Cousins in Arms: Irish and Australians at Gallipoli

Tuesday 18th November 2014, 8pm, The Officers’ Mess, Custume Barracks, Athlone

– talk by Prof. Jeff Kildea

University College Dublin & University of New South Wales

H.E. Dr. Ruth Adler, Australian Ambassador and Mr. Zeki Guler, Counsellor at the Turkish Embassy in Dublin, will be attending.

Australian Ambassador to Ireland

Dr. John Keane and H.E. Dr. Ruth Adler (The Old Athlone Society)

Summary – Prof Kildea will outline the history of this military adventure that resulted in the death of many Irish soldiers alongside their Australian comrades at Gallipoli, in 1915, which is a relatively forgotten aspect of our military history. Stalemate on the Western front led to Winston Churchill’s ill-conceived initiative to bring about the end of the World War One. This involved the Allied forces attempting to gain control of the strategic sea route to Constantinople (Istanbul) through the narrow straits of the Dardanelles (Canakkale Bogazi) in Turkey.

Until April 1915, few Irish or Australians had been aware of the Turkish area of Gallipoli. However, by December 1915, Gallipoli would become synonymous with slaughter. The Turks also lost thousands of men defending their country under the command of Mustafa Kemal who, in 1934, as president of the new Turkey in recognition of the bravery and sacrifice of the Australian and New Zealand forces had the following inscribed on the Anzac memorial:

Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives…
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets
to us where they lie side by side now
here in this country of ours…
you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries
wipe away your tears;
your sons are now lying in our bosom
and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land
they have become our sons as well.

ATATURK, 1934

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