Gallipolli Centenary

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2015 marks the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli landing at ANZAC Cove.

The Gallipoli Campaign, was a campaign of World War I that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey, between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916. The peninsula forms the northern bank of the Dardanelles, a strait that provides a sea route to what was then the Russian Empire.

As fighting on the Western Front in France in late 1914 deteriorated into a stalemate, the British War Council suggested that Germany could best be defeated by attacks on her allies, Austria, Hungary and Turkey. Initially, the attack on Turkey was planned as a naval operation.

At dawn on 25 April 1915, the assault troops, mostly from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), landed on the western (Aegean Sea) side of the peninsula. They were put ashore one mile (1.6 km) north of their intended landing beach, while the British forces landed at Cape Helles on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Although they failed to achieve their objectives, by nightfall the ANZACs had formed a beachhead, albeit much smaller than intended. In places they were clinging onto cliff faces with no organised defence system. Their precarious position convinced both divisional commanders to ask for an evacuation, but after taking advice from the Royal Navy about how practicable that would be, the army commander decided they would stay. The exact number of the day’s casualties is not known. The ANZACs had landed two divisions but over two thousand of their men had been killed or wounded, together with at least a similar number of Turkish casualties.

During the early days of the campaign, the allies tried to break through the Turkish lines and the Turks tried to drive the allied troops off the peninsula. Concerted but unsuccessful allied attempts to break through in August included the Australian attacks at Lone Pine and the Nek. All attempts ended in failure for both sides, and the ensuing stalemate continued for the remainder of 1915.

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The most successful operation of the campaign was the evacuation of the troops on 19–20 December under cover of a comprehensive deception operation. As a result, the Turks were unable to inflict more than a very few casualties on the retreating forces.

Since 1916 the anniversary of the landings on 25 April has been commemorated as Anzac Day, becoming one of the most important national celebrations in Australia and New Zealand. The anniversary is also commemorated in Turkey, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The campaign was one of the greatest Turkish victories during the war and a major Allied failure. It is regarded as a defining moment in our nation’s history. The campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand and the date of the landing, 25 April, is known as “Anzac Day” which is the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in those two countries.

The whole Gallipoli operation, however, cost 26,111 Australian casualties, including 8,141 deaths.

The following Australians were awarded the Victoria Cross at Gallipoli.

Name Unit Location Date
L Cpl Albert Jacka 14th Battalion Courtney’s Post 19-20 May 1915
L Cpl Leonard Keysor 1st Battalion Lone Pine 7-8 August 1915
Lt John William Symon 7th Battalion Lone Pine 8 – 9 August 1915
Cpl Alexander Stewart Burton 7th Battalion Lone Pine 9August 1915
Cpl William Dunstan 7th Battalion Lone Pine 9 August 1915
Pte John Hamilton 3rd Battalion Lone Pine 9 August 1915
Lt Frederick Harold TUBB 7th Battalion Lone Pine 9 August 1915
Capt Alfred John Shout 1st Battalion Lone Pine 9 August 1915
2nd Lt Hugo Vivian Hope Throssell 10th Light Horse Regiment Hill 60 29 – 30 August 1915