Battle of Lumë

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Battle of Lumë
Part of First Balkan War
Date30 October – 6 December 1912
Lumë region, Northern Albania
Result Albanian victory
Flag of Albanian Provisional Government (Jun-Nov 1912).svg Albanian Militia Flag of Serbia (1882–1918).svg Kingdom of Serbia
Commanders and leaders
  • Luma
    • Cen Daci
    • Ramadan Çajku
    • Ejup Topojani
    • Islam Spahia
    • Hasan Bajraktari (Can Rexha)
    • Qazim Lika
    • Ramadan Zaskoci
Božidar Janković
Units involved
  • Volunteers from
    • Luma
    • Dibra
    • Gjakova highland
Third Army of Serbia
3,000 - 4,000 from Luma
600 from lower Dibra
Unknown number from Gjakova highland[1]
2 cannons[2]
Casualties and losses
Albanian claim: 109 Serbian claim: 198

The Battle of Lumë, also referred by the Albanians as the Uprising of Lumë (Kryengritja e Lumës), was a series of clashes between the Albanian locals of the region of Lumë in Ottoman Albania against the invading Serbian army in 1912 during the First Balkan War period. The Serbians sought access to the Adriatic Sea but against predictions were defeated by the Albanian forces. As a result, Serbia's advancement to the west was delayed, which contributed to the safety of the independence of Albania on November 28, 1912.


During the second half of October 1912, the Serbian army continued to occupy numerous Albanian regions, including Kosovo and elsewhere in the provinces of Luma, Opoja, Vërrin, Gora, Has, Dibra, etc. Several battalions of the Third Army, exhausted from the battles in the internal part of Kosovo.,[3] entered Luma.

The Albanians organized numerous local assemblies as instructed by the "Shpëtimi" (Salvation) Committee, which held a meeting in Skopje on 14 October 1912. A decision to confront the advancement of the Serbian army was made. In the first week of November, after the Third Army captured Kosovo and the region of Dukagjin, it aimed to conquest northern and middle Albania in order to reach the shores of the Adriatic Sea.

Since 5 November 1912, the Serbian General Božidar Janković entered Prizren with the regiments "Šumadija 1" for the operations to the Adriatic. To realize this plan the Serbian army had created two separate units, which were named "Units of the coast" and the departments of these units were selected from the divisions "Šumadija" and "Drina" which were deployed in Prizren and Gjakova. Several paramilitary unites preceded the expedition entering Luma first, with their number going from 70 to 200, according to Jaša Tomić's book Rat u Albaniji pod Skadrom (War in Albania and around Shkodra) of 1913.

The size of the Serbian force is subject to debate. The 16,000 figure is mostly folkloric, and serves mostly for supporting the other folkloric number of 12,000 casualties. 16,000 coincides to two groupings formed with "Šumadija 1" and "Drina" units, which hurried to reach the Adriatic from the right side of the White Drin. These fractions were engaged only partially in the combat, and missed the 15-17 and 18 November clashes of the second phase of the battle (13–18 November). During this phase, the number of Serbian soldiers and officers goes up to 4,200, according to Serbian military reports, with around 3,000 Albanians on the other side. The third phase (18 November - 6 December) saw the involvement of whatever remained from "Šumadija 1" division, around 14,000, support by artillery personnel of 3,600. Including the second phase battalions which were severely damaged, the total number of the Serbian force to 21,800, excluding the paramilitary units.[2] Elsie rounds the number to 20,000.[4]

To avoid any risks to the units of the coast in the Drin Valley in Luma, the Serbian army invaded the Luma region and the provinces of Has, Vërrin, Opoja-Gora in order to disarm the Albanians and struck down any resistance ruthlessly. Faced with the invading Serb army, thousands of Albanian fighters from Luma, Has, Vërrin, and Opojan Gora, including Albanians from Kosovo, began fighting the Serb army. In this case the highlands of Paštrik (where the provinces of Has and the Gjakova highlands lay) with the Sar Mountains (Gjalicë, Pikllimes, Koretnik) became natural fortresses of war for the Albanians. Given the geo-strategic position, Albanian troops were deployed fronting the Highland of Gjakova, Has, Qafe Zhur, Sharr, and Opoja. The organization of the Albanian resistance were led by Baftjar Doda and Xhafer Doda, Ramadan Zaskoci, Ramadan Cejku, Isjan Lika, Islam Spahija, Elez Isufi, Hoxha Mehmedi, Osman Lita, Cen Daci, Bajram Gjana, Jemin Gjana, Dervish Bajraktari, Muhtar Nika, Necip Bilali, Sylë Elezi, Ahmet Qehaja, and others.[1]


