Turkey commemorates WWI Gallipoli victory

Turkey commemorates WWI Gallipoli victory

Turkey commemorates WWI Gallipoli victory

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç (R) and Chief of Staff Gen. Necdet Özel (C) lay flowers on a martyr’s grave in the norwestern province of Çanakkale. Arınç and Özel were in Çanakkale yesterday to join the Martyr’s Day ceremonies. AA photo

Turkey commemorated its martyrs yesterday on the 97th anniversary of the Ottomans’ World War I victory over Allied fleets attempting to break through the Dardanelles Strait in the northwestern province of Çanakkale.

“Deprived of modern weapons of any kind, the people of Anatolia fought in unison against the best-equipped armies of the day to forge an unforgettable and glorious history. This victory also serves as a symbol and a source of inspiration for other nations waging a struggle for their independence and liberty,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç told members of the audience at the official Martyrs’ Day ceremony held in Çanakkale March 18.

Many citizens, troops, combat veterans, government and opposition officials also flocked to martyrs’ memorials and cemeteries across Turkey to mark Martyrs’ Day, while a number of combat veterans were also awarded medals for their past efforts in the ceremonies.

Fierce battle in Dardenelles

The Allies in the First World War attempted a naval breakthrough in March 1915 through the Dardanelles Strait with the aim of capturing the Ottoman capital of Istanbul and securing a much-needed sea route to Russia. After a number of British and French capital ships were either sunk or damaged, however, the Allies were forced to abandon the naval campaign.

Arınç was the highest-ranking official to attend the Martyrs’ Day ceremony in Çanakkale, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was on an official visit to Germany. Other officials, including Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz and Forestry and Waterworks Minister Veysel Eroğlu, as well as other deputies and Rear Admiral Hasan Doğan were also present at the ceremony.
The Ottomans’ initial naval victory in March was soon followed by an amphibious landing on the peninsula. Better known in the West as the “Gallipoli Campaign,” the ensuing land warfare lasted from April 1915 to January 1916 and ended with the Allies’ complete withdrawal from the area.

Arınç laid a wreath on modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s monument to mark the start of the ceremony. Following a minute of silence and the raising of the Turkish flag, a naval frigate fired 21 rounds in memory of the fallen troops.

The Gallipoli battle also marked the rise of Atatürk, as he served there as an officer. Around 1 million troops, including many Australians and New Zealanders, participated in the trench warfare in Gallipoli, which is regarded as a defining moment in the history of the Turkish people.