Welcome

Çanakkale 2015, is an International Stamp Exhibition with the main theme of
Çanakkale Wars (Gallipoli Campaign) and WWI.

The Exhibition will open on Wednesday 18th March and close on Wednesday 25th March 2015.

Exhibitors whose exhibits are representing or related with Çanakkale Wars and WWI from invited federations shall be eligible for participating at Çanakkale 2015.

Entries in non-competitive classes (including Court of Honour) shall be by special invitation at the discretion of the Organizing Committee.

Invited federations to Çanakkale 2015 are;
Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, New Zealand, Pakistan, Turkey and United Kingdom.


Australia Austria Bulgaria France Germany Greece Hungary New Zealand Pakistan Turkey

United Kingdom











THE WAR IN GALLIPOLI ON ITS CENTENNIAL

Sermet Atacanlı*

With the arrival of the year 2015, we have come to observe the centennial of the Gallipoli War. Such anniversaries provide us with an opportunity to take a comprehensive, in-depth look at the past and the events of the past, and with the advantage of the time that has elapsed, to draw conclusions for the future.

The war in Gallipoli was one of the largest military engagements during the WWI. This calamity, namely the WWI shook the European continent, the Caucasus and the Middle East with such a blow that until that time was unprecedented; leading up to the redrawing of the political maps of the region. It hurled nations into great agony with enormous losses of human life and buried three empires, the Austro-Hungarian, the German and the Ottoman states into history.


The Dardanelles - the Dardanelles Strait

Some scholars argue that the October Revolution of 1917 that had led the Russian Tsardom to change its regime and withdraw from the war also was one of the consequences of that great war. The WWI at the same time emerged also as a direct outcome of the expansionist policies that, with Britain at the lead, France, Germany and Russia had pursued in Europe and the Middle East throughout the entire 19th century. Those who were victors of that great war were essentially Britain and France. Russia managed to preserve much of its existing status and the great empires listed above found themselves on the defeated side, losing most of their imperial land. One result of this was the transformation of these shrinking empires into smaller 'nation states' of today.


The allied fleet pressing in on the Dardanelles on March 18, 1915

At the outset, the war in Gallipoli was designed to keep the Ottoman forces busy -in Gallipoli- so as to relieve Russia in the Caucasus; thus was the request of the Russian Government from its then ally, Britain, as it was concerned about finding itself on a tightrope against the Ottoman forces in the Caucasus front during WWI. Controlling the Turkish straits, Russia’s only exit route to the Mediterranean was also crucial for Russia in terms of facilitating its access to arms and other materials. Moreover, the Allied Forces also had other plans such as capturing Istanbul, the Ottoman capital, thereby striking a great blow to this major power in the region and knocking out of war Germany’s number one ally right at the start of it.


Powerful guns of the British battleship Agamemnon pounding the Dardanelles Strait

The war in Gallipoli was fought basically in two stages: the initial naval assault and the subsequent land operations. The first one is dated March 18, 1915. On this date, the allied fleet of Britain and France attempted to pass through the Dardanelles with a view to reaching Istanbul. We know that Britain was a great seafaring nation that had conquered almost a quarter of the globe all through the 19th century thanks basically to its formidable naval force. As in one of its patriotic songs, "it had ruled the waves" back then. France had also modernized its fleet towards the end of the 19th century, achieving a considerable naval power, although not on par with that of Britain. Hence was the composition of the allied fleet pressing on at the gate of the Dardanelles on the 18th of March, 1915. Although some of the ships in this fleet were already considered as the products of 'old technology' due to improvements in warship building technology, the fleet that steered towards the Dardanelles on the morning of March 18th was still the most powerful and the fiercest naval force that had ever been assembled to that day. So much so that the British ship 'Queen Elizabeth' among them, was the most prominent example of the dreadnaught category and the strongest war machine that had patrolled the seas at the time.


Representational drawing of the naval battle on March 18, 1915

It should also be underlined at this point that what happened on March 18th, 1915 was not a naval battle in its classical sense. Because in a naval battle there exist two fighting naval forces which was not the case at Gallipoli where there was only the allied fleet operating. The Ottoman Navy, once powerful but then was unable to resist such a force, had receded inside the straits. Only a small number of Ottoman ships took part in some operations on and in the aftermath of March 18th. The minelayer, Nusrat among them, that had laid its mines in the straits about ten days before the 18th of March, was a major player, as we know, in the eventual failure of the Allied Fleet.

So, the battle of March 18th essentially took place between the Allied Fleet and the Turkish artillery on the banks of the two shores of the Dardanelles. The operation by the Allied Fleet that entered the Dardanelles Straits at the early hours of March 18th ended up in a complete failure with severe losses and damages. Consequently, the mighty British-French fleet had to be withdrawn the same afternoon.

Once the difficulty of forcing the Dardanelles Straits from the sea became evident and the horrific dimensions of the cost of doing so surfaced, the British and the French, this time agreed to put in action a land operation which was to be launched 5 weeks later, on April 25th, 1915, extending over two areas covering the north and the south of the Gallipoli Peninsula. In the south, the British landed on five beaches in the area of Sedd-el-bahr and the ANZAC forces comprising of Australian and New Zealander units set foot on a small cove named Arıburnu in the north. The very same day the French, in a deceptive feint landed at Kumkale, on the Anatolian side of the straits, overlooking the Aegean. This operation by the French ended in just two days, when they withdrew and joined the British at Sedd-el-bahr as a supporting force. Among the British and the French fighting in Gallipoli were many soldiers of other nationalities that had come over from the then colonies of these two countries.


