Hunting Trouble in Armenia


AFTER two years in France with the Red Cross, I went home in the autumn of 1919, determined to ‘get back to normal’ and settle down. But I soon discovered that normal is a synonym for dull, and I just could n’t make myself settle.

One morning after I had been normal for about a month, I received a note from Miss Andress: ‘Will you go to Tiflis with me in two weeks?’ I would, yes; and we sailed on November 22, my sister and I.

We were assigned to duty at Delijan in the Caucasus, where we passed a busy and not uninteresting winter, in charge of six orphan asylums. On the first of April, we received orders to move on to Kars, where I was appointed Director of Education and Agriculture. I was just getting things started — the fields ploughed and the five thousand children separated into classes — when, on May 2, we suddenly received orders to evacuate the Caucasus.

After a seven-days’ cruise down the Black Sea, on the U.S.S. Pittsburgh, — fifty-six women on a battleship! — we arrived at Constantinople, and were quartered on one of the islands.

The first week in June, 1920, came a wireless from Colonel Haskell, asking for fifteen women to be sent to Batoum, as things had quieted down. We traveled up the Black Sea from Constantinople on a 1500-ton cargo boat, and were greeted by the news that we were to turn right round and go back again, as the British were really evacuating the port this time, and under the circumstances it was decided not to send women into the interior. Fortunately for my sister and me, they were shorthanded at headquarters, and we were asked to stay and help out. I went to work as a typist, while my sister took charge of the officers’ mess.

The military control of relief in the Caucasus ended on July 1, and Colonel Haskell turned the organization over to Mr. Yarrow. My sister and I volunteered to go in under the new régime, and were accepted; and the fourth ol July found us in Kars, the first American women back in the field. It was worth waiting for.

Spring had transfigured Kars. It had rained every day during May and most of June, and when we arrived, the hills were ablaze with flowers; I have never dreamed of anything like them outside of a florist’s window. And then, besides, there were lots of funny little bright-colored birds, and skylarks singing high up against the sapphire sky.

Kars was one of the strongest fortresses on the old Russian frontier. It is ringed round with forts of modern construction, some dating only from 1914. The modern town was built by the military, and must have been quite imposing. The Armenians partly destroyed it in their retreat before the Turks in 1917, when the Russian Army turned Bolshevist; and there is little left except the wide, well-paved streets and a few smoke-grimed facades to show what the town once was. The garrison during the Russian régime numbered thirty thousand, and there were many fine stone barracks, both in the city and in the valley where our personnel house was situated. The committee was caring for six thousand children in these buildings when I went back to Kars.

Mr. Fox, the District Commander, had worked tirelessly after our withdrawal in May, and had not only kept the organization in fine order, but had made many improvements.

There were seven orphanages and six hospitals to look after; my sister was assigned to the orphanages, and I went into the hospital department.

I once took the Red Cross course in ‘Home Care of the Sick,’ but there was nothing in it about how to be a hospital superintendent. I also worked in a New York hospital for three weeks, and learned how to clean bed-tables very thoroughly. In France I was assigned to duty in evacuation hospitals, served through three big drives, and grew very proficient in washing feet. But I had never run a hospital. In Kars I managed seven, and was responsible for about eighteen hundred patients. I lost twenty pounds and my sweet disposition, but the death-rate did not increase.

In the Caucasus a ‘sister’ is a very superior thing. All you have to do to become one is to wear a white headdress and talk about prestige. Prestige means that you can’t make beds or open a window or bathe a patient; and night duty is unheard of, for it gives you wrinkles and interferes with your social engagements. I had sixty sisters on my staff, and only three of them knew how to give a hypodermic.

One of the first things I did was to establish a nurses’ training-school — and I almost started a revolution at the same time because I insisted that the pupils should learn to scrub floors and make soup before they were allowed to dress wounds and give medicines.

Prestige and closed windows were my greatest worries. But they were not the only ones. Every morning my desk would be elbow-deep in notes. The Armenian loves above everything to write letters, and will do so on the slightest provocation.

One of the doctors could write what he thought was English and some of his problems were very vexing; for instance:—

To MISS BETTY ANDERSON, Hospital Manager.

It is stated by the housekeeper of the hospital No. 1 that the pigs of the hospital do not receive food and they do not obey to the pig keeper. She prays therefore, to have ordered an arrangements about that pigs, who never want to obey, without food, to the pig keeper, please.

