• Darilyn Uren-Perry and her NZ family reunite with their great granduncles handkerchief & its Turkish caretaker Nazmi Öz a century after it was lost at Gallipoli (SBS Turkish)
An Anzac soldier’s family travels to Turkey to reunite with his bloodied handkerchief, lost in the battlefield over a century ago and found in a tiny Turkish village, where another family has played caretaker to it all this time.
Ismail Kayhan

26 Apr 2017 - 9:37 AM  UPDATED 27 Apr 2017 - 5:02 PM

When Darilyn Uren-Perry, from the South Island of New Zealand, learned that a handkerchief belonging to her great, great-uncle, digger Thomas Uren, had been found in Gallipoli, she decided immediately she had to go to Turkey to see it.

Speaking from Anzac Cove on Anzac Day Darilyn Uren-Perry told SBS Turkish that, "We always knew that George was killed here on the peninsula. But now it makes it even more relevant."

"When I saw his name at the Lone Pine I was overcome with emotion. When I saw the handkerchief first time I cried. Its been a lot of tears. But tears of joy."

When SBS Turkish first contacted her in November last year to tell her of her link to the the Öz family in Turkey, who's had her great-grat uncle's handkerchief in their posession for generations, she was disbelieving. "This is the kind of thing that happens to other people!" she said.

So, come 2017, the Perry family set off for Turkey on 11 April 2017 from their home in Invercargill. They traveled first to Greece then to Bodrum on Turkey’s Aegean coast and drove to Çanakkale.

On a ferry to Gallipoli Peninsula from Çanakkale, Darilyn told SBS Turkish that she was feeling "Super excited - but nervous too."

It's been a long journey, but it certainly doesn’t happen every day that a handkerchief belonging to your ancestor is found in a tiny Turkish village less than 100 km away from the epic battlefield of Gallipoli where he died nearly 102 years ago.

Corporal George Thomas Uren was killed on the 2nd of May 1915 on the hill known as 'Baby 700'. He had with him a handkerchief embroidered with name which was an 28th birthday gift from his mother. Last year it was discovered in the quiet Turkish village of Haci Pehlivan.

How did the bloody handkerchief surface? Full story here
A century on: Anzac soldier’s handkerchief located in tiny Turkish village
A handkerchief belonging to an Anzac soldier who died at Gallipoli, has lain for 101 years, unbeknownst to his family, less than 100km from the battlefield.

Now, George’s great grand-niece, Darilyn Uren-Perry, has travelled to Turkey, with her husband Michael and son Stephen, especially for Anzac day, to meet the family who have treasured the handkerchief since the battle ended. They have now been talking, with the aid of interpreters, for several months to plan the meeting.

"I have found family here. It's not about blood relatives it's about what makes family."

Darilyn and her family met with the Öz family, who, in spite of living close by, only attended the Anzac Cove commemoration for the first time in 2017.

"It just feels real now," Darilyn said at the commemoration. "For all New Zealanders, Anzac Day is incredibly important."  

Nazmi Öz, the current custodian of the hanky said, "I feel emotional. I don't know how to put it.

"I am so happy. Happy and sad at the same time, really. We keep this (handkerchief) with respect and love. We extend our respect to everybody."

Darilyn and her family also traveled to Koruoba, the neighbouring village to the Öz familys’ Hacipehlivan village, to meet with the descendants of the Turkish soldier, Murat Ali, who first acquired the handkerchief he then used to stem the blood from the wound of his friend and compatriot in battle, Yusuf Öz. 

As to how either men came ever into possession of the New Zealand man's hanky, the Turkish historian who uncovered the link, Ömer Arslan, explains, “Uren’s handkerchief was most likely taken from him as a war trophy, which was common then.”

"Its home now is Turkey, but we are just grateful for them looking after it."

Together, the families of Öz and Uren visited the graveyard of Yusuf Öz' close friend and fellow soldier Murat Ali in the village. At the cemetery, Murat Ali's grandson, İsmail Hakkı Efe, joined them too. 

Speaking from Kuruoba, Darilyn said, "Today I touched the handkerchief first time."

"I just cried - I couldn't believe what I was feeling."

"I thought how my great-great-grandmother would have been sitting and making that handkerchief for her son who she ended up losing, and wandering how she would be feeling knowing these families were coming together today."

"Turkey and New Zealand are friends, partly because what happened over there," Darilyn added.

Nazmi Öz echoed that sentiment, saying that a "very warm connection developed between us and them (Darilyn's NZ family). It's like becoming close relatives."

"We both were joyful and sad at the same time. We both cried, but at the and we were happy."

"They congratulated us for taking care of the handkerchief for 102 years."

As to whether the handkerchief would be returning with the Uren-Perry family to New Zealand, Darilyn said that was never the objective of the visit. 

"I've discussed handkerchiefs' return to New Zealand with other family members," Darilyn explains. "And we understood that the Öz family's perspective that it was their grandfather's blood on it -  and blood is so important."

"So it was discussed but at no point do we ever think that was coming home.

"Well, its home now is Turkey, it's going to be New Zealand if they want to hand it over, but we are just grateful for them looking after it."  

"Our friendship started with this handkerchief with Darilyn and her family and will continue with God’s permission."

Nazmi Öz said "They don’t want to have the handkerchief. They just want to see it. 'We came here to see it, not to have it."  

"They don’t have their eye on it. They congratulated us for taking care of the handkerchief for 102 years."

Together both the Turkish and New Zealand family have gained something they say is more valuable than an heirloom out of the experience, "We became friends," says Öz.

"Our friendship started with this handkerchief with Darilyn and her family and will continue with God’s permission."

"Generation after generation it will continue. Our children visit them. They will visit us. Our friendship will go on. We feel close to each other."

Darilyn agreed, "I have found family here. It's not about blood relatives it's about what makes family."

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