BLANDFORD Parish Church will be the setting of a special anniversary to mark a moment in history for the market town.

It will be the 102nd anniversary that the men of the Royal Naval Division marched out of Blandford Camp on their way to Gallipoli.

Also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, the Battle of Gallipoli was a campaign of the First World War that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula - Gelibolu in modern Turkey - in the Ottoman Empire between April 25, 1915 and January 9, 1916.

The United Kingdom suffered severe casualties, second only to the Ottoman Empire.

More than 34,000 men were killed, 78,000 wounded and 7,500 reported missing or taken prisoners of war.

At 6pm on Monday, the church will welcome residents and dignitaries alike to mark the occasion.

Students from the Archbishop Wake Primary School will tell stories they have written of war and reconciliation before a ceremony marks the return of the war-battered ensign of the Hood Battalion, of the Royal Naval Division, to its place in the church.

Ghislaine Peart, a young textile artist, will also unveil her designs for a six-by-four foot banner to be hung in the church commemorating and celebrating the artists, composers and writers who went to war at Gallipoli.

The service will also hear from broadcaster and biographer Kate Kennedy who is the BBC's adviser on music of the First World War. She brings to Blandford a special performance entitled The Fateful Voyage - a moving dramatisation of the story of the Royal Naval Division's journey to Gallipoli.

Along with young tenor Matthew Sandy and pianist Simon Over, Ms Kennedy will combine words and music by the poet Rupert Brooke and his friends the composers Denis Browne and Frederick Kelly to recreate the thoughts and feelings of the young men who marched to Shillingstone station in February 1915.

The event is free but there is a suggested donation of £5 per person.

Anyone who wishes to attend should contact the church office on 01258 456260 or email

Refreshments will be provided.