World Bulletin/News Desk
Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders gathered at a dawn service on Thursday in Turkey's northwestern Gelibolu Peninsula (Gallipoli) to commemorate their ancestors who died in the Canakkale Campaigns of the First World War.
Australians and New Zealanders had journeyed to the Gelibolu beach on Thursday morning that saw so much bloodshed and waited for the service took start in their sleeping bags.
Australian Minister for Veterans Affairs Warren Edward Snowdon delivered a speech during the dawn service and reminded that at the end of the first day of landing, more than 16 thousand Anzacs stepped on Turkish land and that 2 thousand of those lost their lives or were wounded on shores, waters, hills and valley of the region.
Snowdon noted, ANZACs experienced painful times and added, "The war was so severe that, still, graves of half of those who died are unknown."
Furthermore, New Zealand's Minister of Defense Jonathan David Coleman who also participated in the service and addressed the crowd who waited in their sleeping bags for the ceremony which marks the 98th anniversary of Canakkale Battles. Former enemies New Zealand and Turkey, were now warm friends, stated Coleman and added, "It is a place you have never been to before, but at the same time you have grown up with. It is a place of sadness, but a place of great pride."
Minister Coleman noted, it was a privilege to represent New Zealand at Gelibolu.
Moreover, 15 thousand of people who journeyed to Gelibolu walked on the path where the 57th infantry regiment had passed in 1915 at dawn on Thursday morning.
"National Consciousness 57th Regiment Walk" was held in cooperation of Turkish General Staff, Canakkale Governorate, Turkey Scouting Federation and Turkey's National Student Council.
The 8 kilometres long walk led by Turkey's Minister of Youth and Sports Suat Kilic and Commander of First Army, General Yalcin Ataman was completed by marching university students and scout groups who carried Turkish flags.
"Canakkale Campaign", also known as "The Gallipoli Campaign", took place at Gelibolu peninsula in Turkey from April 1915 to January 1916, during the First World War.
A joint British and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul and secure a sea route to Russia. Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) formed the backbone of a 200,000-man British-led army that landed at Gelibolu. The attempt failed, with heavy casualties on both sides. The campaign resonated profoundly among all nations involved.
Nearly 1 million soldiers fought in the trench warfare at Gelibolu. The allies recorded 55,000 killed in fighting with 10,000 missing and 21,000 dead of disease. Turkish casualties were estimated at around 250,000.
The campaign was the first major battle undertaken by ANZAC and is often considered to mark the birth of national consciousness in both Australia and New Zealand. As "ANZAC Day", April 25 remains the most significant commemoration of military casualties in these countries. Each year, thousands of people, many of them Australians and New Zealanders, travel to the battlefields in northwestern Turkey on ANZAC Day, the anniversary of the April 25th, 1915, start of the campaign.
The battle is considered as a defining moment in the history of the Turkish people. The struggle laid the grounds for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Ataturk, himself a commander at Gelibolu.Last Mod: 25 Nisan 2013, 11:33