn the plunderers of our approach and so enable them to get out of the way before we turned in at the Farm gate, some 200 yards along this road. On reaching the Farm house, which stands 100 yards along the avenue that leads from the gateway, we found the premises quite deserted; and although everything about the house and office was in complete confusion, apparently very little, as yet, had been carried away. It remained, therefore, only to instruct Osman to at once bring over the carts and have everything of value except the live stock, which then consisted mainly of fowls, brought over at once to the eastern end of the Campus.
I had had a somewhat strenuous morning, and after lunch lay down for an hour’s rest, but had scarcely done so when some naval officers and Near East Relief Officials were announced. Along with these I found on the verandah an American Press representative, and had just joined this group in conversation, telling them of my visit that morning with Noureddin, when one of the younger members of the College staff came hurrying to tell me the chettes were then looting the College Settlement House at Prophet Elias, which is less than half a mile from where we were then sitting. I asked him to tell Crocker to get some of his men to go with him in the car and clear out the looters. He returned a few moments later to say that, for some reason which I cannot now recall, my request was not being carried out. I then excused myself to my guests and begged them not to leave, assuring them that I would be back within a few minutes. I then took the car and, shouting to Crocker to get some of his men ready and meet me at the front lodge, found him there a moment or two later with five of his men fully armed ready to join me. Crocker sat with me in front, a second member of the group sat behind, while the remaining four stood, two on each side, on the side boards of the car, all with bayonets fixed.
As we hurried off the Campus we were quite a formidable-looking fighting aggregation, without the least suspicion, however, that our “bluff” would be challenged or that we were undertaking an exceedingly foolhardy enterprise, for which I was wholly responsible.
These American guards were sent us to preserve order on the campus and to resist, if need be, any aggressive attempt from outside to interfere with the lives and property of Americans on the Campus. In the previous instance, as also in this one, I had asked them to leave the Campus and so pass beyond the boundaries assigned to them by their officers. Earlier this same day they had responded to a similar call when Mr. Binge’s house on the high road leading to Smyrna, was being looted, and where, as at the Farm, the looters disappeared on the approach of the guards.They had a perfect right to decline my proposition, but as the interests involved were clearly American, they, in their desire to render every possible service, assumed they were still acting within the spirit , if not within the letter of their instructions in gladly responding to my appeal.
When we reached the high ground about one hundred yards beyond the carrriage road leading from the station, from which the Settlement House stands out prominently less than four hundred yards distant as the crow flies, we resorted to the tactics which had worked so effectively an hour and a half earlier at the Farm, and again blew the car horn vigorously. Almost at once we observed two or three persons leave the premises.The road at this point is somewhat roundabout but fairly good as it passes through the open fields nearly parallel with the railway and before it enters the narrow rocky lane that leads to the Settlement House some two hundred yards distant at its further end.
I stopped the car in this lane opposite an opening in the wall at a distance of about seventy yards from the building, and from here we hurried across the open field, approaching it from the eastern verandah side. Close by this verandah we had been sinking a well during the summer and the earth thrown out from it offered excellent cover for our guards. Sergeant Crocker therefore placed his men behind this point of vantage, while he took his position in the open a few paces in front of the southern verandah which is the front of the building and faces the Campus.
As I was the only person in the group who knew Turkish, it naturally fell to me to reconnoitre the situation. We strongly suspected that the two or three persons whom we had observed leaving the premises were not the only members of the band, especially as these chettes are usually in groups of not less than ten or a dozen, and frequently in much larger numbers....
THE BURNING OF SMYRNA...
Later in the afternoon Sir Harry Lamb, British Consul General in Smyrna, sent me his visiting card with the following message pencilled in: ‘Dear Doctor; we are now advising everyone to come in and embark today. Come in unless you are determined to stay at all costs, to the Consulate, and you will be put on board as soon as possible.’ (The under-scoring is his).
I had however already quite made up my mind to remain on, and Mrs. Maclachlan had concurred in this decision, so the question did not have to be considered when the message arrived.
By nightfall the fire, which had begun on the south side of the Armenian quarter, had spread considerably east and west, while the strong south wind that was blowing had carried it much further in a northerly direction across the Armenian and over into the Greek quarter of the city. Throughout the night, as the fire raged, my room was lighted from the lurid sky above the City. Early Thursday morning I had two rather bad turns with my heart which gave me some concern. I said nothing of it to the Doctor when he made his morning call, but did mention it to my son-in-law, Dr. Reed, in confidence, with some suggestions in case of certain eventualities.
All day Thursday and again throughout Thursday night the fire raged, and we were glad to learn that our large group of friends from the Campus and Boudjah had been safely placed on board an American destroyer, which had left for Piraeus Wednesday night.
Some of our Turkish students who went into the city on Thursday brought conflicting reports as to the extent of the fire. Most of these were greatly exaggerated, as I was to learn the following day from personal observation. Only two members of our regular staff remained in the city throughout the whole period of the fire, namely Prof. Birge and Hatem Bey, instructor in the Turkish department, the former of whom was on the waterfront most of the time.
Again throughout Thursday night our Campus was lighted from the glare in the sky above the burning city. The situation at the College was quiet.
About 9:30 this morning, and while the Turkish doctor was unbandaging my wounds, preparatory to the usual morning dressing of them, Commander Rhodes of the U.S. Destroyer “Litchfield” accompanied by another naval officer, came into the room and at once informed me that he was under orders from his superior to bring me and Mrs. MacLachlan into the city forthwith. I asked him if there were any new developments in the city to justify such a peremptory demand and he assured me there were.
As they left the room and before making any reply, I asked to see Dr. Reed, who strongly advised compliance with the order. I was scarcely in a condition to resist it, and it was hard to abandon my resolution to hold on at all costs. To attempt to stand by it under such conditions would almost certainly be put down to “Scotch pigheadedness”. Perhaps it was partly due to cowardice of having to face such an accusation, with a certain admixture of ordinary prudence, that finally turned the scale. Anyway, I told Reed to let Rhodes know that we would go an hour or so later, Reed agreeing to bring us down in the College car....
