They crouch in dusty trenches. Rats scurry, fresh from feasting on bloated bodies in narrow no-man’s land. The troops absentmindedly scratch plump lice lining the seams of their heavy uniforms. Shells whistle overhead, aggravating raw nerves. Dysentery-ravaged, hungry, thirsty, exhausted and terrified, they want to go home. Even if they’ll be leaving mates behind.
They wonder what the “Kiwis” and “Diggers” are doing in the other trenches – some only metres away. They have never even met a New Zealander.
Why did they come halfway around the world to invade their homeland? They seem like honest soldiers, decent ordinary folk. Just like them. But they won’t lie down. They will fight to the death. What choice do they have?
To understand Gallipoli is to delve into history. Turkey never wanted a war. By the turn of last century, the once great Ottoman Empire was on the decline, while Britain was an aggressive imperial force still staking out claims.
While Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire were Allies in the Crimean War of 1853-56 against Russia, Britain had already taken control of Egypt and Cyprus from the Turks in the late 19th century.
The British then set their sights on the oilfields in the Persian Gulf and had ambitions in the general Mesopotamian area, according to English historian Peter Hart, author of Gallipoli.
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