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Remembered Today:

TURKISH MACHINE GUNS AT GALLIPOLI - Part 2


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Ah, the old schoolkid-in-the-playground comeback: "He did it too!" (Translation : "So it's okay if I do it.")

 

I don't think you'll be able to find a single instance where I've said that ALLIED sources (there are a lot more than just 'Australian') are unwaveringly right. What I've said is you haven't proved they're wrong.

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Robert Dunlop

We need to be careful that this thread does not go the way of its predecessor - shut down because we get into an endless loop. At its heart, this thread is touching on the differences/conflicts between historical records from different authors. More specifically, we are dealing with the historical records as these have been transcribed into this (and the previous related) thread. It may be that our source(s) are not the same as the originals or there have been errors in transcription (no criticism intended whatsoever). We must always bear these possibilities in mind with any source.

 

There is no way to establish the absolute truth; we are totally dependent on what has been recorded either at the time or subsequently in primary and other sources.

 

Each source that has been captured in these two threads exactly as created by the original author should be regarded as statement of information that, in the first instance, is neither true nor false. This prevents any tendency to second guess the intentions, integrity, or otherwise impugn any author in any way. 

 

The historical accounts relating to the use of machine guns by the Ottomans during the landings on the Gallipoli peninsula have been gathered together. No doubt more will be added but it has been an impressive undertaking so far. Sources have included Ottoman and other official histories, war diaries, and anecdotal accounts. If we focus on the Anzac Cove landings then the historical sources separate out into two broad categories:

1. Ottoman machine guns were not present when the landings started and only came into operation several hours later.

2. Machine guns were operating against the landings from the outset.

 

1 and 2 appear to be mutually exclusive for a period of several hours, at least for the period up until the Ottoman accounts indicate when machine guns likely came into action.

 

From an academic perspective we set out the various sources as if on a table, loosely grouped into the two categories. Then we can place a series of post-it notes against each category, listing out any pros and cons. Underneath the Ottoman pile of sources might be notes that would highlight things like:

  • Most likely to represent the way that machine guns were organised
  • Most likely to represent how machine guns were used on the day, based on accounts from commanders and other Ottoman combatants involved in the fighting on the day
  • Does not rule out possibility that a machine gun/s was also present that was not accounted for
  • Etc

Underneath the Anzac/British pile of sources might be notes highlighting things like:

  • Personal experiences during the battle
  • Soldiers from other battlefields misinterpreted musketry (high volume aimed mass rifle fire) as machine gun fire [which doesn't negate what was written about Anzac Cove]
  • Etc

At the end of the day, we will each adopt a different position with respect to the relative weights for different sources and to the two categories. FWIIW, I think it is most likely that machine guns were not used against the earliest landings. I don't denigrate the personal ANZAC anecdotes for one moment (my grandfather was an ANZAC, though not at Gallipoli). I remain deeply interested in understanding why the authors may have made the interpretations they did, not least because they may have been right but also because even if they weren't right then understanding why will cast light on other similar contentious instances. It is perfectly appropriate to hold both options in balance (ANZAC soldiers came under actual machine gun fire AND ANZAC soldiers were not under machine gun fire but experienced something similar).

 

Robert

Edited by Robert Dunlop
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All good and well Robert, however;

A scout corporal who is DCM for the Landing relates to Bean in October 1915 that he drove Turks from an MG on first ridge and dismantled and threw the gun over the cliff on landing. No one willing to say he is lying. They just ignore it.

 

Derham MC for the Landing carries out a captured mg from Pine Ridge. His account of an enemy mg in situ when they captured the position are backed by others that were there. They just ignore it.

 

Mason DCM for the Landing encounters mg parts at Shepherds Hut, right behind Fisherman's Hut. Same at 400 plateau with mg parts.

 

The very locations Sefik Aker talks of preparing mg positions is where Aussies mention encountering either their fire, parts or actual mgs. Quite a coincidence.

 

Ashton gets captured arvo day one and is saved by Germans at an MG post. He can differentiate languages.

 

The German effort at Gallipoli is marginalised in the Turkish narrative, full stop.

 

Not over by a long shot.

 

Ian

 

 

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WhiteStarLine
13 minutes ago, gilly100 said:

No one willing to say he is lying

Sorry Ian, but this kind of emotive language is not helpful.  Frequent repetition of the same name does not help either.  The Turks did not have these weapons at the initial stages.  This has been shown by those who have read the Ottoman script and examined their ORBAT.  It is borne out by the relatively light casualties in the initial landing (compared with other operations against well sited machine guns).

