By Eren Erdogan……
The friend of Northern Cyprus shares its Daily News of Life and Times around the world
Erdoğan Hasan Karabardak, Our Dad
Polis, Paphos Cyprus
DOB 1919 Polis- Death 2002 Melbourne
By Sermen Erdoğan.
My Fathers’ name was Erdoğan Hasan Karabardak although he rarely used Karabardak as it was the family nickname. He was born on 15 August 1919 in Polis, a village in the western part of the island in Paphos district of Cyprus. His father was Hasan Karabardak Hajı Ramadan and his mother was Salise Mehmet Ağa (nicknamed Halofta). Karabardaks were a well to do and prosperous family of Polis, who owned a lot of land, orchards, and vineyards. But my father hardly benefited from the family properties due to the Cyprus intercommunal strife and problems in 1963 and 1974.
Our father was an agriculturalist and good at it too. He used to know how to plant and grow vegetables and fruit trees and how to look after them and protect them from pests. “He is a doctor of plants”, Dr. Mustafa Dikengil my fathers’ friend from Polis, used to tell me.
My father also knew how to look after bees, he was a good apiarist. The honey was harvested every year from the Cyprus Government House gardens when we were living in Strovolos, Nicosia between 1950 to 1962. My father used to tell me he learned bee-keeping at an Apiarist course he had done many years ago in the Agriculture Department in Athalasa just outside of Nicosia. Our father knew how to prepare the soil for the pots and how to make compost with old plant materials. I used to observe him and his tasks through the days in the gardens instructing the gardeners and also getting into it himself when he had to.
Our father was the Manager of the gardens in the Government House Nicosia in Strovolos now the Cypriot Presidential Palace. He was popular with the workers that worked with him in the Government House and later in the Public Gardens of Nicosia for the Agriculture Department of Cyprus. I have never heard anyone say anything that was not nice or criticised my dad in the gardens of the Government House Palace. My father was a very intelligent man and got on with everyone. He retired as an agricultural consultant from the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus in 1980.
My earliest memories of my dad were, when he used to come home from his outings from the coffee shop of Mulla Hasan in the Turkish section of Lefkoşa (Nicosia) he used to bring us kids balloons and colourful lollies (chick peas, almonds coated with sugar). He would pick up my sister Tülen and brother Eren and me and kiss and cuddle us every time he returned from his outings. I remember his beard sticking into my cheeks. It did not hurt as he kissed us with love.
My father spent a lot of time with us kids once we started school. He valued our education and wanted us to further ourselves more than him to have a better chance in our lives. I remember him looking at our books to see our work and how we were progressing. He was a very talented artist. I remember how he drew and coloured a horse with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as the rider, in my exercise book. It looked so real and I used to look at it in class and ‘show and tell’, as it was done into my exercise book’s back page and I was so proud of my father.
My father used to tell us his childhood stories and the village life in Polis. It was a hard life as he, as a young boy, had to do his share of hard work at harvest times loading up donkeys and taking grain stalks to the area called “harman” to be separated from the stalks and the husks by sitting on a sledge or thresher, drawn by a donkey. Grape harvest time was equally hard toiling in the heat of the Cyprus summers picking baskets of grapes and loading them on donkeys. Taking them to a storeroom and unloading to spread them on sheets to dry them ready for winter.
He had enough by the age of 15 or 16. He left home to become a miner in Karadağ copper mine in Lefka approximately 100 km away from his village.
When father had enough of mine work he left for Nicosia and joined the British Army, Cyprus Regiment for World War II. He was sent to Egypt and Lebanon to be trained as a muleteer like many other Cypriots. He ended up in Italy landed at Bari and spent a few years near Napoli and Rome. This was where he learned classic Italian. The Italians in Melbourne were very surprised how well he spoke their language. My father also spoke fluent Greek which he said he learned from his Greek neighbours’ son who was his mate in Polis, Paphos. He learned English in the army and went to night school to advance his English after World War II.
Our father used to tell us about his life stories but the WWII stories were very brief for some reason unbeknown to me. I only remember bits and pieces of father’s recounting of this part of his life.
One part that intrigued us was his story of the Italian girlfriend and the son he had with her. Although we have seen a photo we still today do not know much about the Italian lady named Valenzuela Guerriero (we are not so sure of the Surname as we deduced it from the back of the photo). The Italian brother would be probably around 70 years old now, I presume. Unfortunately we do not know his name either. Father looked for Valenzuela and son after the war ended but could not locate them where they used to live!
One story I have learned from a niece of father was that he started a restaurant/bar in Polis village with his army mate Hasan Şükrü after they returned from WWII. Evidently, they used to bring out Italian dancers to the bar at Polis and one of these ladies was a girlfriend of our father. Whether this was the same lady as Valenzuela or not, is a big question mark in my mind!
Our father married our mother Gülten İrfan Yıldırım from Nicosia in 1951. I was born straight after followed by my sister Tülen and brother Eren. We moved out of Government House grounds in 1962 and lived in the North part of Nicosia Turkish section. I left Cyprus to go to Australia in 1971 on my father’s initiative to move his family to another country due to the intercommunal fighting. My sister and brother followed me in 1973.
