Drastamat Kanayan On The Bash Aparan Front – One Of The Founders Of The First Republic Of Armenia

Drastamat Kanayan (Dro) writes in his memoirs: “We had a dispute with the commander of the Yerevan corps General Movses Silikyan. He told me: ‘I appoint you the commander of Bash Aparan.’

I said that I would go where he wanted but that he should not divide the army right then. Instead, I proposed to attack the Turks coming from Sardarapat with all our might, give them a good beating. I was informed that in Bash Aparan, the Turks had only two battalions. If they went down to Ashtarak, we would smash them.”

Departing to the newly formed Bash Aparan Front, Dro took with him regular military units provided by Silikyan, as well as volunteer infantry and cavalry groups comprising Armenian and Yezidi residents (5-6 thousand soldiers in total).

In Bash Aparan, Dro found out that he was opposed not by two battalions but an entire Ottoman division (under Esad Pasha, 6-7 thousand soldiers, 12 artillery pieces) along with two regiments and detachments of Kurdish and Tatar robbers. The strength of the Turkish troops was 10-13 thousand.

In the early morning of May 25, Dro along with his small army of 1,600 bayonets went on an offensive on the Bash Aparan front. After fierce fighting, the Ottomans retreated north on May 29.

Dro is among the most devoted Armenian builders of May victories. Unfortunately, the Armenian people that Drastamat Kanayan devoted his whole life to know very little about the activities of their hero. Without exaggeration, Dro can be considered one of the founders of the First Republic of Armenia.

Arshaluis Zurabyan

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