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World War I was one of the most savage and brutal wars in human history. There were millions of deaths and the tragedy was compounded by the fact that these were all young men in the flower of youth. Both sides suffered heavy losses and this war is also notable for being one in which many new and terrible weapons were introduced by both to slaughter each other. Gallipoli Diary by John Graham Gillam is one of the many personal narratives written by survivors of this bloody conflict. Published in 1918, when memories of the war were still fresh in the minds of those who had experienced it, it is indeed a slice of history for modern-day readers who encounter it nearly a hundred years later. Between April 1915 and January 1916, the Gallipoli Campaign, the Dardanelles Campaign, The Gallipoli War or The Battle of Gallipoli as it is variously known, took place on a narrow peninsula in modern-day Turkey. The Allies sought to gain control of this important sea route which was under the possession of the Ottoman Empire. As it turned out, it was also one of the most disastrous failures for the Allied troops and an important victory for the Ottomans. The repercussions of this conflict were long-reaching and the future of many nations hinged on it. The Turkish War of Independence and the establishment of the modern Turkish state had its roots in this battle. For New Zealand and Australia who joined the war in 1914, the humiliating defeat and death of almost their entire force is today remembered as “Anzac Day” in memory of the young soldiers who had lost their lives fighting in a distant land. It also marked the birth of national consciousness in these two countries. John Graham Gillam was a young supply officer of the British Army. Though he was not part of the actual fighting, his regiment was in charge of ensuring that the troops received food and ammunitions in their trenches. His reports are characterized by his need to “bear witness” to the events and record them as they happened. His despair as he watches life after young life snuffed out is echoed in some of the most poignant lines in the book, “All that is left to us is to hang on day by day.. Death in various forms walks with us always...” The sheer waste and futility of war are what remain in the reader's mind at the end of Gallipoli Diary and till future generations learn from the lessons of history, they are doomed to repeat it.
Great account of the life of a gallipoli soldier.
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 the 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. M. Kemal Atatürk, 1934 (Founder of the Turkish Republic in 1923)
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