The Battle of Kolubara – My Dad, Volunteer in WWI


Excerpt from “My Dad, Volunteer in WWI”, a memoir in the making.

The previous instalment can be seen here.


While Bogdan worked in Niš, the Serbian Army retreated from Gučevo, the mountain ridge, to the right bank of the Kolubara River. The Battle of Kolubara lasted for a month, from 16 November 1914 when the Austro-Hungarian Army attacked to 15 December when they were beaten by the Serbian Army and forced to withdraw from Serbia.

German publicist Maximilian Harden wrote: “Serbia has risen from its grave on the field of Kosovo. From the source of the Kolubara River it will draw courage for the greatest battles of the whole century.”(Wikipedia)

Why was it possible that an army technically better equipped and more numerous had been beaten by a much smaller army and less sophisticated in military equipment? And many Serb soldiers lacked any uniform other than a standard issue greatcoat.  They wore a traditional Serbian cap known as a “šajkača”, and instead of proper boots, they wore “opanci”, the traditional peasant footwear. My dad was lucky, he had his Austro-Hungarian boots!



Opanci are known as a national symbol of Serbia. I found this one in one of my books. It’s a bookmark. “Opanci” is plural,  “opanak” is singular.



So how did they defeat the Austro-Hungarian Army?

Firstly, the Serb military strategy was superior: the Battle of Cer, the first Allies victory, is studied even today at military academies. Quite remarkable, don’t you think?

Secondly, Serb soldiers gained experience in two Balkan Wars the previous year.

And thirdly, they were defending their homeland, their families.

The Austro-Hungarian soldiers, on the other hand, although better equipped, lacked experience and enthusiasm: apart from Hungarians and Austrians, they were mostly Slavs – Czechs, Poles, Slovenes, Croats (and unfortunate Serbs, like my dad) – who were also imbued with Pan-Slavic sentiments and unwilling to fight against Serbs.

File:Duke Zivojin Misic Statue Valjevo.JPG

Duke Zivojin Misic’s statue in Valjevo (Wikipedia Commons)
Zivojin Misic was a general of the Serbian first army during the Battle of Kolubara.


The three Serbian victories resulted in the sacking of Austro-Hungarian commander Marshal Oskar Potiorek and in the Allies realising that to win this war they had to help Serbia.

The victories on the front had provided Serbia with ten months of reprieve. But at the same time many infectious diseases were imported with the Austro-Hungarian soldiers. Cholera, dysentery, diphtheria and typhus decimated the population. Typhus was the worst as it often resulted in gangrene, requiring limb amputation. The epidemic spread in December 1914 and reached a climax in February and March 1915. Thus a Russian envoy testified: “In stables on hay and in the fields the dying lie next to the corpses of the dead.” And Dr Archibald Reiss, the forensic scientist from Switzerland, deplored the tragic situations in these terms: “Graveyard diggers are digging graves from sunrise till night.” It is estimated that more than 400.000 people had fallen ill; 100.000 civilians, about 30.000 soldiers and 30.000 prisoners had died. The losses among doctors and medical staff were catastrophic, with one quarter of doctors perishing, according to John Reed, a journalist from the USA.

The much needed aid by the Allies came too late.

(To be continued)

©2016 Irina Dimitric

Posted in WWI | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Shake Me, Rock Me




An instant only stood
Between offended gloom and jolly joy
The gesture offered in good faith,
A simple sorry, did unleash
An avalanche of mocking mirth

An instant only
Then into merry sparks it morphed
A waterfall of belly laughter
She could not stop
It shook her, rocked her out of gloom

A thousand church bells
In her rocking, bouncing chest
Echoed songs of happy times
In both their hearts
As they laughed and laughed and laughed


© Copyright 2016 Irina Dimitric

Photo credit: Sasha Dimitric – Our Honeymoon 1958

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Cried A River Over You


P1120360 pansies- signed

I cried a river over you

For years and years and years

Until all the tears had dried up


The river bed is parched ground now

Dying a slow death

Yet yearning for life

Yearning for tears

But my tears won’t come


You come

In my dreams you come

As lovely as a spring flower

Coloured with colours of hope

Inside though, a stubborn, cold heart

Within a wall of leaden silence


But my tears don’t come

The river bed is parched ground now.  



