Çanakkale Geçilmez!

Posted by Zuhdi Farhan On Monday, July 24, 2017 0 comments

“The distance between the trenches is eight meters, which means that death is inevitable. Those in the first trenches, they all fall without any survivors, but they are rapidly replaced by those in the second. Can you imagine what a distinguished determination and faith this is? He sees the fallen, he knows that he will die within three minutes, but he does not hesitate at all. There is no trembling whatsoever. Those who are literate have the Koran in their hands, preparing to get into the paradise; those who are not are saying prayers. This is an example showing the spiritual power of the Turkish soldier. You can be sure that this spirit is what brought the victory in Çanakkale.” - Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
On 10th May 2017, I joined a day-trip to Çanakkale with the chairman of MyCARE, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hafidzi Mohd Noor, co-organized by Jejak Uthmaniyyah and Jom Venture. The objective of this trip was to visit the site of the battles in World War I, Gelibolu (Gallipoli) Peninsula. Here are my notes on the historical event.
  1. The Battle of Çanakkale – Canakkale Savaşı, in Turkish –  also known as Battle of Gallipoli, Gallipoli Campaign, and Dardanelles Campaign, was officially fought from February 19, 1915 until January 9, 1916. Allied forces were comprised of the British, French, Australia and New Zealand Armed Corps (ANZAC), and troops from the colonies of Britain. Ottoman forces came from all over the empire plus several German officers.

  1. On November 9, 1914 2 British cruisers, Indefatigable and Indomitable bombarded Seddülbahir and Ertuğrul batteries on European shore while French Suffren and Verite attacked Kumkale and Orhaniye batteries on the Asian shore. A British submarine B11 entered the Strait of Dardanelles and torpedoed Ottoman warship Mesudiye on December 13, 1914 resulting new submarine nets to be installed in the strait. The Dardanelles was under blockade by Allied fleet, commanded by British Vice Admiral Carden, comprised of 49 British and 13 French ships.

  1. On January 15, 1915 War Council in London accepted ‘Carden Plan’.  The main reasons for the assault on Strait of Dardanelles was to facilitate the way to Istanbul through the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus. Allied also intended to eliminate Ottoman entirely from the war by taking over Istanbul. Supplies and weapons would be channelled to Russia easily should the waterway fell into their control.

  1. Ottoman minelayer ship, Nusrat, under the command of Capt. Hakkı Bey laid 26 new mines paralled to the shore. On March 18, French warship Bouvet struck the mines and sunk. British warships Irresistible and Inflexible suffered also heavy damage due to the mines. Inflexible was paralyzed and left aground off Bozcaada. Gaulois was left aground off Rabbit Island. Another ship, Ocean struck a mine when it tried to pull Irresistible out of the strait. Both ships then sunk.   

  1. Allied began its land operation on April 25, 1915. The landing at Ariburnu and Kabatepe was met with fierce Turkish defense. The ANZACs were halted at the beachhead. At Seddülbahir, British forces had landed in five different locations. Those were Ertuğrul Bay, Teke Bay, Pınariçi Bay, İkiz Bay, and Morto Bay. Naval gunfires were used to facilitate the landings however, Ottoman troops defended fiercely and were successful in halting the advance of Allied forces.

  1. Bolayır town was bombarded and French units landed at Kumkale. However, both occasions were only diversions to distract a large number of Ottoman forces while the real landings occurred on European shores. On April 25 alone, 16700 Ottoman troops were up against 31750 invading Allied forces.

  1. Stalemate at Ariburnu and Anafartalar forced the opposing sides to dig trenches. In some area, the trenches were only eight metres apart. This was later mentioned by Mustafa Kemal Bey (Ataturk) in his memoirs. At Seddülbahir, Allied were tring to take control of the village Kirte with the First and Second Battle of Kirte but to no avail. They suffered a total of almost 9500 casualties and were still 3km from Kirte. On June 4, the failed Third Battle of Kirte was fought for three days, with casualties of 7500 and 10000 for Allied and Ottoman respectively. Allied gained 1km inward initially but retreated at the end of the day as the troops did not have support.

  1. Mustafa Kemal was one of the commanders for the Ottoman army. At the start of the battle, he was a Lieautenant Colonel and later promoted to Colonel. He was in charge of 19th Division, defending Kocaçimen and Conkbayırı against the ANZACs. He then succeeded Colonel Ahmet Feyzi Bey as the commander of Anafartalar Group Command. Other prominent officers were Major General Esat Paşa (III Corps), Brigadier General Cevat Paşa (Çanakkale Fortified Zone), Colonel Halil Sami Bey (9th Division), and General Otto Liman von Sanders (Fifth Army).

