Friday, 27 November 2015

Harvey Broadbent, Turkish language expert and author of Gallipoli books

If you only read one book about Gallipoli this year, we suggest you make it one of Harvey Broadbent’s.  

Harvey Broadbent is a Turkish language expert, and he spent five years in Turkish military archives unearthing the Turkish side of the Gallipoli story. He was granted access to an extensive collection of previously unresearched documents, ranging from official government records to military and personal diaries and correspondence of soldiers. The result is the fullest possible, most comprehensive account of the Turkish defence yet produced, and this fills a huge gap in the history of the Gallipoli campaign.

He has produced two books about Gallipoli – 

Gallipoli, the Turkish Defence is the primary academic publication arising from his research. It is a very readable reference book for details of the Ottoman Turkish military operations and the personnel involved. It is illustrated with maps, some of them original, and archival photographs and quotations from historical documents.

Defending Gallipoli, the Turkish Story is a condensed version, designed to appeal to the general reader interested in learning about the other side of Gallipoli. It relates the Turkish story at Gallipoli in an engaging style.  Maps are included that help explain the troop movements, especially some reproduced field maps.

Assoc. Prof. Broadbent writes “As a historian, you strive to find out the truth about history. For something as important to Australia as the Gallipoli campaign has turned out to be, it is essential to find out the facts, and we’ve never had a comprehensive account.

“What we’ve known of the Turks so far has been general and superficial, from limited sources. Even the Turks haven’t transliterated most of their own documents (from the archaic language of Osmanlinca to contemporary Turkish), so we’re really breaking new ground by doing that – both for Australia and Turkey.”

Both Turkey and Australia appreciate the importance of the Gallipoli Campaign in their national identities and ideals. These books give a factual account of events not previously given in Gallipoli accounts.  They provide understanding of how the Ottoman forces at Gallipoli affected the outcomes that led to the Allies failure, and show how the Turkish commanders and their troops responded to the invasion of their homeland and were able, under great pressure, to resist, persevere and ultimately succeed. 

Reading the accounts of the Gallipoli landings from the Turkish point of view is simply astounding. The initial ANZACs were held off by so few. Mustafa Kemal, that brilliant tactician, features, as do other commanders, such as those facing the Australians at the Nek. The Turkish soldiers are humanised – no longer just ‘Johnny Turk’ – but named, and shown to be suffering as all did at Gallipoli, especially conscripts.  

Assoc. Prof. Broadbent’s work was made possible by a partnership between Australian and Turkish organisations to mark the centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign. We have all of Assoc. Prof. Broadbent’s books in the City of Ballarat collections, and they are available for you to borrow.

Defending Gallipoli  : The Turkish Story - Harvey Broadbent

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