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THE WELSH AT GALLIPOLI

Part of the history of the Welsh soldiers who fought at the battle of Gallipoli between April 25th 1915 and January 9th 1916.

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Gallipoli - Lt Richard Lunt Roberts Cartoon

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2015 is the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign.



Gallipoli is immortalised in the memories of people of Australia and New Zealand whose men formed the famous Australian and New Zealand Army Corps [ANZAC].



At the start of the First World War, Australia and New Zealand were young countries with small populations of 5 million and 1 million each. After suffering casualties of over 11,000 dead and nearly 25,000 wounded, a day of remembrance was instigated as early as 1916. This has ensured that those who lost their lives during the Gallipoli campaign will never be forgotten.



Men from many nations fought alongside the ANZACs at Gallipoli – from France, Newfoundland and India – as well as soldiers from all the home nations.



Like Australia and New Zealand, the population of Wales was small and it is often forgotten that Gallipoli saw some of the blackest days of the entire war for Wales, especially in August when the 53rd [Welsh] Division went into action at Suvla Bay.



By the end of the Gallipoli campaign, over 1,500 men from the South Wales Borderers, the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, the Welsh Horse Yeomanry, the Welch Regiment and many fighting in other regiments had died.



 



“A good army of 50,000 men and sea power –



that is the end of the Turkish menace.”



Winston Churchill 1915



 




 



 




“One night when I was going to HQ from the



trenches I heard some men in the dark so



pulled out my revolver and waited, when they



came nearer I heard they were our men, two



were helping a man badly shot-through the



thighs. I stopped them to see if I could do



anything – but was unable – the dying man



only said “I have tried to do my duty so nothing



else matters.” The cries of the wounded were



too awful all night.”



 



Captain Frank Mills, 6th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers



 



 


 



 



The war on the Western Front was not “over by Christmas”. The fast-paced war of movement that dominated most of 1914 had been replaced by a line of trenches resulting in deadlock. The British War Council were looking for another way to end the war swiftly.



In August 1914, the Russian army had been defeated at the battle of Tannenberg although it continued to tie up huge resources of the German army on the Eastern Front. Worried that their Black Sea ports of Odessa and Sebastopol were in danger of being attacked, Russia called on Great Britain and France for assistance.



If Turkey, part of the Ottoman Empire, and allied to the Central Powers, could be forced out of the war, supply lines to Russia could be established. This would enable access to the Persian oilfields, the Suez



Canal would remain protected and Germany could be attacked from another front. Once the decision had been made to attack the Dardanelles, it was planned to destroy the Turkish forts at the entrance to the Straits. British and French naval ships would then continue to sail up The Narrows, putting out of action the Turkish batteries on the shore. They would destroy the inner forts, whilst minesweepers would clear any obstacles.



Once Allied forces could proceed up the Straits of the Dardanelles and into the Sea of Marmora they could take the ancient city of Constantinople. This would push Turkey out of the war and bring relief to the Russian Black Sea ports.



 

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