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Slaughter at Gallipoli avoidable, says envoy

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  • Slaughter at Gallipoli avoidable, says envoy

    Slaughter at Gallipoli avoidable, says envoy

    THE SLAUGHTER at Gallipoli could have been avoided had the British accepted Turkey’s offer to side with them during the first World War, the Turkish ambassador to Ireland has claimed.

    Turkey was neutral at the start of the war, but joined in on the German side in late October 1914 after a series of incidents, most notably when two German warships reflagged under the Turkish navy opened fire on Russian seaports.

    Altay Cengizer said his country’s entry into the war was the subject of “revisionist thinking” which gave the impression that the Turkish-led Ottoman empire was just waiting for the opportunity to join the Central Powers.

    Mr Cengizer, who has an MA in international history from the London School of Economics, will address a conference on Ireland’s involvement in the war this morning at Collins Barracks in Dublin.

    His theme will be “diplomacy of the choiceless” which he said was the result of the attitudes of the Entente powers of Britain, France and Russia to Turkey at the start of the war and a promise that Russia had a claim on Istanbul.

    “Turkey had no other choice, because it was going to be partitioned by the Entente,” he said.

    “Turkey wanted to become allied with the Entente Powers, but the Turkish government at the time was rebuffed because of the desire, mainly of Britain, to keep Russia on its side,” he said.

    “When the Liberal, imperialist government of [Herbert] Asquith and [Edward] Grey was in place, they continually turned down Turkish offers. They did not come up with anything meaningful in relation to Turkish neutral status. They underestimated Turkey’s strengths.”

    Turkey’s entry into the war led to the disastrous Battle of Gallipoli in 1915 with the loss of hundreds of thousands on both sides, including an estimated 4,000 Irishmen who were killed during the battle. President Mary McAleese visited Gallipoli earlier this year.


    Irish who fought and died at Gallipoli honoured


    THE IRISH at Gallipoli is one of the most marginalised stories of all, those attending an event commemorating the first World War heard in Dublin on Saturday.

    Historian and author Philip Orr said that, while the struggle at Gallipoli was part of the narrative of many nations, describing it as a “founding myth” of Australia and New Zealand and an important part of identity in Northern Ireland, it had only come back into the consciousness of the Republic in recent years.

    Speaking at the Museum of Decorative Arts History, Collins Barracks, Mr Orr said, “men walked out of this very gateway and perished”. In an address titled Gallipoli – Ireland’s Forgotten Battle? Mr Orr described the battle, in which half a million men were casualties, up to 4,000 of whom were Irish, as a “monumental waste of human life”.

    He said with the western front “a quagmire”, Winston Churchill’s logic was to bombard Constantinople, and the 29th Division, including members of the Royal Dublin, Munster and Inniskilling Fusiliers, went ashore in April 1915 at Cape Helles on Gallipoli.

    He said it was soon clear that Britain’s perception of Turkey as a “sick man of Europe” to be quickly overcome was wrong, with up to 600 men killed in just 15 minutes.

    He added that while in Northern Ireland, honour is given to the solidly unionist 36th Ulster Division, the memory of the sacrifice of the Irish in the nationalist 16th Division and the 10th Division, which included Protestants from the South, “had faded”.

    The Turkish ambassador to Ireland Altay Cengizer, who also addressed the event, said the slaughter at Gallipoli, where tens of thousands of Turkish people died, could have been avoided had the British accepted Turkey’s offer to side with them. “The degree of hubris of the British at this time was quite unbelievable.”

    In her lecture, “The Poppy and the Harp”, archaeological historian Niamh Keating, said that in an independent Ireland, the place of the 200,000 Irish who fought was “often forgotten or denied”.

    She said the war memorial at Islandbridge, though planned for 70 years, was not officially opened until 1988. She said an oratory erected by the townspeople of Dún Laoghaire in 1919 was an exception, but said its location in the grounds of a convent showed the “unfavourable conditions of building more public memorials”.
    Last edited by Victor; 15 November 2010, 14:34.
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

  • #2
    Gallipoli was the "brainchild" of Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admirality. The aim was to eventually capture what is now Istanbul (would it not have been better done over the much shorter distance on the Russian side?).

    To me it was an attempt to be seen to do something and ended IMHO a far worse type of disaster than the Western Front that caused the deaths of over 4000 Irish men. The 10 (Irish) Division was from both the Republican and Unionist traditions, and some units were later sent to the Western Front!


    • #3
      While I would stop well short of describing Gallipoli as worse than the Western Front (in the first hours of the Battle of the Somme the Ulster Division suffered 5,500 casualties alone!) it was an horrendous waste of life and typified the whole war and how it was fought by the powers that be. How Churchill ever was allowed back into government again amazes me
      "Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied."

      Otto Von Bismark


      • #4
        Possibly bad term of phrase - what I meant was in terms of living conditions, disease etc


        • #5
          A lot of our wounded soldiers would have died in the scrub fires that

          had being started by the fire fights. Churchhill was never to my knowledge brought

          to account for his incompetence at Gallipoli


          • #6
            Additional story added to first post. Also see:
            Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead


            • #7
              Asa a matter of fact Churchill WAS taken to task over the disaster at Gallipoli, there was a major enquiry into the fiasco. He was acquitted of any blame because he had nothing to do with Gallipoli, he was behind the earlier Naval operation, the attempt to force the strait of the Dardamelles using Batleships. This failed because a number of ships were lost to mines. He took no part in the subsequent land operation to seize the Gallipoli peninsula. As a matter of interest, when the enquiry was concluded Churchill resigned his seat and returned to the Army. He was given command of 5th Bn. Royal Scots Fusiliers on the Western Front and served there for about 6 months in fact, before returning once more to political life.
              Somehow, I can't see many politicians today putting their necks on the line in that manner, can you?