GALLIPOLI, Turkey — Here at the place where half a million men fell during one of the fiercest battles of World War I, the Turkish Government is planning to open a "peace park" dedicated to the memory of the dead and the ideal of reconciliation.
During the grim days when this spit of land was being soaked in blood during the 1915 Gallipoli campaign, it must have seemed inconceivable that it would ever come to symbolize anything besides carnage and the waste of young lives. But the recent announcement that a Norwegian team had won an international competition to design the new park crowns more than half a century of growing friendship among the nations whose soldiers died here.
"The Norwegian entry is very subtle," said Raci Bademli, a professor of urban planning at Middle East Technical University in Ankara who coordinated the design competition. 'It is not intrusive and does not include any large buildings. Instead it is based on footpaths that take visitors around the site and create a kind of story for each individual.
"There will also be small niches that give visitors a chance to think or speculate or reflect on what they are seeing and what it means for the idea of world peace. Everything is in harmony with the existing topography."
Mr. Bademli said he was pleased that a Norwegian team had won the design competition. Because Norway was not involved in the Gallipoli battle, he said, Norwegian planners would come to the project without national preconceptions and would be drawn to the universal aspects of the human tragedy that was played out here.
The Gallipoli peninsula was declared a national park in 1973, but since then a number of illegal structures have been built on beaches where Allied troops landed and around nearby villages. The largest of the villages, Gelibolu, is known in English as Gallipoli and gave its name to the military campaign.
Plans for the peace park envision removal of these structures and an end to forestry operations that have sprung up. Most of the work is to be finished by the end of next year.
Even as it stands today, Gallipoli inspires awe and reverence. There are 31 cemeteries here, but many of those who died lie in unmarked mass graves. Since most of the fighting took place in an area only a couple of square miles in size, almost everywhere a visitor treads is likely to be a soldier's grave.
"Trooper G. R. Seager," reads the simple gravestone of an Australian soldier. "7 August 1915. Age 17. He Died a Man & Closed His Life's Brief Day Ere It Had Scarce Begun."
The assault on Gallipoli was planned by First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill and other British strategists as a way of opening the disputed Dardanelles straits to Allied warships. They planned to use the ships to supply Russia through Black Sea ports and perhaps ease pressure on France and Belgium by attacking Austro-Hungary from the east.
You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.
Britain was at the height of its imperial power, while the Ottoman Empire, then allied with Germany and Austro-Hungary, was in its death throes and widely viewed as impotent. But the invading force, which included many soldiers from Australia and New Zealand, found Turkish defenders astonishingly tenacious and willing to take staggering casualties.
For most of 1915, both sides fought from trenches that were often less than 10 yards apart. Finally the invaders were forced to withdraw in defeat, many of them recording in letters and diaries their new-found respect for Turkish fighting men.
Not least among the results of the campaign was the emergence of a young Turkish officer who went on to found the Turkish Republic, Kemal Ataturk.
In 1934, while he was President of the republic, he learned that a group from Britain, Australia and New Zealand was visiting the site, and sent a remarkable message.
"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives,' 'he wrote, "you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us, where they lie side by side here in this country of ours."
"You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well."
PBS's "The Great War" got Gallipoli right, despite misidentifying the name of the Ottoman Empire. (Too bad the show also got the "Genocide" all wrong.)
Journalists traveling with the group reported this message, and soon Ataturk's office was flooded with grateful telegrams, especially from Australia and New Zealand. Today citizens of those countries visit Gallipoli nearly every day, and cafes seek to attract them with kangaroo motifs and names like The Aussie and Kiwi.
The scope of the blood bath here was brought vividly home to a new generation with the release of Peter Weir's 1981 film "Gallipoli," starring Mel Gibson.
Speaking of the bond that has grown up among onetime adversaries, former Prime Minister Bill Hayden of Australia said: "Three modern nations emerged from the Gallipolli campaign: Turkey, New Zealand and Australia. It helps explain the continuing significance that it has in our national sentiment."
Holdwater says: Is that not an AMAZING sentiment made to a former foe? Ataturk's reputation for greatness is well-founded.
