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The Water Diviner - The Battle for Gallipoli feature

The Water Diviner

Feature by Jack Foley

THE Water Diviner is an epic adventure set in the aftermath of the devastating battle of Gallipoli in Turkey.

Australian farmer, Connor (Russell Crowe) travels to Istanbul to discover the fate of his sons, reported missing in action. Battling against government bureaucracy, foreign traditions and armed forces in the still war-torn country, Connor embarks on a perilous journey to find the truth about his sons.

To mark the home entertainment release of The Water Diviner, available on Blu-ray and DVD from August 10, 2015, we look at some of the facts surrounding the ill-fated campaign to control the sea route from Europe to Russia during the First World War.

It’s the centennial anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign which began with a failed naval attack on the Dardanelles Straits in February 1915. The battle continued with a major land invasion from April 25, 1915 and did not end until January 1916; lasting a total of nine months.

It was Winston Churchill, first Lord of the Admiralty at the time, who decided on the naval attacks at Gallipoli and the Dardanelles. The campaign began with a long-range bombardment by British and French battleships.

However, in the wake of the failed naval attack, preparations began for a large amount of Allied troops landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Troops from Australia, New Zealand and the French colonies assembled with British forces on the Greek island of Lemnos. Meanwhile, the Turks boosted their defences under the command of the German general Liman von Sanders, who began positioning Ottoman troops along the shore where he expected the landings would take place.

On April 25, 1915, the Allies launched their invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula.

With Allied casualties in the Gallipoli Campaign mounting, Hamilton, the first commander of the Allied Troops, with Churchill’s support, petitioned for 95,000 reinforcements; the war secretary offered barely a quarter of that number.

In mid-October, Hamilton argued that a proposed evacuation of the peninsula would cost up to 50% casualties; British authorities subsequently recalled him and installed Sir Charles Monro in his place.

By early November, Lord Kitchener, a senior British army officer, known for the infamous “Your Country Needs You” posters, agreed with Monro’s recommendation that the remaining 105,000 Allied troops should be evacuated.

The British government authorised the evacuation to begin from December 7, with the last troops leaving on January 9. They comprised 420,000 British and Empire troops, 50,000 Australians, 9,000 New Zealanders and 80,000 French.

Overall, at the end of the Gallipoli Campaign, approximately 196,000 were wounded or sick, including 25,000 from Australia and New Zealand, and the campaign claimed over 100,000 lives of personnel from all around the world.

HMS M.33 is the only surviving Navy ship from the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign and on August 6, 2015, The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) will open HMS M.33 to the public for the first time in her history, following a distinctive and extensive conservation project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Although the Gallipoli Campaign claimed over 100,000 lives from all round the world, M.33 was considered a lucky ship and, despite being showered by shell splinters, she suffered no casualties.

The Water Diviner is available now on Digital HD and on Blu-ray and DVD from 10th August, courtesy of Entertainment One.