 

If you are suggesting that there were German positions and the Turks marginalised this contribution in their narrative, please present these records for the rest of us to read.  Thank you.

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  • Admin

I have no stock in this thread other than being the Mod who created it to allow the topic to be re-opened. I would suggest, as a general point, that Robert's advice is followed. It's a long way away from Mod action so, please, let us keep it that way.

As a general comment, it's interesting to see how many different narratives of the same overall events can come up.

Craig

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Gilly,

 

Sorry mate but your just wrong?

 

"A scout corporal who is DCM for the Landing relates to Bean in October 1915 that he drove Turks from an MG on first ridge and dismantled and threw the gun over the cliff on landing. No one willing to say he is lying. They just ignore it"

 

We don't ignore these accounts, we just regard them as the boys own stories that are told around the table in the pub.

 

Sorry again I should have not said that?

 

But how do you prove a negative

 

Its like the old story of the elephant peeing on your head"

 

How do you prove that that elephant didn't pee on your head, just because I said it happened, does not make it correct, only that is what I saw, just because you didn't see the elephant does not make it incorrect?

 

Thanks to the moderator we still go round in circles, but still some good details come out, I have every reason to think more will come out, Hope I live long enough to see it.

 

Stay safe

 

S.B

 

 

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Gilly,

 

OK lets get Fair Dinkum.

 

I don't know the man, so how he gained his award, I don't know, so lets say he did.

 

When and where did this action happen, because the time of day will give a better idea as will the place of award (Ottoman MGS arrived late morning and stayed together all this is known from ottoman records)?

 

Who saw this action, I mean recommended him for the award, his Platoon or Company or Battalion officer?

 

I mean if these men, like the Bn Commander, why was his action not written up in the Unit war diary (as the capture of a Ottoman MG)?

 

Also when was the recommendation put in? The war diary and awards would have been written up days or weeks after the landing

 

I mean to say we should take a serious look at what we are believing in mate

 

You and me did the same for Ottoman records, accounts by Aker and others can be cross checked with Ottoman Order Of Battles so there accounts can be checked.

 

The same can not be said for one off Australian accounts some written up days or years after?

 

You as well as me know how much you should rely on personal accounts written up years later, but as he recieved his award for his action, then his account should be taken at face value and say yes he did what he said.

 

S.B

Edited by stevebecker
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2 hours ago, stevebecker said:

Gilly,

 

OK lets get Fair Dinkum.

 

I don't know the man, so how he gained his award, I don't know, so lets say he did.

 

When and where did this action happen, because the time of day will give a better idea as will the place of award (Ottoman MGS arrived late morning and stayed together all this is known from ottoman records)?

 

Who saw this action, I mean recommended him for the award, his Platoon or Company or Battalion officer?

 

I mean if these men, like the Bn Commander, why was his action not written up in the Unit war diary (as the capture of a Ottoman MG)?

 

Also when was the recommendation put in? The war diary and awards would have been written up days or weeks after the landing

 

I mean to say we should take a serious look at what we are believing in mate

 

You and me did the same for Ottoman records, accounts by Aker and others can be cross checked with Ottoman Order Of Battles so there accounts can be checked.

 

The same can not be said for one off Australian accounts some written up days or years after?

 

You as well as me know how much you should rely on personal accounts written up years later, but as he recieved his award for his action, then his account should be taken at face value and say yes he did what he said.

 

S.B

Steve

 

It was Weatherill of 10Bn in action with Scout officer Talbot Smith on MacLagan's Ridge. It can only be at the start of coming ashore. Talbot Smith's recommendation for his MID mentions it. Hardly a yarn in the pub. He sat down with Bean in October 1915 and recounted his coming ashore experience on 25 April.

 

I find it more than coincidental that men related dismantling, handling, finding mg parts in conjunction with the countless reports of mg fire coming from the very locations Aker recorded siting and building mg emplacements. The German contribution is clearly marginalised in the Turkish narrative and MG's were available from the Turk/German Fleet. All available weapons were made available.

 

If MG"s were so valuable to the Turks, why indeed leave spare parts to be captured at Shepherds Hut and 400 Plateau if indeed there were no MG's there? 

 

Over to you

 

Ian

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Steve, I'm sure you don't really believe a citation for a DCM can be disproved just because - in your opinion - it's a 'story' for the pub.

 

As for the suspiciously frequent assertion by some in the 'no mg' camp that this thread 'goes round in circles', (almost as if you want it to be shut down), I've put up three new accounts by witnesses regarding machine guns since Jeff's observation that no new accounts have been put forward and yet, nobody has 'taken them on.' WhiteStarLine had a go, but took on the wrong soldier's account.

