Original audio in Turkish, click here.
A blood-stained handkerchief belonging to an ANZAC soldier who died at Gallipoli in 1915, has been found after 101 years in Hacipehlivan Village, near the town of Biga, less than 100km from the battlefield.
SBS Turkish, in conjunction with the New Zealand media, have helped to uncover the story of the handkerchief that waited 101 years in a chest.
The blood-stained handkerchief has brought together the Oz family, whose great great grandfather Yusuf died in Gallipoli; and the Perry - Uren family, great great nieces and nephews of the New Zealand Anzac soldier, George Thomas Uren, on the opposite side of the world.
Darlyn Uren Perry (in English)
I would love to meet with them. I feel like the families are connected already in some way.
If they came to Gallipoli, we would meet with them at the battlefield. We would love to hug them.
That was Darlyn Perry Uren saying that she felt the families are already connected in some way.
And Nazmi Oz expressing his feelings about meeting with the NZ family.
Lets go back to the handkerchief...
The blood-stain on the handkerchief does not belong to the New Zealand soldier, but to Nazmi Oz’s great great grandfather Yusuf, who was martyred in Gallipoli. That was the reason the Oz family kept the handkerchief for 100 years.
Amateur historian, Omer Arslan, who discovered the handkerchief, tells the story.
I met with Nazmi when I was at Hacı Pehlivan Village to interview war veterans and their families. He told me he had his grandfather’s bloody handkerchief. Up until that moment he thought the handkerchief belonged to his grandfather. I asked to see the handkerchief and we realised it didn't belong to his great grandfather. It belonged to George Thomas Uren. The name was written on the handkerchief by his mother, with a date.
Nazmi Oz continues
My grandfather’s name was Yusuf, the same as my father's. My father gave this bloody handkerchief to me. It’s a memento from his father Yusuf, who was martyred in Gallipoli. My father gave it me before he died in 2014. “This is a memento from your grandfather” he said when he realised that his days were numbered. Now I am the guardian of the handkerchief.
My grandfather had a friend from Koruoba when he was in the military. When my grandfather died, Murat Ali, my grandfather’s friend cleaned his bloody face with this handkerchief and brought it to my Grandfather’s family.
Yusuf’s comrade Murat Ali’s village, Koruoba, is just 3 km away from Haci Pehlivan. The people of the two villages still have a very close relationship today.
Murat Ali was released from the military in 1916. He went back to his village. Koruoba and Hacı Pehlivan villages are very close to each other. Murat Ali and Yusuf were friends. Murat Ali went to Hacı Pehlivan village, found Yusuf’s family, broke the news that Yusuf was martyred in Gallipoli and gave the bloody handkerchief to his wife, telling her that the blood was her husband's blood. He then went back to his village, Koruoba.
So, how did Murat Ali get the Anzac soldier’s handkerchief?
Omer Aslan found Murat Ali’s descendents but nothing about handkerchief.
We couldn’t find any written or oral source that explains how the handkerchief ended up Murat Ali’s possession. It was very common to take items from the battlefield as trophies. But this is just a guess.
A likely scenario is this:
George Thomas Uren died on May 2, 1915 on the Baby 700 summit, during a night attack by Australians and Uren’s New Zealand 14th Otaga Infantry Regiment.
It's all documented.
The Otaga Regiment was the only ANZAC force to reach the summit. The War of Baby 700 went on until next morning. The ANZACs lost 600 soldiers, including 262 New Zealanders. The regiment was forced to withdraw. One of the survivors, Private Peter Thompson of the Otago Infantry Battalion wrote about that day:
“My regiment was literally cut to pieces, and although we charged several times, we were unable to gain any ground under such a terrible fire... At the first roll call in my platoon, 14 out of 50 answered.”
After a month of fighting in Gallipoli, a one-day armistice was announced to enable the burial of decomposing corpses. On May 24 2015 Turkish and ANZAC soldiers came together for the first time and offered cigarettes to each other. Many corpses were buried. According to documents the ANZAC soldiers on Baby 700 were buried by Turkish soldiers.
It is possible that Murat Ali was one of the Turkish soldiers who buried ANZACS on Baby 700 and that he picked up the handkerchief on that day to use it on his comrade Yusuf’s wounds, 2 days later.
Darlyn Perry-Uren is living on New Zealand’s South Island. George Thomas Uren was her great great uncle. She has researched him.
Darlyn Perry-Uren (in english then Turkish by talent)
He is my Great Great uncle. The first time I ever heard of him, I was about 11 or 12 and my mother was writing a family death into the family bible and while she was doing it she said “we lost one on the Dardanelles.” But I never heard of the Dardanelles. I had heard of Gallipoli. So I didn’t think much of it until I was quite bit older when I thought, hang on, the Dardanelles? That’s Gallipoli. For all Australians and New Zealanders having an Anzac is pretty awesome.
George Thomas Uren was born in Clyde, Central Otago, New Zealand. His family moved to NZ from England. His father worked at the gold mine. He was second youngest of five siblings.
Darlyn Perry-Uren (in English then Turkish by talent)
He wasn’t married. He was 27 when he went away, which I suppose in those days was quite old to not be married and not have children. But he didn’t. All his brothers and sisters were married and had children but he didn’t. So he was the only one who volunteered at the outbreak of World War One. He went away as a single man and never came back so there are no direct descendants.
He had two older sisters, an older brother and a younger brother. He was a printer with the Dunston Times which was the local newspaper in the area. He was also volunteer with the Clyde Volunteer Fire Brigade. That’s probably all we know about him at the moment. I believe he spent most of this life there.
When I heard about Thomas Uren’s handkerchief I was so excited. When I heard the blood on the handkerchief wasn’t George’s but was the Turkish soldier’s I thought it kind of represents everything we’ve ever heard about Gallipoli.
Nazmi Oz says the NZ soldier’s handkerchief is a memento from his grand father who died at Gallipoli.
We have had this handkerchief for 100 years. Murat Ali brought the handkerchief to my grandmother. She gave it to my father. We have been keeping the handkerchief for generations.
Nazmi Oz expresses his feelings about the NZ family
What can I say?... We would welcome them with love and respect. What can I say?
Would you like to meet them?
Of course. Who knows, we could meet with them one day at the Gallipoli battlefield. If they came to Gallipoli, we would meet with them at the battlefield. We would love to hug them. If they came to Gallipoli next year for Anzac Day, or whenever they want, we would go and meet with them. We would take the handkerchief with us too. That would be wonderful to meet with them.
Would Nazmi Oz consider returning the handkerchief to the NZ family?
It’s very hard to say yes to returning the handkerchief to the Uren’s family. It has our grandfather’s blood on it. It’s hard. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t want to return it, but... There should be some other ways... maybe a photo could be taken, I don’t know. It has our grandfather’s blood on it. It would be better if we keep it I think. I want to pass it on to my kids.
Darilyn is now planning to go to Turkey.
Darilyn Perry-Uren (in english then Turkish by talent)
I am considering going to Turkey very seriously at the moment. My brothers are very very excited and when I tell friends at work they say this is a very big deal. I say “I know”. This is one of those things you hear happen to other people. We are sort of still digesting it. This is happening. It’s amazing. It’s very emotional.
You have been listening to the story of the bloodstained handkerchief.
Its in NZ media today too.
There are more details in English, and pictures of the soldiers and their families, on the SBS website.