Archive for the ‘HISTORICAL NARRATIVES’ Category

Following the ‘Changing Turkey in a Changing World’ initiative of sharing historical documents with our readers, we are delighted to publish below a confidential correspondence authored by the British ambassador to the Ottoman empire (Sir Gerard Lowther) in 1908 about the latest developments in Anatolia with a special emphasis on the rise of tensions among Kurds, Armenians and Turks in various cities, including, Van, Bitlis, Konya, Kayseri, Adana.

The tensions were particularly linked to the municipal elections in Kayseri which resulted in the election of eight Armenians to two Turks. “This happened by the massing of the Armenian vote, given through the council of the church, for certain particular people, while the Turks, who have 400 votes to 180, spread their votes over a greater number of candidates and, as an absolute majority elects, were largely defeated”.

The report was sent to the British Foreign Secretary of the time, Sir Edward Grey. 

Source:  British National Archives

Document Reference: CAB-37-96-146






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Possible terms of the Ankara Government to establish a settlement between Turkey and Britain during the War of Independence given by Mr. Raouf Ahmet to Mr. Toynbee (July 1921).

The below documents explicate Ankara’s criteria for reaching an agreement concerning the issues of minorities, non-Turkish residents, the Straits, the borders and economic status of the new Turkish state. It is remarkable that the terms put forward in 1921 were mainly similar to the terms agreed in the Lausanne treaty. This implies the fact that most of the terms agreed in Lausanne had previously been drafted by Ankara during the war and Turks became successful in forcing the inclusion of these conditions in the founding treaty of the new Republic. Mr. Toynbee, in the below documents, however highlights the possibility of Ankara to give concessions in certain domains. For instance, it is argued that Ankara might accept the Midia-Enez line as new Turkey’s European border. Mr. Toynbee also talks about the possibility for Ankara to give ‘slight’ concessions of Ottoman territory further east to Republic of Russian Armenia.

Reference: FO 371/6531










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‘Changing Turkey in a Changing World’ reveals various British archives on the Turkey’s Independence War in order to assist the historians working on the field. The documents below are mostly the diplomatic correspondence between the British Ministry of War and the British Embassy in Istanbul during 1920 and 1921. The documents assess the political composition of the newly founded Turkish Grand National Assembly; the bilateral relations between the Nationalists led by Ataturk and Germany and Italy; and offers a correspondence letter informing about the activities of Enver Pasha during the war. Finally, the archive includes the translated version of the Misak-i Milli (National Pact) adopted in January 1920.

Reference: FO 371/6531

For more archival information, contact: changingturkey@gmail.com

The Political Composition of the Turkish Grand National Assembly according to Britain (1921)

According to the document, the majority of the parliament is populated by the ‘moderates’ led by Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) who wish to establish peace under the basis of ‘national pact’, while two minority groups are perceived as openly hostile against Britain seeking the backing of Russia.

The activities of Enver Pasha in Rome during the War of Independence

According to the report, Enver Pasha visited Rome and Berlin seeking future collaboration with the Islamic Societies in Europe.

The British Assessment of the bilateral relations between the Ankara Government and Germany

The British Assessment of the bilateral relations between the Ankara Government and Italy

The English Translation of Misak-i Milli [National Pact]

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JOHNSTONE, A. Duncan (1913), With the British Red Cross in Turkey. The experiences of two volunteers, 1912-13 … Sketches by F. Lyon.. pp. vii. 197. James Nisbet & Co.: London.+

The diary of two British Red Cross volunteers for working in hospitals in Turkey during the Balkan Wars between the years 1912 and 1913. Given the difficulty to find the book in both libraries and bookstores today, Changing Turkey in a Changing World decides to share some selected pages of the book with its loyal audience. (Please click on red cross 1, 2 3, and 4 in order to see the pdf documents)=


redcross2 3


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The advance party of the Turkish Brigade or Turkish Armed Forces command, arrived in Pusan on 12 October 1950. The main body numbering 5190 troops arrived five days later, on 17 October. Brigadier General Tahzin Yazici commanded the brigade. Colonel Celal Dora was assistant Brigade Commander. When the main body arrived the brigade went into bivouac near Taegu where it underwent training and received U.S. equipment. The brigade was attached to the U.S. 25th infantry division so after limited training the brigade moved north to the Kaesong area to join the division.                                              

The Turks in the Korean War

(The Turkish perspective from “The Korean War — a short history by the Turkish War Veterans Association.)

The Turkish Brigade has been the subject of the world’s praise, by showing a very superior combat capability which provided our state with honor through the successes it won one after another during the three year period of blood and fire starting from the hardest and most critical moment it entered the battlefield until the signing of the “Ceasefire” agreement. Because addressing all the battles of the Turkish Brigades, however briefly, will extend the subject, we will just suffice to list the battles fought and briefly address the most important ones. The Turkish brigades, between the dates of November 1950 and July 1953, have fought the following battles the Kunuri diversion; the Kumyangjangni-Illi-431-639 -Imjin attacks; 22/23 April 1951; the Chorwon-Seoul diversion; the Taegyewonni defense; the Barhar-Kumhwa-701 attacks; and the Wegas defense battles. We will not just talk here about the battles accomplished by our Brigades–for the Turkish brigades have accomplished all their war tasks without default but about four important battles which affected the course of the war. And these are the battles of Kunuri, Kumjangjangni, Taegyewonni and Wegas.

