REPUBLIC OF TURKEY MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND TOURISM

Second Session

CONVERSATION WITH ANAFARTALAR COMMANDER MUSTAFA KEMAL

Second Session

The Pasha, sitting in the same room, in the same dark blue plain clothes, buried under the detailed map in front of him, was following up the latest German attack. He explained the destinations of attack, results that he expects in a manner of clarity and sincerity of a soldier filled with admiration of his job. And then:

-“Today, we will discuss about second phase, won’t we, sir?” He said. This second phase is not the second phase of war, it is the second duty assumed by the commander in that area. Nowadays, the Pasha, can not comment on “Ariburnu” front, as he has not enough authority. However, he gave me some information about the most important event occuring when he was in charge of the 19th military division in the right direction, I mean, the general attact occured on May 6th . At this general attack, his military division had succeeded in entering to the enemy bases.”

- “May 07” he said (and having a swallow from his coffee after reading his documents) we can summarize that day, as follows:

It had been confirmed that enemy has sent forces to “Ariburnu”. Some of the battalions among these forces was marching upon “Çataltepe” located in the north of the right of the “Ariburnu” front. Due to the accomplished investigation and observation, it was confirmed that the enemy had located around this area, in the north-east of “fishermen”, on a small front of 100 metres with its fortifications and soldiers. According to my estimations that I had already reported to the commander of the north group, the fortifications in the area, at first, resulted in minor but bloody combat. And then, it became the starting-point of the general operation of “Anafartalar”.

On may 08,09 & 10, in the front of our military division, no important events had occured. On May 11th , an armistice was contracted. Burial of corpses was dealt with.

Nothing to mention on May 12,13,14 even 15…”

- “What is the reason for this stillstand, sir?”

- “Because the enemy was tried. They suffered lots of Casualties. Theyhad taken heavy losses. And according to my opinion, from now on, they were trying to get a definite result at “Ariburnu”. I attribute this stillstand to this. On May 6th , the military division on my left that also belonged to us, fired up some prepared “sewers”. As a result of their blazes, we had to perform a sudden attact against the enemy.

On May 7th , in the area called “Çataltepe Halit” & “Rizatepe” which we have already mentioned, a bloody battle took place.”

- “Why is that hill called “Halit” & “Rizatepe” ?”

“Because two officers named “Riza Efendi” & “Halit Efendi” combatting in a quite heroic manner, had been killed there...

After this battle, for a while, in addition to the front that I assumed its protection against “Ariburnu”, I became responsible for the area including the zone from “Anafartalar” to “Azmak”. But then, under the condition of direct assignment of all “Anafartalar” zone to the responsibility of Excellency, “Esat” Pasha, a German, Mr. Vilmer, committed to the charge of command and responsibility of the area.

May 18 also passed by with that battle.

According to the information received on May 22nd , the enemy was severely attacking the south group, I mean, the “Kirte” zone located near “Sebdulbahir”. Therefore, also expecting serious or non-serious attack of enemy forces against our front, it was suitable to take necessary precautions. In fact, on that day, before noon, gunfire was opened on the whole front of military division, by guns, rifles and machine guns of the enemy. The enemy attack occured. However, the enemy was defeated in the front base, two of our shelters were captured and seized. On may 23, we recaptured the shelters. As a result of precautions, the enemy had especially concentrated on forces of 27th & 57th till daylight and finally managed to make use of them against us. However, with the help of precautions and especially with the help of the heroism of commanders, officers & private soldiers of the troops of 27th & 57th, the enemy was completely defeated. They were shattered to pieces by bombs. When we captured the shelters, the shelters were full of enemy corpses. That was something amazing. None of the Englishmen survived.

As this battle was going on, Excellency “Esat” Pasha who had arrived to “Kemalyeri” with “Ismail Canbulat” and “Dr. Nazim”, had material battle souvenirs that we had plundered from the English, that day. Some of them were carrying an English gold coin broken to pieces by a bullet, others were holing some kinds of medals, binoculars in pieces, etc.”

- “Were you at “Kemalyeri”, on that day?”

- “No, I wasn’t at the battle field. We had a phone conversation. I sent the booty that I’ve mentioned, from there.

During this small battle, the losses of the enemy had been over approximately 3,000.

On May 24th , the enemy again attacked the front of the military division. They even succeeded in entering our shelters. But, as a result, they were completely destroyed.

They were repelled and defeated once again.

Nothing to mention on May 26 & 27, same with May 28.

