Today we visited the ancient city of Troy for a taste of ancient history and a change of pace. We never truly detach from the Gallipoli campaign and even on our way to and from Troy we were able to talk about the naval campaign. There is no better way to understand the difficulties and the enormity of the task that lay ahead of the French and British navies than to stand at the Dardanos Battery and look down at the straits and the narrows. The afternoon was a chance for us to look at the role of the French and British at the landings and to visit the French cemetery at Cape Helles.
Blog: ANZAC Connections
Today was an opportunity for us to walk the frontline. We had made an attempt to follow the ridge up from Shrapnel Valley cemetery but the wet in Turkey this year has been unusual and we were sunk at our first creek crossing or maybe more accurately bogged. This is one of the most intense days for the students with lots of information about the campaign and plenty of walking. For those of you who have been here before or have time to look at a map, we walked from Lone Pine to Baby 700 and then from Chunuk Bair down Rhododendron Ridge to Embarkation Pier.
Please excuse the lateness of this blog, wifi has not been the easiest of things to negotiate.
Today, the 20th of April, was one of the most significant days of the tour. We bundled the students on the bus early in the morning so that we could drive down to the Gallipoli Peninsula. The significance is not for how much we can pack into the day or the activities we do but it is the first site and experience of the peninsula and the first time we get to hear the stories that have built the ANZAC legend.
Today was spent like most days on this trip, flat out from dawn until dusk. The group is learning more about each other and really bonding well. I think over the years, everyday in Turkey I learn something new. Sometimes that is about the country, sometimes the people and sometimes about myself. I have watched these young adults and the way they have embraced the culture here, the way of life and tried valiantly to squeeze every drop out of the experience. It is inspiring and makes me wish I had their enthusiasm and maturity when I was their age.
A quick note from me before we hear from Jack. Our first day in Istanbul is an opportunity to expose the students to Turkish culture and its place in the world. It is a crucial part of the trip and gives the students Ann understanding who the people are and how that Gallipoli experience has shaped this nation as much as Australia. It is a time where we can encourage the students to think about the position of those men and that nation 100 years ago who were at that time the enemy.
The first and most difficult part of our journey is now finished. I say difficult but probably only difficult for me. All of our students have flown in from each state and territory to meet in Sydney and then head off to Istanbul via Singapore. This does require some degree of juggling, time management and in some years Olympic style 100m dashing. This year was a breeze thanks to some great timing from airlines, and excellent support from our two teachers, David and Lorraine.
On occasion a totally unexpected document walks in the front door and into Official Records. Recently a report made at Gallipoli was generously donated by Cindy Osborne to the Memorial. The document in question is a handover report from the Commanding Officer 26th Infantry Battalion to the Commanding Officer of the 28th. The Russell Top handover report is a most welcome addition to the Official Records held at the Memorial, for although we hold the War Diaries of the units involved, supporting reports such as this one are rarely present in the Gallipoli records.
The papers of Field Marshal the Lord Birdwood will be undergoing conservation, rehousing and digitisation for their long term preservation.
Recently, I have been working on the papers of Field Marshal the Lord Birdwood, the First World War British General who commanded the Australian Corps for much of the First World War (including at Gallipoli). Amongst the papers, donated by the Birdwood family in the 1960s, I have found a story I think is suitable for a Valentine’s Day blog entry.