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Published: April 22nd 2015
Part of the Turkish memorial; it's massively impressive!
Rugged up against the elements this morning, we entered our bus for the drive to the battlefield at Cape Helles on the southern toe of the Gallipoli peninsula. The road took us along the coastline of the Dardanelles and the Narrows. Battleships have entered the waters (our historian told us that was organized just for us!)
We stopped and paid our respects to the Turks at their impressive Martyrs’ Memorial overlooking Morto Bay. It is an incredible and powerful structure situated on top of a hill. The views are spectacular and we could link up battlefield areas from here.
The rain eased off by the time we arrived at Cape Helles. My grandfather’s words from Thursday 6th
We left Gallipoli at 2 o’clock this morning & landed at the Dardinelles at 9, & we have to take the Chief Fortress we started to attack at 11 o’clock the guns is rumbling through the air like thunder. We have taken 2 Turkish lines of trenches we are general reserves
His words have come to life for us, being here where he was.
What an emotionally moving memorial
Lest We Forget
For ANZAC Day 2015, engraved in the forecourt at Cape Helles Memorial
this is. It is situated on top of a hill and again, there are stunning views. The forecourt has LEST WE FORGET 25 APRIL 2015 engraved into it; a very fitting tribute to the 100 years. Mum stayed at the base of the memorial; she didn’t feel like climbing any more steps (although there were plenty of willing helpers for her), then went back to the warmth of the bus. I went up. It didn’t take long for tears to come. My grandfather was involved in the battles here. A quiet, reflective walk around the memorial noting the battalions involved - I read: 1st
Australian Division 2nd
Infantry Brigade 5th
Battalion. That was it for me.
A walk down to the beach was welcome. Our historian took us out onto the rocky point of V Beach. Another perspective was gleaned: gun batteries, a fort, the terrain of the cliffs, the sea. V Beach cemetery was visited. These cemeteries are so beautifully presented. Peace pervades.
Redoubt Cemetery was our last main battlefield area to visit. Mum and I had poppies to lay there as this was where the battles for Krithia took place. The 5th
Battalion was heavily involved. At each battlefield Peter Hart, our historian, had people read accounts of what happened. Mum read a passage about the 5th
Battalion’s experience and was applauded. We had time to walk around the area. Although there were many Australians involved in this campaign, it was mainly British involvement.
We discovered a couple of 5th
Battalion names. Friends had given us a posy of poppies to place with a soldier who looked alone. A lot of the engravings have the age of the soldier, a family tribute and/or a verse. Many have poppies already laid. One of the two we found just had his name, rank and battalion and the date he died; even that was not quite known. No poppies. He was our boy. My grandfather would have known Pte J T Hancher. We’d like to think they were mates…here’s an excerpt from the diary….
Very quiet in the firing line but the trench guns are still firing I & my friend have come out for a walk it is lovly only for the shot and shell really heavy Artillary
Then the following:
Very heavy Artillary fire this morning. We advanced 5 hundred yards past the Frenchmen. We must have had a good angel looking after ous, it was raining with lead they were splashing the mud up all around ous it is the hottest we have been in. A night of all nights.
Artillary fire very light this morning & very quiet in the trenches Very sad morning’s work We buried our comrades, it is the only thing we don’t like. It has been very warm in the day up to now & very cold at night. We have no blankets. A fortnight under here today We have had no letters since we have been on the battle field up to now.
Did they walk together that evening before the ‘night of nights’? Did my grandfather bury J T Hancher? We will never know. Maybe the ‘good angel’ my grandfather referred to has brought about this connection.
It was this place that Mum became emotional for the first time. We also laid a poppy on the second
5th Battalion soldier we found, Pte J W Hutchison. A mate. Peace pervades these grounds. These boys are at rest. Our countries are at peace. Please God, may it stay that way.
The countryside around this southern tip is stunning. Shepherds were walking over the hills and fields with their sheep; cattle and goats grazed. Sea views often appeared as we drove around the winding road. The ‘Sphinx’ towered above us; Suvla Bay sparkled below. The preparations for the commemoration ceremonies are well under way. The Australian surf boats have arrived.
In my grandfather’s words from Thursday 27th
May 2015 ..’The country we are in is very lovely but very dangerous (of course)’
In our words today, after all that we have seen and experienced thus far … ‘The country we are in is very lovely…and very peaceful (as it should be)’
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