REMINISCENT SOUVENIR OF THE “SCRUM”
TEA ON THE TERRACE - AN INVITATION FROM MR ASQUITH
I MEET ANOTHER DISTINGUISHED BRITISH STATESMAN A GOOD JOKE AT THE EXPENSE OF A SMALL GROUP OF OUR TURKISH FRIENDS
I CHOOSE TO REMAIN IN TURKEY AS A PRISONER OF WAR AND SOME OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF MY CHOICE
This choice was due to an admixture of causes, - perhaps in measure to love of adventure. For it was evident that with Turkey in the war we would be much closer to the scene of action that if we were in the Western Hemisphere. Accompanying this was a feeling that the choice did not necessarily imply the hardships of a concentration prison camp. I suspect I also justified or excused this love of adventure, or to be in the midst of things seeing what was going to happen, by the fact that I was carrying responsibilities which I could serve much better by remaining at my post. There was also doubtless that hope that I would be permitted by the Turkish authorities to serve the interests attaching to my post, - this hope being based on my knowledge that they appreciated my services on behalf of the youth of their country, and that I consequently enjoyed the confidence of those in authority.
It will be recalled that Turkey did not enter the war until November 1914. Before she did so, many of my fellow countrymen anticipating that sooner or later she would do so, and more probably on the side of Germany, left the country.
AN UNEXPECTED OFFER OF DELIVERANCE
I was somewhat surprised to learn, some two or three weeks after Turkey entered the war on the side of the Central Powers, that apparently some of my friends in the United States, who knew that my sons were in the service of Turkey’s enemies, were seriously alarmed concerning my personal safety. My first intimation of this came to me in a long telegram from the U.S. Ambassador in Constantinople in the following terms, “At the request of the Secretary of State, the Grand Vizier has generously given permission for you and your family to leave Turkey. Let me at once have the names and ages of those members of your household whom you wish to accompany you.” Signed Henry Morganthau.
While appreciating the concern of my American friends for my welfare, and grateful to the Grand Vizier for acceding to the request of the Secretary of State at Washington, the receipt of the telegram with its generous offer of release did not seem to me to call for a reconsideration of my original decision, and I replied to the Ambassador: “I do not wish to be delivered from my friends”. As I was an enemy belligerent I realized that in all probability both the wire from the Ambassador and my reply would be in passing the censorship be reported to the Government authorities, including the Governor General of whose friendship I had already enjoyed many evidences.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AS A CIVIL PRISONER OF WAR
Though registered as a prisoner of war and as such somewhat restricted in my movements, I was in all other respects as much a guest of the government as I was a prisoner of war. Nor did my case differ essentially from that of a large community of Britishers in that area except on the following occasion: -British bombing planes from the neigbouring air base on the island of Mitylene, having on more than one occasion dropped bombs on the Turkish residential quarter of the city, the civil authorities required all able-bodied men in the British Community to live up in that quarter. They also notified the Mitylene air base of what had been done and of their purpose to keep these men there until they were assured this bombing would not be repeated. Two or three older men shared my exemption from this experience. This forced residence in the Turkish quarter lasted for about six weeks, but it was attended with no hardships, as they were comfortably housed and had food supplies provided from their homes. With practically no exceptions all British civil prisoners of war in this area were permitted to live in their homes and to carry on their usual vocations. I know of only two British families who were temporarily required to live in a village a few miles inland for reasons which were apparent.
Not only was I permitted to “carry on” at my post, contrary to government regulations when Turkey entered the war requiring all belligerents connected with any kind of public institutions to be dismissed from their posts, but I was also permitted to take on extra duties, not wholly unconnected with Turkey’s war interests, on behalf of some thousands of persons of various races, nationalities, and religions who were the innocent victims of war conditions in that area. Many times throughout the war years I had occasion to ask special consideration for those unfortunates from those in authority, and in no single instance were these requests denied. Almost invariably on such occasions the official appealed to - usually the Governor General of the province - made kind inquiry regarding my sons, who as already indicated were fighting with the enemy. It was also through the kind offices of a high civil official in the early part of 1918 that we were able to send our first letters out of the country to our boys, and they were the first letters received from us throughout the whole period of the war.
SOME POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS OF MILITARY PRISON CAMP LIFE IN TURKEY
IN STRIKING CONTRAST
I BECOME HOST TO SOME TWO THOUSAND BRITISH MILITARY PRISONERS OF WAR
During the early part of the summer of 1918 there came the chance for a unique service that was one of the most important of all the consequences of my choice to become a prisoner of war in Turkey. In April or May of that year vague rumours reached us of a proposed convention between the British and Turkish governments for the exchange of permanently disabled military prisoners of war. Later information designated it “The Berne Convention”. Our interest in it was keenly aroused when we learned that British war prisoners would be embarked at Smyrna. The possibility of seeing them and perchance communicating with them stirred us deeply. So completely had we been cut off from news of the outside world during the period of the war that my American colleagues did not even know who was commanding the United States forces in France.
One afternoon in the early summer of 1918 a French friend who also was a civil prisoner of war and who had maintained close personal relations with the Governor General, rode out to the campus and in conversation mentioned somewhat casually that His Excellency would like me to call on him the next time I was in the city. What could he possibly want to see me about? I had axes to grind during the war and had frequently appealed to him for favours of various kinds and invariably had found him most considerate. Had I been reported to the Governor for abusing the privileges I enjoyed? I dismissed that explanation as altogether unlikely, as I had been scrupulously exact in meeting the conditions my imprisonment, so called, had imposed on me. I had declined to communicate with native spies who were in the service of the British outside and I had tried in every respect to play the game fairly. Could it be possible that the Governor’s request to see me had any bearing on the expected arrival of British Military prisoners of war? That again seemed almost too good to be true; but the more I turned it over in my mind the more I came to feel that perhaps after all he had in mind some service on behalf of these British fellow-countrymen of mine, that might bring me into contact with them and thus make it possible for me “to do my bit” in the Great War.
Before going to call on the Governor General next morning I told my American Colleagues of this strange request and of my suspicion and hopes as to its meaning. They fully shared my view and were unanimous in urging that I should seize the opportunity. If it offered, of placing all the facilities and resources at our disposal within reach of these prisoners. College would close shortly for the long summer vacation when our spacious campus and large buildings would thus be available for any helpful service.
