Turkish War of Independence

Organizing resistance
1919 May 19

Organizing resistance

Samsun, Türkiye

Mustafa Kemal Pasha and his colleagues stepped ashore in Samsun on 19 May and set up their first quarters in the Mıntıka Palace Hotel. British troops were present in Samsun, and he initially maintained cordial contact. He had assured Damat Ferid about the army's loyalty towards the new government in Constantinople. However behind the government's back, Kemal made the people of Samsun aware of the Greek and Italian landings, staged discreet mass meetings, made fast connections via telegraph with the army units in Anatolia, and began to form links with various nationalist groups. He sent telegrams of protest to foreign embassies and the War Ministry about British reinforcements in the area and about British aid to Greek brigand gangs. After a week in Samsun, Kemal and his staff moved to Havza. It was there that he first showed the flag of the resistance.

Mustafa Kemal wrote in his memoir that he needed nationwide support to justify armed resistance against the Allied occupation. His credentials and the importance of his position were not enough to inspire everyone. While officially occupied with the disarming of the army, he met with various contacts in order to build his movement's momentum. He met with Rauf Pasha, Karabekir Pasha, Ali Fuat Pasha, and Refet Pasha and issued the Amasya Circular (22 June 1919). Ottoman provincial authorities were notified via telegraph that the unity and independence of the nation was at risk, and that the government in Constantinople was compromised. To remedy this, a congress was to take place in Erzurum between delegates of the Six Vilayets to decide on a response, and another congress would take place in Sivas where every Vilayet should send delegates. Sympathy and an lack of coordination from the capital gave Mustafa Kemal freedom of movement and telegraph use despite his implied anti-government tone.

On 23 June, High Commissioner Admiral Calthorpe, realising the significance of Mustafa Kemal's discreet activities in Anatolia, sent a report about the Pasha to the Foreign Office. His remarks were downplayed by George Kidson of the Eastern Department. Captain Hurst of the British occupation force in Samsun warned Admiral Calthorpe one more time, but Hurst's units were replaced with the Brigade of Gurkhas. When the British landed in Alexandretta, Admiral Calthorpe resigned on the basis that this was against the armistice that he had signed and was assigned to another position on 5 August 1919. The movement of British units alarmed the population of the region and convinced them that Mustafa Kemal was right.