Turks will join with Australians and New Zealanders in Abu Dhabi tomorrow to commemorate their war dead from the bitterly fought Gallipoli campaign. More than 200 are expected to attend a sunset service at The Club, organised by the expatriate association Aussies Abroad. A specific invitation has been extended to the UAE's Turkish community to mark the 94th anniversary of the attempt to capture the Dardanelles and force an early end to the First World War.
The battle, which began on April 25 1915, lasted more than eight months, with the Turkish forces suffering most of the nearly 100,000 fatalities before the Allied troops retreated. The organiser of the service, Mohanned Hourani, said most Gallipoli commemorations were held at dawn but the evening service in Abu Dhabi was intended to be family friendly. "This is more catering towards families and we want our children - Aussie, Kiwi and Turkish children - to get together and hopefully avoid anything like this ever happening again," he said.
"The whole purpose of the event is to establish camaraderie between the Australian community and the Turkish community. All this happened a long time ago and suffering took place on all sides. We'd like to move forward, regardless of what side we were on in World War One." British, French, Indian and Canadian troops also served on the Allied side but the campaign has particular significance in Australia and New Zealand, which consider Anzac Day as a defining moment of their national identities. Dawn services are the two countries' primary form of war remembrance.
Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The Gallipoli campaign also holds particular significance for the Turkish. Their commander was Mustafa Kemal, who established his reputation during the battle and went on to lead the Turkish national movement that prevented the partition of Turkey after the war ended in defeat for the Ottomans. He gained the title Ataturk - father of the Turks - and is regarded in his homeland in a similar way to how Sheikh Zayed, founder of the UAE, is regarded in the Emirates.