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Remembered Today:

POW in Turkey


joseph

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The 6th EYR had many taken prisoner and a lot missing! after the landing at Sulva Bay. Taking into account the murder of CO Lt. Col. HGA Moore at Tekke Tebe on the 9th Aug. Can anyone let me know how the Turks looked after the prisoners.

Regards Charles

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I know that in the Mesopotamian campaign they were treated pretty severly.

I've just read in Barker's Neglected War about two captured pilots who were paraded so they could be spat on.

After the fall of Kut the prisioners were force-marched through the desert, people who fell out were simply left to the elements and the locals, who would rob and kill them.

It may differ in other areas, but in Mesopotamia the Turks didn't look after their prisoners.

T E Lawrence's (of Arabia) book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, includes a account of his rape by Turkish soldiers. This was not primarilly homosexual but debasement and seems to be customary. (This was in the original 1922 edition and I believe it drifted in and out of later editions)

zoo

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Thanks Zoo

A bit on the down side then. I have seen many pictures of POW in Germany but carnt say I have seen or heard of any in Turkey.

Im wondering how many of the missing started of as POW?

Regards Charles

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I can remember a reference to Turkish POW camps in "Guests of the Unspeakable"

From memory there is a similar article on the Long long Trail page.

All the best.

Maud

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Mate,

I have a number of PoW reports from soldiers in the Camel Corps captured in April 1917.

These were all sent to work on the Turkish rail line in Eastern Turkey.

These were all treated poorly with beatings and straved.

I also have an AIF soldier who was flogged for striking a guard when he tried to defend a dying British prisoner.

They mention visits by the Red Cross/Cresent who gave them money and food and also the help of a number of German doctors who treated the prisoners better then the Turks.

These prisoner documents are on the AWM data base to look at or order.

S.B

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Steve,

Thanks I will get onto it, and look at the AWM, will be nice to see a POW report.

Were in Eastern Turkey was the camp? huge area in an atlas?

Regards Charles

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In Secrets of a Kuttie by E O Mousley...

He complains to the Germans about the way they are being treated by the Turks.

The Germans are quite taken aback and make sure improvements are made - although in the longer term it means they are kept away from the Germans so they can't complain.

From his account the prisoners can get a kicking from the Turks without much effort.

Townshend, commander of Kut, was held prisoner in pleasant surroundings and allowed to keep his sword (Woo-hoo!). He seems to be well treated - although this could be my ignorance on detail.

zoo

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Many years ago I think I remember seeing a BBC film about a unit from the Norfolk Regiment and the thrust of the programme was that the men were all killed after being taken as POWs, shot to death in a ravine I think.

Does anyone else recall it better than I do?

Regards

Carninyj

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Thanks for that, Joseph. It was interesting and informative but it doesn't refer to the incident I had in mind.

The group of Norfolks in the video, many recruited from the Sandringham Estate, were in the Gallipoli area. Their fate became known when someone in the 70s? bought an old pocket watch in a market and followed up an inscription.

Regards

Carninyj

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carninyj

Found it "All the kings men"

Off to the video shop with the wife, will probably come back with "StarTrec".

Thanks Charles

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I did a bit of a Google and came up with this. It seems to relate to confused memory I have of the incident.

What happened with the 5th Norfolk battalion is thus described in Sir Ian Hamilton's despatch of December 11, 1915 describing what he calls " a very mysterious thing."

" The 1/5th. Norfolk were on the right of the line and found themselves for a moment less strongly opposed than the rest of the brigade. Against the yielding forces of the enemy Colonel Sir H. Beauchamp, a bold, self-confident officer, eagerly pressed forward, followed by the best part of the battalion. The fighting grew hotter, and the ground became more wooded and broken. At this stage many men were wounded, or grew exhausted with thirst. These found their way back to camp during the night. But the Colonel, with sixteen officers and 250 men, still kept pushing on, driving the enemy before them. ... Nothing more was ever seen or heard of any of them. They charged into the forest and were lost to sight or sound. Not one of them ever came back." (Sir Horace Beauchamp, Bart., C.B., had served in the Sudan, Suakim, and South African Campaigns, retired in 1904, and returned to serve in the war in 1914.)

It was not till four years later that any trace was discovered of the fate of this body. Writing on September 23, 1919 the officer commanding the Graves Registration Unit in Gallipoli says:

" We have found the 5th Norfolks - there were 180 in all; 122 Norfolk and a few Hants and Suffolks with 2/4th Cheshires. We could only identify two - Privates Barnaby and Cotter. They were scattered over an area of about one square mile, at a distance of at least 800 yards behind the Turkish front line. Many of them had evidently been killed in a farm, as a local Turk, who owns the place, told us that when he came back he found the farm covered with the decomposing bodies of British soldiers which he threw into a small ravine. The whole thing quite bears out the original theory that they did not go very far on, but got mopped up one by one, all except the ones who got into the farm."

The website is here for those who want to read the full story:

http://user.online.be/%7Esnelders/sand.htm

The question remains, Were they killed as POWs? Does anyone know more than this contemporary account?

Regards

Carninyj

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carninyj,

V. Good and on the same lines as I am looking 6 East Yorkshires, Tekke Tepe 9 August.

" Colonel Moore, dead tired from the climb and excitement, and like his men suffering from hunger and thirst, moved a little away and sat down. A brutal Turk, seeing him do this, ran him through the back with a bayonet, and he Died almost instantly. This foul murder of a British Officer, a prisoner of war, was another instance of the treacherous nature of the Turkish soldiery." (Wyrall)

Another 133 men were posted as missing and very few turned up.

Did the "Brutal Turk" get courts martialed? he shot and wounded another officer in the same incident!

Regards Charles

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Mate,

The two camps mentioned in AIF records where both British and AIF soldiers were kept were these.

Zarbaschi

Afion Kara Hissar

These by the acccounts were along the Railway to Baghdad as the men were used to keep the traffic flowing.

S.B

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Joseph

I found a very poor copy of the BBC video last night and watched it - I think it said 1991 on the end titles. Prince Edward was the narrator. Anyhow, the views expressed seemed to confirm that the Turks really did not understand the concept of taking prisoners - partly a Muslin vs. Crusader invader thing - and that many POWs were killed, notably those from the Sandringham Estate.

Re the Armenians: The mistreatment/genocide of the Armenians is well documented on the Internet, though it is rarely spoken of today; it ranks alongside what the Nazis did to the Jews, Stalin to .....

http://www.historywiz.com/executions.htm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/fromthearchive/s...1378116,00.html

Regards

Carninyj

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Caryninyj

Thanks, more than gruesome, new ground for me very interesting. The POW angle is intriguing did the Turkish keep any records or have they disappeared to.

I will get a copy of the DVD "All the kings men" sounds like a good story, and gripping on the facts.

Did someone once say "Life is cheap"?

Regards Charles

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A number of local casualties I have researched died whilst in Turkish captivity.........All of these (from the 1 Ox & Bucks captured at the Kut) died either of illness/disease or of wounds inflicted during the fighting...................I can't therefore add anything to the comments regarding murder, brutality or physical mistreatment.......... My research does however suggest that there were major problems with the sanitary conditions prisoners were held in & that there was a severe lack of resources available to treat prisoners once they fell ill.

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Mate,

Yes agreed the Turks were not the best guards for our soldiers but I can find no record of there being overly cruel either other then the odd guard which all countries have.

But sickness killed all those lost from my Camel Corps men during there captivity but weather this was from the areas they were held captive in or because of the lack of care weather medical or other given to the men.

Or the hard work they had to do for all the time in captivity. But their food were not the best and infrequent and they constantly under feed.

But it should be remembered that Turkey at that time was still in the middle ages like most of Arabia was and still is.

It took Ataturk to bring them out of it kicking and screaming to where they are now.

Its the only reason to think our soldiers in Iraq now may do some good. But I surpose all the years the British were there before and after the 2nd World war still hasn't got threw their heads.

S.B

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The experience of the Kut garrison might change your mind about not being "overly cruel".

The sick, unfit, undernourished men (they had been in a siege for months) of the garrison were force-marched, many beaten savagely, many killed by acts of wanton cruelty. More than 3,000 of those who surrendered at Kut were murdered by the Turks in this way, while in captivity. Those who survived were little more than skeletons when they were 2 years later released or exchanged.

The British Army lost 227 British and 204 Indian officers, with 12,828 other ranks - of which 2,592 were British - when the garrison surrendered. The Turks murdered more than 1,700 of the British other ranks, and possibly as many as 3,000 of the Indian troops.

Further reading and examples: try Major E.W.C.Sandes 'In Kut and Captivity', E.H.Jones 'The road to En-Dor', P.W.Long 'The Other Ranks of Kut' and H.C.W. Bishop 'A Kut Prisoner'

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Will & Steve

Thanks for the comments and more food for thought.

