Letter of General Svetislav T. Simovic to mayor of Herceg Novi Jovo Sekulovic
Translated from Serbian: Dejan Djurovic
The letter of the general Simovic has been kept in the town library
of Herceg Novi. The photo that was taken in the period described
in the story has been kept in The Regional Museum of Herceg Novi.
Facsimile: 1 • 2
• 3 • 4
• 5 • 6
• 7 •
To the town mayor
Mr. Jovo Sekulovic
AUSTRIA-HUNGARY ARMY IN HERCEG NOVI
ON THE 7TH NOVEMBER 1918.
lieutenant colonel Svetislav T. Simovic and Austria-Hungarian
vice-Marshal Housek at the entrance of the hotel "BOKA" accompanied
by the members of the town’s council and large number of people
while the town’s orchestra is playing Serbian hymn " God keep
With all my pleasure and gratitude, my fellow brother from 1918,
I received your kind report that the town council unanimously has
brought the decision that the town pier is named after Me.
Giving my name to one of coasts of free Herceg Novi has taken me back in the past for a moment in never forgotten year of 1918. Such an enthusiasm and fascination, all our hopes I can never forget.
I am proud that Herceg Novi was always famous for its heroism, it always resisted enemies’ assaults. There are many monuments, which stand for its brave history.
As a sign of my gratitude to You and to the town council I will describe You the events that made You remember me.
The Second Yugoslav Infantry Regiment of Serbian Army, after the breach of the Thessaloniki front and removal of Bulgaria from the battlefield, the border of Serbia and Bulgaria nearby the village of Carevo Selo, is sent to Montenegro and Albania. Its left (stronger) wing under the command of lieutenant colonel Grgur Ristic, commander of The Second Yugoslav Regiment conquered the town of Skadar in the period from 29th until 31st October. Meanwhile the right wing of The Second Yugoslav Regiment under the command of regiment assistant, lieutenant Svetislav Simovic liberated Podgorica and soon after the rest of Montenegro and Boka Kotorska. Meanwhile, its right flank guard, Guerilla Company of army commander Pecanac, under the command of guerilla commander, professor Jovan Radovic is sent from Kolasin to Niksic to stop the advance of the enemy by cutting the way from Podgorica to Niksic and to penetrate deeper towards Boka Kotorska and Herzegovina.
The right wing of The Second Yugoslav Regiment after the three days` battle on the positions near the village Bioce and Podgorica went into Podgorica on 31st October despite the fact that 81st Austria-Hungarian Division had destroyed three bridges on the Moraca river; the iron one near Bioce, the iron one near Smokovac and the old vizier’s stone bridge. They also had destroyed the bridge on the Sitnica river on the way to Cetinje.
To prevent further Austria-Hungarian destruction of all the important buildings in Cetinje and according to advice of the enemy and the delegation from Cetinje I have made the truce with the command of 81st Austria-Hungary Division limited until the midnight of the 8th November. The same day (8th November) my parliamentary company came into Cetinje and took over all the buildings in it preventing stealing like that in Podgorica.
ON THE 6TH NOVEMBER THE COLUMN OF LIEUTENANT COLONEL SVETISLAV SIMOVIC was solemnly welcomed from the entire township of Cetinje disregarded of their age or social status. While entering the town we were welcomed by various corporations and in front of the government building we were welcomed by the Metropolitan of Montenegro the Reverend Mitrofan Ban.
After that the troops went into military barracks and the most dignified citizens saw me off to the castle of prince Danilo where I was supposed to stay and where before my arrival had been living Austria-Hungarian governor of Montenegro.
In front of the Serbian embassy – the home of His Royal Majesty Serbian King Peter The First, which was also the birth place of His Royal Majesty, successor to the throne, Regent Alexander and in front of the castle of His Royal Majesty King of Montenegro Nikola The First was a great number of people gathered; Montenegrin military orchestra, which took part in welcoming of Serbian army with its (higher) chaplain Mr Vimer was playing music and Montenegrins were happy performing folk dances with and without music.
During these events six Italian officers came together with six soldiers on horses under the command of lieutenant colonel Vincenzi. They departed from Skadar on 5th November by boat and they went ashore in Virpazar and spent the night in Rijeka Crnojevica. They were sent with the order, according to the signed truce convention with Austria-Hungary from 4th November, to demand from Austria-Hungarian military authorities to hand over to allies all military material that was on the allied territory. Their wish was to immediately go on to Kotor.
In front of Austria-Hungarian Army in Albania and Montenegro of all allied armies there was only Serbian Army because Skadar was taken over from the 45th Austria-Hungarian Division by the left wing of The Second Yugoslav Regiment, Podgorica was taken from The 81st division by the right wing of the same regiment, therefore I could not let them leave without our participation. I have proposed them to go to Kotor like parliamentarians with two officers (one higher and one lower rank’s officer) and two soldiers: one Serbian and one Italian soldier. All others were given order to stay in Cetinje. Italian officers accepted this proposal and they went in Italian Embassy to have their lunch and to take a rest.
