1915 Çanakkale Savaşında Şehit Düşen Tıbbiye Sınıfı MitiFatma Özlen
Birinci Dünya Savaşında çok sayıda cephede savaşan Osmanlı İmparatorluğu’nda genç nüfus azalmış ve bütün gençler gibi üniversite öğrencileri de silahaltına alınmıştı. Cephelerde hayatını kaybeden öğrencilerin sayısı ve okullara göre dağılımları kesin olarak bilinmemektedir. Diğer taraftan, ağır kayıpların yaşandığı Çanakkale Savaşlarına gönüllü gittiği ve şehit olduğu ifade edilen lise ve üniversite öğrencilerine dair anlatılar sözel gelenekte zaman içinde mite dönüşebilmektedir. 18 ve 19 Mayıs 1915 harekâtında Çanakkale cephesinde şehit olan tıp öğrencilerine dair bir anlatıda, o sırada birinci sınıfta olan gönüllü öğrencilerin tümünün şehit olduğu ve bu nedenle Tıbbiye’nin 1921 yılında hiç mezun vermediği bildirilmektedir. 1915 yılında Çanakkale Savaşı’na katılan Darülfünun’un Tıbbiye öğrencilerini araştıran bu çalışma, İstanbul Üniversitesi, Genelkurmay Askeri Tarih ve Stratejik Etüt (ATASE) Başkanlığı, Millî Savunma Bakanlığı ve T.C. Cumhurbaşkanlığı Devlet Arşivlerinde gerçekleştirilmiştir. Çanakkale Savaşı’nda sekiz doktorun öldüğü belirlenmiş, ancak şehit olan Tıbbiye öğrencilerine dair herhangi bir kayıt bulunamamıştır. 1915 yılında Tıbbiye’nin bir yıl kapalı kaldığı, öğrencilerin ordu hizmetine alındığı için mezun vermediği saptanmış; Darülfünun Tıbbiyesi’nin askeri ve sivil bölümlerinden 1921 yılında mezun verildiği belgelenmiştir. Tıbbiye’de öğrenci mezuniyeti yapılamayan yılın 1921 değil, 1915 olduğu sonucuna varılmıştır.
Medical Students Martyred in the 1915 Gallipoli Campaign: A Myth?Fatma Özlen
The Ottoman Empire fought on many fronts in World War I, and as the young population decreased rapidly, it recruited university students as they were all young people of conscription age. The exact number of students who lost their lives on the battlefield and their distribution by school are unknown. On the other hand, the narratives of students who were known to have voluntarily joined the Gallipoli front, where heavy losses were experienced and many were martyred, can transform into myths over time in the oral tradition. A narrative covering medical students who were martyred on the Çanakkale front during the Allied attacks on May 18-19, 1915 claims that all the volunteer first-year students in the Turkish troops were martyred and that Darülfünun’s Medical School in Istanbul had no graduates in 1921. This study plans to investigate the Darülfünun’s Medical School students who participated in the Çanakkale War in 1915 and has been carried out over the archives of the following institutions: Istanbul University, General Staff Military History and Strategic Studies Department (ATASE), the Ministry of National Defense, and the Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye - Directorate of State Archives. The research establishes that eight doctors had died in the battle of Gallipoli and that no records exist of medical students lost in the battle. Due to the Medical School being closed for the year 1915, the students were conscripted, which is why no graduates appear in the faculty’s registers for this year. In fact, students did graduate in 1921 from the military and civil sections of Darülfünun’s Medical School. This research concludes that the year in which no students graduated from the Medical School was not 1921, but 1915.
Based on the study’s findings, the Tıbbiye (Darülfünun’s Medical School) in Istanbul evidently remained closed for the year in 1915, with students being enlisted for military service, resulting in no graduates during that period. Apart from the mandatory conscripts, no documentation could be found regarding students who voluntarily joined the war effort, nor any evidence contradicting this fact. The absence of school records from the investigated period appears to be the primary reason for this lack of information. Similarly, the lists of those who died in battle sheds insufficient light on the matter.
Within the framework of the available information, Tıbbiye students were indeed involved in various fronts and served in different capacities during World War I, with some of them perishing in the battlefield. Therefore, medical students were very likely among the doctors who died during the Gallipoli Campaign. Given that the Ottoman Empire was engaged on multiple fronts during this period alongside the presence of epidemic diseases, the population of Anatolia had dramatically decreased, and many volunteers from Istanbul and nearby provinces had gone to the Gallipoli front. However, the claim of an entire class being lost overnight should be noted to not align with reality. The narrative of the 1915 Medical School martyrs constitutes a specific time frame within a certain context, one focused on May 18- 19, 1915. The narrative has been embedded within this temporal framework and gained its historical reality as a tragedy. Therefore, it is challenging to isolate and define the narrative separately from this context.
Narratives of wartime events can evolve into myths within oral cultures over time and become ingrained in collective memory. One well-known example is the story of the 5th Norfolk Battalion that is said to have vanished during an attack on the Anafartalar battlefield in the later years of the Gallipoli Campaign. On August 9, 1915 following the Ottoman forces’ victory in the 1st Battle of Anafartalar under the command of Colonel Mustafa Kemal, General Hamilton was preparing an assault to capture Tekke Tepe. The 163rd Brigade, which included the 4th and 5th Norfolk Battalions, was scheduled to advance toward the hillsides the day before the attack. The area to be assaulted was defended by the 1st Battalion of the Ottoman 36th Regiment and the 3rd Battalion of the 35th Regiment. The Norfolk Battalion was ordered to move on August 12, 1915 and launched an attack toward the foothills of Tekke Tepe in Suvla. However, they suffered heavy casualties under intense machine gun fire while advancing into the forest and bushes.
In a statement dated December 11, 1915, General Hamilton dramatically announced, “Among these brave soldiers was a platoon of volunteers from the Royal Sandringham Estate. The battalion plunged into the forest and disappeared; nothing was ever seen or heard from them again, none of them returned.” The inclusion of volunteers from the royal staff drew the special attention of King George V and the press. This example sheds light on the dynamics of oral tradition and how complex historical realities can be reduced to simple, believable, and magnificent myths.
The narrative regarding the Tıbbiye students of 1915 is known to have originally been articulated by the 1922 graduates who remembered and had commemorated the students who did not return from the war in their medical school anthem for many years. Although none of the 1922 graduates are alive today, to doubt their sincerity would be unfair. When they expressed mourning for the previous year, they were more likely referring to 1915 rather than 1921, as these 1922 graduates had entered the Medical Faculty in 1916-1917, the year immediately after when students had been dispersed to the war fronts, when the school had been closed, and when no graduations had taken place. Their predecessors who never returned would always remain in their memories as their colleagues of that dreadful year of 1915.
In conclusion, while difficulty is had in obtaining definitive information about Tıbbiye students in 1915, the available evidence suggests that students had participated in the war effort and that some of them had died. However, one should also consider how narratives undergo changes over time and transform into myths. Therefore, importance is had in evaluating historical narratives objectively and in investigating their accuracy.