In the lack of resourses & sanitary conditions, well, didnt they apply to many of the worlds prisons never a No1 priority when it came to spending money, even now food is not supplied and has to be taken in. The treatment the POWs recieved whilst in captivity was very poor.

Could this be seen to be overly cruel or physical mistreatment I dont know.... maybe the RSPCA would be able to make a judgement. But Im glad your men made it home.

Chris

Thanks, the reports and views I have read regards, murder, brutality and cruelty have all been made when the men have just been captured or enroute to POW camps.

In conclusion my opinion is the outside influence of the Red Cross/Cresent the Germans or government controls, reduced the brutality to a lesser degree. On the other hand when captured and in transit to camps, the troops could do as they wished and on some accounts the civilians to. Thank you all for your help.

Regards Charles

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Sorry Chris,

Your quite right, I was only comenting on those held in the camps of Camel Corps soldiers.

There are indeed a number of acts against our men that seen in the light day would be cruel. But there appear to be one off and not all the time.

But I surpose different camp guards behave differently from others. Purhaps the vistis by German doctors may have held them in check or the Turkish officers were better there then for the poor blokes in Kut.

I have no record of a direct killing of a prisoner in the camps held by my Camel Corps by guards other then the with holding of medical care or food not to mention over work.

S.B

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G'day All,

My G Uncle William Lord was captured at Kut, he was part of the Australian Half Flight and died as a POW reportedly from dysentry in the Tarsus Mountains on the Turkish version of the death railway. My family kept close ties with Thomas White post WW1 as my G Grandfather, Wiliam's dad, was the caretaker of the CFS at Point Cook. Tommy White told my aunty that he was lucky enough to be an officer as the enlisted man had no chance with the Turk and any Indian was as good as dead. The treatment of the Kut survivors seems to be lost in history and the haze of Kemel Ata Turk's (sp?) speech regarding the Gallipoli dead.

Regards,

Andrew

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Hi everyone,

Been reading this thread with interest, not least becuase Alan Wakefield and I are working on a book on Mesopotamia (Like the salonika one we did last year). I have been researching th experiences of pows, most notably those of Kut. I am afraid one can say little in defence of the Turks on this occasion. what is sometimes forgotten, however is that their local Arab allies were often responsible for some of the worst excesses, the Turks turning a blind eye. It is apparant from some contemporary diaries and accounts that British troops feared the savage depradations of the Arabs more than the Turkish Army itself.

Still, the Turks were ultimately responsible: this is an extract from a talk I did at NAM earlier this year on PoWs generally in WWI - they speak for themselves I think:

'One of these was RQMS Frank Harvey of the Dorset Regiment: who described the march on 7 May 1916:

"Those who fell out that day from exhaustion, on their arrival at the halting place had some pitful tales of how they had been driven along and flogged. No rations were issued to us on that day before starting and at the finish of the march….The stealing of boots was certainly done by our escort. To prevent mine being stolen I used to wear them when I was asleep; it made on’es feet very bad but its better than marching without any at all. Lt Mahomed Russi, on being told that his men were stealing our boots, jeered at us through an interpreter and told us it would do us good to march barefooted"

Gen Mellis tried to do what he could for the stricken army, unlike Townshend. On 20 June 1916, Pte D Hughes saw him:

"We watched Gen Melliss’s attempts to pick up more castaways from the columns that had passed ahead. Many were dead, many dying , but he was in time to fetch milk to quench their thirst, in many cases fetching it himself, as he and his staff searched the farms for suitable food for those who were still alive"

One of these men was Dvr William Carr, RA who later wrote to Melliss:

"We had been two days and nights without food and had it not been for your generous treatment in giving us food and money and insisting thee Turks take us to the next railhead in carts, we should have undoubtably have died in the course of a day or two, as so many of our men did on the march from Kut"

Once in camp, the remaining skeletons were put to work. Pte Hughes described the onset of typhus in the camp:

"Very few of the men were able to appear in the daily routine, when they fell in to roll call and received the ration of one loaf per man. We thought our conditions were bad, but worse was to come when a fresh batch of prisoners from a typhus camp joined us. Not one of them could stand, much less walk, and it was ghastly to see the poor fellows crawl upstairs and move along the floor on their hands"

The 2nd Dorsets surrendered at Kut with 350 men. Two months later, after marching to Turkey, only 140 answered their names. Of these only an estimated 70 were repatriated.'

If anyone comes across any good accounts of Mespot Pows (not just Kut) please drop me an email.

Regards

Simon Moody

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