Our father arrived in Australia in 1982 after he retired from his work with the Agricultural Department, following us kids, and migrated to Melbourne with our mother to be with us.
The first thing father asked me was to see if he could find his army mate in Melbourne. A Cypriot Greek man whom he knew from WWII. Luckily after a short search, we found his friend Leon Skoudaridis in Melbourne. When my father and Leon Skoudaridis got together for the first time after 40 odd years it was a spectacle to be watched, two army mates meeting and hugging each other and getting into deep conversation with each other for many hours. Reminiscing of the old Cyprus days and the WWII memories and catching up with each other. Later on, Skoudaridis met up with my father several times for outings. At one stage they spent a few days at Leon’s farm in Gippsland which my father enjoyed a lot. They also met up with Hasan Şükrü (from Polis as well) who served in the Cyprus Regiment of the British Army together with them. It was as if an army troop came together after so many years of separation.
Another interesting anecdote with my father was when one day I had to pass through the office of Dr. Andrew Theophanous with my father in tow. I was helping Andrew for Western Region Senate seat of Callwell in the elections as I was a member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in 1984.
I told my father that Andrew was a Cypriot. My father learning that Andrew Theophanous was from Cypriot Greek background, he started talking with him in Greek and asked him where he came from. Andrew replied that he was from Polis village, Cyprus. My father then asked who his father was and when Andrew replied, my father, became ecstatic as he said to Andrew that his father was an apprentice with him in a Turkish shoemaker’s shop in Polis as a boy.
My father wanted to see Andrew’s father straight away. Andrew invited us to a Party for ALP fundraiser night where his father was going to be, on the following Saturday. When we turned up for the night in Sunshine (Where most of Cypriot Turks and Greeks live in Melbourne) my father could not believe his eyes that all the Cypriot Greek community from Polis were there to greet him alongside Andrew’s father, who spoke perfect Turkish as well. It was such an emotional meeting that people all around me were in tears meeting their old Turkish friend from Polis, Paphos. These Polis villagers were meeting my father after 50 odd years of not seeing each other. It was simply amazing and an emotional get-together.
My father loved life and was a happy man despite his hard life, war experiences and political and economic struggles of Cyprus, but he valued his village and childhood friends, his people, and his fellow human beings.
My father suffered from Alzheimer’s a brain disease in his later years. But he could still remember his old life from his old village of Polis Cyprus and recount his stories to us. Father became very dependent on mum as he deteriorated in his helpless condition with the crippling disease that was killing his brain. Our mother could not look after father at the end as she was getting on in years herself. As we all had young families and were working we were forced to place our dad in an elderly hostel. Every day mum would visit and we visited father as much as we could. Towards the end he was not able to recognise mum or us either which was very hard for us to see him in this condition. He was the family’s backbone and loved by all his grandchildren. We were saddened further when he fell and broke his hip and ended up having an operation in hospital. He went downhill very quickly after that episode and even forgot how to swallow his food down after he chewed it.
My Father lived until the age of 83 and passed away in 2002. He rests in Fawkner Memorial Cemetery in Melbourne. Inscribed on his tombstone is his village name POLİ as his birthplace which he loved and the words of his favourite song:
If you would like to read more of our Cypriot roots and my mother and father, please click on the links below and if you have time, you can find out more of our family by pasting Sermen Erdogan into the cyprusscene search box.
By Mo Davies……..
The Crazy Crone……..
I looked around my workroom the other day and realised that not everyone lugs hundreds of crystals and rocks around with them while moving around Australia and finally travelling to North Cyprus five years ago!
Nor did I expect to end up working with crystals when, in 1972, I travelled to Australia on a working holiday. In those days you could fly to Singapore then travel by cruise ship to Australia for the princely sum of £110. In any event, as the economy was in strife in 1973, I decided to stay on for a while and built up a new life and friends in Perth, Western Australia, where I first settled, and ended up staying for 40-plus years.
I was invalided out of the workforce in 1986 when I developed repetitive strain injury and was pretty much crippled by it. A rheumatologist told me I’d never use a keyboard again but that just made me determined to find ways to get better on the basis of “never say never”. I turned to alternative therapies such as reflexology, kinesiology, massage, Reiki, cranio-sacral therapy, trained as a Reiki practitioner and gradually managed to alleviate most of the RSI symptoms. I still need to be careful and when I get a twinge in my arm or shoulder, I know I have to stop and rest, having learned that trying to push through the pain didn’t work, it just gets worse again.
But it wasn’t until I moved to Queensland with my husband, one dog and three cats in 1994 that I came across crystals. I must admit that I had never been impressed with the idea of crystal healing but I came across a lovely herbal practitioner, Yvonne Tait, who helped me recover from a severe infection after I’d broken my leg and ankle in a fall, and also introduced me to the power of colours in our daily life. But it was her daughter, Joy, who introduced me to crystals.
Joy came to Boonah, in south-east Queensland, on a holiday with a collection of crystal necklaces she’d created. She leaned forward, beamed at me as she held up the necklaces, and said: “You understand all these energies, don’t you?” I have to be honest and say I replied yes because I didn’t want to be impolite, but frankly I thought she was barking mad. However, one necklace really drew me – a citrine, which is a very pale yellow quartz – and I was off and running after I’d worn it for a while and began to tune into the energies of the stones.
Yvonne offered to let me sell crystals in her herbal dispensary and she and Joy took me down to a crystal warehouse in Byron Bay, northern New South Wales, which is where I first experienced an enormous pull towards a crystal and couldn’t let go of it – I’ve still got it, by the way. Crystalight, the warehouse, was like a treasure trove with all the crystals it had in stock. I started off with a small number of crystals, which sold fast, started ordering via mail instead of travelling to Crystalight, read heaps about crystals, got familiar with the different stones, and started teaching crystal healing to friends in Boonah.
I found I understood the energies of crystals intuitively which really surprised the heck out of me, as I’d been pretty conventional until my run-in with RSI. I once heard a voice telling me that a crystal was awaiting me at a shop in Ipswich, a suburb of Brisbane, which would cost $20. I went to the shop but couldn’t see anything which drew me. The owner asked if she could help and, when I told her about the voice I’d heard, said: “Come out the back, that’s where I keep crystals for people like you”. I walked through a curtain and immediately saw a round, boring-looking sphere which I knew was the one I was looking for and yes, it cost $20. When I walked out of the shop I look at this glum-looking stone and wondered why I’d been drawn to it. But as I turned it round and round, I could see luminescence in its depths and gorgeous colours of green, blue and gold. It was Labradorite, to me a stone of communication and transformation.
And then I started selling crystals at markets in our local area and further afield at Mt Tamborine in the hinterland behind the Gold Coast. I also travelled further afield to Brisbane and its suburbs and started holding crystal parties, a bit like Tupperware parties, where people could handle various crystals, pick the one or ones they wanted, and paid me at a later date.
In 2002 we returned to the UK to be close to my husband’s mother who was in her early ‘nineties and to re-connect with his children. I had intended to give away working with crystals but then I came across the internet, eBay and crystal sales and, once again, I was drawn into the world of crystals. It was a great extension of my knowledge about crystals as I’d mainly been working with the more common crystals, such as clear quartz, rose quartz, amethyst, fluorite, obsidian, garnets, moonstone, jasper, and so on. In the US EBay particularly I came across rare and – to me – unknown crystals – and I had a grand time buying and learning about so many new forms of crystal I’d never come across before. My husband used to groan when the front door bell rang and it was another delivery of crystals!
I also came across a crystal healing practitioner in the US who had a vast knowledge of crystals, working with crystals and crystal healing. I joined his crystal healing group and learned so much from him for which I’m so grateful. I also taught crystal healing workshops to big and small groups.
And so, when we decided to return to Australia in 2004 after my husband’s mother died, I carted a whole heap more crystals back with us than when I’d arrived in the UK two years’ earlier!
Back in Australia we moved quite a bit – on the wheatbelt south-west of Perth; in Woodenbong in northern New South Wales, in Traralgon, Victoria; and finally in Bowraville on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. I visited mind, body and spirit events, but, best of all, fossicked around rock fairs where you used to find “rock hounds”, people who went mining independently for rocks and crystals, who polished their own rocks and who created their own crystal jewellery. And the big advantage of the rock fairs was that the prices were really low and people were operating on a passion for rocks and crystals rather than on a commercial basis. I used to have a wonderful time discussing crystals and rocks and where people had found them as rock hounds are absolutely passionate about their hobby – or obsession, if you want to call it that!
In 2011, after I’d nearly died of heatstroke and life in Australia was getting hugely expensive, we decided we’d like to move closer to my husband’s kids in the UK and settled on North Cyprus as a halfway point. We’d found in 2002-4 that we couldn’t handle the weather in the UK, so Cyprus made a nice, midway point where we could visit my step-kids in Scotland and England or they could visit us here. So once again my crystals and rocks were packed up and now they fill my workroom and sit out on a round table on the verandah outside my workroom. And yes, I still continue to buy new crystals, rocks and crystal jewellery. And connect people with crystals when they come to visit me and go through my rock and crystal collection. I have held a crystal workshop here, at Vicki Karaca’s Black Olive studio, and am happy to show people my collection and talk about crystals if they want to come and visit me in Alsancak, where I now live.
By Can Gazi…….
This week we have a visit from two very interesting and talented guys, Eren and Sermen Erdogan who have travelled back to their motherland Cyprus from Melbourne, Australia after leaving here some 45 years ago.
Many of our readers will have encountered Eren and Sermen through the Facebook group they created, “Frozen Cypriots”, which has a a fantastic membership of 6360 people of all nationalities and as Eren and Sermen explain with great enthusiasm and passion, everybody in the group just wants to share pictures and experiences with each other of Cyprus past.
My interview with these fascinating gentlemen will be shown on A Cup Of Conversation on BRT2 TV this Saturday the 1st October at 11am and the show will not be repeated this coming week.