And then, no sooner was the pig question solved, than I received the following: —

To MISS B. ANDERSON. To-day no drop of water too. No baril coming no pipes giving. Please have done your insinuations about.

I was on my horse from morning to night, making my rounds. In about six weeks an American doctor arrived and took some of my cares, but I still had enough left to keep me amused.

The District Commander and my sister struggled tirelessly with the orphanages. Mr. Fox decided that something must be done to make the listless, morbid children more like human beings. All day they would sit in the sun, and rouse themselves only to eat. So he designed merry-go-rounds, swings, and see-saws; and for weeks went to the orphanage and demonstrated the broad jump, high jump, quoits, and blindman’s buff. The children loved to watch him and would mechanically do as they were told; but immediately afterward would sink back into their lethargy. The teachers were ordered to make the boys play; and so each in turn was forced to swing or see-saw or something, for five minutes at a time. They looked so thoroughly miserable, and play seemed so utterly distasteful to them, that at last the playground was admitted a failure. My nurses, however, loved the swings, and whenever I missed one on the wards, I would know just where to find her.

My contract with the N.E.R. expired on September 30, and I planned to leave at once, with my sister and Mr. Fox. Toward the middle of the summer, three girls and a man arrived to replace us, and we felt free to go as soon as our contracts were up.

It was just about this time that the wood-problem became serious. Kars District is barren of forests, and all our fuel was brought by rail from Sarakamish. During the summer months there had been constant fighting between the Armenians and the Kemalists. The Armenians were confident of pushing on to Erzerum, and had mobilized every man of fighting age (incidentally leaving the harvest to take care of itself). The British had sent equipment, arms, and ammunition for an army of forty thousand men, and prospects seemed bright. And then, suddenly, on September 28, the Turks captured Sarakamish, an important strategical stronghold on the Armenian frontier, about sixty versts from Kars.

We had heard rumors that things were not going well, but at that time we looked upon the ‘war’ as something rather amusing, and not likely to affect us at Kars. With the capture of Sarakamish, however, things began to look serious: our wood-supply was cut off, refugees came pouring into the town from the villages, and the people of Kars were panic-stricken.

On the night of September 30, the Kemalists advanced again and entered the village of Begliahmed, about fifteen versts from Kars. At a meeting in town late that night it was decided to evacuate the women and children. Up to that time no one had been allowed to leave the city, because it was thought that it would have a bad effect on the morale of the troops. A panic started, and at one o’clock in the morning a message was sent to us at the personnel house saying that the situation in town was bad.

Up to this time we had all been sleeping at home. Mr. Fox made late nightly rounds of all the institutions, and it did not seem necessary to change our usual routine. He had assigned a post to each of us in case of trouble; and on the morning of the panic we were aroused from our peaceful sleep, and having swallowed a hasty cup of coffee, scattered to our various duties.

I mounted my horse and rode away in the dark to make the tour of my six hospitals. The two in the valley were quiet, although the personnel besieged me with questions and begged for advice to stay or go. We could not assure protection, of course, as we had no idea what attitude the Turks would take toward the Committee; but Mr. Fox promised to do all he could for our native employees and their families.

When I reached the outskirts of town, swarms of my hospital personnel met me and clung to my stirrups, the horse’s tail, my hands, sobbing, kissing my feet, begging to be saved. I could only urge them to be calm, and beg some of them to go back to the hospitals, where they had left the sick children entirely alone.

With daylight came a return of confidence. The authorities decided to let no more civilians leave the city; report had it that the Turks were not advancing beyond Novo Salem, about eighteen miles away, and the morale improved. I slept in the hospital that night, — at least, I did n’t sleep, because there were fleas, — and the fact of my presence seemed to relieve everybody’s mind. If they had known how extremely small I felt, and how scared I was, I don’t believe they would have been so confident. However, nothing bothered me except the fleas.


Kars, after the capture of Sarakamish, was overrun by the Mauserists, or Volunteers, a semi-military organization under a leader named Sabo. These Mauserists (so-called because of the gun they carry) were not paid by the government, but grew rich from the loot they gathered when they followed on the heels of the regular soldiers. In all they numbered about fifteen thousand, and they were a law unto themselves. Without hesitation they would take supplies from our wagons, and exchange a tired horse for a fresh one out of one of the Russian teams. The Russians belonged to a religious sect called Molikan, similar to the Mennonites of Pennsylvania, and believed in non-resistance. They would sit, stolid, on their wagons, and let the Armenians do as they pleased. So an American had to go with every convoy of wagons, to protect the food intended for Armenian children from the Armenians themselves.

