THE Prince of Wales has spoken of the “shared duty” to fight hatred and prejudice during commemorations to mark the centenary of Britain’s disastrous Gallipoli campaign.
Prince Charles with Prince Harry joined two days of commemorations on the remote and beautiful Turkish peninsula where the eight-month campaign cost the lives of 58,000 Allied troops.
Today the princes will mark Anzac Day by attending a traditional dawn service.
Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders have travelled to Turkey after winning places in a ballot. Many were camping overnight to join in the poignant remembrance ceremony.
While Anzac Day is nationally-observed in Australia and New Zealand, many relatives feel Britain and Ireland’s contribution to the campaign, and the bravery of those who fought, has been overshadowed by the war on the Western Front.
More than half those who died were from the UK, while 12,000 French, 11,000 from Australia and New Zealand and 1,500 from India. Some 86,000 Turkish troops were also killed.
Conditions were hellish as more than half a million Allies faced heat, flies, dysentery and eventually, extreme cold.
Today Charles joined Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the huge Canakkale Martyrs’ Memorial, which commemorates thousands of local men who lie in unmarked graves.
With his son Harry listening in the audience of world leaders including Irish President Michael D Higgins and the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand, the Prince praised the heroism and humanity of soldiers from both sides a century ago.
He said: “All those who fought at Gallipoli, whether landing on or defending its shores, hailed from so many different nations and peoples, from an almost infinite variety of backgrounds and walks of life. “
He said both sides “were united by challenges that neither could escape - the devastating firepower of modern warfare, the ghastly diseases that added to the death tolls, the devastating summer heat which brought plagues of insects, and in winter, just before the battle ended, the biting cold that many wrote was worse than the shelling itself.”
Charles said it was shameful that, despite two World Wars, peace had not persisted.
“If I may dare say so, we all have a shared duty, each in our own way as individuals, but also together as leaders, communities and nations, to find ways to overcome that intolerance - to fight against hatred and prejudice in pursuit of greater harmony - so that we can truly say we have honoured the sacrifices of all those who fought and died on battlefields here, at Gallipoli, and elsewhere.”
Earlier the princes met 15 descendants of veterans on board HMS Bulwark, the Royal Navy’s flagship.
Hugh Gillespie, 72, from near Northallerton, North Yorkshire, whose grandfather Lt Col Franklin Gillespie, was killed by a sniper while leading his battalion on a daring raid, said: “I think it is phenomenal how brave and how disciplined the troops were.
“It is remarkable that they went into the attack when the chances of survival were very low.”