We met in the lobby at 8:30am after breakfast in the Breakfast Annexe. To get there you leave the lobby, which is a fairly narrow area, and go out into the courtyard which has a water foundation in the middle, and garden beds along the walls. It is actually very pretty. After you cross the first courtyard you turn into the next one which has lawn in the centre and the clothes line is along the fence on the rhs. The path on the lhs side takes you to the Annexe and you climb a few steps to get there.
Russ had toast with honey, and tea. Yep – their variety of muesli…… The trick to the tea is to only fill the bottom of the cup with the black ta and then top up with hot water. Milk is available at breakfast time.
Guler was to take us to see the Cimenlik Fortress as she had changed the schedule and we were supposed to have seen it yesterday when we arrived. What she did not take into consideration is that the Fortress was closed on Mondays for school groups and maintenance, which is not an indication of a guide on the ball!
Instead we went to the ferry and crossed to Eceabat and then proceeded to go to the Eceabat National Park which was the whole peninsula area that was the battleground during the First World War. We visited the Lone Pine Australian Memorial and Cemetary, the original tunnels and trenches at Johnston’s Jolly – both Turkish and Australian – Quinn’s post, the Turkish 57th Infantry Regiment Memorial, the Nek – the site of the Light Horse charge depicted in the movie Gallipoli (Gelibolu in Turkish) Walker’s Ridge and Chanuk Bair which is the site of the New Zealand Memorial and Cemetery. We saw Ari Burnu, Anzac Cove and North Beach where the Australian and New Zealand troops first landed.
Interesting here to note that the New Zealand forces were held in reserve on the first morning and did not join the fighting until later, but died just as easily.
We also visited Mustafa Kemal’s house in the township of Bigali. It was the astoundingly canny leadership shown by this man (who by-passed the German command) that turned this campaign in Turkey’s favour. He was given the task of organising and commanding the 19th Division attached to the Fifth Army during the Battle of Gallipoli. He anticipated where the Allies would attack and held his position until they retreated at great cost, without waiting for orders from the Germans.
He is now known as Mustafa Kemal Attaturk (which means Father of the Nation) who founded the Turkish Republic and was its first president. He put an end to the antiquated Ottoman dynasty whose tale had lasted more than six centuries, and created the Republic of Turkey in 1923. By the by he was blonde with green eyes and charismatic. Green eyed blondes are quite common in Turkey although most people think of dark hair and skin when Turks are mentioned. Our guide is also green eyed and blonde.
He is most remembered for his speech after the war, and it is well worth repeating here as it gives you a really good idea of how much respect was generated between enemies, particularly the ANZAC corps:
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 the Johnnies (foreigners) and the Mehmets (Ottoman Troops) to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.
You, the Mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom, and are in peace after having lost their lives on this land.
They have become our sons as well.
It is very important to remember that like most wars, this particular battle was fought for political reasons – Britain and its allies needed to reach the Russians and get supplies to them, so needed to capture Constantinople as Istanbul was then. The best and shortest route was through the Dardanelles. The Allies attacked Turkey – Turkey defended itself. Their casualties far outweighed the losses combined of the ally troops. The situation for them was so dire that Mustafa Kemal said to his men, “I do not order you to fight, I order you to die” and die they did in their thousands.
Haven’t even got to the dawn service yet and I already have goose bumps repeating his speech.
I remember learning about Simpson and his donkey in school but I didn’t remember that he was killed at Gallipoli and buried here.
It is impressive that the Turkish Republic treats the entire National Park as a battleground and so there is no camping, no swimming in the waters. If you find any stone with marks on it you must notify your guide and it will be mapped but not moved. If you find bones you must notify your guide and they will be mapped and buried. There are still hundreds of bodies unaccounted for throughout the entire National Park, soldiers from both sides of the battle.
There is also a memorial to all the British and French soldiers and sailors who lost their lives during the battle. It is not a big battle in either countries history, but as Australia and New Zealand have made a big do of it, and it continues to grow bigger each year, these countries have started to hold memorial services for their soldiers in the Park on Anzac Day eve. This is also the day the Turkish soldiers are remembered.
The idea for part of the change to the schedule was that all the sites were very shortly to be closed to the public so the construction and set up could take place for the ceremonies on Anzac Day. IN this Guler was very thoughtful, and it worked. Because we were a small coach (van) we were not blocked from entering the sites and were able to walk amongst the memorial stones at all the places, and almost had then to ourselves.
The security measurements for these events are enormous. As you enter each site you have to go through the magnometers just like in the airport. You can only bring in water in bottles that have not been opened, no alcohol, no weapons, and you have to carry everything you need. More about that later…..
We had a late lunch at the dinky little café from yesterday before we caught the ferry back to Canakkale. Russ had a rest and meditation while I tried to catch up on some of the diary entries and then we joined Dave, Ian and Judy for tea. The guys left it up to Judy and I to find a suitable place to eat down on the waterfront. The weather has been frisky early in the morning, sunny all day with a light breeze, returning to brisk in the evening.
The hot chocolate was to die for….and I am not usually a hot chocolate drinker. The meals were good and there was a good variety to choose from. We had a most convivial evening before heading back to our hotel.