BATTLE ON VICHO

On 14 July 1946 in the Trsjanska mountain the first Macedonian brigade from the Lerin region was formed. It was comprised of 65 armed political leaders and partisans and was divided into four squads. Risto Kolentsev-Kokinos was designated commander, alternate Tane Lazar Naumov and the political commissary, Vangel Kojchev.

On 15 July of the same year, the newly formed brigade left the Lerin Mountains for the Vicho Mountain. The brigade camped close to the village Prekopana at the place called Prekopanska flat. At once after reaching their destination, a unit from Kostur joined them with about 15 fighters led by Kalko from the village Vishni. With the arrival of Kalko's detachment, the number of fighters in the brigade grew to 80 fighters-partisans.

On the night of 17 August 1946 the brigade entered the village Prekopana with the aim of showing the local population its power and to promote the partisan movement in the region. After the propaganda meeting and talk and after singing some partisan songs they left the village at dawn and returned to their base on the Prekopanska flat, which was also close to the place Porta. This place was one of the most strategic places and was located 500 metres from the peak of the mountain Vicho.

The following night, the brigade intended to go down to the villages and hold a partisan propaganda meeting so as to lift the fighting spirit in the population in these villages.

In the early dawn of 19 August 1946 as the brigade got ready to descend to the plains villages, they saw that from every side, the monarcho-fascist forces armed with modern weaponry advanced. As they got closer, the net around the brigade tightened. From Porta where the brigade was based the enemy could be seen clearly as it advanced.

The peaks and slabs of Vicho Mountain.

From the north, from Lerin, 400 police and soldiers approached; from the northwest, from the direction of Nered and Lagen, 50; from southwest from the village of Bapchor, 150; from the south, from the town of Kostur, 500; and from the east from the little town of Sorovich another 400 monarcho fascists armed to the teeth.

These well prepared and well informed units took the defended positions at dawn and waited for the order to attack.

The partisan brigade with 80 poorly armed fighters and political cadres, with limited numbers of bullets, with one rifle between 10, and with three machine guns with about 150-200 bullets, had to wage an unequal battle against a more numerous enemy of more than 1,500 experienced soldiers, military police and enemies equipped with modern arms.

At Porta, Kalko took a position with 25 partisans and one machine gunner, the remaining fighters took a defensive position on the highest peak of Vicho. The political cadres and the partisans, who were volunteers with a great fighting morale and revolutionary spirit, were not afraid of the large numbers of enemy forces. Meanwhile the morale of the monarcho-fascists' soldiers for engagement in direct battle was poor and they did not want to charge and go forward because they were afraid for their lives.

The position which the partisan forces had taken was called Plochite. The place was comprised of big plateaus and cliffs which presented an excellent position for defence. They were behind the plateau (a place as flat and clear as a baking tray) where the enemy had to pass. For that reason the partisans put two machine guns there. When the monarcho-fascist forces commenced their attack, the partisans pushed the enemy forces back to their starting position with just two rounds. It was only in the afternoon that they were able to reach the partisan positions, using a herd of Vlach sheep.

Hiding among the sheep the chief police major with about 20-30 police was able to get near but only for a short time. At that moment, the machine gun of Lambro Banichotov from the village Boreshnitsa thundered. The police major and four to five police were killed and the remaining ones hid behind the boulders. The police remained without a leader, without a command, and their subsequent shooting was aimless. They fired more out of fear rather than to hit anyone. In this, one of the bigger battles, only one partisan was injured - Veljan from the village Buf. Without further sacrifice, with well-placed shooting the partisan brigade withdrew from the encirclement and traveled over the eastern side to the place Smilovi Ornitsi in the direction Temen Vrv.

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Lerin in Mourning
 















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