A nurse now arrived to relieve me of my duties in the hospitals, and my days were spent in the saddle, escorting hayand wood-wagons. It was a pleasant task in the beautiful autumn weather. We would go perhaps fifteen versts, and I would lunch in some hospitable Russian kitchen while the wagons were loading, and then start for home about dusk, always with the prospect of at least a verbal battle on the way. On these trips I was within sound of the guns, and could see the Turkish posts on the heights overlooking the plain.

The Turks held the same line for several weeks. The town gradually quieted down, and nobody was allowed to leave. Hundreds of cattle, which the Armenians had captured from the Kurds during the summer, grazed on the plains outside the town, and encampments of refugees were everywhere.

On the fifteenth of October the Armenians were to make a big attack. Everyone knew about it beforehand, and it was the one topic of conversation. For some reason the drive failed, and the Armenians fell back to new positions. The reason given me for the failure of the drive was that the new British rifles had been issued only the day before, and the soldiers had never fired them; but I am not sure that this is true.

It was shortly after this that Mr. Fox, yielding to my request to ‘see the front,’ took three of us out to visit Colonel Miramanoff in his dugout. He had been there only two days before; but when we reached the place, we found the camp deserted, and drove on to discover headquarters. We thought that the Armenians must have made a successful drive, for we went on without seeing a living soul. Begliahmed, which is just a straggling settlement of mudhouses, was deserted, and we drove on to Novo Salem. Here Mr. Fox became suspicious, for he knew that the Turks had occupied that Russian village several weeks. He stopped the car and sent the Russian chauffeur ahead for news.

We waited on the hill overlooking the village. It was a peaceful scene: the red-roofed houses, each with its stork nest, clustered beside the winding river, neat fields rising to the snow-capped mountains beyond. It was Sunday, and the Molikans, dressed in the brilliant colors they so adore, were strolling about, or standing to gossip in groups. The moment they caught sight of the car, the groups scattered, and even the children ducked into the houses, so that presently there was not a soul to be seen.

George hurried back, breathless. ‘Turks here!’ he gasped in Russian, ‘and there — there — are Turkish batteries!’

While he was speaking Mr. Fox swung the car around and jammed his foot down on the accelerator. He drove an ambulance in France, but I am sure that, even with whiz-bangs sailing overhead, he never went faster than he did that day. I thought we were crawling at fifteen miles an hour, but he says we were making fifty. For fully five miles we were in sight of the Turkish batteries, and could see the men watching us. We hardly breathed until at last we reached a small group of Armenian soldiers on the other side of Begliahmed. This was the outpost of the Armenian army, but it had never occurred to them to stop us — in fact, I remember they had stood at attention and saluted Mr. Fox when we passed. One of our party, stroking down his hair, which had stood on end during our dash to safety, was heard to murmur, ‘This is a hell of a front! ’

On the night of the twenty-eighth the Turks cut the railroad to Alexandropol. This was the most serious thing that had yet happened, for it broke our communication with the outside world; and it looked as if we were in for a long siege. At that time we had only about a month’s food-supply for the children.

On the morning of October 30 I was convoying wagons of milk and flour to the city hospitals. Winter had set in, with sleet and snow, and the convoy business was no longer a pleasure excursion. Town seemed as usual; the guns were not firing so often, I thought. At eleven o’clock I had just delivered ten loads and was starting back to the warehouse, when hell suddenly broke loose in the city. People poured from the houses; the streets became jammed with ox-carts, horses, soldiers, dogs, babies, sheep, and animals of every description, with bedding hastily strapped on their backs. A pandemonium of excitement, which reminded me of the great movie scene in the Last Days of Pompeii.

‘Turk egave!' screamed the people; ‘the Turks are coming!' Panic-stricken, the throng milled like frightened cattle. My Russian teamsters, stolid and dependable, looked to me for orders. I pointed to the warehouse and spurred my fidgeting horse through the crowd.

