Gallipoli
September 15, 2008 9:21 PM   Subscribe

Gallipoli is one of the most famous battles of World War I. Fought in on a Turkish peninsula in 1915 it was, like most Great War battles, a huge waste of life and largely fruitless. Jul Snelder's site has a wealth of information, the causes, history and aftermath of Gallipoli, the slang of the ANZAC forces, placenames in both English and Turkish, interesting little factoids, how Allied troops used subterfuge to hide their evacuation, the Turkish perspective, pictures of the battlesite today juxtaposed with old photographs, a mini-travel guide to Gallipoli and much more. One of the most famous units at Gallipoli was the Australian 12th Light Horse Regiment. To learn more about this type of unit, responsible for the "last successful great cavalry charge" two years after Gallipoli, I direct you to the excellent website of the Australian Light Horse Association, where you can learn anything you might reasonably want to know about the subject.
posted by Kattullus (82 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Peter Weir's Gallipoli is a fine film. I also have a sentimental attachment to the Young Indiana Jones flick Daredevils of the Desert about the "last successful great cavalry charge" at the Battle of Bersheeba. The Young Indiana Jones film was written by Frank Darabont, incidentally.
posted by Kattullus at 9:25 PM on September 15, 2008


ALHA link (?) is borked.
posted by lumensimus at 9:26 PM on September 15, 2008


Yup, I'm attempting to call in the cavalry to fix it. The link should have gone here.
posted by Kattullus at 9:28 PM on September 15, 2008


And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda
posted by Flunkie at 9:29 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


The cavalry rode in and zing!ed the link and all is well.
posted by Kattullus at 9:41 PM on September 15, 2008


Wow. Could you post a more western-centric post? No mention of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk? No apparent consciousness of why the place might be called something other than "Gallipoli"? Enormous use of the passive voice to obscure the fact that, actually, the Turks held their own quite well, and then publicly praised and raised a monument at the battlefield to those who fell in battle against them? And used that battle as the impetus for the formation of the modern Turkish nation which still stands today as a rare example of what a secular and democratic nation might look like in the Islamic Middle East?

And all you've got is ANZAC triumphalism?
posted by vitia at 9:50 PM on September 15, 2008 [11 favorites]


being a Churchill fan I know a bit about Gallipoli. Fascinating interplay of military doctrine, technology, and terrain.
posted by troy at 9:51 PM on September 15, 2008


Many things went awry at Gallipoli.

Intelligence on both the Turkish Order of Battle and on the topography of Gallipoli was all but nonexistent. In 1915, the available knowledge about Turkey in the War Office Intelligence Branch amounted to one 1912 manual on the Turkish Army and two tourist guide-books. The maps the British had were of poor quality.

What went wrong at Gallipoli?
posted by nudar at 9:52 PM on September 15, 2008


I am currently writing a PhD thesis that in part deals with the place of the ANZAC mythology in Australian culture, and I have to say I agree with Vitia, this is a very Australian-centric viewpoint. For starters, Gallipoli is very famous to Australians (many who don't actually know where Gallipoli is, or even what war it was part of, but don't let facts like that get in the way of a triumphalist story) but is much lesser known among other Western nations, and not considering nearly as important. Add to that the fact that Turks know the area by another name. Add the fact you left out mention of Ataturk. Add to that Vitia's excellent point that the area now known as Gallipoli has great significance for people other than Australians, something Australians regularly forget, to the point of trying to tell Turkey what to do with their own sovereign land (like we also like to do when we tell PNG what they can do with the land around the Kokoda Track).

And then you top it off by praising the film 'Gallipoli'? (okay, maybe that is a personal difference, each to their own, but parts of that film are misleading if not outright incorrect.)
posted by Megami at 9:59 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


It'll be interesting to see what Megami (is that name the opposite of mini-me?) turns up.

ANZAC day and the whole bit is so very strange. What other country celebrates their military might by celebrating a defeat in an invasion that their troops participated in that was for the half baked plans of a war monger from another country?
posted by sien at 10:13 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


vitia, why don't you suggest some links of your own instead of bitching and moaning. It's not the job of a poster to include every possible perspective on an historical event. This post clearly focuses on the ANZAC military history - why the hell should it have to include information about the political history of Turkey? Don't be such a tiresome pedant.
posted by Dasein at 10:18 PM on September 15, 2008 [12 favorites]


And all you've got is ANZAC triumphalism?

In all fairness, we do have cooler hats.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:20 PM on September 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


All courtesy of Winston Churchill.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:23 PM on September 15, 2008


[NOT FEZ-IST]
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:24 PM on September 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not from Australia or New Zealand, in fact not an Anglophone at all. I'm Icelandic. The site that is the main focus of this post was created by Jul Snelders, a Belgian. That said, we are both Europeans and therefore handicapped by language and culture when it comes to the perspective of non-Westerners (though I do try my best to overcome that). I threw in the supporting link to the Australian Light Horse Association partly because I think it's a good site but partly because I wanted to have an excuse to bring up The Daredevils of the Desert (which is very Westerner-centric movie, but I saw it when I was about 12 and quite loved it, so what can one do). I liked the film Gallipoli. It's an enjoyable film but I certainly don't think that it's a holistic take on the whole battle. In fact, I think all historical fiction, in any medium, is doomed to misrepresent the past, both in generalities and detail.

