I had had my small nap and was not terribly refreshed but found I had to sit up as one side was going to sleep on me.
At midnight we had the Prime Minister’s messages from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey scintillating stuff!
After that we were shown a documentary about the role of the Australian Navy in the Dardanelles. The senior Naval Historical Officer, John Perryman, talked about the submarine AE2, which was sank during a skirmish in the Dardanelles, and also spoke about the Royal Australian Navy’s highly decorated bridging team, which won no less than twenty awards for bravery and good service.
This was followed by a dramatized documentary about the role of the AE2 and its gallant crew in penetrating the passage through to the Sea of Marmara.
At 1:00am we had the military band strike up some more tunes – that was enough to awaken a few people more – and a few more items from the Gregory Terrace All Hallow’s Choir. These kids were well worth listening to.
At 2:00am we were shown a repeat of the safety video, and an explanation about how and where we would be picked up in the afternoon by our buses.
After that we were forced to listen to clips of the first seven segments from The Gallipoli Symphony, which is to be a unique musical commemoration of ten movements played at the centenary in 2015, and is a mixture of segments from different composers.
We had another segment on the cemeteries around the Gallipoli peninsula, and then we listened to the English translation of a letter from a young Turkish Captain, Mehmet Tevik, who wrote a letter to his wife from Turkey. This letter was written in Arabic and is the longest letter to survive the battle.
At 3:00am we watched Gallipoli – The New Zealand Story, which is regarded as one of NZ’s most compelling and authentic documentaries about Gallipoli.
At 3:53am we had an announcement telling us about the Dawn Service, and this was followed by a repeat of the coach loading to take place at the end of the day’s ceremonies.
At 4:00am we listened to three short readings by Simpson Prize winning Australian students, and at 4:20am we watched Dawn of a Legend, which is a documentary by the Australian War Memorial, and tells the story of the Gallipoli campaign from the Australian perspective.
We then watched a compilation of the Dawn Services conducted in Australia and New Zealand earlier at several cities, including Townsville where Russ and I had attended dawn services when we lived there. We didn’t see anyone we knew however (sorry, Sonia and Robyn).
At 4:45am we watched The Telegraph Man – a short film feature starring Jack Thompson, Gary Sweet and Sigrid Thornton, which was very interesting and described how often the only way relatives learned of the fate of their loved ones.
At 5:00am the official party began to arrive and fill all the empty seats sitting right in front of the stage area. We then watched a reflective on the big screen where the names and epitaphs of some of those who lost their lives at Gallipoli was displayed, accompanied by the Gregory Terrace All Hallow’s Gallipoli Choir, and enhanced by discreet mood lighting of the water and the terrain.
The Maori Call to Gathering commenced at 5:26am and was performed by the Kuia, a member of the Kaikaranga of the NZ Defence Force. At 5:30am the Dawn Service began.
It may be that I was more tired than I thought, but at the time I thought that the memorial itself was spoilt by the representatives of the countries involved, most of whom were political members of one party or another – Hon Dr Jonathon Coleman, Minister of Defence, NZ; Hon Warren Snowden MP, Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Centenary of Anzac. It just seemed that after a night spent reminding people about the men who fought here that it was being used as a means to get noticed. It also might be that I am getting cynical, but the feeling was there, and a lot of the atmosphere went missing.
The introduction was made by Major General Mark Kelly, who is thee Repatriation Commissioner with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Then the Catafalque Party was mounted – which doesn’t mean they rode horses! This party was made up of members of the Australian Federation Guard and the NZ Defence Force.
The Call to Remembrance was made by Vice admiral Ray Griggs, Chief of Navy, Australia. He used material from Bill Gammage’s “The Broken Years”, and concluded his speech by saying that “The voices of those who served here are now silent. We are the caretakers of their memories. Today we walk their battlefield and carry their stories in our hearts.”
This was followed by an address from the Honourable Dr Jonathon Coleman, Minister of Defence, New Zealand. Then a Turkish Army Officer spoke the words of Mustafa Kemal Attaturk from 1934 that I wrote earlier in this diary.
