Some of the students from TED Mersin College with the letters and drawing they have created for the project. Courtesy of TED Mersin College.

Turkish school project connects children with ANZAC families

Posted on on 16 April 2015
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A school in Turkey is running a Gallipoli remembrance project that aims to educate its students about the Gallipoli campaign and allow them to connect with the families of Anzac soldiers through letters.

'Two Trenches, One Letter' intends to mark the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign by promoting the spirit of reconciliation and shared sacrifice encouraged by Turkey’s first President and Gallipoli commander, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

In a 1934 speech, Atatürk paid tribute to the Anzac soldiers killed at Gallipoli: “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 now here in this country of ours. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

The students of TED Mersin College in southern Turkey have been writing letters to the families of Anzac soldiers, and also to Ibrahim Naci, in memory of “Turkish martyrs”. Naci was a young Lieutenant of the Ottoman army during the Gallipoli campaign, and the students have been studying his diary kept during this time.

The letters will be distributed to Anzac families through the Australian Embassy, and a selection will go on display in the Canakkale Museum on the Dardanelles Coast.

Both the Canakkale Museum and the Australian War Memorial will be sent other materials from the project, including specially designed posters, t-shirts and a 100th Anniversary Medal with the Anzac coat of arms on one side and the Canakkale War Medal on the other.

The project’s aims include:

“1. To establish a bridge of peace between Turkish and Australian youth.

2. To commemorate our martyrs as well as the Anzac soldiers after 100 years.

3. To remind everyone that the children of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk will always be faithful to the words he said in 1934.”

The project will run from January 2015 until May 2015.

Source: TED Mersin College, Turkey

Photos courtesy of TED Mersin College, Turkey

Posted by: Éadaoin Hegarty, Centenary News