10th of June 2016
Today in school, I completed ICT! I think that I’m actually learning just as much from picking my way through this blog site and tapping into social media malarkey too, so double whammy! Mum hollered from her bed – still ill(!!)- ( Incidently, we think it’s food poisoning now, not sunstroke, but I’m not writing an article on that!) that I still needed to research Galipolli and the events surrounding.
During our road trip, when we were waiting to board the ferry at Eceabet we hadn’t been able to get out of the car to examine the sculptures which were on the port there as it had been raining too hard and we had already joined the ferry queue before we realised there was commemorative information. So I had been meaning to find out just what was on display there, and why….
At the beginning of World War 1, with the death of Arc Duke Franz Ferdinand, and the War breaking out in Europe the Ottoman empire joined forces with Germans, against the British, French and Russians, but during the years of 1915 and 1916 one of the most important battles took place on the Gallipoli peninsula, in Turkey. Before the war, Russia and her allies, Britain and France had a keen interest with the geographical position of Turkey in the event of war. The Ottoman empires location in the north meant it could control what came in and out from the Black sea and into the Mediterranean Sea. This narrow passage way was called the Straits of Dardanelles. In August 1914, Turkey showed it had links with the German Empire by letting their ships through and into the Black sea. The German naval presence and the success of German armies on all fronts, gave the pro-German faction in the Ottoman government enough influence to declare war on Russia. In October two Ottoman boats entered Russian waters and sank several ships in the Russian port of Odessa.
With World War I stalled on the Western Front by 1915, the Allied Powers were debating going to war in another area rather than continuing with attacks in Belgium and France. Early that year, Russia’s Grand Duke Nicholas appealed to Britain for aid in confronting a Turkish invasion in the Caucasus and in response, the Allies decided to launch a naval expedition to seize the waterway that connected the Mediterranean Sea to the Black sea in north western Turkey. If the allies were successful, Europe would be linked with Russia and they would be able to attack Turkey together. On the 18th March 1915 British and French boats headed toward the Straits of Dardanelles and were immediately met with heavy fire from the Ottoman battle ships. 3 ships were sank and another 3 were heavily damaged.
In the wake of the failed naval attack, preparations began for largescale troop landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula. The army for the invasion was made up of British, French, Australian and New Zealanders and on the 15th April 1915, the allied forces attacked the Gallipoli peninsular. After the first landings, the allies didn’t manage to get very far, and in August 1915, the allies did another invasion on the peninsular but allied indecision and delay slowed their progress in their two places they seized, allowing Ottoman reinforcements to arrive and shore up their defences. By November that year, the British government decided to evacuate the allied forces from Turkey and send them to Egypt. The overall deaths/casualties of the 480,000 Allied forces that took part were 250,000 injured and 46,000 dead and on the Ottoman side, the campaign also cost an estimated 250,000 casualties, with 65,000 killed.
These days there are many memorials that are dedicated to all who lost their lives in the war and on every 25th of April, Australians and New Zealanders remember all those who lost their lives in the tragic battle. For Turkey, the victory saw the triumph of Mustafa Kemal, a 33-year-old lieutenant colonel who commanded the 19th Turkish Division and famously told his men: “I don’t order you to attack; I order you to die.” As Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, he would later become the founding father of the Turkish republic in 1923. A statue stands of him in most Turkish towns and cities and behind the one in Fethiye is a monument to remember all those from Fethiye who fought in the war. Another important person who would become a key figure in the future of Britain was Winston Churchill, who lead the failed naval attacks on Gallipoli in 1914.
What has prompted me to write this is the fact that on our road trip coming to Turkey, on the day we got the boat across the Straits of Dardanelles we also passed the famous Cannakale Martyrs museum. Although it was too wet to stop and have a look, I later read about it and it is in fact a monument to remember all those who lost their lives in the tragic battle. It is 137 feet tall and was built in 1958 and the huge structure is well visible during passage through the Dardanelles. Posted at the site, an inscription with verses from Turkish national anthem by Mehmet Akif Ersoy, reminds the visitors:
Do not ignore the ground on which you have walked,
It is not ordinary soil.
Reflect on the thousands of people, who lie beneath
Without a shroud.
You are the son of a martyr –
Do not hurt your ancestor,
Do not give away this beautiful motherland,
Even if you have the whole world.
Poigniant and beautiful words. At the port of Eceabat opposite Cannakale itself, in order to mark the one hundred year anniversary of the battle at Gallipoli, there has been erected a temporary museum called the Gallipoli peninsula historic national park which is a large, life sized sculpture that shows the Austrailian and New Zealand troops in the sandy trenches shooting at the Ottoman forces which are only metres away.
This afternoon I went to Ataturks square with other members of Ece Marina, we were cycling with another couple of hundred people to mark The Worlds Environmental day, which falls on June the fifth each year, we were just a little bit behind! It was really good fun, I set off at lightning speed and encountered some of my team still going whilst I was coming back….
” We are supposed to stay together,” panted Usef ( the sailor) ” I won!” I said!
It was great, we each came away with a t shirt and cap for taking part…….
Friends came round this evening and announced our boat ” mental” that’s what we like to hear! And then we popped along to the MOD Cafe where we saw the rather unimpressive launch of Euro 2016 and mum managed to nearly eat a burger! It was a good day!