|Where to start ......... Words cannot describe the emotions felt by everyone today. If you weren't moved some way shape or form then you really shouldn't call yourself an Aussie (or New Zealander - there are 33 of them on board)
We were up early and managed to get on the second round of buses to get the ferry across the Dardanelles from Cannaklkele to Escabet, a little town the is an absolute hive of activity this time of year for obvious reasons. The cruise had organised about 80 hop on / hop off buses to ferry us all over the Peninsula for the day. The one we were on started its journey at Lone Pine.
Everyone was given an Adopt-a-soldier that we could pay our respects to. Craig had 2nd Lieutenant William Dannefaerd and I had Private Frank Dash. Both were killed in action on the first day of fighting on August 6th 1915, in the Battle of Lone Pine. Both graves say "Believed to be the resting place" but it is pretty certain that these are the actual graves. The originally were buried at a place called Brown's Dip but due to the threat of flooding they were moved to Lone Pine along with many of the other soldiers.
I had knitted a poppy each for them, so we placed our Poppy's and an Anzac biscuit beside each memorial then toasted them both with a drink of rum while paying our respects. The Lone Pine cemetery is the biggest one on the peninsula because it has the majority of soldiers names on a memorial wall. This means that no body has been found for them. One of these soldiers on the wall is Private S. Dyer - Stuart Dyers great uncle. He asked me to see if I could find it and take a picture for him so I did. He was pretty happy to get it. We were also able to sign the visitors book inside the actual memorial.
After Lone Pine it was back on the bus and off to the next stop, Quinn's Post - named after Major Quinn who tried in vain to take the hill and hold it until reinforcements could arrive. The historian the cruise had organised at this site was a young Turkish guy called Adem. We could have stood and listened to him for hours. His first words to all of us were welcome home. As he sees it, that particular part of Turkey is home to so many of Australia's soldiers that it a part of our country too. Thought that was pretty nice.
I could go into so much detail about all of the places we visited and tell you all about the various stages and what went wrong but you can google all that. At a place called Chuk Bair we witnessed a Maori war dance and chant. This was the place NZ was supposed to take when The Light Horse Brigade headed up the other side (The Nek) and attacked. Problem was, NZ was still 1 kilometre away and as a result approximately 260 Light Horseman were killed and 138 wounded in a 15 minute period. Absolutely unimaginable. Chuk Bair is what they call the NZ cemetery however there are only a handful of graves identified, the rest are on a memorial on the wall.
After this part we headed back down towards Anzac Cove. We jumped off the bus at a place they call The Beach Cemetery and made our way down to the water, completely missing the actual cemetery. Simpson (the one with the donkey) is buried there. We walked along the waters edge from the cemetery to Anzac Cove and then onto North Beach. We had to play chicken with the tide but managed to get all the way along the water. It was really hard to imagine that 100 years ago the beach, with its pristine water and rocky outcrop, was the scene of bloodshed and dead bodies piled high. Both of us welled up along here just thinking about what the soldiers went through. The cliffs were enormous and they really were sitting ducks.
At Anzac Cove we stopped and soaked it in under a tree just gazing out to the water, and we weren't the only ones. I think it's the first time everyone on the cruise has actually just stopped whinging and been thankful that we are here. North Beach is where the Anzac memorial site is and where the dawn service will be broadcast from. This is the one we should be getting on the ship and its the lights along that stretch that we should see from the deck. That's probably my one complaint, there are so many temporary structures going up for Anzac Day that you can't possibly get a picture without a stand or something in it.
After being there about an hour we headed off back to town for the organised BBQ lunch. The locals had set up the town square for us and had cooked chicken, koftas, lamb and fries with traditional bread for us. The Europeans tend to have fries with everything. The food was sensational and we were able to watch the ladies cooking the pita wraps. After lunch it was back on the bus and off to the battlefields again.