Copyright © 2016 Irina Dimitric




Posted in Dark Poetry, Free Verse, Photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Same- Sex Marriage and Marriage Equality

P1080835 text signed-001 border

The following observations and ideas are intended for the Australian public and politicians who now find themselves in some kind of stalemate as to how to go about legalising same-sex marriage. The Turnbull government has promised a plebiscite, but the motion will most probably be defeated in parliament by those who oppose it, fearing the silent majority will not yield the result they want, as is claimed by pro-plebiscite punters.

There’s a simple way out of this conundrum. It’s a question of using the right words and keep everyone happy.

So, if we use initials LGBTIQ for rainbow people, why not call same-sex marriage “S-S marriage”? Problem solved. No need for a plebiscite. I’m sure no one would object. This is how I see it:

~ Same-sex couples get the word “marriage”, which they so desperately want, while heterosexual couples retain their four- thousand- years-plus right to the unadulterated meaning of “marriage”, which is a union between a male and a female of the human species.
~ The term “S-S marriage” describes clearly that it is a union between two people of the same sex. Before the law both institutions are equal, but they can never be equal biologically for the simple fact of nature that an “S-S marriage” cannot produce a baby without the help of an individual of the opposite sex to theirs. This is crystal clear to anyone with even a modest amount of common sense.
~ A marriage certificate should therefore reflect this reality. Nothing changes for heterosexual couples. The certificate for traditional marriage is just as before, a Marriage Certificate, whereas the other one should bear the title “S-S Marriage Certificate”.
~ No minister of religion, rabbi or imam should be forced by law to marry S-S couples. There are plenty of marriage celebrants happy to conduct a civil marriage ceremony.

To my mind this seems to be a simple solution which embraces diversity without upsetting the apple cart.

PS., I feel like I’d chosen the wrong career – I should have been a politician. I would have created a new party, the Common Sense Party. But, as I am now a senior of advanced age, I can only live in the hope that someone in the political arena, someone endowed with common sense, of course, will read this post and see some merit in my ideas. Let us never give up hope in human ingenuity and goodwill!


Copyright© September 2016 Irina Dimitric

Posted in Essay, Humour | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Daffodils – Cinquain

~To celebrate the First Day of Spring in Australia, September 1,  I cannot but sing praises to the pretty daffodils in my garden.❤

P1250816-001 Daffodils - Cinquain


stars descended

from the sky; twinkling on

they bring a spark of heaven down

to earth


Happy Spring to all the inhabitants of the Southern Hemisphere!❤


Copyright © 1 September 2016 Irina Dimitric

Posted in Cinquain, Irina Dimitric, Nature, Poetry/Photography, Visual Arts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Daffodils – Haiku in French and English

Voilà le Narcisse trompette qui trompette à tue-tête dans mon jardin, annonçant la nouvelle saison.
The Common Daffodil or Narcissus pseudonarcissus in my garden announces the new season with its loud trumpet.

P1250821 signed

Un coin de jardin
Etoilé de narcisses
Parfum de printemps

Starry corner
In the garden
Daffodils dance


Wishing everyone a great week ahead!❤

Copyright© August 2016 Irina Dimitric

Posted in Haiku, Irina Dimitric, Photography, Poetry, Poetry/Photography, Visual Arts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Are you a Galanthophile? Or perhaps a Lexophile?


P1220638-001 signed

Are you a Galanthophile? Or perhaps a Lexophile?

“Oxford Dictionaries Online’s word of the day a few days ago (sign up here) was galanthophile, which means ‘a collector of, or expert in, snowdrops’, Galanthus being the genus name of the snowdrop. The first part of the word comes from the Greek word for milk, γάλα (gala), and so, interestingly, does the word galaxy, which, more precisely, is from the Greek for ‘milky circle’ or ‘milky one’. Originally, galaxy referred to the Milky Way alone; according to the OED, “The existence of galaxies as separate systems analogous to and outside of the Milky Way system was proposed in the 19th cent. but not proved until the first meaningful determinations of the distances of galaxies by E. P. Hubble in the 1920s.”. The classical Latin lact- meaning milk, is related.” (By courtesy of The virtual linguist.).

