Dignitaries mark anniversary of 18 March 1915, when Turkish forces defeated Allied navy in the Dardanelles
Hundreds of people turned out in Portsmouth to mark the 102nd anniversary of 18 March 1915, the date of the Ottoman naval victory over the Allies at Gallipoli.
The ceremony held at the Gosport Turkish cemetery, near Portsmouth, where 26 Turkish sailors have rested since the 19th century.
Turkey’s ambassador to the UK Abdurrahman Bilgiç and his wife Esra; Zehra Başaran, the Turkish Cypriot representative in London; Turkish consul-general Çınar Ergin; embassy officials Cem Işık, Mahmut Özdemir and Onur Kıyıcı; Gosport mayor Lynn Hook; Servet Hassan from the Çanakkale Memorial Platform (ÇAP) and Leyla Kemal from the Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations in the UK were among the dignitaries present at the event held over the weekend.
Following a moment of silence and the Turkish national anthem, Mr Bilgiç made a short speech in which he underlined the importance of the Turkish victory over French, British and allied naval forces in the Dardanelles strait in 1915.
“It demonstrated how the Turkish nation, young and old, would remain upstanding in a show of unity and solidarity until its battle for existence was completed in 1923,” he told the gathering.
“We remember all those who laid down their lives for the Turkish country and homeland with gratitude.”
The wars at Çanakkale, better known in the west as the Gallipoli campaign, changed the direction of the world’s political history, Mr Bilgiç said.
“It enabled the flame of national unity and struggle to burn in our own war of independence,” he said.
“Our nation has never forgotten the martyrs of our republic. This is the first 18 March commemoration since the treacherous military coup attempt on 15 July last year and is all the more meaningful since 248 people were killed there.”
The Gosport Turkish cemetery contains the remains of 26 sailors who visited the area on board two Turkish ships but died after being admitted into Haslar Hospital in the area.
Following the Turkish naval victory on 18 March 1915, Allied forces launched an ultimately unsuccessful land invasion of the Gallipoli peninsula. The date of this landing, 25 April, is marked each year in Britain, Australia and New Zealand as the Allied commemoration of the Gallipoli campaign.