The Helles Memorial to the Gallipoli campaign will be among the venues for the 2015 Centenary commemorations (Photo: courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

Gallipoli Centenary April 25 - events preview, one month to go

Posted on centenarynews.com on 26 March 2015
Share |

Final preparations are being made for remembrance ceremonies around the world to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in Turkey.

The commemorations, on April 24th/25th, will be among the biggest First World War Centenary events of 2015.

For Australia and New Zealand, as well as Turkey, the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 is seen as a key episode in shaping their national identities.

British and French forces were supported by the newly formed Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs), as well as troops from the colonial Indian Army and Newfoundland (now part of Canada).

One hundred years on, the merits and conduct of the Allied assault are still vigorously debated by historians.

Gallipoli was originally conceived by Britain and France as a naval operation to knock Germany's Ottoman ally out of the war and bolster support for Russia which had been under pressure in the Caucasus.

Dardenelles

But Turkey defeated Allied attempts in March 1915 to force a passage through the Dardanelles Strait, the narrow channel forming part of the sea route from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.

Ground troops were landed on the rugged Gallipoli peninsula on April 25th, with the aim of capturing the Ottoman forts and artillery batteries guarding the Dardanelles. 

Stiff Turkish resistance prevented any significant advance. A campaign aimed at trying to break the deadlock of the Western Front became a stalemate itself, despite a renewed Allied offensive in August 1915.  

A Turkish military commander, Mustafa Kemal, came to prominence for his defence of Gallipoli, going on to found the modern Republic of Turkey after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Britain and France pulled out their forces after an eight-month campaign, successfully completing the withdrawal by January 1916.

According to figures compiled by the Gallipoli Association, the Allies suffered more than 250,000 casualties; of these approximately 58,000 died. Ottoman casualties, including  German soldiers attached to the Turkish forces, numbered in excess of 300,000, of whom 87,000 died.

April 25th was first marked as Anzac Day in 1916. For Australia and New Zealand, Gallipoli is seen as a significant moment in their emergence as nations distinct from the UK.

The date is now commemorated at ceremonies in countries across the world, including Australia, Belgium, Britain, France, Ireland, Israel, Malta, New Zealand and Turkey itself.

Descendants of veterans have been invited to play a special part in the 2015 Centenary ceremonies.

SUMMARY OF MAJOR INTERNATIONAL & NATIONAL COMMEMORATIONS

Gallipoli

A remembrance service on April 24th will open the Commonwealth and Ireland commemorations at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Cape Helles Memorial.

The Prince of Wales and Prince Harry will attend the ceremonies in Turkey on April 24th and 25th.

Anticipating record Centenary demand, Australia and New Zealand held ballots for members of the public wanting to travel to Gallipoli for the Anzac Day commemorations. 

Numbers are limited to 10,500 because of restricted space at the Anzac Commemorative Site, where the traditional Dawn Service is held on April 25th. 

This event is followed by an Australian memorial service at Lone Pine, and a New Zealand memorial service at Chunuk Bair.

The Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers, Tony Abbott and John Key, will be representing their countries.

London

The Cenotaph, Whitehall: focus for the UK's Gallipoli commemorations (Photo: Centenary News)

The centenary of the Gallipoli landings will be marked with a day of commemorations in London on April 25th, attended by members of the British Royal Family. 

They start at 5am with the Dawn Service at Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner, where the Australian and New Zealand War Memorials are situated.

At 9am, the Gallipoli Association will hold a short service and wreath laying ceremony in the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Descendants of those who fought in 1915 have been invited to take part in the national commemorative ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, starting at 11am.

The event will be attended by Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince William. It's led by the UK Government, in collaboration with the Australian and New Zealand High Commissions.

Tickets for the service of commemoration and thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey at 1pm are fully subscribed.

Services will also held in towns and cities across the UK including Birmingham, Cambridge and Coventry; and also in Ireland at Dublin, Cork and Limerick. Visit the Gallipoli Association website for more details. 

Canberra

The Australian War Memorial holds its Dawn Service, traditionally an informal event, at 5.30am.

The National Ceremony of Remembrance starts at 10.15am. The commemorative address will be delivered by Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. Sir Peter will also review a march-past of Australian forces' veterans. 

More information from the Australian War Memorial

Wellington

The New Zealand capital, Wellington, is hosting a week of Gallipoli Centenary commemorations. 

They start on April 18th with the opening of the newly created Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. On April 25th the park will be the venue for the Dawn Service at 5.30am and the Anzac Day Service at 11am.

There will also be a wreath laying service at the Cenotaph at 9am.

More details available from Wellington City Council.

A Centenary News article about the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park project can be found here.

Auckland

Auckland War Memorial Museum - the Anzac Day Dawn Service (Photo: courtesy of Auckland War Memorial Museum)

From April 22nd, on the nights leading up to Anzac Day, Auckland War Memorial Musem will project free film screenings onto its northern facade. The projections will include rarely seen photographs of New Zealanders at Gallipoli from the Museum’s pictorial collections.

On April 25th, the Museum's Anzac Day programme starts with the Dawn Service. Following events include: Performances from Auckland Choral, Auckland Youth Choir and Auckland Girls’ Choir and a performance by The New Zealand Dance Company.

For further information, visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum website. 

Belgium

Anzac Day commemorations are held in Ypres and surrounding First World War sites.

6am: Dawn Service Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke

9.35am: Commemoration Service - Tyne Cot Commonwealth Cemetery, Zonnebeke

11.10am: Procession and Menin Gate Service, Ypres 

11.35 am: Wreath-laying at the Belgian War Memorial, Ypres

3.30pm: Ploegsteert Toronto Avenue Cemetery commemoration service, Comines-Warneton

8pm: Nightly Last Post ceremony, Menin Gate, Ypres

More information from the Australian Embassy in Belgium website. 

France

Anzac Day commemorations include a Dawn Service at the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, starting at 5.30am. A French service follows at 8.45am at the Monument aux Morts in the town centre.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the future Queen Mother) at the unveiling of the Australian National Memorial in 1938 (Photo: courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

There's also a service at the Digger Memorial, on the outskirts of the village of Bullecourt, near Arras, at 2.45pm.

More details, including road closures and special access arrangements, on the Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs website: 

Many of the Gallipoli Centenary events are expected to attract large numbers of visitors, and people are advised to plan accordingly, and to check websites for updates.

Sources: The Gallipoli Association, Australian & New Zealand Governments, Auckland War Memorial Museum, the Australian War Memorial, Visitflanders

Images courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (Helles, Villers-Bretonneux); Auckland War Memorial Museum (Dawn Service); Centenary News (Cenotaph, Whitehall) 

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News