Most interesting! Now let’s come back to ‘galanthophile’.

The second part of the word means ‘lover of’ or ‘enthusiast for’ and comes from Greek -philos, as everybody already knows, and if you happen to be a ‘bulbophile’ like me, then read on.

I admit that I’m neither an expert in nor a collector of snowdrops, but I do love these delicate harbingers of spring. They grace my garden in the month of August and remind me of the advent of springtime in March back in my old home.

Jingle jangle

Snowdrops dangle

Sings the springtime breeze

So long! Goodbye, winter freeze!


But are they true snowdrops? I mean the ones in my garden.

To my great astonishment I discover on Google that the ‘snowdrops’ which grow in my garden are actually ‘snowflakes’ or Leucojum aestivum. You can check out this link if you don’t believe me:

In short, snowflakes (but you can keep calling them snowdrops because everybody does) are much taller than snowdrops and have more than one flower per stem, and I think they are much prettier, as their petals are adorned with a green spot on the end. They prosper well in Sydney and many parts of Australia while snowdrops like a colder climate in southern parts and in New South Wales in the Blue Mountains.

So, having studied this subject in some depth, I can now conclude that I am not only a ‘galanthophile’, remembering the pretty flower of my childhood, but definitely a ‘leucojumophile’ since the snowflakes in my garden put a smile on my face.

And I guess, I’m a bit of a lexophile into the bargain.

What about you? What kind of ‘phile’ are you? Remember, learning new words keeps your brain cells in good nick.

Cheers :) Irina


© Copyright 2016 Irina Dimitric

Posted in Essay, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Busy Bee


busy bee-001

Aren’t we lucky we are not bees? We can have a rest.

Wishing you all a restful weekend!❤


Copyright 2016 Irina Dimitric

Posted in Photography, Quote | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Blue Dream

P1140508 The Blue Dream

She’s never seen such a beautiful sight, such intense colours. Only in dreams. This was her third such dream that she can remember. A real jewel. Blue sapphire.

She woke up, out of this seascape dream, in the early hours of the morning, feeling elated, and bewildered by her own subconscious mind which offered her such a dazzling gift. She went to bed late last night and needed more sleep. But would she forget the dream? She didn’t want to lose a dream of such beauty.

“I’ll go through it now, step by step. In my mind.”

There was no question of writing it down. She was too sleepy.

“The blueness of the sea sparkled in the sun. Deep sapphire blue against the pale blue sky. The waves were gently rolling towards the sandy beach stretching from one end to the other of the dream canvas. There were some swimmers in the sea calling out to me to join them, and I did.”

In real life she would have vehemently resisted their call. She absolutely hated the coldness of the water when her warm body was making that agonising first contact with the sea. It would take her ages to get completely immersed, uttering Ohs! and Ahs! at each one-centimetre immersion.

“I just gently slid into the warm water.”

The dazzling colours and the warmth of the sea were with her when she woke up again at midday.

One thing puzzled her, though. How come she dreamt such a beautiful, soothing dream after watching The Bomb on TV last night? Her dream could have easily been littered with exploding giant mushrooms reaching high up into the sky, with raging fires, with humans, animals and plants instantly pulverised into oblivion.

She winked at the clear blue winter sky and embraced the warmth of the midday sun. A butcher bird filled the air with his hauntingly melodious love call.


©Irina Dimitric 16 August 2016

Posted in Story | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Power of Words

WE ARE ALL EQUAL (written in 2011)

For this week’s challenge: write a personal essay, I was going to write about one of my departed dogs or cats, but I got quite emotional as soon as I started thinking about them. So my essay is about new trends in the choice of words in our ever-changing society, and particularly about three words I feel strongly about.