The reason I didn't mention Ataturk is the same reason I didn't mention Churchill, I didn't want to focus on the "great men" of Gallipoli but the common soldier. I looked for English-language websites written about the Turkish experience but those I found seemed very much to focus on Ataturk and other luminaries, which wasn't what I wanted to post about.
posted by Kattullus at 10:25 PM on September 15, 2008 [5 favorites]


When I was in Istanbul, they used to call me "Australian delight".
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:25 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Great song from Eric Bogle, and one of Shane MacGowan and the Pogues' finest musical moments, IMHO. I recommend reading about the song at the Wiki page. Interesting bits about factual inaccuracies and so forth.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:25 PM on September 15, 2008


vitia, why not back up your bitching and moaning with your own links. Thanks! I'm sure they'll be really interesting too. Kudos to the original poster. I for one am enjoying this post.
posted by schwa at 10:26 PM on September 15, 2008


Eh, and then I of course see that the best English-language site on Gallipolli from the Turkish perspective I found has a wonderful section of short memoirs by Turkish veterans. If I had seen that before I would've written the post differently.
posted by Kattullus at 10:31 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Vitia and megami, I'd love to see some links to the stuff you were talking about as well. Not because you were 'bitching and moaning' (you weren't) but because it sounds fascinating.
posted by twirlypen at 10:31 PM on September 15, 2008


Sorry Kattullus, I admit I flew off the handle, I am a bit sensitive about this one (as in I am sick of knee-jerk ANZAC/Digger/mate worship. But I do work surrounded by people in uniform).
A documentary you might be interested in is Gallipoli by Turkish film maker Tolga Ornek . It raised a lot of comment, positive and negative, in Turkey as well as in other countries. It should be found on this website, along with other resources.

Sein - I have just started my PhD, but hopefully it will be finished, as in first draft, by the end of next year. If you are genuinely interested feel free to PM me. I am writing about the use of military history in the shaping of Australian national identity, so Gallipoli plays a large part of it. The war historian C E W Bean is the main reason that Gallipoli plays such a large part in our remembering of WWI (as opposed to the Western Front for example) and national commemoration.
(And if you click on my username you will see that it is not the opposite of mini-me:) )
posted by Megami at 10:32 PM on September 15, 2008


Being an Atatürk fan, I know a bit about Çanakkale....

C'mon, though; let's not argue. There's this.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:33 PM on September 15, 2008


why not back up your bitching and moaning with your own links.

Yup, that'd be the way to do it. Add something positive if you see a lack here. The OP is under no obligation to you to present this in any certain way, and you have a perfect opportunity, here in the thread, to add whatever links you deem relevant or worthwhile. But it's easier to complain, no? It never ceases to amaze me how folks come out of the woodwork to slam posts like this, for not being "balanced" or whatever. There's more you think we should know? Great! Post it!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:34 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, and not weblinks, but for those interested in Gallipoli and how it is perceived I highly recommend Jenny Macleod's book 'Reconsidering Gallipoli', and Alistair Thomson's book about his work with the oral memories of Australian WWI Vetrans 'Anzac Memories: Living with the Legend'.
posted by Megami at 10:35 PM on September 15, 2008


megami, I hope your thesis is a bit more nuanced than “a triumphalist story” – which my strong perception is that it clearly is not ‘celebrated’ in any such format in Australia. We know we lost, and badly, and ANZAC Day has never ever been any form of victory celebration.
posted by wilful at 10:39 PM on September 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


http://www.ataturktoday.com/Resim/Canakkale/1915.htm
http://www.ataturktoday.com/1915GallipoliCanakkale.htm
http://www.canakkale.gov.tr/eng_history.htm

Schwa, why don't you try to write your own replies?
posted by vitia at 10:41 PM on September 15, 2008


And Kattallus, I understand you not wanting to focus on the Great Men (I personally like to think of them as the Lucky Men...), but in a Gallipoli thread, I think people who are new to the subject might be touched reading Atatürk's words, as engraved on his memorial in Canberra:

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. Having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:43 PM on September 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


What other country celebrates ... a defeat?

Serbia. Also against the Turks, interestingly enough.

I cut out the rest of the quote because I have certainly never seen ANZAC day as a 'celebration of military might'.
posted by jacalata at 10:51 PM on September 15, 2008


which my strong perception is that it clearly is not ‘celebrated’ in any such format in Australia.

