Gallipoli

I went to a marvellous exhibition about Gallipoli 1915 in St. Columb’s Cathedral the other day.

I went to a marvellous exhibition about Gallipoli 1915 in St. Columb’s Cathedral the other day.

It is a simple little display, but it is most impressive. The story of the campaign is told on banners in the small museum. As I looked at the photographs, the memorabilia, the documents and the recruitment posters I had feelings of sadness and anger at the same time.

More than 50,000 soldiers died on both sides of the conflict between the Turks and the Allied Forces. More than 100,000 were wounded.

Thousands fell ill from diseases such as typhoid, dysentery and malaria, Out of the 15,000 Irish men who fought, 3,000 were killed.

Among those from Derry was Robert Henry Wilson. He was 16 years of age. He died a slow death in a hospital in Egypt.

On display there is a copy of a letter that a nurse wrote to his mother. It was a disastrous expedition. The British command thought that they would be able to defeat the Turks easily.

Their tactics were completely wrong. The Allies were easy targets when they came ashore. The campaign lasted 11 months and finally the Turks forced them to retreat. Many of them went to the Somme after that, the scene of another bloody disaster. More than 17 million people died in the First World War: 10 million military and 7 million civilians. 20 million others received injuries.

As I went round, I thought of ‘The Green Fields of France’:

Well, the sorrow, the suffering, the glory, the pain,

The killing, the dying was all done in vain.

For, young Willie McBride, it all happened again,

And again, and again, and again and again.