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The woman sniper of Gallipoli


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#1 Bill Woerlee

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 11:09 PM

Mates

On this site and some others, there has been a great deal of commentary on the existence of a female sniper at Gallipoli. Some how, this story teases the psyche. The iconography of the story is evident, as is the sub text. We have the woman, a symbol of the life giver and nurturer suddenly turning on this role and becoming the life taker. Men find this rather chilling since their first memory of life is in the embrace of their mother and thus the learned response for survival is to trust the mother. This translates to females per se. A couple divorces soon tosses that out from the head but the notion of the mother still remains.

So the makings of an urban myth has fertile ground upon which to grow. Let's see if we can track it down.

We can start off with the end product through the mind of a man driven insane by naval bombardment at Gallipoli. In the book by F.W. Mott, War neuroses and shell shock, (London, 1919) at pp. xv-xvi we find this story:

""I left England the 8th of March and went to Gallipoli on the 26th May, and about the middle of August one of our monitors fired short. I felt something go in my head, then I went to the Canada hospital; they said it was concussion." ... His wife says that she has letters from him, in one of which he described how he killed a Turkish woman sniper. He does not remember writing this letter, but there is evidently some retrograde amnesia."

You can read the full story at:

http://www.trauma-pa...vdhart-2000.htm

We don't know where this fellow is stationed although judging by the dates it could be at the Helles. But hang on, don't we have this story from a book compiled and edited by C.E. Crutchley, Machine Gunner 1914 - 1918, (1975) which says:

"An Australian patrol caught a Turkish woman sniper who had the identity discs of several British soldiers hanging round her neck. They shot her, and that shocked me for I thought she was a brave person doing only what many British women would have done to invaders of our land. But I kept my mouth shut for I knew that in war everyone is effected by its lunacy."

Again, the Australian role is strong in the legend. There is a photograph held by the Australian War Memorial - ID Number: G01767; Maker: James, W H; Swanston, W H - which states with hand on heart that:

"A small pine tree on the left centre on the slope of Walker's Ridge is the tree which was pointed out to the new arrivals by the older hands as the place where the lady sniper was caught in the early days of the campaign."

I have read the War Diaries of the units who were stationed at Walker's Ridge up to August 1915 and there is no mention of any female sniper being captured in any of them. Not even a hint.

Then we have the letter of Corporal Ronald Semmence from G Ward, British Red Cross Hospital, Giza, Cairo, Egypt, 22 August 1915

"I was wounded on Sunday August 15th, when our lot along with the Munsters and "Skins" took a Turkish trench and about 20 prisoners. ... The place is simply walking with snipers, and they paint themselves green. I have heard that some female snipers were captured. How true it is I don't know."

Well at least this fellow didn't claim to tackle the sniper but gave an objective comment upon the legend although by now the number of snipers is now plural so we suspect that for just about every sector on Gallipoli there is a female sniper story.

Let's track down another story, which we find in Myles Dungan, Irish Voices from the Great War, where the following extract emerges:

"Some of the best Turkish marksmen, as it turned out, were markswomen. 'Among those discovered was a peasant woman - the wife of a Turkish soldier - who lived with her old mother and her child in a little house near the Irish lines' (referring to Suvla). This particular woman was a good shot who specialised in hitting stragglers on the many trails between the front lines and the beaches. Having made sure her targets were dead she would then rifle their bodies. When she was finally identified and captured her house was searched. A large quantity of money was found, but more surprising was the discovery of a number of identity discs. Either she was proud of her work or she was getting paid a piecework rate for the job!"

Now this is a curious tale which comes closer to the mark when dealing with the origins of the story. Bear in mind that this story takes place at Suvla as does Semmence story. Dungan also states that the story is extracted from Michael McDonagh, The Irish at the Front, (1916) so we already know it is second hand and recycled.

My next posts will give a reason for this.

Cheers

Bill

#2 Bill Woerlee

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 11:12 PM

Mates

This is an article in the Times, 16 July 1915, p. 4.