For those family members and friends in Melbourne, Australia please add 7 hours to these transmission times which will be Saturday at 18.00pm.
Do follow us online at “A Cup of Conversation” your favourite TV show by clicking here and selecting the live broadcast.
Do tune into Bayrak International Live where you can join me on a number of great radio shows that bring you great music and thoughts and comments of the day,
We are transmitting these shows on 6.150 MH/z. Short-wave, 87.8 and 105 FM Stereo. You can also tune in to live streaming of these shows on your PC by clicking here . These great shows full of entertainment, are as follows :
Northern Exposure: A tourism show that gives information about the history, geography and culture of North Cyprus. Mainly features local events that are of interest to the public.
Take 5: A request show dedicated to playing all types of music; requests mainly taken from Facebook.
The Breakfast Show: A weekend morning show with interesting world news, Facebook quotes and an affirmation slot read by a regular listener, Alice Smith.
Monday : 1700 to 19.00 Northern Exposure with Fatoş Baykal and Can Gazi
Tuesday : 1700 to 19.00 Northern Exposure with Fatoş Baykal and Can Gazi
Wednesday : 1700 to 19.00 Northern Exposure with Fatoş Baykal and Can Gazi
Thursday : 1700 to 19.00 Northern Exposure with Fatoş Baykal and Can Gazi
Friday : 14.00 to 16.00 Take 5 with Can Gazi
Friday : 1700 to 19.00 Northern Exposure with Fatoş Baykal and Can Gazi
Saturday : 07.00 to 10.00 The Breakfast Show with Can Gazi
Sunday : 07.00 to 10.00 The Breakfast Show with Can Gazi
By Kathy Martin…
The other day we bought a punnet of strawberries at Supreme, the local and family-run supermarket in Çatalköy. Wow, you say, what an interesting and earth-shattering piece of news before you quickly turn over the page!
By Eren Erdogan…….
With my brother and sister we have written two articles about our childhood for cyprusscene.com which covered the years of our lives whilst living in the British Governor’s House in Nicosia during the period 1950 to 1961. Like so many Cypriots, Turkish or Greek, we left our beloved island during those very desperate and dangerous times to make a home elsewhere in the world from which very few actually returned to their homeland.
Our family settled in Melbourne in Australia and have all made new lives but cannot forget the childhood years and with the advent of online social media,together with a number of other people who had similar interests, we created the Frozen Cypriots Facebook page which has a wonderful wealth of pictures shared by its members showing Cyprus and its history and heritage.
With many ex Cyprus members having grown up and made their lives in the Diaspora our page has proved to be in great demand and we are glad to say devoid of the politics of Cyprus past as without it, many people of different ethnic backgrounds can come together.
I recently placed some more pictures of my past life and description in Frozen Cypriots and decided to write a fuller account of my life since making that one way journey, We perhaps now see so many people fleeing their countries with a dream of a better life, who may never return to their roots.
Looking back to our first stumbling years in our adopted country can also be very nostalgic. Here is my passage to my adopted country:
Nicosia, Cyprus, 1970. My dad made a deal with my older brother Sermen, “ I will send you to Australia first and in exchange, you will pay part of your sister and brother’s flight there” he said. Sermen, at the age of eighteen and only two years older than I, packed up and left for Melbourne, Australia to stay at our cousin’s (from Poli, Paphos), home in Doncaster.
My sister Tülen followed a year later, then myself a few months after. Our parents’ home was empty at 50 Mahmut Pasha Street, Nicosia,
Mum and Dad were devastated by their suddenly emptied nest. They were to follow two years later during dad’s planned retirement; however the war began in 1974 and delayed their plans for another three to five years. My enquiry to immigrate to Australia was fast tracked, however, by the Cypriot government.
On the morning of August 13th 1972, my mum boiled a bucket of hot water; we didn’t have running hot water in the house. I quickly washed myself with a soapy sponge and was bundled into an old green Austin taxi, my mother emptied a bucket of water after the car to wish me well on my journey and for a safe return, this was a long standing tradition.
I headed to the checkpoint at Famagusta gate, Nicosia next to the Bastions. It was approximately 6:00am and the boy on duty was a friend of mine so he knew the score (I will write about him another time). I crossed the border to the Greek side without a hitch and waited for my flight at the travel agent’s office until midnight, Sabena Airlines flight with a DC 9, Nicosia to Singapore then a transfer to Melbourne with Singapore Airlines.
My dad joined me for part of the wait in the afternoon. He needed to be home before nightfall so he kissed me goodbye, teary-eyed, got onto his bicycle and pedalled away. Mum and dad couldn’t come to the airport to send me off due to not wanting to create suspicion with Turkish border officials. My travel agent, his wife and a few of their friends took me to their house to play cards while I waited for the midnight flight.
