The battle of Gallipoli from World War I is most known for the 1981 Australian film starring Mel Gibson (that is, not very well known), which avoids telling the more interesting story in exchange for telling one that involved people who spoke English. Which is a shame, especially for Mel Gibson, because if he'd been cast as Turkish Lt. Colonel Mustafa Kemal, this legendary quote would probably overshadow aboouuuuuuuut 36 percent more of the insane shit he's done.
Kemal's hat would overshadow 36 percent of his insane face.
At 6:30 a.m., April 25, 1915, Kemal learned that British soldiers were advancing on Battleship Hill -- a key defensive position near the ocean. He ordered his men to march to the coast and then rode out ahead of them to scout out the battlefield. When he arrived three hours later, he saw Allied warships closing in, transport ships making landfall, and a group of Turkish soldiers running toward him, away from the fight.
When he asked them why they were running, they pointed at the massive advancing army and said, "Sir, the enemy!" (presumably suppressing the urge to add "duh!"). Kemal responded by telling them they couldn't run from the enemy, so they stopped, because Kemal's not the kind of guy you disagree with. When the men said they had no ammunition, Kemal told them to use their bayonets. And then when it came time to attack, he told them, "I'm not ordering you to attack! I'm ordering you to die!"
He borrowed this line from bayonet expert Auric Goldfinger.
That's nowhere near as defeatist as it sounds. For the Turks, retreat wasn't an option because they believed that if they lost that day, there wouldn't be a home to retreat to. And this helped them win: Their reckless disregard for anything resembling respect for their squishy corporeal forms stopped the Allied advance long enough for reinforcements to arrive. And then their enemy withdrew, turning the battle of Gallipoli into the kind of pointless mass bloodshed that was so hip during World War I.
As for Kemal, he went on to become president of the Turkish Republic and stay in office for 15 years, extensively reforming, among other things, the education and legal systems. Because once you've told men to "go over there and die" and they listen, pretty much every other form of leadership is a cakewalk.
Dustin Koski would like to apologize for this article. Also, follow Jacopo on Twitter!
Related Reading: Battle boasts don't get much more badass than, "Surrender? Your grandmother should surrender, you bastard." And as far as last words go, "Damn it, don't you DARE ask God to help me" is pretty close to peak awesome. But don't take our word for it: read this collection of badass last words and judge for yourself.