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Abstract

Gallipoli has no place in the collective memory of most Canadians and even among Newfoundlanders, Gallipoli has not garnered as much attention as the ill-fated attack at Beaumont Hamel. Although largely forgotten, Newfoundland’s expedition to Gallipoli was an important moment in the island’s history, one that helped shape the wartime identity of Newfoundlanders. Like other British Dominions, Newfoundland was linked to the Empire’s world-wide war experience and shared in aspects of that collective imperial identity, although that identity was refracted through a local lens shaped by the island’s unique history. Gallipoli was a brutal baptism of fire which challenged and confirmed popular assumptions about the Great War and laid the foundation of the island’s war mythology. This myth emphasized values of loyalty, sacrifice, and fidelity, affirming rather than reducing the island’s connection to Mother Britain, as was the case in the other Dominions. When in the early 1930s economic depression, financial mismanagement, and political gridlock led the government of Prime Minister Frederick Alderdice to end responsible government in 1934 and return governing authority to the British crown, Newfoundland’s war myth lost much of its meaning. After Confederation with Canada in 1949, Gallipoli was all but forgotten, but it has bled back into Newfoundlanders’ historical consciousness in recent years.

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