A British propaganda postcard

The main target of the British and French forces in Sedd-el-bahr from the beginning was to take hold of Alçıtepe (Achi Baba/Krithia) a small hill right at the tip of the peninsula. They launched strong attacks several times towards Alçıtepe yet failed to come even close to it. The battles fought in this area were among the fiercest and the bloodiest of the Gallipoli War.

The second landing on April 25th, in the north of the Gallipoli Peninsula was the ANZAC invasion of Arıburnu. It was planned as a surprise raid which was to be effected before dawn in complete darkness. The overall defense strategy devised by the German General von Sanders, commander of the Ottoman 5th Army in Gallipoli was such that the shores were to be defended by rather weaker units and that the reserves were to be kept at inlands. As a result the Allies succeeded in establishing bridgeheads both in the north and in the south and with the support of the deadly firing power by the fleet they managed to advance towards the hills facing them. The target here was Conkbayırı (Chunuk Bair), the hill that was the most strategic point in the north of the peninsula.


The Sedd el-Bahr front and far beyond, Achi Baba

The Turkish defense forces in both Arıburnu and Sedd-el-bahr stood their ground firmly, hence the advances of the landing forces remained limited. In order to break this dogged defense, the British carried out a second landing in the north in Anafartalar (the Suvla Bay) area on 6 August, 1915. Their goal was to cross over the entire Anafartalar plain to reach the prized Chunuk Bair. But on a major tactical blunder, they delayed their action for a crucial 36 hours and lost what might have been a precious opportunity for them. Yet, similar to what happened on the southern front, the engagement here in the north was no less bloody and fierce. The New Zealand units in the ANZAC forces managed for a very brief period to hold on to Chunuk Bair on August 8th , but the British forces who took it over from them were pushed back on the early morning of August 10th following a very bold bayonet thrust under the personal command of Col. Mustafa Kemal Bey This was perhaps the single most important setback for the Allies in their expectations of reaching a victory in Gallipoli.


The ANZAC landing on Arıburnu

After Chunuk Bair, fierce battles continued in the Anafartalar (Souvla) area. However, starting from late August, these evolved into a trench war both in the northern and the southern fronts. Towards the end of the year, the Allies had come to realize that success in Gallipoli was beyond their reach and decided to withdraw from the peninsula. This withdrawal was planned in two stages: Firstly on 10th December 1915 the Arıburnu sector was going to be evacuated and one month later the Allied forces in the South would leave the area. It should be mentioned that the evacuations in both sectors were planned and implemented skillfully by the Allies.

With the removal of the last Allied soldier from Sedd-el-Bahr on the night of January 8/9th 1916, the Gallipoli War that had lasted for about ten months came to an end right on the same spot where it started. But the difference was the bitter face of war, with tens of thousands of lives claimed on both sides as well as another tens of thousands who were wounded or fell sick or became prisoners.

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Colonel Mustafa Kemal Bey

The Gallipoli War has had several outstanding consequences both for Turkey and the Allied countries. The victory gained here meant for Turkey a monumental source of self-pride amidst an otherwise painful war giving the Turkish nation in those difficult years a gleam of hope for a brighter future. But perhaps the most meaningful outcome of the Gallipoli Campaign for the Turks has been such that it has thrown onto the scene of history, in a most glorious and majestic way, a great commander, leader and a statesman by the name of Kemal Atatürk.


General Mustafa Kemal
with his decorations and medals

The Gallipoli War has also been important for Australia and New Zealand. The peoples of both countries consider Gallipoli as the place where the consciousness of being a nation has emerged most powerfully. Despite a century that has passed since, the strong sentimental attachment between these two countries and Gallipoli remains vivid.

As for Britain, one of the uncontested superpowers of 1915, the defeat in Gallipoli led to a turmoil in the domestic politics leaving Churchill, one of the most prominent figures of the modern British history, face to face with the danger of his political life ending even before it took off. He would require another 20 years for his political career to get back on its shining track.

And finally in Russia, the road to the Revolution of 1917 was maybe shortened when the WWI dragged on through the impact of the Allied failure in Gallipoli.

**********

Now that we have reached its centennial, how should we evaluate and look back into the Gallipoli War? Certainly, what is needed today is by no means to 'glorify war' but to strike a chord of peace, friendship and brotherhood among countries. We are most happy to see that the theme of the ceremonies that are held every year on the Peninsula is set along these lines. Within this context, the unique friendship that has emerged between Turkey, Australia and New Zealand in the aftermath of a bloody war ought to be emphasized. Nowhere in the history of the world is there another example of such a fierce fighting yielding such a close and sincere friendship.


The encounter of two old warriors on the 50th anniversary of the War in Gallipoli (1965)

I wish to conclude with Atatürk's message to the world from Gallipoli that he passed on through Mr. Şükrü Kaya, his Minister of Interior in 1934 for foreign soldiers who have fallen there. These unforgettable words, as a monument of magnanimity and nobility have been inscribed on a piece of stone today on a hill that overlooks the Arıburnu (Anzac) cove. It reads as follows:

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 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 at peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.


*Sermet Atacanlı: Ambassador, Collectioner