The events of the liberation of Pityos in 1912

November 11, 1912! A day of remembrance and celebration for the liberation of Chios! However, Pityos had to wait for another 40 days!

“…. After March 1912, when the Italians bombed the Turkish Telegraph station in Asia Minor, opposite of Chios, the Turks began to worry about the future occupation of the island and reinforced their garrisons. Upon reaching Pityos, Zichni Bey, the Commander of the Turkish Army, established his presence and stationed guard posts on the hills surrounding the village. The village’s churches and numerous houses were repurposed as storage facilities for the Turkish forces.”

“The Turkish hospital, housing the entire occupying army, was also in Pityos, located in the houses of Frangos and Katsaros. In addition to the village, they had supplies in Amethounta (altitude 1050 m). In October 1912, they connected Pityos via Flori, Engisha, Agios Markos, Agioi Pateres by telephone. Throughout October, Zichni Bey stayed in Pityos to organise its defence. Zichni Bey, always being polite to the villagers, left Pityos in early November. Saying goodbye to the locals, he stated, “Be well, now you will become Greeks…” (from the accounts of Pityos residents and eyewitnesses of the battles, Giannis Giannomoros and Dimitros Kazilas, cited in the newspaper “Proodos” in February 1952, as referenced by Georgos Heilas in “Pityos – History of my village,” pages 35-36, Athens 1989).

Pityos would remain occupied by the Turkish army until the early hours of December 21, 1912, when the last Turkish soldiers, under Lieutenant Abbas, surrendered to the squad of the warrant officer Stavridis, who had broken the last line of defence at Karfotos, on the borders of Pityos – Kardamyla, while Zichni Bey had already surrendered in Karyes a few hours earlier.

The Pityans, located at the center of Turkish power, did not proceed to form an armed resistance group – that would have been suicidal. However, to dispel suspicions that they did not participate in the national struggle, three villagers, Panagiotis Mithri Kritoulis, Pantelis Mavrianos, and George Apostolis (Giorgaras), acting on the orders of the Greek army command and pretending to be shepherds going to their flocks in order to break through the Turkish military blockades, went at night and cut the telephone cables connecting the Ottoman military administration in Pityos with the outpost of the third Turkish platoon in Achlada of Aipos. In fact, in order to make themselves credible to the Greek military command as to their national feelings, they did not limit themselves to a simple sabotage, but wound and took with them many metres of telephone wire, risking to be noticed by the Ottomans, as they were passing through their lines on their way to get to the Greek forces, with carrying about 6 metres of precious wire.

During this 40-day siege period, the broader area of Aipos and Pityos became the scene of the fiercest land battles of the First Balkan War on an Aegean Island:

  • The first battle of Aipos on November 15, 1912, resulted in 25 Greek dead soldiers and 37 wounded. The first Turkish counterattack took place on the same day, from Karfoto of Pityos towards the Greek positions at the Castle of Gria in Kardamyla. Two Greeks were killed.
  • On December 7 and 8, 1912, a two-day bombardment of the fortified Turks in Pityos was initiated by the Greek fleet off the coast of Kardamyla. 67 large calibre shells fell on the village, miraculously causing no human casualties.
  • From December 19-21, 1912, the Greeks launched attacks from all sides towards Pityos, from Amades and Viki to Amethounta, from Fyta to Oros, and from Lagkada – Kydianta to Koila. The deadliest battle, which would determine the end of the war, took place with the Greek attack from Kardamyla towards Karfoto, the most heavily fortified and equipped Turkish outpost.

These battles would distinguish, for all kinds or reasons, certain officers from both armies.