Sorry, but that is bollocks. From the government stating in the new citizenship brochure that Anzac day is the unofficial national day, to the rhetoric used by the ADF (Australian Defence Force), to the appropriation of the term ANZAC, to the use of the term 'Gallipoli spirit' by politicians and social commentators, I would say it is celebrated.
posted by Megami at 10:52 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


vitia: neither schwa nor dasein implied that they could have done wwaaaayy better, where you did. So if you know so much more about Gallipoli from the Turkish perspective, share it.
posted by jacalata at 10:53 PM on September 15, 2008


OK, to be clear: there should be no need for a "balanced" perspective. The Battle of Çanakkale and its subsequent memorialization by the Turkish state -- and their respect and honor for the ANZACs who fell -- should be common knowledge, especially with the fact that said event was a major cause of the rise of one of the only secular democratic Islamic republics (which is to say, a state that is 99% Islamic but secular and democratic) in the world today.

But.

Kattullus's post frames it as yet another instance of the heroism-of-the-west narrative; basically your standard we're #1 fanboy military history. Which is dumb, and which most educated folks should know better than to do.
posted by vitia at 10:54 PM on September 15, 2008


Megami: yes, Anzac day is celebrated. wilful says it is not celebrating 'a triumphalist story', and I agree with him. In my experience, it is celebrating military and human sacrifice. Why do you think it is 'triumphalist'?
posted by jacalata at 11:00 PM on September 15, 2008


My experience of ANZAC day is much more similar to that of jacalata and wilful, which isn't to say there aren't people out there that do celebrate it as a 'triumphalist story' as Megami says (not that i've ever met or heard of them). The dawn service and such seem to make the day much more sobered than any celebration I know of.
posted by liquorice at 11:06 PM on September 15, 2008


I never said it was 'triumphalist', but apologise for not making that clear when I responded. I do think that the whole situation of Gallipoli is often misinterpretated, and that the interpretation of what Gallipoli signifies to the Australian nation is continually evolving. And that evolution seems to be moving towards an interpretation that overlooks anything that doesn't fit within a stringent view of what the Australian participation was (for example, we brush over the fact that at the time it was for 'empire'). I also believe that ANZAC day has become less of a day of memorial and commemoration for the war dead and more of a celebration, especially as the link with actual participants in past conflicts grow weaker as vetrans die.

And I too hope my thesis is more nuanced than 'a triumphalist story'. I also hope it is a more nuanced view of Australian military history than much of what is being peddled in popular culture today.
posted by Megami at 11:08 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here is what B.H. Liddell-Hart had to say about Gallipoli:
On the 2nd January 1915, Kitchener received an appeal from the Grand Duke Nicholas for a diversion which would relieve the Turkish pressure on Russia's forces in the Caucasus. Kitchener felt unable to provide the troops and suggested a naval demonstration against the Dardanelles. Churchill's imagination seized upon the wider strategic possibilities, and he proposed, in default of military aid, to convert the demonstration into an attempt to force the passage. His naval advisers, if not enthusiastic, did bot oppose the project; and the admiral on the spot, Carden, drew up a plan. A naval force, mainly of obsolete vessels, was got together with French aid, and after a preliminary bombardment, entered the Straits on the 18th March. But a newly laid row of mines, in an unsuspected spot, caused the sinking of several ships; and the attempt was abandoned.

It is a moot question whether a prompt renewal of the advance would have succeeded, for the Turkish ammunition was exhausted, and in such conditions the mine obstacle might have been overcome. But the new naval commander, Admiral de Robeck, decided against it unless military aid were forthcoming. Already, a month before, the War Council had determined on a joint attack, and begun the dispatch of a military force under Sir Ian Hamilton. But the authorities, slow in accepting the new scheme, were equally slow in releasing the necessary troops for its execution. Even when these were sent, in inadequate numbers, several more weeks' delay had to be incurred - at Alexandria - in order to redistribute the force in its transports suitable for tactical action. Worst of all, this fumbling policy had thrown away the chance of surprise. When the military bombardment too place in February, only 2 Turkish divisions were at the Straits; this was increased to 4 by the date of the naval attack; and to 6 when Hamilton was at last able to attempt his landing. For this he had only 4 British divisions and 1 French division - actually inferior in strength to the enemy in a situation where the inherent preponderance of defensive over offensive power was multiplied by the natural difficulties of the terrain. His weakness of numbers, and his restricted mission of aiding the passage of the fleet, compelled him to choose a landing on the Gallipoli peninsula in preference to one on the mainland or on the Asiatic shore.

On 25th April he made his spring, at the southern tip of the peninsula near Cape Helles and also near Gaba Tepe some fifteen miles up the Aegean coast. The French, as a diversion, made a temporary landing at Kum Kale on the Asiatic shore. But once the momentary asset of tactical surprise had passed, and the Turks were able to bring up their reserves, the invaders could not expand their two precarious footholds.