When I called on the Governor, he received me in his usual cordial manner, motioned me to a chair close to him at the side of his large open topped desk, and after the formal greeting customary in the East, pushed over to me a telegram addressed to him from Gen. Enver Pasha, Minister of War, that in translation said briefly, “British military war prisoners will shortly arrive in your city. Make the necessary provision for their accomodation until they are embarked.”
He waited for my reaction, but there was no awkward pause, for I made no effort to conceal my keen interest n this confirmation of the rumour. Here was my opportunity and what I had hoped for. So, without waiting for any proposal from him, I at once took the initiative and suggested that in my view the exceptional facilities we could offer the Government in providing suitable accommodation surpassed any others available in that area. All this however brought no response from him. I therefore proceeded to enlarge in detail, on all the advantages the campus and buildings of the American International College of Paradise afforded for such a purpose. When I had finished he said calmly but without any indication that he had called me for this very purpose:
“So you think the American College at Paradise is the most suitable place in this area to accommodate these British prisoners?” And then added with a twinkle in his eye: “And are you quite sure that when the war is over you will not claim that I seized the American College as a prison camp for British soldiers?”
I replied: “Your Excellency, I am quite sure I will not make such a claim and I want to further assure you that as a Britisher I frankly rejoice in this chance to be of some service to my fellow-countrymen. I am also glad to be able at the same time to facilitate your government in meeting the requirements of this telegram. I want also to assure you that my American Colleagues out at the College will fully share my own desire in this regard”.
Without further reference to the matter he called for the military officer commanding in that area. This officer was a friend of mine and on joining us the Governor greeted him with, “General ..., our friend here insists that the American College at Paradise is the most suitable place for those British war prisoners when they arrive; so I turn over the whole matter of arrangements to you and him”.
Thus it came about that although myself a prisoner of war in Turkey throughout the whole period of the Great War it fell to my lot to render a somewhat unique service to my own country - a service which was gratefully recognized in a personal letter of thanks for the British War Council in London after the close of the war.
Considerable time passed however before the first group of prisoners began to arrive, but during the three months that followed, more than two thousand British war prisoners enjoyed the hospitality of the College. During these months our campus represented racially the British Empire in miniature; for we had soldiers from all parts of if - all the India races in their native costumes, Sikhs, Pathans, Gourkas, Hindoos and Mohamedans - English, Scotch, Irish and Welsh - Canadians, Australians, South Africans, and New Zealanders.
THE SPORTS CHALLANGE CUP
AN AWKWARD SITUATION
The vicious and other inhuman elements that too often characterize the war are countered by some strange anomalies that not only in a measure offset these evidences of our purely animal instincts but also demonstrate some of the deeper and stronger elements of our common humanity.The Great War afforded innumerable illustrations of this – some of them in the more remote areas of the great conflict. Here is one that occurred at Paradise, a suburb of Smyrna, Turkey in the spring of 1915. The writer a Britisher, and among his Turkish friends previous to the war was a certain military Pasha who in the opening years of the conflict was the General in command of the Turkish forces in Western Asia Minor. The General’s headquarters were at Boudjah another suburb of Smyrna only a mile and a half distant from Paradise. Our pre-war friendship was maintained notwithstanding the fact that my two older sons, at the outbreak of hostilities, had volunteered in Smyrna for service in the British Army; and with his knowledge were then serving with the enemy.
Shortly after Turkey entered the war, which was not until November 1914 my military friend and his aide de camp began to drop in on us occasionally about 4:30 to join us in our usual afternoon cup of tea; and it was on one of these occasions that the following incident occurred. Both of our Turkish military friends being passionately fond of music, we frequently on these occasions, had some of our campus friends in to assist us musically in entertaining our guests. It so happened that on this particular afternoon one of the campus ladies sang that touching little song, “The Night has a Thousand Eyes and the Day but one, etc”. It was beautifully rendered and both were deeply impressed. The General, who knew English, interpreted the thought contained in the double couplet to his aide and then both of them copied the translated lines into their note books.
Conversation then turned on the cruel exigencies of war in its separation of loved ones and blighting of cherished hopes; and as we chatted together it transpired that General’s Aide, Capt. Nouri Bey, whose home was in Damascus had a little baby daughter born to him more than two years previously during the last Balkan War, whom he had not yet seen. The fact that some of us were enemy belligerents of our Turkish guests could put no restraint on our sincere expressions of sympathy with Nouri Bey. It was while we still sipped our tea and discussed these deeper feelings of our common heritage that our pleasant intercourse was suddenly and rudely interrupted by a terrific explosion that shook our home to its foundations. Conversation however was only momentarily interrupted, for it was “war time”, though some of our little group doubtless suspected the possible meaning of this sudden shock. Could it be this was the beginning of an enemy bombardment? Some of us clearly suspected it was, but for the moment no reference was made to it by anyone present. All doubt on the point was however soon dispelled, for within a minute a second shell exploded. Here was surely an incongruous situation – the Turkish Military Commander in that area along with his Aide-de-Camp being entertained in the home of a British Enemy belligerent, while British warships were beginning the bombardment of the Fort at the entrance to Smyrna harbour, and other strong military positions along the south shore of the Gulf of Smyrna, with only the rocky ridge separating us from some of the positions being bombarded. When the second shell exploded the writer, as host, ventured to relieve the awkwardness of the situation by turning to General Pertev Pasha, in a somewhat forced casual manner, with “Your Excellency, apparently the enemy is getting lively this afternoon”.
To this came the response, “Apparently so” in the same casual manner. I perhaps not unnaturally, expected that my attempt to relieve what I felt must be trying situation for our Turkish guests, would open the way for them to immediately excuse themselves from our little tea party. Instead of this, however, our distinguished guests merely explained that the enemy ships were doubtless far out, near the entrance to the gulf and quite beyond the reach of any Turkish guns available, and that consequently they were quite unable to reply effectively to this unexpected attack on their military positions. Although the bombardment rapidly developed and continued heavily for more than and hour, it did not seriously interrupt our impromptu tea party and its musical program. No further reference was made to what was transpiring along the southern shores of the Gulf in such close proximity to us.