 

Otherwise though, it's the same story for every other account, except for Albert Facey's. His was the one account that was regarded as an easy target, and which, when it was claimed was disproved, was presented as some kind of evidence that, if you can disprove one account, that takes care of all of 'em. Not exactly the dictionary definition of academic rigour.

 

Edited by Bryn
spelling, vocabulary
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Jeff Pickerd

At risk of continuing the endless loop I will hopefully, and respectfully, try and answer/counter some of the points being raised.

 

With my previous posts on this subject I have attempted to address the numerous statements that make the claim of hearing, seeing muzzle flame, coming under fire, capturing and destroying Turkish machine guns in the early hours from 4.15 a.m. of the morning of the landing. That being done by annualizing documented material that related to such accounts. With the post of 13th September, none of those accounts of machine guns bear any relevance to the 4.15 a.m. landing at Anzac. “It is accepted as fact - has been since the day in question. Has anyone found an account by a soldier who landed at Anzac, Helles or Kum Kale who later disputed it in the years following?               

You’re probably right, but can you see someone who made such claims back in 1915, in some cases recognized and awarded for their claimed actions, years later stating that what they said happened hadn’t happen at all, or that it was just a little exaggerated? I would doubt that would have happened if a man was to ruin his reputation and credibility. ‘I'm Sorry, I just got a little carried away with the truth of the matter, due to the excitement and strain of that hectic day of the landing’.

 

It is a great pity that the same scrutiny and analysis has not been applied by some here to the substantive Turkish documentation, much of which has been put forward by Emre from the War Record of the 27th Infantry Regiment, the TGSH, and the Atase Archives, that relate entirely to the question of where the Turkish machine guns were, and the numbers of guns available from mid March up until the 25th April. I’m sure that many others here would have appreciated that contribution, and the time and effort Emre has put in with presenting that material, even if others chose to question it, or just ignore it.

 

There has also been a failure to address the question of the Australian machine guns that were ashore in the early hours of the 25th. They must have made some audible sound, and that would have been similar to the sound of the pinnace guns being fired. But that does not answer the question of why men who landed that morning before the machine gun sections were ashore, claim to have heard Turkish machine gun fire, come under Turkish machine gun fire, and in some cases seen and handled Turkish machine guns, when all the Turkish archival documentation clearly reveals that they had no machine guns at Ari Burnu until after approximately 7.45 a.m.

It interesting that two who use the pinnace argument to discredit the no MG case cannot agree upon the actual involvement of those guns.

“Sefik Aker had this to say way back near Maidos after hearing of a landing at Ari Burnu. Must have been all those massed pinnace weapons that fired so continuously as they landed - not.”

“Our pinnaces opened out with their machine guns, (214 Sapper (later Lieutenant) Lewis Dyson, engineer and draftsman, 1st Field Company, Engineers, extract from letter published in Murrumbidgee Irrigator (newspaper) July 1915).

 

I have presented my case to establish the facts for there being no Turkish machine guns facing the landing on the 25th April. In prosecuting that argument I have already stated that no amount of personal accounts of hearing, seeing, coming under fire from, or of handling Turkish machine guns before 7.45 a.m. can have any credibility in light of the substantive Turkish archival documentation. All I would ask is that all of what I have put forward be considered and carefully scrutinized.

 

With that I am done, I rest my case, Enough said!

 

Jeff

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Great work Jeff.  Once again, I am in awe of your detailed research.  Keep it up.

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WhiteStarLine
21 minutes ago, Jeff Pickerd said:

continuing the endless loop

Thanks Jeff, you've done so much to summarise for us the extensive resources that show that the Turks did not have the machine guns.  Others have pointed out that the casualties were not commensurate with landing a large force onto beaches defended by machine guns.

 

I also will leave this thread.  It is very circular and probably long overdue for closure.

 

I know Ian, Bryn and all of us who have posted have nothing but respect for the Australians who landed and genuinely believed the fire they experienced was from Turkish rifles and machine guns.  I think only a tiny portion of the accounts are in the same category as the supposed eyewitness accounts from Gallipoli of 3 New Zealand soldiers who watched a "British regiment marching up a sunken road to be swallowed up in a cloud", or the eyewitness accounts of the capture of a female sniper at Gallipoli.

