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Adventures in the Near East - by LtCol Rawlinson



An extraordinary tale of adventure in the sideshow of the Midlle East (Mesopotamia, Trans-Caucasia, Persia, Armenia, Turkey etc.



ADVENTURES IN THE NEAR EAST 1918-1922

by

A. RAWLINSON, C.M.G., C.B.E., D.S.O.

LATE LT.-COL. R.G.A., AND COMMANDER R.N.V.R.

IN THREE PARTS

With Introductions by

MAJOR-GENERAL

L. C, DUNSTERVILLE, C.B., C.S.I.

FIELD-MARSHAL SIR G. MILNE, G.C.M.G.

GENERAL SIR CHARLES HARINGTON, G.B.E., K.C.B., D.S.O.

General Introduction by

ADMIRAL SIR PERCY SCOTT, BART. K.C.B., K.C.V.O., LL.D.

JONATHAN GAPE 30 BEDFORD SQUARE, CONDON



CONTENTS

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

AUTHOR'S PREFACE

PART I THE 'HUSH-HUSH' ARMY

(May to November 1918)

WITH INTRODUCTION BY MAJOR-GENERAL L. C. DUNSTERVILLE, C.B., C.S.L, GENERAL OFFICER COMMANDING DUNSTERFORCE, 1918

CHAPTER I

EASTWARD BOUND TO THE TIGRIS

The War Office - The –‘fast’ convoy - Submarine attack - Alexandria - The Australian Cavalry - Suez - The Red Sea - Aden - Captain Cockman – Muscat - - The Straits of Ormuz - The mouth of the Euphrates

CHAPTER II

MESOPOTAMIA, THE LAND OF THE RIVERS

The great Euphrates River - German obstruction of navigation - Bussrah - The port and its growth - The river steamer - The rivers - Their transport value and difficulties — Troops' accommodation - The junction of Tigris and Euphrates - The Garden of Eden-Ezra's Tomb - Amora - Loss of a man overboard - The desert Arabs and their camps - Their horses - Distant moun- tains of Persia - Kut - River windings - Report G.H.Q. - Bagdad - Orders to leave at night - Hospital - Convalescent home - Commander-in-Chief s house - Town and bazaars of Baghdad - Army Boxing Final - Departure by Decauviell Railway

CHAPTER III

PERSIA: THE ROAD AND THE FAMINE

Railhead camp at Ruz - The Foot-hills - Entry to the mountains - The Tek-i-Gehri Pass, Ascent of - Dinner on edge of precipice - The upland country - Brigand- infested, country round Kirmanshah - Camp at Kirmanshah - The convoy - Modern lorries and ancient bridges - Bivouac in the open - The Asadabad Pass — Hamadan — Famine horrors — Relief work — Persian gun-fire—Biblical scenes — The site of the Book of Esther - Ancient Ecbatana of Herodotus, Alexander the Great, Ruth, and Boaz to-day - Road to Kasvin - G.H.Q. Hush-Hush Army - Billet - Ordered to relieve Armenians surrounded 300 miles west - Build armoured car - Jungalis - Battle of Menjil - Ordered to command convoy to force the passes to Caspian Sea

CONTENTS CHAPTER IV

THE CASPIAN SEA - ADVANCE TO, RELIEF OF, AND SIEGE OF BAKU

The convoy - The upper pass - Through the Jungalis in the lower pass - The sea at last - Kazian, the end of the road-An oil tank as a transport - Bad weather - Baku Harbour - The city - Preceding events - Services lent to Caspian - The arsenals, armament, and ammunition - The Armenians - Project to cut Republic - The Government appoint me Controller of Ordnance — Difficulties Turk communications - Constant attacks - Decide to withdraw - Government refuses to consent - Prospects of capture - Plan to blow up ammunition - Turks hesitate - Resistance continued — I acquire a German flat — The end approaches

CHAPTER V EVACUATION: THE STEAMER 'ARMENIAN'

Enemy shelling - Work of the Armenian - Preparations for raid on enemy communications - Turk deserter's information — The final attack — Preparations for evacuation - State of the quays - Guarding the arsenal pier - I traverse the quays to obtain reinforcements — Our H.Q. sentries — Permission to shift for myself - Arrangement of signal - A quick and lucky shot - The Commissaire - His treatment - Getting the breech-blocks - Massacre by Tartars - Withdrawal of our last pickets - The Turks in the town - Withdraw my guard from pier - Another Commissaire - The Armenian casts off— The hospital ship passes — The anchor is lost — Find and speak the Kruger at last - Follow her out — Trouble on board — Challenged by the guardships - They open fire - Trouble with the captain — Trouble with the crew - At sea — Triumphal entry into port — The Chief's congratulations