The game turned into poker, a game in which sixteen-year-old me wasn’t very familiar. Suddenly, I was down by two Cyprus pounds, I only had ten to my name. I tried to cash in but Mr. Travel agent wasn’t impressed. He threatened to not take me to the airport if I didn’t continue playing. Not long after, I was bundled into another car and taken to Nicosia airport at about 9:00pm, he showed me where to check in and that was that. He did his job as promised to my Dad. By now, I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours and had the biggest headache from the day’s affairs, plus it upset me deeply to see my parents so deeply distressed. As I was checking in, there was a Turkish family sending a girl about my age to Sydney. They asked if I could help her. I said yes, despite perhaps needing some care-taking myself. I carried her bulky radio cassette player for her.
The headache got even worse while we waited to board, so I went to look for some painkillers. I saw two officers close by and asked in half Greek and half English if I could purchase tablets nearby. Till this day, I’ll never forget the officer’s reply, “Fiye re shilioTurkomemuerkisbiso etc..etc..” which loosely translated to “Piss off you Turkish dog and never come back to this country”.
I didn’t know what to do but go back to the waiting area and sit by this girl. I didn’t move a muscle until it was time to board. As we took off, I remember looking out of the window and saying under my breath, “Goodbye Cyprus, place of my birth only God knows when will I see you again”. Needless to say, I was motion sick all the way to Singapore. I had never flown before. Thankfully there was an overnight stay at The Mandarin Hotel of Singapore where I slept off the dizziness, it was a shared room with another passenger.
The guy I was sharing with brought back a ladyfriend, I hesitantly stayed in the room out of fear of getting lost, the room had gold water taps and a city view I’d never seen before. They eventually took their rendezvous elsewhere and I never saw him again. I remember going down to breakfast the next morning but not eating as I assumed I couldn’t afford the meal, I wasn’t aware that breakfast was complimentary.
We were loaded into the airport shuttle bus shortly after. I said goodbye to the girl in my care who was headed for Sydney, she thanked me for carrying her radio. After an additional 9 hours flight I landed in Melbourne. First question I was asked by the customs was “Do you speak English? “ All I could remember was I said “Yes, a little.” And that I heard from the lady that was ahead of me. I did go to night school to learn English while in Cyprus but without practice it was hard to respond instantly without thinking.
My brother and sister welcomed me at Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne on the 14th of August 1972. We lived in a two bedroom flat in Lewisham street – Prahran. Five days later, I started working at the Red Tulip chocolate factory. As a result, I am proud to say I did manage to fund my own night classes and complete my high school education.
I will write more soon of my life in my new homeland and in the meanwhile you can read the life story of our family childhood on the following links:
On 25th April 1915 the Western allies Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand and many other Commonwealth troops landed at the Gallipoli peninsular, in Turkey. The aim of this military move was to capture Constantinople and knock the Ottomans out of the war. Many historians have debated and written endless books on the subject. Each author has their own perspective on the history of the Gallipoli campaign. The 100th centenary of this sad event is also the subject of a new Australian film “Water Diviner”. produced and directed by Russell Crowe. The great actor who starred in the memorable film ”Gladiator”. The aim of this article is not to give its own spin to history, but to share archive photos and reports written while the war was in full swing. The material is from 2 original books entitled ”The Great War” (Volumes 4 & 6) which formed part of a series of 13 volumes published by ”The Amalgamated Press Ltd” and edited by H.W.Wilson in 1915 & 1916 respectively.
The book is from the British perspective of the war. It’s hard to judge the outlook and thoughts of yesteryear with those of today. Initially the Turkish point of view is hardly mentioned, but some balance soon comes into the writings as the respect for the ordinary and long suffering Turkish soldier becomes apparent. Apart from short snippets of analysis the write up is through their eyes.
”After the losses of the landing battles, Sir Ian Hamilton must have had less than 35.000 bayonets immediately at hand for the desperate work of a thrusting attack at the seat of power of the Ottoman Empire, which could draw upon a half million or more men for the defence of the road to Constantinople. As a matter of fact, the Turco-German commanders concentrated all their principle armies on the defence of the Dardanelles. The campaign against Egypt was discontinued, and the attack on Russia across the Caucasus was reduced to an unimportant defensive battle. Even the comparatively small Indo-British army advancing along the Euphrates up towards Bagdad was only opposed by a single weak Turkish army corps. All the main military resources of one of the greatest warrior races in the world were organised by capable German officers and set in a series of almost impregnable mountain defences. There were never less than 150.000 Turkish soldiers with thousands of German engineers and artillerymen, holding the entrenched heights between Achi Baba and Sari Bair”.
Volume 4: Page 410.
In the above report the writer is clearly attempting to exaggerate the strength of the Turkish army in order to highlight a disparity in the opposing forces, while ignoring the condition of the Turkish army which itself was often undersupplied and ill equipped against the much more industrialised Western powers. It’s interesting that the German numbers are also grossly exaggerated.
June 4th 1915
It looked as though the Turks were about to roll up the whole of our line, for when the Naval Brigade was compelled to retreat across the open, sloping fields. under a terrible fire, the exposed flank of the Manchester Brigade was in turn caught by Turkish and German machine guns, and swept by volleys of rifle fire, and then hammered by hostile bombing parties. But the Manchester men – nearly all of them Territorials – fought with bulldog courage to hold what they won. There were places in which one Lancashire man resisted every force that the enemy could bring to bear upon him. Company Sergeant Major Hay, having captured single handed a redoubt near Krithia, held it for ten hours with four men until he was relieved”.