We did not go far. A shell burst within a few hundred yards of us, and I saw the loaded wagons coming from the warehouse. Mr. White rode at the rear and asked me to take the head of the column.

As we passed the hospital gate, my sister ran out. ‘They say the Turks are in the city, Betty; I’ll stay here — take care of yourself!’ There was time for only a hurried hand-clasp, and I rode on.

I shall never understand how we succeeded in keeping those forty wagons together in the jam. I kept hitting soldiers off the fourgons, already overloaded with rice, flour, and milk. Mothers tried to force their babies into my arms; sheep’s horns got caught in my stirrups; my horse shied at a camel and almost climbed into an ox-cart; but still we moved on, caught in that panicky jam of humanity. It was each one for himself in that flight. I saw soldiers, with tears of terror streaming down their cheeks, push women and children aside, that they might gain a pace or two. All had a blank, fear-stricken look that I can never forget. The moans and sobs of thousands mingled with the rattle of the ox-carts, the baaing of the sheep, and the lowing of the countless cattle.

As we left town and entered the valley, a new sound came to my ears: the crackle of rifle and machine-gun fire. The valley is narrow — you would call it a cañon at home. The swift Karschi flows through it, with a road on either bank, and the sides of the gorge rise abruptly about eight or nine hundred feet, and are crowned by the fortifications. Steep flights of stone steps scale the precipice. I saw Armenian cavalry leading their horses down those steps at a run, while the infantry poured down the zig-zag cattle-paths, throwing their rifles away as they ran. Just across the river I saw two officers try to stop the rout. They dismounted, drew their horses across the road, and shouted at the oncoming mob. Still it came, and the officers fired point-blank into the front rank; two men fell, but the rest swept on and I could not see what became of the officers.

The rattle of fire was continuous, and I could see men on the crest of the hill silhouetted against the sky. I now know these were Turkish soldiers, who had captured the fort and were firing on the fleeing enemy; but at the time I thought they were Armenians.

At the personnel house the supply officer took charge of my wagons, and I galloped on to Hospital No. 2, where I found things in a terrible mess.

It was the first American building in the path of the refugees and soldiers, and they were pouring into it through the doors and windows they had broken. From my horse I banged down with my gas-pipe on the heads below me. I screamed in Armenian that this was a children’s hospital and that soldiers must not take refuge there; but with blood trickling from their broken heads, they swarmed in, and I saw that it was hopeless to attempt to stop them. I decided to get the children out and up to Hospital No. 1, on the hill. They were not bed-patients, but were all suffering from favus, the scalp-disease. Mr. White rode on to make a place lor them, while I tried to gather them together.

I had a terrible time getting into the building. To get upstairs I had to climb over the heads and shoulders of the people crowded there. The nurses had tried to keep the wards clear; but the crowd had got entirely beyond their control, and the people were swarming in, onto the beds, under the beds, everywhere.

My four hundred kiddies were lost in the mob and greeted me with shrieks of joy, I gathered up the babies and gave them to the bigger girls to carry, then began to strip blankets and sheets from the beds, intending to lock them in the storeroom. The nurses, of course, were hysterical, and the Armenian doctor was wringing his hands.

Suddenly a new sound was added to the din — the crack and crash of bullets breaking glass. One, two, three whizzed in. I knew it would be madness to attempt to move the children under rifle-fire, so I told them to lie flat on the floor, while I hurried down to the door.

Everything was silent in the building now; the people had stopped their moaning and had sunk into dumb terror. The crowd outside the door had melted as if by magic. From the height across the river came the rhythmic tat-tat-tat of a machine-gun, and I drew back as a bullet whistled uncomfortably close to my ear.

The Armenian doctor was literally tearing his hair. ‘They are coming!’ he moaned. ‘Soon they will be here! What shall I do?’

Two small rooms used for officers opened off the entrance-hall. The door was locked. A big Armenian soldier stood cowering before it. ‘Break open that door,’ I ordered. Then I told the doctor to collect all the nurses and older girls and bring them to me. I have read in novels about breaking down doors with the butt of a rifle, but I never thought that I should take such a keen personal interest in the proceeding. It seemed to take an hour. The big soldier was so frightened that he had no strength; so at last one of the big orphans seized the gun and crashed in a panel.

The first person inside the door was that big soldier.

‘ Get out! This room is for the women, I told him.

