World Bulletin / News Desk
A series of commemorative ceremonies were held in the northwestern Canakkale province on Sunday on the occasion of the 95th anniversary of the "Canakkale Land Battles".
Turkish 1st Army Commander Gen. Hasan Igsiz, Governor General of Australia Quentin Bryce, New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key as well as numerous local and foreign tourists attended the commemoration at the "57th Regiment Martyrdom", Anadolu news agency said.
During the ceremony, wreaths were laid at the monument on behalf of Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Canada, France, Germany, India, Ireland and Pakistan.
Apart from the commemoration at the "57th Regiment Martyrdom", various ceremonies were held at Anzac Cove, Australian Lone Pine Monument and the New Zealand Monument at Conkbayiri.
Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders came to Anzac Cove at night time in order to attend the "Dawn Ceremony" held in early hours of Sunday. The ceremony was inaugurated by New Zealand's Chief of General Staff Gen. Jeremiah Mateparae.
Speaking at the gathering, Governor General of Australia Quentin Bryce said both Australians and New Zealanders were proud to be on the lands that became home to their martyrs.
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key said in his part that the Canakkale Battles played an important role in the formation of a consciousness regarding national identity in both countries.
"Today, New Zealanders, Australians and Turks stand next to each other with their strong friendship and they work for a peaceful, safe and prosperous world," Key said.
As part of the commemorations, another ceremony was held at the Australian Lone Pine Monument.
Australia's Governor General Bryce, Australian Minister for Veteran Affairs Alan Peter Griffin and Australian ambassador in Ankara Peter Doyle were present at the ceremony.
Martyrs of the Canakkale Battles were commemorated at the New Zealand Monument in Conkbayiri as well.
New Zealand's Prime Minister Key, General Staff Chief Gen. Jeremiah Mateparae, Minister for Veteran Affairs Judith Collins, as well as the country's ambassador in the Turkish capital Andrea Smith attended the ceremony at the New Zealander monument.
"Canakkale naval victory"
During the World War I, a joint British and French occupation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul, and secure a sea route to Russia.
British commander Admiral Sackville Carden developed a three stage plan to pass from the Canakkale Strait. The plan included neutralisation of the Turkish forts guarding the entrance, then clearing of the Turkish minefield, and finally a drive into the Sea of Marmara.
The Allied forces' naval attack began on February 19, 1915. Until March 13, they continuously bombarded the Turkish forts and opened a way for the minesweepers. But they confronted with Turks' determined resistance. The Allies could clean only the first five miles of the strait.
Until March 18, the Allied forces destroyed Seddulbahir and Ertugrul forts located on the European shore and Kumkale and Orhaniye forts located on the Asiatic shore.
The Allied Fleet appeared in the entrance in the morning of March 18. Britain's Queen Elizabeth led the first wave up the channel. Queen Elizabeth's target was Mecidiye fort while the other vessels Lord Nelson would bomb the Namazgah fort and Inflexible's object was Hamidiye fort.
As the French ships had their return, something unexpected happened. French ship Bouvet hit a mine and within two minutes disappeared entirely, with the loss of almost all her crew. Several other ships hit mines after Bouvet in hours. Later on that day, British ship Ocean also hit a mine and exploded. According to Turkish sources, the Allies' total casualties were 187,000 soldiers while the Turkish causality was about 211,000 soldiers.
The Allied Navy failed to open the straits and to capture Istanbul. Both March 18th Naval Victory and the Gelibolu (Gallipoli) land victories restored the Turkish Army's prestige in the world and constituted a milestone in Turkish nation's struggle for independence.