Canadian War Museum marks Gallipoli centenary with photographic exhibition

April 16, 2015

Ottawa, Ontario, April 16, 2015 — The Canadian War Museum is marking the centenary of the Battle of Gallipoli with a new photographic exhibition. Gallipoli – Three Perspectives presents 24 official and candid photographs which reveal the difficult conditions endured by Australian, New Zealand and Ottoman soldiers as they struggled for control of the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915.

“We are grateful for the collaboration of our Australian, New Zealand and Turkish partners in the development of this exhibition,” says Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum. “The Battle of Gallipoli is a significant moment in the formation of the identities of all three countries and their memory of the First World War.”

On April 25, 1915, the Allies landed 70,000 troops — including the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) — on the Gallipoli peninsula in what is now Turkey. Their goal was to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the First World War, and restore access to the Black Sea, which would reopen the Allied trade route to Russia. Unable to overcome the rough terrain or Ottoman defences, the Allied forces failed to advance past the beachhead. A renewed offensive in August could not break the stalemate, and the Allies, weakened by extensive losses in battle, the harsh climate, dysentery, thirst and poor diet, retreated four months later.

The photographs document the drawn-out battle from the point of view of the major players, showing the punishing terrain, heavy casualties and atrocious living conditions experienced by all sides, but they also portray the courage, endurance and camaraderie of the troops.

No Canadian forces fought at Gallipoli, but the exhibition touches on Canada’s indirect support — running several military hospitals and treating casualties in Cairo, Egypt, and on the Greek island of Lemnos. Infantrymen from Newfoundland (not yet a Canadian province) served at Gallipoli with the British 29th Division.

Gallipoli – Three Perspectives, developed by the Canadian War Museum in partnership with the Australian High Commission, the New Zealand High Commission and the Turkish Embassy, will be presented in the lobby of the War Museum from April 16 to May 6, 2015. In conjunction with the exhibition, the War Museum will host a panel discussion on April 23, 2015, with historians from the three participating nations. Further details can be found at http://www.warmuseum.ca/event/panel-gallipoli-three-perspectives/.

The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada’s military history in its personal, national and international dimensions.

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Media contacts:

Yasmine Mingay
Director, Public Affairs
Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819-776-8608
yasmine.mingay@warmuseum.ca
Avra Gibbs   Lamey
Senior Communications   and Media Relations Officer, Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819-776-8607
avra.gibbs-lamey@warmuseum.ca

For more information, follow us on Twitter: @CanWarMuseum.

Additional Background

 Australian photographer Charles Ryan’s works capture the makeshift facilities at “Anzac Cove,” the Australian training camp outside Cairo, Egypt, and army nurses at Luna Park in Cairo, where some of the wounded were brought from Gallipoli. One of his most striking photographs shows a blindfolded Ottoman officer being led through the trenches to ANZAC headquarters. He was there to negotiate an armistice to bury the dead, following failed Ottoman attacks on May 19. Ryan’s photographs, from the Australian War Memorial, are an important part of Australia’s record of the Gallipoli campaign.

Photographs from the New Zealand National Army Museum, the Alexander Turnbull Library and the Wairarapa Archives show New Zealand soldiers disembarking at Gallipoli on April 25. Additional photos feature the ANZAC trench system and cemetery, and members of the Māori Battalion, which was made up of First Peoples of New Zealand serving at Gallipoli.

Photographs from the Turkish Military Archives show the formidable Ottoman coastal defences and include a portrait of Mustapha Kemal (a.k.a. Atatürk), commander of the Ottoman Army’s 19th Division and future president of Turkey. Atatürk famously declared, “I don’t order you to attack, I order you to die. In the time it takes us to die, other troops and commanders can come and take our places.” Ottoman forces suffered heavy losses during their defence of Gallipoli, but contained the enemy until the Allies retreated.