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ANZAC Day, Gallipoli 2007

TURKEY | Thursday, 26 April 2007 | Views [5946] | Comments [5]

The sign telling us where we were. I had to wait a long time to get this photo,a very popular picture opportunity.

The sign telling us where we were. I had to wait a long time to get this photo,a very popular picture opportunity.

A morning and day that is hard to put into words ........       Moving. Enlightening. Emotional. Shocking. Proud to be Australian. Eye opening.  

Every Aussie and Kiwi should do the trip if they have half the chance. I used to pride myself on knowing a bit about what happened on the morning of April 25 1915. It's not until you're there listening to a decendant of a turk who died in the same trenches we were gathered in that you 'feel' the stories.

Unfortunately there had been threats again so everyone went through the bag checks and pat down before getting a wristband and told not to lose it. Most of us spent the dusk and then night gathered with the other 8000 tourists and untold number of guards that couldn't be seen until dawn shivering, singing, laughing (takes more than this to stop the kiwi jokes) and trying to get some sleep. All night the big screens came to life with documentaries, interviews and speeches from politicians. Most were interesting, some were tolerable and one was the talk of the town when one well known ABC broadcaster must have been feeling too tired to concentrate in the early hours and made some stupid remarks and asked the wrong questions at the right time.

The Dawn service was very moving. I never did feel comfortable with the Last Post, it's totally different now. That is one memory that will stick. The usual military ceremonies took place and the speeches and readings followed. The Kiwi Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters made an address that was a thinly veiled attack on the British commanders of the time. Even Ali, our Turkish guide, let it be known that there was very little respect for the people who sent the Anzacs into their backyard. From the time the forces massed only miles offshore to the time the British managed to lose control of Chunuk Bair in 25 minutes after the Kiwis had fought for months and held the strategic hill for the last week, it's fairly obvious there was not much regard given to either the Anzac or the Turk by the British. And I don't think it has been forgotten.

One thing that definitely hasn't been forgotten is the way the Anzacs showed respect for the guys who were no different to them, and only defending their own country. We heard stories of cease fires because an Aussie was playing a popular song of the time on a harmonica. Another time when a huge Turk waved a white flag so he could carry a wounded Anzac back to the Anzac side for medical help. Once a Turk lobbed some tobacco and a note over to the other side, a distance of feet not miles. The Aussies worked out that the Turks had tobacco but no papers so the word was sent down the lines to collect any paper they could find. Makes me think the bibles might have got a hiding there. The Kiwis were in on it too. They had chocolate in there ration packs and would throw it at the Turks in return for tomatoes. Just as well it wasn't too far for the tomatoes.

When the locals find out you're an Aussie there is a feeling that they'd like to get to know you. And I got that in all parts of the country I visited.

After the Dawn service we had plenty of time to walk the couple of kilometers to Lone Pine for the Australian memorial service. The lone pine tree that grows there now is apparently grown from a pine cone taken from the solitary tree that got blown to bits during the batlle. It stands there in an area no bigger than two tennis court that is the final resting place for over 7000 Anzac and Turkish men. War at it most savage. All hand to hand fighting and to the death. The memorial is set over a mass grave and we heard Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson give a moving speech. He's got a good writer, but he did read it from the heart just the same.

 It was a pity the so called official parties couldn't spend a little bit more time waitiing for the heap of people who tried to go from Lone Pine to the Turkish memorial service at the Turkish 57th Regiment Memorial and then to Chunuk Bair for the Kiwi service. A few of us saw the last of the Turkish memorial complete with Turks in battle dress from WW1 and 2.45 million boys scouts and girl guides. It seemed like that many as we all walked up the hill to catch the last 15 minutes of the New Zealand memorial service. I heard the last of the address from Winston Peters who by this time was having a hard time holding back his contempt for the commanders who even managed to shell their own killing the very popular Lt. Colonel William Malone from the Wellington Battalion.

After that the 170 buses on site were called up two or three at time and we all headed off. It didn't seem to take very long but it was definitely good to have a soft seat after the long walks trying to fit too much in. I was a long way from the only one who would've liked to have been at the last two services but it didn't happen.

After a day like that and the five hour bus ride back to Istanbul it was time for another invasion. There were a lot of Aussies and Kiwis in the bars and streets that night and a lot of locals out with us too.

Am definitely going to try to get back again. Highly recommended. Not just the Anzac Day services either. There are a lot of things to see and do in Turkey that we just don't know or hear about. I'll tell you about it after my next trip.

Tags: culture




Wow very moving i had goose pumps reading it..your in the wrong line of work my dear friend..

  valerie May 6, 2007 2:09 PM


Makes me sorry that I have missed the opportunity to go to Gallipoli all these years. Your travels have inspired me!

  Jenny May 7, 2007 8:31 PM


everybody who can make the pilgrimage will be moved to tears the most moving effect it has on you is at dawns early light when you get a look at the terrain daunting makes you wonder a thousand thoughts at once very brave men one and all

  david brennan May 18, 2007 3:39 PM


Thanks for your thoughts .I'm proud of you. Now you know my thought on Poms and politicians who squander a nations lifeblood on useless battlefields

  Your Dad Jul 2, 2007 8:55 PM


We did the pilgrimage in 2003 and I echo your words about both the services there and that there's more to this place than just ANZAC Day. I was amazed at the size of the campaign area. I'd always imagined it as MUCH bigger.
What astounded us was the display of flags in Istanbul for the week leading up to ANZAC Day - (it could have been longer but that's all the time we had there prior to our sojourn to Gelibulu (the Poms couldn't even pronounce it so they gave it the name of a place in Italy which they could get their tongues around). The flags of Turkey, New Zealand and Australia are flown side by side in strings across the streets. After the BIG day we had a fantastic couple of weeks on a backpacker hop-off anywhere, hop-on at designated towns bus which was terrific. Full of Kiwis and Aussies (of course). It's called the FEZ bus and starts on 26 Apr each year and runs anticlockwise from Istanbul via Anzac Cove and Troy etc. You're totally right about the regard for the ANZACs. In Goreme which is a thousand Ks or so from anywhere you've ever heard of there's a "Peace Park" with a statue with a pair of hands holding the globe of the Earth while doves of peace fly off. It is surmounted by the flags of Turkey, Australia and New Zealand. At the rear of this statue is a drinking fountain and the words ANZAC FOUNTAIN below it. as you said it's eyeopening and mind blowing. When you do go back (as you must) be sure to see Pammakkale with Ephasus at its core and Cannakkale with the strangely eroded rock structures. Merran and I would go back to Turkey in a heartbeat!

  Ian Warlters Dec 23, 2007 5:40 PM

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