Ultimately, in July, the British Government decided to send a further 5 divisions to reinforce the 7 now on the peninsula. But by the time they arrived the Turkish strength in the region had also risen, to 15 divisions. Hamilton decided on a double stroke - a reinforced blow from Gaba Tepe and a new landing at Suvla Bay, a few miles north - to sever the middle of the peninsula and secure the heights commanding the Narrows. If this thrust appears more direct than a landing at Bulair or on the Asiatic shore, its justification is that it was on a line not expected by the enemy command, whose reserves were concentrated at the other points. Only 1 1/2 Turkish battalions barred the way during the 36 hours before the reserves arrived. Time and opportubity were forfeited by the inexperience of the landing troops and the inertia of the commanders on the spot. The deadlock, the disappointment, and the opposition of those who had always disliked the project, soon brought about the evacuation of the peninsula.

Yet the verdict of Falkenhayn on the Dardanelles scheme was: 'If the straits between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea were not permanently closed to Entente traffic, all hope of a successful course of the war would be very considerably diminished. Russia would have been freed from her significant isolation ... which offered a safer guarantee than military successes that sooner or later a crippling of the forces of this Titan must take place automatically.'

The fault was not in the conception but in the execution. If the British had used at the outset even a fair proportion of the forces they ultimately expended in driblets, it is clear from the evidence of the opposing commanders that success would probably have crowned their undertaking. While the Dardanelles move was a direct approach to Turkey, it was an indirect approach to the main Turkish armies then engaged in the Caucasus, and, on a higher level, an indirect approach to the Central Powers as a whole.. Viewed against the gloomy background of the Western Front, where the density of force in relation to space offered no prospect of a decisive penetration, the Dardanelles conception appears to have fulfilled the principle of adjusting the end to the means as thoroughly as its execution violated this principle.
I'm posting this because, compelling as stories of hardship by the rank-and-file on both sides are, I'm far, far more interested in the decisions that placed them there. That tends to get lost in the Anzac story.
posted by Ritchie at 11:12 PM on September 15, 2008


What's all this "Battle of Canakkale" nonsense? Canakkale is on the other side of the Bosphorus from Gelibolu (Gallipoli). The ANZACs and their allies would've considered themselves rather successful if they'd made it far enough to fight over Canakkale itself.

Speaking of allies, I heard that the British lost more men at Gallipoli than the Australians & New Zealanders (I haven't verified this), which goes against the common conception that it was "our" battle.

Speaking of common conceptions down under now, Gallipoli is supposed to be significant because it was the first time that Australia took part on the world stage (in battle, at least) under her own name - the country was federated in 1901.

And of common misconceptions - much is made of the so-called "ANZAC spirit", but I've heard that the historian who wrote the official version (CEW Bean) falsified a lot of it, in order to embiggen the young nation.

Personally, in place of all the supposed stoic mateship & other crap that people love to drone on about, I'd be delighted to hear that the soldiers spent their time drinking beer, faking injuries to get away from the front lines, cutting down anybody of higher rank, or anybody who made them look bad by fighting too bravely - all the great virtues we now associate with the Australian character.

And if the story emerged that they somehow managed to order some kebabs from the Turks to soak up the alcohol at the end of another boozy evening, that'd be the kind of falsification I could really respect.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:16 PM on September 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


The dawn service and such seem to make the day much more sobered than any celebration I know of.

I think "sobered" wasn't the best choice of words there.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:21 PM on September 15, 2008


Speaking of allies, I heard that the British lost more men at Gallipoli than the Australians & New Zealanders (I haven't verified this), which goes against the common conception that it was "our" battle.
The French lost more than the ANZACs. Very few Australians who visit Gallipoli visit the French cemetary.
Bean used the ANZAC 'experience' to continue his earlier writings about the nascent Australian identity - he took the experience at Gallipoli and melded it into what he was already saying about the 'bushman' and 'bush ethos' (he stretched the truth on that idea too). I am not going to say Bean falsified stuff, but he definitely stretched the truth to the point of near breaking when it came to his writing.
posted by Megami at 11:21 PM on September 15, 2008


I think "sobered" wasn't the best choice of words there.

Heh, certainly not the one held in Gallipoli, that's for sure.
posted by liquorice at 11:27 PM on September 15, 2008


And all you've got is ANZAC triumphalism?

Hear hear!! Didn't you read the Mefi equal time rules?

Wait, what?
posted by pompomtom at 11:31 PM on September 15, 2008


he definitely stretched the truth to the point of near breaking

Right, now I understand better John Howard's obsession with the thing.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:33 PM on September 15, 2008


And what about the Canadian contribution? No one ever remembers the Canadians.

Kattullus, any relatives in Gimli? I'm not from Winnipeg but my dad is.
posted by Araucaria at 11:33 PM on September 15, 2008


Can we stop arguing about jingoism and Western cultural imperialism, please?

Thanks. Now we can argue about whether Beersheba was "the last successful great cavalry charge" or the only light infantry charge.

We might then go on to discuss whether or not a charge by light infantry is an oxymoron. That could be followed up by a discussion on whether or not Beersheba represented a breaking down of colonial and nineteenth century class distinctions. (Workers and peasants, and colonials at that, with the temerity to charge into battle as if they were quality.)

