The Turkish Remembrance of Gallipoli

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King & Country AL68 – Turkish Machine Gunner lying prone

As we approach November 11th and the ceremonies organized to commemorate what it represents, the theme of remembrance occupies a special place in my readings.

Just the other day, I found a very interesting and informative article about the historical evolution of the Remembrance of the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey, under the pen of Mesut Uyar of the University of New South Wales in Canberra (Australia) in First War Studies.

Since the evacuation of the last Anzac troops at dawn on December 20th 1915, marking a Turkish victory, the process of memory and remembrance on the Turkish side has been all but easy. Subjected to political, religious, military and identity considerations – just to quote these examples – Turkish people incessantly advocated the development and promotion of awareness of the sacrifices of their fellow citizens during that famous campaign. And it is one of the most interesting aspects of this article. Family and friends of veterans, soldiers and officers who served and fought on the peninsula along with university students were at the vanguard of this evolution.

At the entrance of the Australian War Memorial, in Canberra, the visitors can see a whale boat that served to transport the troops on the shores of Gallipoli, in front of which the following inscription is displayed: “The Australian nation was born on the shore of Gallipoli.”

With our Western eyes and conceptions, it is often too easy to focus exclusively on the military feats of Australians, New Zealanders and other Allied troops and to ignore the gallantry of the Turkish soldiers and their commanders – the most notorious being Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – founder of the Republic of Turkey. Doing so, we forfeit the opportunity to better understand and appreciate the impact of the Gallipoli campaign in the national identity and consciousness of Turkey, a country that is not only member of NATO but also an ally in the fight against terror.

Thanks to military historians like Mesut Uyar, we can better appreciate the efforts deployed by the Turkish people to bring the valor of their ancestors on the battlefield to our attention and appreciation.

At the going of the sun, we will remember them

cenotapheThe days leading to Remembrance Day are always a privileged moment to think about the sacrifice of these men and women who, throughout the ages, have sacrificed so much for our societies and our world. Remembrance should not occur exclusively in the morning of November 11th. It should be a daily exercice. That’s why I was so happy to take a picture of this King & Country figure, FW162 “The Last Goodbye”, last night in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”

The Poilu, true hero of WWI

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FW149 Ready to Repel by King & Country

La version française de ce billet suit.

Dr. William Philpott of King’s College London – who specializes in the history of World War I, of the French army and British strategy – is one of my favorite historians.

In one of his past articles, “France’s Forgotten Victory” published in The Journal of Strategic Studies, he came to a conclusion that struck me:

It was not the independently minded and dilatory British, or the tardy and brash Americans who won the war for the Entente, but the resilient, determined French, who refused to give in in the face of invasion and national disaster.

With brio, Professor Philpott articulates convincing arguments about the fact that the French poilus are the true heroes of the First World War. Their contribution has visibly been occulted in historiography and public awareness.

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William Philpott, professeur au King’s College de Londres – qui se spécialise en histoire de la Première Guerre mondiale, de l’armée française et de la stratégie britannique – est l’un de mes historiens favoris.

Dans l’un de ses articles passés, intitulé « France’s Forgotten Victory » (la victoire oubliée des Français) dans The Journal of Strategic Studies, il en arrive à une conclusion étonnante mais révélatrice :

« Ce n’est pas le soldat britannique retardataire indépendant d’esprit, ni les Américains tardifs et impétueux qui ont remporté la guerre pour l’Entente, mais plutôt les Français déterminés et résistants, qui ont refusé d’abdiquer devant la menace d’invasion et de catastrophe nationale. »

Avec brio, le Professeur Philpott avance des arguments solides à l’effet que les poilus français sont les véritables héros de la Première Guerre mondiale. Leur contribution a visiblement été passée sous silence dans l’historiographie et l’imaginaire populaire.

Towards a closer Turkish-Israeli military collaboration?

