Some facts …. The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign or the Battle of Gallipoli or the Battle of Çanakkale took place on the Gallipoli peninsula in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916, during the First World War. A joint British and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (Istanbul) and secure a sea route to Russia. The attempt failed, with heavy casualties on both sides. The campaign was considered one of the greatest victories of the Turks and was reflected on as a major failure by the Allies.
Gallipoli is located about five hours by bus from Istanbul.
We trekked off at 6am on metro bus for this back breaking journey reaching our destination just in time for late lunch.This is a beautiful part of Turkey which witnessed one of the most tragic events in history . Staying a night at the Anzac hotel we were collected by our guide after breakfast to be shown the principle battle sites .First on the agenda was the main landing areas Anzac Cove, Cape Helles and later on in the campaign Suvla Bay. Hugging the coast we stopped off at Helles to be giving a detailed explanation by our guide Fadi.
It’s difficult to get a sense of how the Soldiers felt as they landed on relatively lightly defended coast. Their officers likely reassured them it would all be over shortly as the Ottoman Empire was in serious decline. While historians argue this to be one of Winston Churchill’s great blunders it seemed the only option available to him at the time as the Nordic seas were impassable due to German U-Boats. (Russia was a land locked ally) What’s unforgivable was the willingness to sacrifice large numbers of men drawn mainly from their vast empire.Indecision at critical times resulted in the allies suffering huge losses for little ground gained while the planners continued to fuel a failed campaign .( the Royal Dublin & Munster Fusiliers suffered 80 % casualties) What’s particular sobering is the age of the enlisted (average age 23) engraved on headstones which read the early part of the battle , there after, the dead were buried in mass graves.
Fadi showed us the Turkish memorial which is very impressive on an elevated area which was lost and retaken during the Suvla bay battle . This memorial receives up to 50,000 people at weekends with the Turkish flag and statue of Ataturk scanning the beaches below.
This part of Turkey is now at peace with thousands visiting to pay there respects to the fallen. A memorial with the inscription by Turkey’s first premier offers a lasting resting place too these brave men.