  1. The next few months saw the battles at Zığındere, Suvla Bay, Kocaçimen, and Conkbayırı. For some multiple occasions the Allied managed to gain some lands but the Ottoman would quickly tried to regain them. As of August 1915, the fight had turned to be a static trench warfare, a stalemate, neither side able to gain territory anymore.

  1. In early November, Allied had decided to withdraw from Gallipoli Peninsula. By December 20, withdrawal in Ariburnu and Suvla Bay was completed. French units evacuated completely by January 1, 1916. Ottoman last attack on the Allied was executed on January 7, 1916 and two days later, there was not a single Allied troop left on the peninsula.

  1. Battle of Çanakkale/Gallipoli saw more than a million troops fought for both sides. Total number of casualties for both sides amounted to almost half a million. It was a significant victory for the Ottoman and Central Powers against the Allied in the war. The battle significantly being very important to the Turkish as it became a symbol of resilience and showed the spirit of patriotism, paving the way for Turkish Liberation War. “Çanakkale geçilmez”, meaning “Çanakkale is impassable” has became the slogan of the region.


Turkish Tea-drinking Culture

Posted by Zuhdi Farhan On 0 comments

When I first arrived in Turkey. I thought coffee would be the favourite drink here, instead of tea. Turkey being the neighbour of Middle Eastern countries would definitely give you the wrong idea about that. I also initially thought that both tea and coffee were drunk heavily due to weather and climate since I arrived at the end of winter. The second time I was wrong. In fact, as someone coming from Malaysia, a country having some history with Britain, it never occurred to me that Turkish actually out-drinks the Irish and Britons in per capita tea consumption. Turkey is also the fifth highest tea producers behind India, China, Kenya, and Sri Lanka.
History of tea-drinking culture among the Turkish is still relatively new, beginning at the end of 19th century when the then governor of Adana, Mehmet Izzet in 1878, produced Çay Risalesi, Tea Pamphlet, to inform people the benefits of drinking tea. Çay Evi or tea house began to be opened in Sultanahmet area in Istanbul, thus the spreading of tea-drinking started. It was also helped by the fact that tea was four times cheaper than coffee. Rize, the “Turkish tea capital”, is a province located in the eastern part of Black Sea. Its soil fertility, rainfall volume, and climate are ideal for the cultivation and production of tea.
Serious attempt in cultivating tea began as early as 1917, however came to a halt due to Turkish War of Independence. The first large scale cultivation began in 1937 while the first tea factory there was built in 1947. Turkey started to export its tea in 1965, having satisfied local tea market. Çay-Kur (General Directorate of Tea Operations) was founded in 1971 in order to coordinate the cultivation and tea processing. The state-owned body enjoyed monopoly over tea market until 1984 when the industry was opened to private enterprise. Today, Çay-Kur still controls nearly 60% of domestic tea market. Even the football club playing in Turkish Super Lig, Rizespor are sponsored by Çay-Kur since 1991 and renamed Çaykur Rizespor. They have been using tea leaves on their badge since the establishement of the club in 1953.
There is a special way in preparing the tea. A çaydanlik, a special double-tiered pots would be required to brew the tea. The bottom pot is filed with water and set on fire until the water boiled. The top pot is filed with dry tea leaves. The boiled water then is poured into the top pot, allowing the tea leaves to steep for 15-20 minutes. The tea then is poured into tulip-shaped glasses with hot water added to dilute the tea according to one’s preference. There are two ways of drinking tea. The first one is by adding sugar cubes into the tea while the second way is called kitlama where you put sugar cubes between your tounge and cheek and then drink the tea. Sometimes, tea is also drunk with lemon, but not milk.
Turkish tea is supposed to be enjoyed while still hot. The usage of clear tulip-shaped glass is for admiring the colour of the tea. Serving tea has become the Turkish tradition in showing hospitality and friendliness. There is no specific time for tea, nor there is any bad time for tea. A saying in Turkey goes, “conversations without tea are like a night sky without the moon”. The sight of men enjoying tea in Turkey could be compared with seing Malaysians enjoying themselves at mamak stalls or street warongs although not exactly the same.