Gallipoli Battlefields – 10/8/2010
One of the reasons so many Australians and New Zealanders come to this little part of Turkey is because of a bond that occured 95 years ago in 1915. It was the 2nd year of WWI and the British Empire was making a strike on the Dardenelles to free a passage for the might that is Russia. We were deployed and landed on the 25th April, 1915. To this day its a public holiday. It’s sort of a right of passage for a lot of patriotic Australians who descend here in April.
Though I’m coming to pay my respects and maybe learn a thing or two. The ANZAC spirit and a lot of the history of that day is already taught in schools around the country.
Just after midday the tour sets off. And I’m quite disappointed its in a cab. But it’ll do the guy seems to know his thing. And we drive the short distance across to Kabatepe. There is a massive rally or service going on here and we by pass through that to Kabatepe Beach.
Kabatepe beach is also referred to by many as Brighton Beach. Its a flat and very easy to manage beach. This is the spot where the ANZAC forces were initially supposed to land. However due to a stuff up from a buoy or at the discrestion of the English Captain we didn’t actually land here. But you can see why this would of been an easy landing.
A few km’s up the road we hit the first significant part of this side of the Peninsula. Well for Aussies and Kiwi’s anyway. A little plaque denounces this as Anzac Cove. And there is not much else. You cannot walk down to the beach. But its quite a moving sight to be at. The beach is small, the cliffs up are near to 90 degrees and a good 50-100m upwards. You can just imagine the hardship it would take to get up there just in a normal day let alone being fired upon.
After this we head along to our first cemetery the Anzac Beach Cemetary. Its quite moving despite being a small cemetery. It probably has the most famous grave in all of this area – that of Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick (he of Simpson and his Donkey fame).
We then head on just around the corner to the ANZAC Commerative Sight. Its a big expanse of green (or would be green) and its where the annual Dawn Service is held every year when about 5000 aussies and kiwis descend on the place. It doesn’t have the same feeling as Anzac Cove or the Cemetery but its still quite interesting with the information boards about.
We then double back and go back towards the upper ridge where a lot of the battles took place and a lot of the cemeteries are located such as Lone Pine, The Nek and Chanuk Bar.
We stop at a statue of a soldier carrying a wounded soldier. Which isn’t a big deal. It is when the soliders are from different sides. The most interesting thing I guess is the road. Not because its a road but it gives you an idea of just how close the trenches were. The road is basically No Man’s Land and the opposing trenches were basically just on the side of it. Incredibly close.
We finally make our way to Lone Pine Cemetery – which got its name by the Lone Pine tree that stood in this spot. It isn’t here now (the one in place is a newer Pine taken from a seed of the original). It is quite the place to visit and wander through the graves. Its sad, moving and a little bit inspiring to go around this place. We spend a good 30-40 minutes reading grave stones.
We stop off at Johnston’s Jolly named after Johnston’s Guns who used to ‘Jolly Up’ the turkish forces. Its interesting here the road splits the ANZAC and Turks side. And there are a number of trenches that aren’t deep but you can still imagine the proximity to the opposition and the closeness of the quarters.
Its then off to The Nek and Walkers Ridge. At Walkers Ridge we found the youngest grave out of all – a 16 year old. Its such a tragedy. We also get a birdseye view down to Anzac Cove.
Its then up to the largest Turkish Memorial of the Ridge here. The 57th Regiment Cemetery. This is the spot where Ataturk (future founder of Modern Turkey) told his troops “I am not ordering you to fight, I am ordering you to die.” And he did this so reinforcements could be brought in to contain the advancing forces. Its a different feel here – this place is pretty packed full of Turkish people and isn’t as sombre as the other places. It is good getting a Turkish perspective on it.
Its then on up to Chanuk Bair. This is the furtherest any of the forces got and the only place they got a glimpse of the dardenelles. Its actually not sombre here and it seems to be packed full of Turkish people again. Which is explained as this was Ataturk’s bunker and trench up here.
Its then on down the road back to Kabatepe where there is a Museum to look through. The museum is small but its quite informative and has a lot of useful facts and some interesting acquisistions (like skulls and teeth).
Its then back to Eceabat to get a shower and then a bit of feed before chilling out in the common room for a bit. Its not a massive night but after visiting the cemeteries and war sights its a bit hard to do drink. Its a sombre day that is for sure but a day that will never be forgotten.