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Kabatepe museum - allied war crimes Gallipoli


Plugges Plateau

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This might be controversial but here goes.

On my recent visit to the Gallipoli peninsular I called into the Kabatepe museum. There are various theatre type rooms inside that you move on to one by one showing various Gallipoli battles and re-enactments with panoramic displays, interactive simulations and animations, some in 3D. Once finished you are at liberty to look over the artifacts from the battlefield and other interesting peices. I can't remember how much it cost, perhaps 14 TL and generally it was well worth the admission price.

Anyway it is in Turkish but there is English translation by headphones available which tells you the story as you move around. What did come as quite a surprise to me apart from the obvious sanitation of some of the events of the war which were aimed understandably mainly at the Turkish visitor was the insistance that the British were responsible for war crimes and specifically the bombing of Turkish Field Hospitals.

No doubt there were atrocities on both sides but this is the first time I have heard of these specific allegations and quite honestly I was a little shocked that this was quite deliberately communicated the way it was at the museum.

I have tried to do a little research on the subject with no success and I was wondering whether anyone else had come across anything which either backs up these claims or else explains the suspicions with which these allegations are based. Could there have been an accidental bombing of a hospital for example with which there is at least some association to an 'event'?

Thanks in advance.

JP/

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Can't help you much but in August 1915 at northern Anzac there were some artillery batteries in place quite close to places where casualties/wounded were brought in for treatment at a field ambulance and or casualty clearing station, and this caused some concern as it appears while the Turks wold not fire deliberately upon the latter locations, they had every right to fire upon their enemy's artillery. Not sure where I read this but it was up around Walden Point/Aghyl Dere or Chailak Dere from memory. Perhaps a perusal of some medical histories might allude to more on the point I have made, but I know nothing of your Allied atrocity allegation as mentioned at the visitor centre. Touchy subject that one, for all involved.

Ian

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Thanks Ian, yes thought I'd read something similar re bombing near the Anzac field stations but nothing about Turkish hospitals being targeted by the allies. And agree 'touchy' subject all around - probably not the best idea to be throwing stones in such a 'public' manner at the Info Centre, surprised this hasn't been brought up or mentioned anywhere before.

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These sorts of things will always happen in a war situation, probably more so back in 1915/16 when 'guidance systems' were unknown.

LvS in his 'Five Years in Turkey' mentions the bombardment of Maidos (see his page 72)

'The prosperous port of Maidos went up in flames on April 29 under fire of the British ships. The first building to become the victim of the British naval shells was the large hospital which was crowded with wounded. In spite of every effort many Turks and some twenty-five wounded British became victims of the conflagration, which spread with irresistible force.'

These events are also mentioned by Kannengiesser in his 'The Gallipoli Campaign' (see p.124)

'… at half-past four we reached the burning town of Maidos, whose inhabitants we could see crawling along the coast, in miserable plight with what few articles they had been able to save from the fire. A perfect picture of misery.'

Steve Chambers (aka Krithia hereabouts) writing in his book on Gully Ravine for the Battleground Europe series, mentions the shelling of the Turkish dressing station at the top of Zigindere. He attributes this to the close proximity of the front lines at this point (see p. 158)

'On the bridge that crosses the Zigin stream there are two memorial tablets to record the British shelling of this dressing station, which resulted in many Turkish wounded being killed. During one such shelling Captain Kemal Bey, Staff Commander of the 2nd Turkish Division, was killed, and is commemorated by the sculpture of the wounded Turkish soldier.'

Interestingly, these incidents at Zigindere are also mentioned by Gürsel Göncü and Şahin Aldoğan in their 'Gallipoli Battlefield Guide' (see p.207) however they imply that the modern information boards there, must be treated with some scepticism; quote '… the information given has no basis in reality.'

I feel that the cramped nature of the battlefields at Gallipoli must often have led to such problems. I am sure that I recollect something about a complaint from someone regarding the placement of our artillery in the area around Hill 10 which also had British dressing stations very nearby.

Edit to add map illustrating

the artillery position (a quite legit. target) situated above the hand-written number '10'

and the close proximity of 5 Dressing Stations and 1 Casualty Clearing Station

794e10ff-24cc-4e3b-bd28-e7af6ab820d9_zps

Edited by michaeldr
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The 14th CCS War Diary at 'C' beach records:

7.8.15

'A Taube flew across the station, dropped a bomb and killed a corporal of another R.A.M.C. unit who was passing through'

17.8.15

'The station bombed by a Taube. The possibility of tents being the cause of this attack was considered - it was deliberate.'