This social call at the home of a belligerent was in no way hurried to a conclusion, and when our guests finally said their adieus it was in their usual calm and polite manner and without any reference to the untoward incident which had doubtless marred the pleasure of the afternoon for us all. Having mounted their horses, it was with no little surprise I observed that, instead of hurrying direct to the scene of action, they returned as usual to their headquarters at Boudjah.
There is a sad sequel to this afternoon tea episode and other pleasant experiences with these Turkish officers in the fate that befell our good friend Capt. Nouri Bey, at the Dardanelles only some three or four weeks after the incident here recorded. Following the bombardment referred to above there was a considerable period of quiet in the Smyrna area and as the Galipoli campaign still held centre of military interest in the Near East field of operations, General Pertev Pasha, with the consent of Enver Pasha, Minister of War, paid a visit of observation with his staff to the Dardanelles front. Going by way of Constantinople they were approaching this comparatively limited scene of action from the East.
The staff was mounted, and as they were proceeding to a position that commanded a somewhat general view of the whole field of action and which they wrongly supposed to be out of range of enemy gun fire, the General’s Aide, our good friend Nouri Bey, who was riding only a few paces behind him, was hit by an enemy shell that blew him to pieces. We had come to know him so intimately and appreciated his many fine qualities, which included a deep religious life, that when the General, with the other members of his staff, returned, bringing the news of his tragic fate, we were all deeply saddened. Our sympathies went out to his wife in Damascus and the little girl who would never see her brave and worthy father who had thus given his life in the service of his country.
YOU IMPOSSIBLE TURKS” AND HOW A DISTRICT COMMANDANT ENTERTAINED A BRITISH PRISONER OF WAR HEADQUARTERS STAFF ON A TURKISH FETE DAY
THE DARDANELLES CAMPAIGN FROM BEHIND THE TURKISH LINES
THE THUNDERBOLT CAMPAIGN
SOME INTERESTING SIDELIGHTS ON THE CAMPAIGN
A PERSONAL REFERENCE THE TAKING OF YESHIL TEPE (GREEN HILL)
MY FIRST CONTACT WITH THE PARIS PEACE CONFERENCE
MY SECOND AND MORE INTIMATE EXPERIENCE AT THE PEACE CONFERENCE
I CONFER WITH COLONEL HOUSE A SURPRISING AND INTERESTING DISCOVERY AFTER TWELVE YEARS
AN INTERESTING COINCIDENCE FROM THE PARIS PEACE CONFERENCE TO THE BRITISH FOREIGN OFFICE, LONDON
“THE TIMES”A LUNCHEON WITH A GROUP OF JOURNALISTS AT THE REFORM CLUB THAT UNPUBLISHED REPORT
MY FIRST CALL TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT AT WASHINGTON
A STRIKING EXAMPLE I WAS ABLE TO REFUTE IN TOTO
A VISIT WITH A GREAT GOOD MAN
A POMPOUS OLD JUDGE
MY SECOND CALL TO WASHINGTON LOBBYING! - A STRANGE NEW ROLE FOR A MISSIONARY
OUR STORMY PREVIOUS AND LAST MEETING
MY FIRST CONTACT WITH VICTIMS OF THE MASSACRES
“CAST THY BREAD UPON THE WATERS” ETC
These lads, the forerunners of many others from the same category whom we later took on at the College, proved the truth of this affirmation from the Good Book. They earned much of their way through College during the next ten years, proved excellent students, and the extra cost of their education during this long period, amounting to a total of $2500.00, was voluntarily taken over by a good New York lady, who on graduation presented each of them with a substantial cheque. They have both made good in their business careers; first of all, and for many years, in Turkey, and now for some years in New York city. Recently, when I arrived in New York early one morning at the end of a long railway journey from the Pacific Coast with important errands in the city awaiting my attention before leaving for Boston late the same evening, I was met by Muggerditch with his automobile at the Grand Central depot, placing himself and his car wholly at my disposal for my errands.
More than forty years had passed since he and his cousin Gourken first stood before me and claimed my sympathy and confidence. “And Thou shalt gather it after many days” (in this case 42 years). It was a great joy indeed to visit his beautiful home in the Bronx and meet his splendid Armenian wife and their bright young daughter. Both lads took over the care and support of their mothers after graduation.
A WISE AND EFFICIENT GOVERNOR GENERAL
We were fortunate during the worst of the massacre period to have as our Vali Kiamil Pasha [Kamil Pasha, grand vizier from Cyprus, pro-Cyprus. Like a lot of officials from Izmir he was semi-opposed to the Sultan, [therefore he was semi-in disgrace] the Grand Old Man of Turkey who was five times Grand Vizier. For the Armenians, especially in some areas, this period was a veritable reign of terror. The knowledge on the part of the government of the existence and aim of the revolutionary organizations put all Armenians more or less under the ban of suspicion. Often with no sufficient ground for suspicion they were thrown into prison or exiled, and we were frequently in such cases called on to plead their innocence with the authorities.
Here is an example of such cases. A pencilled note in Armeno-Turkish on brown paper was brought to me by a young lad from three Armenian prisoners, begging me to intercede with the government authorities on their behalf on the ground they were never in any way connected with the revolutionary organizations. Although the Capitulations were still in force, I had long since found a more effective way of securing favorable consideration for my appeals to the government than through consular or diplomatic intervention. I had always found Kiamil Pasha fair and considerate with my appeals, and I decided to use his kind offices in this case, but before making any appeal in their behalf I must first assure myself of their identity and innocence. My first request was for a permit to interview these men in prison, telling him frankly of their note to me and of its contents. The permit to see and interview the men was at once provided and I was soon interviewing them in prison. I assured them the only chance of my being able to help them was that they tell me the whole truth about themselves. They were all three weavers and sellers of alaja cloth and once a year with heavy loads of this homespun on their backs made the long journey from the Aintab [Antep] region in northern Syria (the Central Turkey Mission of the American Board) to Constantinople, selling their wares on route. They had been picked up by the city police one evening in the neighbourhood of the American Mission Church in the Basmahane quarter, and when the papers found on their persons had been taken and examined they were thrown into prison.
One of them was a deacon in the Armenian Evangelical Church in Aintab and knew our College cook, Ohannes. Another of the trio had been for many years a cook in the Bartlett missionary family when they were in Caesarea [Kayseri].
