The Life and Story of the Çanakkale Victory Hero Seyit Onbaşı

The Life and Story of the Canakkale Victory Hero Seyit Onbasi
The Life and Story of the Çanakkale Victory Hero Seyit Onbaşı

This year, the 108th anniversary of the Çanakkale Victory is celebrated. On the occasion of the 18 March Çanakkale Victory, our martyrs and heroes are commemorated together. Seyit Ali Çabuk, aka Seyit Onbaşı, who changed the course of the Dardanelles War, stands out among the most curious ones. Here is the story of the hero of the Çanakkale Victory, Seyit Onbaşı, about his life and the cannonball he lifted…

Who is Seyit Ombasi?

Seyit Ali Çabuk, better known as Seyit Onbaşı (born September 1889 – Died 1 December 1939), was a Turkish soldier who fought on the Çanakkale Front during World War I.

During the First World War, while the Rumeli Mecidiye Bastion was on duty on the Çanakkale front, he managed to place the allegedly heavy cannonballs in its fore-end and hit the British Battleship Ocean from the rudder, causing it to go out of control and crash into a mine. The narrative of this real event that Seyit Corporal lived has turned into a legendary narrative in the public imagination.

He was born in September 1889 in the village of Manastır (later Çamlık, now Koca Seyit village) in Havran district of Balıkesir. His father was Abdurrahman and his mother was Emine.

He joined the Ottoman Army in 1909. He fought in the Balkan War. With the start of World War I, he started to work as an artilleryman in the Çanakkale Front in 1914.

The Allied navy, which wanted to go to Istanbul through the Dardanelles, was on duty at the Rumeli Mecidiye Bastion on March 18, 1915, when they were bombarding the redoubt on the Anatolian and Rumelian lines. During the bombardment, a bullet fired from enemy ships hit the arsenal of Seyit Ali's battery and blew it up; Fourteen of the soldiers in the battery lost their lives and twenty-four were injured. Only Seyit Ali and his friend Niğdeli Ali escaped unharmed. Only one of the battery's balls was usable. Intense counterfire from Turkish artillery and mines previously placed by the Nusret minelayer repulsed the attack.

Admiral De Robeck, who was at the head of the Allied navy, wanted the navy to move slowly towards the strait at 17.50. During the bombardment, since the only working cannon in the bastion, the lever that lifts the bullets broke down, Seyit Ali, with the help of his friend Niğdeli Ali, loaded a bullet on his back and fired at the ship opposite him. In his third shot, he hit the ship named HMS Ocean, one of the biggest warships of the British, from the rudder gear. The ball thrown hit the bottom of the water section of the ship, causing the ship to tilt. As the ship became uncontrollable, it struck one of the mines laid by the Nusret minelayer. The battleship Ocean, known as Eskihisarlık in some sources at around 18.00 in some sources and at around 22.00 in some sources, sank across the area where the Çanakkale Martyrs' Monument is located today, and the Allied navy left Çanakkale. Seyit Ali was given the title of corporal as a reward.

Various sources have different information about the weight of the artillery shells that Seyit Onbaşı lifted that day. The artillery shell, which is reported as 276 kg in some studies, actually weighs 215 kg, but due to the weight unit difference with Germany in the Ottoman period, the weight of the 215 kg bullet was inadvertently recorded as 215 okka (approximately 276 kg). Weighing the cannonball from the war on display in the Mecidiye Bastion with a precision scale, the researchers determined that the net mass of Seyit Onbaşı was 215 kilograms. After that shot, the Commander of the Fortified Area asked Seyit Ali Corporal to take a photo with the back of the cannonball, but Seyit Ali Corporal could not lift the cannonball, no matter how hard he tried. Thereupon, a photograph could only be taken with a wooden bullet model for the Harp Magazine. The photograph was published in the second issue of Harp Magazine. In early April, 19th Division Division Commander Mustafa Kemal hosted him at his headquarters in Bigali village.

Seyit Ali, who was discharged and returned to his village in 1918, continued to work in forestry and coal mining. His first daughter, Ayşe (1911), was born to his wife Emine, with whom he married for the first time, before the war. His second daughter Fatma was born in 1922. He was called to the army again during the War of Independence and participated in the Great Offensive that started on 26 August 1922.

Seyit Ali made his second marriage to Hatice Hanım after losing his first wife Emine Hanım. He had three sons, Ramazan, Osman and Abdurrahman, from this marriage. In 1934, on his way from Balıkesir to Çanakkale, he met with President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who stayed in Havran. He took the surname of Quick with the Surname Law.

In the last years of his life, he worked as a porter in an olive oil factory for a while, and then he made a living by patching shoes. He died of pneumonia on December 1, 1939.

Seyit Önbaşı Monuments

After his death, the name of his village was changed to "Kocaseyit". The Koca Seyit Monument was built in 2006, representing all the martyrs, at the place where his grave is located. There are Koca Seyit statue, Atatürk statue, monument, museum and cannon in the Monument Area. The monument was designed by Tankut Öktem and completed by his family members Pınar Öktem Doğan and Oylum Öktem İşözen due to Öktem's death.

A bronze and salt sculpture by the sculptor Hüseyin Anka Özkan to symbolize the heroism of Seyit Ali was erected in 1996 on the border of Kilitbahir village, on the site of the Rumeli Mecidiye Bastion, which is identified with him. The statue was removed in 2006 on the grounds that it shows Seyit Ali carrying the cannonball on his lap, not on his back. It was relocated to the Mecidiye Bastion in November 2010. A 4-meter statue, which depicts Seyit Ali in military attire, wearing a skullcap called Kabalak and carrying a bullet on his back, and made with a combination of fiber epoxy polyester and tile material by sculptor Eray Okkan to be covered later, was placed in a park in Eceabat district.

Günceleme: 18/03/2023 12:53

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