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Five nations gather at St Paul's to remember Gallipoli, 99 years on

Representatives from Australia, New Zealand, France, Turkey and the UK have gathered at St Paul's to remember the Gallipoli Campaign of World War One.

99 years on from the ill-fated Allied attempt to secure the strategic stronghold of Constantinople, now Istanbul, in Turkey, wreaths were laid at the national memorial to the campaign in the crypt of the Cathedral on Friday 25 April.


Placed at the foot of the memorial, which is next to the tomb of Lord Nelson, wreaths were laid by:

Lord Astor of Hever, Under Secretary of State for Defence
Admiral Sir George Zambellas, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff
General Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff
HE The Hon Mike Rann, High Commissioner for Australia
HE The Rt Hon Sir Lockwood Smith, High Commissioner for New Zealand 
Rear Admiral Henri Schricke, Defence Attaché, France
HE Mr Unal Cevikoz, Turkish Ambassador
Captain Christopher Fagan DL, Chairman Gallipoli Association

As part of the ceremony, the Turkish Ambassador delivered words spoken by Kemal Ataturk, the first president of Turkey, when he visited Gallipoli almost two decades after the campaign in 1934.

The Last Post was sounded by L/Sgt Christopher Clark from the Band of the Scots Guards and a Lament was played by Pipe Sgt Rob Williams of the London Irish Rifles Pipes and Drums.


The Gallipoli Campaign and the founding of Anzac

The Gallipoli Campaign of 1915 was one of the largest campaigns of the First World War and was especially to become known as a defining moment in the histories of both Australia and New Zealand.

With stalemate on the Western Front, and the Russians under threat from the Ottoman Empire, it was decided to mount a naval attack on the Gallipoli Peninsula with the aim of capturing Constantinople.

On 25 April 1915 British, French, Australian and New Zealand troops all landed on the peninsula but immediately came up against stiff resistance from the Turks.

Trench warfare quickly took hold and a long siege began. At Gaba Tepe, later dubbed Anzac Cove, where the Australian and New Zealand forces were based, conditions rapidly deteriorated in the heat, allowing disease to quickly spread and food to become inedible. 

With the Allied troops moving nowhere and political crisis at home, a decision was made to evacuate in December that year.

In just eight months, of the 410,000 British, Australian, New Zealand and other Empire troops and 70,000 French who went ashore, 50,000 were killed, with only 10,000 having known graves. 202,000 were wounded, evacuated sick or captured. The Turkish forces, with some Germans, numbered about 350,000, of whom at least 66,000 were killed plus some 284,000 casualties. 

Anzac Day, which is now the largest day of remembrance in both Australia and New Zealand, was born directly from the Gallipoli conflict and is remembered each year on April 25. In both countries this campaign was a pivotal moment in history and helped create the Anzac Spirit of endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour,larrikinism, and mateship.

When Turkey became a republic, Kemal Ataturk was to become its first president. With magnanimity and statesmanship Ataturk extended a message of comfort to the war widows and mothers of all the Allied troops of Gallipoli, which contributed greatly to reconciliation and to the friendship that now exists between the allied countries and Turkey.


The Gallipoli Memorial

The Gallipoli Memorial, which is intended to commemorate all those who took part in the Campaign, was erected by the Gallipoli Association and unveiled on 28 November 1995 by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in the presence of eight surviving veterans.


Art from war - descendants of WW1 soldiers sought for St Paul's Commemoration

The Cathedral is still looking for relatives of 133 WW1 casualties, who created a stunning altar piece for St Paul's as they recovered in hospitals across the country.

As well as from the UK, many of the men were from Australia, New Zealand and Canada.