The Gallipoli peninsula is located in the European part of Turkey, with the Aegean Sea to the west and the Dardanelles straits to the east. Gallipoli derives its name from the Greek Kallipolis, meaning "Beautiful City."
After the devastating 1354 earthquake, the Greek city was almost abandoned, but swiftly reoccupied by Turks from Anatolia, the Asiatic side of the straits, making Gallipoli the first Ottoman position in Europe, and the staging area for their expansion across the Balkans.
The peninsula, which was inhabited by the Byzantine Empire, was gradually conquered by the Ottoman Empire starting from 13th century onwards until the 15th. The Greeks living there were allowed to continue their everyday life. Gallipoli was made the chief town of a Kaymakamlik (district) in the vilayet (a Wali's province) of Adrianople, with about 30,000 inhabitants, Greeks, Turks, Armenians and Jews.
Gallipoli became a major encampment for British and French forces in 1854 during the Crimean War, and the harbour was also a stopping-off point on the way to Constantinople.
The peninsula did not see any more wars up until World War I when the British Empire allies trying to find a way to reach its troubled ally in the east, Imperial Russia, decided to try to obtain passage to the east. The Ottomans set up defensive fortifications along the peninsula with German help.
In 1920 after the defeat of the Russian White army of General Pyotr Wrangel, a significant number of emigre soldiers and their families evacuated to Gallipoli from the Crimea. From there many went to European countries where they found refuge, such as Yugoslavia.
A stone monument was erected and a special "Gallipoli cross" was created to commemorate the soldiers who stayed in Gallipoli. The stone monument was destroyed during an earthquake, but in January 2008 reconstruction of the monument had begun with the consent of the Turkish government.
The Gallipoli Campaign
The Allied landing and subsequent campaign on the peninsula during World War I is usually known in Britain as the Dardanelles Campaign and in Turkey as the Battle of Canakkale. In Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Newfoundland, the terms Gallipoli Campaign or just Gallipoli alone are used to describe the eight month campaign.
In early 1915, in an attempt to seize the strategic advantage in the War, the British authorised an attack on the peninsula in an attempt to seize Constantinople. The first phase was purely naval on the Allied side, as Lord Kitchener would not authorise troops to be shifted from the Western Front.
The lead British Admiral had a crisis of nerves, and his second-in-command withdrew after one day with moderate casualties. Kitchener then authorised a combined naval-army operation, but the element of surprise was long gone. On April 25, 1915, a force of British Empire and French troops landed at multiple places along the peninsula.
The battles over the next eight months saw high casualties on both sides due to the exposed terrain, weather and closeness of the front lines. In addition, many casualties resulted from an epidemic of dysentery, caused by poor sanitary conditions. The New Zealand Wellington Battalion reached, and briefly occupied, the high point of Chunuk Bair, before being beaten back by Turkish troops who were never again dislodged from the summit.
The subsequent Allied withdrawal meant an end to the idea of defeating the Ottoman Empire quickly, as well as the possibility of gaining a victory over the major Central Powers enemy—Germany—through an attack on the "soft underbelly" of its power.
The campaign is often referred to for its successful stealthy retreat which was completed with minimal casualties, the ANZAC forces completely retreating by December 19, 1915 and the remaining British elements by January 9, 1916.
Total Allied deaths were around 21,000 British, 10,000 French, 8,700 Australians, 2,700 New Zealanders and 1,370 Indians. Total Turkish deaths were around 86,700 - nearly twice as many as all the Allies combined. New Zealanders suffered the highest percentage of Allied deaths when compared with population size, but the percentage of Turkish deaths was almost twice theirs.
This campaign has become a "founding myth" for both Australia and New Zealand, and ANZAC Day is still commemorated as a holiday in both countries. In fact, it is one of those rare battles that both sides seem to remember proudly. The Turks consider it a great turning point for their (future) nation and Australians and New Zealanders see it as the beginnings of the ANZAC spirit.
Many mementos of the Gallipoli campaign can be seen in the museum at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia, and at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland, New Zealand. This campaign also put a dent in the armour of Winston Churchill, then the First Lord of the Admiralty, who had commissioned the plans to invade the Dardanelles. He talks about this campaign vividly in his memoirs.
The Gallipoli campaign gave an important boost to the career of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a little-known army commander who became a national hero, was promoted to Pasha, and became the founder of the modern Turkish state with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, at the end of World War I. Kemal halted and eventually repelled the Allied advance, exceeding his authority and contravening orders to do so.
His famous speech "I do not command you to fight, I command you to die. In the time it will take us to die we can be replenished by new forces" shows his courageous and determined personality. Following Mustafa Kemal's command to die; the 57th Regiment led by lieutenant colonel Huseyin Avni had fulfilled the order where the entire regiment had fallen.
Years after the war, mass graves of the deceased were being re-opened for identity determination and for carrying the soldiers to their final resting places. During this relocation for cemeteries, bodies of two men were found bayoneting each other and locked together. They were identified as 1st lieutenant Mustafa Asim from 6th Company of the 57th regiment and Captain J. L. Woiters from British Corps.
They had fallen in a position where Mustafa Asim was holding the cross on Woiters' neck and Woiters was holding an amulet of Quran on Asim's neck. They were re-buried together. Their name tags and weapons were handed to authorities.
Attendance at the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Gallipoli has become popular since the 75th anniversary. Upwards of 10,000 people have attended services in Gallipoli.
Until 1999 the Gallipoli Dawn Service was held at the Ari Burnu War Cemetery at ANZAC Cove, but the growing numbers of people attending resulted in the construction of a more spacious site on North Beach, known as the "ANZAC Commemorative Site."
On April 25, 2005, to mark the 90th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, government officials from Australia and New Zealand, most of the last surviving Gallipoli veterans, and many Australian and New Zealand tourists travelled to Turkey for a special dawn service at Gallipoli.
ANZAC Day is the most important national day of commemoration for Australians. The previous Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, and the then Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark were also in attendance, and Clark was accompanied by the official NZ defence force party, veterans of several past wars and 10 New Zealand college students who won the New Zealand 'Prime Minister's Essay Competition' with their work on Gallipoli.
In the Gallipoli Peninsula Historical National Park, an 11,000 people capacity portable tribune has been built in the ANZAC Cove and Lone Pine Memorial.
Please contact the TravelShop Turkey team well ahead of the 99th Anniversary ANZAC Day at Gallipoli.