'A brief and personal account': the evidence of Charles Dobson on the destruction of the city of Smyrna in September 1922


  • Joanna Hyslop


Includes image: 'head of athena', 1924.


Charles Dobson (1886-1930) was the Anglican Chaplain at Smyrna in September 1922 when the city was destroyed by fire. Accounts were widely reported in newspapers during the following days and the consensus was that the fire had been deliberately started by Turkish troops some days after they regained the city.2 Soon after escaping and while still a refugee from Smyrna, Reverend Dobson was so disturbed by rumours of denial about the cause of the fire3 he was moved to write two reports in which he unequivocally stated his belief that the Turkish Army was responsible. Later he was a key witness in a trial about its origins. The two accounts, together with his witness testimony, reveal a clear day-to-day narrative of Dobson’s experiences. With reference to the map of Smyrna which was used for the trial proceedings, his account of the critical period leading to the destruction of Smyrna takes on topographical as well as chronological detail. It is the purpose of this paper to present a summary of these accounts with a brief analysis of their particular qualities and how they came about.