On May 29th , the enemy attacked the shelters number 31,32 & 33. But they were repelled under heavy losses. These shelters in “Ariburnu” front, established after the attack of april 14, at “Bombasirti” - at the point where two hills join, were as near as from 7-8 meters upto 10-12 meters to the enemy base. We can tell that this establishment and the events later taking place in these shelters, provided them a position and a historical reputation. Enemy shelters next to these shelters held great importance by being built at the edge of a precipice reaching down to the banks of “korkuderesi” stream. The enemy in aforementioned shelters were always in an slightly frightened condition. There was no night that they did not perform an activity, an aggression against our shelters with their mentioned tricks. As a result of being bombed and explosion of wooden-based sewers, these shelters were like hell. Of course, the shelters of enemy were in the same condition. We had covered these shelters with the planks in order to diminish damages of the bombs of the enemy. They were continuously throwing “damaging bottles filled with liquid” and causing the shelter to catch fire. Thick flames and smoke never disappeared over those shelters. Of course, we had been suffering many casualties there. But, in spite of that, our brave soldiers who had put their trust in God, were standing up to all these explosions of fire, sewer and bomb, were keeping their position with a enviable strong perseverence and were retaliating against the enemy. No important events from May 30,31 & June 01 till June 16.

But, on June 16th , “Mustafa Kemal” Pasha had fought in a quite bloody field with his military division on the right direction. And from that day to July 24th , no important event occured, on the front of the military division. Only, on June 29th , some enemies had attacked our fronts and they had been defeated. On July 24th , the front of his military division had been attacked by gun fire. In the begining, this attack had been in a moderate level. But in the afternoon, its level had increased, step by step. The enemy, located at the front of military division ...th and on the left direction of Mustafa Kemal’s military division, in a manner preparing for attack, they had been making use of continuous gun fire. In truth, right after that, the enemy had attacked at “Kanlisirt”. And they had succeeded in their efforts. The battle had continued intensely all over the front, even at night. Before the front of the Pasha, around “Ağildere” in the “Anafartalar” zone, continuous enemy fire had been heard.

Half an hour after midnight, the enemy attacked to military division of the Pasha and on all our shelters, even in areas before us, they exerted their means to the maximum: greasy rags, explositions of wooden-based sewer, bombs of different kinds! Land and sea gunners had been continuously bombing the front of the military division.

Hour Minute

At 01:10 a.m., “Mustafa Kemal” had taken attention of his troops, as follows!

“At the moment, the general situation is quite important. I expect a more self-sacrificing circumspection and exertion than normal, from the commanders and the officers.”

Later, at 03:30 a.m., with another order, he had repeated the need for vigilance that would confound the efforts of the enemy.

On July 25th , at 04:00 a.m., the gunners of the enemy had started to fire at maximum capacity. Our shelters and indirect fire areas had been continuously demolished in a dangerous way. At 04:45 a.m., the enemy attacked the front of the military division. But all their attacks were totally repelled by the steadfastness of our soldiers. Our enemy had suffered terrible casualties, and even those who had succeeded in entering our shelters had been killed right there, in those shelters.

The same day, at nearly 05:00 a.m., although the enemy attacked against on the right direction, this second attack was also scattered. The enemy was performing instant attacks. “It was even seen that many times their officers prodded their privates with sticks in order to get them out of their own shelters,” said the Pasha, with a smiling face.

- “Excellency, what was the purpose of the enemy's exertion in the direction of your military division, then?”

- “Well, we can’t say that these attacks of the enemy against the 19th military division are a show or it was for determining our forces in the area or it was only for destroying dispatches and fortifications around “ağildere”. No! According to my opinion, by defeating the 19th military division as well, the main purpose of enemy was to be victorous at "Kocaçimen” range, proposed to be a certain aim of the overall operation. The importance due to the general situation of the front of the military division and the importance of the obstructed “Ariburnu–Kocaçimen” direction may justify my estimations. The enemy had always assigned 3 or 4 brigades, minimum, for the attacks against the front of the military division. The success of our detachments of troops in keeping their steadfastness and position under continuous fire of two battle ships with howitzers during 14-15 hours was the main reason for the complete unsuccess of enemy on the front of the military division. Please do not forget the quite undisturbed condition of our shelters which had been fortified and strengthened, for days.

Here, we will highlight an important subject.

- “Yes, Sir.”

- “As I’ve explained, the attacks against the front of the military division had been scattered, but now there seemed to appear a greater threat tothe military division and the whole “Arıburnu”.

- “What was that threat?”

- “This threat anger was the enemy moving from “Ağıldere” Zone upon “Şahinsırt” and Conkbayırı”!

- “These threatening movements were such that they could have resulted in the defeat of “Arıburnu” front. In this direction, the military division had accomplished the necessary precautions within its authority. But, the command of the North Group was seriously in charge of the main precautions such as general operations and arrangements.

