THE BATTLE ON VICHO - OR?!

In the period from 1948 until 11 August 1949, the monarcho-fascist forces undertook daily and unsuccessful attacks of the well fortified and very strategic mountain Vicho. The extent of its fortification is reflected in the report from the premier Sofuli.

The newspaper 'Makedonija', which was published in Solun and was one of the most reactionary newspapers in Greece, wrote about the report of the Greek premier Sofuli that Vicho, one of the greatest strategic and military points, would be very hard to take and would incur many casualties. He also said that over 72 days in the battles that had already been fought to take Gramos, there had been 11,000 lives lost. Sofuli said that taking Vicho would be very difficult and would involve more sacrificed lives than were lost in fighting to take Gramos.

Six months after the report from Sofuli, on 11 August 1949, an offensive commenced to take Vicho. It is interesting that to take the well fortified Vicho not a single life was lost by the monarco-fascist forces.

Without any pressure at all and with not a single shot fired, the DAG units withdrew to free Prespa. On 14 August 1949 a number of the DAG units withdrew to FPR Yugoslavia but the greater number of them together with the main military and political headquarters went to the People's Republic of Albania.

None of the Macedonians believed nor could imagine that Vicho would be left as easily as that. As a strategic place for defence it was prepared for a whole year. The people and the DAG army were firmly convinced that not a single enemy soldier would penetrate Vicho.

No one knows how it came to be that DAG withdrew and who commanded the withdrawal without a single shot being fired. Only a few must have known this, but the reader should draw their own conclusion.

I will mention one report about everything that happened on Vicho according to Trajko Srbinovski from Kalenik. Trajko was a commander during the time of ELAS in 1941 and later a commander of the mine launcher unit of the 18th brigade in the armed forces of DAG. He and his unit had taken and held a position between two key hills in the narrow valley near the mountain Lisich and Zhervenska mountain. The road from Bzdivishta to Konomlati passed through this valley. The valley was no more than 500 metres wide and not a single monarcho-fascist could pass through without being spotted and killed.

The position taken and held by commander Trajko with his mine launcher unit presented an ideal strategic position.

According to the announcement by Trajko the abandonment of Vicho happened as follows:

"In the early dawn of 11 August 1949 we noticed the monarcho-fascist army coming toward us without fear. My unit and I could not open fire until we had received a command. We went to the commander of the brigade to receive a command to shoot the approaching enemy. Instead of a command to shoot, we received a strict command from the commander that we were not to open fire under any circumstance. We did not know the plans or intentions of the commander of the brigade. We returned to the other units mutely looking at the monarcho-fascist army calmly and without trepidation passing along the road, and without any obstacle approaching the peak Lisich. When they reached the peak, which was the highest spot with the greatest strategic importance, we saw that our brigade was separated from the main part of the DAG forces. By degrees the monarcho-fascist forces, one by one, took the surrounding strategic hills without a single bullet being shot from either side.

"After the strategic places were taken by the monarcho-fascist forces we were given a command to withdraw. We had to abandon the well-fortified strategic battle positions and prepare for withdrawal. It is interesting to note that, when the order was given, we withdrew in the daylight and the monarcho-fascists mutely looked on without a single shot. Surely they were as wondering about this as much as we were.

"After withdrawing, we travelled more than 40 kilometres without a single bullet being fired and without a single person being killed."

This battle, the battle for Vicho by the monarcho-fascist forces, was one of the best known. That is how the best defended place, Vicho, fell.

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Lerin in Mourning
 















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