French Battleship Bouvet was the one of the 18 allied battleships that attacked to the Dardanelles under the command of British Admiral de Robeck. On 18th of March Allied Navy was defeated and three battleships sunk (Bouvet, Ocean, Irresistible) and other three were heavily damaged. The sinking of the Bouvet was a turning point in the course of naval battle. According to eyewitness’s testimonies she sunk within two minutes after the first explosion. According to French sources the Bouvet had 29 officers and 680 men. Out of these only 71 could be rescued.
It has been believed so far that she was hit by mines which had been placed ten days before the attack by Turkish minelayer Nusrat . But a new research revealed that she was hit and sunk by the Fort Rumeli Mecidiye (Fort No. 13 in British historiography) commanded by artillery Captain Mehmet Hilmi Bey.
Prof. Ayhan Aktar from Istanbul Bilgi University, has assessed the recently published Ottoman war diaries and German war journals kept at Freiburg Archives. Finally he interviewed a professional diver/salvage operator who discovered the wreck of Bouvet and dived to the wreck in 1967. Supporting the arguments developed by the forensic research experts of the SNAME (Dr L. D. Ferreiro and S. Kery) made on the 3D images taken by the underwater archeologists in 2012, Mr. Sezen stated that he entered into the big hole in the amidships of the Bouvet. He openly stated that this damage is result of an explosion either in the magazine or in the engine room not by the mines. Two minor holes that were thought to be the result of mine damages by the Turkish historians also opened up intentionally by Mr Sezen and his fellow divers by using dynamite sticks in order to salvage the torpedo tubes made of bronze by the French company, ‘Société Anonyme Ateliers et Chantiers de la Loire.’ Interestingly Mr. Sezer kindly showed the labels that he had taken out of torpedo tubes and kept since in 1967.
Interestingly, Prof. Aktar had published Ottoman Armenian artillery Officer Captain Sarkis Torosyan’s Gallipoli and WW1 memories. Captain Torossian’s memoirs stirred a heated debate among historians in Turkey. Having stationed under the command of Captain Mehmet Hilmi Bey, Torossian had argued that he was among the officers that hit the Bouvet. His testimony was taken as proof of his lies as it was believed that the Bouvet was sunk because of striking mines laid by Nusret. Interestingly, Captain Torossian’s memoirs had triggered the research and enabled the long-standing official theses lost their validity. Professor Aktar’s academic article will be published in an academic journal abroad.