A Notebook-A Distant Memory From Gallipoli – Turkish Officers attending Anzac Day in New Zealand ( Haluk Oral)

Having come to New Zealand from Korea, Cemal Madanoğlu must have been astonished when a 40-year-old notebook was presented to him. Moreover, it may have him filled with tears, particularly when he found out that the original owner of the notebook was a Turkish soldier who had died in Gallipoli campaign when he himself was still an eight-year-old boy.

 This article is the story of a 40-year-old journey of that Notebook of a few pages, beginning from Kırşehir to Çanakkale, and then to New Zealand and Korea, ending up in İstanbul, during which many people has touched it all the way long.

 From the inscription in the Notebook, we can conclude it was given to Duran b. Mehmed from Cigaliogullari family, born in 1891 in Mecidiye district of Kırşehri sanjak.

 Duran b. Mehmed at Gallipoli front

 The land campaigns of Çanakkale War began in April 25, 1915 with the enemy’s landings at three separate positions in the region. The 14th Regiment of the 5th Division was at Saros Bay, between Yeniköy-Ortaköy at the moment. When the landings began Duran b. Mehmed came to Ariburnu on the orders he had received, signed up his position under the command of Mustafa Kemal in the center positions for May 1 assault. The legendary entrenchments of the Turks and their opponents that have been recounted in hundreds of sources, foreign as well as Turkish, the distance was reduced to only a few metres in between, all were to be formed in these preliminary battles. The 14th Regiment was at Bombasırtı, one of the closest lines to the enemy. After the attacks of the 3rd battalion of the 72nd Regiment for two consecutive nights, Anzacs commenced a counter-attack to the Turkish entrenchments on May 9/10 at 11 pm.

  The story of the assault from the various sources

 C.E.W. Bean who has penned the official war history of Australia assigns fifteen pages for this assault in his The Story of Anzac (v. 2, pp. 100-115). He says that the assualt was directed from the three positions close to each other, that about 20 Turks who were on the advanced positions at the moment killed either by bullets or bayonets, and that Anzacs captured a 50-metres-long entrenchment from the enemy. During the same attack, Anzacs murdered four or five Turks on their telephone in a nearby Turkish encampment cutting the line and taking the military papers with them.

 Mustafa Kemal’s chief of staff Major İzzettin (later General Çalışlar) writes on his journal that day that the enemy made five assualts on their right wing and central entrenchments. He misinterpreted the three attacks directed to close positions and those who came to their help for digging entrenchments as five separate attacks.

 Mustafa Kemal, in his Report on Arıburnu Battles, writes that the enemy has entered into one of the entrenchments of 14th Regiment on the right wing, but they had to retreat because the casualties inflicted by our troops enfilading the said entrenchment (p. 107).

 In the chapter about the Gallipoli campaign within the Birinci Dünya Harbinde Türk Harbi (‘The Turkish Battles in the First World War’), published by the Turkish General Staff, the aforementioned assault on to the 14th Regiment’s entrenchment has been cited from the documents in the Atatürk Archives (v.5, book 2, p. 171). 

 Mustafa Kemal reports that during the night of May 10/11, even though the enemy tried to reconnoitre the right flank of 14th Regiment, they could not achieve the mission.

 In that case, we can conclude that Duran b. Mehmed of Kırşehir, most likely was murdered on the night of May 9/10 within the 50-metre-long entrenchment, thus determining the date of his martyrdom as well as the location.

 On the National Defense Ministry’s list of Çanakkale martyrs, the name of Duran b. Mehmed appears among the martyrs of May 11, 1915 murdered at Merkeztepe. The diurnal gap between those dates may occur because the bodies collected from the battlefield on the night of 10/11 May. Indeed, the order issued by the commander of 27th Regiment reads ‘Tonight, after the relief of the troops in the entrenchments, all medical privates of the three battalions will collect the dead and no matter what all entrenchments and vicinities will be cleaned up by the morning.’ (Halis Ataksor, Çanakkale Raporu, Timaş Publishing, p. 177).