Having satisfied myself as to the identity of all three and of their association with the American Mission community I next enquired as to the nature of any documents found on their persons when they were arrested. There was only one document, a letter from Mr. Bartlett to his former cook in which reference was made to an enclosed annual cheque. (It was a mission order for a Turkish Lira, Mr Bartlett’s annual Christmas gift to his former cook.) This was clearly the cause of their imprisonment. Revolutionaries caught redhanded with a document proving they were recipients of funds from abroad, posing as sellers of alaja cloth, but of course in reality revolutionary agents moving about among the local revolutionary groups.
I reported to Kiamil Pasha all details of my interview and my conviction they were entirely innocent of any association with revolutionary activities. His significant comment when I finished was, “Yes, your community fortunately has kept itself free from suspicion of revolutionary activities.” And then added, “I will look into the matter”.
That same afternoon the three men came to thank me for my successful intervention in their behalf.
ABDUL KERIM ALIAS GARABET
This was a very unusual and delicate case and the appeal in his behalf came from his aunt who was matron at the American Girls’ School in Smyrna at the time. Her nephew from Diarbekir, who had arrived two or three days previously on the French Messangeries steamer from the south, on route to America, had been arrested by the police at the landing stage. The sixty gold liras he had on his person to enable him to enter the United States were taken from him and he was thrown into prison. He had become a Moslem at the time of the massacre and was planning to revert to his old religion when he got to America. He had secretly managed to get a message to his aunt from prison, describing his situation and begging her to have his case brought to the attention of the British Consul in Smyrna. She brought the appeal to me to intercede with my friend the Consul (Henry Cumberbatch, afterwards Sir Henry) as she feared the worst possible consequences to her nephew if all the facts in the case became known to the Turkish authorities.
She was not allowed by the police authorities to see him or to communicate with him, which made her very apprehensive regarding his personal safety. It so happened that the day previously two Armenian friends of mine from the Central Turkey Mission area had called on me, who were fellow passengers with Garabet alias Abdul Kerim, to whom he had communicated his story and the clever ruse by which he was now safely on his way to America and religious freedom. As a Moslem Turk he had no difficulty in securing a travelling Teskera to visit an aunt in Smyrna travelling by land as far as the little seaport of Alexandretta in Northern Syria and thence by sea to Smyrna, but planning to continue his journey on the same steamer to Marseilles and from there to New York.
They passed on to me all the details of his thrilling story. While his steamer remained in port Gabaret evidently decided that as he had succeeded so well thus far he could safely take the chance of seeing his aunt as a Turk, and get back on board, as his ticket read to Marseilles. I brought the case and the appeal of his aunt and himself to the sympathetic consideration of the Consul, who, however, felt that the religious element in it might so seriously complicate official interference in his behalf that it was doubtful if he could help in any way desired without precipitating a possible diplomatic incident, a responsibility he was not willing to assume.
After further discussion and conference I suggested that I might decide to use my friendly offices with the Vali to see if anything could be done to help the case. He agreed that no harm could follow my discussing it with the Governor in a frank friendly way and commending Garabet to his friendly consideration. Without returning to report to his aunt the failure of my appeal to British Consular authority, I went direct from the Consulate to the Governor’s Palace and laid the case in all its details as above related before the Vali, Kiamil Pasha. In referring to his changing his religion I said, “Your Highness is doubtless aware that in some of the recent troubles in the interior some of the Armenians changed their religion”.
A faint smile and a nod was his only response to this remark. He gave me a most patient hearing throughout the whole story and at its close called the Chief of Police in my presence. The Vali, a native of Cyprus, spoke English well and we usually conversed in this language.
When the Chief of Police came in, kowtowing profoundly to His Excellency, the Vali said to him, of course in Turkish, “You have an Armenian prisoner from Diarbekir who arrived from there two or three days ago, named Garabet ---ian. Bring him to me.”
He returned in about ten minutes to report there was no such person in the prison adjoining the Police Department where recently arrived Armenian prisoners were kept. The Vali insisted he must be somewhere in prison in the City, and added some details to the effect that he landed from the French steamer, giving the date, from the south and that sixty gold Turkish liras were taken from him when he was seized by the police at the landing stage. It then occurred to the Chief that he might possibly be in another prison, naming it. To this the Vali replied, “In any case find him and bring him here”.
Fully fifteen minutes passed before the officer returned again empty-handed, declaring there was no such person in either of the prisons and that he had ordered all the Armenian prisoners brought over to the Police department. The Vali then told the police officer to take me over and let me look them over to see if I could find the person I was looking for. I found quite a large, frightened crowd of Armenians in a room under guard of policemen, and spent considerable time looking them over and talking with them, until I was fully satisfied the man I wanted was not among them. At this point it began to look as if I would have to drop the case entirely. I had observed when the Vali spoke with the Chief of Police he used the man’s Armenian name.
As my request had failed, I told one of the one of the policemen on guard that the man I was looking for had another name also, “Abdul Kerim”. He reported my remark to the Chief, who at once came to me somewhat excited to say, “No one is allowed to see the man you want. He was arrested on a wire from Constantinople. I have strict orders from there regarding him, and he is under special guard.”
I then suggested we return to the Vali, to whom he reported at some length in an undertone out of reach of my hearing. The Vali showed no sign of sharing his excitement, and when he had finished the “Grand Old Man” turned to me saying calmly in English, “Just leave the matter in my hands.”
The following day his aunt brought me the good news that her nephew was out of prison with his tarbush - the insignia of his adopted religion - off, and in possession of his old Armenian name and religion. He also had got back his sixty gold liras; and one of the large Armenian firms of the city had given him a post as Cavas. Such cases as these indicate how widely varied were the services we were called to render.
THE ARMENIAN WARTIME DEPORTATIONS - A WAR MEASURE
MY QUONDAM FRIEND CHRYSOSTOM, GREEK METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOP OF SMYRNA AND HIS TRAGIC END
Our friendship began shortly after he took over his important office, and continued uninterruptedly until he espoused the cause of a group of more than one hundred Greek students in the College, who went on strike and left the College in February 1914 because the Administration suspended the activities of the Students’ Greek Literary Society which had become a Greek political propaganda society. (See full account of the strike in “Notes on the Genesis and Development of International College”).