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Israeli M60 tank

Defense News informed its readers yesterday that Turkish officials are considering the options about the upgrade of “hundreds of German-made Leopard 2 and U.S.-made M60 main battle tanks.

Of particular interest in these news is the fact that the M60’s upgrade would be realized using Israeli expertise, marking “the first Turkish-Israeli defense deal after the two former allies froze their diplomatic ties in 2010 but agreed on détente recently.” But it would not be a first, since a previous upgrade realized by Israeli Military Industries occurred in the 1990s.

Those who follow military affairs and the Middle East will also remember that, last April, a Turkish M60T tank – “[…] a version of the US-made tank upgraded by Israeli Military Industries (IMI)” – survived an anti-tank attack launched by soldiers of the Islamic State using a 9K129 Kornet ATGW.

It goes without saying that Ankara’s decision to use Israeli military expertise in its upgrading of the Armed forces is not only savvy to contribute to a better political climate in the region but also wise in terms of providing its troops with the best possible equipment.

The Resilience of the Red Army Soldier

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King & Country Red Army “Attack” set (RA073)

I’m always happy when The Journal of Slavic Military Studies releases a new issue. Since 80% of the Wehrmacht losses occurred on the Eastern Front, I’ve always thought it is primordial to be interested in that vital aspect of World War 2.

The current issue of the JSMS features a very interesting article by Valerii Nikolaevich Zamulin about the difficulties related to the supply services before the battle of Kursk.

Since the soldier of the Red Army was the one who carried the burden of fighting the Germans, it is astonishing to read about those: “[…] tens of thousands of men each day who were under the stress of moral danger were unable to receive the most basic needs – a clean uniform and a decent meal.”

We can also refer to those commanders who “[…] bullied and mistreated subordinates, who were daily shoveling dozens of cubic meters of earth, erecting defensive lines, while being half-starved, unwashed for several weeks, and drenched in sweat in winter tunics and trousers.”

Wasn’t it Napoleon who declared that: “An army marches on its stomach”? Under those circumstances, the soldiers of the Red Army had a tall order.

General Nikolai Vatutin – commander-in-chief of the Voronezh front – had to find a solution to this situation and to other challenges, like lack of transport and replacement issues, encountered by the Red Army in that sector before the battle.

Against all odds, Vatutin succeeded.

Along with his subordinates, “[…] they managed to organize the system of rear services on an acceptable level”, they “[…] expanded the infrastructure of the territory where the Voronezh Front’s armies deployed and practically from scratch managed to create a logistics system that supplied the troops with everything necessary” and they ensured that “[…] all of the rifle divisions and the artillery and tank unites were not simply replenished but essentially brought back to table strength […].”

Under heavy duress, the Red Army soldier was therefore given the tools to fight with gallantry against his enemies.

Zamulin’s article is truly fascinating and deserves to be read by any student of the Eastern Front and the Red Army.

 

 

How Foch became the Victor of 1918

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Marshal Ferdinand Foch

One of the things I love the most as a military history enthusiast is to read articles published in the British Journal of Military History.

In its last issue, the Journal featured a fascinating article about Ferdinand Foch – the unsung hero of the First World War – by Australian historian and author Elizabeth Greenhalgh.

She writes that, in 1916, on the occasion of the Battle of the Somme, “Foch learned much about alliance warfare and worked hard to build a relationship with [Field Marshal Douglas] Haig that benefited him as Generalissimo in 1918.” Without question, that year was a difficult one for the French General. He was overruled by Joffre in his choice of the sector where he would intervene, he knew he did not possess the required resources to achieve success and the Battle of Verdun reduced the role of the French army on the Somme. To cap it all, he was sacked from his command of the Northern Army in the middle of the month of December. Things could hardly get worse. But what could have been the end of the road for many was a learning curve for the future Marshal. The success of 1918 was forged in the difficult moments of 1916.

In sum, a fascinating article that you can’t miss if you’re interested in military history or World War I.

And since the whole content of the Journal is free, you have no reason to miss it.