Türkiye has observed Canakkale Victory and Martyrs’ Day, which marks the anniversary of the 1915 triumph during World War I.
“The victory of Canakkale is a great and historic epic of heroism, in which the Turkish nation once again declared to the world that it will never give up its independence,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement on Saturday.
Paying respect to those killed in the battles, Erdogan said: “Our ancestors showed how the nation stood together in difficult times, and did not allow the enemy to set foot on our land watered with the blood of martyrs.”
“We will protect our glorious history, written with great heroism and courage, and we will never give up on keeping the spirit of Canakkale alive and well,” he added.
Commemoration ceremonies in Canakkale, located in northwestern Türkiye, began early on Saturday with the hoisting of the Turkish flag, on which National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar clasped a gold medal with the inscription, “Canakkale is impassable.”
“On the 108th anniversary of the March 18 Canakkale Victory and Martyrs’ Day, we commemorate our glorious ancestors, especially our Commander-in-Chief, Gazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who made Canakkale impassable, with respect and gratitude,” the National Defense Ministry said on Twitter.
The country’s Foreign Ministry also tweeted: “We commemorate with gratitude Gazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and his comrades in arms, who gave their lives in Canakkale for our independence and future, and wish mercy to all our martyrs.”
Tens of thousands of soldiers died in one of the world’s most ferocious battles 106 years ago in the Gallipoli campaign in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
The battle took place between April 25, 1915 and January 9, 1916.
Britain and France wanted to secure their ally Russia, as the Gallipoli peninsula provides a sea route to what was then the Russian Empire.
Their aim was to capture the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul.
Turks repelled a naval attack, and there were many casualties on both sides during the eight-month offensive.
When the land campaign also failed, the invading forces withdrew.
Victory against the Allied forces boosted the morale of the Turkish side, which then went on to wage a war of independence in 1919-1922, and eventually formed a republic in 1923 from the ashes of the old empire.