June 21st 1915
”Just as the sky was shading over at evening, some of the latest recruits of the French army, striplings of the new drafts, fought their way up the ridge with the impassioned courage of youth, and in ten minutes captured six hundred yards of the enemy trenches. There were Zouaves and men of the Foreign Legion in the two victorious battalions, but these veterans were the first to praise the lads of the 1915 class. All the night the Turks counter-attacked, and their violent efforts to return into the Haricot redoubt did not cease till June 23rd, by which time some seven thousand of them lay dead or wounded in front of the French firing-line. The French losses were heavy, amounting to two thousand five hundred men, but they had gained a very important position, and had annihilated the best part of a Turkish division.
After this blow against the Turkish left on the ridge over-looking the strait, it was the turn of Lieutenant-General Hunter-Weston to hammer at the enemy’s right on the cliff overlooking the sea. The Turks had all along held with great tenacity to the coast, where their position was one of extraordinary strength, owing to the deep ravine running between Krithia and the sea”.
Volume 4: page 420
It’s clear from the above that the fierce fighting was having its toll on human life, and that the Gallipoli campaign was starting to turn into the trench like battles similar to those of France. The acceptance of such high casualties in single offensives are by today’s standards truly horrendous.
”The Turk displayed remarkable bravery of a characteristically apathetic kind. He came on, tall and vigorous, with fixed bayonet, apparently quite indifferent to death. On the other hand little or no organised use was made of this personal attitude and courage of the enemy private. There was no science in the leadership of the company officers. This was not the way in which Ottoman advanced of old from Asia into the Balkans, overthrowing the Byzantine empire, conquering Hungary, and laying siege to Vienna. The individual Turk, and in particular the Anatolian peasant and the Mussulman of Macedonia, still proved himself a first class fighting man. At times he quite enjoyed a man-to-man tussle with the bayonet, having a sturdy build of body that enabled him to stand up to the tall cattlemen and sheep farmers of Australasia.
None of our troops despised their opponents. On the contrary they were often loud in praise of the gallantry of their foes. It was a lack of food that had made the Turk seem but a vanishing ghost of himself when the three Bulgarian armies closed upon him in 1912. Even then he had held up the Bulgarians along the Chatalja lines”
Volume 4: Page 425
As the campaign was in full swing the writer seems to begin appreciating the poor state of the ordinary Turkish soldier, who in-spite of the atrocious conditions in which they were expected to fight, did so with courage and fortitude. The lack of consideration by the officers for the well being of their men is a well known fact. The butchery that was in evidence in the great war is and continues to be a subject of incredulity.
To put the position plainly, our munition output, after a year’s experience of war, was so small as to conduce to our defeat in the Dardanelles, and our arrangements for raising, training, and arming soldiers, after twelve months experience of war, were tragically inadequate to all our needs. Sir Ian Hamilton could only be given one chance of making an attack in force; the attack failed, and the military resources of our Empire were so comparatively feeble in comparison with those of our enemies that the Dardanelles had to be abandoned.
The main fault rested with the British government. It proved unequal to the task it assumed so confidently and with so much fine rhetoric”. We believe it is a fact that our cabinet was informed some six years before the war of the military significance of the enormous increase of the German production of machine tools.
Volume 6: page 168.
1st December 1915
Frozen and buffeted by the wind and sleet, and barely able to move sufficiently to keep their blood circulating, all the troops endured agonies. But the Anatolians, lining all the northern heights of the Peninsula, were even more exposed to the blast and the blizzard than our men on the Anzac cliffs and the hills near Suvla Bay. The Anatolian Turks were accustomed to severe winters, but the combined action of the great flood and the great frost took the heart out of them. Brave men they had proved themselves to be, with a gallantry that excited the admiration of Australasians, British, and French. But after the blizzard they became quite incapable of attacking. In many cases their clothes were a disgrace to the men who commanded the resources of the Ottoman Empire.
Volume 6: page 175.
By December 1915 the Gallipoli campaign was a failure. H.W. Wilson puts the blame squarely on the inability of the British Government to the lack of preparation and the inadequacy of their policy in preparing for the war. Though beaten, the Allies seem to have had an immense admiration for the ordinary Turkish soldier who were clearly neglected by the Ottoman officers and government who had little or no regard for their men, other than expecting them to sacrifice their lives in the most atrocious conditions.
THE END OF THE CAMPAIGN
It is no exaggeration to call this achievement (the withdrawal) one without parallel. To disengage and to withdraw from a bold and active enemy is the most difficult of all military operations; and in this case the withdrawal was effected by surprise, with the opposing forces at close grips-in many cases within a few yards of each other. Such an operation when succeeded by a re-embarkation from an open beach, is one for which military history contains no precedent.
