HuSEYIN TOPAL AgA AND MAHMUT cULLOgULLARI
Hüseyin Topal Ağa, is my great grandfather on my mother’s side. His family were from Büyükkarapınar, a small village in the Taurus Mountains, in the state now known as Karaman in south-west Turkey. Hüseyin’s father was the village chief, or “aga”. Although poor, he was relatively wealthy compared to the other villagers. He would have had slightly better access to resources, like good boots. He went to war as an enlisted man.
Military records for soldiers from our area are incomplete, and often their deaths were recorded only if they died in active engagement with the enemy – that is, died being shot, bombed, or by bayonet etc. A third of all the Turkish deaths were due to disease – mostly dysentery and wound infection – and this is most likely how Hüseyin met his fate. He would therefore have been buried in an unmarked mass grave. I had no chance of finding him when I went to the Peninsular this year.
Mahmut Çulloğullari, a distant cousin by marriage into my mother’s family, also served at Gallipoli. Again, there is little known about Mahmut – he was a farm worker, an enlisted man. He was killed in action.
Remarkably, considering history and geography, I now have another Gallipoli veteran in my family – Major Ivan Brucker Sherbon, my Australian wife’s great uncle. The thought that these three men shared this terrible experience is both chilling and moving.
JOHN ALEXANDER HUTCHISON
Private John Alexander Hutchison (Service # 858) of the 2nd Battalion, landed in Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Jack was wounded in action twice in Gallipoli, on the second occasion a bullet passed through his left elbow joint. After recuperating in Egypt, he, along with many other 2nd Battalion Gallipoli veterans, joined the newly raised 54th Battalion.
William, who landed in Gallipoli with the 3rd Battalion, was killed in Shrapnel Valley in early July.
By July 1916 the 54th Battalion, as part of the 5th Division, made Australia’s debut on the western front launching a disastrous diversionary attack at Fromelles. Jack was promoted to Sergeant in September 1916; he was badly wounded in October, then again the following April. After being wounded a total of four times, Jack returned to Australia in late 1818; was awarded the Military Medal for ‘bravery in the field’ and discharged as ‘medically unfit’.
Jack returned to his job at the PMG; married Amey in 1928 and continued to live in Daniel St Granville for almost all his remaining years. He died in 1984 at the age of 90.
After leaving school Will, as he was known, became a farmer working on his family’s farm in West Wyalong NSW. In 1910 the Hutchison family moved to Daniel St, Granville. William trained with the senior cadets and the citizen forces before enlisting with his older brother John in October 1914.
Private W. Hutchison (Service No. 2127) of the 3rd Battalion, aged 19, was killed on July 10,1915; the only casualty of a mine exploding near the Australian frontline on what was otherwise ‘a quiet day’. He was buried in Shrapnel Gully, 366 metres south east of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.
On March 25,1916 his mother, Agnes received a package containing his pipe; tobacco pouch; an arm belt and a small purse containing coins.
- Humphreys. C. 2015, Granville Roll of Honour: soldiers from Granville who died in World War 1, unpublished manuscript, Granville Historical Society, NSW
MUHiTTiN NAMi KANDEMiR
During his time in the Military Academy (Ordu Evi) where he was studying and later graduated as a chemical engineer, he was nick named ‘Toz Konmaz Muhittin’ or in English, ‘Dustless Muhittin’ for his impeccable cleanliness and tidiness and in particular for his command issue, knee-high, shiny and constantly polished boots.
In the heat of the Gallipoli battle, whilst responding in kind to a barrage of cannons, missiles and bullets, a massive rocket exploded next to him and his men, killing and injuring many. After three days, medics and other soldiers surveying and collecting the injured and the dead, noticed, sticking out of the debris, what they thought was a blown off leg still in its shiny boot. There could be no doubt that this was the boot known to many – the boot of Toz Konmaz Muhittin.
Very upset at the thought of him being killed and his leg blown off, the soldiers started to dig the leg out – to their shock, they found that not only was his body still attached to his leg but – after being buried head first in dirt, rubble and bodies for three days – he was alive!
