CONVERSATION WITH ANAFARTALAR COMMANDER MUSTAFA KEMAL
No sir, I was thinking, what can I say? Because, look, all these benches of
files reflects the memories of those times.
“Here take a cigarette.. We’ll do something..”
I took one from the Baframen cigarettes in the big box. Pasha rotated the
small bell on a small table.
- Get us two coffees and take a look at the fire in stove my child.
A moment later, to us:
- If we get into those files, we will never be able to work it out. We make a
brief summary if you want. This is the only way.
Actually, there were so many copybooks, amongst them one can think himself
entering a file dungeon to write down the whole history of Çanakkale letter.
- Excellency, without a doubt, the Çanakkale War brought up the altruism in
the children of this land, in a way running to death as if running to happiness,
instead of giving the homeland to the foreigners. Those hostile days are over,
they added two or three unremovable pages in the world history. Even Sir
Hamilton, I read from the translation of his report in Turkish, wrote of our
courage, our high our altruism. All the newspapers and magazines in France,
wrote the memories of the soldiers commanders who fought there and the articles
of the writers and journalists who visited there. However, we did nothing till
now. The last valuable attempt of the Yeni Mecmua, gave me the chance to talk to
the ones who were able to see the war. In this situation, I can not neglect your
You participated it with great effort in each day of battle. You know the
situation quite well.... Who knows how many memories you have.. And if you
allow, I wish to listen to them from you today, your excellency.
Pasha listened those words with a serious smile.
In this shadowy large room, darkened with sofas, armchairs full of rugs,
pileless carpet, prayer rugs till unto the bay windows, Mustafa Kemal Pasha’s
silhouette looked like a painting from Rembrand. I don't remember ever having
seen a deep sense like that in a young man’s face before. Between the lights and
shadows; firmness, modesty, intelligence..... All those things united in the
face of this blonde and charming face.
Leaving the prayer-beads on the table:
- Then we start right away, he said.
I listened to this patient and self-possessed commander narrating the
Çanakkale event from notebooks, notes or papers found sometimes on the floor ,
sometimes at the writing table, sometimes on the shelves with iceglass, or on
the dark stove decorated with tile in front of a big machine gun taken from the
English, for 3 days, with no conversation lasting less than 12 hours.
Before starting he told that:
- I surely will not tell you the points that are related to military aspects.
Those are neither your concern nor do they gives any benifit to the readers.
Those are for the people of that art and history will mention them all.
-Of course your excellency. My aim is to learn the events of those times from
you personally. I also don’t understand the cases related to military. Thereupon
Pasha started to explain. Firstly he was sent here from Sofia and appointed as
the officer of 19th division in Tekirdağ, then became responsible for the coast
between Eçe harbor, Seddülbahir and Morto harbor. He knows the region well since
- According to my opinion, if the enemy decided to enter the country, he
would do so from two points.
One of them Seddülbahir, the other is near Kabatepe… And according to my
point of view, it was possible to defend those regions without allowing the
enemy landing ashore. I arranged my troops in a way to defend the land from the
shore. This was the situation approximately in February 1330...
Mustafa Kemal Pasha narrated the important events, during his commander days
of Maydos region: Once the enemy attempts to land soldiers to Seddülbahir and
Kumkale, Mehmet Çavuş, whom we heard of many times, sends the landing enemy back
to the sea.
- Why did the enemy try to land their soldiers?
- This movement can be accepted as a matter of investigation. And that
- That is the thing that interests us, your excellency.
- But that is entirely a sea movement. Coast defense was in the order of
Cevat Pasha. My connection with this movement is indirectly related. But in the
morning of the 5th of March, he came to my headquarter in Maydos. To inspect the
Sebdülbahir shore region army, we went to Kirte together. When we arrived, we
were under enemy fire of navy to the Kirte and Alçıtepe direction.
- What did you do at that time sir?
- Thereupon I...
- I gave the required command to the 26th troop commander who was responsible
for the army of that region. We then returned back to Maydos with Cevdet Pasha.
