By Recep Sakar
MELBOURNE, Australia (AA) - Turks and Australians in Melbourne gathered Thursday to remember the fallen Anzac troops of the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire during WWI.
The memorial service and parade, organized by the Victoria Returned and Services League (RSL) Turkey sub-branch, marked the 104th anniversary of the first landing by Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) troops on the Gallipoli peninsula.
“We walk in the memory of our martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the sake of our holy homeland,” Ramazan Altintas, president for Victoria RSL Turkey sub-branch, told Anadolu Agency.
“We, the Turkish society, share the bitter and sweet days of the country we are living. Our Australian brothers and sisters are remembering the Anzac Day, and of course we should do this together. I would like to thank all of the friends who participated in the walk,” he added.
After the Anzac memorial service in Melbourne city center, veterans who participated in the World War II, grandchildren of veterans, civil and military school students and Turks living in Australia held the official parade.
The events leading up to the momentous battle started in February 1915, when Britain and France decided to launch the Gallipoli Campaign to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war as quickly as possible by reaching and capturing its capital, Istanbul.
They started their attack on March 18 -- the day, which is commemorated today as the Canakkale Naval Victory Day -- but the waters were filled with a network of mines laid by Ottoman vessels.
On April 25, allied soldiers landed on the shores of the Gallipoli peninsula. The troops were there as part of a plan to open the Dardanelles Strait on Turkey's Aegean coast to Allied fleets, allowing them to threaten the Ottoman capital.
The Allied forces, however, encountered strong and courageous resistance from the Turks and the campaign turned out to be a costly failure.
Tens of thousands of Turkish nationals and soldiers died, along with tens of thousands of Europeans, plus around 7,000 - 8,000 Australians and nearly 3,000 New Zealanders, referred together as Anzac troops.
Victory against the Allied forces boosted the morale of the Turkish side, who then went on to wage a war of independence between 1919 and 1922, and eventually formed a republic in 1923 from the ashes of the old empire.
The day is commemorated in Australia and New Zealand as ANZAC Day and Gallipoli is seen as one of the defining events that ushered both countries towards nationhood.
The battle also forged links between Turkey, which emerged as a modern state shortly after the war, and the ANZAC countries.
* Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic