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GROCER SALIM MUTLU'S MUSEUM
2002 / MARCH

Seventy-five year old Salim Mutlu formerly kept a grocr'sy shop in the village of Alçýtepe on the Gelibolu (Gallipoli) peninsula. As a child, like others living in this area, he used to make money gathering debris left from the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-1917 and selling it to scrap dealers. This continued until he opened a village shop, and with shelf room to spare began to display his finds, which seemed too interesting to sell as scrap metal. The collection gradually grew over the years, until the village shop had become a museum in all but name. Nothing remaining from that tragic World War I campaign was dismissed as trivia by Salim Mutlu, whether a cigarette box pierced by a bullet hole or beads from a broken rosary. Local farmers began to bring him objects they discovered while ploughing their fields, and soon the pistols, rifles, shrapnel, bullets and other paraphernalia of the battle fields outgrew the shop. Mutlu then turned the coffee house next door into a single-room museum. Still the collection grew, and he donated part of it to Kocatepe Museum. Finally he decided that the time had come to take down the

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GROCER SALIM MUTLU'S MUSEUM
2002 / MARCH

shop sign and replace it with the word Museum. That is the brief story of the Grocer Salim Mutlu Museum, Turkey's first private militaria museum. The two rooms of the former shop and coffee house have a total area of just over 100 square metres filled with all kinds of things left behind by the Turkish, French, German, British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought at Gallipoli. Firearms, grenades and bullets lying on the shelves and heavy field guns weighing tens of kilos make a mute appeal for peace. Facing them are porcelain insulators for telegraph lines, cups, Coca Cola and drink bottles, water flasks, and even glass vases. Most evocative of all are photographs and letters written by the soldiers. Next to the weapons section are bandages and unopened medicine bottles that were abandoned before they helped to cure anyonsn injuries. There are large water jugs of English porcelain, drinking glasses, metal plates and cups battered by bullets which rained down during one of the many battles, and British made dishes, knives, forks and spoons. Insignia belonging to enemy officers, medals and decorations

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GROCER SALIM MUTLU'S MUSEUM
2002 / MARCH
are now aligned side by side. There is also a large collection of stamped marks used by the various divisions and regiments which fought alongside and against one another, and Turkish postmarks. There are buttons of diverse colours and designs; some made in London, some in New Zealand and some in Istanbul. Rings, the most sentimental of all types of jewellery, are here, but whether engagement or wedding rings who can now say? In the most prominent position are items of religious significance in the form of crucifixes and crescents that the wearers had hoped would give them courage and strength in times of danger. Hundreds of coins from various countries that were never used again, metal plaques bearing the names of regiments, shoe horns unspoilt after years beneath the soil, cartridge belt buckles inscribed in different languages, a jar of shoe polish and scores of other objects each tell their sad stories. Although modest in appearance, the Grocer Salim Mutlu Museum has a greater diversity of exhibits than many others in the region, and attracts large numbers of Turkish and
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GROCER SALIM MUTLU'S MUSEUM
2002 / MARCH

foreign visitors. Salim Mutlu has witnessed many emotional moments when visitors have come across their grandfathers' names on identity bracelets, and he recalls one woman who wept when she recognised her grandfather in one of the photographs of Anzac soldiers. It is at moments like these that he is proud of having rescued mementos that would otherwise have been lost for ever, so preserving history for future generations. Although the casualty rates at Gallipoli were extremely high, it has nevertheless been described as a Gentlemen's War by some historian. Many books written about the Gallipoli Campaign in various languages can be seen at the museum, whose renown has spread far beyond Turkey's borders. The Imperial War Museum in London has sent Salim Mutlu several photographs of the campaign for his collection.

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GROCER SALIM MUTLU'S MUSEUM
2002 / MARCH

Just inside the entrance is a photograph of two soldiers who fought on opposite sides at Çanakkale and recognised one another at a reunion for Gallipoli veterans in Istanbul 55 years later. It depicts a former Nigerian sergeant with the man whom he recognised as the Turkish lieutenant who had given him a drink of water from his flask during fighting in Gallipoli all those years before. He thanked him and they embraced and kissed.

* Abdullah Kiliç is a journalist.

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