After the Çanakkale Gallipoli battles Muhittin continued fighting, serving on several fronts and in the following struggle for independence. He spent three years receiving treatment in hospital for shell shock, was discharged and awarded two of the highest calibre bravery medals: Çanakkale, Gelibolu Savaşı Nişanı (Madalyası) (Gallipoli Bravery Medal) & Kurtuluş (İstiklâl) Savaşı Cumhuriyet Nişanı (Madalyası) (Republic of Türkiye Bravery Medal)
Muhittin lived a successful and happy family life. He married my grandmother, Ayşe İhsan and had two sons. The eldest son Nurettin Yılmaz Kandemir (my uncle), was born in 1933 and died in 1976. Nurettin had three sons: Cemil Cahit Kandemir: Tahsin Kandemir and Can Refik Kandemir. Muhittin and Ayşe’s youngest son, Hüseyin Yalçın Boğaçhan Kandemir (my father), was born 1936 and died in 2005. Hüseyin had five sons: Ali Galip Ufuk Kandemir; Ertuğrul Mehmet Kandemir; Kaan Boğaçhan Kandemir; Timur Nami Kandemir; Gökhan Demir Kandemir.
Sadly passing in 1972, we remember Muhittin and his two sons with honour and pride. His descendants, many Australian born, include great grandsons and great granddaughters and many more great, great grandsons and great, great granddaughters.
May God rest his soul and those of his sons.
MUSA KAZIM KOCABAg
Musa was born in 1894 in Istanbul, an only child. He came from an educated family. Musa was handsome and strong, both he and his father were involved in Turkish wrestling. On joining the army in his early twenties he was made a member of the 19th Brigade Commander, Colonel Mustafa Kemal’s personal guard.
It is not well known, but my great grandfather is a very important Turkish soldier. My family recalls that at Gallipoli, during a missile attack on the 19th Brigade, Musa leapt in front of his Colonel, saving his life. The 19th Brigade held its’ position at Gallipoli till the Allies retreated and Kemal lived on to become the first President of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. He was later awarded the title Ataturk, ‘Father of the Turks’.
Though Ataturk was saved, Musa was badly wounded. He was made blind in one eye and was not able to serve again. He was devastated and, according to my great grandmother, who referred to him as ‘her lion’, this disappointment contributed to his early death.
Musa had five daughters and two sons. His descendants are very proud of him and very moved that far away in a different culture, Musa Kazım Kocabağ is being honoured in this way…I feel so proud of the Australian people, too.
John Newhouse, whose real name was Ubbe Shetsberg, was born in Hanover, Germany. He arrived as a seaman in Australia around 1879, married in 1889 and was naturalized an Australian in 1910. At the outbreak of WW1 Ubbe (John) received a letter from Germany telling him that his brother David’s sons had been drafted into the German Army and his niece was working in a tear gas factory. Anti German feelings were running high: Ubbe (John) was sacked from his job as a night watchman and advised by the police that he was to be interred as an Alien irrespective of him being naturalized. Two weeks after George enlisted, Ubbe’s (John’s) health was under considerable strain: waiting for internment, with Elizabeth sick in hospital and distressed at the thought of his son fighting his nephews, he died during an epileptic fit.
Private George Newhouse (Service # 1415), 4th Battalion, C Company landed under fire at ANZAC Cove on April 25,1915. Harry, also a member of the 4th Battalion, landed the following day. George was killed a few days later at Johnson’s Jolly. His body was never recovered. His name is inscribed on the Lone Pine Memorial at Gallipoli.
George’s name, incorrectly transcribed as ‘C. Newhouse’, is recorded on the stained glass memorial windows in St Marks Church, Granville. My mother, born in 1916, was given the middle name, Dardanelles, in memory of George’s resting place.
