Mustapha Kemal's reputation was first established during the rise of the Young Turks in the Ottoman Empire, in 1908-1909. At the outbreak of the Great War, Kemal was serving as Military Attache in Bulgaria. He urged neutrality, in order to give the Turkish military time to recuperate from the Balkan Wars, but his arguments went unheeded by Turkey's military leadership.
Destiny found Kemal in 1915. Fear of an attempt to force the Dardanelles prompted the formation the 5th army, under Liman Von Sanders, to defend the Gallipoli peninsula. Here Mustapha Kemal was given command of the 19th division. He had two months to prepare his troops before the Allied invasion began.
On the morning of the invasion, Kemal - acting beyond his authority - moved his troops to Chunuk Bair crest, overlooking the ANZAC beach head. His bold move proved to be the key to defending the entire peninsula, and made Mustapha Kemal the most celebrated hero of the Turkish Army.
After the British evacuation of Gallipoli, Kemal served in the Caucasus in 1916 and 1917, until the Russian Revolution. Ordered south to Palestine, Kemal found himself continually butting heads with the high command, led by Field Marshall Von Falkenhayn. Kemal was sent on leave to Istanbul, during which time General Allenby broke through out of the Sinai and advanced to Jerusalem.
In 1918, after almost a year's standoff, Allenby was prepared for a renewed offensive. Kemal was given command of the 7th army at the center of the front in the Jordan valley, where the Turks expected the brunt of the British attack. They were taken off guard when the British swept around the coastal portion of the front and encircled them. Kemal and what was left of his army narrowly escaped across the Jordan river. Returning to headquarters, he found the Turkish forces in disarray, Palestine lost, and the British rapidly advancing.
Once again he exceeded his authority by ordering all remaining troops to Alleppo, 120 miles north. Although the city soon came under attack, Kemal was able to dig in on the heights above Alleppo, the natural frontier of the Turkish mainland. There they were able to make a stand against Allenby's forces until the armistice.
The post-war Turkish Government soon became a puppet of the Allies. Kemal organized a nationalist party and army in the East, declared the Istanbul government invalid, and forced the invading Greeks from Anatolia (1921-1922). After reaching a peace agreement with Greece in 1923, the Republic of Turkey was established, the Sultan was exiled, and Kemal became the first president of modern Turkey, bringing about Western reforms and earning him the name "Ataturk," or "father of the Turks."
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