After lunch we were driven to the site of the initial landings and stopped and marvelled how those young soldiers almost 100 years ago managed to scale the heights above ANZAC Cove under withering fire and actuially make headway against entrenched Turkish troops.
We then moved on to the Australian memorial at Lone Pine, where we were left moved by the headstones of many young men laid to rest there.
This was followed by a walk through the Australian trenches and we marvelled at how close were those of the Turks - as close as 10 metres or so in parts.
It was then on to The Nek. Most will remember the closing scenes of Mel GIDSON's movie Gallipoli, when the 8th Light Horse made their famous charge at The Nek. It is no wider than 50 metres and about 100 metres in length. Three separate waves of over 100 men each time bravely charged into certain death. It felt eery to be walking on the same ground where over 300 men died in a morning.
After The Nek we drove to the heighest point on the Peninsula, Chanuk Bar, which was the vital ground for the campaign and overlooking The Dardenelles, the waterways to the Sea of Mamara and then onto Istanbul. The New Zealanders took this piece of ground and held it for 48 hours but were finally pushed off it by ferocious Turkish counter attacks. It was never recaptured and after that the Gallipoli campaign was never going to succeed.
'Bill', our tour guide, provided an excellent narrative and attempted to give an even handed account from both sides of the battle. From an Australian perspective, we see the Gallipoli Campaign as our "coming of age" as a nation. It has then same meaning to the Turks. The end of WWI saw the demise of the old Ottoman Empire, and the Turkish success at Gallipoli and the inspired leadership of Ataturk, saw the rise of the nation state of modern day Turkey.
Ataturk, literally "father Turk", is revered in Turkey and there are statues of him everywhere. In fact, it is a criminal offence to make derogotery remarks about him, he is held in such high regard.
We finally returned to our hotel, satisfied that we had ticked off a 'biggy' from our bucket list.
Sat 02.04.2011 - The big day in the lives of many Australians and New Zealanders had arrived - a visit to the Gallipoli battlefields to pay your respects to our fallen fore fathers. We booked a tour of the Gallipoli battlefields with arrangements made through the hotel. It turned out our guide, "Bill", is mentioned in the Lonely Planet version of Turkey as one of the best guides of the battlefields. Bill speaks fluent English, but has never been outside of Turkey. We started the tour from our hotel; there were two Aussies (us), two Kiwis, two yanks, an Irishman and one young Finnish guy. We were driven to a local Turkish village that was the staging area for Colonel Mustafa KAMEL (later Ataturk) forces before they descended onto the Gallipoli peninsula in force soon after the ANZACs had landed on day one. We were taken to a local farmer's house and had a tour of his own small musuem showing off 'treasures' from the battle that he had collected and displayed during his life time. We then had a fine lunch served by his wife in there kitchen-dining room - all cooked on a wood burning oven. It was yummy!