CHAPTER VI

HOMEWARD BOUND - THE ARMISTICE

The cargo of the Armenian - Kasvin - Journey to Baghdad - The order of the day - Journey to Bussrah - To Suez - To Taranto - Paris on Armistice Day - Fourth Army Headquarters - London

PART II INTELLIGENCE IN TRANSCAUCASIA

(February to August 1919) WITH INTRODUCTION BY FIELD-MARSHAL SIR G. MILNE, G.G.M.G.,

ETC., COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, ARMY OF BLACK SEA

CHAPTER I 'EAST AGAIN’ - SALONIKA, CONSTANT, AND BATOUM

Ratioing at home – Meet Sir G Milne -Appointed Special Service 'Intelligence' Officer to GHQ Constantinople – Rest camp at Taranto - Grecian Archipelago – Mount Athos – Salonika – Kit Lost – Journey from Salonika to Constant – Catalja Lines – Constantinople – Palace of Constantine – Old Stamboul – Galata – The Grande Rue of Pera – St Sophia – Adrian’s Roman Wall – Carnival in Pera – Down the Bosphorus – Varna – Samsun – A mine at sea - Batoum

CONTENTS CHAPTER II

THE CAUCASUS - AFTER THE ARMISTICE

The Czar's Imperial train - Journey to Tiflis - Georgia and its capital - British Advanced Headquarters - My duties and establishment - The Azerbaijan frontier — Conditions in Tiflis — The main chain of the Caucasus — The Georgian Road — Queen Tamara's summer palace — The Russo-Georgian frontier - Russian brigands - The Ingoush tribe - Orders to equip a train and go to Kars - Snowed up - Conditions at Kars - Escape from Kars - Report to Commander-in-Chief at Batoum — Further orders

CHAPTER III

EASTERN ANATOLIA - TREBIZOND AND ERZEROUM

Orders - Appointment with Commander-in-Chief at Kars-Leave Tiflis-The Advent of 'George' - The Rion Valley - Batoum again - Landing at Trebizond -The Zigana Pass-The Kharshut Valley-The Vavok Pass-The Khop Pass — Bivouac in snow — The Upper Euphrates — Erzeroum - The Kars Road - The Russo-Turkish frontier - The Saganli Mountains - Kars again - Return to Erzeroum - The fortress town - Kiazim Karabekir - Difficulties - 'George' and the camel - Reinforcement reaches Trebizond I37-^5i

CHAPTER IV

THE RUSSO-TURKISH FRONTIER - TROUBLE BREWING

Visit from General Beach - Interview with Kiazim Karabekir Pasha - Plans for repair of railway — Our supplies looted - Start for Trebizond — Beautiful camp - Our reinforcements - Return to Erzeroum 'sick’ - Our party augmented - Plans for removing armament - Arrival of Mustapha Kemal - Reports of trouble on frontier — Leave for the frontier — Railway blocked — Night journey on a trolley - Armenian Generals at Kars - Leave for the South - Hussein, the Kurdish Mountain Chief - The race down the pass

CHAPTER V

THE RUSSO-TURKISH FRONTIER - KURDS AND ARMENIANS

Cross the Aras - Reception at Khagizman - The town - The general situation - Omar Aga, the Kurdish brigand - Interview - Return to Zivin - Position in Olti District - Camp in the Olti Hills - Eyeeb Pasha - Moslem refugees - Robbers' punishment — Machine-gun practice - Kurds going into action — Our car attacked and corporal shot - Return again to Zivin

CHAPTER VI

THE TURKISH ARMISTICE A FIASCO - FOUNDATION OF THE NATIONALIST PARTY

Arrangements for evacuation of Turkish armament - Rumours of Erzeroum Conference - Turks refuse consent - Proceed to Erzeroum - Cable Commander- in-Chief, Constant - Cable Tiflis re Armenian atrocities on Moslems - Meet Commission appointed to investigate - Taken prisoner by Kurds - The arma- ment is stolen - Commander-in-Chief ‘s cable order to evacuate my men from Turkey - Proceed to Erzeroum - Interview with Kiazim and Mustapha Kemal - Re£Sof Conference -The Nationalist Pact-Halt at Sankamish - Ordered to Constant-Tiflis and Batoum - An American destroyer - Report to Comman- der-in Chief - Orders for home-Dinner at Therapia - The Turkish tram- Roumania and Bucarest - Journey to Trieste, Paris, and London

