The youngest Serbian soldier was only 8 when he went to war: He crossed Albania, and was wounded
He was the youngest corporal in the world
Little Momcilo crossed Albania on foot with his regiment and reached Corfu in Greece, enduring as a 10-year-old what many adults could not.
He was the youngest corporal in the world during the First World War. He participated in the breakthrough of the Thessaloniki Front where he was wounded. Vojvoda (Duke) Zivojin Misic promoted him, so as a 12-year-old he held the rank of sub-sergeant.
Waiting for the breakthrough of the front and his return to Serbia, he learned to read and write, and went to England after the war where he graduated from high school before returning to Belgrade in 1921.
It is noted in books that Momcilo Gavric was not even eight years old at the beginning of the First World War. He came from Trbusnica, a village five kilometers from Loznica in western Serbia, below Mount Gucevo itself. He was the eighth child of his parents, mother Jelena and father Alimpije.
In August 1914, Austro-Hungarian soldiers committed large-scale massacres against the civilian population in this part of Serbia, killing Momcilo's parents, sisters and brothers.
He was not home that day, thanks to which he became his family's only survivor. He stumbled upon a position of the 6th Artillery Regiment of the Drina Division of the First Call, commanded by Major Stevan Tucovic, Dimitrije Tucovic's brother. The boy fell on the ground, put his arms around the soldier's boots, and sobbed, "Uncle, they killed my whole family..."
Major Tucovic asked him, "Do you know how to throw bombs?" Little Momcilo said he only ever threw stones. The major picked up a hand grenade and showed him how to do it. Major Tucovic then lined up his soldiers and asked, "Who wants to avenge Gavric's parents, his brothers and sisters tonight?" The whole company stepped forward.
While on military service in Slavonski Pozega (now a town in Croatia) after the war, in 1929, Momcilo experienced inconvenience and was arrested by the Yugoslav royal officers - former Austrian officers - because they did not believe was already a veteran with four years of war under his belt, nor that he had been awarded the Albanian (crossing) Commemorative Medal.
During the Second World War, the German occupiers detained him twice in a camp, while the Partisans once took him in front of a firing squad. After the war, during the time of Yugoslav President Josip Broz's political friendship with Albanian President Enver Hoxha, Momcilo was arrested by the secret Yugoslav police, OZNA, for publicly saying, "Albanians are not our brothers."
The great British humanitarian, Lady Paget, referred to Gaviric as a Serb knight, while the Greeks installed a gold plaque on Corfu in his honor. In 1985, French President Mitterrand awarded him a medal, while a French general said, "It's a shame you weren't a French soldier, you would have a monument in the Champs Elysees."
VIDEO: A century since the return of the Serbian Kingdom Army home - this is what the breakthrough of the Thessaloniki Front looked like
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