“Gallipoli in the Spring of 1915”

Turkish

“Gallipoli in the Spring of 1915” is the Battle of Gallipoli diary of Dr. Behçet Sabit Erduran. After completing his medical studies, Behçet Sabit Bey began to work in Istanbul as an urology assistant. He was sent to Kırklareli during the 1912 Balkan War and to Gallipoli during World War 1. He first worked at Gallipoli Kızılay (Red Crescent) Hospital, then in Gallipoli’s Yıldız Tabya quarter and the mobile medical units located there. He wrote his diary during his stay in Gallipoli covering the period from March 12th to May 6th. Therefore, his diary includes the two important dates in the Gallipoli Battle, March 18th and the initiation of ground wars in April 25th.

While he was carrying out his medical duties during the battle, he also noted all he witnessed day-by-day. Sometimes even hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute… He did this not just to write his memories but also to leave a record for the future. Therefore, he verified his experiences with what he heard from people who witnessed the events more closely and also with formal documents. There is a Gallipoli Peninsula map that he sketched on his own. This map is included in the book.  He marked and named all the places that are mentioned in his notes, covering both sides of the peninsula. He wrote down the names of all armored cruisers belonging to Allied Powers and the battle layout of March 18th.

In his diary, Behçet Sabit Bey often described his emotions and depicted the nature. The language he uses is Ottoman, consisting of many long sentences and Arabic and Persian phrases. This is the language used by well-educated people in their correspondences and in literature, at those times. The notes that he prepared for training the corpsmen during his stay in Gallipoli hospital are different. There, he uses a much simpler language. These medical notes were actually found at the beginning of the diary but we moved them to the end.

Behçet Sabit Bey wrote the last page of his diary on the steamboat carrying the wounded soldiers to Istanbul. We learn what happens next from other sources. He continued to work as a doctor in Istanbul, at Galatasaray Sultanisi, which was reserved for wounded soldiers by the Red Crescent.

Behçet Sabit Erduran is a world-renowned doctor, who has made important contributions to the urology field in Turkey. He has always been invited to international congresses. He passed way in 1980 when he was 93. He is also the father of famous violin virtuoso, Ayla Erduran. Music was an important part of their daily life. Ayla Erduran is his only child. She is 80 and continues to give concerts.

We do not know how Behçet Sabit Bey parted from his notebook. Most probably, he lost it. We lived in Çanakkale in 1960s. My parents were both teachers, my father was a history teacher and was interested in research. One day, he came across this notebook in a second-hand bookseller and bought it with an intention to publish it in the future. The notebook was kept in his cupboard for many (40-45) years. My father could not publish the notebook himself and eventually gave it to me and told me to publish it. And I considered it as a responsibility to solve the secret of this notebook, which I was accustomed to see in my father’s cupboard since I was little. First, I researched and found who Dr. Behçet Sabit Bey was. Then the notes were converted into the Latin alphabet by experts. Then I translated the language to modern Turkish. I had to work hard to make the diary easy to understand. I applied to İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları, which has been publishing war diaries over the past 10 years. My application was approved.

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