Gallipoli Campaign, Anzac Day & the other incredible facts…

In March and April, both Turks and Anzacs visit the Gallipoli Peninsula to arrange memorial services and remember their martyrs, soldiers, children who were fighting in WW1’s one of the sharpest and the toughest struggles were experienced in honor.


1. What happened in Gallipoli Campaign in short?

After WW1 started the British Kingdom with the advice of Winston Churchill made a plan to occupation of Istanbul by crossing the Dardanelles with the navy. Large-scale attacks on the Dardanelles by a fleet of British and French ships started in February 1915, for days they did great damage to Ottoman land facades.

Mehmetcige Saygı Anıtı - Respect to Mehmet Monument
Mehmetçiğe Saygı Anıtı – Respect to Mehmet Monument

The Ottoman minelayer Nusret at the night that connects March 7 to March 8, had did the move that changed the destiny of the campagne and the WW1 forever. It layered 26 mines off the coast of Gallipoli, the next day the British forces made the sea and air reconnaissance, but they could not find these mines.

In days The French battleship Bouvet, HMS Irresistible, and HMS Inflexible struck mines and Irresistible was sunk, The French battleships Suffren and Gaulois sailed but were also damaged by the mines that Nusret was layered. When it become impossible to reach İstanbul from Dardanesl on sail the allied states had to carry out ground operations that started in the 25th from Seddülbahir and Arıburnu.

From now there were going to be a hard to believe moments that change every soldier’s life forever. Anzacs, Turks, and other soldiers fight from 19 February 1915 – to 9 January 1916 which ends with the Turks’ victory. 1st Brigade of the Anzac Corps had to go to Arıburnu (now Anzac Cove) instead of Kabatepe at 05:00 as the landing boats somehow shifted to the north.

It was a long-time battle and has so many sensitive details that last for pages, sometimes making a little bit smile, often will feel you all the coldness of the war to your bones. To see how terrifying was the battle reading or watching may be better.

2. Where is Gallipoli?

It is a peninsula that forms the western side of the Dardanelles, within the borders of the towns of Gallipoli and Eceabat. It comprises an area of 33,000 hectares on the European side, classified as a Historical National Park. Today around the region 138 examples of civil architecture, 49 monumental structures, 50 Turkish martyrdoms, 29 Turkish monuments and inscriptions, 34 foreign cemeteries and monuments, plus historical structures such as castles can be seen.

Gallipoli Campaign, Anzac Day  Anzac Cove Gallipoli Turkey Dardanelles

Plus it has been known that so many sunken ships, cannons, trenches, castles, bastions, and hundreds of war-related remains are in the sea.

The area at the same time is one of the rare battlefields that have been well preserved throughout the world. It is around 4 hours drive from İstanbul and there are good restaurants and local shops that can stopovers too.

3. What is the real name for Anzac Cove?

The beach and around name was Arıburnu.

The beach became the center, the military home base of Anzac’s, and then for years visited by Australians and New Zealanders. On 25th April 1985 at the Anzac Day, The Turkish government officially clarify that it changed the nameArıburnu to Anzac Cove.

The beach is about 600 meters long (2,000 ft) and bounded by the headlands of Arıburnu to the north and Little Arıburnu, known as Hell Spit, to the south.

Anzac Cove Monument in Canakkale
Anzac Cove Monument in Canakkale

4. What happened at Anzac Cove?

Anzac Cove is a small cove on the Gallipoli peninsula that was the Anzac soldiers’ land during WW1. When the Entente powers (Britain, France, and Russia) lose the naval battles they decided to start ground operations. Turks and the Entente powers soldiers including Anzacs have the WW1 was the terrifying battle on the land. Along with the battles, soldiers suffer from insufficient nutrients, epidemics, cold, and thirst because there is almost no water in the territory and it is known with its winds best. According to their memories and letters, they are telling stories about the bombs that are exploding near, deads friends, an unending cold. However, they tell some nice stories too, they were throwing the biscuits to each other from the fronts when they were not fighting. Plus the most bloody battles; Operations: June–July and August offensive between Turks and Entente powers occurred around Anzac Cove.

