Edit Blog Post
Published: April 29th 2015
Marvellous Mabel patiently waiting for the shuttle bus to take us to the commemoration site
Here is our final entry from Gallipoli....
26 April 2015
As we sit on our balcony soaking up the warmth of the late afternoon sun, we are reflecting on ANZAC Eve and ANZAC Day in Gallipoli. All Mum can say is “It’s an experience I’ll never forget. I can’t believe I’ve done it. It’s a numbness that I’m really here. Amazing! I came. I saw. I conquered.”
Once through all the bus registration, checkpoints to have passport checked and ballot tickets scanned we finally arrived at Mimoza Park , the ‘holding bay’ until our bus shuttle number was called. So thankful for the assisted mobility pass for Mum; it was a 3km walk to the commemoration site. A final check point and bag check we were ushered to our seats. There were lots of volunteers from all over Australia and all ages who assisted with the process. They were excellent! We were seated by 9:00pm…not the 2:30am that we had been previously told. A lot depended on the movement of buses; DVA was responsible for a lot of the organization but they had to
Sometime through the night; people behind us offered to take this photo.
work with the Turkish Jandarma. A long night ahead!
We were well rugged up and never felt cold…our preparation was perfect! We were also issued with blankets as needed. The organization was phenomenal for 10,000 people in such a small area. There was such a reverent air as people arrived and moved to their seats or grassed area. Looking out to sea as the sun set and knowing we would be there for sunrise was surreal.
Throughout the night various film clips of battles were screened, stories of soldiers taken from their letters (both Australian and New Zealanders), performances by school choirs from Brisbane, a Maori choir, the didjeridoo echoed across the silent crowd, the Army band…so much; so touching and hauntingly beautiful.
The almost half moon shone brightly in the black velvet sky. The evening star sparkled. A peaceful place, in great contrast to ANZAC 25 April 1915. As the dawn approached the birds sang, and the Aegean Sea could be heard lapping the shore. The history was recounted throughout the evening with descriptions given at the precise
Dawn's gentle appearance
time of landing 100 years ago. Apparently, weather conditions were very similar to what we were experiencing. Our thoughts were focussed on the boys at this time in 1915; our one night vigil was in complete comfort by comparison. Lights from boats glistened on the horizon. It was surreal for us being right there, imagining the boats quietly rowing closer to shore.
The sunrise was very gentle behind the ‘sphinx’, not colourful; the sky just became lighter and lighter. As the ceremony was underway, a fleet of battleships was seen gliding so slowly, so silently, so reverently along the stilled sea. It was as if those ships were paying their respects to the lives lost at sea and closer to the shoreline. An incredibly poignant and emotive sight.
Despite strong protestation, Mum eventually succumbed to the use of a wheelchair once the service was completed. It saved a lot of walking and standing while waiting for the bus to take us up to Lone Pine. The Dawn Service was completed by 6:30am; the Lone Pine service started at 11:00am. Volunteers pushed Mum to the area we
were designated; there were a few steps to climb so she was given the choice of sitting in the stand or staying in the wheelchair comfortably on ground level in front of the stand. We decided on the ground was a good place to be! The weather had been fine until about 30 minutes before the service commenced; light rain began to fall …on went the ponchos!
The team of security and certain dignitaries headed down the side we were sitting. There were a couple of dear old diggers from WW2 sitting beside us. If that wheelchair hadn’t been organized she would not have been in that spot to meet the PM and the Prince! Mum was completely overwhelmed, saying, “It doesn’t get any better than this!” after our PM beelined her, took her hands warmly and congratulated her on a fine, courageous effort. He was closely followed by his wife who also stopped for a chat, handshake and well wishes. Imagine her astonishment when Prince Harry came along! He took her hands and he asked her how she got to be here…”By wheelchair,” she answered!!!! He smiled and continued to speak with
her for a couple of minutes, all the while holding her hands. An unforgettable experience!
We found the Lone Pine service to be more emotive than the Dawn Service, possibly due to the more intimate nature of the seating (nothing to do with ‘Mabel’s Momentous Moments!’). It was incredibly humbling laying the wreath, and, due to where we were sitting, we were first behind the official DVA wreath layers.
There was a 5 hour wait for our bus; then the 6 hour drive to Istanbul which included 2 stops. Very weary, but extremely fulfilled and feeling so honoured to be a part of this historic commemoration, sleep came easily and deeply.
Our time in Gallipoli had ended; our time in Turkey quickly drawing to a close.
For me, the planning for this journey began many years ago. I wanted to walk in my grandfather’s footsteps and learn more about the grandfather I never knew. It was a pilgrimage and a vigil I felt I needed to do, and what better time than
Walk to Lone Pine
We were in the bus.
the 100 year commemoration. When Mum learned of my plans nearly 3 years ago, she wanted to come. Initially I was concerned, but with careful planning for her wellbeing, the prayer of my heart became that I wanted her to be honoured. Honoured for the woman she is, having grown in strength and determination through the hardships in her life, maintaining her faith and joyful outlook throughout. What a privilege it has been. All has been achieved for ‘Grandmas in Gallipoli’ …
Some words from my grandfather revealing part of his character:
Very quiet all along the firing line but the Turks Artillery fire are very active they send in shells all day to try and find our guns but they don’t succeed. There is no doubt about the Turks they fight fair and well. Went down the beach to draw rations.
(Gives credit where due)
Heavy bombardment commenced at 5 o’clock & we made an attack & pushed the Turks back
a good bit. We are still holding the ground we gained. There must be about 800 heavy guns, firing you cannot hear yourself speak. The ‘lone pine’
Bombardment is still going on. We advanced 4 miles on our left flank. And you have to do everything under big Jack Johnsons & shrapnel fire. It is glorious to listen to our guns firing.
(Positive even in extreme situations)
Things are very quiet all along the line both in the Artillery and rifle fire. We went down to draw rations Very hot all day but it is very nice in the evening I have never seen such wonderful sunsets in all my life as I have seen here. The flies are something awful here they stick & you have to pull them off Received letter dated 21.6.15 & paper 16 Nov
(Appreciative of natural beauty...sunsets, not flies!)
September 1915 (This entry makes me smile every
time I read it)
Very quiet all along the line. My birthday and Zulu the cook made a pudding & it was lovely, fancy having a pudding on active service 2 hundred yards away from the Turks.
(Appreciative of the thoughtfulness of others)
Went over to lone Pine coming back I was partly buried by a shell bursting two or three yards away but I stuck to my jar of pine juice. Went down to draw rations.
A final word:
(Written on Mudros West near Portianou – the main Australian camp which was also the site of the 3rd
Australian General Hospital)
We were inspected by the French G.O.C. he is a man of very few words the following are the words he said (I salute the Gallant troops of ANZAC) & then he went up to the other battalion. It rains here two days out of three.
We salute you Gallant troops of ANZAC.
(We are now safely in Devon, enjoying a restful and reflective time with Peter and Pauline, the son and daughter-in-law of Mabel's WW2 penfriend Daphne)
Tot: 0.233s; Tpl: 0.012s; cc: 10; qc: 49; dbt: 0.113s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb