Monday, March 9, 2015

Momčilo Gavrić :Youngest corporal in the world.

At the very start of the Great War, Austro-Hungarian Monarchy concentrated the bulk of its forces at the Drina river, whose surroundings became the battlefield in the first phase of the war. During the first onslaught of the enemy, in the nearby village of Trbušnica near the town of Loznica, the whole family of the eight year old Momčilo Gavrić was killed, whereas he himself was saved by a coincidental visit to his cousin.


From this moment, the life of this boy turned into a novel that could be written only by life itself. Since the enemy had burned his house too, the little one went alone to Gučevo, in order to locate the Serbian forces and call them to avenge his brothers and sisters. The sight of the boy who lost everything shook the 6th Artillery Regiment of the Drina Division commanded by Dimitrije Tucović’s brother – the Major Stevan Tucović. He ordered for the boy to be admitted to the Division and to be allowed to shoot the cannon three times every single day, so that he could avenge his family.


Up to the end of the Great War, the little soldier did not separate from the Serbian army. He fought under its flags at the battle of Kolubara, he went through the Albanian golgotha, he survived the wounds he had sustained at Kajmakčalan, he participated in the Salonika front breakthrough, and he became the youngest corporal in the world.When this unusual soldier was admitted to the Drina Division, the soldiers nicknamed him ”The Son of the Division”; there, he met his best friend Miloš Mišović from Zlatibor, and the two became inseparable. Later, it was said that during the Albania crossing the Zlatiborian fell in the snow from exhaustion, and told the boy to carry on and ignore him. Momčilo curled up around him and said that he would not make a step further without him. That gave Miloš strength to get up and withstand the golgotha to the very end.


The little soldier used spare time at the front to learn to write. One day, a man payed a visit to him and gave him a pocket watch and a clasp-knife. It was Doctor Archibald Reiss, the Swiss criminologist who fell in love with Serbia and fought at the front in the ranks of its army. A great benefactor of Serbian people, an English aristocrat, Lady Leila Paget, had also heard for this hero, and she called him ‘The Serbian Knight’.