This 5th of March battle ended with the defeat of the enemy, the maintenance
of the land army was my responsibility. That day, nothing worth telling happened
except some enemy ships opening fire to the shores. That day soldiers,
commanders on the batteries of the coast, with great self-sacrifice, held their
cannons till to the end. Think of it for a second, those soldiers carried on
their duties with no fear, under many losses, under fires, inspite of many
After that sea incident that ended with the defeat of the enemy, Mustafa
Kemal Pasha, decided that England and France gave the hope of taking a result
with only the navies and there would be an absolute possibility for a greater
attempt to land soldiers onto the shore. So he ordered the troops in his
responsibility to stay in alert and submitted official requests for additional
Additional armies arrive. Another man called Halil Sami Bey was appointed to
that commander post. And Mustafa Kemal Bey, who was the head official in those
days, with his division, left the region for a possible attack to the Gelibolu
and in a case to move to Anatolia. For the protection of Rumeli coast only the
troops of Halil Bey is left.
A troop from the division of Mustafa Kemal is sent to Çanakkale then brought
back. Mustafa Kemal found it appropriate to locate its division near Bigaliköyü.
As a part of the 5th army, the division was settled in the mansions and military
camps in Bigalıköyü nearby Maltepe, Mersintepe. Commander was ready to move to
Bolayır in case ordered, and pass Çanakkale with ferries. According to orders,
getting prepared all his army by making practice and training.
- On one of those days, it was the morning of the 12th of April, cannons of
ships were heard declaring an incident was occurring in Arıburnu.
All the division was put into alert. I was the commander of the Maydos region
and also ordering army corps and army... But I ordered the cavalry men of the
division to move to Kocaçimen for investigation purposes.
At that instant, I made a telephone call with Third Army Corps Commander Esat
Pasha in Çanakkale. And he was reported that no information was known about the
situation. At half past six in the morning, Hali Sami Bey reported that the
enemy had landed near Arıburnu and a battalion was requested against the enemy.
According to the report and opinion I got in battle in Maltepe, the attempt
of the enemy to land on the shore near Kabaktepe with a serious force was
actually occurring as I had said for a long time. But it was impossible to hold
with only a battalion
Therefore, I appreciated the fact that it was not possible to overcome this
situation with one battalion only, surely as I had predicted earlier, with all
my squadron withdrawal to the enemy was impossible. From now on without cursing,
I notified the first infantry regiment living at Bigalıköyü, where my
headquarters were, and a field battery of cannons at once be ready to depart and
the commanders come to me to receive my orders. Looking through the smoke rising
from his lips, to the notebook, the pages of which he was busy of turning:
- I had a note with a six-item-order, he said. This order was to be notified
to the entourage of general commandership. Besides, I had a report written down
to be presented to the third army corps via telephone. I explained the condition
and my condition and my attempt.
The situation of the commander, having certain decisions, quick reasoning,
who had Rendered unforgettable services for the country in the Çanakkale War,
where immense action was developing; ready to enter danger with all of his
detachments was in before me, it was clearly perceived from the face and words
of the commander who was choosing the notes that he could convey to me and was
turning the pages in a calm manner, at the very moment, that… I felt that we
were going towards the fight that would determine Turkey’s destiny
- Then, the 57. regiment with detachments gathered for the purpose of being
to departure. - This is a famed regiment, because all of them died for the
country’s fate - I went to the gathering place together with the commanders and
head doctor and my aide and my adjutant. I oriented the regiment on my own, by
means of a simple plan, by setting them into action through the way to
Bigalıderesi to Kocaçimen mount.
I was giving oral explanations to both the commanders and the head doctor
while going forward on the way. Beside the fact that there was not a definite
way to convey us to Kocaçimen through the creek we pursued, the land we were to
pass in order to reach Kocaçimen was mostly covered with heath, and full of
rocky creeks. I assigned an artillery battalion commander to act as a guide for
finding a way and dispatching the detachment.
- By how are you going sir?
- Me? On horseback!… These commanders, also, on their horses, as well… We all
lead the detachment. They go on foot.
This person disappeared from sight. Then, I charge the commander of battery
of cannons. He has also left to go to Kocaçimen mount, we could not benefit from
- That is to say, difficulties. Troubles of war before bullets and
- Yes. To find a way on his own, without dispatching the detachment, he was
transported to Kocaçimen. Imagine Kocaçimen mount now: Kocaçimen is the highest
mount of the Şibihcezire. But, Arıburnu point, since it is in the corner of the
slope of the mount, it can not be seen from here. Now, look up in this map.
