After the Ottoman Empire entered the Great War new fronts were opened, and the war was prolonged. The Ottoman entry into the war also closed the Dardanelles straits to the Allied ships. The allies planned an offensive to open the straits as this would both eliminate Ottoman Empire by taking their capital city Istanbul and aid Russia, allowing a better flow of supplies.
At the age of twenty Seyit Ali enlisted into the Ottoman army and fought in the Balkan Wars. After the war he was not discharged but assigned to the Dardanelles straits as a gunner of the famous artillery battery in Mecidiye Forts located in the European side of Dardanelles. Their mission was to stand guard over the waterway. Their 240mm Krupp guns were old but there was no time or resources to replace obsolete weapons.
Later that month on the 18th, a combined force of British and French ships approached the strait. At 1100 the first line of British ships began to bombard the fort, including the one where Seyit Ali was stationed. With the forts under heavy fire the French contingent of four ships was ordered forward, to pass through the British lines. Although the French ships took some severe hits their point blank fire combined with the British pounding destroyed every gun but one in Seyit Ali’s battery and disabled nearly all of the crew.
|British battleship firing on the Turkish positions.|
He prayed to God and tried lifting the artillery round. Unbelievably he managed to lift the round and carry it to the gun, his bones were creaking but he didn't give up until he loaded the gun. Now it was time to shoot back. He aimed at one of the ships in front of him, HMS Ocean which was a Pre-dreadnought battle ship.
The first shot missed but Seyit Ali was determined and he loaded another heavy artillery round into the gun again and fired the second shell. It landed closer to the dreadnought but still didn't do any damage. He lifted one last round and loaded the gun, and fired again.
At around this time the British began to withdraw. Earlier when the French contingent had withdrawn one of their ships had been blown to pieces by one of the mines. In the confusion the British had thought the ships magazine had been hit. Thinking their route clear the British followed the same line of retreat. First one, then a second battleship struck a mine. The first ship sunk immediately, the second began to drift. HMS Ocean was dispatched to assist with recovery of the second ship. After being unable to help and taking off the last of the drifting battleships crew, HMS Ocean suffered the same fate of striking a mine. She too began to drift; damaged beyond repair and with incoming fire she was abandoned and both ships later sank.
|The French battleship Bouvet withdrawing, moments before hitting the mine|
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