Battlefield Tours, Gallipoli, Canakkale, Week 1
And now we head for the highlight destination of the tour, the Gallipoli Battlefield. We depart Canakkale by ferry for our first destination, Kilidbahir. Here we stop to look at the fortress and gun emplacements.
The fortress was closed on our arrival so we visited the gun emplacements that over look the Dardanelles. These old sandstone gun emplacements are currently being restored to a near new condition. The work so far, which looks like it is almost complete, has been done very well. I would have liked to see it up close by night as I could see lights set up all around the bases of the emplacements. From this vantage point we got a wonderful view of the Dardanelles and the Narrows and could clearly see just how impossible any naval battle would be.
We headed back to the fortress which was now open. This fortress, which is right on the waters edge, is composed of an inner tower surrounded by an outer wall. In plan view the outer wall is designed as three interlocking circles like a clover and the inner tower has three curved walls designed for deflecting canon fire. A very steep, narrow stair case leads up the inside of the inside of the walls to a great view of the surrounding village and the Dardanelles.
Back to the bus for a short journey to our long awaited first view of the main reason for this tour – the Gallipoli Battlefields. The first good views are from the Kabatepe Museum. A small museum with a collection made up mainly of items found over the years on the surrounding fields. There are also some uniforms from both sides with the Australian uniform originating from the Australian War Memorial.
Before we check into our home for the next 7 nights, the Kum Hotel (kum in Turkish means sand), we travel along the ridge to get a quick over view of the fields. It is amazing to see all the famous land marks for the first time.
After checking in and having some lunch the battlefield tours begin with a trip to the Nek. A truly moving site as it is in this very small location that 316 ANZACs lay, killed in the waves of attacks depicted in Peter Weir's movie, ‘Gallipoli’. One of our tour group members and Gallipoli historical writer, John Hamilton made a dedication to Lt Colonel Alexander White (killed leading his regiment of Victorian of the 8th Light Horse up the charge of the Nek on August 7th 1915) here for a family in Australia who has a family member at this site. The Australian wild flowers came from his 2 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. This will be one of many such dedications to be made by John and others in the group over the next few days.
Quinn’s Post is near by for our next stop. What amazes us all, now that we are out of the bus and view these sites directly, is just who small each area is, how steep the ground is and how thick the vegetation. We can only admire how the ANZACs could get through this landscape, let alone conduct a battle.
Some more travel around the fields in the bus before returning to the Kum Hotel for dinner, a few drinks and a much needed sleep after a long and rewarding day.