Gallipoli – bloody, pivotal point in history

Embed from Getty Images

The photo montage above shows Suvla Bay during the campaigning in the First World War, alongside the present-day scene there

As we approach Remembrance Sunday, my thoughts this year are particularly focussed on the Gallipoli campaign. We’re at the one hundredth anniversary of that invasion attempt, which took place from April 25th 1915 to January 9th 1916.

Comedian Hugh Dennis has produced an excellent BBC programme called “In search of Great Uncle Frank” which explains the campaign very well, through a visit to Suvla Bay (in present-day Turkey) scene of much of the carnage, to retrace the steps of his Great Uncle Frank, who died during the action.

Tens of thousands of young people died in the battles. They came from the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, India and France.

As well as providing an excellent narrative of the events, Hugh Dennis provides, in the programme (which can still be listened to on BBC iPlayer here) an interesting historical perspective.

I was particularly touched by the interview with an old Turkish woman. She said she was not angry about the invasion and that the Turkish regard all the soldiers who died in the campaign, from whatever nation they came, as “Sons of Turkey”. They became our sons when they died here, she said. This was an attitude, she said, encouraged by the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

It seems to me that such a forgiving, human approach to remembrance is much needed.

I declare an interest in that my grandfather, C.H.Walter of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, was fortunate enough to survive the Suvla Bay landing with his horse, Susie. Sadly, many of his comrades-in-arms did not.

My eldest brother, James, recently visited Suvla Bay, and has taken a great interest in the events there of 1915-1916.

Once again I remember, with gratitude, this year that I’ve been fortunate enough not to be “called up” and have enjoyed the freedom to express myself on things like this blog, unlike millions who have had their lives cut short by the horror of war.

The photo below of Suvla Bay from Battleship Hill is by Gsl~commonswikiSuvla_from_Battleship_Hill by Gsl~commonswiki