- Humphreys. C. 2015, Granville Roll of Honour: soldiers from Granville who died in World War 1, unpublished manuscript, Granville Historical Society, NSW
Private Harry Newhouse (Service #1453), 4th Battalion, was dug in on Shrapnel Valley when a Turkish bullet hit his food tin, ricocheting into his forehead. After contracting pneumonia he was evacuated to a military hospital in Alexandria. He was on his way back to Gallipoli in October when he was struck down with malaria – he was sent back to Australia and discharged. Harry returned to work on the railways, married and had two children, Nola and (Young) George. Harry lived till he was 101 years old. In 1990 he visited his brother’s memorial at Lone Pine and in 1995 led Gosford’s Anzac Day March.
Harry’s thoughts were recorded in 1996 in preparation for the book The last ANZACS: Gallipoli 1915: “They think we became a nation, but they killed half the nation…not only did my brother get killed and a lot of our men, but there were 86,000 Turks killed. The Turks never did anything to us and we never did anything to the Turks. We did not think we were going to fight them, poor buggers. We were going to fight the Germans. I’m only here because I could sidestep better than George. What was it for? I don’t know. It should never have been…but you have to take your hat off to the Turks.”
- The last ANZACS: Gallipoli 1915; author: Tony Stephens; publ.: Allen & Kemsley, Mosman NSW;1996
ERNEST FITZROY ROWLEY
Private E.R. Rowley (Service No. 843) of the 4th Battalion died on 30th April and was buried on a hill overlooking the landing place at Anzac Cove. Military Order No. 570 stated he had ‘performed [an act] of conspicuous gallantry or valuable service.’ The following article appeared in popular Parramatta newspaper, The Cumberland Argus & Fruitgrowers Advocate, on Saturday 12 June 1915:
‘On Sunday morning a memorial service was held at S. Mark’s, Granville, in commemoration of the late Ernest Fitzroy Rowley. The choral portion of the service was well rendered under the able guidance of the choirmaster, Mr. C. Gibb. The special anthem, “What are these arrayed in white robes?” was feelingly sung… Rev. A.E. Ross paid an eloquent testimony to the memory of Private Rowley; to the good accomplished by him at St. Mark’s as Sunday School teacher, choirmaster and devout worshipper, and whose work stood as a sure foundation of much that had since been accomplished, and which called for much thankfulness.
Feeling reference was made to the time — not long since— when the young hero led from that sacred building his happy bride, and whose mortal remains he few weeks later; and although there would be no home-coming for him here, yet those who mourned for him would find consolation in the thought of that happy reunion which awaited him beyond the grave. At the conclusion, the organist, Miss Enid Miliott played the “Dead March” from Saul,” whilst the congregation remained standing as a mark of respect.’
Ernest’s name and that of his younger brother Richard, killed in France in 1917, are recorded on the stained glass memorial windows in St Marks Church, Granville.
- Humphreys. C. 2015, Granville Roll of Honour: soldiers from Granville who died in world war 1, unpublished manuscript, Granville Historical Society, New South Wales
- Cumberland Argus & Fruitgrowers Advocate, Sat 12 June 1915, p.12
His son, my grandfather, Ahmet Bozdas, also fought in WW1. Father and son were lucky to enjoy a ten-day break together in Istanbul just before the war started. This was the last time my grandfather saw his father.
My grandfather was a reserved person who never glorified the war. I have vivid memories of him describing the emotional and physical traumas the soldiers faced – the lack of food and water, no shoes, no sleep and the constant fear of being killed. He used to frequently mention one particular attack, where only 30 out of 2,000 soldiers survived. He was one of those thirty – along with his commander ‐ Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Although memories of wars can be forgotten as time passes, the courage and sacrifice of young soldiers who fought honourably for their beliefs should be remembered. Regardless of the human cost and the futility of war, I acknowledge and celebrate the special friendship that has developed between the Australian and Turkish people due to the Gallipoli Campaign.
I was elected President of the Turkish RSL Sub‐Branch in 2009. And in this capacity I organised the Turkish Sub-Branch’s participation in the 2009 and 2010 ANZAC Day marches in Sydney. I marched wearing my grandfather’s war veteran’s medals.
