Royals join Gallipoli commemoration

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Published: Friday 24th April 2015 by The News Editor

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The Prince of Wales and Prince Harry will mark the centenary of the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign by joining two days of commemorations on the remote and beautiful Turkish peninsula.

They will meet descendants of veterans and visit cemeteries for the fallen soldiers who died in what was, until that point, the bloodiest in World War One.

At dawn on April 25 1915, waves of Allied troops launched an amphibious attack on the strategically-important peninsula, which was key to controlling the Dardanelles straits, the crucial route to the Black Sea and Russia.

But the plan by Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, was flawed and the campaign in the face of heroic defending by the Turks, led to stalemate and eight months later, withdrawal.

Around 58,000 Allied troops died, including 29,500 from Britain and Ireland, over 12,000 from France, 11,000 from Australia and New Zealand and 1,500 from India.

Conditions were hellish as more than half a million Allies faced heat, flies, dysentery and eventually, extreme cold.

An estimated 87,000 Turks were also killed, with 300,000 casualties.

While Anzac Day is nationally-observed in Australia and New Zealand, many relatives felt Britain and Ireland’s contribution to the campaign, and the bravery of those who fought, has been overshadowed by the war on the Western Front.

The princes will meet 15 descendants of veterans and attend a ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Helles Memorial.

Hugh Gillespie, 72, from near Northallerton, North Yorkshire, will honour his grandfather Lt Col Franklin Gillespie, who was killed by a sniper while leading his battalion on a daring raid.

He said: “I think it is phenomenal how brave and how disciplined the troops were, it is remarkable that they went into the attack when the chances of survival were very low.”

After attending commemorations for British and other Commonwealth countries, the princes will join a French ceremony this evening.

Tomorrow they will mark Anzac Day by attending a traditional dawn service.

Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders of all ages have travelled to Turkey after winning places in a ballot. Many will camp overnight to join in the poignant remembrance ceremony.

Published: Friday 24th April 2015 by The News Editor

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