29.8.15

'A Taube visited the beach again this day - A bomb was dropped and ['hit a' is partially crossed out] wounded 8 men of the 30th F.A. 7.45am who are encamped a few yards from this station. That this, as on previous occasion, was a deliberate attack on the R.C. flag, is unmistakable'

From the 30th Field Ambulance War Diary

29.8.15

'Ambulance in reserve. A bomb dropped by an enemy aeroplane fell in the camp and wounded 8 men of this ambulance, none dangerously. As there are only medical units along this beach and as all of them fly the red cross flag it would appear that the bomb was dropped deliberately on the hospital establishments.

From the 26th CCS War Diary

1915 Aug 31

'26th Casualty Clearing Station has had its share of shells - both high explosive and shrapnel. It has been found necessary to keep patients on the beach, where conditions render life somewhat more secure, but it is by no means a suitable place. Representations have been made by me to IX Corps, asking them to inform enemy that we are a hospital, and a larger flag staff has been put up. It is rather difficult to say if they shell the C.C.S. deliberately or not; personally I incline to the opinion that they do not.'

1915 Sept 20

'....Shelling by the enemy has practically stopped so far as we are concerned, and it is now quite evident that he respects the Red Cross as we respect the Red Crescent.'

There are some examples after this date however such as the 16th CCS at No.2 Post, Anzac who were hit by 6" Howitzers on 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th November and other dates. I don't have access to Turkish records; but I'm sure that they suffered similarly.

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Mate,

Yes the bombing or shelling of medical units behind the line was commen on both sides during this resricted area of gallipoli.

My interest lay in the attack by the 1st LH Regt at Deadmans Ridge next to Popes Post in Aug 1915.

after this battle a number of wounded were left in the trenches after the 1st LHR withdrawal, but to date no wounded soldier of the 1st LHR has been found as a prisoner. What happened to all these wounded did they died of wounds?

OR was there a more sinister reason for there loss to us following the battle?

We may never know.

S.B

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Thank you Michael and Alan for the further details in your answers above. There looks to be no doubt there are fine lines with regard to what are legitimate and/or accidental targeting from both sides by the sounds. Just makes it more surprising that the Information Centre is so up front and vocal in their allegations against the British in their presentations. Must admit it really took me aback on the day. Just wondering if anyone else had thought the same and if you are yet to visit be prepared for it.

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Mate,

Yes the bombing or shelling of medical units behind the line was commen on both sides during this resricted area of gallipoli.

My interest lay in the attack by the 1st LH Regt at Deadmans Ridge next to Popes Post in Aug 1915.

after this battle a number of wounded were left in the trenches after the 1st LHR withdrawal, but to date no wounded soldier of the 1st LHR has been found as a prisoner. What happened to all these wounded did they died of wounds?

OR was there a more sinister reason for there loss to us following the battle?

We may never know.

S.B

Hi Steve,

Yeah I think we know the answer to that one. Can't quite remember where l read it as I have read so much lately but I read that on a mop up of I think Monash's troops in the valleys below Hill 971 most of the stranded wounded were killed. Except one chap who was saved from death by a Turkish officer if I recall correctly and was given a stick to use to enable him to retire to the Turkish lines and made a prisoner. The guy recalled that he was under no illusion that had he not been able to help himself forward he would have been killed.

Some of the wounded that fleed Chunuk Bair were left to die when found and some even given water by the Turks but were ultimately left to their fate. Someone here must have survived for the story to be told you'd think?!

JP/

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This subject is well covered by Prof Tim Travers in his 'Gallipoli 1915' (pub. 2001 by Tempus, ISBN 0 7524 1975 7)

see his chapter 'The experience of modern war at Gallipoli' which is worth (re-)reading.

Examples are offered of the conduct of both sides, including a question raised by Birdwood with one of his ANZAC brigades as to why took so few prisoners -

“The staff answered that they had had a large number, but a heavy Turkish counterattack 'made them feel they could not afford to keep men as prisoners .. '”

see page 195, and note 64, which refs Birdwood Correspondence 1917-1925, 1/14, Hamilton Papers, KCL

regards

Michael

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Can't help you much but in August 1915 at northern Anzac there were some artillery batteries in place quite close to places where casualties/wounded were brought in for treatment at a field ambulance and or casualty clearing station, and this caused some concern as it appears while the Turks wold not fire deliberately upon the latter locations, they had every right to fire upon their enemy's artillery. Not sure where I read this but it was up around Walden Point/Aghyl Dere or Chailak Dere from memory. Perhaps a perusal of some medical histories might allude to more on the point I have made, but I know nothing of your Allied atrocity allegation as mentioned at the visitor centre. Touchy subject that one, for all involved.

Ian

Spot on Ian. My Grandfather served with the 4th Field Ambulance which first established a dressing station near Walden Point in August. Initially they were placed about 100 yards in front of some artillery batteries and suffered heavy fire as a result but about a week later moved to the actual Walden Point site (still very close to the artillery) where a field hospital was set up.

He covered it in his diaries which are online and perhaps where you saw it.

Cheers,

Tim L.

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