UK learned more from ‘Turks’ magnificence’ in Gallipoli


The U.K. armed forces learned more from a defeat by magnificent Turks in Gallipoli more than 100 years ago, the head of British Royal Navy said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency during an event held by the Royal United Service Institute (RUSI), Adm. Tony Radakin, first sea lord and chief of the naval staff described the Gallipoli campaign of 1915 as a “significant conflict.”


“We should all learn from mistakes as well as victories,” he said.

Radakin explained his theme of the key speech he delivered at the annual Gallipoli Memorial Lecture at RUSI.

“Gallipoli is very important for all of us because it was such a significant conflict,” Radakin told Anadolu Agency.

“I think it is one where the U.K. recognized that we didn’t do everything right, but I think when we are looking back over 100 years ago, part of its significance is to acknowledge the sacrifice and the numbers of people that were involved; the numbers of people that dies or were injured, then, we have to acknowledge that sacrifice. And that, to me, is part of the Gallipoli story,” the navy chief said.

The admiral said there is a British tradition to learn from the past. “History matters,” he added.

“We should all be looking to learn and we should have the honesty to learn from both our mistakes as well as our victories,” Radakin said.

He said: “After Gallipoli […] we have acknowledged that some things that didn’t go right and the magnificence in terms of the Turkish forces, that meant, that we learned even more than maybe sometimes we do with victories.”

Gallipoli Campaign

Tens of thousands of soldiers died in one of the world’s most ferocious battles 104 years ago in the Gallipoli Campaign in Ottoman Turkey during the World War I. 

The year 2019 marked the 104th anniversary of the battle in the Canakkale (Dardanelles) Strait in Canakkale’s Gelibolu region, which served as a turnaround in favor of the Turks fighting in World War I against the then Allied Forces.

The Allied Forces started their attack on March 18 — the day commemorated as Canakkale Naval Victory Day — but the waters were filled with a network of mines laid by Ottoman vessels and some greatest battleships sank as a result.

The events leading up to the momentous battle started in February 1915, when Britain and France decided to launch the Gallipoli campaign to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war as quickly as possible by reaching and capturing its capital, Istanbul.

On April 25, 1915, nine months into the World War I, Allied soldiers landed on the shores of the Gelibolu peninsula. The troops were there as part of a plan to open Canakkale Strait on Turkey’s Aegean coast to Allied fleets, allowing them to threaten the then-Ottoman capital, Istanbul.

The Allied Forces, however, encountered strong and courageous resistance from the Turks and the campaign turned out to be a costly failure. Tens of thousands of Turkish nationals and soldiers died, along with tens of thousands of Europeans, plus around 7,000-8,000 Australians and nearly 3,000 New Zealanders.

Victory against the Allied forces boosted the morale of the Turkish side, which then went on to wage a war of independence between 1919 and 1922, and eventually formed a republic in 1923 from the ashes of the old empire.
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