Gallipoli Campaign

The Gallipoli Campaign or the Dardanells Campaign took place in World War I between 25th April 1915 and 9th January 1916. The Allied Powers wanted to secure the Northern Peninsula of the Dardanelles Strait so that they could provide a sea route through to their ally Russia. The Ottoman Empire stood in the way of this and after 8 months of fighting with many deaths and injuries on both sides the invasion force was withdrawn to Egypt and the campaign ended.

With the Ottoman Empire in decline it was important for Turkey to defend their lands and led by an outstanding leader by the name of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk this set the scene for the Turkish War of Independence and the birth of the Republic of Turkey some eight years later.

Today the war graves are visited by many tourists from New Zealand, Australia, The United Kingdom and of course from Turkey. There are many cemeteries and memorials and a number of museums where you can find out what it must have been like to be fighting in the hot conditions of the summer months. The loss of life is remembered by all but perhaps the most touching remembrance of all are the words by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk when in 1934 he wrote the following for those killed at Gallipoli:

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours… you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

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