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Published: January 10th 2007
23rd April. Said bye to Rachel and joined my ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corp) Tour. On the way out of Istanbul I saw dolphins again in the Bosphorus while the tour leader gave us some interesting facts like
3% of Turkey is European, leaving 97% Asian,
The population is 70million and 14million live in Istanbul (Holland population!), and
There are 35,000 historical sites in the country.
For those of you who are not Aussie or Kiwi and don’t know anything about ANZAC day or Gallipoli here is some background:
"Anzac day is held in both Australia and New Zealand on the anniversary of the first major offensive to use ANZAC troops on the shores of Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915.
When World War I began nine months earlier, 4th August 1914, Australia committed 20,000 volunteer troops to the war effort under the control of the British Armed Forces. Those troops were soon on their way to Egypt where a plan was underway at the request of the Russians to neutralise the Turkish war effort and effectively take them out of the war.
At 06:00 hours on the 25th of April 1915, the First Expeditionary
With Lauren and Emma
infront of the Troy horse used in the film with Brad Pitt
Forces of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp landed on the beaches of Gallipoli, now known as ANZAC Cove, to an unexpected welcome.
The plan was for the ANZACs to attack the Turks across the peninsular destroying the Turkish defenses in the Dardanelles and leave the channel open for the British to sail into Constantinople (then the capital) and remove Turkey from the war completely.
However, the British plans were made based on outdated tourist maps of the area, and instead of landing on open grasslands the ANZACs found themselves facing rolling hills and steep cliffs covered with prickly bushes and defended by a very tenacious Turkish Army." (http://www.aussieslang.com/features/anzac-day.asp)
For me, going to Gallipoli was about learning more on this event which took place 91 years ago and paying my respects to those who fought for Australia, a country i am so proud to come from.
On the bus we watched a Gallipoli documentary which was really good, but quite sad. We crossed from Gallipoli to Canakkale on the car ferry, and were put into our rooms in our 4 star accommodation, and there is a great bathroom, with even a hairdryer (haven’t seen one
of them for a while)! I am sharing with Lauren and Emma who I was already starting to get to know on the bus. We checked out the area (pool, beach and all), watched the sunset, and got onto the drinking in the bar, playing pool and chatting away with everyone on the tour that consisted of all Aussies and Kiwis, and the Turkish guide. We sung to tacky music and I lost count of beers. After most people went to bed a few of us got ‘roadies’ and headed out to the pool as the bar was closing. We sat at the pool then Ryan and James thought they could hear ‘Doof Doof’ music so Blake and I followed them out onto the street laughing and carrying on to try and find it. The bartender passed us on his putt putt bike and we started with the stupid jokes that make you crack up because you’re so drunk, such as the bartender being a copper on his putt putt bike and how funny that would be if he had to chase someone. James then teased a cat which made a dog bark, and when he went over to investigate
the dog he found to his surprise it was a “bloody big dog” that was behind a very small fence, so we turned and ran back. Blake and I could still not hear the music and Blake started with the “Mt Victoria to VKC, come in PJ, come in Maggie” and I lost it in laughter (you had to be there!). So we get back to the accommodation and the guys are still convinced there is music so we walk back towards the dog, then eventually we decide that we aren’t going to find it (as it didn’t exist!) after walking the streets for who knows how long. The security guard “sshhhed” us when we came back in and I tried to get a pash from James but was sadly rejected (hihihi).
24th April. Before heading over to Gallipoli we had some time to kill while we waited for the ferry, so we checked out the horse that was used in the Troy movie with Brad Pitt. In one of the shops a man gave me a free all-seeing eye on a pin that he happily (freakily) put onto my boob, eww. We crossed the Dardanelles again
On the hillside visible from canakkale
Traveller, halt! The soil you heedlessly tread once witnessed the end of an era
to find our restaurant is full so we headed straight to Gallipoli instead where we are instantly delayed for an hour. We get to the Kabatepe Information Centre and Museum, before all the other buses, luckily as we were saved from the huge line up into the museum. We were rushed a bit but it was still a very moving experience. The letters on display that were written by the diggers to family members, the bullets, outfits, badges, buttons, and photos really made it hit home. Even more so was the toe bone in a shoe, finger bones and a skull with a bullet stuck in it. We then went to Brighton Beach, nice and flat and the supposed spot where the ANZAC’s were meant to land. Then on to ANZAC Cove, the actual landing site, where I walked around on my own, imagining a bloody war in this beautiful and peaceful environment. It was very emotional and difficult to contain my feelings which were running wild. I was upset and angry at the consequences of mankind’s actions and saddened by all those that are affected by war. Over the 8month battle it wasn’t just the fighting that killed the
Photo in the Museum
John Simpson with his famous donkey
soldiers it was also disease; and think of those who did survive, they are scarred for life. Here are some of the words I read on some gravestones Still with love our souls are linked
To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die
Only a boy but died a man for liberty and freedom (18yrs old)
Gone but not forgotten
He died that we might live
A life made beautiful by kindly deeds
We then went to Lone Pine, the main grave site for Australians, and even though the grandstands were being set up for tomorrow it did not deter from how emotional and very moving this place is. Reading more of the gravestones I couldn’t help but think how I would feel or even begin to feel if that was my brother, father, partner or even son. The pain would be too hard to imagine and it definitely made me want to call home. Sounds morbid but these are just some of the thoughts that run through your mind.
During the day I had increasing feelings of deepened sadness that all these men
Photo in the Museum
Aussies playing cricket in Anzac Cove
who were given the chance to live had to die in such a horrible cause of war. Are men hero’s for fighting in wars, or are men insane for starting wars to begin with? When is war ever necessary? Who has the right to make the decision for so many people to go to war? War has absolutely no benefits to the soldiers fighting or their families. Surely problems can be solved without the need to fight wars. I feel pain in my chest and stomach and cannot begin to understand how and probably never will understand why. No-one has the right to take another human beings life. EACH MOMENT THAT YOU HAVE ONLY LASTS ONCE
We then made a quick stop at Chunuk Bair which is the site for the New Zealand memorial and also where some reconstructed trenches are. Walking around, seeing the trenches and trying to imagine the ANZACs coming up the steep hill to attack the Turks seems so crazy, but they must have had a whole lot of courage and determination. The area has such beautiful views all around, seeing the Turkish and ANZAC trenches so close to one another meant
Photo in the Museum
An Anzac soldier sharing his water with a Turk soldier
that those who fought there were almost guaranteed death. What is overwhelming are the stories of the mutual respect between both the ANZACs, and the Turks. "Extraordinary friendly exchanges between the Turks and our fellows this morning early. Some of our chaps ran right over to the enemy trenches and exchanged bully, jam, cigarettes etc. The whole business was wonderful and proves how madly unnecessary this part of the war is. Lieutenant T. E. Cozens"
We then headed back to town for a very late lunch, and Lauren and I had to run to catch the ferry (with the locals laughing at us) as we tried to get in some last minute memory card clearing done. On the ferry we cracked open some cans of fosters and started singing Aussie songs. Back at the accommodation we packed and I prepared for the cold by putting 6 tops on (including 2 thermals), and grabbing my sleeping bag. We rushed to get the bus but when we got to the dock we missed the ferry and killed the hour wait by going to the pub, which ended up being really good. I did put my foot in it
moo style with a comment I made about Guy Sebastian (who ended up being a school mate of some of the guys on the tour!!) Anyway, back on the bus we got into the singing again, and we were all impressed by Blake’s impersonation of Khe Sanh, which was actually a little scary.
25th April ANZAC DAY. We arrived at Gallipoli around 12:30am, grabbed our packed lunches and headed out in the dark to find our way to ANZAC Cove (thanks tour leader!). After finding some seats I got set up in my sleeping bag and was still freezing my butt off. I have never before been so bloody cold. They had an ANZAC documentary playing on the big screen. The service at dawn was everything that I expected and more. It was very moving and I have since decided that I will try to make it to the dawn service every year, wherever i am. This was my first one and an appropriate place for it. I was so glad that I came here to do this and it’s hard to believe but I have become even prouder to come from the land down under. I highly
recommend it to all those Aussies and Kiwis out there. After hearing the “last post” and the anthems I couldn’t contain my emotions and had to put my head into my sleeping bag. After the dawn service I stopped off at John Simpson’s Grave (Aussie hero) on my way up to Lone Pine, and far out it was an exhausting walk up the steep hillside. Before it started, cartoonist Warren Brown made us all laugh with his typical Aussie larrikin crackerjack slang and I found out that Australian Governor General Michael Jeffery was there and he is the first Gov from Australia to even visit Turkey. Published in the Turkish Daily News I got this part of his speech “Today ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, at this most moving of places, we are summoned to recall the battle sacrifices of Australian farmers and tally clerks, teachers and laborers, and to commemorate outstanding courage and strength of character in the face of incredible and sustained adversity. But in losing a campaign, they won us a greater prize. An enduring sense of national identity”
At the days end half of us on the tour were heading on
The spirit of ANZAC recognises the qualities of courage, mateship and sacrafice which were demonstrated at the Gallipoli landing
to Troy and the rest of us were going back to Istanbul. I was going back as there were still things I didn’t get to see, so Blake, Ryan and I checked into Cordial House and met up with Clair and Matt for one beer, considering it was ANZAC day. Well the drinks didn’t stop and neither did the Aussie music, we danced, sung and drank to the ANZACs, being proud of where we come from, and new mates. Matt and Clare left but we agreed to meet up again tomorrow night. I had to force the boys to hang out longer, but we ended up calling it a morning around 5ish.
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Sounds like a good, but very moving trip. You have every right to be so proud of those brave men, all of them volunteers. But please don't forget that more British troops actually died there, then any other nationality. History and time seems to have forgotten their sacrifice. They were ordinary soldiers, fighting for the Generals and Politicians too.