Area 13: The fight in South Albania

  1. Advancing Albanian gendarmes in South Albania (IMG, The Hague)
  2. Packhorses and mules carrying supplies (IMG, The Hague)
  3. Signals unit with telegraph (IMG, The Hague)
  4. Telegram in distorted Dutch (IMG, The Hague)

In December 1913, the European Great Powers signed the Protocol of Florence that included a more precise definition of the southern border of Albania. Greece was given Epirus but had to withdraw its forces from Saranda, Gjirokastër/Argyrokastro and Korçë/Koritza. Some of those troops deserted, taking their weapons with them, and joined the Greek guerrilla bands, known as comitadjis (irregular armed bands). Zu Wied’s first order of business was to restore order in South Albania. The Dutch officers were faced with an almost impossible task. Within a very short time, they had to train Albanian gendarmes and non-commissioned officers and, with the help of guides and interpreters, lead them through mountainous country that was unfamiliar to them (A). The virtual total lack of paved roads and an equal absence of railways, meant that ammunition and other supplies had to be transported by horse and mule (B). Communication with Major General De Veer and the central signalman of the Dutch mission in Vlorë, Mallinckrodt, was difficult. Although telegraph lines were repaired rapidly, the telegraphers were almost all former Ottoman civil servants (C). To prevent espionage, important messages were sent in Dutch, but the text was sometimes distorted beyond recognition (D).