Valor Friday

| January 29, 2021

Photos from the First Balkan War

Prior to World War I, European countries fought wars with each other on a fairly regular basis. There are so many that it’s hard to keep track of. There are even cities and regions of countries that moved back and forth every few years between countries due to wins and losses. The only modern analog would be Israel and the Arab states around them that keep starting (and losing) wars with the Jewish state.

Just prior to World War I, the Kingdom of Serbia, allied with Bulgaria, Greece, and Montenegro (collectively known as the Baltic League) went to war with the Ottoman Empire of Turkey. As with the complicated game of thrones throughout continental Europe, both sides were supported by other nation-states. In this case Austria-Hungary on the Ottoman side and Italy and Russia on the Baltic League side. This is now known as the First Balkan War.

The war was short lived, less than eight months, but it saw the Ottomans losing on 30 May 1913. Bulgaria was unhappy with their share of the territorial gains, so not even a month later the Bulgarians turned on their allies and attacked. Thus started the Second Balkan War on 29 June 1913.

The Second Balkan War ended a month later in a Bulgarian defeat. These wars and others of the late 19th and early 20th Century set the stage in Europe for the whole continent and soon the world to break out in war in 1914, in what became World War I.

Ahmed Ademovic

It was during that First Balkan War though that today’s subject served. Ahmed Ademovic was an ethnic Roma from Leskovac, Serbia (originally in the Ottoman Empire when he was born there, but ceded to Serbia, which became an independent state, in 1878). Little is known of the man until he served as a trumpeter in the Serbian Army during the First Balkan War at age 39.

Just a couple of weeks into the war, the Serbs plan was the decisively defeat the Turks before the Turks could fully mobilize their forces. The Serbs pressed forward with three numbered army-sized forces. Outnumbering the Turks nearly two to one (132,000 to 65,000) the two forces had similar numbers of artillery and machine guns. The Serbs planned to surround and destroy the Turks.

The Turks similarly wanted to seize the initiative and were rushing to attack the Serbs. This led the two armies to a clash that neither was fully expecting nor was it in a location either side was thrilled with.

After the Serbs superior numbers and more fanatical men pushed the Turks back on the first day of battle on 23 October, 1912 they were preparing to finish the fight the next day.

Before commencement of the battle though, Ahmed the trumpeter came up with an idea. Seeing the fez and caftan of a Turkish soldier, he covered his own uniform and made way for the enemy’s lines.

Secreting himself into the enemy forces, Ademovic, trumpet in hand, got to the rear of the enemy formation as they were beginning their attack on his countrymen.

Ademovic then sounded retreat. The Ottoman Army was in a rushed attack at the time they heard the trumpet call to pull back.

As the Ottoman soldiers began to retreat in disorganized confusion, Ademovic used the chaos to return to his lines.

Somehow not shot by either side, Ahmed arrived at the Serbian lines and sounded the call for attack. The Serbs eagerly followed and were able to route the Turkish forces.

Ademovic’s strategy helped to defeat the enemy. The act was recorded in military textbooks in France and Russia as an example of the cunning of the common soldier. At the time, military officership was still very much limited to the nobility.

Order of Karadorde’s Star with Swords

For his bravery in battle Ademovic would receive Serbia’s highest civilian and military honor, the Order of Karadorde’s Star with Swords. The Star was awarded for exceptional combat bravery during the two Balkan Wars and the First World War. His award is unusual because the order was only officially to be bestowed on commissioned officers during the Balkan Wars. There were however two other trumpeters to earn the high honor. Interestingly, both of those men were also from Leskovac.

Ademovic was so proud of the honor he’d received that he wore the decoration for the rest of his life.

Ademovic would continue to serve, both in the Second Balkan War and World War I.

When World War Two came around, Serbia was invaded by the Nazis and Axis Powers. The Nazis were not fans of the Romani (also known as Gypsy) people. Along with Jews, the Roma were frequent targets of German execution and elimination as undesirable people.

Ademovic and his two sons were discovered by German soldiers in 1941. A German officer recognized the Star on Ademovic’s chest and spared his life, but did not spare the life of his two sons Reggie and Rama, who were shot in a summary execution. It is said that Ademovic never again played the trumpet.

Ademovic remained in the Leskovac area for the rest of his life. He spent his final years living in relative obscurity with his grandson Fadil. After the Second World War the former Kingdom of Serbia became Yugoslavia, a communist state allied with the Soviet Union. He lived to age 92 before passing in 1965.

Category: Historical, Valor, War Stories, We Remember

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I’ll trot out my nitpicker. The Balkan League participated in the Balkan War. The Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania. Estonia) so named as they are on the Baltic Sea weren’t part of the Balkan Wars.

This young man with large cojones lived through some tumultuous times. And this served as a good reminder that there were shooting wars in Europe between the Franco-Prussian War and WW-I


Great story Mason, did not know of this Hero. I’m sure that the clanging of his big brass ones made a nice harmony with his trupeteering. That time frame and the whole “…Wars and rumors of wars…” lead many a preacher to think that the End Times were near as spoken of in the KJV of The Bible. It also contributed to the massive amount of immigration from Europe to “The New World” to avoid the constant drafting and enforced service in the various armies. Imagine the surprise of many of these immigrants when they were marched from the ships in NY Harbor to the lines occupied by the Army of the Potomac. One Federal Regimental Commander wrote that he had to give his orders in 7 different languages. Many of the same immigrants either did all they could to avoid service or deserted the FIRST (ht 2 Sarge) chance they got because they didn’t leave one war zone to be caught up in another.

We are lucky in this Country that we have had only 1 major “Civil War” in our history. Just as the politicians of Europe caused the many European Wars, thus so did the politicians of the US cause ours. And now, damned if politicians aren’t doing their best to start another one. Power, population, and people control is the name of the game.








Thank You again for sharing another great story of Valor.

Discovered that General John J.Pershing was also awarded the Order of Karadorde’s Star with Swords.


Hand Salute. Ready, Two!

Thanks again, Mason.