It’s exactly 100 years since the start of the Gallipoli Campaign, one of the Allies’ great World War One disasters.

Before the Gallipoli campaign even started, Lloyd George had prophetically written:

“Expeditions which are decided upon and organised with insufficient care generally end disastrously.”

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Carried out between 25th April 1915 and 9th January 1916 on the Gallipoli peninsula in the Ottoman Empire, the doomed campaign was thought up by Winston Churchill to end the war early by creating a new war front with which the Ottomans could not cope.

Creating another front would force the Germans to split their army further, as they would need to support the badly rated Turkish army. When the Germans went to assist the Turks, it would leave their lines weakened in the West or East and lead to greater mobility there.

The Secretary to the War Council, Sir Maurice Hankey, called the whole affair a “gamble” based on the belief that the Turks would be an inferior force.

The landings started on April 25th. At Sedd-el-Bahr, the British were caught in the fire of well dug-in Turkish machine gunners. Many British troops could not get ashore and were killed at sea. Over 200,000 Allied casualties occurred with many deaths coming from disease.

It is events like this that make it hard to believe there are 53 ‘Thankful’ villages in the UK, which suffered no losses throughout the Great War of 1914-18. More astonishing is that there are 13 ‘Doubly Thankful’ villages – that is, that incurred no fatalities during either World War – and one of them is actually in Herefordshire.

Middleton on the Hill, in North East Herefordshire, is home to Saint Mary’s church, which is in the Norman and Early English styles and has a large bell tower. In the churchyard is a war memorial that is shaped rather unusually like a lantern. The inscription reads:

A thank offering to Almighty God
“At evening time it shall be light ”
for the safe return of all the men from this parish
who fought in the Great War 1914 – 1918
and 1939 – 1945

We will be visiting Middleton-on-the-Hill in this year’s Church Crawl on 16th May – click here to find out more – particularly since HHCT awarded Saint Mary’s a grant of £7,600 for project development in 2013 for essential repairs in particular to the roof. Help us to protect the beauty of this historic monument by joining us now. You can also donate or fundraise for us via Just Giving.

Lest we forget, let us take this opportunity to remember also the villages that weren’t so lucky. TRH The Prince of Wales and Prince Harry are in Turkey to honour the fallen and here in the UK, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is leading plans to commemorate the World War I centenary as a significant milestone in world history, and you can find out about plans and latest news by clicking here to go to its website.

Battle of Gallipoli: Our Doubly Thankful Church
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