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News

Sarkis Torossian: an Armenian hero of the Dardanelles


Captain Sarkis Torossian was born in 1891 in the Armenian populated city of Everek, which is situated in the south central part of the Turkish Empire. He graduated from the local Armenian Parochial School and from his early years was imbued with the desire to become a soldier, a career strictly forbidden to Christian subjects by Ottoman Turkish laws before the constitution of 1908. Sarkis Torossian was accepted the State College in Adrianople, where he became friends with a young Arab fellow named Muharrem, son of the Brigadier General of Constantinople. Torossian was accepted through this friendship into Muharrem’s home as a close friend of the family and Muharrem’s father, powerful Pasha, secured an appointment for both boys to the Military College. During many weekend visits to the Pasha’s palace, Sarkis’ romance with Muharrem’s sister Jemileh was kindled.

Graduated in 1914 with the rank of Second Lieutenant of Artillery, Torossian was sent to Germany for three months and shortly before Turkey entered the war, he was appointed commander of Fort Ertogrul (Cape Helles), which guarded the entrance to the Dardanelles.

Torossian’s friend Muharrem was appointed as secretary to General Jevad Pasha, Commander of the fortifications of the Dardanelles.

It appeared that Captain Sarkis Torossian was the first who destroyed a British warship during the Dardanelles/Chanakkale battle in early 1915.

General Commander Jevad Pasha recommended Sarkiss Torossian to the Minister of War, extolling his loyalty, efficiency, and bravery, pointing out also that forts under Captain Torossian’s command had been the only ones successful in sinking enemy ships.

During his audience with War minister Enver pasha the latter introduced Sarkiss Torossian to high ranking German military officers Marshall Liman von Sanders and General von der Goltz as "Armenian hero of the Dardanelles". Sarkiss Torossian was asked by Enver and German advicers about the strategies around Chanakkale fighting and possibility of British success in capturing Constantinople.

In the morning of September 29th 1915 Torossian received a massage that Muharrem had been wounded during one of the heavy battles at Dardanelles and rushed to see him. Before his death Muharrem made an interesting confession about his sister Jamileh represented in Sarkis Torossian’s diary as folows:

"During the Armenian massacre of 1896 my father was commander of an army brigade stationed near Mush. Even at that time he was deeply aggrieved over Turkish excesses in dealing with their Christian subjects. One day, while passing through an Armenian village, he picked up a little girl, hardly more than two years old, whom he found wandering aimlessly about the deserted streets. No trace of her parents was found, and out of pity, or love, or sorrow my father took her home with him. Eventually she was accepted into the family. My mother, however, objected to a cross tattooed on her upper left arm and applied an acid solution to destroy the Christian emblem; it left a queer shaped scar."

During the deportation and massacre of the Armenian population started in early June 1915 the parents and sister of Torossian contrary to existing laws were deported to Deir el Zor. Previously Zeki, the kaymakam (head of district) of Everek threatened parents of Captain Torossian to deport them unless they accepted Mohammedanism and give his young sister in marriage to his cousin’s son.

Torossian tried to solicit for his family before the high ranking Turkish officials, but the latter attempted to assassinate him instead. Later from Turkish officers he was informed that Talaat Pasha planned to poison him with the help of one of his mistresses, Fahriyeh Human, and throw his body secretly into the sea.

Later Sarkiss Torossian faced with a second attempt of assassination, this time in Palestine. With lifelong fear and hatred of the Young Turks and their duplicity in massacring his parents, he seized the opportunity of deserting his Turkish command and joining the Arabs under Nuri Yousuf, under the Allied forces. For his bravery and excellent leadership in Palestine and later as Chief of Platoon, in Cavalry Headquarters, and in the Armenian Legion, under the French from Beirut to Cilicia, he was decorated by England and France. Apart from decorations from the Allies, Torossian was decorated with military awards of Ottoman Turkey and other Central Powers Germany, Austria, and Bulgaria.

In the Arabian desert Torossian found his sister, who was the only survivor from his family. However soon both his sister Baizar and Jamileh died because of diseases.

After the return of Armenians to Cilicia Torossian participated in organizing the self-defense of the local Armenians against Kemalists. When ultimately the latter captured Cilicia Sarkis Torossian decided to move to US, Philadelphia where in 1927 he published a volume of memoires in Boston titled "From Dardanelles to Palestine" Acting on five battle fronts combined with a thorough knowledge of conditions gained from actual experience has provided Captain Torossian with ample material for an intense diary.




Captain Torossian’s parents and sisters before the war



Captain Torossian in Constantinople, June, 1915



Captain Torossian on the Mesopotamian front receiving first aid treatment for hand injury in a field hospital



Certificate from Ottoman Government to Captain Torossian



Captain Torossian encounters his sister in desert near Tel-Halif



Commander Torossian when in charge of six thousand Arabian horsemen in Damascus



The geography of Captain S. Torossian military service



Captain of the Ottoman army Sarkis Torossian



Captain Sarkis Torossian’s itinerary during the First World War



Schematic Map of the Dardanelles operation drawn by Captain Sarkis Torossian’s





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Virtual Museum

International meeting

genocide
The Comparative Analysis of the 20th Century Genocides
International Association of Genocide Scholars
The twelfth meeting
8-12 July 2015, Yerevan

International Conference

genocide
The Caucasus Frontline of the First World War.
Genocide, Refugees and Humanitarian Assistance


Yerevan, April 21-22, 2014

Temporary exhibition

FIRST
FIRST WORLD WAR: allies, images, massacres
In April 21-th, 2014, the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute is organizing a temporary exhibition presenting hundreds of newly found original caricatures, postcards, posters, etc, representing a unique iconography condemning Turkey as a country that committed Genocide.

LEMKIN SCHOLARSHIP

Lemkin
AGMI ANNOUNCES 2014 LEMKIN SCHOLARSHIP FOR FOREIGN STUDENTS

Temporary exhibition

genocide
CHILDREN VICTIMS OF THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

In 2014 the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute for the first time is organizing a temporary exhibition dedicated to the tragic faith of the children victims of the Armenian Genocide.

Remember

remember
Khosrov Tatyan served in the position of a treasurer at Urfa government building from 1908 to 1915. He was killed in 1915 by the order of the Turkish government. A victim of the Armenian Genocide.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ARMENIAN GENOCIDE STUDIES  

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ARMENIAN GENOCIDE STUDIES
RA, Armenia Yerevan 0028
Tsitsernakaberd memorial complex
Tel: (374 10) 39 09 81
Fax: (374 10) 39 10 41
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