By Novica Lukic
This is a presentation dedicated to my grandfather, Serbian Cetnick alias “Angel 31” in the resistance, and after WW2 Major of the French foreign legion.
Novica Lukic was born on September 14th, 1919 in Sljivovac, a village near Kragujevac, in Sumadija, the heart of Serbia, as fourth son of father Milutin and mother Ljubica. After Elementary school and College, he went to the Military boarding school, and in 1937 as a graduated cadet, works in the “Military Technical Institute” in Kragujevac.
After capitulation of Yugoslavia, in April 1941, Novica’s older brother Milorad, pilot in the Royal Yugoslav Air Force, is coming back home and immediately organizes people to resist against the German occupier. Novica becomes the confidant of Sumadija’s Army corpses Command for working with Ravna Gora’s Serbian Women Organization, and becomes a man of trust under the code name “Angel 31”. In autumn 1941 on Ravna Gora he meets Draza Mihailovitch, where together with his brother Milorad they received the gold medal for bravery. Unfortunately, in one of the battles with the enemy, Novica’s brothers Milorad and Svetislav are killed.
In a furlough at the beginning of war, he meets the 19-year-old Mica, love at first sight. From that moment on, every free moment he will spend with her, then he marries her in spring 1944. As a result of their love, their son (my father) Miroslav was born and, by the gamble of destiny, Novica (my homonymous grand-father) will never see him.
In autumn 1944, together with other Serbian Cetnicks, Novica leaves Serbia, where like most of them, he will never come back. In Bosnia, the Cetnicks betrayed by the allies, which, for accommodating with Stalin sacrificed their most faithful ally: Draza Mihailovitch are faced to a Golgotha very hard to imagine.
Soon after that, in December the same year, in a battle against numerous enemies amid them German Nazis, Oustashis (Germans’ most faithful allies in the Balkans) and Communists he is wounded in eastern Bosnia, in a village near Kalinovik named Miljevina, and captured by the Germans and transported to a hospital in the Czech town of Mlada Boleslav, where he wrote his first book “My Love”.
In spring 1945 he moves to Slovenia where he joins Cetnicks of Voïvoda Djujic, with the idea of returning to Serbia. He realized that not only it was impossible to break open the communist front line to enter Bosnia but also entering Serbia was much harder than that. He moves with the Cetnicks of Voïvoda Djujic to Italy in the early beginning of May 1945 where they friendly meet the Allies who welcome and reward the Cetnicks for the resistance against the common German foe by disarming and arresting them and send them to the Cesena Camp!!
The English Army moved them to the Eboli Camp where Novica is spending his time in writing down his memories from war and considering his as well as his people’s tragic destiny. As a result of his thoughts, he wrote down everything, which makes several books among which one titled “Through the free Serbian mountains”, totally ignoring that, by the gamble of destiny, and the big help of our true friend Mr Simic a Yugoslav diplomat in France, his handwritings will fall in his descendants’ hands. Not only that his books have a historical precious value but also a aesthetic one, which is confirmed by the extracts I have put on this website. After one an a half year in the Eboli Camp, in spring 1946, where he learnt he become a father of a son in a letter from his brother, he began to have a one and only obsession: to meet his Mica and his son for good.
In April 1947 amid the rest of the Serbian soldiers that survived, he is transferred to Germany, more precisely to the Munster’s camp, where, by an order of king George VI, soldiers of Draza Mihajlovic are given the status of refugees. Soon after, without any possibility to go back to Serbia, he went to Marseille in France and joins the French foreign legion.
In autumn 1948, as a French legionnaire he dwells in the city of Le Kef in Tunisia where he gets the “Certificat d’Aptitude”, and in 1949 the “Medaille Coloniale”. In 1950 he moved in Indochina, in Saigon (Vietnam). He keeps in contact with Mica by letters through his cousin Petar from Haggen (Germany). In one of his letters he writes: ”I’m travelling more than being in one place, so that I have been travelling around half of the world so far. I’ve been in Asia, in Africa as well as on the Big Islands.” and in another: “It’s been four complete years I haven’t seen snow or felt the cold. All the time in summer clothes, except when I’m at work.” In 1951 he is in Hamamet, a small town in Tunisia, where he stays till October.
The following year he travels throughout North Africa but is still based in Le Kef till August, when he ends his five-year contract for the Legion and reaches the required qualities to obtain the French nationality. As a Sergent-Chef, Commander of the « I/6 Regiment Entranger d’Infanterie » he gets the « Certificat de bonne conduite ». In summer 1952 he is travelling back to France with only one idea in mind, to meet his son and his beloved Mica. He sends his address from Marange, then from Strasbourg, a place where he will spend next few years trying to meet his family.
In Strasbourg he works for half of the wage he used to earn in the Foreign Legion and during the whole 1953 he tries to get together with Mica and his son Miroslav. However, the communist government in Serbia refuses to give passports to Novica’s family. After that, he writes in a letter that he was ill for the first time, but he doesn’t loose hope in gathering with his family. In the following letter, from the beginning of 1954, he writes that will soon be in Africa and gives the postal address of one of his friend Auram Vladimir (the man who will roughly fifty years keep his pictures and handwritings) and through who they can send him letters to him.
In the middle of 1955 he learnt there was a possibility that Mica and Miroslav leave Yugoslavia so he returns back from the trip he was going to. In the next letter he sends a permanent certificate, which would allow them to stay in France, and specifies they should contact Madame Ritch Adele when coming to France. If Mrs. Ritch isn’t there, they should ask for Michel, and if he isn’t there too, they should look for Wilhelm Bausmerth, a Romanian who, together with Hungarian Laszlo Galavisc was a witness certifying for Novica to obtain a birth certificate. For six months he doesn’t work expecting good news, but in October he receives a letter which announced that the passports definitely couldn’t be given. In autumn 1955 he is preparing for a trip again, and writes that if any new chance for leaving Yugoslavia appears, to look for Vladimir’s wife Pierette Auram.
In 1956 he is in the Legion again, in North Africa from where he sends new addresses from Tunisia and Libya. In the meantime he got a rank of major, but unfortunately most of the documents from that period confirming it are lost. Although he never wrote about that, I suspect he lost his left arm in a battle.
On May 1st, 1957 he perishes, somewhere in North Africa.
By everything I learnt about my grandfather, he was, from many angles, an extraordinary man. He was noble, honest and particularly brave man. During the civil war in Serbia, he saved many people’s lives risking his own one many times for fighting for “Honourous Cross and the golden freedom” as he liked to say. He was polyglot, played on several musical instruments, expressed his emotions in tens of books and hundreds of upsetting letters, and was a real athlete and true Christian. Wherever he went, people were really charmed by his goodness. After all of this suffer, he needed so few to reach happiness, but the sad destiny in a cruel world didn’t give him the right he had undeniable deserved.