Radosav Jovičić was born in Veliki Borak in 1888, a village 40 km south of Belgrade. His birthdate is unknown. He was a son of Kostadin Jovičić who had four sons: Novica, Milan, Milić and Radosav.
In 1914 Veliki Borak was part of the military district “Danube”, Northern Serbia with Belgrade as its capital. In the documents we have, we couldn’t find Radosav’s army unit, but given the fact that he was from Veliki Borak and taking into account his age he was most probably serving the First Danube Infantry Division which was part of the 2nd Serbian army.
When the Austro-Hungarian empire declared war on Serbia on 28/07/1914 all Kostadin’s sons were serving their country. Austria-Hungary expected a quick victory, but they lost their first battle: in August 1914 the Serbian army defeated the Austro-Hungarian army as they won the battle on the mountain Cer and the Austro-Hungarian army had to withdraw. On the 2nd December 1914 the Austro-Hungarian army conquered Belgrade, but their victory was short: on the 15th December the Serbs reconquered their capital from the Austro-Hungarians.
The Serbs had to pay a high price and lost 165,557 men in 1914, or 3,5 percent of its pre-war population. Of this number, 22,276 were killed, 96,122 wounded and 45,159 missing (James Lyon, page 235). Only Kostadin’s sons Novica and Radosav survived the first year of the war: Milan died during the battle of Cer (Serbia) in August 1914. Milić died during the battle of the Kolubara in December 1914, near Lazerevac (Serbia).
In October 1915 Serbia was attacked again by the Triple Alliance, which now included Bulgaria, too. Serbia, devastated by the Balkan Wars, and the first year of WWI could not withhold anymore. The promised aid from Serbia’s allies (mainly Russia, France, United Kingdom etc.) did not arrive on time and the Serbian army had to retreat via the Prokletije mountains via Montenegro/Albania towards Corfu (Greece).
Photo below: view from Veliki Borak, 11/06/2017.
It is not plausible that Radosav was on Corfu, it is more possible that he was captured by an army of the Triple Alliance and transported to an Austro-Hungarian PoW camp and later to a German PoW camp.
It is unknown how and when Radosav arrived to the Netherlands. On the International Red Cross website “1914-18 Prisoners of the First World War” with the archives of the Prisoners of War cards Radosav could not be found. We could also not find other documents where Radosav was mentioned as being a Prisoner of War (PoW) in certain PoW camps.
It is known from earlier discoveries that most of the Serbian PoWs spent time in camps in in the province of Hannover or in German the ‘Kriegsgefangenenlager des X. Armeekorps in Hannover’. Other soldiers who arrived in the Netherlands were held prisoners in the camps of the VII Korps Münster. Before they were transferred to the German PoW camps most of them had been in the Austrian PoW camps of Braunau im Böhme (now Broumov) and Heinrichsgrün (now Jindřichovice) which are nowadays both in the Czech Republic.
Radosav’s arrival & death in Dordrecht
It is unknown when Radosav arrived in Dordrecht, but most possibly he was one of the 66 sick soldiers, who were sent from Nijmegen and who arrived on the 15th January 1919. They were treated in a makeshift field hospital, which was set up on the premises of the Kromhout regional school.
Photo below: the harbor (Spuihaven) in Dordrecht, 1919. Source:www.dordtsekaart.nl/geschiedenisuitgelicht.html
According to his official Dutch death certificate (Dordrecht 1919, no.72) Radosav died around 5 o‘clock in the morning on the 26th January 1919. He was 34 years old.
All the 15 Serbian Soldiers who died in Dordrecht were buried, with military honours, on the general cemetery.
Jindřichovice, Czech Republic
His grave was exhumed on the 11th May 1938 and transported to Nijmegen, together with the other Serbian WWI graves. His exhumation report mentions, besides his personal data, that his remains were placed in a lead box with the number 57 and that he was placed in a mausoleum in Czechoslovakia (Jindřichovice). The transport went from Nijmegen via the Dutch/German border at Wyler/Kranenburg.
Radosav found his last resting place in Jindřichovice, together with 7658 other Serbian soldiers and 189 Russian soldiers (calculated as on 1940).
As researchers you need sometimes luck to find what you are looking for and to get in touch with the right persons. That luck we had with the webmaster of the website www.velikiborak.com, Saša Stojićević, who connected us with the local historian and former teacher within a minute. The same afternoon we were in Veliki Borak to meet the Radosav’s descendants.
First we visited the church of Leskovac a village south of Veliki Borak, nearly 45 kilometer south of Belgrade. There is a memorial plate with the names of victims from the conflicts in the period 1912-1919 (First & Second Balkan War and the First World War) of the villages of Arnajevo,Veliki Borak and Šiljakovca inside this church.
The descendants told us that Radosav had together with his wife Roksa two sons: Ivan and Milutin. Ivan got a son Milorad who got a son Prvoslav. Prvoslav got two children: Dejan and Ivica . Dejan got two children Iva and Djorde. When we visited Prvoslav and Dejan’s family they told us that they know that Radosav died in the Netherlands, but they did not have further details.
On the cemetery a monument is erected for Radosav with the following text: “This monument is erected for Radosav Jovičić who lived 30 years. Died in the Netherlands in 1918. Monument is erected by sons Ivan and Milutin and grandchildren Miodrag and Milorad and spouse Roksa V.Borak” (translated from Serbian).
The family Jovičić from Veliki Borak now finally knows more about the fate of their great-grandfather or great-great grandfather who died in the Netherlands. As researchers we are grateful to them for the help and hospitality we received in Veliki Borak. We traced one more family back and saw the monuments (in the church & the cemetery) erected for him. Radosav is not any more one of millions names who died, because of WWI: he is a person with a family and his descendants did not forget him.
Večna mu slava! (=Eternal glory to him!).
Special thanks to / Sources
Special thanks to:
–The family Jovičić from Veliki Borak (Serbia) and a special thanks to “Uča” Jovičić.
-Saša Stojićević from the website Veliki Borak: http://velikiborak.com/
The following sources were used:
–National Archives of Serbia : Exhumation report , no K. Br. 84024/XII
–Civil registration Gemeente Dordrecht January 1919 No 72.
-Habert, Henri, Binnen het prikkeldraad: naar verhalen van uitgeweken Serviërs (Entre les fils barbelés: D’après les récits des évadés Serbes), Amsterdam, 1919. More information about the routes and places on the special Google Maps we have created: Link to Google Maps (click).
-Serbia and the Balkan Front, 1914; James Lyon, ISBN 978-1-4725-8004-7
-De Servische krijgsgevangenen in Dordrecht. De Dordrechtsche Courant. 15 January 1919, p.6.
-Laatste Berichten. Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant. 24 January 1919, p. 2
Fabian Vendrig with the help of Tanja Vendrig &John Stienen.
If not mentioned then the photo credits are for Fabian Vendrig.