On preview, I can see this is actually getting very interesting anyway. Thanks, Ritchie.
posted by GeckoDundee at 11:34 PM on September 15, 2008


...yet another instance of the heroism-of-the-west narrative; basically your standard we're #1 fanboy military history...

I guess everyone gets what they want from a post, but I can't possibly see how you get that from the OP. Projecting?

And Megami, I'm sure your thinking about this will evolve over the next three years. I'd probably stay away from the military history bit, but the changing cultural interpretations of ANZAC Day, particularly how it was appropriated by Howard, are very interesting. Sounds like you've already got strong views about the subject, hope you keep an open mind.
posted by wilful at 11:36 PM on September 15, 2008


Actually my favorite part of that Liddell-Hart excerpt is his summation of the disparate Anglophone troops as '4 British divisions'. Rock on, Basil.
posted by Ritchie at 11:50 PM on September 15, 2008


Araucaria: Kattullus, any relatives in Gimli? I'm not from Winnipeg but my dad is.

I don't know where exactly they're living, but I have relatives somewhere in Manitoba. My great uncle moved there and had a couple of sons who are roughly my age. I only met them once or twice in my life, though. I'm somewhat ashamed to say that I can't for the life of me remember whether I spoke to them at my great-uncle's funeral or not.

Oh, and as to what my opinion of Gallipoli is, well, I believe it was a pointless waste, as I touched upon in the FPP. I thought that "a pointless waste" was the general accepted view of World War I in general (the real question being how the blame for the horror of the Great War should apportioned, an incredibly complicated matter).
posted by Kattullus at 11:51 PM on September 15, 2008


Wilful, I intend to keep an open mind. And my supervisor is a military historian, so I think I will stick with military history!
posted by Megami at 12:24 AM on September 16, 2008


An American journalist with the Turks at Gallipoli
posted by tellurian at 12:34 AM on September 16, 2008


A link for Araucaria Of course, these were Newfoundlanders, not Canadians, yet. And the Irish, too, were at Gallipoli as well-attested in the first link which isn't bad at all for an overview of this event.
(Churchill, Jesus! Was ever any great leader so often wrong about strategy? Gallipoli is up there but how about that "soft underbelly of the Axis" BS he was peddling in WWII -- you know, the soft mountains of Italy and Yugoslavia -- and this was after the Norwegian disaster.)
posted by CCBC at 12:36 AM on September 16, 2008


I also wonder about the commemoration of such an event in Australia; does it deserve to be the kind of battle people still march in the streets for, 200, 300 years from now, like in Ireland or Serbia? I think I've made a comment on this before. Ah yes.
But I still don't understand ANZAC day. Is it a celebration of national pride? Mateship? Brotherhood? Courage? All that? If so, why should it be linked to a pointless millitary conflict we were dragged into out of some pathetic loyalty to Mother England? Is it just a respectful celebration of those who have given their lives and their health to the service of our country? That's fair enough, but why should those of us who never made that sacrifice have a right to feel proud and patriotic?
-me.
But then, I went to the ANZAC day march in Adelaide this year, and saw Sudanese refugees lined up down King William St waving Australian flags. So I'm probably just a cynical wanker.
posted by Jimbob at 12:44 AM on September 16, 2008


So I'm probably just a cynical wanker.

I'm just old. When I was a kid, celebrating our brilliant colonial heritage bravely fighting to protect the British Hempire* was not in any way cool. Now young people (or some young people) appear to dig it. Well, OK.

*Sah, the Hempire!**

**Does not include actual Hemp
posted by Wolof at 1:13 AM on September 16, 2008


I don't know much about all this (and thanks to all who have contributed informative stuff to the thread), but I thought ANZAC Day was valuable because it's one of the few things that unites Australia and New Zealand.

And because of the biscuits, of course.
posted by Phanx at 2:15 AM on September 16, 2008


Jimbob, not sure if you are aware, but there was an outcry earlier this year when the RSL stated that perhaps descendents who chose to march (as opposed to those who participated in actual military activities) should not march with the units, but in a section at the end of the parade. Some forums on the internet abounded with people saying it was their right to march with the units, it was their right to march with their dead father/grand-father/uncle's medals, and that the RSL would not tell them where in the parade they would march (overlooking the fact that the RSL organises the marches, they are not just a spontaneous coming together of people). So there are definitely people who feel it is their right to feel proud and patriotic.

Wolof, if I can ask, how old is old? Is what you are talking about a reaction to Vietnam as well, or just a 'getting over' of feelings of Empire? And do you have any opinions about how we have managed to move from celebrating our military exploits as part of empire to being about something uniquely (and potentially superior to others) Australian? Genuinely interested.
posted by Megami at 2:16 AM on September 16, 2008


Frankly, Ataturk deserves a post to himself - both for his incredible acomplishments, and for the habit his opponents occasionally had of falling into shallow graves at the bottom of his garden.

