Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Lest We Forget: Gallipoli Was a Turkish Victory

Their duty was to come here and invade, ours was to defend.
Adil Shahin, Turkish veteran of Gallipoli

Turkish Artillery at Gallipoli

The British had expected the Gallipoli operation to conclude quickly and that the Turkish army would be no match for their soldiers. Instead they met a determined and resourceful opponent. At critical moments Turkish and German commanders took quick and decisive action, and at no time did the British Empire forces manage the breakthrough which they so desperately sought.

On Gallipoli men of both sides showed bravery and endurance. After the Turkish counterattack of 19 May, in which the Turks suffered so severely, the Australian and New Zealand soldiers began to regard the Turkish soldier with great respect. Something of the spirit of the Turks on Gallipoli can be seen in the response to an Australian note thrown into a Turkish trench urging its occupants to surrender. The response read, "You think there are no true Turks left. But there are Turks, and Turks' sons!" In this defense of the homeland, in the conflict known here as the Battle of Çanakkale, Turkish authorities have put their casualties at between 250,000 and 300,000, of whom at least 87,000 died.

One of the few officers at Anzac who spoke fluent Turkish was the Englishman Captain Aubrey Herbert. Herbert wrote the following tribute to the bravery of the Turkish soldiers at the Battle of Chunuk Bair:

The day went badly for us. We lost Chunuk Bair, and without it we cannot win the battle. The Turks have fought very finely, and all praise their courage. It was wonderful to see them charging down the hill, through the storm of shrapnel, under the white ghost wreaths of smoke.

Source: Australian Government Website

1 comment:

  1. Turks are very good troops. They demonstrated their battlefield prowess thirty-five years later in Korea. Most histories of the battle tell the tale from the British point of view.