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Tributes to Gallipoli fallen at CWGC Helles Memorial

24 April 2015

HRH Prince of Wales and HRH Prince Harry of Wales will lead tributes to the fallen today at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's (CWGC) Helles Memorial, Gallipoli in Turkey. The commemorations mark the Centenary of the Gallipoli campaign in which more than 140,000 British, Allied and Ottoman servicemen died.

Among those attending the event are President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan of Turkey; President Michael D Higgins of Ireland; President Mamnoon Hussain of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; The Right Honourable John Key MP, Prime Minister of New Zealand; The Honourable Tony Abbott MP, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia;  and fifteen descendants of those who served during the campaign.

One hundred years ago today, British and Allied forces were preparing to land on the beaches of Gallipoli. They were sent to find an alternative to the stalemate of the Western Front but the Ottoman soldiers who faced them fought with bravery and determination.

Over the following nine months, casualties on all sides mounted until the decision was made to evacuate. The last Allied troops left Gallipoli in January 1916, leaving behind the remains of more than 36,000 of their comrades who are buried or commemorated in the 31 cemeteries and memorials cared for by the CWGC on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Thousands more are buried or commemorated elsewhere, including on the islands of Lemnos and Malta, where hospitals were established, and on the naval memorials at Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham.

The CWGC's Vice Chairman, Air Chief Marshal Sir Joe French, said: "The Centenary of the Gallipoli campaign is hugely significant for many nations, and those who served here represented many cultures, held many faiths and none, and spoke many languages.  Today we recognise their courage and remember their sacrifice."

The CWGC Helles Memorial was built in 1924 and serves the dual function of Commonwealth battle memorial for the whole Gallipoli campaign and place of commemoration for many of those British and Commonwealth servicemen who died there and have no known grave. The memorial bears more than 21,000 names and is one of 23,000 cemeteries and memorials located in 154 countries around the world that is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The British and Irish commemorative event at Cape Helles on 24 April will be followed by ANZAC Day commemorations led by Australia and New Zealand on 25 April. These will take place at the ANZAC Commemorative Site and the CWGC's Lone Pine Cemetery and Memorial and Chunuk Bair Cemetery and Memorial, in Gallipoli.

Full press release