Anzac Commemorations Of The Centenary Of The Gallipoli War

Anzac Commemorations of the

Centenary of the Gallipoli War


By Sermen Erdogan…….

The commemorations of ANZAC day have started early in Australia this year being the 100th year of the Gallipoli wars in Çanakkale in Turkey.  This needless war was between the Western allies and the Ottoman Empire where a quarter of a million young men  lost their lives.

However, this is a signifcant war for Australia and Turkey as both Nations gained an identity for themselves and have developed friendly relations ever since. This friendship has culminated in allowing Turkish nationals both from mainland Turkey and Cyprus to migrate and settle in Australia and make it their home. Therefore, a sizable Turkish community now lives in Australia .

Several films and TV series have been prepared and produced in the past.  For the 100th Centenary  one of the most important ones that has been produced and directed by Russell Crow is the film “Water Diviner”. For the first time the Turkish perspective of the war has been reflected onto the white screen and has been successful in the box office of cinemas around the world. This was a very worthwhile film to watch and learn from for Australians and other nationals of the Allied Western forces. In that a whole generation of young Turks were lost in this war.  For a good understanding of what this war and “Water Diviner“ meant for Australia and Turkey refer to the article by clicking here

Australia wide activities have been in the planning stages over the last couple of years and have been supported by both the Australian and the Turkish governments.

The following article from the Melbourne Herald outlines one such activity as a joint effort from both governments and the Turkish community of Melbourne.

Gallipoli scupture for park article

This Turkish memorial will be opened near the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance on 13 April 2015 at 2.00p.m by the Premier of Victoria and the Turkish Vice Consul Mehmet Küçüksakallı.

Plans and how the memorial will look with Australian members and the Turkish Consul for Vıctoria

Photo with the plans and how the memorial will look with Australian members and the Turkish Consul for Victoria.

The Australian Turkish Friendship memorial was opened on the 13th of April 2015. The Ceremony was attended by a large crowd from both sides of the fence! After the official speeches Australian and Turkish anthems were sung and the Turkish band and choir presented songs on the Çanakkale war like Çanakkale Türküsü.  Afterwards a large buffet of Turkish food and drinks were on offer for the attendees .

Australian Turkish Memorial after the opening on 13.4.2015 with Mustafa Uzunoğlu and Sermen Erdoğan Two classmates from Nicosia.

Photo  is a shot of the Australian Turkish Memorial after the opening on 13.4.2015 with Mustafa Uzunoğlu and Sermen Erdoğan Two classmates from Nicosia.

Photo ,at the opening of the Australian Turkish Friendship Memorial in the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne on 13.4.2015.

Photo at the opening of the Australian Turkish Friendship Memorial in the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne on 13.4.2015. Left to right the Mayor of Broadmeadows Council (2nd time a Turkish person has been elected as mayor) Lady in the white coat is Nazlı Süleyman elected Member of Parliament of Victoria (a first for a Turkish Cypriot person) her father Hakkı Süleyman President of the Migrant Resource Services North West, Turkish Consul of Melbourne, Turkish Ambassador of Turkey, Tayfun Eren, Ramazan Altıntaş president of Turkish Returned Servicemen League of Victoria (who was instrumental in this project), Burhan Yiğit Member of Parliament of north West Melbourne.

Sydney started the Centenary commemorations by the opening of a plaque of Atatürk near their Remembrance Shrine in  New South Wales. The plaque contains the very consoling  letter sent to the Australian and New Zealand mothers by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. That ends with:

You the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears …

Sydney started the Centenary commemorations by opening of a plaque of Atatürk near their Remembrance Shrine in  New South Wales

This how the event was recorded by the Tribune International  click here   

I attended also a poem book launch of ’This Intimate War ‘ Gallipoli/ Çanakkale 1915 by Robyn Rowland which was  translated to Turkish by Mehmet Ali Çelikel. This is a bilingual book with poems in English and the Turkish in the corresponding pages. The cover page is a portrait painted by Fehmi Korkut Uluğ of a Turkish soldier helping a wounded Australian soldier to get back to his trenches. The book was funded by the Australian Art grant and also Çanakkale Municipality in Turkey.

An excerpt from ‘This Intimate War’;

Anybody left ? Anybody left? No ?

Sentries freeze at their posts, rifles sealed to their hands .

At Anzac, more than two hundred are dead from the cold

That bites its way into their bowels.

Cut down shorts of summer

Expose flesh to ice, boots frozen on.

The bruised, burnt land is white as the colourless dead.

Turks wait on this crystal-flaked ally, patiently,

While London is a tug-of war politics.


Charles Bingham lays a table with plates,

Bully beef, knife and fork, Turkish Patrol playing

on a Red Cross gramophone.

His note reads – ‘have a good feed Johnny’.

Basil Holmes – not a scotch drinker –

Leaves an unopened bottle of Johnny Walker

İn his dug-out at Quinn’s Post,

A scrap of paper with its message – ‘a present for a good Turk’.

