Wednesday 25 April 2007 by John Lafferty. No comments
Battlefield Tours, Gallipoli, Week 2

The first half of day 8 is a tour of the Helles point area. After all the walking of day 7 it is a nice break to have a bus tour day. Although this area was primarily landed and occupied by British and French troops it also has some ANZAC memorial.

The first stop is at a Turkish memorial that was a section of graves for those killed when British ship artillery shelled a hospital installation.

Our next stop is the ANZAC memorial for the Lancashire Landing at W beach. The memorial is higher up from the beach area overlooking the entrance to the Dardanelles and a nearby light house.

A short trip down the road is the very large Helles Memorial where the names of over 21,000 British troops are engraved. Also on this memorial are the names of ANZACs for whom there are no known location of death as well as the names of the ships used in the campaign.

Very close to this memorial is the location named V Beach. This was just one of the locations landed on at Helles on the 25th of April but with its well defended hills and beaches it saw some of the highest losses.

On the headland above V beach are gun emplacements that have now been rebuilt but where once seen as they where after the early failed navy battle. These emplacements came under heavy bombardment and an ammunition bunker was successfully hit doing much damage. Although this damage can no longer be seen there is one of the original large guns on display and it has a noticeable bend.

Next stop is the Turkish Memorial that can so clearly been seen from most locations in the area. Visited by many local tourists this site is one of a couple being used to help build a better knowledge of the conflict and create a larger feeling of pride in the Turkish people.

In stark contrast to the crowds at the Turkish Memorial is the French Cemetery only a couple of minutes away. Very quite and beautiful grounds with head stones unlike any of the others we had seen. As Turkey is an Islamic country it would be offensive to have the outline of a cross visible. The head stones of the other allied forces have the image of the cross embossed into head stones and the larger memorials. The French grave marks are a cross of made from steel fence posts in the form of a cross but the three ends that are out of the ground are feathered out so that the cross now forms a fleur de lis.

We return for lunch and to collect a special tour guide to talk us though a Turkish view of the conflict. Kenan Çelik is a very knowledgeable historian on the Gallipoli conflict with a long association with the Australian War Memorial. He has been a guide for some years now taking many heads of state, official parties and other dignitaries. Kenan has also been awarded the Order of Australia for his work on the Gallipoli campaign. The Simpson Prize students and ourselves are very fortunate that as part of being on this tour that is associated with the Australian War Memorial that Kenan can provide time at this very busy event.

While Kenan talks us through the Turkish actions of the campaign we travel through what would have been behind enemy lines in the campaign. First stop is the town where Ataturk had his headquarters. This was in a classic, small village house in the middle of town. After a visit and some more history lessons we stop for tea and coffee beautifully restored the village.

Next stop not far away is to a newly restored Turkish memorial. Here a new monument and a low wall of headstones surround an old mass grave site that was almost lost to farm land.

For Kenan to complete his talk we travel back up to the Chunuk Bair Cemetery as it gives the best over view of the battlefields for this. Kenan provides a wonderful and very detailed talk that gives a very interesting insight into the Turkish operations the views of the Turkish to the allied forces.