Families stream to battlefields 100 years after Gallipoli
Families of soldiers who served in the Gallipoli campaign of World War I, along with world leaders, streamed onto the battle sites on Friday for ceremonies marking 100 years since the British-led invasion.
Representatives of countries that faced off in one of the most iconic events of the war were honoring the dead in a joint ceremony, on the eve of the centenary since troops landed on beaches here.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Britain’s Prince Charles were expected to lay wreaths at a memorial for the fallen Turkish soldiers at Gallipoli before the ceremonies move to the British memorial site, where Prince Harry, Charles’ son, is scheduled to deliver a speech.
The main events are scheduled for Saturday, the anniversary of the dawn landings by troops — mostly from Australia and New Zealand — who were rowed in to narrow beaches with scant cover only to encounter rugged hills and fire from well concealed Turkish defenders.
The doomed Allied offensive aimed to secure a naval route from the Mediterranean to Istanbul through the Dardanelles, and take the Ottomans out of the war. It resulted in over 130,000 deaths and came to be seen as a folly of British war planning. Around 44,000 Allied troops died in the campaign about 86,000 were killed on the Ottoman side.
The campaign, however, helped forge national identities for countries on both sides.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk used his prominence as a commander at Gallipoli, known as Canakkale to the Turks, to vault into prominence, lead Turkey’s War of Independence and ultimately found the Turkish Republic.