One of the women militia of the National Struggle (B. ?, Seydiler / Kastamonu– D. December 1921, Seydiler / Kastamonu). During the National Struggle, old men and women had also ceaseless efforts in the transportation of weaponry and ammunition, which was brought to İnebolu by sea, to Ankara over Kastamonu when every man that was able to hold a weapon was in the front lines. One of these people of ours who made history is Şerife Bacı, who was from Seydiler and froze to death and died a martyr while carrying ammunition from İnebolu to Kastamonu. In the difficult days of winter in December 1921, while carrying ammunition with her oxcart, to protect the ammunition and her child, Şerife Bacı froze to death in front of Kastamonu Barracks with her child on her back.
Şerife Bacı was a countrywoman that was married off when she was sixteen years old and she was at her early 20s when she died. Her husband was recruited into army upon the breakout of the First World War two months after their wedding. Six months later the news of her husband’s death arrived. Elders of the village who said “It would be improper if she stays alone at this early age” married her with one of the war veterans, Topal Yusuf.
Three years later Şerife Gelin (T. N. Bride Şerife) gave birth to a daughter from Topal Yusuf. They called the little girl “Elif”. Elif suckled on her mother and Şerife Gelin’s milk increased as she suckled on. The neighbors, who took advantage of this, brought every children, who lost his/her mother due to plagues of those days and who was left an orphan or who could not suck milk, to Şerife Gelin and she wet-nursed all the orphans of the village. Maybe these were the reflections of her days of suffering which she went through. Eventually, all the orphans of this village became milk siblings and she became wet-nurse to all orphans…
Aside from the works within the house, Şerife Gelin also carried out the works outside the house such as bringing wood from the mountain with a donkey, reaping with the hook and threshing. Her husband Topal Yusuf was in all but name. His left leg was severed in the war and a bomb that exploded near him blinded one of his eyes. His hearing decreased day by day. In this condition it was not possible for him to work. Şerife Gelin performed his daily works and service…
One day in nightfall the village crier cried: “O people! Hear ye! Hear ye! An oxcart from every house will go to İnebolu on Friday to carry cargo…”
In that evening the Village Headman made this announcement in the village chamber: “The new Council and government established in Ankara has been preparing throughout the winter to deal the final blow to the Greek soldiers, who attacked Anatolia. I hope his ears are burning, M. Âkif Bey, who came to our village around two months ago, preached in our mosque: ‘If a duty falls to you regarding this nation’s right to live and its survival, never hesitate over fulfilling it. If need be in order for us to embrace our homeland, we must be up for embracing the arms of the earth in death, so we can say that this land is ours.’ Neighbors, you see, all surrounding villages are tasked with carrying the ammunition and shells that were brought to İnebolu by sea. Call it imece (T. N. collective work in villages), or salma (T. N. the money that is collected by each house in the village by the decision of council for certain works in the village to be performed) or something else if you will but this cargo task shall certainly be performed.”
Village Headman finished his speech with the list he prepared. Everyone looked at each other’s face as if to ask “Who is not here?” Eight people were not in the meeting. Either women or young teens would go in place of them. That evening, the village watchman visited the houses of eight people and informed them of how and when they would set off. Şerife Gelin was among these people.
In December 1921, the roads were blocked by the sudden snowfall. Ammunitions were loaded in order. Loaded oxcarts were hitting the road. Şerife Gelin took her baby, Elif, along with herself because she did not have anybody in the village to look after her. Ammunitions were loaded to her oxcart and she hit the road. Şerife Gelin halted her oxcart at the exit of Inebolu. She arranged a place between the shells for her daughter Elif, whom she carried on her back until that point. She laid her wool quilt, which was her only protection from the cold, over the shells and over her daughter to protect them from the snowfall. Then she got in front to lead the oxcart and by saying “Bismillah” she started to pull the oxcart. After making way like this for a while the oxcart suddenly came to a halt. Şerife Gelin’s heart was wounded; yes, the ox was not moving. Şerife Gelin pulled on the rope of the ox but no, it was not coming. The ominous ox moved a little and then stopped again. The snow that fell an hour ago came to a stop but the weather started to get colder… Şerife Gelin; “For God’s sake kara tosun (the ox), do not dismay me. My cart is full of shells; I have to rush it off to the front. I beg you, please, move. Please…” The ox had moved a little and bowed its neck and then it slumped down on the spot.
Şerife Gelin forgot how many times the ominous ox rested and how many times she pulled the cart herself. She did not know how much way she made. Şerife Gelin was hungry, for some reason she felt drowsy as well. Her dear Elif came to her mind. Naturally she was starving too. She said “If I could just breastfeed my Elif a little”. But Elif was sleeping and even if she was awake she could not feed her in this cold weather. She said to herself “If I could reach Kastamonu at least before Elif wakes up”. At that very moment, Şerife Gelin realized that she was freezing. After flounderingly getting up from the snow that she fell into she barely managed to get on the oxcart. She didn’t know how many times she fell to the ground while trying to get on to the cart because her hands and feet were almost frozen. While Elif was crying at the top of her lungs, Şerife Gelin’s arms stopped moving. Like a loose cannon, the oxcart came near Kastamonu barracks outside the city and stopped there!
Today on İnebolu coast, where the Kastamonu road begins, Şerife Bacı Monument stands tall in a park with cobblestone pavement. On the plaque of the monument it says that this monument was erected in 2001 in remembrance of Şerife Bacı. In Seydiler district of Kastamonu and in İnebolu, the name Şehit Şerife Bacı (Martyr Şerife Bacı) symbolizes the heroines of the War of Independence.
Seydiler Municipality had her relief built in front of the municipality building in 1973, in the 50th anniversary of the Republic of Turkey and many institutions were named after Şerife Bacı. Some of these institutions are: Şehit Şerife Bacı Primary School, Şerife Bacı Teacher’s Lodge, Kastamonu Şerife Bacı State Hospital, Kastamonu Şerife Bacı Hospital of Obstetrics and Pediatrics and Istanbul Metropolis Şehit Şerife Bacı High School.