Mustafa Ertuğrul Aker

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Mustafa Ertuğrul Aker
Mustafa Ertugrul.jpg
Yüzbaşı Mustafa Ertuğrul (Aker) in 1927
Born 1892, Hanya, Crete, Ottoman Empire
Died 1961, Antalya, Turkey
Allegiance Ottoman Empire, Turkey
Rank Artillery captain
Battles/wars World War I
Turkish War of Independence
Awards Medal of Independence, Iron Cross
Other work Wrote his memoirs of war

Mustafa Ertuğrul (full name after the 1934 Law on Family Names in Turkey; Mustafa Ertuğrul Aker) was an officer of the Ottoman Army during World War I and of the Turkish Army in the early stages of the Turkish War of Independence (he was wounded near Aydın in 1919), who had accomplished a number of brilliant military feats, the most notable being the sinking of the British seaplane tender HMS Ben-my-Chree with shore artillery fire. During the same campaign along the coasts of southwestern Turkey, he also sank the French auxiliary aviso Paris II, the converted naval trawler Alexandra[1] and a number of other Allied vessels during 1917.

Mustafa Ertuğrul was born in 1893 in Hanya to Turkish Cretan parents. His family remained in Crete until 1903 when they moved to Istanbul where Ertuğrul attended the Ottoman Military Academy.[citation needed]

He married a daughter of his commander Şefik Bey (Aker). After the 1934 Surname Law, he chose the family name of his father-in-law.[2]

By the start of the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), he had been posted to Aydın region where he had the task of organizing and training Demirci Mehmet Efe's efe militia units. He was wounded in an ambush in 1919 and he spent the rest of his life in Antalya as a disabled officer. Mustafa Ertuğrul died in 1964.

Ben Bir Türk Zabitiyim[edit]

Mustafa Ertuğrul's memoirs
Statue of Mustafa Ertuğrul in Antalya, Turkey
Ben-my-Chree on fire and sinking after having been hit by shore fire while in port in Kastelorizo

Mustafa Ertuğrul was recently rediscovered in Turkey thanks to research done on him and on the shipwrecks off the coast in Ağva Bay[3] near Kemer in Antalya Province by the skin diver and amphora collector Mustafa Aydemir.

A book based on the account that Mustafa Ertuğrul had typewritten himself in 1934, on Atatürk's personal encouragement, "Ben bir Türk zabitiyim" (I am a Turkish officer), was re-edited by Aydemir and supplemented with photographs and archive documents, notably from France. It was published for the first time in 2004, subsequently running into several editions. Prior to Ertuğrul's account having been made public, generally available information on the officer was restricted to a few lines in the memoirs of Liman von Sanders and Field Marshal Erich Ludendorff, and documents and literature regarding Ben-my-Chree's sinking. The commander of Paris II, Henri Rollin, taken prisoner by Ertuğrul's unit after his ship's sinking, had also presented a detailed official report on Paris II and Alexandra at the end of the war in 1918.

Ertuğrul's story requires more in-depth research, with a number of points included in his account awaiting further clarification, notably his mention of another British naval vessel which he claimed to have sunk and which he believed was the actual ship commanded by Charles Rumney Samson; HMS Dard.

Decorations and awards[edit]

  • Ottoman Order of Merit, 2nd class
  • Subsidize the Navy Medal - given for services and assistance to the Ottoman Navy
  • Decrease in Çanakkale şapkasındaki British reconnaissance aircraft pilot badge. Mustafa Ertugrul given as a souvenir.
  • Austria 305 numbered commemorative badge mortars top union Canakkale
  • Iron Cross (Germany)
  • Medal of Independence (Turkey)
  • Order of Merit (Prussia)
  • Cedit Girid Medal [Note 2]
  • Battle of Galicia medal
  • Military Medal for actions at Canakkale, Galicia, the Caucasus, Iraq and Egypt


  1. ^ These two French vessels are erroneously cited as cruisers in a number of sources.
  2. ^ Mustafa Ertuğrul’un öğretmen gelini:AYTÜLÜ AKER, Antalya Bugün, (Turkish)
  3. ^ Not to be confused with the town of Ağva on the Black Sea coast and near Istanbul, also significant for its wreckages of submarines dating, this time, from the Second World War and commonly referred to as "Hitler's lost fleet". See Jasper Copping. Article: "Adolf Hitler's 'lost fleet' found in Black Sea" Check |url= scheme (help). Sunday Telegraph.