A hymn was then sung before the Honourable Warren Snowden MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs etc. etc. etc. gave us a reading based on the brief history of Alfred Shout who described himself as a New Zealander by birth and an Australian by choice. He has gone down in history as an exceptional leader of men. His mate, Alex McQueen recalled that when wounded and evacuated Alfred Shout was still insisting that “we’ll make a name for ourselves tonight”. Mac survived and recalled of Shout – “He made a name for himself alright. He was Lieutenant when going into the charge, made a Captain next day (after the death of other officers in the battle), gained the VC the next day (for his bayonet led charge at a critical moment in the battle), and the following day he met eternity.”
The Principal Chaplain of the Royal Australian Navy, Stuart Hall, then spoke a Prayer of Remembrance. The Lord’s Prayer was said by Chaplain Class Three, Rewai Te Kahu, NZ Defence Force, before the long wreath laying ceremony took place. It seemed like every man and his dog wanted to get in on the act and some single wreaths were laid by four people.
The Ode of Remembrance was recited by Air Vice-Marshall Peter Stockwell, Chief of Air Force NZ, followed by the Last Post, the minute of silence and Reveille. Then we stood for the National Anthems – all three of them – Turkey, Australia, and NZ.
The Final Blessing was given by Stuart Hall and then the Catafalque party dismounted and the official party left. It was 6:30am.
The Lone Pine Service was to begin at 10:00am. However, before then we had to walk along the coast road and on up to Lone Pine, carrying all our gear plus our sleeping bags. It is a 3.1 kilometre walk which takes visitors past Ari Burnu, Shrapnel Valley and Beach Cemeteries. The route then follows Artillery Road inland and slopes steeply (STEEPLY, I say) uphill past Shell Green Cemetery to Lone Pine.
It was noticeable that many started out fast and quickly slowed down as the going got tough. We had briefly stopped at Beach Cemetery so that the three men could gather sand for their bullets. Ian and Dave had re-joined Judy and myself and we couldn’t figure out where Russ had got to. He wandered out about ten minutes later to much chiacking from the guys and cheerfully informs us he was being interviewed by Russian TV personnel on his experiences at Gallipoli. Go figure!
So once again we headed off. We had removed out coats and were carrying them with everything else. As e slowly climbed higher and higher Russ and I slowed down even further. We then took time out to remove gloves, hats and scarves. However, we were stuck with our thermals so decided not to get too hot. The announcers had been reminding everyone to make sure you had plenty of water to drink as the day would get progressively hotter.
If you were going onto the NZ ceremony at Chanuk Bair you needed to walk a further 3.2 kilometres and all of it is sharply uphill. The elderly could register to be driven there if they were at Anzac Cove early enough this morning. The rest of us just slogged along.
When we were getting closer to Lone Pine we met with the Australian volunteer seated atop a large construction of scaffolding so he was clearly seen above the heads of walkers. He gave plenty of encouragement to all walkers and told them they were getting near. He also advised that those going to Lone Pine should move to the right of the roadway (being very generously calling it anything other than a badly eroded track) so that those going onto Chanuk Bair could move past them and keep going.
When we got to the top we were held back on groups so that we didn’t crowd the magnometer booths. Once again we had to strip off all that we carried and put them into the plastic boxes so that we could walk through security under the very watchful eyes of the Turkish authorities.
Needless to say, when Russ and I cleared the booths we found Ian waiting to take us to the stand where Dave and Judy were minding our seats. It had started to get hotter and we were not finished yet.
We took the opportunity to go and buy something to eat as it had been several hours since we had finished our biscuits for breakfast. The vendors were selling lamb, chicken and beef souvlaki for 10 lira each. (Dave found out later that they generally sell for 3 lira each but I guess the vendors had to cover expenses to get generators etc. to the top of the hills). It hit the spot and we also grabbed some more water. By now we had cooled down from the long walk and it was time to get rid of woollen jumpers.
The Gallipoli campaign lasted for eight and a half months. It is a sobering thought to reflect on the numbers involved in this war. To this day 11,699 men remain unidentified. About 500,000 Turkish soldiers are believed to have served on Gallipoli and their casualties are estimated at between 250,000 and 300,000, of whom almost 87,000 died.
Between 50,000 and 60,000 Australians served on Gallipoli and 8,709 were killed in action or died of wounds or disease. In addition, 19,441 were wounded, and 70 Australians were captured. 63,969 cases of sickness were reported in the Gallipoli campaign.
Approximately 469,000 British Empire troops served in the campaign of which 328,000 were combatants and 141,000 were non-combatants. About 120,000 became casualties, and more than 34,000 died.
The Lone Pine ceremony ran fairly similarly to the Dawn Service at Anzac Cove. However, this time we also welcomed His Excellency, Mr Ian Biggs, Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, before the Catafalque Party mounted.
We had a Reflection, and a Bible Reading before singing one of my Mum’s favourite hymns – Make Me a Channel of your Peace. This was led by the All Hallow’s Choir and Mum would have loved every minute. They do sing beautifully.
After that came another reading and an Address by Honourable Warren Snowdon etc. etc. etc.
This was followed by a reading by Rachael Hay who was a Simpson Prize Winner and she recited “In Memory of Our Son”. The Prayer for the Australian Defence Force was read by Stuart Hall etc. and then the long official wreath laying took place before the Ode of Remembrance, the Last Post, the One Minute Silence, Rouse and the Turkish and Australian National Anthems (both verses once again).
The Final Blessing was read by Stuart Hall etc. before the Catafalque party dismounted and the public were allowed to lay their wreaths at the wall. There were a surprisingly large number of these.
We began to collect all our gear so that we could get out of the hot stand and find some shade. Although we had applied sunscreen we did not have anything of a shady nature to cover out heads with and the beanie would have been too hot.
When we got to the bottom we lost Russell and discovered that we had also lost a sleeping bag. Ian went to have a look under the stand while Dave stayed with Judy and myself and we guarded our belongings. Ian found Russ along the way and they were not allowed under the stand at all. However, when they went back to our seats they found another sleeping bag which they purloined instead. We started with five sleeping bags and we would return with five sleeping bags.
We lugged everything and found a bit of shade between the memorial stones under the Lone Pine tree. I need to mention here that the buses, once they dropped off their passengers, were sent to wait for recall along a lonely back road several kilometres from the actual ceremonies. They were each provided with a number and needed to wait until their number was called before they could start out.
We had quite some time to wait around. The Chanuk Bair ceremony was being screened to us at Lone Pine as it would have been impossible to attend both ceremonies unless you were members of the official party and were being bussed to site by the authorities.
By this time the volunteer groups were passing around cold bottles of water. There had apparently been one incident where a young lady had become dehydrated and had to be bussed to hospital and put on a drip overnight. We all grabbed several bottles which should be enough to keep us going until we got back to the hotel at Canakkale.
By this time we had been awake almost eighteen hours and it was not a pretty sight. By luck, and general scull doggery by our tour guide and driver, they had managed to get further up front in the bus line. It sometimes pays to be in a small van instead of a mammoth coach. And because we were such a small group we managed to stick together and there was no need to wait for late passengers, which was the case in several instances. (They would have got a lovely reception from their fellow travellers when they finally made it back to their buses,)
We were picked up at Lone Pine and, as we didn’t have to hang around, we made it out of the National Park in the first wave of traffic. Of course, the Turkish are like people everywhere and when officials are in the region they try to make use of their time. So, some of the roads were blocked because they had arranged for the officials to be present at the opening of a new mosque on the same day as the Anzac service. Traffic was everywhere, and it was probably more chaotic than usual.
When we finally made it back to the hotel Kervansery at Canakkale at 3:30pm (about 22 hours after we had left it) we were all totally stuffed and ambling around like zombies with loads of items hanging off our persons. They were just finishing the final pick-ups back at Lone Pine at this time.
We all collected our keys and headed to our rooms. Russ and I hit the shower and then sank into bed. I woke briefly at 10:20pm and got a drink of water. Russ surfaced briefly at 1:30am and got a drink of water, but we didn’t actually wake up until 7:30am.
Ian and Judy had managed to stay awake and knocked on our door at 6:30pm to see if we wanted to join them for tea. Neither Dave nor Russ and I even heard the knocking. Judy and Ian had a quick tea and collapsed into bed themselves.