Gallipoli. Virtually unheard of prior to 1915, the very name of the Turkish peninsula bordering the Dardanelles now conjures up visions of privation and hardship and death which even surpass the horrors of the trench warfare on the Western Front. The barren landscape — of no value itself other than for its command of the seaway — was the backdrop to an horrific campaign between April 1915 and January 1916 in which upwards of 100,000 men lost their lives. Steve’s dedication in seeking out the precise spots depicted in the contemporary photographs, in spite of heavy undergrowth, thorns, snakes, and the like, can really only be appreciated by those who have visited the battlefield — still unspoiled by modern civilisation, save for the scattered cemeteries and memorials which dot the landscape.
This book follows the pattern established by the late John Giles with his ‘Then and Now’ volumes on the battlefields of the Western front. After several visits to Gallipoli, that scene of some of the most dreadful carnage and savage fighting in 1915, the author spent a strenuous ten days in the summer of 1999 seeking out and photographing for comparison the precise spots depicted in contemporary photos. With them is an account of a campaign that was badly botched and ended in defeat for the allies at a cost of 252,000 casualties, of whom some 50,000 were dead, nearly 10,000 of them French (figures from Australian War Memorial, Canberra). The presence of the French and their part in the fighting tends to be overlooked. Turkish losses were similar. Today the battlefield is preserved as part of Turkey’s national heritage, and little has changed since landings of 85 years ago, apart from the memorials and the thirty one CWGC cemeteries dotted about the landscape. Out of 22,000 recorded burials only 9,000 have been identified; of the remaining dead there is no trace, their names are on the Helles Memorial. A chapter at the end gives details of the actions of the 39 VCs awarded during the campaign.
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