I have decided to go myself to Kotor like parliamentarian together with the second lieutenant Zdravko Salinger and the first batman to demand that all military material should be given to Serbian Army, which took over Skadar and liberated Montenegro without any help aside.
We departed at one o’ clock to Kotor, Italian lieutenant colonel and me, his adjutant and my and his orderlies.
When we reached Bukovica and started to descend to Njegusi we saw the immense marching file of the 81st Austria-Hungarian Division and soon after we reached its front. We asked for the commander but we could not find him. Therefore we set off for Kotor through the middle of the file undisturbed and unstopped by anyone. During our passing by through the file, Austria-Hungarian soldiers, which were Slavs, were saluting us cheerfully and waved their arms as they noticed the bus with the big Serbian flag waving on it.
We came to Kotor at five o’ clock p.m. and stopped on the town pier in front of the entrance gate of Kotor. We were immediately accompanied to the command post. We were received by the general staff’ lieutenant colonel Konstantin Sekulic, chief of the staff of The 81st Division. We exposed him our demand about the war thropy. He told us that the commander of The 81st Division did not have any competence over the war trophy and advised us to address the commander of the war harbour of Boka Kotorska vice Marshal Housek in Herceg Novi. He gave us an escort, the general staff’ captain, a German.
When we went out of the command post, a great deal of inhabitants of Kotor gathered and began to cheer Serbia, King Peter The First and The Heir to The Throne Alexander.
There were no boats on the shores of Kotor. We had to wait for the motorboat from Herceg Novi. Meanwhile we dropped in the beer hall "Dojmi". It was a great occasion for the local people to propose toasts and to cheer us with short speeches that lasted until the arrival of our boat.
At nine ‘o clock we departed for Herceg Novi. On our way we dropped in the war ship "Erzherzog Carlo", where we were saluted by the commander who told us that this is The Yugoslav Fleet now and not Austria-Hungarian one anymore. They told us here that it is late now to go to Herceg Novi and that they had prepared the night rest for us on the mercantile ship "Korvin", because on their ship there was no room enough.
ON THE 7TH NOVEMBER about 9 a.m. the motorboat appeared with the same escort officer as the previous day. Since the Italian officers had already departed by the motorboat of the harbour commander I departed with my adjutant and orderly by this boat.
In Herceg Novi I was pleasantly surprised. On the town’s pier I was welcomed by the town mayor Mr Gojkovic in the company of couple of local eminent persons which greeted us brotherly. Short after we sat in the car with our escort officer and went to the centre of the town. The local people who cheered us and threw flowers crowded the road from the town’s pier to the hotel "Boka". We were driven straight to the command of The War Harbour of Boka Kotorska, which was situated in the building of the present hotel "Boka". Italian officers had already been here. Soon afterwards when we came in, the commander of The War Harbour vice Marshal Housek with the staff entered the reception hall.
After the official greeting some people approached me and introduced me commanders: general Lesic, the commander of Yugoslav Land Army and contra admiral of Yugoslav Navy Mr Katineli. They let me know about the organizing of the local council which was consisted of dr Filip Lazarevic, parish Jovan Bucin and canonist Antun Milosevic as well as secretaries: professor Mondi Perucic and lawyer Ardoje Jovovic. They offered me immediately their favors and the command over their units , which they would leave to the Serbian army and the Serbian commanding officer. I thanked them and asked them to help me in my task.
The conference started soon after. The Italian lieutenant colonel Vincenzi was the first to address the others on the part of Entente. He demanded that the entire war trophy, which was on the allied territory at the moment of making registering list, should be handed over to the Allies.
The vice Marshal Housek has immediately declared: "that today he has nothing under his command; That he handed over the command to the local council the previous night; that Yugoslav authorities are now in charge; that he is simply the commander without his army".
After this statement I stood up and in the name of Serbian Army I declared: "Since the war trophy was handed over to the local council, I leave it to the local council to operate with it; concerning the fact that Yugoslav Army and Navy has already put themselves under the command of the Serbian Army and the Serbian commander. Therefore I have nothing to do with it anymore." With these words the conference was closed.
At the same time we heard the music outside. It was the Serbian hymn. Soon after the chief warrant officer of the frigate Mr. Babic entered the hall and in German addressed the vice Marshal Housek: "Your Excellency, the citizens came to greet the Serbian commander and request that the commander come out, otherwise they will get through.
The vice-Marshal asked us to come out. When we appeared at the entrance door of the hotel "Boka" people cheered us loudly. When the cheering stopped the welcoming speech was spoken by Roman Catholic priest from Kotor Mr. Ucelini who addressed in Serbian the Serb commander and the liberating Serbian Army starting his speech with " Dear brother" and after it in Italian greeting the Italian lieutenant colonel addressing him with: "Dear friend". He thanked Italy on its role of the Serbian ally as well as on its role as an assistant in the creation of Yugoslavia. We were also greeted in their patriotic very nice speeches by the town mayor Mr. Gojkovic, the president of the Serbian Falcon society Mr. Jovo Sekulovic and Miss Danica Obradovic in the name of youth. I thanked them all on their warm speeches; Italian lieutenant colonel did it as well wishing Yugoslavia bright future.