Given the geostrategic position, the Albanian troops were deployed fronting: Gjakova highland (Qafë Morinë - Qafë Prush) - Has (Planejë - Gorozhup) - Qafë Zhur - Vërri (Billushë - Jeshkovë - Lybeqevë - Lez) - Sharr (Gur i Zi) - Opojë (Llapushnik gorge). The organization of the Albanian resistance was done by Ramadan Zaskoci, Ramadan Çejku, Qazim Lika, Islam Sali Spahija, Hoxhe Mehmed, Osman Lita, Cen Daci, Bajram Things, Dervish Nezir Bajraktari, Muhtar Nika, Nexhip Aga Bilali, Sylë Elezi, Ahmet Ilaz Qehaja, Jemin Gjana, Elez Isufi, Suf Xhelili, Baftjar Doda and Xhafer Doda from Tejmalla, Diber, Bajram Curri from Gjakova highland, Sali Bajraktari from Has, Sheh Hasan Prizreni, Jahja Sait Sahiti from Kuki of Opoja, Kapllan Opoja, Nail Hyseni, Dani Rapça, Esat Berisha, Abdul Osmani, Arif Krusa etc.

To prevent the Serbian troops from crossing on the other side of White Drin, the Albanians organized an ambush in the villages of Shalqin, Domaj, and Gjinaj. The Luma forces numbered circa 4,000 people, while the ones from Dibra around 600.[1]

The first battle along the border of Luma continued into Morinë. The Serbian army fought for 2–3 days and suffered heavy losses with many dead and wounded. After the loss, the Serbian army took 37 ethnic Albanian civilians as hostage and took them to Prizren, threatening people not to support the uprising. They were reorganized with new units and launched towards Luma again. Albanian forces, now facing detachments of the Šumadija division, fought sporadically along the banks of the White Drin river and the slopes of Koretnik and Gjallicë. They hit the Serbian units with constant strikes and many other Albanian fighters from Morinë and Përbreg joined in. Tactical withdrawal of Albanian guerrillas and their positioning gave results. The plan to withdraw was due to the large amount of Serbian soldiers but also due to the artillery and heavy weapons. While pursuing, the Serbian forces were subsequently trapped. The division of Šumadija suffered heavy losses and were forced to leave.

The Albanian council of war was centered in Tabe (Qafë Kolesjan), securing backlines through the Përbreg - Gjegjën - Bardhoc - Morinë - Vërmicë - Shkozë - Dobrusht - Zhur. On the morning of 15 November 1912, the war council gave the order to attack the Serbian units from several directions. Thanks to the configurations of the mountainous terrain and bad weather with rain and thunder, the Luma Albanians managed, although badly equipped, to launch a major attack on the Serbian forces on the hills of Kolesjan, causing them severe losses. Due to the strong resistance, the Serbian forces withdrew from Kolesjan and Gabrica and positioned themselves on the southern shores of Shejesë and the eastern shores of the Black Drin. The Council of War, after a realignment of Albanian forces in the field, on 16 November, ordered the Albanian forces to continue their offensive towards the Serbian positions and clashes took place, mainly on the left side of Shejesë.

The Serbian army was caught in panic, and while shooting in all directions, started fleeing where many were shot and killed and others drowned in the river. To the advantage of the situation created, the Albanian forces moved from Kolosh to Zbor and Nangë and set up three groups in order to pursuit. The Albanians had considerably less casualties, including one of the leaders, Ibrahim Zeqiri, bayraktar of Radomirë.

The Serbians were trapped in panic and left the battlefield, leaving many killed or drowned in the rivers Drin and Shejesë. To take advantage of the situation created, the war council already moved to the area of Zbor-Nangë, and there set a two-direction offensive (consisting of 3 groups) to further pursuit. To prevent new enforcement of Serbian forces coming from Prizren to Lumë, heavy fighting took place in the region of Vërrin, Dobrushë, Qafë Zhur, Billushë, Lez and Lezkovac. Serbian units tried to break the front line of Vërrin in order to attack the Albanians from behind but they did not succeed. Serbian side had many casualties. The Albanian war council had a meeting led by Ramadan Zaskoci on 15 November. In November of 17, 1912, the council ordered a further offensive forces against the Serbs in all front. The highlanders of Lumë continued to fight the Serbian units as they tried and failed to regroup in the hill of Galipë and Zbor. The Serbian army was devastated after losing hundreds of soldiers and many abandoned the battlefield.

