Abide-Cape Helles, Gallipoli, Turkey

The southern tip of the Gallipoli peninsula (map), known as Cape Helles in English, was an important military objective in the World War I Gallipoli campaign.

British and French forces landed at several beaches here with the aim of pushing north up the peninsula, occupying it, and silencing the guns of the Kilitbahir fortress which guarded the Dardanelles strait. With the strait open, Allied warships could proceed to Constantinople and knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war.

Follow signs reading Abide (ah-bee-DEH) to reach Cape Helles, the Helles Memorial, the ruined Seddülbahir fortress, and the Allied landing beaches.

Abide

The Turkish Martyrs’ Monument (Şehitler Abidesi, Şehitler Anıtı) is a 41.7-meter (137-foot) tall stone table-like tower located just east of Morto Bay, visible for kilometers, especially from the Troad (Plain of Troy) on the Asian side of the Dardanelles.

The simple, understated, dignified monument, called simply Abide (ah-BEE-deh) by locals, was completed and dedicated in 1960 to commemorate the sacrifice of the 253,000 Ottoman soldiers who fought in the Gallipoli campaign. (By Turkish military tradition, soldiers killed in battle are termed Şehit, Martyr.)

Beneath the monument is a small War Museum.

Helles Memorial

The Helles Memorial of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), on a hill to the west of Seddülbahir Köyü (village) at the southern tip of the Gallipoli peninsula, is a 30+-meter (100+-foot) high obelisk on a broad limestone base.

The simple, handsome memorial, 25 km (16 miles) south of Kabatepe, commemorates the loss of 20,763 British Empire soldiers, sailors and marines (18,985 from the United Kingdom, 248 Australians, and 1,530 Indian Army troops), who fell in the campaign, were lost or buried at sea, or whose final resting-places are unknown.

Stone plaques on the obelisk and the walls of the enclosure bear the names of all the ships that took part in the campaign, the titles of the army formations and units that served on the peninsula, and the names of all the servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Maintained in pristine condition by the CWGC, the memorial, just up the hill from the tall white lighthouse, is easily visible from ships passing through the Dardanelles. It is open to visits all the time.

Seddülbahir Fortress

The crumbling walls of Seddülbahir Kalesi (“Closure of the Sea”) constructed by the Ottomans in 1659 to defend against attacks by the Venetian navy, stand amidst the village of the same name, just west of Morto Bay, between the Turkish and British monuments to the fallen soldiers of the Gallipoli campaign.

The massive fortress testifies to the fact that Gallipoli, and particularly the southern tip of the peninsula, has always been contested due to it strategic economic and military importance—since the days of ancient Troy.

Other Sites

Lancashire Landing Cemetery (CWGC) is 1.7 km (1 mile) northwest of the Helles Memorial.

V Beach Cemetery (CWGC) is facing Morto Bay just west of the village of Seddülbahir.

Yahya Çavuş Monument & Cemetery (Yahya Çavuş Şehitliği ve Anıtı) is a monument to Ottoman Sergeant Yahya and his 67 comrades who engaged the 3,000 British troops landing at Morto Bay with such an intense rifle fire that the British believed they were opposed by an entire Ottoman division (10,000 soldiers) and declined to push inland against it.

—by Tom Brosnahan


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