On Friday 24 April 2015, a Commonwealth and Ireland commemoration service for the Gallipoli campaign took place at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Cape Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey.
President Michael D. Higgins and Mr Charles Flanagan TD, Minister for Foreign Affair, Britain’s Prince Charles and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attended the commemoration to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War battle on the Gallipoli peninsula. Representatives of the Defence Forces, led by the Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Conor O’Boyle participated in the ceremony.
Company Sergeant Jim Aherne, 7th Infantry Battalion, read an excerpt from a letter written on the 13th of August 1915 to his father by Captain Paddy Tobin ‘D’ Company 7th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Captain Tobin was killed at Suvla Bay three days later, aged 21 years.
President Higgins also attended the Australian memorial service at Lone Pine and the New Zealand memorial service at Chunk Bair, both on the Gallipoli peninsula. President Higgins laid wreaths on behalf of the Irish people.
The Royal Munster Fusiliers and Royal Dublin Fusiliers participated in the original landings, and in August 1915 the 10th (Irish) Division landed at Suvla Bay. The harsh conditions took a heavy toll, as the 10th Division suffered 9,000 casualties – dead, wounded, diseased, missing – over the next two months. Perhaps 2,700 Irish troops in the ranks of the 10th Division were killed in the Gallipoli campaign. The Irish losses at Gallipoli were, as a proportion of total wartime losses, comparable to those of their Australian counterparts.
A dawn service was held on Saturday 25 April for the annual Anzac Day service at Grangegorman military cemetery in Dublin. The Australian Ambassador H.E. Dr Ruth Adler, the British Ambassador H.E Dominick Chilcott and representatives of New Zealand and Turkey participated. The Government was represented by Tánaiste Joan Burton, Minister for Communications Alex White and Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.
Later in Glasnevin Cemetery, Minister for Communications Mr White and the British Ambassador H.E Dominick Chilcott participated in a wreath laying ceremony and unveiled eight paving stones commemorating Irish-born soldiers who won the Victoria Cross during the First World War. Four of the soldiers involved: Pte William Kenealy from the Lanchasire Fusiliers, Pte William Cosgrave from the Royal Munster Fusiliers, Capt Gerald O’Sullivan from the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and Sgt James Somers also from the Royal Inniskilling won their VCs at Gallipoli. Colonel Bill Gibson (Retd) represented the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust (CLG) and was one of many who laid a wreath at the Cross of Sacrifice.
H.E. Mr Chilcott said nine million soldiers served in the British Imperial Forces during the first World War and only 628 got VCs, the equivalent of less than one in 10,000 of those who fought. “Those who earn it are certainly the bravest of the brave. These men are very special. That is why we honour them,” he said.
The other Irish VC winners who were honoured with paving stones on 24 April were Lieutenant George Roupell from the Royal Irish Fusiliers, CSM Frederick Hall from the Canadian (Winnipeg Rifles), Major Daid Nelson from the Royal Artillery and William Kenny from the Gordan Highlanders.
On Sunday 26 April, a Service of Remembrance, organised by the New Zealand-Ireland Association, was held at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (Christchurch Cathedral). The Government was represented by Heather Humphreys, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht.
A Last Post Gallipoli Commemoration was held on Sunday, 26th April 2015 at the Northern Banking Company exhibit within the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra.
Last Post Project
The Last Post was a mass participation project for the First World War centenary taking place from 20-26 April that saw people unite in communities around the UK to remember the impact that the First World War had on their local area and play music from the era as a mark of commemoration. At every event held in April, the Last Post bugle call was played to remember someone connected to the community – not just on bugles but on any instrument from piano to bagpipes, guitar to drums. Part of the First World War Centenary, The Last Post Project is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, Heritage Lottery Northern Ireland and Department for Communities Arts and Leisure Northern Ireland.
Credit – Photographs
Photographs of the Dublin ceremonies, kindly provided by Mr Patrick Hugh Lynch, can be seen in the Trust’s Website Flickr Account.