25 Apr 2013

Turkish losses at Gallipoli high

3:22 pm on 25 April 2013

Australian Veterans Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon has issued a reminder that Turkey lost almost twice the number of soldiers as the Allied forces during the Gallipoli campaign.

Mr Snowdon attended two Turkish commemorative services on the Gallipoli peninsula on Wednesday before the joint Australian and New Zealand dawn service on ANZAC Day.

"It's an important fact that people understand there was a massive loss of life by the Ottoman Empire - the Turkish troops," the minister told AAP on Wednesday.

Some 44,000 Allied soldiers died during the campaign, including 8709 Australians and 2721 New Zealanders. Almost 87,000 Turks lost their lives.

The modern Turkish nation was built partly on the back of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's success as a commander in World War I, Mr Snowdon said.

Mr Ataturk went on to become the first president of the Turkish republic in 1923.

"It's a really important thing for the Turkish people to acknowledge, commemorate and celebrate their victories," Mr Snowdon said.

"We need to understand in Australia that while there were many thousands of Australian and New Zealand lives lost, there were literally tens of thousands of Turkish souls who lost their lives during the campaign."

Mr Snowdon, who will also address the Australian Lone Pine service on Thursday, said the Turkish people were looking after all the souls now at rest on the Gallipoli peninsula. Australia and Turkey were "great friends", he said.

"So it's very, very important that we pay our respects and thanks to the Turkish people and acknowledge the loss of so many tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers in the First World War."

AAP reports Mr Ataturk wrote of the special bond that now exists between the two countries.

"There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us, where they lie side by side, here in this country of ours," he wrote in 1934.