We had often taken friendly counsel together and when the New Campus and buildings were inaugurated in the early part of 1914 he offered the dedicatory prayer. Again after the Great War I had him present and participate at the opening of the College Settlement House at Prophet Elias. Although disappointed with his support of the students who challenged the authority of the College to interfere with their national rights (They were mostly Turkish subjects and the College was functioning under a Turkish Imperial Firman)
I was not altogether surprised because the Smyrna Greek Orthodox See had always more or less unofficially represented Greek political interests in Western Asia Minor and had long been regarded by the Turkish government as a centre of secret Greek political propaganda.
Following the Greek student strike episode our pathways never seemed to meet throughout the whole period of the Great War. I knew he was actively supporting Greek political propaganda, especially towards the close of the war, and during the six months interval until the Greek military occupation in May 1919. In the morning of May 15th when the Greek military was disembarked on the mid quay waterfront, he was present in all his Episcopal Vestments, including mitre and Shepherd’s Staff, to publicly welcome the soldiers and conduct on the open waterfront a special service of Thanks-giving, while Turks looked on in glum silence. I was among the onlookers.
One feature of the public rejoicing was the performance of what, for the want of a more appropriate name, appeared to be a war dance by the white-kilted Evzones [elite unit of Greek troops]. Stretched across the Quay was a steamer with the words “Kalos Elthete”, the equivalent of “Welcome”, with a large bust picture of Venezelos some seven or eight feet in height, while the populace continually shouted “ZITO!” (Long live).
The outstanding figure in all this acclaim exhibition was the Metropolitan Archbishop accompanied by the Bishop of Ephesus. It was from this point that he marched at the head of the Army in his gorgeous vestments along the Quay, a distance of approximately three quarters of a mile to the Barracks where the killing of Turks began. For the following three years and four months his “star” was distinctly in the ascendancy, at least on the Greek political horizon, and during this period we met occasionally, but not on the old friendly fellowship basis.
The Greek occupation of all this area afforded him many opportunities to wipe off old scores against the Turks, and according to reports he fully availed himself of the facilities thus offered. Certainly, had the Greek occupation developed into a permanent conquest as was intended, the Metropolitan Archbishop Chrsysostom of Smyrna could fairly have claimed to share credit for it all with Mr. Venezelos. Unfortunately for him the fates hand not so decreed.
By early September 1922 the whole Greek army of occupation was in headlong rout from the interior of Asia Minor towards Smyrna, pursued by a Turkish army of less than one third of the Greek numerical strength. An outline of my experiences at that time is recorded in these notes under “A Fortnight’s Experiences”. Here is an unrecorded experience during that period. For some days in succession, by special arrangement, I was meeting the British Consulate to exchange notes and discuss the rapidly developing critical situation. On the morning of Friday, September 8th, as I approached the Consulate for our regular morning conference, I found an excited Greek mob of both men and women in the street before the heavy iron gates, shouting and gesticulating. The gates were securely locked and the Consular Cavases from the inside were resisting the demands of the mob. It was with some difficulty that I reached the smaller iron gate at the side leading to the British Post Office. I was there recognised by one of the cavases who unlocked the door and admitted me. Inside I met a member of the College Staff who is very conversant with Greek, from whom I enquired the cause of all the excitement. He explained that a short time previously the Archbishop had passed into the Consulate and almost immediately afterwards the excited mob gathered in the street making threats on his life and making the most serious charges against him.
The mob evidently believing he was either seeking the protection of the Consulate or negotiating with the High Commissioner to have him put him on board a British Battleship and thus insure his escape from a threatening situation was demanding that he be refused protection. “He’s the man that got us into all this trouble and now he’s trying to save himself and leave us to take the punishment”, was one of the charges shouted by someone in the mob. They were also demanding that he be handed over to them. Suddenly the mob rushed away to a street connecting this one with the parallel street nearer the waterfront. The explanation I got was that someone suggested he was escaping via the Consular residence and the parallel street to the waterfront and a British ship. They rushed away headlong to intercept and seize him.
I soon learned he was still with Sir Harry Lamb and that our conference for that morning would have to be cancelled. When I called on the High Commissioner the following morning he reported the Archbishop’s visit and appeal.
“What did you say to him”, I asked, and he replied, “I told him very plainly what I thought. ‘What kind of a shepherd are you that in a time of danger to your flock want to run away and leave them?’ and blankly refused to be a party to such an unworthy appeal. I permitted him, however, to remain under the protection of the Consulate until the mob disappeared and he could return to his palace in safety.”
He apparently decided to try and make his peace with the victorious Turks and went to the Governor’s Palace where General Noureddin Pasha was taking over the duties of Military Governor. Apparently Noureddin “was not in” to him when he called on Monday September 11 during the forenoon. His presence at the palace however stirred up some excitement among the Turks and those who accompanied him becoming apprehensive for their charge’s personal safety tried to find safe convoy for him back to his official headquarters. It so happened that Professor Caldwell of the College Staff was close by with the College Car with its U.S. flag. One being appealed to, Professor Caldwell took their charge back to safety.
The following day the Metropolitan again attempted to win the favorable consideration of the Military Governor, but was unsuccessful. His failure exposed him to the violence of a Turkish mob, that resulted in the most tragic consequences. For what happened on this occasion when he met the Governor I have the authority of a reliable Turkish friend. He was received very coldly and was not offered a seat. The Governor asked him a number of pointed questions regarding false statements and reports he had made regarding Turks and their Government, that had brought great injustice and suffering on the Turkish people. He made no attempt to deny or defend any of the statements of charges suggested in the Governor’s questions.
When no denial or reply was forthcoming the Governor said, “I hand you over to the people you have maligned”, or, according to another version, “I therefore hand you over to the mercy of the people you have maligned.” It matters little, however, whether the word mercy was used or not. The Turks during these days were as little disposed to mercy toward the Greeks as the Greeks were towards the Turks three years and four months previously when the Greek army was permitted and assisted by the Western allies to occupy Smyrna.
For what happened to the Metropolitan Archbishop after the Governor with a wave of his hand dismissed him from the reception room, my authority may be less reliable, though I have no reason to question it. Among those who sought asylum on the College Campus during the previous week was the Russian Consul General, Kalmykoff and his family, accompanied by his Turkish Cavas (a sort of practical flunkey). Having learned that he was present, here is his story as reported to me in response to my request.
