At the north end of ANZAC Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula is a large free-standing tablet which bears this text:
‘Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.’
This Ari Burnu monument was originally placed in the 1980’s. Although it’s adjacent to a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, the monument was erected by the Turkish government. The stirring inscription also appears on memorials in Canberra, Australia and Wellington, New Zealand. The monument attributes the words to a 1934 speech by the Turkish Nationalist leader Mustafa Kemal, Ataturk (1881-1938), but there is compelling evidence that Ataturk never wrote or even spoke these lines. Click here to read more about this.
Furthermore, it is also asserted that the text dates from the 1950’s and was partly cribbed from an Australian source. You can read about this by clicking here. It is reported that what Ataturk actually said on the occasion of the first visit of official delegations from Australia and New Zealand was:
“The landing at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, and the fighting which took place on the peninsula will never be forgotten. They showed to the world the heroism of all those who shed their blood there. How heartrending for their nations were the losses that this struggle caused.”
Although there were also large numbers of British, Indian and even French soldiers at Gallipoli, the site has long been a shrine to the ANZAC’s. Although the Ari Burnu text doesn’t specifically refer to them, Australians and New Zealanders have long regarded it as theirs. It certainly helps that it’s situated at ANZAC Cove. The annual ANZAC Dawn Commemoration ceremony held on April 25th (not this year, though) used to be conducted at Ari Burnu.
My photograph of the monument, pictured above, was taken in 2015. As you can see, the plaque was quite overdue for a cleaning, but not necessarily complete replacement.
In June 2017 Turkish work crews removed the inscription from the memorial. Almost immediately there was a firestorm of outrage from Down Under. It was alleged that the inscription would be replaced by one that was more pro-Turkish and possibly Islamic. The Turkish government quickly denied both of these speculations and the original inscription was subsequently restored. You can read more about this controversy by clicking here or here or here.
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