For ease and clarity, I have broken it into two parts. This is part 1 of 2.

Attached File  16071915p4bb1a1.jpg   98.28KB   49 downloads

Cheers

Bill

#3 Bill Woerlee

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 11:14 PM

Mates

Part 2 of 2

Times, 16 July 1915, p. 4.

Attached File  16071915p4bb1b1.jpg   81.48KB   27 downloads

Cheers

Bill

#4 Bill Woerlee

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 11:16 PM

Mates

For those with failing eyesight, here is the transcription of the Times, 16 July 1915, p. 4 article. Commentary follows in the next post.

QUOTE
TURKISH WOMEN SNIPERS.

It was fitting that the first convoy of wounded from the Royal Navy to be admitted to a London hospital should have been fallen to the Dreadnought Hospital at Greenwich. The convoy, numbering about 60, arrived on Wednesday night and consisted entirely of men wounded in the operations at the Dardanelles. The men were drawn from several branches of the service, including the R.M.L.I. and the R.N.D. All of them had borne a share of the terrible work in the Straits or upon the peninsula, and all had stories to tell of heroic adventures and splendid deeds.

One of the most interesting personal narratives was that of a young fellow who worked on a minesweeper in the Straits, floating mines were encountered in great numbers, and as it was only just possible to see them the danger from them was great. "Observation mines" were also met with; these are in reality a continuous chain of tames under electrical control stretching from one shore to another, across the channel. Observation posts are stationed at either end of the chain and as soon as a vessel crossed the line mines are exploded. The mines cannot, for obvious reasons, be swept up.

One day the minesweeper ran ashore while under a hot fire. There was danger of complete destruction and the crew were disembarked. The sweeper was, however, refloated that night. The shelling from the forts was severe, the mast being cut away and the engine-room damaged.

In the next bed lay a young Northumbrian who had taken part in tho great landing on April 25. He cherished lively recollections of his experiences more especially during tho period, when tho attackers found themselves obstructed by submerged barbed wire. The scaling of the cliffs, too, seemed to have left a deep impression on his mind, " That was a great sight, and how we did it I don't know." This sailor witnessed the capture of a woman sharpshooter in a little white house near the shore. She was a Turkish woman, and the house was her own. She had refused to leave it: Her old mother and her child were with her when she was taken. She had persistently fired on our men from a window, aiming in particular at the officers. She must have rifled the bodies of her victims, for some 16 identification discs and a considerable sum of money were found in her possession.

Sharpshooting by women was described by several other men.

Marksmen in Green.

Some most remarkable devices seem to have been adopted by tho Turkish marksmen. Thus one man had his face painted green so that it would be indistinguishable among the leaves of the tree in which he hid. He was dressed in green clothes. Another sharpshooter, who worked from a trench, had erected a bush in front of him; his presence was betrayed by the disappearance of the bush into the trench during a period of inactivity. While night attacks were in progress, a fresh batch of sharpshooters invariably tried to pass behind our trenches and conceal themselves in trees or behind shrubs, and thus there was danger from tho rear as well as from, in front.

One patient described tho bravery of Mr. Asquith's son during the advance in which he was wounded. Some of the men had thought that Lieutenant Asquith was of too gentle a disposition for this rough work.

"But," said the patient, "they soon found out their mistake. He was as brave as a lion. He dashed out in front of his men and kept well in front, calling to them to come on and waving his arm. When he was hit he was 90 yards in front of the others. It was a fine sight to see him."

The general opinion about the Turks was that they were fine fighters until our men got to close quarters. Their good equipment was emphasised and the enormous numbers of machine-guns they possessed, and the extensive character of the fortification and trench workings.

Several men described the heavy shelling from the Asiatic shore of the Straits. One man said he saw a huge shell from this quarter fall on the beach and kill 60 horses; the next day another shell killed 16 horses. It was reported that the guns on the Asiatic side were mounted on rails and ran back when not in use into caves or tunnels.

