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BOMBER ALİ REŞAD: CHILD SOLDIER
Ali Reşad was born in Macedonia in 1901, where his father was martyred in Kumanovo during the Balkan War. His mother and siblings were also murdered by Serbian gangs. Ali Reşad came to Thrace at the age of 12 and sought refuge with the Ottoman army, which was retreating from Rumelia. He was loved by the soldiers with whom he had travelled the long way and became their protégé. In the meantime, the Balkan Wars ended, the Ottoman Empire entered the World War, and Ali Resad travelled to Çanakkale with his unit.
The story of Ali Reşad, the volunteer grenadier of the Turkish army, was presented in the 22 August 1915 issue of the Berliner Illustrirten Zeitung under the title “The youngest non-commissioned officer in the Turkish army” by the famous German writer and poet Karl Vollmoeller, who visited the front and wrote the lyrics of the song “Lili Marleen”.
“The commander of the German machine-gun unit: – Ali, he shouted.
From the darkness behind the tent a strange, misshapen figure emerged. It was Ali. He straightened himself up and stood erect and saluted.
His narrow and bright face was shining.
– Gentlemen, this is Ali Reşat Çavuş, the youngest non-commissioned officer in the Ottoman Army…
Ali, show that you have learnt German. How does a German soldier say?
His thin-fingered hand in his rather loose and long uniform sleeve went to the helmet again. A forked child’s voice was heard:
– Sehr gut (very good)!
His commander could not stop talking about Ali’s abilities. “Ali became the hero of the assault columns. He was the first to get out of the trench, the first to cross or cut through enemy wire fences, the first to use his weapon properly.” His commander also told him that during an attack in April he had been badly wounded in both legs and in the lung by a bullet. This injury kept Ali away from the front for four weeks. When he returned to the front, he was again hit by bullets. He was wounded in his left shoulder. After a few days, he recovered and took his place in the trenches again. While the commander was telling these stories, Ali was listening to him silently and respectfully, a little embarrassed. He patted Ali’s head and said:
– “He was with us early and tirelessly again today. Isn’t that right, Ali Resat?”
Ali turned fourteen that day. He was wearing a uniform with sergeant epaulettes on his shoulders.”