Atatürk was born in 1881 in the Ottoman city of Selânik (modern-day Thessaloniki, Greece), the son of a minor official who became a timber merchant. In accordance with then-prevalent Turkish custom, he was given a single name, Mustafa. His father, Ali Rıza Efendi, was a customs officer who died when Mustafa Kemal was seven, leaving his mother Zübeyde Hanım to raise the young Mustafa.
When Atatürk was 12 years old, he went to military schools in Selânik and Manastır (present-day Bitola, Republic of Macedonia), centres of discontent towards the Ottoman administration. Mustafa studied at the military secondary school in Selânik, where the additional name Kemal (“perfection” or “maturity”, not an uncommon name) was given to him by his mathematics teacher in recognition of his academic excellence. Mustafa Kemal entered the military academy at Manastır in 1895. He graduated as a lieutenant in 1905 and was posted to Damascus under the command of the 5th Army. There he soon joined a small secret revolutionary society of reform-minded officers called Vatan ve Hürriyet (Motherland and Liberty) and became an active opponent of the Ottoman regime. In 1907, he attained the rank of captain and was posted to the 3rd Army in Manastır. During this period he joined the Committee of Union and Progress, commonly known as the Young Turks. The Young Turks seized power from the Sultan Abdul-Hamid II in 1908, and Mustafa Kemal became a senior military figure.
In 1910, Atatürk took part in the Picardie army maneuvers in France, and in 1911, served at the Ministry of War in Istanbul. Later in 1911, he was posted to the province of Trablusgarp (the present Libya) to fight against the Italian invasion. Following the successful defense of Tobruk on December 22, 1911, he was appointed the commander of Derne on March 6, 1912.
He returned to Istanbul following the outbreak of the Balkan Wars in October 1912. During the First Balkan War, he fought against the Bulgarian army at Gallipoli and Bolayır on the coast of Thrace, and played a crucial role in the recapture of Edirne and Didymoteicho during the Second Balkan War. In 1913, he was appointed military attaché to Sofia, partly to remove him from the capital and its political intrigues, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1914.
In 1914, the German Marshal Otto Liman von Sanders was assigned by the defence of the Dardanelles in command of the 5th Army. Mustafa Kemal was then promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and given the task of organizing and commanding the 19th Division attached to 5th Army. With his division stationed in Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal found himself at the centre of the Allies’ attempt to force their way onto the peninsula.
On 8 January 1915, the British War Council launched an operation “to bombard and take the Gallipoli peninsula with Istanbul as its objective”. Between 19-25 February, during an initial British scouting, a sergeant named “Mehmet” rushed a British sailor with a rock when his rifle jammed. Mustafa Kemal publicized this incident to improve the morale of his soldiers and gave birth to the term “Mehmetçik”, which is used today as a nickname for Turkish soldiers.
Mustafa Kemal, by holding off the allied forces at Chunuk Bair, earned the rank of Colonel during these first stages of landings. The second stage of the Gallipoli campaign, which was opened on August 6, put Mustafa Kemal only three hundred meters (0.18 miles) away from the firing line. He was the commander at many major battles like Battle of Chunuk Bair, Battle of Scimitar Hill, Battle of Sari Bair, and during the Landing at Anzac Cove. On 25 April 1915 (Anzac Cove), he met the enemy in the hills, held them, and retook the high ground. Largely owing to him and his command the Australian and New Zealand forces were contained, and the landing force failed to reach its objectives. Mustafa Kemal told his troopsThe evacuation was the greatest Allied success; on the Ottoman Empire side Halil Sami (9th division) at Cape Helles, Esat Bülkat (III Corps), Yakup Şevki Subaşı (XV Corps), Otto Liman von Sanders (5th Army) and Enver Pasha (Minister of War) had significant achievements based on their role toward the defense of straits. However, Mustafa Kemal became the outstanding front-line commander and gained much respect from his former enemies for his chivalry in victory. The Mustafa Kemal Atatürk Memorial has an honoured place on ANZAC Parade in Canberra, Australia. Mustafa Kemal’s commemorating speech on the loss of thousands of Turkish and Anzac soldiers in Gallipoli stays at Anzac Cove.
Turkish Forum, Amerika Birleşik Devletleri’nde yaşayan Türklerin, Türk asıllı Amerikalıların ve Amerikalı Türk dostlarının 1993 yılında temelini attığı ve şu anda dünyanın beş kıtasına dağılmış, birçok ülkede yerel çalışma grupları ile örgütlenmiş yaklaşık 300.000 kişiye ulaşan üye sayısıyla gönüllü çalışan bağımsız bir sivil toplum örgütüdür.
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