The Australian Labour Party has just voted in favour of same sex marriage. Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, put it to a conscience vote. This has got me thinking: the trend in our society, namely equalisation, has brought about many changes. Ever since the Anti Discrimination Act of 1984, Australians have become wary of committing an offence that could see them pay a hefty fine or serve a jail sentence. Racial and sexual discrimination went out the window, and rightly so. Gone were the days of ‘wogs’, ‘dagos’, abos’ and so on. Out went ‘Mrs’, in came ‘Ms’ – a woman’s status stopped being defined by her ‘Mr”. If she was married, she could choose ‘Mrs’ or ‘Ms’, if unmarried ‘Miss’ or ‘Ms’.

So, if you choose ‘Ms’, you are a person in your own right. Now, the word ‘person’ brings me to my observation that the tendency today is to equalise. Equal pay for equal work, there’s nothing wrong with that, I’m all for it. But this equalisation, however, is sometimes oddly reflected in the language. The word ‘man’, a vestige of a patriarchal system, has been replaced by the neutral word ‘person’. So now we have a ‘chairperson‘ chairing a meeting, and in direct address we use ‘Mr Chairman’ and ‘Madam Chair’. It would seem odd to say ‘Ms Chairwoman’, it sounds too much like ‘charwoman’. It would also be ridiculous to call a’manhole‘ a ‘personhole’ or a ‘humanhole’, ‘ human‘ having replaced the generic ‘man’.

This equalisation is equally ridiculous when an established word used to denote a person of female gender is replaced by a word denoting a person of male gender. It just makes no sense. If we are getting rid of the generic ‘man’ wherever possible, why are female thespians suddenly called ‘actors’? This smacks of the notion that the status of the female thespian is somehow raised by adopting the word which applies to her male counterparts. Very demeaning and discriminatory into the bargain! And it does not follow the idea that one must choose ‘person’, which is neutral, instead of ‘man’, which is sexist and abhorrent. You will argue that ‘doctor’ and director’ apply to both sexes, so by analogy and according to the equalising trend ‘actor’ for an ‘actress’ is not only OK , but a MUST. But why do away with a word that tells me immediately whether the thespian in question is a male or female? The word ‘actor’ for an actress shall never pass my lips. I like the word ‘actress’ – it conjures up the image of a lovable and brave ‘lioness’ or ‘ tigress ‘.

To come back to same sex marriage. Lesbians and gays – that is outright discriminatory. If, in the present climate of political correctness regarding sexism, all thespians, whether male or female, are now ’actors’, then gays and lesbians should get a common denominator. I suggest: ‘gaybians’. Shall we put it to the vote of conscience? By the way, I do not like the way homosexuals have usurped the word ‘gay’ without consulting heterosexuals. I’m definitely voting for ‘gaybians’. What about you ?


As you can see I wrote the above observations almost five years ago. My proposal has never been considered, let alone adopted. Had someone with clout seen some merit in my proposal, today the LGBTIQ community would have one letter less to contend with, because, let’s face it, it is a mouthful.
So GBTIQ: Gaybians, Bisexuals, Transgenders, Intersex, Queers. Ah, but I hear the LGBT community screaming their heads off, they’ve got nothing to do with Queers, they do not consider themselves queer but run-of-the mill humans like the commonplace heterosexuals. OK, let’s leave the Queers alone, they like being identified as Queer. But what about another name for LGBTI people? What about Gender Diverse community or GD? Fewer initials! Or Gender Splendour – GS?

To heck with gender! Who needs gender anyway? Gender just complicates everyone’s life and is the main cause of overpopulation and consequent climate change. It stands to reason that if we want to save our planet, unisex is the way forward. Unisex toilets, for instance, also called gender-neutral bathrooms. In Australia the Safe Schools Program, devised by the finest thinkers of our great land, is right on the money when advocating unisex toilets and discouraging the use of discriminatory words like ‘boy’ or ‘girl’. The time has come to abolish all kinds of sex discrimination and where better to start but at the basics? Let’s build a better future with unisex school uniforms Mao style and unisex toilets. Misogyny and homophobia extinguished with one word – Unisex.

Unisex Toilet Sign

Unisex should become the buzz word of the 21st century. Unisex happiness everywhere. Freedom from gender oppression will at last be won!

© Irina Dimitric 2016

Posted in Essay, Humour | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments