The History Show and the organisers of the annual Hay Literary Festival in Kells have joined forces, to launch a commemorative event "Gallipoli 100", marking the 100th anniversary of the Dardanelles campaign of World War One.
All events will take place in the Church of Ireland, Cannon St, Kells. It will run from the 24th to the 26th of April 2015, the centenary of the first landings by troops on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey.
The three-day programme of events will commence on the evening of Friday, 24th April with the Francis Ledwidge Memorial Lecture, delivered by the distinguished Irish WW1 historian Philip Orr.
Click on the link below to view a draft schedule of events.
On this week's programme, we mark the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign of World War One. Myles is joined by Jennifer Wellington of UCD, Mike Cronin of Century Ireland, Minister of State Aodhán Ó'Ríordáin and Mustafa Aksakal, Associate Professor of History at the University of Georgetown.
This week on The History Show, we mark the centenary of the Great War battles for Gallipoli.
Casualties were heavy at V Beach (above). Disembarking troops made easy targets for Ottoman machine gunners. Photo: Mike Lee
Myles was joined throughout the programme by Jennifer Wellington, a lecturer at the School of History and Archives at UCD; MikeCronin,a project director with Century Ireland, Professor Mustafa Aksakul of Georgetown University in Washington D.C., an expert on the history of the late Ottoman empire; and Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, who in recent years has learned about his relatives who fought and died at Gallipoli.
120,000 soldiers from the Allied and Ottoman armies died at Gallipoli, amongst them more than three thousand forgotten Irishmen.
Photo: Mike Lee
In the Spring 1915, with stalemate on the Western front, the Allies moved to open a new front in the East by taking the Gallipoli peninsula, so securing the route by sea to Constantinople through the Dardelle Strait.
On the morning of April 25, Allied troops landed on the beaches of Gallipoli. They expected little opposition, but that was not to be, as described by an officer of the Dublin Fusiliers at V Beach:
"...I thought then that we would have no difficulty in landing. Then machine guns galore were played on us from a trench unseen at the bottom of the cliff, not ten yards from us. Shrapnel burst over our heads at the same time and before I knew where I was I was covered with dead men. Not knowing that they were dead, I was roaring at them to help me as I was drowning..."
A Royal Navy flier Lieutenant Commander Sampson flew over V Beach later that day, and noticed that the sea was a peculiar colour. He realised that it was red with blood, to a distance of about fifty yards from the shore.
Suvla Point with island of Samothrace in distance. Photo: Mike Lee
In the course of the nine month campaign, 44,150 invading Allied troops were killed. The Ottoman Army lost almost twice as many soldiers defending the peninsula.
But in December 1915, the Allied order came to withdraw, described by an Australian General:
"...Like a thunderbolt from a clear blue sky has come the stupendous and paralyzing news that, after all, the Allied War Council has decided that the best and wisest course is to evacuate the Peninsula,.... I am almost frightened to contemplate the howl of rage and disappointment there will be when the men find out what is afoot, and how they have been fooled, and I am wondering what Australia will think at the desertion of her 6,000 dead..."
The withdrawal was completed in January, 1916.
Photo: Mike Lee
Today, Gallipoli is remembered in Australia, New Zealand and in Turkey as being a key and defining moment in their national stories. And while the scale of Irish losses matches those of Australia and New Zealand, on this programme, we explore why our collective memory of those events remains less vivid?
This Tuesday at 10:15pm on RTÉ One Television, a new documentary will explore the forgotten role the Irish played at Gallipoli. Click below to view the trailer.
Irish Anzacs Database
The Irish Anzacs Database is a research project undertaken by the University of New South Wales in Austrlia, in collaboration with University College Dublin. The Irish Anzacs Database will allow Irish and Australian people to track Irish-born individuals who served during the First World War. As part of the project the database has identified and documented around 6,000 Irish-born people who enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces during the War.
Click here to learn more, and to search the database.
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