First Battle of Inonu

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The First Battle of İnönü was fought in the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), from 9 to 11 January (Dec 27 - 29 OS) 1921, near Eskişehir in Asia Minor.

Battle

A Greek reconnaissance force under Greek commander-in-chief, Anastasios Papoulas, began to move from their base in Bursa in the direction of Eskişehir in early January, 1921. The battle began with a Greek assault on the positions of İsmet pasha's (later known as Inonu) troops near the railway station of İnönü on January 9, 1921. The fighting continued until dark. On January 10, the Greek Islands division began moving along the Kovalca-Akpınar line while the İzmir division moved on the Yeniköy-Teke-Hayriye direction and additional forces moved on the Söğüt-Gündüzbey line.

The better-equipped Greeks taking advantage of the fog, pushed back the Turks around the railroad protected by the 11. division and took the dominant hill called Metristepe where fighting continued till 2pm.

Fevzi Paşa, following the recommendation of commander of the Western Front İsmet Pasha, gave the order to pull back to the Beşkardeşdağı-Zemzemiye-Oklubalı line and moved the headquarters to Çukurhisar.

After capturing the Akpınar-Kovalca line, Greeks stopped the attack and dug in. Upon observing the Turkish positions being reinforced with the 61. division, they realized that the Turks were determined to hold there and not fall back any further. Not feeling quite ready for a major confrontation with a large force, the Greeks pulled back on January 11.

Results

Militarily, the battle was rather insignificant. Greek dead numbered roughly 50 dead and 130 wounded. Turkish losses were nearly double that. The battle was unusual in that both armies pulled back and both claimed victory.

However, it was significant in other ways: it proved the inexperience of the newly-appointed Greek officers including Maj Gen Petmezas and commander Papoulas himself. There is little doubt that, had the Greeks followed up on their initial attacks, they would have gained another indisputable victory.

On the Turkish side, the First Battle of Inonu was a propaganda victory, if nothing else. It also helped the Turkish revolutionaries put aside their disputes. It helped them to prove they were a significant military force instead of a band of guerrilas. It showed the Allies that the Greek army could be stopped.

The prestige gained in the aftermath of the battle helped revolutionaries to initiate a new round of negotiations with the Russians which ended with the Treaty of Moscow on March 16, 1921. It also helped them get representation at a conference in London to settle the disputes arising with the landing of Greek forces in Asia Minor.


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