At the age of 10 he crossed entire Albania on foot. He participated in the breakthrough of the Salonika front where he was wounded, and the Duke Zivojin Misicpromoted him to the rank of sergeant at the age of 12.
More than nine decades since the end of World War One in which Momcilo Gavric
participated as a soldier. Most citizens of Loznica does not know who he is,
let alone where he is from. And they should know because Momcilo was the youngest soldier of any army in World War I, their countryman born in Trbusnica,
at Loznica below the mountain Gučevo.
Unfortunately Loznica area have completely forgotten this unusual hero.
In the books its noted that Momcilo Gavric in the beginning of the First World War
was only eight years old. He's from Trbusnica village five kilometers from Loznice,
right below mount Gučevo. He was the eighth child of his parents the father
Alimpija and mother Helen. Back then it was an honor to have many children.
I wish it were so still today in Serbia.
In August 1914, the Austro-Hungarian troops committed numerous massacres of the
civilian population. In one early morning in early August in 1914, drunken Shwabe
(Serb expression for Germans) killed Momcilos father and mother, his sisters and
four brothers. At least thats what he knew then. Only much later did he find out
that the killers were people who were talking same language as his familly.
The killers were from Croatia and Bosnia, from the Devil division of the Croatian
army. This was something he was not allowed to speak of until the death of Tito.
Little Momcilo crawled through the woods and climbed mount Gučevo. He came to the
position of the Sixth Artillery Regiment Drina Division, commanded by Major Stevan
Tucović brother of Demetrius Tucovica. The little guy fell down and put his arm
around the Majors boots and sobbed: "Mister, they killed them all...".
Major Tucović asked him, "Do you know how to throw a grenade?" Little Momcilo said
he only threw stones. Major took a grenade and showed him how to do it. Then Major
Tucović lined up his troops and asked, "Who wants tonight to avenge this little
fellow Gavric parents, his brothers and sisters?"
The Entire company stepped forward. Tucović chose one tall guy, Zlatiborac Milos
Mišović. Just before midnight Mišović went along with little Momcilo and found the
drunken "Schwabe-Germans" in the shed for making brandy. Mišović hurled a grenade, then
another, a third was not needed. At that moment little Momcilo became a soldier
of the Serbian army, the child of the sixth Drina Division Artillery Regiment.
Tucović ordered the soldiers to let little Gavric fire the cannon 3 times every day
and in that way avenging his brothers and sisters.
There was a retreat across Albania. Milos Mišović took Momcilo under his care.
In Podgorica (Monte Negro), he spent his last penny for a wreath of twenty bleak
and told him, "Son, if you want to stay alive, every day eat only one fish.
Remember well, only one if you want to survive." Momcilo did that.
The convoy of retreating Serb Army was ambushed everywhere by the Albanians (Arbanasi)
Dead bodies everywhere and then when they passed Scutari there was no more fish.
Even Mišović the sturdy Zlatiborac, began to run out of power. One night while
squatting next to a small fire he said to little Momcilo, "Son, I'm afraid I will
not be able to continue much more. You hold on to my overcoat and I'll drag you as
long as I have any power left...
If I fall, do not stop, just move on. "Mišović pulled little Momcilo, stumbled,
staggered ... Hunger and cold broke sturdy Zlatiborac. He Could not go any further,
and fell on the snowy horizon ... Momcilo stopped and gave him a hand .. ."No, move
on, Momcilo, do not mind me ..." Momcilo huddled around him in the snow,
stroking his frozen hands, "Mister Misha, I will not continue ... Mister Misha,
I want to die with you. "How do you let a child die? The words of little Momcilo forces
Milos Mišović to gather his last strength, he got up ...
They stumbled, groping those last ten miles to the Dracak dock.
There in Dracak dock, the promised help from Western Alliance was absent.
People were dying all over the place exhausted and hungry. Only when the Russian
tsar threattened the West that He woulld sign a seperate peace deal with Germany
did the French send a fleet to pick up the Serbs.
Later in Corfu little Momcilo got a star added to his rank ...
So now nine-year old Momcilo Gavric became the youngest corporal in the world.
- Little Momcilo with his regiment on foot crossed Albania and came to Corfu, after
enduring as nine year old what many adults have not. He was the youngest corporal
in the world. He participated in the breakthrough of the Salonika front where he
was wounded, and Duke Zivojin Misic promoted him, he held the rank of sergeant at
the age of twelve. After the breakthrough of the front he went back to Serbia,
started education, and after the war he went to England, where he finished high
school and in 1921. returned to Belgrade.
One day during his stay in hospital due to his injuries, he received an unknown visitor
who gave him a watch and a Swiz-army knife. Later he found out that visitor was Archibald Rice.
His entire life he coulld not get over the fact that Serbia made a union (Jugoslavia)
two times with the very people who commited the most horrible crimes against the Serbian
nation. He blamed King Alexander and Pasic and most of all, former Habsburg soldier
Josip Broz Tito. The image of his murdered family tormented him until his death.
I met Momcilo Gavric in 1987, when he attended the opening of the Museum Jadra Loznica,
where amongst the permanent exhibition are his two military photos.
A historian at the museum Goran Vilic says that to the visitors of the museum when he
talks about the First World War, he always pay special attention to the story of
Momcilo Gavric. He lived in Belgrade until his death in 1993. His fate is "unique
in the world" and "deserves to be remembered by today's generation."
Unfortunately, now none of the 250 streets of Loznica are named after Momcilo
Gavric, no school or institution is named after him, and no monument.
The youngest corporal in the world in his own country and state undeservedly forgotten.