A Serbian legacy
Mt. Putnik, a mountain near Three Isle Lake and west of Upper Kananaskis Lake, is named for Radomir Putnik. He was the a Serbian Field Marshal, and Chief of the General Staff of the Serbian army in the Balkan Wars and in the First World War. He served in every war in which Serbia fought from 1876 to 1917.
You can read about his significant contributions in leading Serbian conflicts prior to World War 1 here and here. During WW1, despite being ill, he was put in charge of the Serbian Army. Field Marshal Putnik defeated Austro-Hungary twice in 1914, initially keeping them out of Serbia. This was the first major land battle of WW1 and was an Allied victory. However, in the fall of 1915, some 300,000 soldiers of Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria invaded Serbia. Putnik’s forces were pushed all the way across Serbia and into Albania, losing 95,000 soldiers in the process. Putnik himself was so ill he had to be carried across Albania’s mountains in a stretcher. Those remaining by the time they hit Albania’s shores were evacuated by other Allied forces to Greece.
Though his campaign through 1915 ultimately failed, the Allied forces saw it as hugely successful. It kept Bulgaria from joining their enemy’s alliance, as they had achieved what they saw as enough territorial gains. When Putnik finally arrived in France in very ill health, he was welcomed with honours. In 1918, the Canadian government named the peak in honour of Putnik for his contributions to the Allied war effort.
Mt. Putnik today
Today, the summit of Mt. Putnik is a popular day scramble from the Three Isle Lake or Point back country campgrounds. In 2012, the Ravna Gora Serbian Heritage Society erected a plaque commemorating Duke Putnik at the North Interlakes Day Use Area. Interestingly, Mt. Putnik can’t really be seen very well from there; it’s partially blocked by the slopes of Mt. Indefatigable. However, it’s an obvious peak everyone can see from the Upper Lake Day Use Area.
Learn of more mountains in K-Country that are memorials here.