Gallipoli Visit

Monday, Apr 18, 2011 at 15:23

Member - Michael John T (VIC)

Usually at this time of the year we are heading either north or west, but somehow I've been convinced that overseas was the go. I have to say I have not been disappointed in the last 3 weeks and I guess not for the next 7 weeks to come. This blog is being composed whilst I'm sitting aboard the Fast Cat speeding from the Greek island of Santorini and Crete. The ride is smoother than a train, thank goodness as I"m no sailor.
The reason for this blog is to comment on our visit to Gallipoli as part of a 2 week fantastic tour of Turkey, although all the way on the bus (for goodness sake) I was looking at the dirt roads and many tracks heading into the hills and mountains wishing I had a 4wd. Out visit to Gallipoli was but a short stopover, the impact however was immense.
We stopped at Anzac Cove and walked on that "bloody" beach. There is now a memorial wall (that relates the story) and a patch of green grass. Behind this is the rough climb with the small gullies and slopes that lead to the heights above. Dominating it all is the high peak "the Sphinx". I have read the story of Galipolli and what I saw was the the same as I had pictured it all. Today the scene is quiet and serene, the small cemetary of 200 Anzac graves is peaceful and all of us walking through looking and wondering didn't disturb this atmosphere. It is a solem place and there is a terrible feeling within you as you just wander from one AUSTRALIAN to a NEW ZEALANDER lying in peace. For me the moment came when I came upon two head stones, a little apart from the rest, side by side, an Australian and a New Zealander, it was representative of that Anzac spirit, even in death. Up until this time the emotion had been building but unashameably here I had tears in my eyes.
A short distance around the beach is a stone wall erected with the words from Mastafa Ataturk, spoken in 1934, embedded on it. Ataturk was the Turkish war hero and later the reveared Turkish statesman who laid the foundations for modern Turkey. He was the officer at the time of the landing that predicted where the British led landings would take place and consequently set up the defences that prevented the successful invasion of his country. It reads :-
THOSE HEROES THAT SHED THEIR BLOOD AND LOST THEIR LIVES
YOU ARE NOW LYING IN THE SOIL OF A FRIENDLY COUNTRY
THEREFORE REST IN PEACE
THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU JOHNIES AND THE MENMETS TO US WHERE THEY LIE SIDE BY SIDE IN THE COUNTRY OF OURS
YOU THE MOTHERS
WHO SENT THERE SONS FROM FAR AWAY COUNTRIES
WIPE AWAY YOUR TEARS
YOUR SONS ARE NOW LYING IN OUR BOSSUM AND ARE IN PEACE
AFTER HAVING LOST THEIR LIVES ON THIS LAND THEY HAVE BECOME OUR SONS AS WELL
ATATURK 1934
Lone Pine is another moving experience. There is a lone pine tree growing there, a descendant (by seed) of the original, as well as a large monument adorned with the names and rank of the Anzac fallen at Gallipoli. The cemetery below it contains many graves with headstones containing the words ... "believed to be buried in this cemetery ....." and then the name.
The whole area is now a declared National Park and as you drive through it you come across signage to well recognised land marks, "The Neck" being one that is easily recognised. A little further on stands the quite large memorial to the Turkish fallen. Naturally this was well visited, as we drove through we counted just on 50 buses in the area. We deliberately chose to visit prior to Anzac Day to avoid the crowds, they would be huge at that time. Thankfully the Anzac Cove area was very quiet whilst we were there.
There were only ten of us on the trip that were either Australian or New Zealanders, and discussing it later we all agreed that emotions were high. To the Canadians and Americans (a large group who were Muslim women - lovely people) we had to explain to them that this is indeed a special place for us, I'm not sure that they all grasped the significance of it to us though. A sacred place on foreign soil.
At the moment there are some site and road works taking place. and in recent times this has drawn quite a bit of contraversy especially from Australia. There is a permanent museum about to be constructed and more parking space being allocated. This indeed is disturbing the area but with the increased crowds and the raising of the areas profile it seems inevitable that this has to happen.
From there we crossed the waters to Canakkale close to and in sight of the Dardenelle Strait, the real cause of this little piece of the first world war.



Mike (Vic).
We retired to travell
It's time to go again...
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