During WWI, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula. The campaign was intended to force Turkey out of the war. On the morning of 25 April 1915, the Anzacs landed on Gallipoli and met fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. Eight months of fighting ensued, with heavy casualties on both sides, and at the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated. It is estimated that the Allies had over 250,000 casualties, including some 46,000 dead, of these were 8700 Australians. On the Turkish side, there was an estimated 250,000 casualties, with 65,000 killed.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who was a commander of Ottoman forces at the Dardenelles during the first world war and later the founder of modern Turkey, delivered the following message to the Australian and New Zealander mothers in 1934 as an expression of friendship:
“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.”
In 2007, TACH, with support of the Turkish RSL Sub-Branch, began a 3-year project to place a commemorative plaque in Kings Park containing Ataturk’s words about ANZAC Soldiers. Funding of $7,464 for the plaque was received from the Western Australian Government's ANZAC Day Working Group Small Grants Scheme.
The plaque was officially unveiled by Mayor of Gallipoli, Mr Mustafa Ozacar on the 26th of April 2010. In attendance was RSLWA President Bill Gaynor, Digger Cleak OAM, TACH President Cüneyt Mizan, Hon. Consul General of Turkey in WA Cahit Yeşertener, Turkish RSL Sub-Branch President Dr. Halit Eren, and many members of the Turkish community.
Today you can visit the plaque, which is located on the perimeter of the WA State War Memorial in King’s Park, overlooking Perth city and the Swan River.