GALLIPOLI

We overnightedt the Akol Hotel in «annakale which is in pretty much the same state of repair as the Prince Hotel in Istanbul, but not too bad really. We even had a "water view" between two buildings. The aAkol appears to have expanded from one building into another, with a temporal dislocation of a couple of floors as I mentioned before.

Our tour of Gallipoli commenced with a visit to the Kabatepe Museum. The exhibits are few and for the most part consist of items recovered in recent years, their condition extremely poor and the identification minimal. For example a rusted revolver is described as "Pistol", where it might usefully have been described as a "British Webley .45 calibre pistol". Not even the Turkish items are well documented.

[Left - Water view from the Akol Hotel]
[Below - Sculpture at Kabatepe Museum]

I was somewhat nervous about the collection of detonators, clearly still live, rusted and dirt encrusted, and even more touchy about the M36 grenade which also had lacked evidence of being rendered inert. Many of the artillery shells still had nose-cones and again there was no evidence of their being made safe.

The point to be made here is not the Turkish lack of any obvious knowledge of conservation and presentation but more the failure of countries like England, France and Australia to assist in making the museum a better place and a better experience for visitors from all over the globe. There's considerable scope for us to contribute more and I think I'll make that point to the Steve Gower of the AWM when I return. He would be well-placed to present the argument at a government level.

Turkish Memorial Statue at Kabatepe
ANZAC Cove

The picture on the left is of ANZAC Cove after the much-maligned roadworks. Sadly, they pushed the spoil over onto the beach, changing the nature of the entire site. That said, it's difficult to see how they could have provided access for the 20,000 or so Australians and New Zealanders who come here on the 25th of April and at the same time preserve the site as it was at the time.

The picture below is Shrapnel Gulley. As you can see, in the process of making the new parking area and the memorial site above ANZAC Cove they've significantly altered the foreground. During the campaign of course there was virtually no foliage at all so without distinctive geography it might be difficult to identify the terrain.

[Left - ANZAC Cove (post roadworks)]
[Below - Shrapnel Gulley with car park in foreground]

The seaward side of the wall which was behind me when I took the picture has a number of information plaques and photos on it. I took a couple of pictures but there was one man there who insisted on standing right in front of each one and reading it very slowly, in great detail, to the detriment of everyone else who was trying to look at them.

The Sphinx (below left) is so distinctive that there can be no confusion about its location. There are small cemeteries on both the left and right-hand edges of ANZAC Cove.

What was surprising throughout is indeterminate nature of a large proportion of the burials - "Believed to be buried in this location" is an endorsement on many of the gravestones throughout the site, which says volumes about the situation in which the ANZACs found themselves.

Shrapnel Gully leading from ANZAC Cove
The Sphinx

Our family heritage is such that it is impossible for people like Margaret and I to be in a place like Gallipoli and remain unmoved. It's not that the atmosphere is oppressive or depressing, it's simply the realisation that our forbears took part in the battles and endured the hardships which have become so important to our country.

The Turks obviously feel the same, as a large proportion of the peninsular is preserved as a nature park and it is compulsory for all school children to visit the site. While Australia formally gained its independence in 1901, it was in 1915 that there came the realisation that this comes at a price. It was a proving ground for both countries and has led to a fierce independence and pride in each.

[Left - The Sphinx from ANZAC Cove]
[Below - Memorial at ANZAC Cove]

In a lot of places you can see that the trenches of the combatants were only eight to ten metres apart. No wonder that they were in such close communication and were able to swap food and information. No wonder too, that the fighting had such tragic consequences. The guide mentioned that in the closing stages of the campaign the Australians and the Turks deliberately aimed their personal weapons high, in order not to hurt each other. I'd imagine that by this stage the gilt had worn off, exposing the futility of the tactics and the situation.

At the ANZAC Cove cemetery [right] and at the memorial to the Turkish 57th Regiment which was wiped out almost to a man on the 25th of April, I put on my medals and paid my respects to those who served in this campaign and those from both sides who fell in the service of their respective countries.

[Below - Unit Plaques at Lone Pine]

ANZAC Cove Memorial
Lone Pine Plaques for the 19th and 20th Battalions

The memorial at Lone Pine again reinforces the nature of the fighting, the bodies hastily buried in the absence of records and the futility of the entire venture.

While the majority of the plaques on the memorial are for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions, there are listed the names of 20 men from the 20th Battalion, including two Majors, a Second Lieutenant, two Lance Corporals and 15 Privates. The plaque for the 26th Battalion lists the names of seven men who fell there.

At Johnson's Jolly there are the remains of both Australian and Turkish trenches, only a metre or so deep now, but with only eight to ten metres between them as I mentioned before. That's really getting up close and personal!

In front of the 57th Regiment memorial is a statue of the last remaining Turkish member of that unit, together with his great granddaughter.

Buried just in front of the memorial are the bodies of an Australian and a Turk who were found with their arms around one another. The story is that it is believed that they were trying to kill each other when a nearby shell blast buried them alive and in their last extremities they hugged each other. It's a good story, regardless of the truth of the matter.

At Chunuk Bair, the goal of the initial landing, and held so very briefly by the ANZACs is the New Zealand Memorial and another statue of Mustapha Kemal, as this is where his life was saved when a bullet would otherwise have taken him through the heart instead destroyed his pocket watch.

Kemal Ataturk is absolutely revered in Turkey and everywhere you see buildings, memorials and plaques in his honour. He had no natural children - it's easy to believe that his country was his only child.

When the Parliament required all Turks to adopt a family name in 1938 they gave Mustapha Kemal the name Ataturk, "Father of the Turks". No-one else can ever use that name. Prior to this, Turks were known by their own name and that of their father - a bit like Eric Ericsson, Eric son of Eric.

It was an emotional day which gave us much to reflect on.  Both of us think that this will be one of the absolute highlights of our trip, as by itself our journey to Gallipoli makes it all worth while.

While we wouldn't want to be part of the crowd that attends the ANZAC Day ceremony here, there's not a single Australian who shouldn't come here at some time in their life.

[Right - Memorial to Turkish 57th Regiment destroyed on 25 April 1915]

Turkish 57th Regiment Memorial

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