We looked up in one of Sir Hamilton’s maps. This could not express the
situation thoroughly. Pasha rang the small bell again. Two minutes later a spur
jingle near the door… The soldier regarded taking the map from the pocket of
Pasha’s uniform as an order. After about five minutes, he came in. He could not
find it. Pasha asked for permission with a smile on his face. He went on his
I watched the room while I was alone in the room. The wall was hung entirely
with military photos, souvenirs of the Balkan War, the Trablus War, the Mobile
Army March, the School of Military Affairs. An enlargement of Pasha with a
calpac and a harsh glance, reminding young domineering officers of Pasha, was
under the shawl opened in the form of a butterfly. On the top of his office
desk, there was Colonel Chabert by Balzac, Boule De Suif by Maupassant, Servir
of Lavedan near the Circassian dagger. It is obvious that Pasha fills his
resting moments with literature.
Because, during war, this person, capable of staying sleepless for three or
four nights in thick coats and boots, waltzed skillfully; people did know him
not only as an undaunted commander but also as a demanded, polite, well mannered
and intelligent dancing partner.
A photograph of him hung near a huge mirror and attracted my attention. I was
looking at it: Mustafa Kemal Pasha in Janissary appearance. Just at this time,
he came in with maps in his hand. He smiled at me when he saw I looked at him.
With his deep and determined voice :
- Yes, a costume ball souvenir from Sofia, he said.
Again, we were on the desk covered with shawl. And we returned to 12 April
- Therefore, he started, you understand that, I saw nothing but the ships and
the battleships over there. I understood that the infantry of the enemies landed
was far away, yet. The soldiers were tired of advancing in difficult territory
without resting and their desire for a rest was very deep. I said to the
detachment and battery commander to gather the soldiers and to have a rest.
Concealed from the sea, after having a rest of about ten minutes, they would
follow me. And I, there is Aptalgeçidi, would go to Conkbayırı through
Aptalgeçidi. With my aide, my adjutant and head doctor and squadron battery of
cannons battalion commander we met there again, we attempted to advance on our
horses, initially, but the territory was not suitable. We left the horses,
reached Conkbayırı on foot.
Now, the scene we are faced with is an interesting scene. And, in my opinion,
it is the most important moment of the event.
Pasha was lighting another cigarette and after turning some more pages,
taking his map and explaining:
At this moment, I saw from the mount in the south of Conkbayırı having an
altitude of 261m that detachment soldiers assigned for observation and
reconnaissance of the coast were running through Conkbayırı and escaping. I
shall read this conversation word for word. On my own, appearing in front of the
- Why are you escaping? I said
- Enemies, sir! They said
- Where are they?
- Over there, they showed the mount with 261m altitude.
In fact, a hunter line of the enemy came close to the mount with 261m
was marching with freedom of perfection. Now, think of the situation: I had
left my forces for them to rest for ten minutes… And the enemy came to this
mount… So the enemy is closer to my soldiers than I am! And if the enemy forces
had come to the place where I was, my forces would most probably be grabbed in a
very bad condition. At this time, I do not know what it is, a logical opinion or
instinct, I do not know.
To the escaping soldiers:
- You should not escape from the enemy, I said.
- We ran out of ammunition, They said.
- If you do not have ammunition, you do have your bayonets, I said.
And I had the bayonets fastened by shouting at them. I had them laid on the
ground. Besides, I sent an order via my aide to the infantry regiment advancing
to Conkbayırı and the soldiers of the battery of cannons to come near me with
“march march”. When my soldiers fastened the bayonets and laid on the ground,
the enemy forces also lay on the ground. This was the moment of our triumph.
Hearing just like seeing this moment with a sprightly expression, that the
grand battle depended on a tiny moment, even that the life of a country could
get into a danger due to a misused moment, and that a well-used moment would
improve the destiny of a country, just as in this case, was giving me goose
Mustafa Kemal Pasha said:
- The division on the head of the column reached us. I ordered this division
to open fire by adding the soldiers without ammunition to them. I ordered the 2.
commander of the 57. battalion, captain Ata Efendi, who same near me, to
strengthen this division and to attack the enemy over the mount with 261m
altitude. I had the battery of cannons take up a position in Suyatağı and had
them open fire on the infantry regiment of the enemy. The other battalion, since
they made a turn to the creek, was late and they also participated in the attack
in the leadership of their commander. After that, I ordered the regiment
commander to attack the enemy in the directions I oriented, with the whole of
- Where were you at the very moment?
- I was also with the battery.