He started to crawl under the sofa, but I pointed my revolver at him and he crawled out of the door instead, muttering something uncomplimentary about American women in general and me in particular. As I look back on it now, I am horrified to realize that I came very near shooting that creature.

The doctor brought in about thirty women, and I herded them into the back room, where they crouched, almost insensible from fright. Hardly had I got them settled, when a boy dashed in to tell me that there was a regiment of Armenians hiding in the courtyard. I could n’t get out of the door, so jumped out of the window and ran round to the back of the house. There I found about a hundred soldiers. Some of them were wounded, and a dying horse was making the most horrible sounds. In Armenian, I shouted to these men that they were endangering their own children by hiding there; but they only stared at me stupidly, and one man, sick with fright, vomited.

The bullets were too thick to let me run round the front of the house again — I could hear them spatting against the wall. So I crawled through a back window and fought my way to the office, where I could at least breathe. The people whined and kissed my feet as I passed. Some of the soldiers were taking off their British uniforms and putting on rags the refugees gave them. I was seized with a revulsion of feeling — a disgust for the whole cowardly lot of them. I did n’t want to die there, penned in with those wretched creatures. I guess I was pretty badly scared, and I believe I would have run away had It been possible.

Fortunately I did n’t have any more time to think about myself. Several badly wounded children were brought to me, and I was kept busy. One little girl had been shot through the abdomen by a dum-dum, and her intestines were protruding. There were no bandages available, so I pulled down the window-curtains, tore them up, and stuffed them into the wound. I made the child as comfortable as I could with a blanket and pillow, but I knew it was only a question of minutes with her.

I had just finished binding up the other wounds when Mr. White appeared.

‘The firing has stopped,’ he said. ‘Doctor Surian, up at Hospital 1, is badly wounded; send your doctor there right away.’

Karakashian at first refused to go; but after two or three minutes, when he found that the firing did not recommence, he took my little American flag and started.

Mr. White said that he thought things must be going pretty well, and that the Armenians had repulsed the Turks; but the words were not out of his mouth before Karakashian dashed back. ‘The Turks are here — at the door!’ he gasped. ‘Sit down on the floor!’

The refugees were perfectly quiet — you could have heard a pin drop. All I can remember is the husky breathing of the dying child at my feet. I looked out of the window, and on the crest of the hill opposite I saw a column of men marching as if on parade. At the head of the column was a red flag bearing the star and crescent.

I have never felt so alone, so entirely helpless, and so thoroughly frightened. I picked up the American flag from the floor where the doctor had dropped it, and stepped to the door. It was a little home-made flag, with just ten stars on it, but to me it felt like armor.

Through the half-open door came a bayonet — slowly, cautiously, about on a level with my stomach. Behind it appeared a face — drawn, sweaty, eager, mean.

‘ American! ’ I quavered; trying to say it with a Turkish accent, and holding out my flag. Up went the bayonet, and off went the gun right over my head. It made a terrible explosion in the narrow little entry. I staggered against the door-frame and said, ‘American,’ again, rather feebly.

I think the Turk smiled. He lowered his bayonet and backed me into the room.

Five or six more soldiers entered and went on into the building. My Turk, I now took time to see, was about six feet tall, and fair-haired. After looking us over he patted me on the shoulder, told me to stay where I was, and left me. Two other soldiers came in and ordered Karakashian and Mr. White into the hall. One of them snatched off my wrist-watch, bracelet, and ring; then he delved into my pocket and took my gun. Next he tugged at my ridingbreeches, pointed to his own rags, and told me to take mine off. I shook my head determinedly, but he tugged all the harder.

‘They are too small for you and I won’t take them off!’ I said in English, which of course he could not understand. We argued for several minutes, — he in Turkish and I in English, — growing more desperate every moment. ’I won’t, won’t, won’t!’ I protested. Then he laughed, and mimicked me: Wo, wo, wo!’ I knew I had won, and sent him off happy by geneously presenting him with somebody else’s raincoat.

Just then Mr. White came back. At first I did not recognize him, for the Turks had stripped him, leaving him barefoot in his B.V.D.’s. Karakashian followed, clad only in a linen shirt reaching to his knees. They looked so utterly miserable and so entirely absurd that I laughed until the tears ran down my cheeks. As soon as I could stop laughing I handed them each a blanket, which they draped around themselves like togas. They did n’t think it was at all funny.