Ataturk's sentiment was wonderful. The Aussies weren't so bad, either. Look at this beautiful message left behind by the departing Australian troops, for "Johnny Turk":
"The Brigadier presents his compliments to our worthy TURKISH opponents and offers those who first honour his quarters with their presence such poor hospitality as is in his power to give, regretting that he is unable personally to welcome them.
After a sojourn of 7 months in Gallipoli we propose to take some little relaxation...and in bidding 'Au revoir' to our honorable foes we Australians desire to express appreciation of the fine soldierly qualities of our Turkish opponents and of the sportsmanlike manner in which they have participated in a very interesting contest, honourable, we trust to both sides."
No wonder the Austalians keep travelling to Turkey... there is a definite bond between the two nations. (One may not know it from the anti-Turkish television productions in Australia but, hey. Anti-Turkishness is just par for the course among Western nations.)
Two Australian lasses vacationing in Turkey, with Sam
Weems, in the author's Christian video, SEVEN
CHURCHES OF REVELATION.
Through the centuries, the honor of the Turkish soldier has been begrudgingly recognized even by the Turks' worst enemies. Although the Russians criminally wiped out at least two-thirds of their 45,000 Turkish prisoners-of-war (in a forgotten "forced march" on their way to being "deported," often barefoot, through the snow), they had the utmost respect for Osman Pasha at Plevna; the only English-language words Chinese P.O.W.s learned in Korea were "Turkish soldiers Number One," and Sir Mark Sykes was even commissioned by Britain's propaganda bureau (Wellington House) to dispel the notion of the Turks' great image by writing a booklet entitled, "The Clean Fighting Turk: A Spurious Claim." While it's true the gendarmes assigned to guard the Armenians during the relocation process were composed of low-quality irregulars (and some definitely took advantage of the Armenians and committed crimes), isn't it ironic that it is the Turkish soldier who is recognized as being the agent behind a state-sponsored genocide? If you were to tell the Australian who left behind this message that Turkish soldiers savagely and systematically murdered defenseless Armenians, you would likely get a good, "Crocodile Dundee"-sized punch in the mouth.
“”” HE WHO WORSHIPS TWO GODS SHALL BECOME THE APOSTATE OF THE TWO “”” (Ismet The Historian ) chapter 1, verse 1 of my new book.
The Gallipoli war ( Dardanelles Expedition) came about as a direct result of Armenian spies passing on strategic information to the British. In return, the British would give land within Turkey to the ethnic Armenian population, upon winning the war that is, and usurping Istanbul.
The British Dragoman , Edmund George Fitzmaurice, and British Ambassador, Sir Louis Mallet, could not have gathered such important information themselves; so they sought the help of the obliging and smiling Armenians to furnish Kitchener and Churchill with the information they wanted.
The Armenian population ate and drank at both Turkish and British tables.
But, unbeknownst to them, a great man's career was quietly reaching fruition. This man was to cut short the dreams of Churchill, and would soon begin to pull Turkey from the ruins like a great ""Phoenix rising from the ashes"".
This Great Man of the Twentieth Century needs no introduction.
Ismet The Historian
"Ismet the Historian" goes on to report:
Winston Churchill and Lloyd George had a private bet as to which month in 1915 they would take Istanbul. Plans by the Bank of England to allot the gold expected from this expedition were also underway. A big slice of it would be reserved for the Armenians.
Armenians were also poisoning Turkish troops' food supplies that were destined for Gallipoli, with arsenic and other substances supplied by the British. Luckily, the substances' effect was reduced due to the lengthy time it took to reach the soldiers at Gallipoli.
The Armenian Diaspora and the trans-migrant nature of these people, is not a result of previously living in Anatolia. “ No.” It is because of their kleptomania and implacable nature that they do not acquiesce with their neighbour’s.
The Young Turks gave them every possible chance. But the Armenians chose to flaunt their aversion to number ten of the Ten Commandments. ("THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOUR'S HOUSE, NOR ANYTHING THAT IS THY NEIGHBOUR'S.") They actually thought that the Turks could be got rid of from Turkish soil for them to take over the land. If this is not forsaking the tenth commandment, then I don’t know what a renounceable act is, against one's faith.