IVAN BRUNKER SHERBON
In August 1914, shortly after the British declared war on Germany, Ivan was appointed 2nd Lieutenant to H Company, 1st (Tropical) Battalion, a small volunteer force sent to seize and destroy German wireless stations in New Guinea. Early in 1915 he was promoted to Lieutenant. The Tropical Unit returned to Sydney and many of its soldiers, including Ivan, joined the 19th Battalion 5th Brigade, 2nd Division, Australian Imperial Force. Ivan was promoted to Captain and left for training in Egypt.
In August his battalion landed at ANZAC Cove and participated in the last action of the August Offensive – ‘the attack on Hill 60’ – before settling into defensive action in the trenches, defending Pope’s Hill until the ANZAC withdrawal on the night of 19 December.
After further training in Egypt, the 19th Battalion proceeded to France in
March 1916 and took part in its first major offensive around Pozieres between late July and the end of August 1916.
Captain Ivan Brunker Sherbon was twice recommended for a Military Cross for actions in the field in France and was made Temporary Major in August. After a spell in a quieter sector of the front in Belgium, the entire 2nd Division, which included the 5th Brigade, came south again in October. The 19th Battalion attacked near Flers mid November, in conditions that Charles Bean described as the worst ever encountered by the AIF. Ivan was shot while moving his company into line on 14 November 1916. He was posthumously awarded the Military Cross in Jan 1917 and his rank acknowledged as Major.
Two of my husband’s Turkish relatives also fought at Gallipoli – his great grandfather, Huseyin Topal Aga and distant cousin, Mahmut Çulloğullari. They both died there.
At the outset of WW1 he was sent to Gallipoli, now a Corporal. In August 1915, a few months after the Allied ships started bombarding the coast he sustained shrapnel wounds to his leg, chest and arm. He spent seven weeks recovering in the Selimiye Barracks hospital in Istanbul and was then sent to fight in Palestine. At the end of the war, in 1919 he was married and went to fight against the Greek occupying forces in Izmir.
After the creation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 my father served Mustapha Kemal Attaturk as a close aid, tactician and intelligence officer. During his retirement, every Wednesday, a car would pick him up and take him to military headquarters where he would translate military history from Arabic into Turkish.
He passed away in November 1977 at the age of ninety. He was a brave and good man. He advised, “be honest; love your country; love people”.
I am a long time member of Auburn RSL,Turkish sub branch.
SEYiT CAFER UcKAN
At the Polatlı army base his duties were to attend to the soldiers bought there from the front line by providing first aid. While at the same time he was required to be ready for deployment to Çanakkale when required.
One of the stories my grandfather told was about a soldier he tended to at the base. This soldier, recalling a lack of water at the front, told him they were forced to drink water from wells created in the ground by the hoofs of horses.
When the war ended, all men who served at the Polatlı military base were given medals to commemorate their service during WW1 and the following Turkish Independence war.
After the war Seyit worked as a self-employed green grocer up until his retirement. He had six sons, my father being the eldest. His sons took over the business when he retired, eventually becoming wholesalers.
Seyit passed away in İsmetpaşa, Ankara at the age of 79. As I am the eldest son, of the eldest son of my grandfather, I now hold this Medal of Independence of the Turkish Republic with great honour in memory of my grandfather. This medal will be passed onto my eldest son.
FREDERICK ARTHUR WILLIAMS
He sailed for Egypt in October with the 1st Brigade Australian Field Artillery where he was wounded in the left leg. In July he was sent to the Convalescent Camp in Alexandria. On his recovery he was sent to Gallipoli.
An entry in the Brigade’s official WW1 diary for 4 December 2015, notes that Gunner Frederick Williams (Service #342) aged 24, died in action at 16:10pm when Gun Battery 3’s position in Shrapnel Valley at Lone Pine was fired upon.
He was buried in Shrapnel Valley Cemetery.
Fred’s name is recorded on the stained glass memorial windows at St Marks Church, Granville.
- Humphreys. C. 2015, Granville Roll of Honour: soldiers from Granville who died in World War 1, unpubl. manuscript, Granville Historical Society, NSW
- AWM: ROH Circular, First World War Diaries, 1 Brigade Australian Field Artillery, December 1915
- Cumberland Argus, 18 December 1915, p. 4