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Kate and William join Queen at Gallipoli anniversary ceremony

Prince George thoroughly enjoyed his first day at nursery the Duchess of Cambridge has told well-wishers as she made a surprise appearance at a Gallipoli anniversary ceremony.

Kate and William joined the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at a wreath laying service held at a war memorial on the monarch's Sandringham estate.

The Cambridges were not scheduled to attend the ceremony which marked the 100th anniversary of the end of the disastrous First World War campaign on the Gallipoli peninsula.

But after attending a traditional Sunday service at Sandringham's St Mary Magdalene Church with the Queen and Philip, they walked behind the monarch to the nearby war memorial cross.

Hundreds of local residents turned out for religious event where prayers were said and a minute's silence observed, and afterwards the royal party chatted to members of the Gallipoli Association.

The Cambridges have had a busy week releasing pictures, taken by Kate, of son Prince George to mark his first day at nursery and celebrating the Duchess' 34th birthday yesterday.

Kate, who wore a black polo-neck jumper and tweed blazer and skirt by Michael Kors, was joined at church by her parents Michael and Carole Middleton and siblings sister Pippa and brother James, but they did not accompany the royal to the Gallipoli service.

Among the group were two of Princess Charlotte's godparents James Meade and Sophie Carter.

The Middletons are likely to have helped William in throwing birthday celebrations for the Duchess at the Cambridges' Norfolk home of Anmer Hall.

After the ceremony the Duke and Duchess spoke to Arthur Coxon, 88, a retired Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander whose father fought in Gallipoli and spent much of the First World War in a Turkish prisoner of war camp after being wounded and captured.

Mr Coxon, originally from the Norfolk village of Dersingham but now living in Cardiff, said: "They asked what my connection with the Association was and I congratulated Kate on the lovely photos of Prince George.

"She said he went off to school bravely as anything and thoroughly enjoyed it."

During the ceremony the Queen and Philip, who is patron of the Gallipoli Association, stood still as the Last Post was played by a bugler and a minute's silence was observed.

Then, with solemnity and quiet dignity, they each placed a wreath at the war memorial dedicated to local men who fought in the Great War and paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The monarch's flora tribute read "In memory of the glorious dead" while Philip's simply said "In Remembrance".

The Gallipoli land campaign against Turkey was one of the major engagements of the First World War, involving more than 400,000 British and around 140,000 Commonwealth and Irish servicemen.

At dawn on April 25 1915, waves of Allied troops launched an amphibious attack on the strategically important peninsula, which was key to controlling the Dardanelles straits, the crucial route to the Black Sea and Russia.

But the plan backed by Winston Churchill, then first lord of the admiralty, was flawed and the campaign, which faced a heroic defence by the Turks, led to stalemate and withdrawal eight months later.

Around 58,000 Allied troops died, including 29,500 from Britain and Ireland, over 12,000 from France, 11,000 from Australia and New Zealand and 1,500 from India.

Conditions were hellish as more than half a million Allies faced heat, flies, dysentery and eventually, extreme cold. The Turks suffered 300,000 casualties, with an estimated 87,000 killed.

The last Allied troops were withdrawn on January 9 1916.

The Sandringham war memorial was erected by the monarch's grandparents King George V and Queen Mary, and among the men from the 5th Battalion Norfolk regiment it honours are some who died in the Gallipoli campaign.


From Belfast Telegraph