The Kunuri Battle

The United Nations Forces started to attack on the morning of 24 November 1950, under the command of Five Star General Douglas MacArthur with the objective being the Yalu River (Border Line). At this time the Turkish Brigade was constituting the reserve force of the IXth Army Corps, 3.5 km. west southwest of the town of Kunuri. The attacks of the United Nations Forces had easily developed until the evening of 25 November. However the attacks of the Chinese which started as raids on the night of 25/26 November 1950, created great surprise and confusion at the fronts. When morning came on 26 November it was understood that the Chinese Forces had penetrated the front of the II’nd South Korean Army Corps situated in the Central Segment of the front and that they had stalked behind the U.S. Divisions situated on the western segment of the front. Especially the Chinese Forces, advancing towards Tokchon from the area of the II (Second) South Korean Army Corps had started to threaten the Eighth Army and specifically the IXth (U.S.) Army Corps. Therefore upon the IX Army Corps advance the Turkish Brigade on reserve against the forces threatening its eastern side and back. After dusk on 26 November the Turkish Brigade began to march by way of the Kunuri-Kaechon-Sinnimni-Wawon-Tokchon. The Brigade was given the task of capturing the town of Tokchon. The Turkish Brigade had started to advance towards the battlefield having undertaken a very rare and heavy war task which reserves could ever meet against disproportional enemy forces and under negative conditions. Having spent the night in Wawon the Brigade restarted to march at 0530 in the morning (27 November). As the units were crossing the steep Karill Yon Mountain and as the Advance Guard were descending on the Tokchon Valley (1430 hrs) the Army Corps gave the order “Do not advance any further and get on the defensive on the line which you have reached.” General Tahsin RAZICI having read in the order the seemingly innocent and unimportant news “If you do not have troops in Changsangni, our aircraft have identified a force about the size of a regiment whose nationality is unknown” perceived a danger and ordered the Turkish Brigade to get on the defensive not where the Army Corps ordered, but on the Wawon line 15 km, back west. General Yazici’s decision would take the Turkish Brigade back from the point of destruction and bring it to a point which would prevent the destruction of the allied forces. Let us briefly dwell here. We have to show the degree of validity of the claim that “the U.S. general spent the Brigade by using it as a pawn” which had been tried to be imposed on our public. When our accounts are looked at it is obvious how General Tahsin Yazici took responsibility whenever required to protect the existence of the Brigade and to successfully implement the tasks of war. General Yazici never gave in to the short and dark orders of the U.S. generals such as Stop-Go.The reinforced Reconnaisance Unit which was the rear guard of the Brigade prevented the enemy from striking the Brigade at night, by distracting the enemy raid which started on the night of 27/28 November at 2400 until dawn on 28 November. At 0800 hours on 28 November the Wawon Battle of the Brigade began. That day all of the attacks of the numerically superior enemy forces first against the Pass Axis and then against the Pass’ Points of Shoulder were broken. In the fore-noon the close enveloping operations were defeated with our counter offensives. In the afternoon upon the efforts of the enemy to cut the Kunuri-Wawon road by transferring forces to the back beyond the effective area of the Brigade, General Yazici ordered preparations to be made for the withdrawal of the Brigade to the Sinnimni segment. It was understood that both sides of the Brigade were open and that friendly forces had withdrawn. We would want to strongly emphasize this point. During the Korean War the enemy always found the opportunity to surround the Brigade by penetrating neighboring friendly unit fronts. But no enemy attack ever succeeded in penetrating the front of the Turkish Brigade. The Brigade started to withdraw to the Sinnimni segment from Wawon after dusk at 1830 hours. The units which withdrew to Sinnimni hastily started to occupy defensive positions. At 2400 hours the attack of the enemy started in the form of a raid. While the units which were situated in favorable terrain continued to defend, the other units of the Brigade failing to hold started to withdraw towards Kunuri. Part of the units which had withdrawn were stopped west of Sinnimni through the tough and resolved stance of the Brigade Command and put in a new defensive position. Fore-noon on 29 November an attack was undertaken with an Infantry Company to save the II’nd Battalion and the 2nd Company which were under enemy encirclement in Sinnimni. The enemy circle was broken and the safe withdrawal of the units to Kaechon was provided for. The attacks undertaken by the enemy in the afternoon against the Kaechon position were destroyed to their last soldiers. However the forces which the enemy sent beyond the effective area of the Brigade to the back could not be stopped. Faced with this situation, at 1530 hours General Tahsin Yazici ordered the II’nd and III’rd Battalions to withdraw to the west of Kaechon. Before the battalions could get 2 km. away from Kaechon, they were divided into small groups by the effective fires they received from three directions. As the Brigade was entering the night of 29/30 November, the Hacham-Kunuri road was cut and the enemy circle was complete. At 1715 hours the I’st Battalion which had withdrawn from Kaechon engaged in combat in the Hacham