Turkish Charlie Ryan Canakkale’s ANZAC Hero
When a young doctor named Charlie Ryan graduated from University, he went looking for adventure by joining the Turkish Army. Forty years later, as the head of the Australian Army Medical Corps he landed at Gallipoli to fight his former friends. His previous association with the Turkish Army led to a most extraordinary event.
For one short time on May 24, the goodwill of common people prevailed between the ANZAC's and the Turks. From a simple necessity, a legacy was left that would bond the people of Turkey and Australia in an enduring relationship
In Turkey, today, the story of "Plevna" Ryan credits Charlie with helping to establish "the indestructible foundation of Turkish-Australian friendship amidst the trenches of war”. Author Haluk Oral's book “Gallipoli 1915 Through Turkish Eyes” (Turkiye Bankasi 2007) has an entire chapter devoted to Charlie Ryan. This book is used as a teaching reference in Turkish schools.
To this day his legacy helps unite the peoples of Australia and Turkey. One hundred years after that first act of goodwill, the children of TED Mersin College Turkey, guided by their history teacher Celal Yildirim, reached out to the families of the ANZACs through a project they called "Two Trenches One Letter".
In writing “Turkish Charlie Ryan.” Canakkale’s ANZAC Hero, authors and historians John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher have sought to demonstrate to children of all ages the power respect and understanding bring when dealing with people of different cultures. Lavishly illustrated by artist Lillian Webb, the book tells the saga of Major General Sir Charles Snodgrass Ryan KBE, CB, CMG, VD. Knighted and decorated for bravery in battle, by both the people of Turkey and the British Empire, Charlie Ryan was a pivotal figure in the Armistice at Gallipoli on May 24 1915.