 

My last quotation is from Albert Facey, a vivid eyewitness account of the landing (although his military service record shows he wasn't actually there):

 

"The Turks had machine guns sweeping the strip of the beach where we landed – there were many dead already when we got there.  Bodies of men who had reached the beach ahead of us were lying all along the beach and wounded men were screaming for help.  We couldn’t stop for them – The Turkish fire was terrible and mowing into us."

 

 

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Robert Dunlop
8 hours ago, Bryn said:

As for the suspiciously frequent assertion by some in the 'no mg' camp that this thread 'goes round in circles', (almost as if you want it to be shut down)...

Quite the opposite in my case, Bryn. I am keen for the thread to continue. It provides impetus to discover further historical accounts, each of which may lean more towards one perspective versus the other. Not that the new information will resolve the dilemma. We can't. Almost certainly the actual facts will never be known to us; this is the nature of historical research in this era. In any event, only one set of accounts is likely to be reflect what happened, given the binary nature of the issue - either machine gun/s were present when the landings began or they weren't and came into action later.

 

Robert

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  • 2 weeks later...

After being loaned a copy of Klaus Wolf's 2008 book Victory at Gallipoli 1915 from 2008 in German, recently published in English ( the one I have) I find the following rather interesting.

 

On pages 139/140 there is the reference to Lt Boltz and his 44 men and 8 MG's heading into action on 3 May 1915 from Kilia in the afternoon. Interestingly, Muhlmann is quoted next mentioning only 6 MG's being present from Breslau.

 

Then I go to Murray Ewen's article from The Gallipolian No.145 Winter 2017  - "The Gallipoli Maxims Revisited" from pages 37-54. This is well worth a read as Murray Ewens' digging in German archives (Bundisarchiv), and elsewhere, have uncovered information that does not seem to appear in Wolf's book, despite some of the information resting in the same archives in Frieberg (see endnotes). At considerable expense on research, Ewen has laid out much new information on where MG's were readily available from in the Turko-German fleet, some of which have never been mentioned by any other researcher/scholar/author/academic/amateur historian (take your pick, I don't care). He has found that Boltz also had with him a couple of Turkish (French) Hotchkiss MG's. Not mentioned anywhere else it seems, please advise if I missed it. German prisoners (Kubrille and Skora p45/46, see endnotes) gave statements confirming these other weapons, as did a communication to Admiral Souchon mentioning these two extra MG's as accompanied by Turkish personnel. Where did they come from you might ask.

 

The information relating to the state of the Turkish fleet goes into other vessels such as gunboats, torpedo boat destroyers and mine carriers of the harbour fleet. These mostly obsolete vessels carried within their armories, Hotchkiss MG's. Read page 43 on the detail of these vessels.

 

Throw in Dardanelles Fortified Area Command of which little is known, it is clear that all avenues of research have not been exhausted. It might be done and dusted for many, including Jeff Pickerd, but not for others. I can remember spending countless hours going over the Charge at The Nek for the 10th Light Horse history before finally going to print, having had great assistance from a few on this forum, including Jeff. New info always comes to light, some before publishing, some during, and annoyingly, some after.

 

On a final note, go to page 126 in Wolf's book and this to me sums up that the Turkish remembrance around Gallipoli, largely to this day. It excludes German participation/commemoration and revolves mostly around Mustafa Kemal, to the detriment of, not only their Allies, but of the 27th Regt as well. There is much more to be learned in the coming years. The sheer scale of British and Australian witness accounts of MG's at the early morning landings cannot be all discounted as mistaken or fabricated.

Not over by a long shot.

 

Ian

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stevebecker

Gilly,

 

Mate, I am still not sure what your getting at hear?

 

Yes weapons were in the Ottoman/German Fleet, these are mostly unknown as no where I can find do any give what types they had on these ship.

 

Like wise German ships are also not, so the 8 MG s given to Boltz to form his MG Group, we are not told where (what ship) they came from and how many were left. But thats not the point here is it.

 

Since Boltz MG groups were formed after the landings, how does that show these MGs at Anzac or even Helles?

 

Even if your right and they had two Hotchkiss MG in there group?

 

Hotchkiss MGs made up around half the Ottoman MGs within their Army, while one source said there was no Hotchkiss at Gallipoli, another said one MG Company was there, that being with the 19th Div (Arab 72nd MG Company)?

 

But you are saying (I think), that these MGs must have come from the Ottoman Fleet. Again other then the older types of Auto weapons, no where does there appear to be MG Companies any where?

 

I did mention that Erickson does mention the sending of at lest two new MG companies to the 5th Army pre landing. But these were sen to the Sarnos Bay area and the Div;s there, not to the 3rd Corps Area?

