The myth of the title Assyro-Chaldean Army
Here are several accounts written in English, Syriac and Arabic, which prove clearly that the Assyrians who fought during and after World War I were doing so for the Assyrian national cause. These Assyrians were part of what was referred to as the Assyrian Army, Assyrian Contingent, Assyrian Forces, Assyrian Detachment, Assyrian Companies, Assyrian Irregular Forces, Assyrian Police, Assyrian Battalions, Assyrian Soldiers and finally the Assyrian Levies as most Assyrian history books indicate. The members of the Chaldean Catholic Church, in general, were not part of these forces and even if there were few who enlisted, which was the case, those in fact were definitely people who considered themselves ethnically Assyrians.
English language Accounts
1. “The Baqubah Refugee Camp” by H.H. Austin. “It may not be out of place, therefore, to point that there were exceedingly few Roman Catholic Assyrians or “Chaldeans” as they are generally termed when they embrace Rome, amongst the refugees at Baqubah. The very large majority of the Roman Catholic Assyrians in the Mosul vilayet did not join the mountaineers and fight against Turks.” (pages not numbered)
2. “The Assyrian Tragedy” by Annamasse. “Colonel J.J. McCarthy who header the British Military Mission to Persia during the War and who came in contact with the Assyrians there states: I have made a strong point of the fact that your people were definitely promised by me, (acting under orders from headquarters of course) that they would have their country restored to them, and that my orders, and only reason for raising the Assyrian contingent in Hamadan in 1919 was to drive the Turks out and re-occupy the country” (page 14)
3. “The Flickering Light of Asia” by Joel E. Werda. “More than the delay of Agha Petros, however, the treacherous conduct of the same Armenian soldiers, who had fled from Van, contributed to the cause of the panic. General Andranek with his splendid troops had advanced to the vicinity of Khoi, about 90 miles from Urmia. He had an understanding with the Assyrian Army that, while the latter was to push the Turks back, when he arrived in Khoi, he would be in a position to strike the enemy most effectively in the rear.” (page 178)
4. “Our Smallest Ally” by Rev. W. A. Wigram. “This then was the plan, the outlines of which were dictated in a letter brought by Captain Pennington, and the details discussed between that officer and Petros; it was adopted, and the airman departed on his return, it being then July 9th. The Assyrian detachment was to meet the English at Sain Kaleh on the 23rd of the month.” (page 49)
5. “Who Are These Assyrians” by G. M. Dooman. “On the 3rd of December 1917 Mar Shimun came down from Salamas to Urmia to discuss the final military arrangements. Count Cozman, one of the Russian Commanders who decided to remain with us in Urmia, was then appointed the commander of the whole Assyrian Forces in Salamas and Urmia.” (page 19) Then we read: “The Assyrian Battalion did well in this expedition, and the opertations concluded most satisfactory in September of that year, and further actions against other Kurdish tribes continued throughout 1920.” (page 30)
6. “The British Betrayal of the Assyrians” by Yusuf Malek. “In 1923, Assyrian irregular forces operated and recaptured Amadiyah.” We read: “Assyrian irregular forces supported by two Assyrian companies engaged against…” And we read: “…various other minor operations were undertaken to control the turbulent northern Iraq as the British troops were withdrawn in 1921 and the burden had to fall on the Assyrian loyal troops. The Assyrian police, whose services I have not mentioned, also played an important role in defending the northern frontier of Iraq.” (page 52)
Syriac language Accounts
7. “Tash’aeeta d’ Atourayeh” (The Assyrians’ History) by Choorish Yaqu Shlimon. “They agreed on establishing two battalions Armed Forces consisting of the Assyrian tribes to assist the Russian Army.” (page 60) Later we read: “Agha Potrus the head of all Assyrian Forces.” (page 65)
8. “Atourayeh oo treh Plasheh Tiwilayeh” (Assyrians and Two World Wars) by Malek Yaqu d’ Malek Ismael. “In June 22, 1917, Assyrian Official Forces left Urmia.” (page 71) We read too: “As His Holiness Mar Benyamin arrived he was welcomed cordially with utmost respect by Bcharjozal, governor of the city Deliman, high ranking Iranian officials and by Assyrian Organized Army.” (page 92) And we read this sentence as a sub-title: “The arrival of Millat to Hamadan: And the unification of the Assyrian Army with the British” (page 144)
Arabic language Accounts
9. “al-Ashoriyoon” (The Assyrians) by Aziz Barkho Aziz. “On the other hand, the Russians wanted to establish an Assyrian Army under their command.” (page 176). Later we read: “After the Assyrian Force under Agha Potrus left Urmia heading towards Sain Kaleh, the 5th Turkish Army took advantage of the situation and attacked vigorously the Assyrian Forces left in Urmia …” (page 189)
10. “al-Ashoriyoon wa al-mas-ala al-Ashoriya” (The Assyrians and the Assyrian Question) by Q. B. Mateeve. “And throughout 1916, the Assyrian Army increased in numbers and sharpened its fighting abilities…” (page 97) Later we read: “And for this purpose, two officers arrived at the Patriarch’s headquarters carrying for the Patriarch and the leadership of the Assyrian Army…” (page 107) And we read: “December 1920 went by and heavy rains began in the mountains, and accordingly the deployment failed. The British pushed the Assyrians to deploy. They established an Army of 5000 fighters, then armed them and send them to a sure death. This Army was grouped into three divisions, headed each division by an English Officer selected by the Commander of the British Army in Iraq himself. Agha Potrus received the leadership of the three divisions…” (page 122)
As we have seen above that the title Assyrian was used in conjunction with all military operations concerning Assyrians during and after World War One. The title Assyro-Chaldean was used in a very limited capacity and mainly by Agha Potrus, a member of the Chaldean Catholic Church and perhaps for one good reason. Assyrians began to move in April 1920 from Baquba Refugee Camp near Baghdad to Mindan Refugee Camp near Mosul, a region predominantly consisting of members of the Chaldean Catholic Church who refer to themselves mistakenly as chaldeans. It is very logical then that the ‘Soldiers Enlisting Form’ put together by Agha Potrus in 1920 would have a touch of chaldean title in it, hence, that form should not be considered more than a tactical move or in best cases a personal opinion. We could see this term being used again by Agha Potrus in 1923 in the Conference of Lausanne, France and hence few writers ever since began to use it unconsciously. The Mosul Vilayat has been a major issue for some time since the Turkish Governments continued to claim its rights in Mosul stating that the Turkish Army withdrew from the city according to the Peace Agreement while the British Forces were still in Shirqat, many miles south of Mosul. Agha Potrus could have thought that the population of the Chaldean Catholic Church members living in Mosul was going to be an important factor if any measures by the League of Nations were taken to use the census’ figures of Mosul. We really don’t know what Agha Potrus’ state of mind at that time was, at any rate, all the above historical accounts by Europeans and Assyrians from various church denominations show clearly that the Assyro-Chaldean title was not widely used, as few indicate.