PART III

IN KEMALIST TURKEY (October, 1919, to November, 1922)

WITH INTRODUCTION BY GENERAL SIR CHARLES HARINGTON,

G.B.E., K.G.B., ETC., COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, ALLIED FORCES IN THE NEAR EAST

CHAPTER I

LONDON AND CONSTANTINOPLE

Interview with Sir Henry Wilson - Interview with Lord Curzon — Reception of my reports - My instructions - Journey via Paris and Rome to Taranto - Embark on a hospital ship - Passage of the Dardanelles - Orders to fit out a new party at Constant - 'A' mess - Organization of my Mission - Their training - Admiral de Robeck - Dinner on the Iron Duke - Fox-hunting - Golf - A fire-ship in the Bosphorus - Sail for Trebizond

CHAPTER II

ANATOLIA IN WINTER

Trebizond in winter - Camp at Hamsikeui - The Zigana Pass - Our house at Gumush Khaneh - The Vavok Pass - My men exhausted - Bivouac in the snow - Reach Baiburt - Start for the Khop - Our Turk mountaineers - Their Chief and their oxen — The climb — Bivouac on the summit — Christmas night — Sunrise amongst the peaks - Casualties on the road - Reach Erzeroum 209-2 1 9

CHAPTER III

ERZEROUM IN 1920

Our House - The Army Commander - His orphan military school - The climate - The food - The wolves - 1 send some of my party in sledges to the coast - Our arrest -Destroy my papers - Surrounded by a mob -Play chess -Turk preparation for a military offensive -Kiazim Pasha leaves for the front -He is succeeded by Kiazim Bey - Teach the men Morse signalling - Make and plant a garden – Peace terms are announced -Our cars are taken - Our officer is withdrawn – Our guards steal our food - We become ill and weak - Our Irish driver joins the Turks - Our Christmas festivities - We are removed to the prison.

CONTENTS CHAPTER IV

THE PRISON

Some reflections - Armenian prisoners - The building - The new Commander - Salah-a-din - A letter - My answer - Outside assistance - Another letter - The surprise-The search-Its result - Deprived of all literature - Salah-a-din's kindness - Visit of Headquarters Staff Officer - Order for our march to the coast - Our preparations - Lieutenant Hairie - Our lack of resources - Obtain credit from the 'jobmaster’ - Our departure - Ilija - 'George's' lameness - The hovel at Pernikapan - The Khop - Trebizond - Our good treatment there

CHAPTER V

PRISON AGAIN

The Fort at Trebizond - Good treatment-We are told we are to return to prison- Our officer's offer to send a letter to Constant - My dispatch - Our departure - Americans at Gumush Khaneh - Erzeroum Prison again - Kindness of the officer commanding the prison - My accounts and precautions - We are searched for money - My dictionary - Permission to sit in the prison yard - The Bulgarian officer - The letter in a cigarette - Moonlight music - Visit from Nouri Pasha - Ordered to the coast - Billet at Trebizond - Maman - Colonel Baird arrives - We are taken on board H.M.S. Somme

CHAPTER VI

EXCHANGE AND HOME

Turks return my papers and box - Arrangements for exchange - British expect to receive 140 prisoners - Three only are forthcoming besides ourselves - I board the cruiser — The High Commissioner cables authority to exchange — Con- stantinople once more — Colonel and Mrs. Gribbon's hospitality - Admiral Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt - His invitation - The Chief - Our interview - Dinner with Embassy Staff-Accumulated correspondence - The men are entertained at the Embassy - Luncheon with Sir Charles and Lady Harington - Chief's cable to War Office - Reasons for refusal to see reporters - Sail for Malta in the Centaur - The Achi Baba position in the Gallipoli Peninsula - Full-speed trial of Cen- taur- Malta - Lord and Lady Plumer's kindness - The Palace at Valetta - The castle - Cable from General Harington - Dinner with Sir John de Robeck - The Somme takes us to Naples - Entertain our liberators -'George's' railway tragedy - Paris — ‘George' rejoins - Arrive in London - Recommendation of men-Sir Henry Wilson - Collapse - His Majesty receives our party at Buckingham Palace



GENERAL INTRODUCTION

By ADMIRAL SIR PERCY SCOTT, BART., K.C.B., K.C.V.O., LL.D.

I FIRST met the author of this book at the Admiralty early in 1915. I had then just been given the task of defending London against attacks from the air, and Mr. (now Lord) Balfour in- formed me that, while presenting me with this appointment, he could not give me the means necessary to protect London. It did not sound a very nice job, but in war-time one has to take anything.

Although I had never met Toby Rawlinson before, I was acquainted with part of his career. I knew that he had been in the lyth Lancers and had played polo for England on many occasions, and that he gave up a soldier's life to let his mechanical knowledge make a fortune for him in the early days of motor-car racing.

This exciting amusement did not appear to offer Rawlinson sufficient chances to break his neck; flying was more dangerous, so he took to that new pastime, and his International Pilot's Certificate was the third one issued. He represented the British Aero Club at the earliest International meetings on the Continent, and he and Rolls were considered the most daring of fliers; they both crashed at the International races at Bournemouth in July, 1910. Rolls was killed, but Rawlinson recovered. He then went back into business, but gave it up on the outbreak of war, and in August, 1914, put himself, his motor car, and his machine- guns at the disposal of General Headquarters in France as a volunteer. From that time the tale of his adventures, until I had the pleasure of meeting him, would fill a big book. Eventually he got blown up, and ought to have been killed, but he was not.

Knowing much about the character and ability of Toby Rawlinson, and as I had got a job of building bricks without straw, I thought that he was the man to help me, so I took him into the Anti-Aircraft Defence, and the inhabitants of London owe him a debt of gratitude for his assistance in the defence of their city against attacks from the air. For my own part, I can truly say that I could not have had a more charming officer to deal with the more difficult the job I gave him.

Colonel Rawlinson remained in the Anti-Aircraft Service until a more important and more dangerous work was found for him. The ability with which he carried out this work was signified when from a volunteer driver he eventually became a Lieut.- Colonel and was awarded the C.M.G., the C.B.E., and the D.S.O., being also four times mentioned in dispatches from the front.

His book tells the story of his adventures in the Near East in a singularly attractive form; his account of capturing a Bol- shevik ship and piloting her out of Baku Harbour under very difficult circumstances will astonish many sailors. Four men against ninety-six enemy, with the only alternative of blowing up himself, his four men, the ninety-six enemy, and the ship, with dynamite, is a position that not many would enjoy; but it appeared to suit Rawlinson's constitution, for he remarks that after thirty- six hours of it he enjoyed a very good dinner.

There is, however, a very sad side to his story, which, I am afraid, will very much distress many men and women of this country. Colonel Rawlinson put his uniform on in 1914, and did not take if off until March, 1923. He was cast into a Turkish prison for twenty months, and all but starved to death, as a consequence of which his health is impaired for life. He was also stripped of all he possessed by the Turks, including his two machine-guns which cost him over £500 in 1914, and which had done such valuable service all through the war. His grateful country, however, is now paying him 57pounds. 8 shillings for a limited number of months only, and he has been refused any kind of compensation either for his imprisonment or for the loss of his property.

It appears to me incredible that in a civilized country this should be considered as an adequate recognition of such good and brave active service for over seven years, and if such is the treatment laid down by the military regulations for men who have readily given all they had to give for the service of their country, I feel convinced the British public will not rest satisfied until the regulations are altered and adequate compensation

AUTHOR'S PREFACE

FOR some time past many friends have been at some pains to impress upon me that, having had so many adventures in so many queer places, and having now come out of them alive and, if a bit knocked about, yet 'still kicking, I ought to write down some account of my experiences, as they might prove of interest to many people who have had no knowledge of the kind of life which it has for the last few years been my lot to lead.

I therefore start by relating here that portion of my adventures which took place subsequent to the spring of 1918, when I went East once more after many years in other parts of the world.

Knowing nothing of how such a story ought to be written, I hope my readers will bear with my inexperience of 'writing', in consideration of the variety of experiences of other kinds which this book endeavours to put before them.

Political questions have been avoided wherever possible, and only introduced where some knowledge of the actual conditions obtaining at the time becomes necessary to enable the reader to appreciate the incidents related.

I am anxious to express my very grateful thanks to my late Commanders, Major-General Dunsterville, Field-Marshal Sir George Milne, and General Sir Charles Harington, for their uniform kindness to me at all times, and particularly for the great honour they have done me in contributing the introductions to the various parts of this book, of which they have each such special knowledge, and I am more than satisfied if, when serving under them, I have been able to carry out their orders in a manner which has met with their approval.

My thanks are doubly due to my old friend and chief, Admiral Sir Percy Scott, both for his general introduction to this book and for his great kindness to me on many other occasions.

A. RAWLINSON

With 2 maps.

-o-

 

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