Well the last few days have been flat-out keeping me away from the keyboard until now.
We left Istanbul the day before ANZAC day and travelled down the Gallipoli peninsular for the Dawn service. This was an experience to say the least. We arrived at the Commemorative site around 9pm, after a bit of a walk from where the bus dropped us off. This is where the TV broadcast comes from. By this time all the seating on the grassed areas was taken. All the ‘young people’ lie here in their sleeping bags gazing up at the stars in the sky. The rest of us take seats in the stands. Now this might sound more pleasant than lying on the grass, but ahead of us was 8 or 9 hours of increasingly cold night air as the dawn approaches. Despite blankets and double layers it got a bit nippy and uncomfortable. The benches were a bit hard on the rear end.
The irony of all this is of course that nearly 100 years ago a whole pile of young Australians landed here and spent the next 9 months or so in far more horrifying conditions than we can ever imagine. Our complaints of cold seemed so insignificant. We can only thank our Turkish friends for keeping the place and memories so well-ordered.
There is a new Museum at Gallipoli, it opened in early April. It is a flash interactive type of set up. In telling the story it brings a strong Turkish perspective to the confrontation and makes one realise that the Turks suffered far greater losses than the combined Commonwealth forces did and also faced the same deprivations.
Following the dawn service we walked the 2km or so up to the Lone Pine Memorial and cemetery for the Australian ceremony at 10am. In getting up this ‘hill’ to Lone Pine from the shoreline Allthego and ‘Reality’ were almost Allbutgone. Lone Pine is the place where 2800 Australians were killed in an area about the size of a football field. Most of the ‘graves’ marked are symbolic as the bodies lie everywhere under our feet. What a walk. How tough it would have been 90 years ago!
After the services we returned to the bus and crossed the Dardanelles on the car ferry to Canakkale for a sleep. We had been allthego for about 36 hours and wondered why we were a bit tired and in need of shut-eye. We were all in good spirits though.
The following day we returned to visit various cemeteries on the Peninsular, including the impressive Turkish memorial.
The crowd was largely gone but the ANZACs remained behind to await another influx in a years time.