- At what o’clock did our first regiment start attacking?
- The commencement of the attack of the 57. regiment…. Let me tell you….(he
looked up in his notebook and) it was before noon, around ten o’clock. At this
moment, Mehmet Salih Efendi, lieutenant of the 9. squadron cavalryman, came near
me. And reported that the 27. regiment started combat in the west of Kocadere,
Kemalyeri ridges. With this lieutenant, I ordered and notified the commander of
the mentioned regiment that I was attacking towards the left wing of the enemy,
that the 27. regiment was attacking the enemy opposite to them, that I would
direct the 19. Regiment yet near Bigali vicinity completely to Kocadere
direction, that cavalryman Salih Efendi delivering this message be sent back to
me again and always be in contact with me and that I would direct the battle
from Conkbayırı. I also sent an order to the general staff in Bigali via an
order cavalryman. I said that:
Mr. İzzettin (the deceased general İzzettin Çalışlar) : Let the 72.Regiment
approach to Maltepe and Sıhhiye squadron come to Kocadere (all). The 72.
Regiment approach to east of Kocadere. And please give this report to the
commander of 3rd army corps.
- May I copy that report if you do not see any military objection? Because,
it would be a live and valuable war history document written during while those
extraordinary events were taking place at the battlefield.
- Of course, I can give this, please write.
To the 3rd army corps commandership, ridges at the north of Arıburnu.
April 12th, 10 24 a.m.
Infantry of the enemy that disembarked has conquered the ridges of
approximately 1.5 km which are located at the fronts between Arıburnu and
Kabatepe. 27th Regiment is conquering the enemy at a distance of 800 m at the
east front. I started to attack completely at the left wing of enemy from a
distance of 600 m. I am guessing that the enemy, comprised entirely of infantery
soldiers, is almost as much as a regiment. The battle is continuing. After
almost one hour of fire exchange (with guns and cannons), it is seen that troops
of the enemy, which have gone forward till the hill of elevation 261, has
started to retreat.
That is the part of the report I can give to you. Let us continue to our
story, ok? The 57. regiment were following the enemy with insistence upon my
order. No news came from the 27. regiment commander whether my order had been
received or not. Besides, I understood from the observations of both myself and
the officers I sent for observation, that this regiment was also attacking and
- Ok general (pasha), what are the reasons that forces an enemy, which
attacks severely, to retreat so quickly?
- Yes, you are right to ask such question. Let me explain. Now it is half
past eleven (a.m.). This was the case according to me:
A force of the enemy, which had disembarked, was more than 8 battalions. This
8 battalions force had gone forward till the north of 261 and through east of
the west ridges, where Kemalyeri is located, at a considerably wide front in an
unfavorable manner by itself. But this long front was cut by some excessively
rough rivers. That is why; the enemy was weak at almost all locations of its
front. Since the cannon battalion of the 19th military division that is located
at the north of Conkbayırı was beating the Arıburnu transfer point by the
cannons, troops of the enemy that were just being transferred had problems. The
attack of the 57th regiment from the Conkbayırı and Suyatağı line to the very
weak and important left wing of the enemy in the direction of 261 in a vertical
direction by a narrow front and attacking of 27th regiment in the direction of
Merkeztepe by a wide front caused the enemy to retreat.
But according to me, there is another point more important than this expected
result which is an attack of all men either to kill the enemy or to die.
This was not an ordinary assault, it was an attack in which everybody was
oriented either to succeed or to die. Even I added the following orally to the
orders I gave to the commanders:
- I do not order you to attack, I order you to die. During the period that we
all die, other forces and commanders may replace us.
These word were coming from the chest of the pasha by such a resolution that
he was like living the same day again. While listening, I believed that although
the war materials had been developing, obtaining an extraordinary victory could
only be achieved by means of the spiritual resolution and making self-sacrifices
for an aim.
- Now, this is the case sir ? But you had quite much time till the evening.
Just at that time, an officer, who was bringing news from the commander of the
9th military division reported information of the enemy’s transferring soldiers
to Kumtepe and us having of us no forces there, a situation that had to be taken
care of by the 19th military division. In addition, the commander of 9th
military division was going to Kirte all his forces. Kumtepe is the location
closest to Kilidülbahir and a very effective point.
Tolerating the loss of this location may have caused all efforts to fail.
