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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

The woman sniper of Gallipoli

Bill Woerlee

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Why would a sniper leave his (or her) cover to go and collect the ID discs of his (or her) victims, many of whom would presumably be in enemy positions with other occupants? And why would anyone use ID discs as a measure of success when the discs of many victims would be unrecoverable and any discs collected could equally well have come from opponents killed by other means?

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  • 1 year later...

As a preamble to today's post I think that it is worth repeating my August 2011 offering of a possible explanation as to how the legend of the female Turkish sniper originated.

...... how did the "legend" begin?
Forget that staged photograph by Ernest Brooks which was probably taken by dressing a Turkish PoW in green twigs and then standing him between two Australian cooks on Lemnos. Please have a look at a genuine photograph of a Turkish sniper here http://cas.awm.gov.au/photograph/P01094.002


And then ask yourself if the disguise does not remind you just a little of an Islamic lady's Burqa?

Could this have been how the story started?

I still believe that today.

However, I must admit that my confident scepticism has been dented somewhat by looking at Cross & Cockade International, Vol.38, No.3, of 2007 and seeing there (page 150) PO William Pollard's photograph of 'The three Turkish women brigands'.

His diary entry for 24 July 1916 suggests that they were captured either on Mitylene or the nearby Turkish mainland. They were then handed over to HMS Doris.

Pollard's picture shows the ladies to be well armed with rifles, ammunition bandoliers and a pistol.

I feel that the sometimes mentioned theory that the religion and culture of early 20th century Turkey would not have permitted such a thing, has also received a knock.



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Might the present day exploits of the women peshmerga help to diminish the scepticism about the women snipers ?

I have to admit that I was very unwilling to accept the folklore, and was irritated by the depiction in that drama ALL THE KING'S MEN .

While still sceptical, I'm prepared to countenance it more seriously than I was before I had seen TV footage of these Kurdish women warriors taking on Daesh.

Phil (PJA)

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