Wednesday 25 April 2007 by Simpson Prize. No comments
Battlefield Tours, Simpson Prize

Today we encountered various extremes, from shivering outside a church to sweltering as we hiked up hills at Gallipoli. We woke up early this morning to pack and get some breakfast before leaving Istanbul for the Peninsula. First, however, we visited the Chora Church Museum, which has functioned both as a Church and a Mosque during various periods. The ceiling is covered by some of the most beautiful mosaics in the world, depicting the life stories of both Mary and Jesus in gold and bright coloured glass squares. We then left Istanbul for a six hour bus ride to the Peninsula, stopping at a supermarket on the way, where we stocked up on Turkish Delight, Turkish snacks and Turkish coffee. When we eventually arrived at Gallipoli, we first visited the Beach Cemetery, and, among others, Simpson’s headstone, and its epitaph ‘He gave his life that others might live’. We then visited Sharpnel  Valley—the serenity and order of the graveyard making an interesting contrast to the terror and heat of the battle that it is supposed to commemorate. However, I think we all gained a glimpse of the hardships endured by the ANZACs when we trekked up the steep slopes to Plugge’s Plateau, all very glad not to be carrying 14 kilo packs under enemy fire. We then visited ANZAC cove and the place of the landing. The experience of the whole day was quite amazing, to see and recognize in real life all the geographical features (such as the Cove or the Sphynx) that are so often mentioned or depicted in history books and paintings, and all of us were struck by the difficulties that the ANZACS would have to have endured. After dinner back at the hotel, where we found ourselves surrounded by masses of other Aussies on pilgrimage, we finished the day by watching the sun set over Imbros from the beach.

Imogen Forbes-Macphail