Volume 6: Page 185
Though very critical of the conduct of the campaign H.W.Wilson is full of praise for the organisation that led to the Allies withdrawal. The Turkish inability to notice or react against a retreating enemy, could be put down to either brilliant planning by the Allies or Turkish exhaustion in a bloody campaign that took its toll on human lives. It’s possible of course that the Turkish High Command misread the activities of the allies in disengaging from the peninsula. Either way the Gallipoli campaign left a scar on the psyche of the Anzacs, and Allies that is still debated today. While for the Turkish people its pride in opposing a much more technologically advanced alliance became a rallying point in continuing the war, it gave the false hope that perhaps they could win. One of the strange features of the writings of H.W.Wilson is that Mustafa Kemal, the hero of Canakkale does not get mentioned. Whether this is deliberate or not is something we cannot know. Apart from Enver Pasha and Liman Von Sanders he hardly mentions the names of the Turkish High Command. Neither does he publish any photos of any Turkish General, in contrast his history is full of photos and remarks on French and British officers from the top to the lower ranks.
On leaving Anzac Cove there is a Turkish Memorial and on it are the words sent by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to an official party of Australians, New Zealanders and British who were visiting Anzac Cove in 1934. Ataturks words of comfort to the families of his former adversaries are a testament to the man’s greatness, and a shining example against those who prefer the animosity to pass on to future generations. It’s a legacy of a man who knew how to win battles, but even more, the peace that is often so much more difficult to achieve. Perhaps his legacy of peace and fraternity can best be left to the fact that on January 12, 1934 the 8 times Prime Minister of Greece nominated Mustafa Kemal Ataturk for the Nobel Peace prize.
For those who have very little knowledge of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who became the founder of modern day Turkey, please click on the following link from the Australian War Memorial web site Ataturk (Mustafa Kemal)
“Those heroes that shed their blood, and lost their lives …
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side,
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries …
Wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have
Become our sons as well”.
The commemorations of ANZAC day have started early in Australia this year being the 100th year of the Gallipoli wars in Çanakkale in Turkey. This needless war was between the Western allies and the Ottoman Empire where a quarter of a million young men lost their lives.
However, this is a signifcant war for Australia and Turkey as both Nations gained an identity for themselves and have developed friendly relations ever since. This friendship has culminated in allowing Turkish nationals both from mainland Turkey and Cyprus to migrate and settle in Australia and make it their home. Therefore, a sizable Turkish community now lives in Australia .
Several films and TV series have been prepared and produced in the past. For the 100th Centenary one of the most important ones that has been produced and directed by Russell Crow is the film “Water Diviner”. For the first time the Turkish perspective of the war has been reflected onto the white screen and has been successful in the box office of cinemas around the world. This was a very worthwhile film to watch and learn from for Australians and other nationals of the Allied Western forces. In that a whole generation of young Turks were lost in this war. For a good understanding of what this war and “Water Diviner“ meant for Australia and Turkey refer to the article by clicking here
Australia wide activities have been in the planning stages over the last couple of years and have been supported by both the Australian and the Turkish governments.
The following article from the Melbourne Herald outlines one such activity as a joint effort from both governments and the Turkish community of Melbourne.
This Turkish memorial will be opened near the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance on 13 April 2015 at 2.00p.m by the Premier of Victoria and the Turkish Vice Consul Mehmet Küçüksakallı.
Photo with the plans and how the memorial will look with Australian members and the Turkish Consul for Victoria.
The Australian Turkish Friendship memorial was opened on the 13th of April 2015. The Ceremony was attended by a large crowd from both sides of the fence! After the official speeches Australian and Turkish anthems were sung and the Turkish band and choir presented songs on the Çanakkale war like Çanakkale Türküsü. Afterwards a large buffet of Turkish food and drinks were on offer for the attendees .
Photo is a shot of the Australian Turkish Memorial after the opening on 13.4.2015 with Mustafa Uzunoğlu and Sermen Erdoğan Two classmates from Nicosia.
Photo at the opening of the Australian Turkish Friendship Memorial in the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne on 13.4.2015. Left to right the Mayor of Broadmeadows Council (2nd time a Turkish person has been elected as mayor) Lady in the white coat is Nazlı Süleyman elected Member of Parliament of Victoria (a first for a Turkish Cypriot person) her father Hakkı Süleyman President of the Migrant Resource Services North West, Turkish Consul of Melbourne, Turkish Ambassador of Turkey, Tayfun Eren, Ramazan Altıntaş president of Turkish Returned Servicemen League of Victoria (who was instrumental in this project), Burhan Yiğit Member of Parliament of north West Melbourne.
Sydney started the Centenary commemorations by the opening of a plaque of Atatürk near their Remembrance Shrine in New South Wales. The plaque contains the very consoling letter sent to the Australian and New Zealand mothers by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. That ends with:
This how the event was recorded by the Tribune International click here
I attended also a poem book launch of ’This Intimate War ‘ Gallipoli/ Çanakkale 1915 by Robyn Rowland which was translated to Turkish by Mehmet Ali Çelikel. This is a bilingual book with poems in English and the Turkish in the corresponding pages. The cover page is a portrait painted by Fehmi Korkut Uluğ of a Turkish soldier helping a wounded Australian soldier to get back to his trenches. The book was funded by the Australian Art grant and also Çanakkale Municipality in Turkey.