“I was in the large hallway at the head of the main stairway when the Metropolitan came out from seeing the Vali. The hallway was somewhat crowded with all sorts of Turks, some of them threatening violence; and the fact that he was no longer under the protection of gendarmes was regarded as evidence that he had not obtained the pardon or protection of the Government. He was immediately surrounded by an excited mob that jeered and jostled him as he passed down the stairs to the lower hallway. From there he was pushed through the doors leading into the quadrangle, and thence into the street at the side of the Governor’s palace, leading East. As he came into this street the mob increased in numbers and became more violent, striking him with fists or missiles and tearing his clothing. He was jostled and pushed along this street leading up into the main street of the Turkish business quarter, being buffetted all the while and occasionally struck with stones. More and more his clothing was being torn from him, and when the mob reached the street turning south and up the hill through the Turkish cemeteries and out towards Eshref Pasha he was driven up the hillside of Mt. Pagus in that direction, occasionally stumbling, but always rising and yielding to the pressure of the mob. By this time he was clearly reaching the limit of his powers of endurance and as he reached the point of ‘Eki Chesmelik’ (the place of two fountains) he fell and did not rise again. A considerable crowd followed that did not share in the violence of the mob. When he fell for the last time most of the remainder of his clothing was torn off and as I left a grave was being dug in the Turkish Cemetery at the side of the roadway.
”While I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the above story in all its gruesome details, it seems to conform in general outline with reports current at the time as to the tragic fate of the Greek Metropolitan Archbishop Chrsysostom.
BRITISH INDIAN ARMY OFFICER TAKES OFF HIS CAP TO AMERICAN CHRISTIAN PHILANTHROPY
PATRIOTIC PRIDE AND ITS CORRECTIVES
Canadians who spend their lives within the confines of our Great Dominion have abundant stimulus for pride of country, especially if they are intelligently familiar with the vast territorial area, its almost unlimited rich natural resources, and their healthy economic development, industrial, educational, social and religious institutions on the foundations of an expanding democracy. Nor will such intelligent patriotism suffer eclipse when Canadians go abroad, even when living in other countries among people who can point with pride to a historical background and traditions much more ancient and perhaps more interesting in some respects than that of Canadians.
For Canadians, however, and especially for those who live abroad, there is an extra-territorial stimulus to a broader patriotism. While he enjoys the right to say, “I am a Canadian”, he gradually tends to use the larger claim “I am a Britisher”. His right to that claim increases in value and stimulates his patriotism as from his experiences abroad he comes into a fuller appreciation of the position and the uplifting influence of British institutions and moral standards in world affairs. Indeed, pride in his British citizenship might result in being “exalted above measure”, were it not for occasional correctives such as I have experienced in my forty years of residence in the Near East.
The first of these corrective experiences came to me shortly after the close of the Great War. What we regarded as the cause of right and justice had triumphed. The British Army of occupation was in Constantinople. My two sons were British officers in General Milne’s Intelligence there, and one’s British patriotism was unrestrained. It was the pride, however, that goes before a fall. We of the British and other belligerent communities in Smyrna presented Rahmi Bey, the wartime Governor-General of the Province and City of Smyrna with a testimonial of our appreciation of his excellent administration and of his generous treatment of us all throughout the war years, forwarding a copy of it to the Allied Army of Occupation in Constantinople.
As one of the most influential leaders of the Young Turk party then in power, he had strongly opposed Turkey going into the war on the side of the Central Powers and refused to share the responsibilities of the central government during the war. He accepted the Governor-Generalship of our province on the condition there would be no interference from headquarters with his administration. It was in this capacity that he had saved the twenty-five thousand Armenians of Smyrna from deportation. Throughout the war years he was pronounced anti-German and pro-British, and had protected International College against the seizure by the Germans and again by the Turkish military authorities.
We therefore naturally expected that when he went to Constantinople shortly after the military occupation of the City, he would be warmly received and welcomed by the British authorities. It was not only a corrective to our inflated patriotism but also a shock to our sense of justice when we learnt shortly afterwards that more than sixty of the most influential Turks in the Capital had been seized, transported to Malta and thrown into prison there in the old citadel, and among the victims of this crying injustice was our staunch friend and protector during the war years, Rahmi Bey, Governor General of our province. Why this injustice? No excuse has ever been suggested, nor was charge or complaint of any kind ever brought against any of them either before or during the more than two years of their imprisonment in Malta [details].
A year or two later I was guest at a little dinner party in a private home in London. Among the interesting little group of guests were two Turks, on a Pasha of the old school who was Ambassador at Rome until Italy came into the war on the side of the Western Allies, the other a well-known Young Turk from Constantinople. There was also present at least one representative of the British Foreign Office and head of an important department there, who chanced to be seated at my right. It was during the Greek occupation of Smyrna and Asia Minor, and while the Turkish leaders referred to above were still imprisoned in the Citadel at Malta. Conversation was very frank and open on the whole Near East situation and on British relations to it. At one point, turning to the Foreign office official at my right, I asked why those sixty-odd representative Turks were imprisoned in Malta and detained there without any charge being brought against them, especially as we had entered into peace relations with Turkey on the basis of the Armistice of Mudros?
He replied that he knew of no reason for their imprisonment. I explained why I had a personal interest in the fate of one of them, our friend, Rahmi Bey, former Governor-General, through whose kind offices we, at the International College at Smyrna had been able to render such helpful services to more than two thousand British and Indian military prisoners of war, and which had brought to me a special personal letter of thanks from the British War Council in London. Was there no reasonable explanation why a man of his type and standing should be thrown into prison?
After some hesitation he asked, ‘Wasn’t Rahmi Bey one of the leaders of the Young Turk revolution in 1908, and wasn’t he a member of the Young Turk or Union and Progress party in Turkey? I replied that he was and that his share in the overthrow of the old Hamidian regime surely entitled him to our special favour and consideration; that he was the only leader of the Young Turk revolution and of the Union and Progress party who had been consistently pro-British and had enjoyed a worthy reputation throughout his public career.