circle. Although the units were dispersed and liaison and management was non existent, the small groups managed by the young officers started to break the enemy circle. The Brigade succeeded in getting out of the Hacham circle through attack and infiltration actions which continued all night long. On 30 November 1950 the various groups advancing to Sunchon from the south of Tunuri met with a new enemy circle here. The Sunchon Pass had been under enemy control for the past two days. The attacks which the 2nd US Division undertook from the north and the British Brigade from the south had not produced results. After a short rest, our infantry started to attack the enemy which had dug in on the Sunchon Pass. With this attack in which US Infantry and tanks also participated the pass was opened. The bayonet of the Turkish Infantry had once again asserted its rule, and had opened the Sunchon Pass where the 2nd Division had come up against a stone wall. Thus the battles of the Brigade which were given the name Kunuri came to an end in a successful conclusion. The Turkish Brigade had succeeded to provide the necessary time and space for the withdrawal by preventing the encirclement of the Eighth Army and the IXth Army Corps and the destruction of the 2nd US Division, through the battles it fought on the dates of 27-30 November. The Turkish Brigade, which had no war experience, was affecting a great battle from its roots, was saving the friendly Army, which was starting to roll down a dangerous cliff, by stopping the superior numbers of enemy forces. Thus the Brigade was achieving fame in the world by playing an important role in the course of the war in its first battle. Echoes of the Kunuri Battle “4500 soldiers in the middle of the firing line have known how to create miracle. The sacrifices of the Turks will eternally remain in our minds.” – Washington Tribune “The courageous battles of the Turkish Brigade have created a favorable effect on the whole United Nations Forces.” – Time “The surprise of the Korean battles were not the Chinese but the Turks. It is impossible at this moment to find a word to describe the heroism which the Turks have shown in the battles.” – Abent Post “The Turks have shown in Kunuri a heroism worthy of their glorious history. The Turks have gained the admiration of the whole world through their glorious fighting in the battles.” – Figaro “The Turks who have been known throughout history by their courage and decency, have proved that they have kept these characteristics, in the war which the United Nations undertook in Korea.” – Burner – U.S. Congressman “There is no one left who does not know that the Turks, our valuable allies, are hard warriors and that they have accomplished very great feats at the front.” – Claude Pepper, U.S. Senator “I now understand that the vote I gave in favor of assistance to Turkey was the most fitting vote I gave in my life. Courage, bravery and heroism are the greatest virtues which will sooner or later conquer. In this matter, I know no nation superior to the Turks.” – Rose – U.S. Senator “While the Turks were for a long time fighting against the enemy and dying, the British and Americans were withdrawing. The Turks, who were out of ammunition, affixed their bayonets and attacked the enemy and there ensued a terrible hand to hand combat. The Turks succeeded in withdrawing by continuous combat and by carrying their injured comrades on their backs. They paraded at Pyongyang with their heads held high.” – G.G. Martin – British Lieutenant General “The Turkish forces have shown success above that expected in the battles they gave in Korea.” – General Collings – Commander US Army “We owe the escape of thousands of United Nations troops out of a certain encirclement to the heroism of the Turkish soldiers. The Turkish soldiers in Korea have added a new and unforgettable page of honor to the customs and legends of heroism of the Turkish nation.” – Emanuel Shinwell – U.K. Minister of Defense “The heroic soldiers of a heroic nation, you have saved the Eighth Army and the IX’th Army Crops from encirclement and the 2nd Division from destruction. I came here today to thank you on behalf of the United Nations Army.” – General Walton H. Walker, Commander, Eighth Army “The Turks are the hero of heroes. There is no impossibility for the Turkish Brigade.” – General Douglas MacArthur – United Nations Forces Commander in Chief “The military situation in Korea is being followed with concern by the whole American public. But in these concerned days, the heroism shown by the Turks has given hope to the American nation. It has inculeated them with courage. The American public fully appreciates the value of the services rendered by the Turkish Brigade and knows that because of them the Eighth American Army could withdraw without disarray. The American public understands that the United Nations Forces in Korea were saved from encirclement and from falling in to the hands of the communists by the heroism shown by the Turks.” – 2 December 1950, from the commentary of a US radio commentator The Turkish Brigade, as can be understood from the summary of the Kunuri battles and the echoes it produced in the world, had successfully accomplished its mission. The Brigade was proud to have informed the country of the news of success which the state and nation expected, at the highest level. A handful of soldiers had provided the state with power, great opportunities and esteem.

Casualties                         721 KIA    168 MIA    2111 WIA

Originally published in: http://www.korean-war.com/turkey.html

Photos from the website of Burcin Yildirim: http://www.pbase.com/burciny/askerler

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