This time Craig jumped off at Anzac Cove (pit stop) while I stayed on so we agreed if we got separated we would meet at Lone Pine. Here's me thinking when the bus did its u-turn and came back he would jump on. No, he watched the bus go past so I decided to get off at the next stop, beach cemetery, and walk back up. While I was there I found Simpsons grave, wasn't that hard considering there were a million Poppy's on and around it. Took a really simple but awesome picture while I was there and I'm going to enter it in the photographic competition on board. I'll email it to you separately. So I did the cemetery then started walking back up to the cove and happened to pass by Shrapnel Valley and Plugga's Plateau. This two sites have a whole lot more graves in them. Plugga's plateau is significant because it's the first flat piece of ground they could get to after the initial landing and climb. I got back to Anzac Cove and lo and behold Craig isn't there.
I jumped on another bus that was headed up the hill back to Lone Pine, remember, this was were we agreed to meet. On this trip I had the pleasure of listening to an older woman asking the most ridiculous question, "with all this flat ground, why would the Anzacs land where they have to climb hills?" She was deadly serious. Might have something to do with incorrect co-ordinates from the British originally then drifting off course. Another lady was telling us that there are 10 WW1 widows going to Gallipoli for the dawn service. Impossible. They would have to be over 110 years old. What I think she meant is there are 6 returned soldiers from WW1 being taken over for the service. These are the widows of soldiers who came back then married later in life so technically not WW1 widows. Just keep telling myself, do not engage in conversation.
I jumped off at Line Pine and, yes you guessed it, Craig was nowhere to be found, neither were our Anzac biscuits. Think a dog must have come along and eaten them. So I thought if Craig's not here I'll start walking up to Quinn's Post so I can walk through the trenches of not just our soldiers but the Turks as well. Would you believe, at some point on this walk there is only a road that separates the trenches. The Aussies would throw hand grenades at the Turks, they would catch them and throw them back. Pity if you were the unlucky one that had it when it went off. The Aussies finally worked out that they were being killed in the trenches by their own hand grenades so they decided to cut the wicks down so the Turks didn't have a chance of being able to throw it back. More importantly, after the initial fighting and all the deaths on Anzac Day, both sides called a truce so they could remove their own dead and wounded. It's believed that the smell was too overwhelming so they decided the corpses needed to be buried. Apparently this happened regularly during the 9 months we were there.
Walking through the trenches and guess who I happened to come across, Craig. He thinks he found me but I wasn't lost, I did, and went to, exactly what we agreed on he. He was the one wandering off on his own. Think I need to invest in some straps to keep him in line. It was about 4:30pm when we decided to make our back to town to have a quick look around. The last ferry for us was at 6:00pm so it gave us about an hour. In the area around the ferry they have quite a few memorials. One of them depicts a battle between the Aussies and the Turks. The statues and everything else is life size, and it says that at this battle there was only 8 feet between them (pretty sure 8 feet if not its 8 metres). In the grand scheme of things that's not a whole hell of a lot.
We wandered around a bit and everywhere you looked there was signage for the 100 year anniversary. There are Aussie flags alongside the Turkish ones and It's something a lot of us forget, the Turks celebrate victory on Anzac Day whereas we pay respects to the fallen for their sacrifice.
We caught the last ferry back to Cannaklkele and, as the ship was staying in port for the night, we decided to stay in town and have some drinks and dinner. We found a bar and some Aussies, we started as a group of 3, then 4, then 5, then, out of all the bars in all the cities in all of the world, Daryl Braithwaite walked into ours. Him, and his group of friends sat down with us, chatting and having some drinks. Pretty cool !!! His group left and our group went on to another restaurant for dinner. This is where I took charge. 6 platters between 7 of us and nothing went to waste. Even tasted Turkish Ouzo, Reki. Disgusting aniseed drink that we all ended up passing to 2 local guys on the next table.
Managed to haggle with a couple of taxis to get us back to the ship for about $15 only to find it had been moved to another dock due to strong currents - didn't think we were that drunk!!