After all these events we were to join the refreshment with the vice-Marshal Housek but the local youth grabbed us and carried us through the town on their arms.
In the afternoon we came back to Kotor. The members of the national council with their president dr Filip Lazarevic waited us. We organized the conference; all members of the national council were present. They asked me to come with the Serbian Army as soon as possible and to take under my control the entire military administration, arsenals and other things. I promised them that the very next day I would send my troops to Kotor.
I returned to Cetinje with my adjutant and orderly at 10 o’clock. Italians refused to return to Cetinje, they left in Kotor.
After my arrival in Cetinje, I gave the order of moving the entire detachment to Kotor. I left one unit to remain in Cetinje as I did it in Podgorica. The detachment should depart on the 8th November and spend night in Njegusi.
ON THE 8TH NOVEMBER in the morning my detachment under the command of the commander of the first battalion went to Kotor. The commander of the third battalion and I with my adjutant stayed in Cetinje arranging our departure by car tomorrow in order to catch up to the detachment.
The same day in Cetinje – It was The Holy and Great Martyr Dimitrios, was scheduled a meeting of prominent citizens in order to establish civil and military authorities. When I achieved fully and unanimously agreement of all the participants I accepted the list and confirmed it until the establishment of governmental authorities. The eyewitnesses of this great meeting were the Metropolitan Dozic, governmental counselor Mr. Matanovic, minister Plamenac, Mr. Piletic and others.
After this the meeting has unanimously brought the decision to announce elections for national deputies and to convoke NATIONAL PARLIAMENT. In the evening there was a large party in the honour of coming of Serbian army in Cetinje and the liberation of Montenegro. There was not any enemy soldier on the territory of Montenegro at that moment.
ON THE 9th NOVEMBER the detachment continued its journey from Njegusi and came in front of the fortress "The Holy Trinity" where they were to eat and have a pause. In the meanwhile I caught up to them on my way from Cetinje. The detachment continued its way at 2 o’clock and reached the entrance of Kotor at 3 o’clock. Here we made up decision about the marching for the formal reception in Kotor: First to appear was the military orchestra from Cetinje, the cavalry platoon, the third battalion, the first battalion, the second mountain battery, then the members of the national council and The Serb Falcon Society "Soko". The representatives of various corporations welcomed us; our officers and soldiers were decorated with flowers.
The soldiers went to the casernes and we soon appointed the guards to secure the arsenals and important buildings throughout Boka as well as the main arsenal in Tivat. Then we also appointed more efficient patrols to take over fortresses, which were full of Germans and Hungarians. Our patrols took over these fortresses letting Germans and Hungarians to stay and live until their evacuation.
The morale of Austria-Hungarian troops was so bad and weak because everyone impatiently waited to go home as soon as possible. When I entered Boka there were more than 50 000 foreign soldiers. The evacuation of Pflanzer-Baltin’s army has been going on by trains and by ships but a lot of soldiers went on foot.
It is noteworthy mentioning the condition of the navy, which I found in Boka Kotorska. There were:
Of the first line ships:
- 3 armored warships
- 2 light cruisers
- 4 modern naval destroyers
- 2 older naval destroyers
- 8 modern torpedo boats
- 4 older torpedo boats
Of the second line boats there were:
- 1 armored warship
- 1 heavy cruiser
- 1 armored cruiser
- 1 old armored warship
Of other ships there were:
- 1 old naval destroyer
- 7 torpedo boats for near shore usage
- 6 modern submarines and
- 47 hydroplanes and airplanes altogether.
The commander of the second Yugoslav regiment, lieutenant colonel Mr Grgur Ristic, after handing over the town of Skadar to French, came back to Kotor on the 12th November and started working as the commander of all Serbian and Yugoslav land forces in Montenegro and Boka Kotorska. I was sent to Herceg Novi as the commander of the region and The War Harbour where I stayed until the arrival of the newly appointed infantry colonel Djurdje Josifovic.
Two months spent in Herceg Novi, the struggle to preserve intact confiscated arsenals and the enormous war trophies and other material and to preserve Navy and precious radio station in Klinci for our homeland Yugoslavia are still alive in my memories.
I consider it my pleasant obligation to write these lines in order to leave them to OUR YOUTH in heritage, so I ask You kindly to accept this as the sign of my gratitude for Your confirmation of merits of SERBIAN ARMY AND SERBIAN OFFICERS.
In name of the town council here You are, Mr Sekulic the confirmation of my respectability towards You and therefor I send You best regards and I wish all welfare and progress to Your family and the town itself.
Belgrade, on The Holy Martyr Lazar, 28. June 1937.
Svetislav T. Simovic
Retired general in reserve
Kraljice Marije br. 2/4
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