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
"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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