Two of tho wounded men, had been at work with the Australians. They cherished a lively regard for these troops. "They fear absolutely nothing" one of them told me. "They would go through anything; and it they were all dead I believe their corpses would go on fighting. They are the fiercest thing God ever made, and there's nothing so sure in the world as that they will go through, the Turks before they are done with it."


Just a quick note as to why I posted the original article - this saves the tedious accusation that I either made it up or cherry picked the article for my own benefit. By placing it in toto, as over zealous as it may seem, it removes the potential for this ad hom.

Cheers

Bill

#5 Bill Woerlee

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Posted 25 April 2006 - 11:33 PM

Mates

Reading the Times, 16 July 1915, p. 4 article carefully, we see that it was a Northumbrian fellow in the R.M.L.I. who swore, hand on heart, that he witnessed this event.

Regardless of the sniper anecdote, his story is about storming W Beach, a bloody event if there was ever one. However, no where in the unit history is there mention of coming across a little white house in a charming dell populated by an old lady, her daughter and a grand child filled with dead soldiers' money and dog tags. Nor is there any mention that the residents of this house single handedly held up the storming of W Beach either on that day of 25 April or sniping on any other days.

What we do take from this story which appeared in the Times is a discovery of the origin of the Michael McDonagh story which is almost a word for word a copy of the Times story. So we know the Michael McDonagh story was plagiarised from the Times in 1916 to become part of Suvla history. This woman sniper and her white house moved up and down the peninsular according to the landing and the day.

So what is the genesis of this story?

Here are my thoughts. It was a common practice in these regions for women to pick bodies clean after a battle. It was a tradition that went back thousands of years. This action was reviled by the Australians as they wrote contemptuously about the Bedouin who stripped the bodies. The British felt the same. So here we have a tradition transcending the millennia relating to body stripping. Along comes tens of thousands of wealthy British, New Zealanders, French and Australian troops just covered in loot. For the impoverished farmers of Gallipoli this was a bonanza of looting that could not be missed. After all, someone had to compensate them for the damage done to their farms and halting their daily routines which was economically ruinous. So the bodies of these young men are picked clean, especially the ones who fell on the first day when there was no front line to speak of. Maybe a woman living in a white house outside of Krithia did pick some bodies clean. Who knows? But one thing we do know is that she was never part of the Turkish military establishment nor was she commissioned by the Turkish military to snipe. That part of the story just never happened.

At best we have a body looter taking advantage of an opportunity presented when the troops invaded Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

Cheers

Bill

#6 jim_davies

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Posted 26 April 2006 - 12:08 AM

Bill,

Interesting stuff, thanks for posting it, and your conclusions.

Jim

#7 Bill Woerlee

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Posted 27 April 2006 - 03:12 AM

Jim,

G'day mate

Thanks for your note.

Cheers

Bill

#8 Bill Woerlee

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Posted 26 May 2006 - 11:37 PM

Mates

PhilB posted this interesting pic from:

http://www.greatwar....der/galli04.jpg

The reason for it being interesting in this respect is what it shows - W Beach and the White House.

Attached File  whitehouse1aa.JPG   51.82KB   38 downloads

From this we can see the house and a nest of "female" snipers ready to pounce upon the unsuspecting Tommies. This is possibly the same house that moved up to Suvla Bay in time to tackle the Irish in August 1915.

Cheers

Bill

#9 jim_davies

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Posted 26 May 2006 - 11:59 PM

Bill,

Sure you probably already have this, but here goes:

Westlake, British Regts at Gallipoli:

1/4th Norfolks
August-"Captain Montgomerie notes that the enemy used women snipers their faces, arms, legs and rifles being painted green."

Much of Westlake is quoted from the respective war diaries, not sure whether this is true of the 1/4th Norfolks.

Jim

#10 Bill Woerlee

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 01:25 AM

Jim

G'day mate

Thanks for the quote.

I have no access to the War Diaries of British Units - only the Australian Units - but this story sounds like a rehash of another story rather than some data that actually happened to the unit.

If you read the "Times" story, the line is clear: "Thus one man had his face painted green so that it would be indistinguishable among the leaves of the tree in which he hid. He was dressed in green clothes. " No trouble believing this at all. A sniper needs to blend in with the background to make him difficult to spot. However, the comment that these were women ... well ... no evidence for this and none is offered save an anecdotal comment. See, the obvious question is: How did they know the snipers facing them were female? Did they go out and capture two - the comment is in the plural - to ascertain the veracity of the claim? But there is no record, anywhere, of two women snipers or more being captured at Gallipoli ... oh apart from the anecdotes recorded above in my earlier posts.

So we have Captain Montgomerie making a comment over something he actually has no knowledge which then strikes me as an iteration of the "story" that persisted from the days of W Beach but moved up to Suvla. The fact that it appears as an iteration in a War Diary does not give it any legs. I will believe when I see the capture record - and it would have been a big thing at Gallipoli.

Going by the other stories, there would have been a compound specially built to contain the multitude of women snipers captured let alone a specialised and sizable grave yard those that were killed outright. Yet none of this existed.

Cheers

Bill

#11 jim_davies

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 02:02 AM

Agree with you Bill, but thought an additional source might help.

If anyone had really found a woman sniper I would imagine the propaganda value would have been amazing-lots of photos of the captured individual.

Jim

#12 Bill Woerlee

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Posted 27 May 2006 - 06:23 AM

Jim

G'day mate

That's sort of what I figured when I read your post. I was just waxing lyrical in my usual - why use one word when ten will do perfectly well - style of prose. wink.gif

Cheers

Bill

#13 2ndCMR

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 06:55 PM

QUOTE
Beyond the plain a number of stunted oaks, gradually becoming more dense farther inland, formed excellent cover for the enemy's snipers, a mode of warfare at which the Turk was very adept. Officers and men were continually shot down, not only by rifle fire from advanced posts of the enemy, but by men, and even women, behind our own firing line, especially in the previous attacks. The particular kind of tree in this part, a stunted oak, lends itself to concealment, being short with dense foliage. Here the sniper would lurk, with face painted green, and so well hidden as to defy detection. Others would crouch in the dense brushwood, where anyone passing could be shot with ease. When discovered, these snipers had in their possession enough food and water for a considerable period, as well as an ample supply of ammunition."....

The 1st Battalion Essex advanced well and lost few men. The other battalions, who had delayed, suffered more severely. All we could do was to keep down the fire of the snipers by shooting into the trees. Rumour has it that some of these snipers were tied to trees, with water and food within reach. Women snipers have been caught within our lines with their faces, arms, legs, and rides painted green.



http://user.online.b...elders/sand.htm

"Unpack" that then.

#14 T8HANTS

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 07:55 PM

In all of this no body was ever produced, no photograph, no prisoner being toasted in the mess of the capturing unit. Turkish historians are adamant that their army would never employ women snipers. I have never heard of an account written in the first person, such as; I captured, I killed, I bayoneted, etc, but this myth was believed absolutely, and it is a trick of the brain that a tale repeated and "remembered" often enough will become fact, memory, in the mind of the teller.

To give an example I have a journal of a soldier that fought with distinction in Gallipoli, in it he describes in detail his landing under a hail of fire, loosing men all the way in. It is quite reminiscent of the landings from the River Clyde. In fact his battalion landed unopposed without loosing a man. His own memories and the stories he would have heard from Regimental Pals in another battalion had become quite intermingled. He is not alone in this as I had another veteran who told me a very similar story, but it was not written down. The war diary written within two days of the event says landings effected without casualties.

Gareth

#15 Bill Woerlee

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 08:02 PM

2ndCMR

G'day mate

I am not quite sure what you want me to unpack. Apart from the word "rumour", which part of the WD entry says: "We captured a female sniper."?

Cheers

Bill

#16 Bryn

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 08:52 PM

"Women snipers have been caught within our lines with their faces, arms, legs, and rides painted green."

Now it's multiple women snipers, and even their 'rides' are painted green.

With any luck some colour photos will turn up. Oh - unlikely - since no other photo of a captured woman sniper ever has, sensational though such a capture would have been.

#17 T8HANTS

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 09:01 PM

There are two possibilities which could account for the myth.

1 Women have throughout history scavenged battlefields, one may have started collecting I.D. Tags and rifles.

2 A local woman ether became deranged and decided to fight the invaders on her own, or she was very brave and had her own unofficial war.

Neither of these theories have provided a body. Habeas Corpus!

Gareth

#18 bob lembke

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 09:08 PM

Like the Phoenix, this nutty story has risen from the ashes.

In 1915 the Turkish Army had, I think, a large pool of able men eager to fight to draw upon, and hardly needed women.

Each Turkish battalion had a mullah within the command structure. The Germans said that they were very useful and influential, and occasionally with the loss of other officers took over the command of his battalion and led it effectively. It is inconceivable that the battalion Mullah would put up with such a thing. A sniper in no-man's-land would have to be known to the line battalion behind him/her, or he would get shot in the back, or otherwise compromised. The mullah would know of such a matter immediately, and have a lot more influence than an Allied "Padre".

However, here is an interesting related item. I studied the Mexican War (1845-48), and probably read 40 primary sources, memoirs, before I realized that each US infantry company was "manned" with about 98 men and two washer-women, in the field and combat. I am sure that they had other activities, and such a thing was surely considered pragmatic, but scandalous by the officers writing the memoirs, and simply was not mentioned, or rarely. Certainly maintaining the men's clothes was important to the health and even survival of the men, and other more shadowy services were probably useful, on balance, but with some downsides. At any rate, the various diaries, etc., seemed to largely maintain a silence.

But Gallipoli was quite a different kettle of fish. The story is fun, but not to be taken seriously, absent any solid evidence. The actual capture of a female sniper or recovery of her corpse would have been widely documented.

Bob Lembke

#19 Bryn

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Posted 30 January 2007 - 10:53 PM

Bill, Jim, Gareth and Bob all see through the 'story' to the absurdity and inconsistencies behind its acceptance as fact.

To me, the greatest proof against the story (apart from the fact that I don't believe that women living in a strictly Muslim society would ever have been trained in the use of firearms or camouflage tactics), is the roaring silence on the matter in almost every account of fighting at Gallipoli. Yes, it's mentioned here and there. Lots of rumours are. It's just not mentioned everywhere else, that is, in the vast majority of writing to come out of the Gallipoli campaign. Not a whisper.

To see the absurdity of some of the stuff that has been written, let's critically examine the following:

"This sailor witnessed the capture of a woman sharpshooter in a little white house near the shore. She was a Turkish woman, and the house was her own. She had refused to leave it: Her old mother and her child were with her when she was taken. She had persistently fired on our men from a window, aiming in particular at the officers. She must have rifled the bodies of her victims, for some 16 identification discs and a considerable sum of money were found in her possession."

First, 'she had refused to leave it.' So General Liman von Sanders and his entire force were not able to get this woman, who lived near the shore, to move out. Strange. They seem to have had no problem moving the rest of the civilians out of what was, after all, a militarised zone. The area had been invaded by Royal Marine demolition parties and heavily shelled by battleships prior to the landings on 25th April. When I first visited Gallipoli, in 1995, there were still areas civilians could not go. In short, it would not have been up to the woman and her mother to just decline the army's 'offer' that they should move out.

Second, she recognised and specifically targeted the officers. Maybe that's not so surprising, but what is surprising is the fact that she had been doing this long enough to kill at least 16 men, none of whose friends noticed shots coming from the window of a very prominent white house. We can safely say nobody noticed, because otherwise, how was she able to sneak out (while the battle was raging), and recover these ID tags?

I have to wonder whether she shot one man, ran outside and grabbed his ID tag, then ran inside and shot another, and so on, or whether she just waited until 16 bodies were lying around, none of whom had had their ID tags removed by their comrades, who incidentally still hadn't woken up to the fact that they were all being killed by bullets coming from that extremely prominent white house over there near the shore. This is the shore, by the way, that the invading army was on. Yet nobody was interested in checking out the little white house, or in using it as cover. Or mentioning it in accounts of the landing.

