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When is Monastir not Monastir?


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#1 Rockdoc

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 03:43 PM

Working on my AA Section War Diaries transcriptions I am getting baffled by references to Monastir in early 1917. Monastir isn't an obvious place for planes to come from towards Salonika when there was a base at Hudova, which was used by KG-1 for bombing raids, that's considerably closer. Daily reports arrive of planes flying over Guevgueli towards the south, which would fit with Hudova as a base. One of the puzzling entries mentions the report of a hostile plane as originating at the Monastir OP, which make me wonder whether, to paraphrase George Orwell, all Monastirs are equal.

Has anyone else come across references like this?

Keith

#2 apwright

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 05:13 PM

Hi Keith,
Theoretically the name Monastir could refer to any place with/near a monastery or convent.
e.g. there's one marked on Mt Maurel at 1044 1693 on the Gjevgjeli maps on the SCS CD. This is about 7km west of the Vardar, level with Oreovica. Where was your AA battery at the time?

Adrian

#3 Rockdoc

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 06:00 PM

Thanks, Adrian, but the records are of signals received by the AA Sections and don't have an origination point. And it isn't as if the area has a dearth of religious architecture! :angry2:

You have to take things carefully in a lot of cases, I'm finding. Kukush is usually a synonym for Kukus but, during July 1916, 24th AAS spent time on the Struma, with No 1 Gun at Kopriva. There are a number of records of planes flying towards Kukush from Demir-Hissar but my antennae were raised because I couldn't imagine how a Gun on the Struma plain could have seen Kukus and there's the added curiosity that the Section invariably spells what we now know as Kilkis as Kukus. The clincher comes at the end of July when the Kopriva Gun fires on a plane "over Kukush." Ergo, whatever the place is that they're calling Kukush, it's in the Struma Valley and probably within about 7,000 yards of Kopriva - 6,500 yards being the maximum range of the 13-pdr 6-cwt AA Gun.

My best guess is Cücülük.

Keith

#4 Rockdoc

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 03:58 PM

I've come across another example of this, following the same pattern as before. It seems to be reporting the movement of up to 18 planes, presumably Kampfgeschwader Eins, coming towards Salonika down the Vardar. As I read it, four of the squadron turn east and come towards Salonika from the NE. I have the impression that the signals arrived out of true chronological order and the absence of origination times doesn't help. However, it could be, I think, that saying a plane is coming from Monastir or Stavros may not be meant to be taken literally but as a sort of compass bearing.

I've absolutely what the British W. A.A. might be. It isn't anything to do with the AA Sections nearest to the Vardar as neither recorded seeing a squadron.

Reports were received:
  • of 18 planes coming from Gumendze in an Easterly direction (received 09.58)
  • from Group Peussiot near Karasuli, via Gumendze, of 18 planes flying East (rec'd 10.15)
  • from the British W AA of 18 planes coming from Guevgueli towards Salonika (rec'd 10.20)
  • of 14 planes coming from Monastir towards Salonika (rec'd 10.40)
  • from FHQ of 14 planes flying from Stavros towards Salonika (rec'd 11.00)
  • of 4 planes South of Janes, travelling East (rec'd 11.15)
  • of 4 unknown planes flying towards Salonika from Beshik (rec'd 11.30)

All thoughts gratefully received, as always.

Keith



#5 bob lembke

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Posted 08 April 2011 - 02:09 PM

Guys;

As Adrian knows better than I, in this area the local languages would be Serbian, Makadonian (closer to Bulgarian, perhaps, than Serb), Greek, Albanian, Turkish, and lesser or more archaic languages, plus whatever the Germans, French, Brits/Aussies, etc. decided to use for a place-name originally in one of the above, usually nicely garbled, often to make the local name sound sort of OK in the language of the trespassing power. I have spent a fair while in the Balkans, usually attempting to speak other things than English, and this difficulty is common even in peacetime. In WW I this was a major headache on the Eastern Front, and nowhere worse than in the Balkans.