A sergeant came in. Something prompted me to address him in French, and he answered courteously in the same tongue. He had heard of America, but did not know there were any Americans in Kars. He said that he was going to march all the refugees down to his officer on the bridge, and that we must come too.

I begged to be allowed to stay with the children; but he refused. He stooped to stroke the head of one of the wounded kiddies on the floor, and said it was too bad they had to suffer. The nurses had by this time passed from voiceless to vocal terror, and he stepped to the door, spoke kindly to them, and told them they had nothing to fear. Still they howled, and he turned to me with an expressive gesture of the hands which said, ‘Oh, these women!’

While this was going on, terrible shrieks were coming from the floor above. Presently the sergeant went up and the noise stopped. Two men in the doorway had either refused, or had been too terrified, to move as the Turks ordered, and they had been bayoneted. As far as I could discover, those two men, one other, accidentally shot, and the little girl, were the only deaths in my hospital, and I do not know personally of one case of deliberate murder, either then or later.

The order was given to clear the building, leaving only the children. While they were getting the soldiers out from under the beds, I had a chat with the soldier who had almost bayoneted me. We smoked a cigarette together, and conversed in Russian. He knew twelve words and I know eleven, but we got on famously, and he seemed like any one of the thousands of Tommies and Poilus and Yanks with whom I had chatted in France.


Soon the building was emptied and we started down the road. I led the procession (very thankful for my riding-breeches), with my American flag on my arm. Mr. White and Karakashian, solemn, and stepping tenderly over the sharp stones, were followed by the grinning sergeant, and the two thousand or more refugees and soldiers shuffled after.

The road was well-nigh impassable. We had to pick our way over dead people and dying animals, and climb over ox-carts, household effects, sacks of flour, bedding, sheep, chickens, cats. All the worldly possessions of the miserable refugees were there, and already the Turkish soldiers were picking over the loot.

On the bridge we found a crowd of other refugees who had been rounded up in the valley. A smart young Turkish officer, with turned-up black mustaches and snappy black eyes, was standing under a white flag. We went up to him, and through an interpreter told him we were Americans. He was polite but uninterested, and told us to stay with the crowd and march to town with them. More and more people came onto the bridge, but none of the personnel from our other institutions, and no other Americans. Our Russian teamsters were standing on the parapet, and their huge bodies rocked with titantic laughter when they saw Mr. White’s costume.

We were jammed in like sardines. The people had begun to moan again — a low wail, impossible to describe, and once heard never to be forgotten. Directly behind me was an Armenian soldier with tears streaming down his cheeks. Between sobs he told me that he had been to Los Angeles, that God was good and was waiting for us, and that it would n’t be long now. A woman sidled up to me and thrust a bit of jewelry into my pocket; she said she did n’t want the Turks to get it when they killed her. All the unfortunate creatures seemed absolutely sure that they were going to be massacred, in spite of the kindly attitude of the soldiers and the patient officer.

We stood and shivered for about three quarters of an hour. Then, at last, I caught sight of Mr. Clark and a Molikan on horseback on the road above. I waved my flag until my arm was stiff, and finally they saw me and turned their horses down the path.

Fred, the Molikan, has been in America. He is over six feet tall, with an engaging smile and a fine sense of humor. We had grown to be good friends during the weeks that I had convoyed his wagons.

I went to meet him and took hold of his great, horny fist. ‘Fred, get me out of this!’

‘Sure I’m going to get you out,’ he grinned. ‘What is this——— keeping you here for, anyhow?’

He put the question more politely to the officer, and added that the Pasha would be very angry if he learned that I had been held as a prisoner with the refugees.

The officer’s manner changed. He said that Mr. White, Karakashian, — whom we passed off as an American doctor, — and I could return to the personnel house under guard, if we would promise to remain there until further orders.

I asked what was going to be done with the other prisoners, and he said that, with the exception of the soldiers, they would all be released when they reached town.

When I started to leave the bridge, the whole mob tried to follow me. I suppose the heroic thing for me to do was to stay with them; but by this time I had had about all I could stand — my one idea was to get away from the sound and smell of them.

