Countless dead, countless! It was impossible to count. Memis Bayraktar, Turkish Soldier.
On the 19th February 1915 the Royal Navy commenced a bombardment of Turkish positions along the Dardanelles straits in the hope of breaking through to Istanbul. The attack failed and the Gallipoli invasion began. The British expected the campaign to end quickly, but the resourcefulness of the Turkish and German commanders resulted in a deadly stalemate costing thousands of lives. Turkish authorities have estimated their casualties at around 87,000 dead and between 250,000 to 300,000 wounded. Like the Allies, many of Turkey’s dead remain unidentified and thousands are buried in a mass grave in the valley below.
Soldiers from both sides found respect for each other during the campaign. The Johnnys and the Mehmets were determined in their attacks and resilient in defence, yet full of humanity and compassion for the wounded. The image below shows a statue of a Turkish soldier bringing a wounded Australian to the ANZAC lines. The soldier was allowed to return to his platoon.
“You think there are no true Turks left. But there are Turks, and Turk’s sons!” Unknown Turkish Soldier.
On the 10th August Mustafa Kemal Ataturk personally led the counter attack on Chunuk Bair that repelled the Allies. At 4:30am he crept to within 20 – 30 metres of allied dugouts and called his army forward with a wave of his whip.
Bedlam broke loose at 4:30am. The English were in a a rude awakening. Sounds of Allah, Allah tore the skies in the darkness over the front. Smoke covered all sides and the excitement dominates everywhere. The Enemies bombs tore deep holes in the battlefield, shrapnels and bullets drop like rain from the sky. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
During the fight at Chunuk Bair shrapnel hit Ataturk in the chest. Fortunately for the Turkish commander his pocket watch absorbed the blow and he was left uninjured. The rest of his troops were not so lucky and his 57th Infantry Regiment that was formed in 1912 during the Balkan War, who defended Ari Burnu during the first landings and took part in battles at Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair, ended the defence of Gallipoli with 1,817 dead.