Then you overlay the complexity added by the meaning of the word "Monastir", as Adrian pointed out.

Good Luck!

Bob Lembke

#6 Rockdoc

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 04:12 PM

I have another example that might help us pin down this location - and I'm now convinced that Monastir, as used in the AA War Diaries, is a place near the front line, in the area of Guevgueli, and not the Serbian town. The latest occurrence is for 8th April, 1917, and is reporting the retreat of KG1 after an attack on Kukus and Janes. As they were based at Hudova aerodrome, I now think that Monastir is going to be to the east of Guevguli, rather than the SSW like the example offered by Adrian earlier in the thread. You'd have to think that this spot is fairly remote or you'd expect the use the name of a local town, village or hamlet instead. At 07.35, 73rd AAS received a message from Signals:

French HQ report enemy squadron reported over MONASTIR and GEVGHELI after having bombarded KUKUS and JANIS.


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#7 centurion

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 04:22 PM

There is a place in Macedonia called Bitola also called Monastir. It was close enough to the front in August 1917 to be subjected to an artillery bombardment.

#8 Rockdoc

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 04:55 PM

You're quite right, Centurion, but Bitola is considerably further west that Guevgueli. It would make no sense for bombers attacking Kukus and Janes, which are ESE of Guevgueli, from their base at Hudova, which is roughly to its north, to go so far out of their way on the run home. This is the fundamental reason why I started this thread. The references to Monastir in the Diaries don't really fit with planes over Bitola but engaged in attacks towards Salonika and references to the same plane(s) tend to suggest that this Monastir is close to Guevgueli. I'm assuming that it's not close to a village or town or that is more likely to have been used instead.

Staring at the Guevgueli map, from the excellent SCS disk, for a suitable spot has led me to find a different one that I've been looking for, though! Somewhat surprisingly, I think, the location of the French Observatoire de Socrate is drawn on the map. That's a site that regularly appeared in the Diaries and I've wondered where it might have been.

Thanks for the reply,
Keith

#9 centurion

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 07:34 PM

You're quite right, Centurion, but Bitola is considerably further west that Guevgueli. It would make no sense for bombers attacking Kukus and Janes, which are ESE of Guevgueli, from their base at Hudova, which is roughly to its north, to go so far out of their way on the run home.

Don't have a map but it is often regarded as unwise to bring your bombers back along the route they went in. Direction of prevailing winds could also be a factor

#10 Rockdoc

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 07:50 AM

I can see the logic in that but, according to the line-measurement facility in Google Earth, Bitola is about 70 miles from Guevgueli, almost due west, so some of the planes would have to add 140+ miles to their return trip. That would not only mean flying a long way, which makes their presence at the two recorded points so far apart problematic, but they'd be flying along the French part of the front line and the French were far better off for AA guns that the Brits ever were. It also doesn't fit the pattern for KG-1. In other attacks they went back by the shortest route and they could probably afford to because, although the British AA defences in XII Corps were at their maximum, the number and type of guns were inadequate. While Sections were being grouped on the Western Front into Batteries of six and eight guns, AA guns near the front lines were invariably used singly in Salonika. I don't get the impression that communications with and between the guns was very sophisticated, either. Some had telephone lines but only an odd one had a pack-wireless facility.

To clarify: eight AA guns - seven 13pdr 6cwt and one 13pdr 9cwt - were active on the XII Corps front at this time, plus a 13pdr 9cwt guarding Janes and the HQ functions in the area (several miles to the south) and the other 13pdr 6cwt was in the IOM workshops at Janes for overhaul. The active guns were spread from Snevce to Oreovica, a distance of 18 miles as the crow flies, but they were not evenly spread. The guns had a maximum range of the order of 6,500 yards and a maximum altitude of about 12,000 feet. Theoretically that would allow their areas to overlap (but not by much) and the Diaries very rarely show more than one Subsection fired at the same plane. I think I'd liken a squadron of bombers flying over Salonika as being like a shoal of fish passing a lone predator. There's a possibility of some damage to a small number of the planes but it was very unlikely for a serious impact to occur. In fact, in an earlier attack the tail was blown off one of the bombers but it still limped home! Fragile they may have been but planes of this era were resilient, that's for sure.

