Belfast Telegraph

Gallipoli water-colour paintings bring to life one of the greatest battles of the First World War

By Ricky Thompson

A scrapbook of water-colour paintings created during one of the 20th century's greatest battles has been unveiled.

In advance of the centenary of the First World War Gallipoli campaign, which began in April 1915, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has selected the book of sketches and photographs as document of the month.

The scrapbook was compiled by a Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur O’Neill Cubitt Chichester who was serving in the Turkish Dardanelles during the First World War.

The water colour sketches include a variety of scenes, including a shell exploding over water, accompanied by the unusual caption: 'Rainy day looking toward the peninsula. Big shell bursting. View almost more beautiful – if possible – upside down.'

Head of Public Services at PRONI, Stephen Scarth said: “It is all too easy to think of the Gallipoli battle as an abstract concept that took place long ago and far away. However Lt.-Col. Chichester’s paintings bring the area to life.

His images include the view of the coast from Achi Baba towards what has become known as Anzac Cove. Other images include views of the allied camp, a stormy sunset over the hills, and soldiers in Suvla Bay prior to evacuation in December 1915."

Mr Scarth compared the evacuation at Suvla Bay to the major escape of allied forces from Dunkirk in 1940.

“The contribution by Ireland to the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War was one of major significance.

"The land offensive began on 25 April 1915, when the allies launched an amphibious landing on the peninsula with the eventual aim of capturing the Ottoman capital of Constantinople. Both the naval and land campaign would fail to achieve their mission objectives.”

PRONI is continuing to explore the impact of the Gallipoli campaign by hosting a one day conference on April 30, which will examine various aspects of the campaign - particularly the role of Irish combatants and the impact of Gallipoli in Ireland.

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