Halis Bey was born in Aydin in the year 1876 and graduated from Military School with the highest honor. After graduation, he was assigned duties in the Balkan War and was soon promoted to Captain on July 5, 1908. After the Balkan War, through his affiliation to the 27th Regiment, he was then assigned to Gallipoli on May 5, 1913. In his diary, he explains his arrival:
“On May 5, 1913, I was acting as a substitute on behalf of Battalion Commander Osman Bey. Along with the 26th Regiment’s, 3rd Battalion, we headed to Gallipoli and came to Maydos-Eceabat. It is there where we encamped. During this time the other Battalions were in Anafarta guarding the shores. The 1st Battalion was in Anafarta and the 2nd Battalion was in Gabatepe. I obtained the order on Tuesday to head to Kirte. From Kirte, we came to Seddulbahir and near Seddulbahir we got situated with the 26th Regiment’s 2nd Battalion.
Halis Bey was a brave and heroic soldier. His character was often reflected through his modesty. In order to encourage and provide morale to his soldiers, he would remain outside of the trenches. This may be one reason why he was wounded numerous times in Gallipoli. In a particular instance while still a Captain in Seddulbahir, an English Torpedo Boat engaged in reconnaissance was positioned near a port with approximately 20 to 30 English soldiers. Addressing his soldiers, Halis Bey ordered:
“You are all here to stand your ground and not to let any of the soldiers on the land. For if you do, then I shall shoot you all myself! And if I cheat you, then you shoot me.”
During this reconnaissance mission, not too distant away was the 2nd squad of Mehmet Cavus of Biga. The heroic Mehmet Cavus of Biga, sustaining injuries in the process, was known for attacking and neutralizing enemy soldiers with the handle of his weapon once he ran out of ammunition. This act of bravery was commended by Halis Bey and was thoroughly reported to higher officers. In his diary, Halis Bey reports it as:
“On March 4, 1914, through the 2nd Battalion’s 26th Regiment, we took control of defending the shores of Seddulbahir. Through its reconnaissance effort, the enemy was planning to set foot on the shores. Mehmet Cavus of Biga, a Sergeant from one of my former companies, was commended for his bravery and self-sacrifice by Mustafa Kemal, Commander of the 19th Division. Mehmet Cavus parted ways and was sent to Istanbul. Today, we have 6 Sehits (martyrs) and 12 injuries.”
On April 1, 1915, Halis Bey and his 3rd Battalion were in reserves. On this date, they were stationed at the 27th Regiment’s Headquarters in Maydos-Eceabat Zeytinlik, along with the 27 Regiment’s 1st Battalion. During this time, the 27th Regiment’s 2nd Battalion under the command of Major Ismet Bey was conducting surveillance of the shores. At that point, it was evident that a land attack from the enemy was imminent. Given that an attack on the land was imminent, we do see the Regiment had taken precautionary measures against the enemy and has shifted command posts to the 2nd and 3rd Battalions during the dates of April 21st and April 22nd implemented by Regiment Commander Sefik Bey.
Located in Maydos-Zeytinlik, Halis Bey arrived at the 27th Regiment Headquarters at approximately 02:00 on the morning of April 25th. Upon receiving reports of 04:30 landings in Anzac Cove, Halis Bey through Sefik Bey, is ordered at 05:55 to make headway towards the enemy on an intercept course. With his 3rd Battalion, Halis Bey maneuvers to Gabatepe at about 06:00. Initially passing through the hills of Kakma Dag, he arrives in the plains of Ece Ovasi. Halis Bey’s soldiers were under surveillance through enemy air-reconnaissance, but were well-protected. The 3rd Battalion eventually reached Kavak Dere where they assembled with Captain Ibrahim’s 1st Battallion, who arrived at such coordinate from an alternative path. Both Battalions then proceed onward and arrive in Kemalyeri at approximately 07:40, specifically, at topographic altitude of 165 meters. Halis Bey briefly addressed his soldiers here and encouraged them and provided much needed moral.
Next, with a Battalion of 1000 soldiers they headed onward towards the direction of Kanlisirt and Kirmizisirt located to the right of the enemy and counter-attacked at approximately 08:15. Directly across from Halis Bey were the Australian’s 10th Battalion under the command of Captain Charles Leer. With the 57th Regiment reinforcements under the supervision of Mustafa Kemal yet to arrive, the right wing towards the direction of Düztepe was an open area for Australia’s Captain Tulloch of the 11th Battalion. Aware of the open area, Halis Bey placed Sub-Lieutenant Mustafa Efendi, a member of the 2nd Battalion to this area to defend. Later on, this strategic move was commended by Halis Bey’s senior officers. As engagement continued and the 27th Regiment sustaining heavy losses, Halis Bey travelled back-and-forth between companies. Sometime during this travel, he gets shot in the arm. For as long as possible, he tried to keep his condition to himself. In order to continuously encourage his soldiers, he was rarely found in the trenches, which caused him to get shot a second instance. Holding his command for as long as possible, he eventually became unfit to command due to heavy blood loss. This led him to receive medical attention at a hospital in Biga. Upon his departure he commands a young 20-year old correspondent Mucip Bey to not withdraw. While receiving medical attention at Biga, it was discovered that Halis Bey also obtained an injury to his foot. Dried blood became adhesive to his foot and his boot was removed by cutting the boot itself. He returned to his duties soon after on May 5th. His return perhaps is what distinguished him from other officers.
For his extraordinary defensive achievement on the morning of April 25th, he was awarded a meritorious metal and was commanded by his senior officers. Sefik Aker, then 27th Regiment Commander, commended Halis Bey in his memoir as a “brave and heroic soldier.”
On June 5th, the enemy took control of the 57th Regiments 31st and 32nd trenches in Bomba Sirti. Understanding the strategic importance of these trenches, it was Halis Bey’s and his soldiers that allowed repossession of these locations. He was also part of the May 19th counter-attack.
On July 12, 1915, he was promoted to Major. A month later on August 8, 1915, he then took command of the 27th Regiment and continued his duties until April 5, 1916. In his diary he notated the following:
“Upon my departure on April 5, 1916, I went to Acibadem, Kadikoy in Istanbul to the Regiment Flag Ceremony in order to be pinned a gold and silver Berat. Today, under the command of Army Corps commander Ali Riza Pasha, I commanded the Regiment again.”
The Battle days at Gallipoli were over and the War of Independence was about to start. He was then assigned as District Commander covering the region of Diyarbakir, Urfa, Mardin and Siverek. He was also assigned as the 2nd Chief to the 7th Army Corps’. He finally retired from the army in 1925. Soon after, he finally found the opportunity to marry and was then employed as an engineer for the local government in Usak. He died on August 8, 1933 and his grave is in the city of Usak.
May his spirit be in peace and may he be destined to Heaven.
S. Serdar Halis Ataksor
Serdar Halis Ataksor is the grandson to Halis Ataksor. He lives in İstanbul. Recently, A documentary mentioned on his grandfather and Captain Leer, an Anzac officer who confronted Major Halis on Mortar ridge on 25 April 1915, was aired on Australia SBS Radio.