The house was in terrible disorder. Fortunately Mrs. White had locked my room, and nothing was missing. I was beyond caring for such unimportant things at the moment, however, for I could think of nothing but my sister, and what had happened to her. We had always thought that in case of trouble the city would be the most dangerous place; and knowing what I had been through, I feared that things had not gone much better for her.

I had been in the house only a few minutes when I heard the purr of the Dodge coming up the hill, and rushed out to meet it. There was a large Red Crescent flag fluttering from the windshield, and Mr. Fox chatting with a distinguished-looking Turkish officer on the back seat.

I have never been so glad to see anybody. Of course, the first thing I asked was, ‘How is Frances?’

‘Perfectly all right — no trouble in town. What happened here?’

We had tea while we were telling our stories, and afterward Mr. Fox started off to find the Pasha. The officer asked us not to leave the house again that night, and advised me to make armbands bearing the red crescent for all the Americans.

Little by little I pieced together the story of the capture of Kars.

The Turks had advanced across the plain in open formation, and had met with no resistance. Not one of the big guns of the inner forts had fired a shot, and the Kemalists entered the fortifications from one side as the Armenians ran out the other.

The Kemalists captured an enormous amount of booty in Kars. Besides the big guns and great stores of ammunition, there were three hundred new machine-guns recently received from the British, and never taken from the packing cases. I was told that a few of these guns, well placed, could have held the fort for days, as the Turks had to advance without cover over a fine system of trenches, barbed wire, and moats, to approach the strongholds themselves. Many British rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition were also taken, in addition to food, clothing, and equipment of all kinds. I was told that the Armenian army in Kars District numbered about fifteen thousand, and the Kemalists seven thousand; but I cannot vouch for the accuracy of these figures.

Kazim Karabekir Pasha, the commander of the Turks, made a tour of our institutions the day after the occupation of the city. He was much interested in our system and organization, and spoke kindly to the children and personnel, telling them they had nothing to fear. He asked Mr. Fox to continue with the work as before, and promised every protection and assistance within his power. After the inspection he came to the house to tea, with his aide, and Rushti Bey, who was to be the Military Governor of Kars.

The Pasha is a man of stocky build and of medium height. He has a firm chin, a dark mustache curled upward, a straight nose, and unusually kind and humorous brown eyes. He wore a trig gray uniform and overcoat, with no decorations or insignia, spoke excellent French without a trace of foreign accent, and had charming manners. He apologized for the soldier who had taken my watch and bracelet, and promised to try and get them back for me. He also congratulated me on having kept my breeches — by this time the story had got around, and I was known as the ‘girl who kept her trousers.’ ‘If there had been five American women stationed on the forts, mademoiselle,’ said the general, ‘my soldiers would not be in Kars to-day.’

Turks are delightful.

Early in the morning the day after the battle, I plastered myself with red crescents and started out to see what was going on. Hospital No. 2 was the most terrible-looking place I had ever imagined. The Turks had ripped open every mattress and quilt, and one waded knee-deep in feathers. There was a lot of blood everywhere, and the two bayoneted men at the head of the stairs had messed things up frightfully. The building reeked of refugees and rubbish — every blanket and sheet had been stolen, and all the food-supplies. The only things I found were five miserable babies sobbing among the feathers, and a sixth half-drowned in a wash-tub. I gathered these up and went on to Hospital No. 1.

I had also to keep my eye on the three valley orphanages. There were constant alarms, and I would rush out, expecting to find that all the girls were being kidnaped by the terrible Turks. I usually discovered one soldier with a pair of patched trousers, hoping to find a better pair on an Armenian. I would lead him through the orphanage, and if he saw anything that he fancied on our personnel, I would superintend the exchange, give him a cigarette, and send him off happy. They were always most courteous to me and amiable.


During the day a guard was posted at all our institutions. These were not regular Kemalist soldiers, but Kurdish volunteers. They were ragged, untrained villagers, but thoroughly goodnatured, and obeyed absolutely the orders given by their officer. I found my two guards squinting down the barrels of their rifles with great interest, and wondering how the thing went off. I showed them all I knew and they were very grateful, explaining (all this in pantomime) that they relied on their wicked-looking knives when it came to a pinch.

All of our personnel and orphans were in such a panic, that for days we could do nothing with them.

I got Hospital No. 2 cleaned, and the children back, in three days, but I still feel feathers in my lungs. The worst of all was burying the bodies. Armenians are superstitious about corpses, and will not touch them. To move the bodies, I had to tie rope around them myself, and then order the men to drag them out and dump them into the grave.