Thanks for the contribution.

Keith

#11 vlasidis

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Posted 01 December 2011 - 08:19 AM

I can see the logic in that but, according to the line-measurement facility in Google Earth, Bitola is about 70 miles from Guevgueli, almost due west, so some of the planes would have to add 140+ miles to their return trip. That would not only mean flying a long way, which makes their presence at the two recorded points so far apart problematic, but they'd be flying along the French part of the front line and the French were far better off for AA guns that the Brits ever were. It also doesn't fit the pattern for KG-1. In other attacks they went back by the shortest route and they could probably afford to because, although the British AA defences in XII Corps were at their maximum, the number and type of guns were inadequate. While Sections were being grouped on the Western Front into Batteries of six and eight guns, AA guns near the front lines were invariably used singly in Salonika. I don't get the impression that communications with and between the guns was very sophisticated, either. Some had telephone lines but only an odd one had a pack-wireless facility.

To clarify: eight AA guns - seven 13pdr 6cwt and one 13pdr 9cwt - were active on the XII Corps front at this time, plus a 13pdr 9cwt guarding Janes and the HQ functions in the area (several miles to the south) and the other 13pdr 6cwt was in the IOM workshops at Janes for overhaul. The active guns were spread from Snevce to Oreovica, a distance of 18 miles as the crow flies, but they were not evenly spread. The guns had a maximum range of the order of 6,500 yards and a maximum altitude of about 12,000 feet. Theoretically that would allow their areas to overlap (but not by much) and the Diaries very rarely show more than one Subsection fired at the same plane. I think I'd liken a squadron of bombers flying over Salonika as being like a shoal of fish passing a lone predator. There's a possibility of some damage to a small number of the planes but it was very unlikely for a serious impact to occur. In fact, in an earlier attack the tail was blown off one of the bombers but it still limped home! Fragile they may have been but planes of this era were resilient, that's for sure.

Thanks for the contribution.

Keith



In Strumica area, which is not far from Udovo, there are two monasteries (and villages) , Vodocha and Veljusa. The area near these monasteries is flat.You can see them at http://www.wikimapia...8&z=15&l=14&m=b . Is it possible to be one of them?

#12 Rockdoc

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Posted 01 December 2011 - 08:58 PM

Thanks for your input! They could be but I believe that the site recorded in the war diary would be south of Hudova. If the planes were flying northwards, away from the British and French lines, there wouldn't be the same need to record their flights.

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#13 vlasidis

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 03:33 PM

I 've checked these days several maps of greek, ottoman and bulgarian edition of that period (end of 19th and beginning of the 20th century). I haven 't found a village with that name or a religious edifice in Vardar river. Let alone that in Kukush area and east of Vardar river most of the residents were muslims. So the mystery continues .

#14 Rockdoc

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 07:21 PM

It now seems that it was an Observation Post rather than a town or village so it could have been at an old monastery - they are often isolated on top of hills, of course. It wouldn't have to have been in use, either. If it was derelict it would have been easier for the troops to move in and adapt it to their purposes.

Thanks,
Keith

#15 xeonn

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 11:31 PM

Bitola, formerly Monastir or Manastır, known also by several alternative names, is a city in the southwestern part of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

During World War I Bitola was on the Thessaloniki front line. In 1915 Bulgarian forces took the city and the Serb forces were forced to either surrender or try a dangerous escape through the Albanian mountains. In 1916, Bitola was occupied by the Allied Powers which entered the city from the South fighting the Bulgarian army. Bitola was divided into French, Russian, Italian and Serbian regions, under the command of French general Maurice Sarrail. Until Bulgaria's surrender in late autumn 1918, Bitola remained a front line city and was almost every day bombarded by airplanes and battery and suffered almost total destruction.



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