At that time, the Pasha rang up the bell. Due to the jingling noise of spurs in front of the door, he offered coffees. Each of us lightened an other cigarette.

- “Truely,” he said, “It was reported that after the defeat, forces in great numbers had been directed towards “Conkbayırı” front. On July 26th , early ın the mornıng, the enemy changed position with a violence not easily described. They bombed “Conkbayırı” with their howitzers & field guns as well as their battle ships at sea. By the way, I was reported that the situation at “Conkbayırı” was not good at all. Besides these reports, I sent head of general staff and his assistant to “Conkbayırı” and “Şahinsırt”. I had them examine the situation closely. It was obvious that the situation was serious. The enemy had captured “Kocaçimen” & “Şahinsırt”. I could see the attacking waves from the observation point of the military division that I was in charge of. There were wounded officers in my military headquarters due to the bullets from that direction. By the way, the enemy had gathered soldiers from the “Suvla” Port as well as its shores in the south. And at the same time, they were attacking.

Till that day, the “Anafartalar” Zone was the responsibility of the command of the South Group. And it used to be directed by the South Group command. That day, there was a change in command. We had been formally informed that a new group including the troops at “Conkbayırı” and “Kocaçimen”, called as “Anafartalar” Group, had been established under the command of Colonel “Feyzi Bey”. I was aware of the great danger at “Conkbayırı” and I was quite depressed. As a result, I submitted the following matters to the command of the North Group :

It is seen that the situation at “Conkbayırı” is quite touchy and important. In the name of our country, I beg you to pay attention of the commander in this matter.

In those days, there was a conflict with the general commanders. I had a phone conversation with “Kazım Bey” (ex-governor of “Samsun”) in the name of Commander, Excellency, “Liman” Pasha. He asked my opinion. I explained him the touchy situation.

“We have one more chance. In case of missing this chance it is possible that we will be in great trouble.” I told him that the situation had become serıous, we had to take the enemy forces into consideration, located and going to be located at “Anafartalar”, we had needed to accomplish precautions, all the dispatching and command of forces should have been concentrated especially in one hand and there was no other way out.

On July 26 & 27, at 09:50 P.M., the commander of the North Group, formally informed me that I was promoted to the command of “Anafartalar” Group by “Liman von Sanders” Pasha. With same order, I was oblıged to accomplısh an ordered attack on july 27, immediately. Due to this order, I gave responsibility of 19th military division to “Şevki Bey” – the commander of 27th troop. I parted with “Hüseyin Bey” the chief doctor of the military division.

- Why?

- Because I was ill... My assistant “Kazım Efendi” had been killed, that day. I alsotook an officer called “Rasim Efendi” into my service. In that place, for 4 months, I had been breathing that polluted air, only 300 meters away from the cross fire. That night at 11 o’clock, as I left that dark place like dungeon, for the first time I met with some fresh air. But I was only able to breath this fresh air in gloom and uncertainty.

I was confused to see this person without sleep with all his intention despite of continuous attacks in these airless places with the smell of blood, gunpowder, carcasses and corpse, and with the sound of all kinds of noises. I said:

- Your excellency, as far as I see, you are not aware of the strength of the enemy and the new forces you are assigned. In addition, as you’ve said , youare going to unknowngloom and uncertainty. How are you able to accept this kind of responsibility?

Because I see something underneath this situation that can not be described that we are trying to describe with common or extraordinary words. As you have mentioned, taking this kind of responsibility is not a simple preference. But I took this responsibility proudly deciding not to live after my country is destroyed. And I immediately rode to the military headquarters at “Çamlıtekke”. So, my commanding relationship with “Arıburnu” has finally ended.

In order to understand the clear effect of those expressions, like me, you should have heard that brave fearless tone in his voice. Your eyes should have seen the strong light in his eyes, should have read the meaning in his face. Those strong sentences without great and noisy ships, like heroes of scenes of drama. I felt tenderness to this young man.

I asked him about his feelings towards his battle companions as he was quiting official duty. I wanted to know about the whole army from the officers to the commanders during these battles closely related with our destiny.

Here are answers of “Mustafa Kemal”:

- The Englishmen mention the braveness, steadfastness and heroism of their commanders & soldiers in disembarking at “Arıburnu” with greatest appreciation, in this battle. But imagine that although they embarked to shores of “Arıburnu” with a great obstinacy and intent they were obliged to stay at the banks of that shore. By the way, our officers had gained an important position by keeping their position against such a strong enemy with their sense of patriotism and trust in God. I appreciate all officers and commanders of each troop. To the rememberence of all our soldıers who had bravely died for this high purpose, I remember all of them with respect.