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Memorial service for those lost at Gallipoli

16:56 23 September 2014

Gallipoli service, Dersingham. Picture: Ian Burt

Gallipoli service, Dersingham. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2014

One hundred years on from the outbreak of the First World War, a memorial service was held to commemorate those lost in one of the conflict’s best-known campaigns.

Around 140 people attended the service at St Nicholas’ Church, Dersingham, to honour those who fought and died at Gallipoli, in the east of modern-day Turkey.

The campaign, launched in April 1915, was an ultimately unsuccessful attempt by the Allies to knock the Ottoman Empire – an ally of Germany – out of the war.

Many Norfolk soldiers, including Captain Frank Beck, served in the campaign, including the so-called “Lost Sandringhams” – a unit of workers from the Royal estate who supposedly vanished after launching an attack. Even now, their exact fate remains a mystery.

The memorial service on Saturday saw 16 standards carried and 21 wreaths laid. It was organised by John Crowe, whose father fought in Gallipoli. He is the current president of Gallipoli and Dardanelles International.

Mr Crowe said the service was “to remember the Norfolk men that served in Gallipoli. The mission was an amphibious attack that aimed to take control of what is now Istanbul from the control of the Ottoman Empire.

“It proved a disastrous mission with allied forces taking massive casualties; as many as half a million soldiers died on both sides of the conflict.”

Eventually all Allied forces were withdrawn from the Turkish coast.

The Rev Michael Brock conducted Saturday’s service which was attended by an air force officer representing Australia and two officers from Turkey.

Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, was behind the Gallipoli Landings. With the Western Front deadlocked, it was hoped the operation would break the conflict’s stalemate.

Allied troops were evacuated in December 1915 and January 1916, by which time they had suffered more than 200,000 losses. The Turks had also lost more than 200,000.

The campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand – who both provided large numbers of troops. The date of the landing, April 25, is known as “Anzac Day” in the two countries.

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