Son part of Gallipoli commemorations in Turkey

David Jewkes Leighton Image copyright David Jewkes Leighton
Image caption David Jewkes Leighton has spent 40 years researching what happened to his father at Gallipoli

A south Wales man was one of 15 people chosen to represent their Gallipoli veteran ancestors at centenary commemorations in Turkey.

David Jewkes Leighton's father, Sgt Arthur Jewkes Leighton, was injured in the unsuccessful attempt to knock the Ottoman Empire out of World War One.

Mr Jewkes Leighton, from Penarth, met The Prince of Wales and Prince Harry at Suvla Bay on Friday.

Elsewhere, a sculpture was unveiled in Cardiff to honour those who died.

Sgt Jewkes Leighton, who served with 8th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, was one of 250,000 Allied casualties in the unsuccessful attempt to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the War and secure the Dardanelles straights.

In early 1915 the British authorised an attack on the peninsula in an effort to capture Constantinople in Turkey. But the Ottoman empire was victorious and Gallipoli was now considered a major Allied failure.

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Media captionDavid Jewkes Leighton has spent 40 years researching what happened to his father at Gallipoli

Troops from Australia and New Zealand also took part and the date of the landing, 25 April, is known as Anzac Day.

The 15 descendants in Turkey were selected by the Gallipoli Association and will meet The Prince of Wales and Prince Harry aboard HMS Bulwark at Suvla Bay in Turkey on Friday.

They will also lay a wreath at the Cape Helles war memorial.

'Never complained'

Mr Jewkes Leighton, who was wearing his father's medals at the commemorations, said it would be a moment his father would have been extremely proud of.

He also believed it would be a fitting end to what has become a four-decade quest for his father's story, which he started when he died in 1972 after realising he had not asked him anything about the war.

He said his father was often in pain following the war.

"He never complained and though some days I actually saw him wince with pain and I asked my mum 'why's he wincing?' and she said 'your father's got shrapnel in his body still," said Mr Jewkes Leighton.

"It's a homage to him really to go back and I like to think he would be proud that somebody took an interest in what he and thousand of his friends and colleagues did."

'A spectacular disaster'

Image copyright PA

Swansea University's World War One expert Dr Gerry Oram explains why Gallipoli was so important, and how it ended up taking such a terrible toll.

"The Gallipoli Peninsular was key, as whoever controlled it controlled the Dardanelles straights, and the route to supply Russia via the Black Sea," he said.

"But the Allies had vastly underestimated the will of the Ottomans, who were generally regarded as the 'Sick Men of Europe'.

"When old fashioned gunboat diplomacy failed, on 25th April 1915 the Allies adopted another traditional British tactic, an amphibious landing, which did manage to gain a toe-hold on the beaches. However these small gains came at an astronomical cost - even by the standards of the First World War - as Turkish and German machineguns and artillery controlled the high ground overlooking the landing sites."

"The Ottomans fought tenaciously to prevent the Allies breaking out of the beachhead. Eventually the Allies were worn down by dysentery, thirst and the elements.

"By December it was obvious that Gallipoli had been a spectacular disaster, and attention turned to what was, ironically, a textbook evacuation."

Image copyright The Royal British Legion
Image caption The Every Man Remembered sculpture will be unveiled in Cardiff city centre

Meanwhile, First Minister Carwyn Jones attended the unveiling of a centenary sculpture in High Street, Cardiff, which will be there until 5 May as part of the commemorations for Welsh soldiers who died 100 years ago at the Gallipoli landings.

It features a detailed brass World War One soldier and is part of the Royal British Legion's Every Man Remembered campaign.

First unveiled in Trafalgar Square in London, it is on a four year tour of Great Britain.

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