A special bond
‘Seldom have so many countries of the world, races and nations sent their representatives to so small a place with the praiseworthy intention of killing one another’. 1 This remark, made by a German officer who fought alongside the Ottomans at Gallipoli, aptly sums up the bloody reality of that famous campaign. Throughout 1915, Ottoman and German troops turned back repeated sea and land assaults from British, French, Indian, Newfoundland, Australian and New Zealand forces. In all, nearly a million men fought there. The battlefields were tiny; the casualties enormous. The Ottomans threw almost half a million men into the battle, of whom 250 000 became casualties. Although no accurate records are available, 86 000 Ottoman troops died there. The German contingent was very small and lost few men. British and Indian casualties totalled 119 696 (including over 28 000 dead); the French suffered 47 000 casualties. Australia–s wounded numbered 27 700, of whom 8700 were killed, while the New Zealanders lost 7571 men (2701 killed). It seems almost incomprehensible that such casualties could be sustained in this small area. Almost 50 000 Australians subsequently died on the Western Front–when compared to that level of sustained butchery in battle, we are tempted to view the Gallipoli losses almost as light. The Ottomans, by comparison, suffered more casualties at Gallipoli than in any other campaign of the war. In many regards, all such comparisons are invidious. What comfort is it for a dead soldier–s loved ones or the maimed to be told that Gallipoli was not quite the hell of France and Belgium? Not quite … but hell all the same.
In Turkey, the campaign is known as the Battle of Çanakkale.