Fallen soldiers of key WWI battle remembered in Turkey's Gallipoli

Ottoman and Allied soldiers who perished in the land battles of the 1915 Gallipoli Campaign were remembered Saturday in Turkey’s Gallipoli in scaled-back ceremonies over COVID-19 restrictions.

The ceremonies were attended by Turkish officials along with Australian Ambassador Marc Innes-Brown, British Ambassador Dominick Chilcott, Irish Ambassador Sonya McGuinness, New Zealand’s Ambassador Wendy Hinton and Olivier Gauvin, French consul-general to Istanbul. All memorial events were kept small this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dignitaries and military personnel attend a ceremony at the Cape Helles British Memorial to mark the 106th anniversary of the WWI battle of Gallipoli, in Çanakkale, Turkey, April 24, 2021. (Reuters Photo)
General view of a ceremony at the Cape Helles British Memorial to mark the 106th anniversary of the WWI battle of Gallipoli, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Çanakkale, Turkey, April 24, 2021. (Reuters Photo)

Soldiers from Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India, Newfoundland, South Africa and France fought and died during the Allied operation that started with landings on the peninsula on April 25, 1915. So did Ottoman soldiers who fought to protect their homeland, here, the Rev. Patrick Irwin said at the memorial site of Cape Helles.

The Helles Memorial is a Commonwealth battle memorial for the whole Gallipoli Campaign, as well as site to remember the servicemen with no known grave. The British ambassador to Turkey gave the welcoming address on Saturday. Representatives from all nations, including Sri Lanka, laid wreaths at the ceremony.

A reverend attends a ceremony at the Cape Helles British Memorial to mark the 106th anniversary of the WWI battle of Gallipoli, in Çanakkale, Turkey, April 24, 2021. (Reuters Photo)
The French Military Cemetary is seen during a memorial ceremony to mark the 106th anniversary of the WWI battle of Gallipoli, in Çanakkale, Turkey, April 24, 2021. (AA Photo)

In his speech at the French Military Cemetary, Gauvin said that almost half of 1 million soldiers who fought in the battle were either killed or wounded, expressing his respects and gratitude for all fallen soldiers and their families.

A view of Anzac Cove, site of the World War I landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs) a day ahead of the 106th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign in Çanakkale, Turkey, April 24, 2021. (AP Photo)
A view of Anzac Cove, site of the World War I landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs) a day ahead of the 106th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign in Çanakkale, Turkey, April 24, 2021. (AP Photo)

On Sunday, Australians and New Zealanders will mark Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) Day to remember their fallen soldiers. A dawn ceremony will be held in Turkey.

A view of Anzac Cove cemetery, on the site of the World War I landing of the Anzacs in Çanakkale, Turkey, April 24, 2021. (AP Photo)
A view of the Shrapnel Valley cemetery, a day ahead of the 106th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaignin Çanakkale, Turkey, April 24, 2021. (AP Photo)

During the Gallipoli Campaign, launched after the bitter Allied naval defeat at the Dardanelles Strait a month earlier, Allied forces aimed to take control of the peninsula to weaken the Ottoman Empire. The campaign failed, and the Allies withdrew after eight months of ground fighting and some 250,000 casualties on both sides.

The Ottoman victory did not prevent the end of the empire but propelled Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a commander at Gallipoli, to lead Turkey’s war for independence.