Saturday 23 April 2011 by Stuart Baines. No comments
Battlefield Tours, Simpson Prize 2011, AE2, Dardanelles

Dardanelles from Dardanos battery
Today was a day spent away from the battlefields to give us a chance to learn more about the naval campaign. The day started visiting the ancient city of troy and although it is not directly related to the 1915 actions it is interesting because it really speaks to the history of the area and the value in holding these straits that the Commonwealth forces were so determined to break. The archaeology of the site is amazing and there were a lot of tourist groups leap frogging each other from area to area. We were immersing ourselves in this ancient city of crumbling walls and ruined marble stones at the same time as F-16 Fighter jets were practicing aerial displays, it was a strange contrast.

Moving on from Troy we made our way back to Çanakkale, a modern university town on the Asian side of the Dardanelles. We pulled off the main road just before the town and drove up a hill to the Dardanos Battery. This was the site of an important Turkish gun position that overlooked the site of the main naval battles of the campaign. There is no better place in the area to get a true understanding of the straits. We explored the battles leading up to and on the 18th of March and explored how the belts of mines worked and how effective they were. We also got a chance to really explore the Story of the AE2 and captain stoker. This was especially relevant given the recent media about the possibility of a posthumous VC for his leadership when he and his crew broke through those sea mines and attacked Turkish shipping in the Sea of Mamara.

We stopped for lunch in a seafood restaurant overlooking the Dardanelles and across to Kilitbahir Fort. It was a great meal and a relaxing way to break up the day. It was also a welcome relief from the cold wind that had been lashing us all morning. We have sunshine now which is fantastic but the wind is still making it pretty chilli. From this spot we went to visit the Naval Museum and step aboard the new replica of the Nusrat the Turkish vessel responsible for laying mines in the waters beyond. It was quite a well decked out ship and full of great stories and exhibits. The story it told and the experience that it offered was excellent. We walked from the museum to soak up some of the sights of Çanakkale and get a hit of civilization as we have been pretty isolated at the Kum. We stood in front of the Trojan horse that was used in the movie Troy and my only disappointment was that they had corrected the mistake on the plaque which used to talk about the famous actor from the movie “Brat Pitt”.

Back at the Hotel a bet that was laid down by the students was played out much to every ones enjoyment and certainly to much laughter. Chelsea, Zoe, Lauren and Tanvi had worked very hard all day to learn the words to the song “but I am a good girl” which struck a cord with them when they saw it in the movie Burlesque. In honour of that effort and of course to win their bet, they then performed the song when they got back to hotel in the cafe complete with choreography. Christina Aguilera they were not, but all credit to them, it was in tune and very, very funny. Also today, Conner had learned of a Kum hotel record and felt it was a challenge, no a duty, to break that record. Each night there is a series of delectable deserts laid out and a particular desert made form polenta I think and a sickly sweet honey syrup is a favorite amongst us all. They are only the size of a golf ball but the record in one sitting is to eat 12 or should I say it was. Conner managed to consume 13. Let me put this into perspective for you, most of us are so overwhelmed by the sweetness of these that we struggle to eat one, Conner ate his and washed them down with a can of coke and a bottle of water. Kids will be kids.