Armenian propensity towards a feeble and surreptitious promise by the British, that Turkish soil will soon be the property of Armenians, shows how Armenians covet their neighbour's house and wife. They helped the British mount the greatest naval onslaught the world has ever witnessed against the Turks during the Gallipoli war. Churchill planned the Dardanelles Expedition to take Istanbul on the strength of the information received from Armenian spies living in Turkey.
Maps supplied by Armenians, detailing strategic Turkish positions and garrisons, bedecked Admiral Carden’s table aboard the British Flagship, the destroyer, Queen Elizabeth. Equipped with the deadliest new 16 inch Guns that could out-fire the two battleships the Germans tricked Talaat to accept as a gift.
The mighty dreadnought of the British, the Queen Elizabeth
Alas, for the Allied Dominion Forces, the maps were not required. A commander of the newly formed Turkish nineteenth Army was to shatter this utopian “Armenian-British” dream.
THE MINEMAN WHO ALTERED WORLD HISTORY
Herbert Henry Asquith, Prime Minister of England (1909-1916), called the Gallipoli Campaign (February 19, 1915 - March 8, 1916) the only brilliant strategy developed during World War I. The objective was to use a combined English-French fleet of obsolete warships (18 battleships, 2 semi-dreadnoughts and 2 battle-cruisers plus cruisers, destroyers and minesweepers) to drive through the 40 mile long Dardinells (sic) Straits, take Constantinople, knock Turkey out of the war, free up Russian wheat flowing out of the Black Sea, and launch a second front through the Balkans to relieve the pressure on Russia and draw German troops away from the trench warfare in the west.
The Dardinells (sic) Strait was deep enough to accommodate any warship, and an average of 4 miles wide, except for the Narrows about halfway the Strait which closed to 1600 yards. The Turkish defenses (aided by Germany) consisted of 100 guns, only a score of them modern, and 72 of them concentrated in 9 forts on both sides of the Narrows. In addition, the Narrows was guarded by 9 lines of moored mines totalling 324 mines, and a number of shore-mounted torpedo tubes.
Many reasons have been offered as to why the naval effort failed, resulting in adoption of the alternate strategy of an amphibious assault which also failed 8 months later after a half million allied and Turkish casualties. The key to that failure, however, was Lieutenant-Colonel Geehl, a Turkish mine expert, who saw where the fleet turned when it retired from bombardment, and planted a line of 20 mines (they only had 36 spares) parallel to the Strait in that area. Three of these mines sank the battleships OCEAN, BOUVET and IRRESISTIBLE.
The Turks later revealed that they were almost out of ammunition when the naval thrust was terminated. One can only speculate about what might have happened had it not been for Lieut-Col. Geehl and those three mines. Certainly success would have freed up the flow of Russian wheat to France. The Armenian genocide would not have happened, at least at that time. Four Turkish divisions would not have been freed up to attack Russia.
A second front through the Balkans would probably have shortened the war. The Bolsheviks would not have seized power in Russia on November 1, 1917, and Russia would not have signed a separate peace treaty with Germany a month later. It would not have been necessary for the United States to enter the war in April, 1917. Who know but what World War II, The Cold War, the Korean War and the war in Vietnam might never have happened but for those three old moored mines.
Source: The Mine Warfare Association
A Turkish Female Sniper on Gallipoli?
"Some of the best Turkish marksmen, as it turned out, were markswomen. 'Among those discovered was a peasant woman — the wife of a Turkish soldier — who lived with her old mother and her child in a little house near the Irish lines' (referring to Suvla). This particular woman was a good shot who specialised in hitting stragglers on the many trails between the front lines and the beaches. having made sure her targets were dead she would then rifle their bodies. When she was finally identified and captured her house was searched. A large quantity of money was found, but more surprising was the discovery of a number of identity discs. Either she was proud of her work or she was getting paid a piecework rate for the job!"
A WWI forum (1914-1918.invisionzone.com) identified this information as "...From Myles Dungan's Irish Voices from the Great War... the reference Dungan gives for the story is Michael McDonagh's The Irish at the Front (1916)." The forum participants debate whether the story is a myth. In another telling, the woman was raped. Yet another version:
“An Australian patrol caught a Turkish woman sniper who had the identity discs of several British soldiers hanging round her neck. They shot her, and that shocked me for I thought she was a brave person doing only what many British women would have done to invaders of our land. But I kept my mouth shut for I knew that in war everyone is effected by its lunacy”.
