Завршувањето на Првата светска војна не значеше крај за проблемите на населението во Македонија.
Војната остави зад себе огромен број на жртви, пустош, беда, сиромаштија и огромен број на деца без родители, за кои што ваквата ситуација била особено погубна.
Со намера за ублажување на катастрофата, сојузничките војски и понудиле најразлична помош на тогашна Србија (во чиј склоп била и Вардарска Македонија). Една од иницијативите била да се испратат групи од по 100 деца на школување во Англија, кои по завршувањето на нивното школување требало да се вратат повторно во Србија. На овој начин би се ублажила трагедијата која ги снашла овие деца, а Србија би добила квалитетно образование за дел од својата млада популација.
Во период кога Европа се опоравувала од војната, самиот превоз на децата до Англија бил ризичен потфат, пред се поради епидемијата на Шпанска треска која владеела во тој период.
Во оваа публикација е пренесена приказната на една таква група, во која имало деца од Битола и околината, а исто така дел од оваа група бил и Момчило Гавриќ, најмладиот војник во Првата светска војна.
Извадок од книгата:
The Journey from Serbia to England.
By Louis Cahen
ABOUT the end of July I was first asked to take the Serbian children over. The matter had not gone very far, and all was rather vague. The Serbian authorities in Salonika knew that some humanitarian society in England, called “The Brotherhood,” had offered to take 100 children for education. They were not sure what sort of children were asked for, nor what sort of an education they would receive. It was quite enough for them to know that the children were to go to England—they knew that once in England all would be well. It is quite touching to see the blind trust that anything or anybody British inspires in the Serbian. There was no difficulty in finding the children, there were hundreds ready to come, and it was a thankless job having to refuse so many. The children were all refugees in Greek territory ; many were already in Salonika, but I had to visit Vodena, Sorovich and Florina to choose the most deserving cases.
In the meantime our Commander-in-Chief, General Milne, had been approached by the Serbs with a view to having the children sent to England by the military route. General Milne applied to the War Office, and I am glad to say permission was granted about two weeks later. As soon as G.H.Q. informed me that permission had been granted, we telegraphed to all the refugee centres for the children, who were going to England, to come down to Salonika. In Salonika all the children were quartered in the large Serbian boarding school. The Serbian Relief Fund supplied each child with a complete outfit including a blanket each. The American Red Cross gave each child a pair of new boots and a Red Cross bag. The British Red Cross gave a pillow and a Red Cross bag for each child and 50 lbs of bisucits. The V.M.C.A. gave me 2 cwt of biscuits for the journey.
Whilst we were fitting the children out the Serbian Consul was busy making out a general passport for the children, and when this was finished I had to get it vised by the British, French and Italian Consuls, and also by the British and French police All this took some 12 days to finish, and when we were ready I reported to G.H.Q., and two days later we got marching orders. To help me with the children on the journey I am glad to say I had five good friends Mr. Balls of the Serbian Relief Fund, who had previously traveled with Serbian boys from Marseilles to England, and in England had helped look after a colony of Serbian boys, and then four Serbs. Capt. Ilich, Capt. Zavishich, M. Stoshvich and Miss Nikolich, who was in charge of our 26 girls. On the morning of our departure from Salonika the R.A.M.C. sent round 16 ambulances and two lorries to the Serbian school, and these transported us and our luggage to the station, some three miles distant from the school. The train was ready and the children were soon packed away in ten third class compartments. The weather was extremely hot, and before we had been in the train an hour the children had all emptied their water-bottles; at every station the water-tap was besieged by crowds of children and soldiers going home on leave. It is a miracle that we did not lose any of the children during that first day’s journey ! All the children had taken their dinner with them ; at 3 p.m. At St. R–we all had tea and biscuits provided by the Y.M.CA. At 8 p.m., at L-, we all had supper; many of the younger children were too tired by this time to eat anything, and soon went back to the train to sleep. The night passed off uneventfully, and next morning at about 10 o’clock we reached B-; here We were met by motor lorries and went up to the British Camp. The boys all went to the rest camp, but Miss Nikolich and the girls went up to the Sisters’ enclosure of the Hospital.
If all had been well we should have left for I-early next morning, but unfortunately our papers
were not in order for the military route, and we had orders to slay in the rest camp till further orders. Altogether we stayed in B-eight days, during which time we were able to. feed the children up, and the doctor was able to get them all fit for the long and trying journey before them. When, at last, we got orders to leave, we started in motor lorries for 1-, a beautiful and interesting journey- over the Greek mountains that lasted four hours. At I–we embarked on a slow old steamer belonging to the Khedival line. Being so slow, we could get no escort to take us over to Italy..
At last, after three days, an Italian destroyer had pity on us, and convoyed us safely over. Unfortunately., the ship was infected with Spanish influenza, and about half the leave-party caught it. When we got to Italy the hospital soon filled up : altogether we left 200 men behind and 12 of our boys, and Mr. Ball, who also got ill; Stoshvich and I got over the illness during the five days on board, and we were able to continue. We stayed three days in. the rest camp in the south of Italy, and then got into the train that was to take us right to the north of France. The children soon settled down to train traveling, and on the whole bore the trying journey very well. At the first halt I took about 60 of the boys to bathe in the Adriatic, and the girls, with Miss Nikolich, paddled. As the children were being treated exactly as British troops, they drew the same rations, and thoroughly enjoyed the British fare. Every day we drew bread, cheese, bully-beef, and jam, and at all the halts and rest camps we found hot tea waiting for us.
The M.O. of the train was kindness itself, and visited the children two or three times a day. Although the journey was long, it was full of interest, and I think the ‘children enjoyed it on the whole. At Cannes we enjoyed another bathe, and there we said good-bye to the sea till we saw the Channel. At the port of embarkation we had to wait three days, and we were given the R.E. Camp to ourselves. Three of the children, two boys and a girl, were too ill to take on with us, and we had to leave them behind, with Captain Zavishich, in the British hospital. I am glad to say that two weeks later they were well enough to travel, and arrived safely in Faversham. Throughout the whole journey the children met with the greatest kindness from all who had anything to do with them. The officers in the various rest camps were surprised at their good behavior and at the little trouble they gave. As for the men, they couldn’t do enough for the children. Altogether, the journey lasted, four weeks. The journey from France to London passed off uneventfully. In Southampton, the military authorities had prepared a hot meal for the children, and we reached London soon after 2.30, when we were met at Waterloo by representatives of the Brotherhood, the N.C. Homes and Orphanage, and the Serbian Legation.