The Foreign Office official however, could think of no sufficient reason for his imprisonment. I had already fairly well grounded suspicions as to who were responsible for the harsh treatment he was receiving under British auspices, but I was not able to confirm them until I met him in Smyrna some two years later, when we rehearsed in the most friendly way his unjust and unfortunate experiences on reaching Constantinople and later in the British Citadel prison in Malta, where for the first six months he was confined in a small cell furnished only with a small table, a chair, and a hard couch, the only light being from a window in the ceiling. He had protested against his narrow cell conditions and after six months was allowed somewhat more comfortable quarters and more exercise privileges in the open court adjoining the prison.
He had no doubt that it was my friend the Greek Metropolitan Archbishop of Smyrna and Mr. H.S. of the British Consulate in Smyrna who were primarily responsible for his seizure and imprisonment, thus confirming my suspicions on that point. I made full use of the opportunity thus afforded me of informing him of my findings at the British Foreign Office, which in large measure absolved the Government of initial responsibility for the calamities that had befallen Turkey and representative Turkish leaders following the close of the Great War, and placing the initial and real responsibility on the heads of Mr Lloyd George and Mr Venezelos, where it belonged.
Another of these corrective experiences came to me in 1919 when British warships in Smyrna harbour, one of them with its stern tied to the Quay, stood by while many hundreds of defenseless Turks were being slaughtered on the waterfront by Greeks without making any attempt to stop the carnage. The humiliation of my British pride was not dispelled when a few weeks later, at the British Foreign Office, the wrong and injustice of it all was acknowledged and justly attributed to the criminal folly of the “Big Three” and Mr Venezelos at the Paris Peace Conference.
Nor was my humiliation alleviated by a study of the root causes of this grave wrong that traced them back to one of the iniquitous Pacts of the Great War years by which the Western Allies apportioned the territory of a yet unconquered Turkey among themselves; and won the support of Italy to their cause by pledging her the Western end of Asia Minor, including Turkey’s commercial metropolis, Smyrna. It was when Mr Orlando, Italy’s representative at the Peace Conference, realized that the clever machinations of two astute politicians, David Lloyd George and Eleftherios Venezelos of Greece were gradually winning the support of the Conference to their scheme of a Greek military occupation of this area that would deprive Italy of her award under the Pact (I think it was the Pact of London) that the Italian delegate withdrew from the Paris Peace Conference.
The claim of the other Conference leaders that the collapse of Russia, one of the signatories of this Pact, had made it null and void, was countered by Orlando in his claim that as Italy had carried out her part of the contract she was entitled to the reward pledged in the agreement. His return to Italy empty-handed aroused bitter resentment against her allies and determined Italy to help herself to that portion of Turkey assigned to her under the Pact. Measures to this end soon followed, with the report in Smyrna that Italian warships in Adalia [Antalya] on the southern coast of Asia Minor had seized that port, and confirmation of this with details came immediately.
A group on shore leave from one of the ships deliberately created a disturbance with Turkish soldiers, thus affording a pretext for a landing in force from the warships ‘to quell the disturbance and seize the port’. While the Turkish Government hastily prepared and dispatched a protest to the Peace Conference at Paris against this violation of the Armistice of Mudros by one of its signatories, Italy, claiming that she was acting under the authority of her Allies, proceeded to seize one strategic point after another along the southern and western coasts of Asia Minor. Meantime a state of alarm bordering on panic was developing in Turkish government circles and especially in Smyrna, where friends were keeping me advised of Italian aggression which they were helpless to prevent. The responsible heads of the Peace Conference of Paris were scarcely less disturbed by Italy’s independent action, and by the time she had reached and seized the seaport of Scala Nuova [Kuşadası], only a short distance from Smyrna, some of them at least seem to have been seized with panic lest the seizure of Smyrna would follow, and they would have another Fiume on their hands.
Italian aggression in Turkey however, was playing into the hands of the arch conspirators, Lloyd George and Venezelos, who found in the Italian threat to seize Smyrna the occasion to “save the situation” for the Entente Powers. If Italy were allowed to seize Smyrna she will have made good her permanent claim to Western Asia Minor. The only possible way of preventing such a calamity was to accept the generously (?) preferred assistance of Mr. Venezelos, a friendly ally, who had in readiness a fully equipped Greek army that could at once be thrown into Smyrna before Italy seized it.
Unconfirmed rumours that the largest of the Italian warships, the “Duilio”, then in Smyrna harbour had 4000 marines on board and was only waiting for further reinforcements to seize the city, seemed to make precipitate action imperative, and so the peace authorities in Paris hastily decided on a Greek Military Occupation of Smyrna that resulted in the slaughter of many hundreds of disarmed and innocent Turks. It was also a matter of deep regret to me that the onus of the official negotiations with the local Turkish authorities devolved on the British, making it appear that we were mainly responsible for the whole unfortunate affair, as indeed we were in some measure. It was a cause of further humiliation to one’s British pride to learn that our representatives felt obliged to resort to deception in the official announcement of Mr Morgan to Izzet Bey the Governor-General, that the City would be occupied by the Entente Forces.
For the next three years and more while Greece pursued her unauthorized conquest of Asia Minor, it was a constant source humiliation to Britishers in Turkey to see during most of this period Greek transport wagons carrying on one side a small British flag and on the other side the flag of Greece, conveying the impression to Turks and others that our Government was officially sponsoring Greek unrighteous aggression in Asia Minor.
Nor was Greece wholly to blame for this unauthorized use of the British flag, for there were well-grounded suspicions that while not officially sponsoring this war she was in large measure responsible for it. It was during this period when discussing its unfortunate influence on British prestige in the Near East with a British Government official in London. I ventured the remark “Well, I am glad we are not in any way behind Greece in the whole unfortunate business”, and elicited the significant response, “I wish it were so”. It was therefore with some satisfaction, when I was in London in the early spring of 1922, I learned that the Greeks had recently been advised that British policy could no longer support her attempted conquest of Asia Minor. This reversal of policy naturally brought down Greek male-dictions on the British Government; and it marked the turning of the tide of war in Asia Minor that resulted in the Greek debacle of September 1922.
ANOTHER SHOCK TO MY PATRIOTIC PRIDE IN BRITISH JUSTICE PROPOGANDA MISREPRESENTATION AT THE PEACE CONFERENCE