He's a truly fascinating bloke, and one whose legacy is increasingly relevant today.
posted by garius at 2:25 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


vitia: Wow. Could you post a more western-centric post? No mention of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk? No apparent consciousness of why the place might be called something other than "Gallipoli"? Enormous use of the passive voice to obscure the fact that, actually, the Turks held their own quite well, and then publicly praised and raised a monument at the battlefield to those who fell in battle against them? And used that battle as the impetus for the formation of the modern Turkish nation which still stands today as a rare example of what a secular and democratic nation might look like in the Islamic Middle East?
But what about your own posts, vitia? No mention that the Gallipoli landings practically coincided with the start of the Turks' 1915–22 genocide of the Armenians? Or that Turkish nationalism—highly 'triumphalist' in its own right—rests on the back on the 1,500,000 victims of that campaign? But then again, I guess 'most educated folks' should know about that, right?
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:30 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Garius - are you up to it? I for one would love to learn more about Ataturk, from various perspectives.
posted by Megami at 2:47 AM on September 16, 2008


I'd just like to point out that there is a difference in connatation between a 'celebration' (which is generally festive) and a 'commemoration' (which is an observance of memory). ANZAC day - at least in NZ, is far more the latter, and even though good (read: socially desirable for governments who occasionally wish their populace to serve in battlegrounds) attributes of the people involved are recognised, so is the tremendous loss they represent - which makes it far from festive in tone.
posted by Sparx at 3:02 AM on September 16, 2008


Sparx, I agree. But I honestly think that here it is moving away from Commemoration (a la Remembrance Day) towards a celebration. A celebration of values, but a celebration nevertheless. I am talking mainly about the march rather than the Dawn Service in this context.
posted by Megami at 3:19 AM on September 16, 2008


And all you've got is ANZAC triumphalism?
I have to disagree with you about the triumphalism you mention. In the case of this particular battle it is more about the sense of victimisation of the young white Aussie/Kiwi males. (Don't know about Australian Aborigines, but in NZ some Maori tribes refused to participate in WWI for obvious reasons that most educated people would know about.) There is a sense of the colonials having been hard done by, by an uncaring Britain. I think this victim mentality is far more insidious than any kind of triumphalism as it gives people license to adopt some pretty atrocious attitudes towards those they see themselves as victimised by.

ANZAC Day on the other hand is the celebration of Australian and New Zealand identity and more prone to triumphalist sentiment. I think in all honesty WWII is probably the only war that it is acceptable to celebrate in such a way as it was fought along such clearly defined idealogical lines. The only other aspect people feel comfortable celebrating is the ANZAC peacekeeping effort made in places like East Timor and Solomon Islands. Vietnam and Korea are too much of a can of worms.
Wow. Could you post a more western-centric post? No mention of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk? No apparent consciousness of why the place might be called something other than "Gallipoli"?
Actually there is a place in Wellington called Ataturk in commemoration of Ataturk. It was named as part of a cultural exchange of names and monuments between Australia, New Zealand and Turkey. In NZ the Turks and Australians are part of our ANZAC services and we commemorate all who died on this day, so I think you might be a little unfair there.

And you have ignored some unsavory aspects of Turkey's history as well. Bless NZ for putting up a monument to remind us that "war is bad" and then name it after a genocidal leader. I can't help thinking that you have a little ethnocentric bias going on here yourself. You can't lump all the swarthy-looking people together and call us noble savages anymore. There are no black hats and white hats in history. Public history does tend to be a little blunt and slow but it doesn't negate the need to celebrate and reinterpret identity.

(Just one more note on triumphalism, slightly off the topic of Anzacs:

Other colonial countries have triumphalist, uncritical celebrations of their existence. But in NZ what do we do? We have big arguments and throw things at the Queen (so much so she won't come down here anymore). As long as I can remember our national day has been one of conflict and discussion. Though there are many naysayers who complain that Waitangi Day is bad because it dredges up the same crap over and over each year, it makes me proud that we do argue on this day about who we are. Yes we're too meek to celebrate ourselves unabashedly, but good on us for stopping and thinking before we get out the fireworks. If only all our holidays were like this.)
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 3:26 AM on September 16, 2008


No mention that the Gallipoli landings practically coincided with the start of the Turks' 1915–22 genocide of the Armenians? Or that Turkish nationalism—highly 'triumphalist' in its own right—rests on the back on the 1,500,000 victims of that campaign? But then again, I guess 'most educated folks' should know about that, right?

Not only that, most educated folks know that Hitler's genocide was predicated directly on the Turkish genocide of the Armenians, and the fact that the international community turned a blind eye towards it.

But yeh, Ataturk's legacy is interesting, particularly in the way the Turkish army steps in & mounts a coup anytime the Turkish government threatens to depart from the secular path that he laid down for the administration of the country.

