Canadians and Turks came together yesterday in the western city of Çanakkale to commemorate the 103rd anniversary of the landing of the Newfoundland Regiment in Çanakkale as part of the Battle of Gallipoli.
The landing of the regiment was part of the Gallipoli campaign of World War I where Allied forces wrestled for control of the area from Ottoman Turkish troops.
The Newfoundland Regiment, that lost 44 members, was the only force from North America to fight in the campaign.
Ambassador Chris Cooter and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Innovation for Newfoundland and Labrador Christopher Mitchelmore represented Canada at the ceremony at the Hill 10 Monument dedicated to fallen soldiers. Turkey's Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Haluk Dursun accompanied them at the ceremony where officials laid wreaths at the monument and visited the graves of fallen soldiers. "We are pleased that such a historical struggle for survival evolved into a unity in emotions and permanent friendship years later. We are happy that old enemies became new friends and bow in respect [together] in memory of soldiers who dedicated their lives to their nation," said Dursun. Mitchelmore said the event was an opportunity to thank people who fought in the war and the legacy they left.
The Canadian regiment was part of an army composed of British, New Zealander, Australian, Irish, French and Indian troops in the campaign that lasted for eight months. More than 44,000 troops were killed on the Allied side while the Ottomans lost about 87,000 men.
The Ottoman forces managed to drive off the invading forces in the end, although the empire collapsed at the end of World War I. Every year, the descendants of fallen soldiers arrive from around the world to mark the disastrous landings of the Allied forces at Gallipoli in April.