- After visiting the ANZAC battle sites of Montecassino, Crete and Passchendaele, (where we visited the grave of Adrienne’s great uncle, killed in 1918), my visit to Gallipoli, (where my great uncle Eric Sargisson was killed), took on greater significance as we have come to understand the horrors and pointlessness of the wars that claimed generations of our young men.
- I was collected before 7 am and we headed for Gallipoli – a rather dull 5 hours away through rolling hills mostly now ploughed and waiting for new crops to be sown in the spring. But I found a friendly Canadian and we chatted for most of the way.
- After a quick lunch we, (Crowded House Tours), headed for Gallipoli with our excellent guide, Burak, and I hope I am now far better informed as to the where, why and how of the whole disaster. The first thing that strikes you is how small and rugged the area is, and how many were lost for so little gain.
- The NZ film director, Peter Jackson, has created an exhibition in Wellington dedicated to the Gallipoli campaign. His research partner in Gallipoli was none other than our guide, so I felt we were in very knowledgeable hands.
- We headed for Hill 60 where great uncle Eric was mortally wounded but were blocked by roadworks. Hill 60 is an inconsequential bump in the landscape, but was on the path to Chunuk Bair, so obviously of some importance.
- From there we headed up the hill to the Australian memorial at Lone Pine. This battle cost thousands of lives for a piece of land the size of 3 football fields – it was almost too much to visualise and comprehend. The Turkish trenches were where the memorial now stands, the Australian positions at the other end of the field, about the same distance away. I took a video to show the size of the area.
- Only a few hundred metres away is The Nek. This was the site of probably the most senseless waste of lives – in a few minutes some 400 Australians were killed in 4 charges straight into entrenched machine guns across a piece of ground the size of a good backyard. The Australian officers pleaded for the charges to be called off as the barrage had been bungled, but the high command ordered them forward, despite the futility and carnage.
- We then went a few hundred metres more to Johnson’s Jolly. Here the trenches were 8 metres apart. When they were not fighting the soldiers would throw gifts to each other and chat.
- But everything at Gallipoli is not about the ANZACs. The toll on Turkish lives was equally horrendous. The memorial for the 57th Regiment, Ataturk’s regiment, describes a regiment that was all but wiped from the face of the earth, and 100 years later no regiment in Turkey is called the 57th in memory.
- Our last stop was Chunuk Bair – the highpoint of the peninsula and the whole point of the campaign. The NZ forces actually took the site at one point, but could only hold on for two days before a major counter attack drove them off, never to return. The main NZ memorial is here, with the memorial to Ataturk, and the Turkish losses.
- And so ended our tour of Gallipoli. It was a very cold day and two very long bus rides, but I would not have missed it. Gallipoli is a word seared into the minds of all Australians and New Zealanders and to put the horrors into context was extremely moving. I would recommend anyone do it – but not on the 25th April, just quietly when you can take time to hear the reasons for it all, and understand as best we can.
- Turkey and the CWGC have spent a great deal of time and effort to create this National Park and memorials and the efforts then and now are appreciated.
3 thoughts on “Week 30a – Gallipoli”
A very detailed and moving summary of your experience Grant.
Hey man, love your site its so organized! haha
I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.