Canakkale battle exhibition opens in Istanbul

Exhibition featuring around two thousand war and personal objects of the Turkish, British and Australian men who fought on the peninsula is opening on Tuesday.

Exhibition featuring around two thousand war and personal objects of the Turkish, British and Australian men who fought on the peninsula is opening on Tuesday.

ISTANBUL - For the last 14 years a Turkish man with a passion for history has been wandering the rugged hills and shoreline of Turkey's most battle-scarred peninsula -- Gallipoli -- in the hope of finding mementos of the men on both sides who lost their lives there. 

Over the years, Seyit Ahmet Sılay has collected thousand of war items including guns, rifles, bullet casings, hand grenades and water bottles. He has also accumulated personal belongings of Turkish, British and Australian soldiers such as rings, chains, watches, lighters, shoes, pages of the Quran, and a rare piece of a British shilling -- a unit of money in use in Britain at the time.

Two thousand of these items will form part of an exhibition of war materials and documents in Yeditepe University in Istanbul between March 18-21.

Referring to the battle of Canakkale's place in Turkish history, Sılay, who was named official collector of war materials and documents from the battle, says, "it was the struggle of a noble nation for existence in history."

The events leading up to the momentous battle started in February 1915, when Britain and France decided to launch the Dardanelles campaign to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war as quickly as possible by reaching and capturing its capital, Istanbul. The Dardanelles is the strip of water running along Canakkale province.

The victory in the Dardanelles marked a turnaround in the fortunes of the Turks. The Ottoman empire had been steadily disintigrating since the 18th century. The victory against the allied forces in the Dardanelles gave Turkey a massive moral boost that enabled it to wage a war of independence and eventually, in 1923, form a republic from the ashes of the old empire.

Apart from the materials, visitors to the exhibition will find a number of original war documents, some of which still bear the signatures of prominent commanders. Other documents include notes of historians, letters, and one thing very special: the diary of a Turkish soldier that has never before been exhibited. 

"The diary of Lieutenant Ibrahim Naci is the dearest thing in this exhibition, as diaries are the most accurate and private documents without being censored at all," says Sılay.

On the first page of the diary, Lieutenant Naci wrote that it was a battle of Canakkale diary and asked for it to be delivered to his family in the event that it was lost or "just out of respect to a martyr," Sılay told AA, emphasizing the soldier's acceptance of his own death. 

All those who are interested in the Battle of Canakkale, a major event in world history, can visit the exhibition free between March 18-21.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency