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Intelligence In Transcaucasia (February To August, 1919.)

( Originally Published 1923 )




COLONEL RAWLINSON has asked me to write an introduction to the second part of his book, but I feel that there is little I can add to his vividly realistic description of his experiences in Asia Minor and Caucasia.

At that time the political situation was peculiar, and even had its humorous side; unfortunately, it has since changed to a terrible tragedy involving the loss of thousands of Christian lives.

After the signing of the Armistice with Turkey in 1918 it was decided to send troops to Batoum and to safeguard the railway to Tiflis and Baku, in order to open up communication with the British troops which were in occupation of Baku and with those acting in conjunction with the Russians on the eastern side of the Caspian; also, at the same time, to insure the evacuation of the country by both the German Missions and the Turkish Armies.

The whole district south of the Caucasian range was in a state of disorder, fermentation, and incipient revolution; local wars were in progress, and the danger of an outbreak of disease and starvation was imminent. To maintain order in this large area, amongst a population often actively and always latently hostile, there was available only one division of British and Indian troops, rapidly decreasing in numbers by demobilization. It was therefore incumbent on officers to accept responsibility and take decisive action without waiting for reference to higher authority, with whom rapid communication was often impossible. Colonel Rawlinson, one of a family distinguished both in peace and war, naturally took to his new responsibilities as the proverbial duck takes to water. Untiring in his activities and regardless of danger, in which he seemed to revel, he was continuously on the move in the execution of the various missions entrusted to him, and which finally ended in a prolonged imprisonment in a Turkish prison, as described in Part III, when he again revisits Asia Minor.

Little is known in Great Britain of the amount of hard work done by the British troops in 1919 and the early months of 1920, at a time when the British flag was held in honour from Merv to Smyrna, when Batoum was a model port, and when it was possible to go by a railway managed by British officers from Constantinople to Egypt; but Colonel Rawlinson paints a very human picture of the situation as he saw it.

His excellent work in arranging for the collection of arms and ammunition in accordance with the terms of the Armistice was stultified by the landing of the Greeks at Smyrna, and the advent on the scene of the now famous Mustapha Kemal, sent to maintain the Sultan's authority in the provinces. From the beginning, however, the Turk showed no great zeal in carrying out his engagements, and played for time.

This book will certainly raise the veil from a part of post-war history of which little has yet become known to the public at home, and as such its value is at once unique and considerable. It cannot also fail to demonstrate to readers who imagine the modern world to be a tame prosaic place, that there are still opportunities to be found for the exercise of that daring and resource of which this book furnishes such striking examples, and that, in short, 'adventure is still to the adventurous'.

G. M. MILNE (Field-Marshal)

Adventures In The Near East:
Eastward Bound To The Tigris

Mesopotamia, The Land Of The Rivers

Persia: The Road And The Famine

The Caspian Sea - Advance To, Relief Of, And Siege Of Baku

Evacuation - The Steamer Armenian

Homeward Bound The Armistice

Intelligence In Transcaucasia (february To August, 1919.)

East Again - Salonika, Constant, And Batoum

The Caucasus - After The Armistice

Eastern Anatolia - Trebizond And Erzeroum

Read More Articles About: Adventures In The Near East

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