The supposed words of a machine-gunner of the 4th Northamptonshire (T) Regiment, who landed at Suvla Bay August 7th, 1915, and witnessed this the day after, according to the book Machine Gunner 1914 – 1918 compiled and edited by C.E. Crutchley, Second and enlarged edition, 1975.
One of the forum writers (Bob Lembke) wrote: "...at almost every stage of the [Gallipoli] battle the Turks were outnumbered by the British, French, and ANZACs, as well as out-gunned, out-supplied, out-ammoed, etc."
He also wrote:
"Kannengeisser told a telling story. He was visiting the trenches of his division, and a few Turkish soldiers, not seeing him, had just drawn their mid-day meal, probably a few pieces of k'ubils arabie, or pita bread, a handful of olives, a cucumber, etc. As you know, they like to eat at a low table, sitting on the ground or on a cushion, in posh surroundings. They looked about, and pried the bodies of a few fellow Turks out of the parapet of their trench, and formed them into an improvised table, and happily sat down, put their food down, and began eating. (Of course the bodies had been in the parapet for two weeks or two months, enough said.) Kannengeisser, peeking around the corner of the trench, said to himself: 'I knew that these guys are tough. But, this is ridiculous!' As I said, my father fought with these guys, and loved them, something he did not extend to most German soldiers."
BRITISH COLONIALS OFF FOR DARDANELLES
"New Zealand cavalry photographed as they were leaving Cairo to take part in the operation against the forts on the Dardanelles." (The Pinedale Roundup, Wyoming.)
What Some British Colonials Thought of "Johnny Turk"
Many time I have run into anecdotes of Anzacs and other British colonial troops thinking the world of their Turkish foes. For example, just weeks ago there was one heartwarming tale of how a Turkish sniper had felled an enemy soldier, and couldn't bear to see the man suffer, and so he carried the soldier to enemy lines, to the cheers of the invading forces. (Which must have meant the sniper accepted getting taken as a prisoner of war.) These signs of humanity are the rule among Turks, which makes how the Western world sees them in savage fashion — thanks, of course, to such overwhelming and hateful propaganda — especially ironic.
We'll start things off in this section with excerpts from a book called "Johnny Turks — Memoirs on Gallipoli," written by Julia Gul Arslan, Founder of the Australia-Gallipoli Friendship Society, Inc.
"Turks have treated our captured men and officers excellently" — The diary of the Australian. Official Correspondent. C. E. W. Bean.
“You will hear extraordinary horrible stories practiced by Turks. Well, don’t believe a word of them. They are grossly exaggerated if not wholly false. You will be surprised at the gentlemanly way the Turks has fought us." — Jim Haynes (Cobbers — Stories of Gallipoli 1915 p. 178).
"I reckon the Turk respects us, as we respect the Turk, Abdul's a good, clean fighter — we've fought him, and we know" — Lieutenant Oliver Hogue.
"The Turks have always proved themselves perfectly willing to have armistices and have actually asked for one at Helles which was refused by our General Staff." — Ashmead-Bartlett's Diary,1915.
"They (Turks) too were fighting for their country. Good and fair fighters. No. They fought very fair and honestly like us. Both sides lost their very valuable men.” — [E. W. Bartlett, born in Australia, 1891. 11th Light Horse Regiment. One Hundred years old. He was one of last two hundred who left the Dardanelles.]
"The Turkish sniper understood that we were searching for him. He shot once and the doctor got wounded. When he realized that he was a doctor, he didn’t shoot again.” —
Excerpted from Sydney Alexander Moseley, former war correspondent during the Gallipoli Campaign.
“After the terrible punishment inflicted upon the brave but futile assaults all bitterness faded … The Turks displayed an admirable manliness … From that morning onwards the attitude of the Anzac troops towards the individual Turks was rather that of opponents in a friendly game." — [Charles. E Bean, the Australian official historian, The Story of Anzac, Vol. II, Sydney, 1924, p.162 ].
"The Anzacs left Gallipoli without hatred in their heart for their enemy or bitterness at the incompetence of their own high command.” — A. K. Macdouggall, Australian historian.