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Gallipoli losses remembered at Dersingham service

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Gallipoli Remembrance service'Borough mayor Carol Bower, centre, with guests at the service
Gallipoli Remembrance service'Borough mayor Carol Bower, centre, with guests at the service

The sacrifices of one of the most famous campaigns of the First World War have been commemorated at a service in West Norfolk.

Guests from around the world attended the 13th annual Gallipoli and Dardanelles International service at St Nicholas’ Church, Dersingham, on Saturday.

Among the congregation were borough mayor Carol Bower, Royal British legion Norfolk branch vice-chairman, Colin Chambers, chair of the Norfolk branch of the Britain/Australia Association, Richard Robbins, and representatives from Turkey, India, Australia and Canada.

The campaign, which lasted from February 1915 to January 1916, aimed to keep open the Dardanelles Straits, a sea route to Russia, a British and French ally, and is broadly seen as a monumental failure by historians.

There were around half a million casualties on both sides and the failure of the campaign caused the resignation of members of parliament and the collapse of the government.

For some at the service the memories were more real than for others. Despite the passage of 102 years several sons and a daughter of those who served at Gallipoli are still alive and several were in the church.

Lt Cdr Arthur Coxon’s father was a captain with the King’s Lynn company of the Norfolk Regiment. Now 90 years old, he drove 400 miles from Wales to be at the service.

Jane Sayer’s was there to remember her father, Guy D’Oyley Hughes, who served in submarines. He was hailed as a hero after he swam ashore in the Sea of Mamara to plant explosives which blew up a railway line.

The father of John Crowe, who masterminds the annual service, was wounded at Suvula Bay but survived to return home after the war.

He said: “He was a corporal; he was part of the Sandringham company. The only successful part of the campaign was the evacuation.”

Mr Crowe started The Gallipoli and Dardanelles organisation four years ago to better reach out to the many countries involved, create closer bonds and, hopefully in doing so help prevent anything similar happening in the future.

For more information about the group, visit www.gdinternational.org.uk.

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