Hampshire man meets princes as Gallipoli is commemorated on HMS Bulwark and ashore in Turkey

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A man from Hampshire was among relatives of veterans of the First World War’s Gallipoli Campaign to meet the Prince of Wales and Prince Harry.

Those veterans were, 100 years ago, on the eve of what turned out to be one of Britain’s worst military disasters.

The Prince of Wales lays flowers as he visits V Beach cemetery, close to the area where the majority of Irish casualties occurred, to mark the 100th anniversary of the  Gallipoli campaign during World War I.Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales lays flowers as he visits V Beach cemetery, close to the area where the majority of Irish casualties occurred, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign during World War I.Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The royals were on the flight deck of the Royal Navy’s flagship HMS Bulwark in Turkey’s Dardanelles straits, the same crucial waters that the Allies in the First World War hoped to control.

The ship is to be sent to assist operations in the Mediterranean Migrant crisis.

Ben Goddard, 37, was there to honour his great-grandfather Private Alfred William Goddard, of 2nd Hampshire Regiment, who landed on V Beach on April 25 1915.

He was hit on the elbow by shrapnel 11 days later but survived the hostilities and was discharged in 1918.

Mr Goddard, from Ropley, Hampshire, knew nothing about the Gallipoli Campaign until he researched his family tree and found out about his ancestor’s war record.

He said: “So many men fought and did not come back. That should be remembered, whether the campaign was a disaster or not.

“I am really proud and honoured to have been chosen, representing the Hampshire Regiment, and be there for the people who did not come back.”

The idea to knock the Ottomans out of the war and open a sea route to Russia was Winston Churchill’s but because of hopeless planning, hostile conditions and heroic defending, eight bloody months later the operation was halted, having cost 58,000 Allied lives.

Some 87,000 Turks died defending their home soil. The amphibious assault started at dawn on April 25 1915 as wave after wave of British and Irish, French, Australian, New Zealand and Indian troops attacked heavily defended beaches, through barbed wire, and raced up cliffs through scrub.

Many were cut down before they reached the shore and the sea turned red from the blood. Although Gallipoli is synonymous with Australian and New Zealand heroism, three times as many British and Irish troops were killed as Anzacs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps).

Some descendants feel the British involvement has been overlooked by history, perhaps because it ended in failure.

The royal party met 15 descendants of veterans who were selected to join the commemorations on the beautiful peninsula and ceremonies at Commonwealth War Graves Commission sites.

The princes, joined by First Sea Lord Sir George Zambellas, chatted to descendants, beside Viking all-terrain vehicles parked on the flight deck.

Sailors handed out cold drinks, dainty sandwiches and melting chocolate eclairs. A few of the guests, some of whom were in their 80s, took shade from the warm Aegean sunshine.

Charles joined Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the huge Canakkale Martyrs’ Memorial, which commemorates thousands of local men who were buried in unmarked graves.

With his son Harry listening in the audience of world leaders including Irish President Michael D Higgins and the prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand, the Prince praised the heroism and humanity shown by soldiers from both sides a century ago.

He said: “All those who fought at Gallipoli, whether landing on or defending its shores, hailed from so many different nations and peoples, from an almost infinite variety of backgrounds and walks of life. And, whilst their origins were diverse, they were all thrust into a very different world than they would have ever known or imagined before.

“Indeed, in 1915, both sides were united by challenges that neither could escape - the devastating firepower of modern warfare, the ghastly diseases that added to the death tolls, the devastating summer heat which brought plagues of insects, and in winter, just before the battle ended, the biting cold that many wrote was worse than the shelling itself.”

Charles said it was shameful that, despite two World Wars, peace had not persisted.

“If I may dare say so, we all have a shared duty, each in our own way as individuals, but also together as leaders, communities and nations, to find ways to overcome that intolerance - to fight against hatred and prejudice in pursuit of greater harmony - so that we can truly say we have honoured the sacrifices of all those who fought and died on battlefields here, at Gallipoli, and elsewhere.”

There was tight security on the peninsula, with blocks manned by scores of police on the usually quiet roads through the beautiful, unspoilt national park.

The remarkable memorial features a 148ft (45m) long relief of fighting Turks, led by Mustafa Kemal, who was to become Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey.

When Charles laid a wreath at the statue’s feet, the only sounds were birdsong and the whirr of camera shutters.

Prominent guests from Africa and the Middle East sat on the front row of the VIP section, behind tables with bottles of water and spring flowers.