Ismid, Turkey, Aug. 5-With the onrush of Turkish nationalists toward the gulf of Ismid, this historic old city was filled to overflowing with Greek and Armenian refugees, who were being shipped on to Constantinople as fast as transportation was available. Tales of the incoming refugees recalled the terrors through which the local Christians passed in 1917, when all the Armenian section was burned, thousands of Christians were slaughtered and others fled into the mountains.
This ancient city, which was called Nicomedia in biblical times, was the capital of Bithynia, and under the Roman empire became one of the chief cities of Asia Minor. Pliny described it in his letters to Trajan as having in senate house, an aqueduct, a forum and many temples and other public buildings. Diocietian made ISmid his residence and began the persecution of Christians which the Oamanid continued when they came into possession in the fourteenth century.
Now its population has been swelled by crowds fleeing before the Nationalist advance and by British troops camped among the ruins of the old Roman and Byzantine walls on the mountain side, which now bristle with barbed wire entanglements and are converted into machine gun shelters.
Shabby Turkish soldiers, the remnants of the Sultan’s forces which remained loyal to the Constantinople government, kilted Scots and turbaned Sikhs drag ammunition carts through the streets and make ready for the forces of Mustapha Kemal which occupy the mountains which enclose the head of the Gulf of Ismid on three sides.
Many of the Armenian orphanages established by the Americans and British in interior cities have been evacuated through Ismid to points between here and Constantinople less liable to attack by the Nationalists. There is no peace for the Armenian and Greek children. Many of them have been moved scores of times since they were rescued from the Moslems and the stories of their sufferings are almost incredible.
Official figures show that 88,000 Armenian children have been recovered up to date and about 68,800 are still in the hands of the Turks or Arabs.
Many of the Armenian girls who passed through Ismid were tattooed on the forehead, cheeks and chin in such a manner that their faces will always bear the marks. Some of the older girls were taken as wives by the Turks and Arabs, and the refusal of their Armenian associates to forgive their shame makes their rescue seem almost as great a tragedy as their life in the harem.
Armenian children captured by Turks were so thoroughly frightened by the Moslems into denial of their nationality that many of them still insist they are Mohammedans. Frequently they have been provided with falsified birth certificates and family records, so skillful was the effort to Islamize the Christian children.
Since the foregoing was written the Turkish Nationalists have made several attempts to take Ismid, but were defeated by British and Turkish government troops.