 

But after the March attack the Dardenelles defences were strenghten, and moblie Guns and other defences set up. Germans were sent to the Ottoman forts to help there but again these all appear to be Artillery men (both Naval and Army) from the German Coastal units. I can find no mention of any MGs being sent to the Forts?

 

But there is still a lot to find out and new information keeps coming so I am open here to what they cam find.

 

S.B 

Edited by stevebecker
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Steve

 

I was highlighting the point that the work by Klaus Wolf appears to not have all the information that Murray Ewen managed to dig up and include in his article for The Gallipolian, which I recommend you read. That edition also carries the article I wrote about 'other artillery guns' at Pine Ridge on 25 April that, with numerous witnesses, mentioning a Turk MG being left in situ and being put into action once someone turned up who knew how to operate it.

 

My point is that new information is always coming to light. The Hotchkiss mgs Murray mentions may well have been sourced from the Turk fleet from gunboats and the like, and given the agreed lack of mgs, would have made perfect sense to source and put to use. Now who manned them is arguable, but a last minute decision may well have been made. Drake Brockman of 11Bn recalled hearing that 10Bn men had captured a  Hotchkiss gun on MacLagans, which ties in very nicely with Weatherill and Talbot Smith as mentioned many times. Just because Turkish records do not mention mgs does not automatically discount their use, especially with the countless Allied, both Brit and Australian saying they did encounter such guns at several beaches.

 

The Turkish OH of Gallipoli recalls the mountain guns on 400 Plateau coming into action, firing at Ari Burnu, while other records say they did not. Perhaps it was the Pine Ridge guns that did so. Again, Drake Brockman recorded a shell like a Hotchkiss hitting the water as he came in to land.

 

I remain unwilling to accept the new yarn based on an overwhelming amount of information that disputes this no mg claim. It is impossible to think that every single account/recollection is mistaken or fabricated.

 

As with my account of the 10th LH in the charge at The Nek, I remain open to more information coming to light that will further set records straight. And I would welcome such information.

 

Ian

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Jeff Pickerd

It is time that we are reminded of the genesis of this topic. On the 29th of October, 2005, Chris Best opened this topic by posing the following: -

 

 During recent discussion with a Turkish academic the efficacy of Turkish MG fire on the landing beaches was challenged. He is not convinced the units in place on 25 Apr 15 had MGs. Most Allied historiography and memoirs comment on Turkish MGs so I am not seeking guidance toward British/AUS/NZ/French material.

Does anyone have access to Turkish or German papers which might support or refute my friend's doubts?"

 

During this long running discussion his question has been answered by the input of a number of contributors. Emre for one has contributed much important Turkish documentation. From the Turkish archival records the 27th Infantry Regiments War Diary, Lt Col Sefik’s memoirs, plus other relevant material has been put forward; the English release of Claus Wolf’s book has answered the question as to any German machine gun involvement at Gallipoli on the morning of the 25th April, 1915, from 4.30 a.am. to 7.45 a.m. There have also been references given from numerous books dealing with the question.

 

Ian, all that you have put forward so far does not strictly relate to Chris Best’s original question. He specifically asked for Turkish and German documentation. The arrival of Lieut Wilhelm Boltz at Kilia in command of the German Naval Shore Detachment, with his 8 machine guns, at 3p.m., 3rd May, it may well be quite important to the historic record, but it has no bearing upon the original question what so ever. The Turkish records clearly state that the 27th Regiment only had the four machine guns back at Maidos the morning of the 25th. There is no record of any German involvement in any level of operations at Ari Burnu in April.

 

As to the mountain guns story at Pine Ridge, I addressed that at length back on the 13th July, 2019 of the old thread. All my posts on the subject since have been specific to the question of the morning of the 25th April. 1915.

 

Jeff

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And again you miss the point Jeff. You praise the Wolf book, while Murray Ewen finds info he didn't and it all relates to alternative sourcing of machine guns which is crucial to topic.

Disappointing and indicative of minds made up no matter what.

 

Ian

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stevebecker

Gilly,

 

Sorry mate, are you saying that Murray updated his articale you sent me some years ago?

 

Clearly in that he never shows anywhere that the Ottoman Ships Naval weapons were sent to Gallipoli, either as field defences or in the Forts?

 

He does state that they could have, but gives no proof they were?

 

We and Ottoman documents do show that these older weapons (Pom poms and such) were sent to units of the 3rd Corps, but no MGs are mentioned as being sent?

 

So how does Murray prove his point?

 

Strange you keep pulling this floored document out each time?

 

S.B

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