The remains of 17 missing French soldiers who fought in the Battle of Gallipoli in the First World War have been handed over to French military officials and put to rest alongside other fallen comrades – more than a century after their deaths.
The remains were found during restoration work on a castle and surrounding areas on Turkey's north-western Canakkale peninsula, where Allied forces fought against Ottoman Turks in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign that started with landings on 25 April 1915.
Colonel Philippe Boulogne paid tribute to soldiers who "came to defend their homeland on this distant land, the scene of one of the most tragic episodes in our history" at the handing-over ceremony.
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The ceremony coincided with commemorations marking the 107th anniversary of the start of the battle, during which French, British and other soldiers were remembered.
"Zouaves (light-infantry corps) and riflemen from Senegal, Algeria, legionnaires, 10,000 French and colonial soldiers fell in the front at Gallipoli," Boulogne said.
"Neither the scale of the losses nor the violence of the war diminished the bravery of these men. Their courage and their sense of sacrifice will never be forgotten."
Only one out of the 17 French soldiers: Corporal Paul Roman, of the First Engineers Regiment, has been formally identified.
The First World War Gallipoli campaign aimed to secure a naval route from the Mediterranean Sea to Istanbul through the Dardanelles, and take the Ottoman Empire out of the war. The Gallipoli landings marked the start of a fierce battle that lasted for eight months.
About 44,000 Allied troops and 86,000 Ottoman soldiers died in the fighting.