Exhibition (April 2015) – The ‘dreaded peninsula’
April 25th (Anzac Day), marks the centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign, a series of disastrous allied landings in, what is now, modern-day Turkey during the First World War (1914-1918). Turkey’s entry into the war had cut off the supply route between Britain and France and their ally Russia through the Dardanelles, a narrow strait leading to Turkey’s capital Constantinople and the Black Sea. Capturing this 40-mile stretch of water, by landing and securing the Gallipoli peninsula, became a key allied objective, above all promoted by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill MP. Despite major offensives in April and August the entire campaign was a disaster, and the allies were forced to retreat by the end of 1915.
Today the Gallipoli Campaign is popularly remembered and associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – the Anzacs – who first saw action on the peninsula. Many Irishmen fought with the Anzacs. One of these volunteers was Private Alec Martin (b.1895), who emigrated to New Zealand from Magheragall in 1913. When war broke in August 1914 Alec enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and after training in Egypt, where he visited the pyramids, he travelled to the Dardanelles. He fought and died there in April 1915 alongside 9000 or so Anzacs.