Anzac Day is a day commemorated by Australians and New Zealanders which marks the landing of our diggers in Gallipoli during World War I. To visit Anzac Cove for an Anzac Day Dawn Service is on the wish list of most Aussies and Kiwis and I was fortunate to travel there in 2003.
Gallipoli is a peninsula in the west of Turkey (on the European side), which on the 25 April 1915 soldiers from Australia and New Zealand were sent in to the Cove at dawn, awaiting in the hills above the beach was a large number of Turkish soldiers, our boys didn’t stand much of a chance and suffered heavy casualties. News of this landing had a big impact on Australians at home and of this the Anzac Legend was born.
I travelled to Gallipoli with a group of Aussies and Kiwis the day before Anzac Day to look around without the crowds, it is a very moving area listening to the stories of great heroism of our soldiers and also to hear stories of the losses and hardships suffered by them.
Lone Pine is an area on the Gallipoli peninsula which the Australian troops fought a great campaign during the war and today this marks the area of the Australian War Memorial on the cove, we spent a few hours walking around looking at the gravestones and hearing more stories. One grave stone which stood out is that of Simpson, who became an Australian hero helping injured soldiers by taking them off the battlefield on the back of his donkey until he was killed during an attack at the Cove.
We slept overnight on the hill at Anzac Cove rugged up in our sleeping bags listening to stories, poems and songs and with the moving dawn service whilst watching the sun rise over the steep hills behind us.
In 1934, Kemal Ataturk, the Turkish President (who fought for Turkey during the War) delivered the following words to the first Australians and New Zealanders to visit the Gallipoli battlefields.
“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
And the Mehmets 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.”
Visiting Istanbul and Gallopili around Anzac Day is a great experience, walking around Istanbul there is Australian, New Zealand and Turkish flags flying everywhere and everyone is very welcoming, especially on Backpacker Street in Istanbul where many a drink was had with our new friends.
Travelled to Gallipoli: 24 – 25 April 2003