Wed, 18 May 2022

CANAKKALE PENINSULA, Turkey: The remains of 17 missing French soldiers who fought in the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I were handed over to French military officials this week and laid to rest alongside their comrades more than a century after their deaths.

Their remains were found during restoration work on a castle and surrounding areas in Turkey's northwestern Canakkale Peninsula, where Allied forces fought the Ottoman Turks in the failed Gallipoli campaign, which began on 25th April, 1915.

Paying tribute to the soldiers at the handing-over ceremony, Col. Philippe Boulogne said they "came to defend their homeland on this distant land, the scene of one of the most tragic episodes in our history."

The ceremony coincided with the commemoration of the 107th anniversary of the start of the battle, which remembered French, Australian, New Zealand, British and other nations' soldiers.

Australians and New Zealanders marked Anzac Day to remember their fallen soldiers during a dawn ceremony on Monday.

"Zouaves (light-infantry corps) and riflemen from Senegal, Algeria, legionnaires, 10,000 French and colonial soldiers fell in the front at Gallipoli. Neither the scale of the losses nor the violence of the war diminished the bravery of these men. Their courage and their sense of sacrifice will never be forgotten," Boulogne said.

Out of the 17 French soldiers, the remains of Cpl. Paul Roman of the 1st Engineers Regiment is the only one who was identified.

According to the French Embassy, authorities were also able to identify three tombstones, belonging to Cmdr. Galinier of the 58th Colonial Infantry Regiment, and Capt. Stefani and 2nd Lt. Charvet of the 4th Zouaves. Only their last names were provided.

During the hand-over ceremony, the Turkish official Ismail Tasdemir said the former battlefields have now become a land of "peace, tranquility and trust."

Some 44,000 Allied troops and 86,000 Ottoman soldiers died during the Gallipoli landings.

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