Consequently my first thought was to let the forces, which joined the battle at
Arıburnu, to continue to the attack and to arrive Kumtepe with the whole
military divisions. All orders regarding to those was given. But in order to
personally contact all military divisions, I moved immediately.
The commander moved immediately. And contacting the 77th regiment at Kocadere
and later on …… regiment. He hears some voices calling his name when he
approaches Maltepe in the afternoon. Then he moves towards the voices and he
sees the army corps commander Esat Pasha and all his soldiers. Mr. Mustafa Kemal
reads the report which has come from.the aforesaid. And understands that this
report also belongs to himself and the officer, who told him that the enemy is
conquering Kumtepe, just told him the meaning of this report. However, according
to the report he reads, information telling that the enemy is conquering Kumdere
is not correct.
- Look in the oral notification of this report an addition of a sentence
“Soldier advanced on Kumtepe” can change examination decisions, in this way,
after the situation was understood, the commander of the army corps, Pasha
Excellency asked my decision.
Mustafa Kemal Bey states that he will continue the attack on the enemy at
Arıburnu. Commander of Army Corps accepted and Mustafa Kemal Bey left right away
and went to the battlefield. The 77th regiment was attacking to the right side
of the enemy by passing through the left of the 27th regiment. He positioned the
supplies and the artilery in the necessary places. He then went to the right
side and commanded the battle from there.
Our soldiers advanced so far that the enemy continued to retreat, and even
some of them were busy getting on the boats. But it was already dark. Meanwhile
the officers were concerned with attacks by various commands until night, on the
division commander’s insistence, totally to defeat the enemy, and they carried
out succesful attacks, but they were not able to throw out the enemy. With the
advance of night, the battle ended. By taking advantage of this situation, enemy
was able to start to move troops to land again.
It means he said “I am not able get correct information about the situation
from anywhere on 12/13 night. The view of the battle is getting out of my site
due to the darkness. And to understand the situation in detail, I am walking
around in the battlefield myself, from there I am arriving to Kocadere where I
ordered a phone center to be built. With the information I gathered there, I am
moving the auxilary forces on the right side to the center and to the left. I
shall then command the batlle from the center which later was named Kemalyeri.”
Even listening to only one day of the battle was creating turmoil and
vehemence in my mind and was filling it with thousands of difficulties arising
at each step. And I asked:
- Is that all about the Arıburnu campaign?
Pasha smiled with a deliberation of an experienced man who had discovered the
horrifying scenes of battle on my soul and the views that smellt blood and
- What happened, you tired? This is just the beginning of the campaign. From
April 12 to May 4, for 23 days, I commanded. “Arıburnu troops” at Arıburnu and
then I had to command the 19th Division on the right s side of all the
battlefield alone. During this time, a lot of military events took place. We can
only point out the most important days.
And he handed over the cigarette pack. Both of our ashtrays were full. Pasha
rang the bell. He reacted to the slur’s noise as:
- Boy, make us two more coffees, then keep the fire alive.
- Aye Sir.
And we started to work again:
Enemy was supporting his front line again on April 15 with the forces
transferred during the night. First, they were attacking with the forces close
to our left side and the center. But our troops were able to recover from a loss
by keeping at distance with the enemy forces and by protecting themselves from
bayonet attacks. For this reason, April 13 was a victory without loss.
This is an important day which was won with the courage and determination of
our soldiers as well as our commanders. I don’t want to say it is because of the
devotion and braveness of our soldiers. Because I remember days where Turks were
more self sacrificing than this day. I can say that I was in the toughest
position on April 13. Because our forces who fought against five British
brigades consisted of the 57th regiment who had many losses yesterday, April 12,
two-battalion regiments 27 and 77 and 72nd regiments. It was really this force
which based the Arıburnu front achievement with April 12 battle and caused the
British to loose their determination and ruined their plans. It was understood
that two more regiments would be under my command on April 14. That is why I
decided to attack to the enemy again.
I stayed in Kocadere village on the night of 13/14 April. I made my final
decision near sunrise.
The enemy kept Kocadere village under fire with its navy from Kabatepe
direction. And the necessary attack order was written under this fire. This
order was sent to the commanders via horse riders. I then myself went to
The attack started on the left side and on the battlefield between seven and
eight. After this, I was able to see our troops attacking to the right side. The
Attack was proceding with success on all fronts. The enemy started to retreat in
Kanlısırt. After 10, our right side also started to push the enemy and forced
retreat. And started following. At around noon, soldiers left from retreating
enemy in Kanlısırt wanted to surrender by waving hats, white handkerchiefs and
flags! I and my commanders were watching this scene from Kemalyeri without
I understand from the reports of division member İzzettin Bey and from my
observations that enemy has no activity on the hills west of Arıburnu. Enemy
accross our right side has moved to the shore.
