Historical story

Liberation of the Ioannina:The unknown contribution of the Cretan fighters

Today marks the 107th anniversary of the liberation of the people of Ioannina with the President of the Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, attending the celebrations.

The passages described in the book of G.Marantis:The Cretans in the Struggle remained unknown for years regarding the contribution of the Cretans to the liberation of the Ioannina during those years when the Turks still possessed Epirus.

Memories of ordinary people as recorded, often shed light on the details that decided great moments of heroic battles.

As recorded by cretalive.gr:

"Her wake-up call February 19dawn was signaled by a volley of about 100 Greek guns. The artillery duel was beginning. An endless shout from left to right and beyond echoes the response of enemy fire rising like a huge tower of prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving, to the great God of Greece who signed the freedom of the city of Ioannina through the loudspeakers. We all watched the developments with bated breath. At noon we were informed that the shelling of Kastritsa had stopped. Bizani within a breath's distance, the shots from everywhere were destroying what had remained in the area. The Greek army was still rabid but morale was thriving. And yet our psychology was strange. All those shots that a few days ago sent our comrades to Hades now made no impression on us. Out of breath, eyes fixed on Bizani. We were only afraid of the height there in the area of ​​Ai Nikola, the fire of machine guns and weapons could be heard very densely. Something was happening there. Night came and the shooting continued. We saw the shells as magnificent rockets that lit up a great distance from the place where they fell. The night had gone on and the fire was slowly dying until it stopped altogether. The men in the same position awaited orders. What if tomorrow is the turn for our own feast?'

The wounded and the dead of the Cretan companies that day were many...

«The 20th of February was dawning and they all thought of themselves at the barbed wire under heavy fire and at the same time trying to cut it with a pair of scissors. At midnight the men of the line were ordered to load their guns with 3 magazines of cartridges and at 3 a.m. the attack began . With all the exhaustion from the day's excitement the men were kept awake and showed no disposition to sleep. All of us with the watch in hand were watching the movements of the hour hand, the minute hand and we are impatient. Time passed slowly and the order did not come. A little even from the part of the lake and Driscos, the sunrise began to emerge. A wonderful dawn...it was the dawn of freedom . All the vigilant eyes of the fighters were fixed on the opposite mountain ranges whose whiteness was illuminated by the sunrise. Our souls were waiting, something big, something hopeless. We did not dare to externalize our thoughts. And suddenly a voice was heard!

-They raised white flags!

What happened cannot be described. This news was what we all wanted and did not dare to confess. For so many hours, we all stood on the prows trying in the morning darkness to ascertain the truth. The news spread across the lines and spread relief and happiness to all of us. And then another voice was heard even louder!


Everyone stood speechless and stared in silence. One could not understand what they were feeling. Their sufferings were over and yet there were no voices, no joys, just looks, looks that stared for a long time as if abstracted. The Bizani. All his life for so many months now that he could banish such an idea in a single moment. And the white flags piled up as time went on and we slowly began to realize what had happened. Yes, joy was coming and we would ask each other what we were feeling down about. Man is a strange creature. What we had been fighting for so long had happened to us too, we didn't feel anything.

And after hours, the plant of Great Joy began to enter our hearts. The news came in one after the other. The plan we had implemented at night on the hill of Agios Nikolaos was captured without a fight by the 9th company of the 7th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Division led by Captain Boukouvala . At the same time our cavalry entered the city of Ioannina in triumph. Essat Pasas with the Metropolitan of Ioannina had brought the document of surrender to Kaneta. Greek cars loaded with olive branches and flags were running like crazy in the now free city. Our own line had been ordered to remain in place and a strict order forbade the men to approach and enter what all the fighters, all the Cretans desired, the now free Bizani.

We were left with one complaint… The bodies of our battalions began to descend from the tops of the outposts. Regiments began to enter Gianna and the Cretan Regiment was ordered to move the cannons and other ammunition to the plain. We, who had tried so hard, were so exhausted and decimated, that we chased the Turks from Arta, wanted to be the first to enter Ioannina. Most of the soldiers burst into tears and others wept sweetly like little children. Under these conditions and for the good psychology of the men, it was decided to camp outside Ioannina in the village of Katsika, and in two days we were allowed to enter the city as well. Then the people of Ioannina gave us an enthusiastic welcome shouting:«Welcome to the Cretans, welcome to our lavenders! »