For a week after the battle I was constantly discovering wounded people who had crawled into secluded corners to hide. It was interesting that invariably these cases were reported to me by Turkish soldiers, who would go out of their way to come and tell me about some woman or child they had found who should be taken to the hospital. This was pure kindliness on their part, for, had they cut the throats of those unfortunates, no one would have been the wiser.

The Turks quickly restored order in the town. As is the custom in that part of the world, the conquering army was allowed three days’ looting. After that, all offenses were severely punished, and strict martial law was established. All men between the ages of eighteen and thirty-six were deported to Sarakamish, to work on the railroad and in the lumber-camps. None of the employees of the Near-East Relief were taken, however, and they were allowed every freedom. Our warehouses were sealed, and to get into them we had to ask the permission of the governor. One officer in the quartermaster’s department broke into the medical storehouse and helped himself. When this was discovered, the officer was removed and every apology offered.

The Turks seemed well supplied with everything. Some of the soldiers were ragged, but for the most part they were warmly clad. One of the crack regiments wore American uniforms; I saw lots of S.O.S. insignia, and some Second Army — wound-stripes, servicestripes and all!

These uniforms had originally been bought by the British, and sent by them to Denikin’s army, from whom they were captured by the Bolsheviki, who sent them to the Kemalists!

The American personnel were given military passes written in Turkish, and were under no restriction. My pass said: ‘This is the little Miss Anderson; do not touch her, and allow her to pass freely in Kars.’

But we were prisoners just the same. Mr. Fox’s request that he be permitted to go to Alexandropol was politely denied. Turks never say no flatly, but tell you that perhaps day after to-morrow it will be possible. When day after to-morrow comes they say, ‘In two days,’ and so on.

During the year I had been in the Caucasus very few Armenians had called at our house, and I had never been invited to their homes except to formal official banquets. But with the Turks it was different. The officers loved to come to the house; and although it was a two-mile walk from the town, they would often come out in the evening, to sit by our fire, make Turkish coffee. and talk. They were all men of cultivation; most of them spoke French well, and had been educated in Paris or Vienna. For five years they have been cut off from the world.

Jellaladin Arif Bey, the President of the Kemalist Parliament, was one of our guests, and Nuri Pasha, the halfbrother of the famous Enver Pasha, another. Arif Bey weighs about three hundred pounds, loves to dance, and never tires of talking about Paris. Nuri is a man of thirty, a dreamer and an idealist. He is a clever artist, and hopes that some day he may go back to Vienna to study.

All the officers spoke enthusiastically about General Harbord, referring to him always as ‘His Excellency.’ They are eager for American friendship, saying that we are the only nation who can disinterestedly help them. They want American industries and American trade. One and all they hate the English.

We had been led to believe that the object of the Turkish advance was to join the Bolsheviki; but the Turks never confirmed this. They joked among themselves about Bolshevism, discussed its advantages and disadvantages, and even expressed the opinion that it had proved a failure in Russia. I noticed that all these men were plentifully supplied with Russian gold, and I wondered how they had got it.

The situation among the refugees in town was desperate. Two thousand women and children and old men were housed in one of the buildings that we had once used as an orphanage. For the first few weeks these people lived on the wheat and barley they had brought from their villages; but soon this supply ran low. Toward the end of October they began to starve, and were eating the putrid flesh of the cows and horses that had been killed during the battle three weeks before. The Turks realized the danger of an epidemic, and they were planning to send the people back to the villages, where food, though not plentiful, was not altogether lacking. They were taking a count of the refugees and planning to issue a bread ration.

On December 1 we were at last given permission to leave Kars for Alexandropol. The chief of staff gave us a caboose, and we departed in state. Mr. Fox, Mr. Clark, my sister, and I made up our party, and we were a very cheerful foursome. We were leaving plenty of Americans to swing the job, the Turks were giving every assistance, and the institutions were running as usual.

At Constantinople they wanted to make heroes of us, but we preferred to hurry on and hide our light under the shadow of Eiffel Tower. Somewhere between Constantinople and Paris I was robbed for the last time (I hope!), and lost two handsome gold goblets that had been given me by the Armenian doctor who thought I had saved his life. Nothing is left me but my famous riding-breeches!