Monday 01 May 2023.
Gallipoli Peninsula – Gabatepe Beach, ANZAC Cove, Ari Burnu Cemetery, Lone Pine Cemetery and Memorial, 57 Piyade Alayi Sehitligi (Turkish 57 Regiment Memorial, Chunk Bair (site New Zealand Memorial)
Çanakkale – Ferry crossing, exploring the waterfront city.
Today was the first full day of the G Adventures tour and it saw the group visiting the emotional Gallipoli Peninsula area site of the Allies land invasion of the then Ottoman Empire that began on 25 April 1915 with the full withdrawal on 9 January 1916.
It’s a site on probably the greatest defeat for Australian and New Zealand armies (ANZACs) but also the site where our countries spirit of sacrifice and mateship was sparked.
We started our Gallipoli experience with a visit to Gabatepe Beach this was the spot ANZACs were supposed to land but ended up by accident landing further north with much worse terrain. At this stop our Tour Leader Isik explained the history leading up to the Gallipoli Campaign and the mistakes in the sea battles to secure the strait and allow weapons to be shipped to Russa that lead to the need for land based attack.
Next up was a visit to ANZAC Cove which was the actual landing site and today is a memorial to all who lost their lives. Each year on 25 April in this location there is a solemn dawn service. It’s an emotional moment when you look at the cliff and the difficult terain that ANZAC watched that saw so many die.
From here we visited the Ari Burnu Cemetery. There are 203 identified dead buried here, 42 unknown soldiers and 8 Special Memorials. at the entry there is an a quote attributed to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first President of the Republic of Türkiye and a miltary commander during this campaign. It reads:
Those heroes who 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 and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country to 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.
I read all the tombstones with the vast majority of the fallen aged under 30 and a large number 18 or 19 years old. Their lives ended when they had barely began.
We then visited the Lone Pine Cemetery and Memorial which is located at the fiercest fighting at Lone Pine and overlooks the whole front line of May 1915. It commemorates more than 4,900 Australian and New Zealand servicemen who died in the Anzac area. The oldest soldier I found was a 52 year old Doctor in the medical services.
We also visited 57 Piyade Alayi Sehitligi a memorial to the Turkish soldiers of the 57 regiment who lost there lives in this war and the War of independence to come. Their sacrifices were honoured by there never again being a 57 Regiment.
The last place we visited on the Gallipoli Peninsula was Chunk Bair which includes memorial for New Zealand solider who took this hill and then died in huge numbers failing to defend it. This location also provided good lookout of the Sulva Plain area and has a major statue of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who was wounded in this area and who would one day be the founding Turkish President.
The rare emotional of today’s Gallipoli Peninsula visit over we moved onto Çanakkale which started with catching a Ferry across the Dardanelles, also known as the Strait of Gallipoli. Çanakkale is a Unversity Town with plenty of life and activity.
After checking into our hotel we went out to explore the city centre and later have dinner. During this time we came across the Trojan Horse recreated for the Troy 2004 movie starring Brad Pitt and Eric Bana and we also saw a replica of the city of Troy at it’s peak. We will be visiting Troy tomorrow.
After an enjoyable dinner several of the group including myself head back to the hotel which we reached by 11 pm while others went out partying.