CANAKKALE, Turkey (AA) – Thousands of visitors from Australia and New Zealand attended a dawn service in Turkey’s western Canakkale province Monday to commemorate the 101st anniversary of landing of foreign troops on Turkish soil during World War I.
The participants prayed for their veteran Australian and New Zealander ancestors who were killed in the battle in a small cove on the Gelibolu (Gallipoli) peninsula called ANZAC Cove.
New Zealand Minister Gerry Brownlee, Australian Veterans’ Affairs Minister Dan Tehan and Canakkale’s Deputy Governor Sitki Dag as well as many soldiers from Australia and New Zealand attended the ceremony.
Brownlee thanked Turkey for hosting the event. “We are here to honor our family members who came here to serve us,” he said.
Tehan underlined the “sacrifices” made by the soldiers during World War I.
Separately, people across Turkey organized marches to commemorate the Canakkale Martyrs’ Day.
April 25 is known as ANZAC Day in Australia — a significant national holiday that honors the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought and died in Canakkale on Turkey’s western coast in 1915. Australia and New Zealand commemorate the event as Gallipoli.
Australian police said Monday that a 16-year-old Sydney boy had been charged with planning an act allegedly linked to Sydney’s coverage of the national commemorations.
The year 2016 marks the 101st anniversary of the battle in the Canakkale (Dardanelles) Strait in Canakkale’s Gelibolu district, which served as a turnaround in favor of the Turks fighting in World War I against the Allied Forces.
On April 25, 1915, eight months into World War I, Allied soldiers landed on the shores of the Gelibolu peninsula. The troops were there as part of a plan to open Canakkale Strait on Turkey’s Aegean coast to Allied fleets, allowing them to threaten the then Ottoman capital, Istanbul.
The Allied Forces, however, encountered strong and courageous resistance from the Turks and the campaign turned out to be a costly failure. Tens of thousands of Turkish nationals and soldiers died, along with tens of thousands of Europeans, plus around 7,000 – 8,000 Australians and nearly 3,000 New Zealanders.