Certainly, he is hard to ignore there - his face is on every banknote, and a statue of Ataturk exists in just about every single town. There are probably more statues of him in Turkey than there are of Gandhi in India, and that's no mean feat. I'm not sure that I've seen a greater enduring cult of personality anywhere else that I've been in the world so far.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:28 AM on September 16, 2008


Megami, the LRB just published a pretty good essay about Ataturk here.
posted by claudius at 6:13 AM on September 16, 2008


Certainly, he is hard to ignore there - his face is on every banknote, and a statue of Ataturk exists in just about every single town. There are probably more statues of him in Turkey than there are of Gandhi in India, and that's no mean feat. I'm not sure that I've seen a greater enduring cult of personality anywhere else that I've been in the world so far.

Try finding a shop, restaurant or taxi that lacks his picture as well.

I get out to Turkey whenever I can - my aunt married a Turkish guy so I have family there (my cousin just finished his military service) and its a truly fascinating country - especially if you're a historian.

@megami - Probably. It's technically my period of history. I'll have a trawl of the web and see if there are any decent links around. If so I'll see what I can do (assuming no one better qualified jumps in before me).
posted by garius at 6:18 AM on September 16, 2008


Try finding a shop, restaurant or taxi that lacks his picture as well.

true. gotta say, i find it kinda disconcerting, because he always looks a bit like dracula to me. it's the eyebrows, i think.

but yeh, turkey is indeed fascinating. and full of tasty food. in terms of history, leaving aside the obvious greek & roman & ottoman sites, anatolia has always been a major historical crossroad, and they've also been digging up some ridiculously ancient towns there recently.

um, not to mention troy, which isn't far from canakkale, which is just across the water from gelibolu, which brings us right back onto the rails of this thread.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:32 AM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nice post, and there's certainly no need to provide "balance" in every MeFi post. But I must admit I was disappointed by the "Turkish perspective" link; I was expecting, well, the Turkish perspective, but when I went there I found it was the same old Allied perspective, but with some pictures looking down at the beach. When they say:

Why not run across nomansland and, just for once, peep through a loophole in the Turkish parapet?

...that's literally what they mean. No actual Turks involved.

But a very nicely done post, and I look forward to a good Ataturk post (amazing there hasn't been one yet).
posted by languagehat at 6:40 AM on September 16, 2008


What other country celebrates ... a defeat?

Remember the Alamo!
posted by kirkaracha at 7:22 AM on September 16, 2008


And then you top it off by praising the film 'Gallipoli'? (okay, maybe that is a personal difference, each to their own, but parts of that film are misleading if not outright incorrect.)

Last time I checked, it was a movie, not a documentary.
posted by kjs3 at 8:04 AM on September 16, 2008


And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda. . . Great song from Eric Bogle.

Seconded, Flapjax.

Oddly, while this song is in 3, the original Waltzing Matilda is in 4.
Why isn't Waltzing Matilda a waltz?
/derail

Re: historical inaccuracies in movies and song -- art and history have different methods and different goals. Both enterprises help us sort out the meaning of momentous events, but in very different domains. You don't have to be Australian, or a soldier, or even have heard of Gallipoli to get what And The Band Played. . . is all about.

Also: "Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. Having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well." -- Atatürk

I thought that should be in larger print.

Thanks all to all in this thread. I hope I get some time soon to follow all the links.
posted by Herodios at 9:01 AM on September 16, 2008


Apparently Ataturk took Zsa Zsa Gabor´s virginity.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 9:20 AM on September 16, 2008


This kind of stuff makes me weep. My kids like to tease me that I never cry, although my oldest has caught me leaking water from my eyes a couple of times - the charge of the Rohan in Return of The King, and during Batman Begins. I have wept other times, just not been caught :)

Something about honor and the irrevocable nature of real commitment gets me every time.

The words of Ataturk really got to me as well. Your sons are ours now.

---

Oh, and Waltzing Matilda is a ballad, hence the 4/4. Waltzes just don't have the rythmn for sadness, although I suppose a good composer could make one that was a real heartbreaker, like My Darling Clementine. Not sure if that's 3/4, but you get the point. Its an upbeat song with a downbeat message.
posted by Xoebe at 9:40 AM on September 16, 2008


A very interesting article on Turkey's modern history appears in the present LRB (link).

Here's the section on Gallipoli (which completely ignores Australia's role, describing the operation as "Anglo-French"):

The enterprise on which the CUP [the then-ruling party of the Ottoman Empire] embarked in the spring of 1915 [the Armenian genocide] was, however, new. For ostensible deportation, brutal enough in itself, was to be the cover for extermination – systematic, state-organised murder of an entire community. The killings began in March, still somewhat haphazardly, as Russian forces began to penetrate into Anatolia. On 20 April, in a climate of increasing fear, there was an Armenian uprising in the city of Van. Five days later, Anglo-French forces staged full-scale landings on the Dardanelles, and contingency plans were laid for transferring the government to the interior, should the capital fall to the Entente. In this emergency, the CUP wasted no time. By early June, centrally directed and co-ordinated destruction of the Armenian population was in full swing. As the leading comparative authority on modern ethnic cleansing, Michael Mann, writes, ‘the escalation from the first incidents to genocide occurred within three months, a much more rapid escalation than Hitler’s later attack on the Jews.’ Sakir – probably more than any other conspirator, the original designer of the CUP – toured the target zones, shadowy and deadly, supervising the slaughter. Without even pretexts of security, Armenians in Western Anatolia were wiped out hundreds of miles from the front.