However, enemies stayed in Merkeztepe away from the retreat point due to the
Forces in Kanlısırt and Kırmızısırt were not pulling back from Yükseksırt where
they captured ground by advancing until Kömürkapıderesi and Bombasırtları on our
right side. They wanted to or not, who knows, but were happy with it.
Enemy’s real success was seen on the west of Yükseksırt and on Haintepe. When
finally night arrived, we realized that the troops were tired and therefore we
were satisfied with the victory. Battle ended and arrangements for captured
Situation on April 15:
The enemy was across our right side on the facing shore part of Yükseksırt,
staying in the hills of Kömürkapıderesi and our troops were near the enemy line
on Cesarettepe and other troops were on Edirnesırt, Kırmızısırt and Kanlısırt.
Our line was invaded repedeatly and our troops were positioned on the east of
the line and accross the line. Enemy was continuing to transfer forces. Front
lines were supported by enemy forces landed. When the lines were supported,
there were reconnaissance activities on some parts of the battle field. During
these activities, the enemy was pushing our left side from the Kanlısırt
direction. This atttack was ended. After nine cargo ships left soldiers to land,
eight more were also seen approaching on the horizon. Our first line was two or
three hundred meters away from the enemy. For this reason, Mustafa Kemal Bey
asked his commanders for enough forces to win instead of waiting for the enemy
to grow. When he received the forces he wanted, his battle line expanded and
therefore it was difficult to interact with various commanders.
Therefore, he divided his line to various team commanderships.
The enemy tried to attack on the right side but they were stopped.
Enemy attacked trenches on our right side. But with counter bayonet attacks,
they were forced to pull back. But Mustafa Kemal Bey saw the possibility of
another major attack attempt as the enemy had settled down, thus he decided to
strike at the enemy with fresh forces before they attack. Then he moved the team
commanders to Kemalyeri and commanded them as if he was there.
I requested the words with which he adressedthe people under his command on
that day from the commander and recieved the following: Mustafa Kemal Bey is
informing that he will continue to attack to the enemy at Arıburnu with the
available troops. Kemal Bey expected effective results from talking emotionally
to people. He says:
"We have attacked the enemy front twice in six days and have disorganized
them. Because of the difficulties in the landscape we have not been able to
attack effectively and they have managed to resist, however, it is obvious that
the number of forces we have demolished are more than two divisions. The
situation is no different in Kumkale at Seddülbahir.
I believe we have to attack and push the enemy to the sea. We are not weak
compared to the enemy. The moral situation of the enemy is in a horrible
condition. They try to keep up the moral by digging trenches continuously. You
must have seen them in attempt to escape whenever bombs fell around their
There is no need for further reflection to make the enemy flee.
I can never accept that there are commanders or soldiers among us that would
not be willing to die rather than facing the things that had happened in the
second phase of the Balkan War. If anyone feels there are such people among us,
we should shoot them immediately.
In order to proceed with the success we have achieved till now, the new
troops under my command are being dispatched to the front.”
He was talking emotionally to the commanders. He was giving them orders
concerning the attack and he was giving the army corps information on the attack
at the same time. They were all approved of. After all this, the 18th April
Attack takes place and according to the Paşa, the "unchangeable" situation
preparing the future events develops.
“Before 5 o’clock we started the artillery attack and the 14th Regiment began
marching to Boyun and Merkeztepe. This means we have started artillery and
infantry battle on the whole front.” It seems the enemy had only one artillery
battery on land. Because of the short distance between our forces and the enemy
line, their batteries had no effect on us.
However, the battleships of the enemy kept firing at the backline of our
front effectively, especially from Kabatepe direction.
I asked the Paşa from where he directed the battle from. He answered:
- I command this battle from Kemalyeri.
Because, he added, it was possible to see and observe all the enemy fronts
with a little exception on the right side. Besides, from where he stood, it was
possible to see how our forces moved.
Paşa said: “Because of the continuous infantry and gun fire of the enemy, the
attack of the 14th Regiment became increasingly difficult. Our artillery was
located only on the mountainside and it was under very heavy duty to support the
marching of our infantry. Pretty soon, we began to see the attack of our left
wing forces. Before 6:45, all the men of the 125th Regiment that had stayed back
till that time joined the 14th Regiment. I ordered our left wing forces to
attack harder and the right wing forces to support the 14th Regiment. However, I
observed that the attacks were not as effective as I expected them to be till
As a result, he decides to get involved in some new details. By the time his
new orders are received by his commanders, till the time the reinforcements
arrived on the front, the attack had almost came to a stop. Some commanders
suggested stopping the attack, while some others suggested to postpone it till
night time. However Mustafa Kemal Bey decided to attack because he knows very
well that the enemy is under great pressure.
- How have you been able to observe the effect of this pressure?
- I was located in a very suitable place. I was able to see the battlefield
as a whole, much better than all the other commanders. Besides, I was able to
get information from various sources. For instance, the telegram sent by the
enemy general that read “send urgent reinforcements” was caught by our
intelligence. They informed me about it.
Therefore, I decided that it was necessary to finish the attack that I had
started. It was obvious that we had to get the results of the attack before the
enemy reinforcements arrived. Besides, it was our national duty to throw the
enemy from our shores as soon as possible.
I informed all the commanders. We had no other solution than to use the
bayonettes of our soldiers. All my forces were in the front. I gave an order of
attack from the back with trumpets and drums. It was past 4 o’clock. Activation
began on all fronts. Especially the central forces began moving suddenly. To be
honest I wathed in admiration all the forces advance effectively.
He said that he had “admired” the movement which had an important meaning. In
my opinion, these words covered all the devotion and the heroic scenes.
- What happened then?
In most parts of the front, our soldiers managed to enter the enemy trenches.
But our original battle front came to a stop 20-30 meters, some places almost
8-10 meters, from the enemy trenches.
In the military it is considered as an exception if a battle is not finished
in such a case. Because, according to the old theory, the battle should have
finished much earlier than these distances. But the determination and resistance
of the enemy and the fearless running of our brave soldiers to death caused
further bloodshed in combat even for months.
At 4:00, the attack came to an end but the fight went on desperately. I
certainly was sure that the battle would be won if we were to attack seriously
and that the attack was to be supported by all means. I was confident. We were
so close to the enemy, it would be rather easy to sneak into the enemy trenches
in the darkness of the night. We prepared till midnight. Then, I ordered a night
attack. The fight went on till next morning. However, early in the morning we
understood that we were not able to get into the enemy trenches.
The ongoing battle of 24 hours had exhausted the soldiers. I stopped the
attack with an instant order. However, we had no other choice but to keep the
line and stay put inorder to save the country. Therefore, I gave the order
I took the final words of this order from the Pasha as a valuable historical
document. It read:
“All soldiers fighting with me here should keep in mind that we do not have
the choice to step back if we are to carry the responsibility to save this
country. I would like to remind you that any sign of rest will be the end of us
all here as well as the whole nation. I am positive that all my friends share
the idea with me that not one of us will even think about rest untill the enemy
has withdrawn to the sea.”
Mustafa Kemal Pasha commanded the Arıburnu forces till 4th May 1331 and among
the incidents happening till that day there are no major battles apart from
local attacks. However, there are scenes of bravery. Here is one of them the
Pasha has told us:
“We are not involved in individual scenes of bravery. However, I think I will
have to tell you about the Bombasırtı incident. Our distance to the enemy
trenches is 8 meters, that means death for sure. The soldiers in the first
trench die fighting and the ones in the second trench take their places. But, it
is very difficult to explain the situation in words.
The soldier sees the dead. He knows he will die too in 3 minutes, but this
does not shake him, he does not even hesitate. The ones who know how to read and
write have the Quran in their hands. They are prepared to go to heaven. The ones
who do not know how to read keep praying. This is an admirable and amazing
example of the Turkish soldier’s moral power. You can bu sure that this is the
power that made us win the Battle of Çanakkale.
Pasha was leaving his command at Arıburnu. But night had fallen. And I was to
leave Pasha. I thanked him saying that I would be paying him a visit again two
days later to get information about the other sessions and shook his heroic
If I ever had had the chance to talk with Tiryaki Hasan Pasha of Kanige or
Gazi Osman Pasha of Plevne, I wondered if I would have been more excited.