 The new owner of the Notebook

 On the Notebook belongs originally to Duran b. Mehmed which has a cardboard cover made subsequently we see a name and an address: C.W. Boult 114 Bedford st. 24936 St Clair Dunedin. On the day Duran b. Mehmed died, Boult, a New Zealander from field artillery troops was on Hain Tepe, nine hundred meters away from the location engagements took place. Most probably the Notebook was a present by a fellow soldier to Boult who did participate in the battle. We can trace Boult’s name in two separate New Zealand journals: Grey River Argus (September 20, 1915) and The Auckland Weekly News (September 23, 1915). On the papers, it is reported that Sergeant C.W.J. Boult from the New Zealand field artillery, slightly injured in the battle, has been taken away to Malta. The Notebook that has set out from Kırşehir was now embarking its long voyage among C.W. Boult’s stuff.

 From Korea to New Zealand

 During the Korean War, Turkey, New Zealand and Australia were all on the same side. In Korea, the troops from all these countries in 1953 participated in a procession together for the Anzac Day ceremonies to which General Sırrı Acar was also invited.

 In 1954, the government of New Zealand applied to its Turkish counterpart to request for inviting a military committee from Turkey to Anzac Day ceremonies. When the request was approved, a committee was assigned from the Turkish garrison in Korea. The committee of four officers included Major Halim Kural, Captain Orhan Aydemir and Captain Şinasi Çapar as well as their commander, a colonel whose name we will also hear later: Cemal Madanoğlu.

 The news about the arrival of the committee appearing on tens of journal aroused profound interest in New Zealand. The Christchurch Press on its April 23, 1954 issue, for instance, reports that as soon as the committee has arrived they participated in two consecutive functions during which senior soldiers from New Zealand who fought in Gallipoli campaign raced each other to shake hands with them.   

 There Madanoğlu told an anecdote about the Gallipoli campaign. He is eight during that war, apprehensively expecting the news about the battles of which her maternal uncle is a part also. Upon returning from the front, his uncle will tell him how they helped each other with an Anzac soldier: in the dark of the night while he was lying in a trench wounded in his leg he heard some noise and when he crawled there he saw an Anzac wounded in his shoulder. And because he could not do it by himself, his uncle helped bandaging the Anzac soldier’s wound. Then the soldier walked towards the Turks entrenchments. Three Turkish soldiers appeared from the trenches and told wounded the Anzac he was better to go to his fellows. Instead, he insistently stayed and tried to lead them to the trench in which Madanoğlu’s uncle was lying; the Anzac soldier waited until he saw he was carried away to the safety and only then went to his own entrenchments. The uncle Madanoğlu mentioned here must have been lieutenant major Behçet Bey. He closed his speech, ‘I have come here to thank Anzacs who helped my uncle to survive.”

 On the April 28, 1954 issue of the same paper, there appears the news about the Turkish committee’s visit to a military camp in Burnham. During the visit, Colonel Madanoğlu, after reviewing the honorary guard, rewards three New Zealanders fought at Gallipoli with badges decorated with a crescent and a star. That night, at the cocktail party held in their honor, once more time there are numerous soldiers participated in the Gallipoli campaign enthusiastic to shake hands with Turkish committee

 Colonel Madanoğlu grounds his emotional speech he made that night on the definition of blood-brother, explaining that they don’t feel strangers themselves in New Zealand because in Turkey, shedding blood together means they become blood-brothers, so the Turks and New Zealanders have become brothers being merged their blood at Gallipoli.

 In another speech, after he drank some liquor he was never acquainted with before, he reminds the adage ‘One can accept anything from a friend’s hand.’ In fact, the committee was welcomed by a profound friendship sense.  They even prepared for the Turks who were far away from their country some Turkish dishes. On the Evening Post’s April 24, 1954 issue, there appeared the news about the committee’s visit along with a comprehensive summary of the Gallipoli campaign, mentioning the Turkish soldiers with praise, as well as two pictures of Atatürk explaining his significance during the Gallipoli campaign.

 There is an anecdote in the paper also: Anzacs while retreating left a gramophone being set up with a record on it ready to play the “Turkish Patrol”.


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