No reliable figures exist for the number of those who died, or the different ways – with or without bullet or knife; on the spot or marched to death – in which they perished. Mann, who thinks a reasonable guess is 1.2 to 1.4 million, reckons that ‘perhaps two-thirds of the Armenians died’ – ‘the most successful murderous cleansing achieved in the 20th century’, exceeding in its proportions the Shoah. A catastrophe of this order could not be hidden. Germans, present in Anatolia as Ottoman allies in many capacities – consular, military and pastoral among others – witnessed it and reported home, many in horror or anguish. Confronted by the American ambassador, Talat scarcely bothered even to deny it. For its part the Entente, unlike the Allies who kept silent at the Judeocide in the Second World War, denounced the extermination without delay, issuing a solemn declaration on 24 May 1915, promising to punish as criminals those who had organised it.


I can't vouch for its politics or accuracy, but I found it a fascinating article and worth reading all the way through.
posted by WPW at 9:41 AM on September 16, 2008


Oh, I see Claudius got there first. Aye, Claudius.
posted by WPW at 9:43 AM on September 16, 2008


For its part the Entente, unlike the Allies who kept silent at the Judeocide in the Second World War, denounced the extermination without delay, issuing a solemn declaration on 24 May 1915, promising to punish as criminals those who had organised it.

I was intrigued by a later passage in the piece, which described how the central wartime leaders of the CUP were tried in absentia by the Allied occupation and sentenced to death. When Atatürk came to power, he could have faced an awkward choice in deciding how to deal with them, but was spared it by Armenian assassins. I did not know about the Armenian assassins; that part read a bit like the movie Munich.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:39 AM on September 16, 2008



All courtesy of Winston Churchill


In response to which, Churchill resigned from his senior Government post, and went to fight in the trenches on the Western Front for a bit. Can't see that happening now! Good post...
posted by prentiz at 11:23 AM on September 16, 2008


What Attaturk said about the carnage:


To those heroes who have shed your blood and lost your 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 living in our bosom and are in peace. Having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.”
posted by etaoin at 11:28 AM on September 16, 2008


"What other country celebrates ... a defeat?"

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:49 AM on September 16, 2008


"What other country celebrates ... a defeat?"

List time I checked, the Greeks lost the Battle of Thermopylae, though admittedly it allowed them to win the war.

The Scots can't seem to get enough of Robert the Bruce or William Wallace. Or the Irish of Micheal Collins.

Custers Last Stand? Alamo?

Enough?
posted by kjs3 at 12:20 PM on September 16, 2008


"What other country celebrates ... a defeat?"

Dunkirk is a glowing part of the British national myth.
posted by WPW at 12:21 PM on September 16, 2008


Perry Anderson, who wrote the LRB Ataturk article, is a great essayist. I've FPP'd him twice.
posted by Kattullus at 12:57 PM on September 16, 2008


Nifty post. And nifty thread (acrimony aside).
posted by Smedleyman at 1:50 PM on September 16, 2008


No mention that the Gallipoli landings practically coincided with the start of the Turks' 1915–22 genocide of the Armenians?
Or that Ataturk was born in Salonica, capital of Macedonia, known for Macedonian Salad, favorite meal of Ben Franklin, famed citizen of Philadelphia, the city whose present-day form was shaped by Edmund Bacon, father of Kevin Bacon?
posted by joaquim at 2:30 PM on September 16, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the LRB link. We (husband and I) found the pictures of Ataturk everywhere in Turkey disconcerting but also endearing. That said, I am not as knowledgable about Turkish history as I would like to be.

I know that Peter Weir's movie Gallipoli is not meant to be a documentary. But it is presented as a true portrayal of events, and is taken as such by the majority of Australians. FWIW I know some of the people consulted for the film, and they have problems with it. And I don't think it is a particularly good film in a narrative/entertainment sense either, but I think I am in a minority with that opinion!
posted by Megami at 2:44 PM on September 16, 2008


But it is presented as a true portrayal of events, and is taken as such by the majority of Australians.

Others think it's an uncredited steal from Roger McDonald's 1915. Certainly Thomas Shapcott does.

Megami — the being too old stuff upthread references, as you correctly surmise, Vietnam. I was in middle school when the war ended, and many of us were keenly aware of the draft.
posted by Wolof at 7:56 PM on September 16, 2008


« Older Ben Bernanke - SLYT. (via (via))...  |  Martin Parr is a celebrated En... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments