Just days before thousands will descend on a small cove overlooking the Çanakkale Strait, Turkey is taking every precaution necessary to ensure that there are no disturbances on ANZAC Day.
On April 24-25, guests from Australia and New Zealand will attend a commemorative ceremony for the fallen World War I soldiers of the Australia and New Zealand Corps (ANZAC).
A horse-mounted gendarmerie unit, originally deployed in the historic and geographically challenging Cappadocia region of central Turkey, along with well-armed soldiers from elite units will be deployed at the Gelibolu (Gallipoli) Peninsula where ANZAC troops loyal to the Allies were defeated by outnumbered Ottoman troops 102 years ago.
Starting on April 3, gendarmerie troops started around-the-clock patrols of the area. The total number of troops will reach 1,500 for the two-day commemoration events. The mounted troops providing security at the dawn service for the foreign troops will also join a symbolic march of a World War I Ottoman brigade credited with the victory over the Allies.
Although there has never been a terror attack during past events, earlier this month the Australia and New Zealand authorities warned about a possible attack. Australian Veterans Affairs Minister Dan Tehan urged those registered to travel to Gallipoli to exercise a high degree of caution. However, the authorities did not release any details about the nature of the threat.
Similarly, New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully urged travelers to check travel warnings, though he also expressed confidence in the Turkish authorities' ability to handle event security.
Anadolu Agency reported that gendarmerie troops will be deployed at every site included in the commemoration ceremonies, from Lone Pine Ridge to Conkbayırı (Chunuk Bair), as well as at the cemeteries of Ottoman troops. Mounted personnel will provide security services in the steep areas that are inaccessible with motor vehicles.
The Battle of Gallipoli, where the ANZAC soldiers lost their lives, was a World War I campaign between 1915 and 1916. The aim was to support the Western Front while they attempted to open a supply route to Russia. The key landing was the Gallipoli Peninsula.
In the 1920s, the first ceremonies memorializing the tens of thousands of soldiers were held throughout Australia and in the 1940s veterans from World War II started joining the various parades.
Although the number of people attending the ceremonies declined in the 1960s and 1970s, interest rose again in the 1990s and continues today with large turnouts in recent years.