Soaring over Gallipoli

Today (25 April) is ANZAC Day, which commemorates the Australians and New Zealanders who fought at Gallipoli 100 years ago. As I have mentioned before, Russian soldiers were also at Gallipoli, although a little later (in 1921 and 1922). These soldiers made up the First Army Corps of the Russian Army of General P.N. Wrangel, and were interned at Gallipoli after the Red Army had driven them out of the Crimea in November 1921. The hardships and moral resurrection experienced by Wrangel’s troops at Gallipoli gave it a mythological status in the minds of many Russian emigres.

Below is a poem by Ivan Savin dedicated to Gallipoli. The (literal and very quick) translation is mine. The monument referred to is that constructed by the Russians before they left. Later destroyed in an earthquake, it was rebuilt in 2008.

The original Russian monument at Gallipoli.

Огневыми цветами осыпали                                                                           Этот памятник горестный Вы                                                           Несклонившие в пыль головы                                                                             На Кубани, в Крыму, и в Галлиполи.

Чашу горьких лишений дo дна                                                                          Вы, живые, вы, гордые, выпили                                                                            И не бросили чаши … В Галлиполи                                                       Засияла бессмертием она.

Что для вечности временность гибели?                                                 Пусть разбит Ваш последний очаг –                                           Крестоносного ордена стяг                                                                               Реет в сердце, как реял в Галлиполи.

Вспыхнет солнечно-черная даль                                                                         И вернетесь вы, где бы вы ни были,                                                             Под знамена … И камни Галлиполи                                                       Отнесете в Москву, как скрижаль.

You strewed with fiery flowers                                                                           This mournful monument,                                                                                       You who did not bow your heads in the dust                                                     In the Kuban, in Crimea, and at Gallipoli.

The cup of bitter deprivations                                                                                     You – alive, you – proud, drank to the dregs                                                         And you did not cast away the cup … At Gallipoli                                           It began to shine with immortality.

What to eternity is the transience of death?                                               Though your last hearth be smashed apart –                                                       The crusading order’s banner                                                                               Will soar in the heart, as it soared at Gallipoli.

The sun-black distance flames up                                                                     And, wherever you are, you return                                                                           Under the colours … And you carry off                                                           The stones of Gallipoli to Moscow, like a tablet.

One thought on “Soaring over Gallipoli”

  1. IIRC Rodion Malinovsky (who probably was a better commander then Koniev at least, also happened to be Ukrainian), a later field marshall of the Soviet Union, and the guy after whom the Russian tank school is named, served in the Russian expeditionary forces too, although I think he was at the west front, and not anywhere near Gallipoli.

    He got hugely lucky by eventually drawing Chruschev as his political comissar (he got decorated by the French, which makes purge survivals a lot less likely). Chruschev was also somewhat Ukrainian, and was aware of his military shortcomings so he largely focused on covering Malinovskys rear end from Stalin. Malinovsky was duely gratefull, and was later pretty important in backing Chruschev first vs. Berija and Malenkov, and the vs. Zhukov.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s