As she was aiming specifically for officers, it must be assumed that a proportion of the (at least) 16 killed were officers. Otherwise, how would these officers, who had just been wounded, or just missed being shot, not notice the white house with the bullets coming from it, or the woman rushing out and tearing ID tags from bodies? Where were all the other attacking soldiers while this woman killed, at a bare minimum, 16 of their mates?

How does the sailor relating the story "know" that this woman persistently aimed at officers? That would mean people did know she was there, firing at the officers in particular. That would imply that someone was taking an interest in what she was up to, possibly even firing back at the window she was shooting from. So how did she get out and grab 16 ID tags?

It's a ridiculous story. Anyone who just believes stuff like that at face value doesn't think.

#20 Bryn

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 04:36 AM

I'm on a bit of a roll with this one, so thought I'd mention a couple of other objections I have to the 'woman sharpshooter in the white house near the shore' story.

Was this woman - who defied the army and stayed in a house of obvious strategic importance - not concerned for the safety of her daughter and mother? It would be bad enough to remain in a house near a beach where an invasion was expected, close to where enemy soldiers had already landed and where huge high-explosive shells were being lobbed from enemy ships, but even more dismissive of her daughter's and mother's lives to then stand at the window and pick the enemy soldiers off. Did she hate the English so much that her daughter's life was of no concern to her? Was the grandmother equally as callous about her granddaughter? After all, she didn't atempt to get her out of the area once the invasiion began either. Presumably the daughter and mother were doing the reloading during the time this hard, hard woman was sharpshooting, or maybe just playing cards.

Why did the defending Turks not already have this white house occupied as an observation post, headquarters, or machine-gun position?

#21 Bill Woerlee

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 10:14 AM

Bryn

Gasp.

Your cynicism about the story is only exceeded by your depth of detail. smile.gif

Cheers

Bill

#22 2ndCMR

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 08:35 AM

QUOTE (Bryn @ Jan 30 2007, 03:53 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Bill, Jim, Gareth and Bob all see through the 'story' to the absurdity and inconsistencies behind its acceptance as fact.

To me, the greatest proof against the story (apart from the fact that I don't believe that women living in a strictly Muslim society would ever have been trained in the use of firearms or camouflage tactics), is the roaring silence on the matter in almost every account of fighting at Gallipoli. Yes, it's mentioned here and there. Lots of rumours are. It's just not mentioned everywhere else, that is, in the vast majority of writing to come out of the Gallipoli campaign. Not a whisper.

To see the absurdity of some of the stuff that has been written, let's critically examine the following:

"This sailor witnessed the capture of a woman sharpshooter in a little white house near the shore. She was a Turkish woman, and the house was her own. She had refused to leave it: Her old mother and her child were with her when she was taken. She had persistently fired on our men from a window, aiming in particular at the officers. She must have rifled the bodies of her victims, for some 16 identification discs and a considerable sum of money were found in her possession."

First, 'she had refused to leave it.' So General Liman von Sanders and his entire force were not able to get this woman, who lived near the shore, to move out. Strange. They seem to have had no problem moving the rest of the civilians out of what was, after all, a militarised zone. The area had been invaded by Royal Marine demolition parties and heavily shelled by battleships prior to the landings on 25th April. When I first visited Gallipoli, in 1995, there were still areas civilians could not go. In short, it would not have been up to the woman and her mother to just decline the army's 'offer' that they should move out.

Second, she recognised and specifically targeted the officers. Maybe that's not so surprising, but what is surprising is the fact that she had been doing this long enough to kill at least 16 men, none of whose friends noticed shots coming from the window of a very prominent white house. We can safely say nobody noticed, because otherwise, how was she able to sneak out (while the battle was raging), and recover these ID tags?

I have to wonder whether she shot one man, ran outside and grabbed his ID tag, then ran inside and shot another, and so on, or whether she just waited until 16 bodies were lying around, none of whom had had their ID tags removed by their comrades, who incidentally still hadn't woken up to the fact that they were all being killed by bullets coming from that extremely prominent white house over there near the shore. This is the shore, by the way, that the invading army was on. Yet nobody was interested in checking out the little white house, or in using it as cover. Or mentioning it in accounts of the landing.

As she was aiming specifically for officers, it must be assumed that a proportion of the (at least) 16 killed were officers. Otherwise, how would these officers, who had just been wounded, or just missed being shot, not notice the white house with the bullets coming from it, or the woman rushing out and tearing ID tags from bodies? Where were all the other attacking soldiers while this woman killed, at a bare minimum, 16 of their mates?

How does the sailor relating the story "know" that this woman persistently aimed at officers? That would mean people did know she was there, firing at the officers in particular. That would imply that someone was taking an interest in what she was up to, possibly even firing back at the window she was shooting from. So how did she get out and grab 16 ID tags?

It's a ridiculous story. Anyone who just believes stuff like that at face value doesn't think.


As someone from Hollywood said,"The difference between fact and fiction, is that fiction has to make sense."

Is it possible the woman et famille hid and evaded removal? Is it possible they snuck back later? Is it possible to fire a rifle in a battle zone and not be heard? Is it possible to shoot a straggler dead on an isolated spot and then go out after dark to rifle his body if he has fallen otherwise unobserved? Is it possible to kill for both love of country and lucre at the same time?

Of course not! Utter piffle and anyone can see that from an armchair!

#23 Moriaty

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 01:39 PM

I've just come across this topic and remembered a letter from the Memorial Book for Captain Edward Wynne Lloyd Jones of the 7th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, killed at Gallipoli on 10 August 1915.

His 20 year old younger brother Ivor, also of the 7 RWF and killed in Gaza in March 1917, was also in Gallipoli wrote to his mother from there on 16 August 1915:

"There are plenty of wells, but each one was watched by a sniper, so you risked your life each time you went for water. The snipers there are dreadful, their name is legion. Every tree seems to hold one. They are in front of the lines and behind them. Fortunately they are rotten shots, or else it would be impossible to do anything there.

They paint themselves green and wear green clothes and then hide in the leafy trees. Some of them have been caught behind the lines and they had stocks of food, ammunition and cigarettes to last them a month or two. Some are young girls and some boys of sixteen. They get short shrift anyway if they are caught by the men. It is quite sport shooting into the trees in front of the lines in search of them. Some of them are tied to the branches and wont come down however much one hits them, but occasionally they come down like rooks, wallop. They always replace them by fresh ones though. It seems that poor Dolly (his brother Edward killed 10 August) was hit by one of them from behind the lines.

They are most cowardly brutes and take no notice of the Red Cross. A men was hit by one just near Doc. Davies's dressing station, and when a Red Cross man went to tend him, he was shot as well. Doc. says that wherever he goes he is continually being popped at."

Moriaty

#24 Bill Woerlee

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 10:12 PM

Moriaty

G'day mate

Thanks for posting the transcript of your letter.

The letter itself seems to be written for the comfort of the writer's parents who have lost their son. The writer aims to give this tragedy some sort of context. As with all things, context is not necessarily history as it happened. In letters of comfort, it is a profound truth that negative impressions are omitted and an inflation of good qualities are formed through the effusive paeans that fill the page.

Let's just have a look at how accurate history can be as recorded by claims in letters. Below is a picture from the Sydney Mail of 22 September 1915, p10.

Attached File  sm22091915p10q1ba3_221.jpg   67.95KB   10 downloads

The caption reads:

QUOTE
The cables have told us a great deal about the work of Turkish snipers. This photograph shows one, ingeniously hidden in foliage, just after capture by a British patrol.


Wow! What better confirmation of the sniper story could you ever have? An actual contemporaneous photograph.

But harken to the observations.

If it was a British patrol that captured the Turkish sniper in this get up, what the heck is he doing being guarded by Australians?

Why is one of the guards wearing a fresh uniform with puttees while the other is also wearing puttees?

Well this is all answered in a letter by 1763 Pte Arthur Greenwood, 8th Battalion. He was writing from his hospital bed in Hampshire on 16 February 1916 to his family. His parents had seen a photograph of him and another person identified as 1930 Pte George Clifton, 8th Battalion, escorting a camouflaged Turkish sniper. Greenwood wrote: "That Black you see in the picture was concealed in the scrub decorated as you see him you could not see him in daytime he being exactly like a bush..." The sniper had been hiding in scrub for some time -- "He was getting a lot of our men all the time" -- before Greenwood and Clifton disabled him at dusk.

So now we know it was Greenwood who put his hand up as the man who captured the sniper in this picture rather than the British as officially claimed. So now there are two stories - 1. the sniper was captured by the British; and, 2. Greenwood and Clifton caught the same sniper.

So now we know that the snipers dressed up in foliage. It was reported in the Times and now this pic which was placed in all the newspapers throughout Australia.

But this isn't the end of the story. We have the allegation of Bean which contradicts the claim made by Greenwood and the Sydney Mail. He said the photograph was:

QUOTE
a complete fake. It was taken at Imbros. The Australians are from the Field Battery, and the Turk is a prisoner from the camp there.


Well now doesn't that put a dampener on both the Sydney Mail and Greenwood. Sort of like the difference in the stories of the same event told by Gareth in an earlier post. I have no problems accepting that it was Greenwood in the pic with his mate Clifton. The only thing that I find difficult accepting is the yarn he spun for the sake of his parents. This is one thing I have noticed in all my research. The lads were enthusiastic yarn spinners. Any claims made have to be checked against independent third party resources before being accepted as an accurate representation. In this case, we see two well groomed, well fed men guarding a Turk who is also impeccably camouflaged. The one thing that stands out is that all three are clean. There is nothing remotely Gallipoli about them. Not even the background to the pic is from Anzac. At Anzac, apart from a bare beach, there was a stockade set up for prisoners. One glimpse at the stockade and its vicinity would convince anyone that this scene is no where near that stockade or Anzac. The pic was staged for propaganda purposes and the media.

So too is the “evidence” in the various letters.

Cheers

Bill

#25 Bill Woerlee

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 10:24 PM

Moriaty

Now we come to the claims of female snipers:

QUOTE
Some are young girls and some boys of sixteen.


Here is a pic claimed by the Turks to be young people killed at Gallipoli.

Attached File  canakkalecocuklar5ch_309.jpg   20.85KB   6 downloads

Note the one thing missing from this pic. It is clear as the day is long. No girls. Not a one. There is not one Turkish photograph memorialising the deaths of any girls.

Now for this pic - although stated with hand on heart as Çanakkale'de Çoçuklar - is a fake too. Not the boys in the collage but the representation. It was produced many years after the Gallipoli campaign. The giveaway are the the caps (başlık) worn. Then never came into being until 1922 and worn by soldiers from Mustafa Kemal's Nationalist army. So these young boys, killed at the beginning of their lives, were never part of the Gallipoli campaign although their lives are presented in propaganda as having done so.

The point here is that no one was above faking photographs, not even the Turks. One thing of great propaganda value would have been illustrating the Turkish female snipers killed - an insult to the British that they were beaten by girls. And yet no such fakes were produced by the Turks despite the fact that they too were smart enough to read the story from the Times and to have seen the wire photograph in my previous post. One is left to muse over the reasons over this omission.

Of course, the obvious reason is because there were no female snipers.

However here is a pic of one young artillery NCO striking a Napoleonic pose, who served at Gallipoli.

Attached File  genc_asker_ww1aa2.jpg   15.78KB   8 downloads

This is Adil Sahin who not only survived the experience of Gallipoli but was happy to tell his tale. His photograph and story was published in the 2006 Anzac Day edition of "Vataniki".

Unsurprisingly, no young female sniper made an appearance in that edition.

I hope this clarifies the nature of the story.

Cheers

Bill



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