100 year commemorations for Allies’ World War One Gallipoli campaign

Australian light horseman using a periscope rifle
Australian light horseman using a periscope rifle

It is 100 years since the Allies began their Gallipoli campaign in the south of Turkey during World War One. Now centenary commemorations are taking place around the UK and Australia to commemorate those who fought or were killed in the campaign.

It was at the end of April in 1915 that Allied troops landed at Gallipoli in an effort to force the Ottoman Empire to stay out of the war. Sadly, the campaign failed, with both sides suffering heavy losses and the Allied troops retreating from Turkey the following January.

Conditions for the troops were terrible during the invasion. The weather could be as hot as the Middle East, or as cold as European winters. The soldiers lived with flies, rats and disease – from dysentery to jaundice.

Almost 60,000 Allied troops were killed in the battle, with many still buried at a war cemetery in Turkey. Now many of the soldiers’ descendants will be attending the memorial services around the world.

One soldier’s family revealed a letter he had sent home to his family. He said that he was on his way to stop people joining the German war effort, while he told his son to be good and never cry. The soldier died at Gallipoli less than a month after he sent the letter home.

The Australian and New Zealand contingents have become inherently linked to their role in the Gallipoli campaign; however, British troops made up the majority of troop numbers.

Historians believe this is because it was the first time that Australians and New Zealanders had taken part in a war. Around 11,000 of their troops were killed.

On the Turkish side, around 90,000 of their troops were killed. For the Turkish, it was a great victory and enabled Ataturk to lead their country into a new era.

In London, the National Commemoration of Gallipoli is going to take place at Whitehall, near Westminster, where wreaths will be laid at the Cenotaph Memorial at the end of April. The morning of the same day, there will be an Anzac Day Dawn Service held at the Australian and New Zealand War Memorials near Hyde Park, the BBC News reports.

The family members of the troops who fought at Gallipoli are proud to be commemorating the 100th anniversary. They see it as the biggest chance for remembrance, and many will bring along their ancestors’ military medals and awards.  There will also be a sense of loss at the proceedings, since so many lives were lost and so many of them were so young that they never had the chance to live a full life.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE