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The National Commemoration of the Centenary of the Gallipoli and ANZAC Campaigns

Prime Minister announces plans to mark the Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign.

Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced Government plans to mark the Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign, 24-25 April 2015, one of the major engagements of the First World War, involving more than 400,000 British, over 40,000 French and around 140,000 Commonwealth and Irish servicemen.

Three key events will take place:

  • A UK-led Commonwealth and Ireland ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Helles Memorial in Turkey on 24 April 2015, the eve of the anniversary of the Gallipoli landings
  • A National Service of Commemoration at the Cenotaph in London on Anzac Day, 25 April 2015. This will be a high-profile UK-led event, with senior Government representation, arranged in co-operation with the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, who have held a ceremony there on that date for the last 98 years
  • An event at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth, on 6 August 2015 centred on HMS M33, the last surviving ship from the campaign which is currently being refurbished thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

The First World War saw devastating loss of life and destruction. It also saw incredible acts of heroism and bravery in nearly every corner of the world.

When we mark the centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign, we will recognise the sacrifice made by so many and reaffirm our gratitude for the contribution of Irish and Commonwealth troops, in particular the role of the Anzac forces whose gallantry there did so much to define Australia and New Zealand as strong independent nations.

Sajid Javid, who leads the Government’s programme to mark the Centenary of the First World War, said:

Marking the anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign is a key part of our Centenary programme. The Royal Navy and the British Army – 410,000 strong and none of them a conscript - played a central role in the conflict, fighting in extremely difficult conditions. It is right that we remember their courage and valour.

More than 550,000 Allied troops participated on land and in ships off the coast in the Gallipoli Campaign from Britain, the Indian sub-continent, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada other Commonwealth countries and France. In total their casualties, including those killed, sustaining serious injuries, falling sick or missing, numbered more than 200,000. The campaign saw a higher number of Australian and New Zealand deaths than in any previous conflict.

Australian Prime Minister, Hon Tony Abbott MP said it was in London on 25 April 1916 that troops first marched through the streets to mark Anzac Day, as such it was fitting to honour this significant centenary with a service at the Cenotaph in London:

Anzac Day in 2015 will mark the centenary of the Gallipoli landing, an event which remains central to Australia’s sense of national pride and identity. On this day, we commemorate those brave soldiers who fought and lost their lives at Gallipoli, as well as those who have served and died in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations since that time.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said:

One hundred years ago, young soldiers from our countries showed extraordinary gallantry as they fought shoulder to shoulder on the beaches and cliffs of Gallipoli. On Anzac Day next year we will again stand shoulder to shoulder as we honour and pay tribute to their courage and sacrifice, a sacrifice that will inspire for ever.

Defence Minister Lord Astor said:

The ceremonies planned for the Centenary of Gallipoli provide an opportunity for us to reflect on the bravery and sacrifice of those who left their homes to fight far away from the Western Front, at sea, on land and in the air over what is now modern-day Turkey. The Allied Forces, mainly young men from Britain, Ireland and France, were joined by comrades from the then Empire – Australia, New Zealand, India and Newfoundland - to fight around Gallipoli. Many thousands never returned. This campaign has become identified as a critical moment in the forging of the national identities of both Australia and New Zealand, and the contribution that they made, and the price that they paid will never be forgotten.

Commenting on HLF’s grant to restore and open to the public HMS M33, HLF’s Chief Executive Carole Souter, said:

The role of the Royal Navy in the First World War deserves to be much better known. Now, thanks to Lottery money, visitors to M33 will be able to the learn more about the crucial part it played during the War, particularly at Gallipoli, alongside experiencing first-hand something of the conditions in which sailors lived and fought.

The Events

Cape Helles in Turkey, 24 April 2015 A Commonwealth and Ireland ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Helles Memorial on the Gallipoli Peninsula. There will be high-level UK Government representation as well as participation by the UK Armed Forces. Nations involved in the conflict, from both the Commonwealth and elsewhere, will be invited to attend. This service, significantly increased in size from previous years, will include readings, prayers and the laying of wreaths.

The National Commemoration of the Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign and Anzac Day, 25 April 2015 A Service of Commemoration at the Cenotaph in London, organised as a special centenary event by the UK Government - and incorporating the annual Anzac Day ceremony - with significant civilian and military presence, as well as and international government representation. This will take place after the annual Anzac Day Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial and the New Zealand Memorial at Hyde Park Corner, and the Gallipoli Association Service at St Paul’s. It will precede a Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey. It is hoped that all nations involved in the conflict will attend, together with descendants of those who fought there.

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth, 6 August 2015 An event in Portsmouth, with wide appeal, will aim to engage young people and contribute to the educational aims of the commemorative programme. It will be centred around HMS M33 – the last surviving ship from the campaign, currently being refurbished thanks to an HLF grant of £1.75m. The event would coincide with the completion of the ship’s refurbishment, and its opening to the public with an educational Gallipoli exhibition at the museum.

Further details of all these events will be made available over the forthcoming months on the First World War Centenary page

Notes to Editors

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. HLF has supported 36,000 projects with £6bn across the UK

HLF has invested more than £60million to over 1000 projects across the UK marking the Centenary of the First World War. It has committed at least £6million to 2019 to its First World War: then and now programme which is providing grants between £3,000 and £10,000 to local communities looking to explore and understand their First World War heritage. Larger grants for First World War projects are also available through HLF’s open programmes

About the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is one of the Government’s partners in the First World War Centenary programme. It ensures that 1.7 million people who died in the two world wars will never be forgotten. They care for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations, in 153 countries.

The Helles Memorial serves the dual function of Commonwealth battle memorial for the whole Gallipoli campaign and place of commemoration for many of those Commonwealth servicemen who died there and have no known grave. The United Kingdom and Indian forces named on the memorial died in operations throughout the peninsula, the Australians at Helles. There are also panels for those who died or were buried at sea in Gallipoli waters. The memorial bears more than 21,000 names. There are four other Memorials to the Missing at Gallipoli. The Lone Pine, Hill 60, and Chunuk Bair Memorials commemorate Australian and New Zealanders at Anzac Cove. The Twelve Tree Copse Memorial commemorates the New Zealanders at Helles. Naval casualties of the United Kingdom lost or buried at sea are recorded on their respective Memorials at Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham, in the United Kingdom.

Origins and Progress of the Gallipoli Campaign

The following is taken from The Imperial War museum’s website

The Gallipoli Campaign At dawn on 25 April 1915, Allied troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in Ottoman Turkey. The Gallipoli campaign was the land-based element of a strategy intended to allow Allied ships to pass through the Dardanelles, capture Constantinople (now Istanbul) and ultimately knock Ottoman Turkey out of the war.

Allied success in the campaign could have weakened the Central Powers, allowed Britain and France to support Russia and helped to secure British strength in the Middle East. But success depended on Ottoman Turkish opposition quickly crumbling.

General Sir Ian Hamilton decided to make two landings, placing the British 29th Division at Cape Helles and the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) north of Gaba Tepe in an area later dubbed Anzac Cove. Both landings were quickly contained by determined Ottoman troops, and neither the British nor the Anzacs were able to advance.

Trench warfare quickly took hold at Gallipoli, mirroring the fighting of the Western Front. At Anzac Cove it was particularly intensive. Casualties in both locations mounted heavily, and in the summer heat conditions rapidly deteriorated. Sickness was rampant, food quickly became inedible and there were vast swarms of black corpse flies.

In August a new assault was launched north of Anzac Cove against the hills around Chunuk Bair. This attack, along with a fresh landing at Suvla Bay, quickly failed and stalemate returned. Finally, in December, it was decided to evacuate - first Anzac and Suvla, followed by Helles in January 1916.

Gallipoli has become a defining moment in the history of both Australia and New Zealand, revealing characteristics that both countries have used to define their soldiers: endurance, determination, initiative and ‘mateship’. For the Ottomans, it was a brief respite in the decline of their empire. But through the emergence of Mustafa Kemal (later known as Atatürk) as one of the campaign’s leading figures, it also led to the foundation of modern Turkey.By 1915 the Western Front was clearly deadlocked. Allied strategy was under scrutiny, with strong arguments mounted for an offensive through the Balkans or even a landing on Germany’s Baltic coast, instead of more costly attacks in France and Belgium.

These ideas were initially sidelined, but in early 1915 the Russians found themselves threatened by the Turks in the Caucasus and appealed for some relief. The British decided to mount a naval expedition to bombard and take the Gallipoli Peninsula on the western shore of the Dardanelles, with Constantinople as its objective. By capturing Constantinople, the British hoped to link up with the Russians, knock Turkey out of the war and possibly persuade the Balkan states to join the Allies.

The naval attack began on 19 February. Bad weather caused delays and the attack was abandoned after three battleships had been sunk and three others damaged. Military assistance was required, but by the time troops began to land on 25 April, the Turks had had ample time to prepare adequate fortifications and the defending armies were now six times larger than when the campaign began.

Against determined opposition, Australian and New Zealand troops won a bridgehead at ‘Anzac Cove’ on the Aegean side of the peninsula. The British, meanwhile, landed at different points around Cape Helles. Little progress was subsequently made, and the Turks took advantage of the situation to bring as many troops as possible onto the peninsula.

Amid sweltering and disease-ridden conditions, the deadlock dragged on into the summer. In July the British reinforced the bridgehead at Anzac Cove and in early August landed more troops at Suvla Bay further to the north, to seize the Sari Bair heights and cut Turkish communications. The offensive and the landings both proved ineffectual within days, faced with waves of costly counter-attacks.

The War Council remained divided until late 1915 when it was decided to end the campaign. Troops were evacuated in December 1915 and January 1916.

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