The above part of the poem is talking about the suffering in the last months of the Gallipoli war before the withdrawal of the Anzac troops. The feeling of respect  and messages left behind by the Anzacs was one of friendship and goodwill as can be seen in the last few words of this poem. The book will be launched in Turkey as well for those who are interested in reading all the poems, the ISBN is 978-0-7340-5100-4 I believe is available on Amazon .

On 18 March 2015 it was the opening of the Gelibolu A Turkish Australian Perspective on Gallipoli.

With activities and an Art Exhibition by the Turkish Australian artists. There are also lectures by Dr Selim Pullu and Community Story Telling sessions to come until 25 April.

There is also a Facebook page “Gelibolu: A Turkish-Australian Perspective on Gallipoli” you can view by clicking here


I also attended a wonderful concert by the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) on the 23 March called “Reflections on Gallipoli”. The ACO was directed by Richard Tognetti and gave a superb concert with a mixture of Gallipoli related pieces of Turkish and Australian compositions. Some of the Turkish compositions  that are significant and worthwhile to mention in these performances are; Çanakkale Türküsü by Muzaffer Sarıözen and arranged by Cyrus Meurant, Ceddin Dede Traditional, Kaçsam Bırakıp Senden Uzak Yollara Gitsem by Mehveş Hanım, Nihavend Longa, Traditional also an Adagio for String Orchestra by Nevit Kodallı and Our Sons Soliloquy by Carl Vines of Perth.

Çanakkale Türküsü became particularly associated with the Gallipoli campaign, its refrain of “Oh, my youth, alas” resonating with the experience of all those young soldiers marching off into battle. The song expresses the horror of the dying and wounded and those they left behind, ending with a lament for the ‘brave lions’ now resting beneath the willows.

Ceddin Dede is a patriotic Turkish song celebrating the military heroes of the nation and the current Turkish forces who are renowned all over the world. With its references to the Ottoman conquests of Constantinople in 1453 and usually played by the immaculately dressed military bands, it was sung by the Turkish troops to fire themselves up before, and even during battle on Gallipoli.

Kaçsam Bırakıp Senden Uzak Yollara Gitsem is a beautiful lament, much favoured by contemporary Turkish popular singers.  Centred on the immortal themes of love and loss, its lovely melody has a universal appeal.

Nihavent Longa is the Turkish equivalent of the Western minor-key scale, an Alaturka makam .

Another two pieces that are significant to mention were “ Adagio for String Orchestra by Nevit Kodallı” a Turkish composer from Turkey (1924-2009)

Nevit Kodalı having spent much of his career teaching at Ankara State Conservatory, his catalogue of works reflects his cultural identity, his Atatürk Oratorio and Republic Cantara among the 20th  century’s most important Turkish works, while his opera Van Gough and much of his orchestral and chamber music, including his Adagio for String Orchestra, take their rightful place squarely in the grand Western tradition.  Kodallıs Adagio reflects the sense of grief and loss of all who have suffered in war and all who mourn the 20th century’s passing parade of generations thrust unavoidably into conflict.

The Our Sons Soliloquy by Carl Vine (born in Perth 1954)

Carl Vine said “Our Sons Soliloquy was written in direct response to the horrific narratives for Anzac troops in the front line trenches at Gallipoli, compiled for this concert. It reflects in turn the personal horror, disbelief, and anguish and anger evoked by such stark depictions of pointless human suffering, inflicted by countries who considered themselves civilised, upon their own citizens, words fail me”.

Vine continues “Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s epitaph on the Turkish memorial at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, is addressed  directly to the mothers of the fallen Anzacs and resonates with a level of compassion and generosity that should shame the allied commanders whom he defeated in battle.”

The Soliloquy is a  composition purely using the English words  of Atatürk’s message to the Australian mothers that is repeated at every Anzac commemoration in Australia and Gallipoli. Which follows ;

“ Those heroes who 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 Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours….

You the mothers, who sent their sons from far away 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.“

The Narration and the story lines of the concert was done in both English and Turkish by Actor Yalın Özüçelik of Sydney and was well received by the Australian patrons.

The following video is an explanation of music played by the Artistic director of ACO.

In the following video you can hear and watch the music played by the ACO and how the music for the concert was organised for this concert.

Sermen Erdogan


I am looking forward to the 25th of April and the rest of the commemoration activities this year as it is a century of history that is coming alive and remembering all of those who were lost to the humanity as young men.







2 replies »

  1. What a wonderful article. The feeling of mutual sacrifice and respect are a shining example for those in other conflicts where hatred and bitterness are carried forward needlessly to future generations. Ataturks words are a shining example that others can learn on love and forgiveness. Sermen has done a fantastic job of reminding us about the this tragic war and bringing it to the attention of present day generations. Well done
    I shall certainly watch the film “Water Diviner”. Russell Crowe is a superb actor and no doubt will make people look at the Gallipoli campaign from a different perspective.

  2. Thank you Ismail Veli for your comment . It is much appreciated, you are right , there are a lot of things we can learn from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in todays world of conflict , especially his philosophy of PEACE at home PEACE on Earth.