Ultimate fighting took place on the banks of the White Drin and Black Drin. Several Serbian detachments who escaped annihilation in the region of Bicaj towards the Tower of Luma, managed to flee to the opposite shore of the Luma river, down the valley. Serbian sources say that "the whole day of 17 November 1912, heavy fighting took place between Serbs and Albanians with attacks coming from all sides, especially from the left side of the Luma river. Many Serb soldiers drowned in the river fleeing. The strongest Albanian force was on the right brink of the White Drin river."[citation needed]


The Luma Albanians captured the Tower of Luma with bloody fighting, which marked the victory in this battle. Albanian forces on the evening of the day of 17 November, after reaching the position in the line, attacked the convoy with carriages of the Serbian forces attempting to withdraw in the direction of Prizren. During these fights, the Serbians lost many soldiers and much materials in the line of war. The fighting in the mountains was described in the memoirs of Kosta Novaković, a Serbian soldier who participated in the fighting.
He wrote:

"I will not mention the first task of our department of Luma - the disarmament of Luma - which we did not succeed with and for this we chose to return to our commanders. We paid with our lives for this fight and we lost many soldiers, much ammunition, food and shelter. After the horrible fighting in Luma, after 4 nights without sleep, after walking in water up to my waist, we finally were supported with another battalion, and then we immediately began fleeing, exhausted, to the region of Zhur, 8 km away from Prizren."

The success achieved in these days of fighting highlighted the skills of the Albanian guerrillas, who were victorious although inferior in forces and armament.[1]


Calculation of the number of casualties is difficult since the very primary sources were contradictory. Serbian military reports talk about "several hundreds", same number as what Kosta Novaković gives. The Serbian historians later placed the number to 198, and 31 wounded. The narrative stories of the Luma highlanders place the number as far as 16,000 or even up to 18,000, much more than the 12,000 which mostly circulates, also placed in the Albania memorial dedicated to the battle.

An Ottoman telegram sent from Ohrid to Elbasan, dated 20 November 1912, reported 3 officers and an "uncountable" number of soldiers, with around 1,000 riffles captured by the Albanians. Another telegram, dating 2 December, sent from Aqif Pasha Elbasani to Ahmet bey Zogolli, mentions that the Serbians lost 6 battalions. The British consulate in Skopje reported by late February 1913 that they had lost 8 battalions. Sali Onuzi places the number around 2,000 based on second phase (13–18 November) reports from the Ottomans of over 1,000. This without including any possible losses from the paramilitary units which were proportionally less.[2] Albanians recorded 109 casualties on their side.


General Janković ordered the annihilation of the Luma tribe where the Serbian army massacred an entire population of men, women and children and burned 27 villages in the region.[5] Following the Serbian offensives of 1912-1913, Luma was the area that experienced one of the most appalling atrocities committed against the Albanians. Luma tribe was practically decimated and went near to ceasing existence.[4] Women and children were tied to bundles of hay and set on fire before the eyes of their husbands and fathers. The women were then barbarously cut to pieces and the children bayoneted.[5]

Leon Trotsky collected reports during the period and he added in his report: "It is all so inconceivable, and yet it is true!" 400 men from Luma who gave themselves up voluntarily were taken to Prizren and executed day after day in groups of forty to sixty.[6][7]

In connection with the news report it was reported that 300 unarmed Albanians of the Luma tribe were executed in Prizren without trial. Regular Serbian troops committed the massacres but there was no doubt whatsoever that even the heinous massacres committed by irregulars were carried out with the tacit approval and in full compliance with the will of the Serbian authorities. At the beginning of the war the Serbian officials that "we are going to wipe out the Albanians." Despite European protests, this systematic policy of extermination continued unhindered.[8][9][10]


The Battle of Luma ended on the morning of 18 November 1912, with Albanian forces prevailing against the third Serbian army.[citation needed] The battle of Luma, together with other events as the battle of Monastir, and the Ottoman resistance in key city of Shkodër in the north-west and Yannina in the south threatened the decisions of the National Assembly in Vlora. The later led to the Albanian proclamation of independence, 28 November 1912, from the Ottoman Empire. Specifically the battle of Luma secured the central Albania Adriatic cost, permitting Ismail Qemali and other Albanian representative to disembark in Durres, since Vlore was threatened by the Greek forces, who had already landed in Himara.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Daci, Fatos (24 September 2013), Lufta 9 vjeçare e Dibrës më 1912-1921, si u organizua kryengritja e përgjithshme, masakrat, gjenocidi serb dhe shpërngulja masive [The 9-year war of Dibra in 1912-1921, how the general uprising was organized, massacres, genocide from the Serbians, and massive displacement] (in Albanian), Sot News
  2. ^ a b c Sali Onuzi, Mundja e Serbeve ne Lume 1912 [The loss of the Serbs in Lume 1912] (in Albanian), Kosovari Media, archived from the original on 26 January 2016, retrieved 8 January 2016
  3. ^ Braha, Shaban (1981). Idriz Seferi në Lëvizjet Kombëtare Shqiptare. Shtëpia Botuese "8 Nëntori". p. 130. Forcat sërbe ishin të rraskapitura gjatë përleshjeve në thellësitë e vilajetit të Kosovës dhe tani, në skajet më të largëta të Kosovës...
  4. ^ a b Robert Elsie (30 May 2015). "10. The Tribes of the Upper Drin Basin". The Tribes of Albania: History, Society and Culture. I.B.Tauris. p. 283. ISBN 978-1-78453-401-1.
  5. ^ a b Archbishop Lazër Mjeda (24 January 1913), Robert Elsie (ed.), Report on the Serb Invasion of Kosova and Macedonia, Texts and Documents of Albanian History, Vienna, archived from the original on 3 March 2016
  6. ^ Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan War (1914)
  7. ^ Levene, Mark (2013). Devastation: Volume I: The European Rimlands 1912-1938. Oxford University Press. pp. 106-108.
  8. ^ Freundlich, Leo (1913), Robert Elsie (ed.), Albania's Golgotha: Indictment of the Exterminators of the Albanian People, Texts and Documents of Albanian History, archived from the original on 31 May 2012
  9. ^ Elsie, Robert (2015). The Tribes of Albania: History, Society and Culture. IB Tauris. pp. 282-283. "During the First Balkan War beginning in October 1912, Serbia took advantage of the power vacuum left by the crumbling Ottoman Empire to invade and conquer Kosovo and the Luma and Dibra regions in late October and early November of that year. While the Great Powers recognised Albania as a sovereign state on 29 July 1913, Kosovo, Luma, Dibra, Ohrid and Monastir remained under Serbian military rule and, on 7 September 1913, King Peter I of Serbia proclaimed the annexation of the conquered territories. A large uprising against Serbian rule took place in the Luma region and in the mountains vest of Gjakova, which was suppressed by a force of over 20,000 Serbian troops who advanced into Albania, almost reaching Elbasan. An amnesty was declared by the government in Belgrade in October 1913, yet the pogroms against the Albanian population continued. During this uprising and later during World War I, the Luma tribe was decimated by Serbian forces."
  10. ^ Banac, Ivo (1988). The national question in Yugoslavia: origins, history, politics. Cornell University Press. pp. 295-296. "The logic of this sort of chauvinistic harangue became evident in the Balkan wars. Serbian and Montenegrin units committed many massacres of Albanians in the course of hostilities. The indiscriminate slaughter in the Lume tribal area of northeastern Albania was reported in the Serbian socialist press and was later retold in the report of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which summed up the rationale of Albanian horrors: ‘Houses and whole villages reduced to ashes, unarmed and innocent populations massacred en masse, incredible acts of violence, pillage and brutality of every kind—such were the means which were employed and are still being employed by the Serbo-Montenegrin soldiery, with a view to the entire transformation of the ethnic character of regions inhabited exclusively by Albanians.” Villagers, alerted to the intentions of invading armies “by tradition, instinct and experience,” fled before the invaders, who set the abandoned cottages to flame (p. 151)."
  11. ^ Skendi, Stavro (2015). The Albanian National Awakening. Princetown University Press. p. 461. ISBN 9781400847761. But Vlorë was threatened by the Greeks, who had landed in Himaré, and there was fear that their armies might increase as the fight between them and the Albanians of the surrounding regions had begun. In order to protect the town, Albanians of the surrounding regions had begun

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