How the Battle of Gallipoli was hijacked by religion

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11 hours ago

Anzac Day services were cancelled this year at the Australian cemetery on the Gallipoli Peninsula ( EPA-EFE )


Battlefield tours may not be back for a few more weeks, but just imagine what the Turks will be able to enjoy at Gallipoli. They can wander through the 105-year-old killing fields along the Dardanelles and listen to a recitation of a traditional 15th-century poem praising the birth and life of the Prophet Mohamed. They can hear a work from 1924 which glorifies the Turkish struggle against Winston Churchill’s allied invasion force as a war against the Infidel. Indeed, there was a time when a primary school teacher-cum-tour guide at Gallipoli recounted how Islamic saints intercepted the 15-inch projectiles fired at Gallipoli by the British battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The same school-teacher’s spiritually oriented tour of the cliffs, which the British, Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) and French armies failed to capture in 1915, included a description of Muslim saints with long white beards – and yes, with white turbans as well – appearing over the Allied soldiers to frighten them away. We shall forget for a moment his reference to the white cloud which descended from a blue sky to envelop the Royal Norfolk Regiment and make them disappear. It is necessary to put this particular story on the long finger – because it turns out that the British also once believed it to be true. More, as they say, later.


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