On the Greek side, some individuals left their mark in history in one way or another:

  • Τhe then First Lieutenant, Ioannis Demestichas: Leading the special forces of the marines, the elite of the Greek expeditionary force, who would raid during the initial phase of the campaign in Aipos. He broke the first line of Turkish defence, surprising them at the Castlelli of Aipos, around today’s Monument. However, Demestichas, a gunpowder-smoked and daring soldier of the Macedonian struggle, overestimated his capabilities and underestimated the opponent, leading his inappropriately dressed (in dark blue uniforms) marines into battle on an open front in the area above today’s Tourist Village of Aipos, where Turkish machine guns at the position of Sellada would halt the Greek attack, resulting in significant losses for the Greeks. A handwritten note was found on a dead Greek soldier’s uniform, stating: “We sacrificed ourselves in vain under Ioannis Demestichas”.
  • The then still unknown young Second Lieutenant Nikolaos Plastiras, who had graduated from the Army Officers School just in June 1912, would be transferred with the reinforcements that the Greek army would send to Chios in late November 1912. Having already experienced battles on the Epirus front during the Balkan Wars, Plastiras would oversee an experienced squad of soldiers and several dozen volunteers from Lagkada, Kydianta, and Sykiada, namely the forces that would advance from Lagkada towards Pityos. His unit received orders for an attack in the final phase of the war, towards the direction of Sarakino, Koila, and Skafi.
  • Warrant Officer Ioannis Staridas, who, along with a squad of corporals, would lead the volunteer corps of Kardamyla, the first to be formed by local forces in Chios. They would establish an armed civil guard and participate in the battles. Staridas managed to instil, within a few days, his military professionalism into the enthusiastic but inexperienced volunteers of Kardamyla, who, under his leadership, would fight decisively in the final battles at Karfoto, Trachonas, and eventually occupy Theotokina and then Spiliotina, where, on December 21, 1912, the last 11 Ottoman officers and 297 soldiers from Pityos and Amethounta would surrender to the Greeks. A handwritten note found on the leader of their medical corps, Lieutenant Abbas, addressed to Staridas, expressed the desire to surrender to him and not to the irregular insurgents or the Cretan guards, whom they feared for reprisals: “To the officer of the Glorious Greek Army, Mr. Staridas, we are all 57 wounded soldiers of the Turkish army, one doctor, and I, the lieutenant for 40 days. We kindly ask you to take us tonight because we are very afraid. Oh dear officer of the Glorious Greek Army, our sincere respect to you. Lieutenant Abbas.” (Cheilas, p. 37).

On the Ottoman side, the following individuals should be mentioned:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Zichni Bey, the last Ottoman military commander of Chios: This aristocrat Ottoman military officer was placed in Chios just a year before the Balkan Wars. He organised the desperate defence of his besieged army, numbering around 2000 men, ensuring the full exploitation of the natural fortress constituted by Aipos and Pellinaio. He distinguished himself for his defensive and organisational abilities, as well as for the gentle way he treated the local inhabitants. The Greek army, respecting his military bravery and courtesy, allowed him to retain his officer’s sword as an honour. He, in turn, reciprocated the kind gesture towards the Greek army with statements made to the Greek newspapers immediately after their surrender. After his release at the end of the Balkan Wars in 1913, he returned to his homeland and a few months later submitted his resignation, as revealed by the Turkish General Staff’s annual report.
  • The capable captain, commander of the 3rd Turkish Company, Hüseyin Hüsnü Aydemir, who repelled the initial Greek attack on November 15 in Aipos: He would be captured along with the rest of the Turkish army, and he stayed for a year in captivity in Kefalonia. During World War I, he distinguished himself on the Eastern Front against the Russians (from whom he would be captured again and find himself exiled in Siberia). He would later fight against the Greeks in the battles of Sakarya river and Bursa. After 1923, he would climb the ranks in the Kemalist military hierarchy and retire as a major general in the 1930s. Recently, his grandson documented the memories of his grandfather’s wartime adventures and published them in a book in Turkey, which extensively mentions the Battle of Chios with hard-to-find documents from the Turkish side. (see


  • “Osa o idios eidon” (As I Myself Saw) by Georgios Choremis, Chios 2002, ALFA PI Publications (from the author’s original manuscript)
  • “Chius Liberata” by Philip Argenti, London 1937
  • Special issues of the Pelinaio magazine, issues 14 & 20, Chios 2000 & 2002