Sentries freeze at their posts, rifles sealed to their hands .
At Anzac, more than two hundred are dead from the cold
That bites its way into their bowels.
Cut down shorts of summer
Expose flesh to ice, boots frozen on.
The bruised, burnt land is white as the colourless dead.
Turks wait on this crystal-flaked ally, patiently,
While London is a tug-of war politics.
Charles Bingham lays a table with plates,
Bully beef, knife and fork, Turkish Patrol playing
on a Red Cross gramophone.
His note reads – ‘have a good feed Johnny’.
Basil Holmes – not a scotch drinker –
Leaves an unopened bottle of Johnny Walker
İn his dug-out at Quinn’s Post,
A scrap of paper with its message – ‘a present for a good Turk’.
The above part of the poem is talking about the suffering in the last months of the Gallipoli war before the withdrawal of the Anzac troops. The feeling of respect and messages left behind by the Anzacs was one of friendship and goodwill as can be seen in the last few words of this poem. The book will be launched in Turkey as well for those who are interested in reading all the poems, the ISBN is 978-0-7340-5100-4 I believe is available on Amazon .
On 18 March 2015 it was the opening of the Gelibolu A Turkish Australian Perspective on Gallipoli.
With activities and an Art Exhibition by the Turkish Australian artists. There are also lectures by Dr Selim Pullu and Community Story Telling sessions to come until 25 April.
There is also a Facebook page “Gelibolu: A Turkish-Australian Perspective on Gallipoli” you can view by clicking here
I also attended a wonderful concert by the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) on the 23 March called “Reflections on Gallipoli”. The ACO was directed by Richard Tognetti and gave a superb concert with a mixture of Gallipoli related pieces of Turkish and Australian compositions. Some of the Turkish compositions that are significant and worthwhile to mention in these performances are; Çanakkale Türküsü by Muzaffer Sarıözen and arranged by Cyrus Meurant, Ceddin Dede Traditional, Kaçsam Bırakıp Senden Uzak Yollara Gitsem by Mehveş Hanım, Nihavend Longa, Traditional also an Adagio for String Orchestra by Nevit Kodallı and Our Sons Soliloquy by Carl Vines of Perth.
Çanakkale Türküsü became particularly associated with the Gallipoli campaign, its refrain of “Oh, my youth, alas” resonating with the experience of all those young soldiers marching off into battle. The song expresses the horror of the dying and wounded and those they left behind, ending with a lament for the ‘brave lions’ now resting beneath the willows.
Ceddin Dede is a patriotic Turkish song celebrating the military heroes of the nation and the current Turkish forces who are renowned all over the world. With its references to the Ottoman conquests of Constantinople in 1453 and usually played by the immaculately dressed military bands, it was sung by the Turkish troops to fire themselves up before, and even during battle on Gallipoli.
Kaçsam Bırakıp Senden Uzak Yollara Gitsem is a beautiful lament, much favoured by contemporary Turkish popular singers. Centred on the immortal themes of love and loss, its lovely melody has a universal appeal.
Nihavent Longa is the Turkish equivalent of the Western minor-key scale, an Alaturka makam .
Another two pieces that are significant to mention were “ Adagio for String Orchestra by Nevit Kodallı” a Turkish composer from Turkey (1924-2009)
Nevit Kodalı having spent much of his career teaching at Ankara State Conservatory, his catalogue of works reflects his cultural identity, his Atatürk Oratorio and Republic Cantara among the 20th century’s most important Turkish works, while his opera Van Gough and much of his orchestral and chamber music, including his Adagio for String Orchestra, take their rightful place squarely in the grand Western tradition. Kodallıs Adagio reflects the sense of grief and loss of all who have suffered in war and all who mourn the 20th century’s passing parade of generations thrust unavoidably into conflict.
The Our Sons Soliloquy by Carl Vine (born in Perth 1954)
Carl Vine said “Our Sons Soliloquy was written in direct response to the horrific narratives for Anzac troops in the front line trenches at Gallipoli, compiled for this concert. It reflects in turn the personal horror, disbelief, and anguish and anger evoked by such stark depictions of pointless human suffering, inflicted by countries who considered themselves civilised, upon their own citizens, words fail me”.
Vine continues “Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s epitaph on the Turkish memorial at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, is addressed directly to the mothers of the fallen Anzacs and resonates with a level of compassion and generosity that should shame the allied commanders whom he defeated in battle.”
The Soliloquy is a composition purely using the English words of Atatürk’s message to the Australian mothers that is repeated at every Anzac commemoration in Australia and Gallipoli. Which follows ;
“ Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives …you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country, therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours….
You the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears …
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.“
The Narration and the story lines of the concert was done in both English and Turkish by Actor Yalın Özüçelik of Sydney and was well received by the Australian patrons.
The following video is an explanation of music played by the Artistic director of ACO.
In the following video you can hear and watch the music played by the ACO and how the music for the concert was organised for this concert.
I am looking forward to the 25th of April and the rest of the commemoration activities this year as it is a century of history that is coming alive and remembering all of those who were lost to the humanity as young men.