World War 1 Fronts
World War 1 Fronts

See also;

5. How many soldiers died at Anzac Cove?

There is no exact number that how many Anzacs were in Galipolli and how many of them were dead. But according to New Zealand resources when the campaign ended, more than 130,000 men had died: at least 87,000 Ottoman soldiers and 44,000 Allied soldiers, including more than 8700 Australians. Among the dead were 2779 New Zealanders.

According to Turkish resources on the battle, 57.263 Turkish soldiers were dead and in total (with sickness and losses) 213.882. soldiers lost their lives at the end of the campaign. The same resource gave the numbers for the entente powers; the English side lost 205.000 and the French side lost 47.000 soldiers when it finished.

6. Why did Anzac go to Gallipoli?

During WW1 Australia, South Africa, Canada, and New Zealand were dominions, they fought for the United Kingdom on different fronts, not only in Gallipoli. The soldiers who were in Gallipoli Campaign fought with the Turks, were agreed that Turks were not their enemy and the only right decision of the time was to leave Gallipoli. Plus the resources emphasize the fact that Gallipoli strengthened a developing sense of national identity for New Zealand and Australia, while their families at home were proud of their men who had performed on the world stage, establishing a reputation for fighting hard in difficult conditions. Additionally, the first observed date 25th April 1916 become a major day for national life to remember the soldiers who have served their country.

7. Who won the battle of Gallipoli?

After the failure of the August Offensive, the battle continued in the form of trench warfare in the following months. However, on 14 October 1915, Bulgaria attacked Serbia which means that it take place on the side of the Allied Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottomans), so the Gallipoli Campaign lost its purpose because one of the reasons for the battle was to encourage the Balkan countries to enter the war on the side of the Entente countries (British Empire, France, Russia).

After the August Offensive General Charles Monro come to the region, as a result of his examination at the front he reported that “Gallipoli must be evacuated”. It takes months, finally, the evacuation ended on January 9, 1916. Ottomans won. According to World War I: Encyclopedia, until WW2, the Gallipoli Campaign was the biggest landing operation in military history. 

8. Who celebrates Anzac day?

18 March is Canakkale Victory and Martyrs Memorial Day, there are commemorative ceremonies held by Turks, and 25th of April Anzac Day commemorates ceremonies and dawn services held by Australia and New Zealand governments annually.

During the Anzac ceremony wreaths are laid, hymns are sung, prayers are said. The national anthems of England and Australia are sung and poppies are left next to the names of the dead on the war memorials.

One of the features of this day is to eat traditional Anzac cookies that are made baked with oats, treacle, and butter that is a tangible symbol that connects the past and today. Plus it is a tradition to drink “cannon fire breakfast” which is similar to the last meal the soldiers have before they set foot in Gallipoli.

Anzac Monument in Gallipoli
Anzac Monument in Gallipoli

Those cookies were reproduced by the Australian government for the 100th years of anniversary with Atatürk, the founding President of the Turkish Republic words, who fought with Anzacs during the battle. He wrote those words in 1934 after the visit of Oceanians and today those words are on the monuments in Ariburnu Cemetery in Turkey, Canberra- Australia, and Wellington- New Zealand.

 “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 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.” Atatürk.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's letter to ANZAC mothers
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s letter to ANZAC mothers

9. What to do in Canakkale Turkey?

The ceremonies are taking time for 1 or 2 days, if you are planning or have a long time holiday Canakkale is a great place for traveling. There are so many places to visit in Canakkale turkey because the city has so many ancient and modern treasures to see. After a Gallipoli visit, dawn service Troy ancient region which was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as a cultural asset in 1998, Alexandria Troas Ancient City, Parion Ancient City, Apollon Smintheion Ruins and a must-see place Assos can be on your list. Plus Troy Museum, Piri Reis Museum, Naval Museum, Aynalı Bazaar, Gallipoli Castle, Kilitbahir Village and Castle, Seyit Onbaşı Monument, and Mecidiye Bastion can be visited too. The city’s cuisine is full of fish and cheese that the cheese is produced locally and very famous.

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Troy & Gallipoli in Canakkale Turkey
Troy & Gallipoli in Canakkale Turkey

Isn’t it a strange coincidence that two of history’s most epic battles Troy and the Gallipoli Campaign, occurred in the same region: Troy left a gorgeous epopee which was written by Homer and the Gallipoli Campaign left an incredible friendship between Anzacs and Turks that they were fought to each other once?

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