Homer described the location of the city of Troy as situated at the entrance of the Dardanelles. The Gallipoli campaign was fought a few kilometres from the site of the ancient city. The historical connections between the ancient and modern battlefields were not lost on the Australians fighting in this region. Many ANZACs found pieces of ancient pottery when tunnelling into the hills.The battlefield tour took the opportunity to walk through the ruins of this ancient city and to take some group photographs. We are divided into two groups Green (top) and Gold (bottom).
There are only five known Aboriginal servicemen buried at Gallipoli, however, it is estimated that 500-800 Aboriginal diggers served in the First World War. Ethnicity was not recorded in the enlistment process and research into indigenous service can involve trawling across many different sources, sometimes we may never know who these servicemen were.
Stepping on two continents
It's great to see that the concept of quiet Sunday morning traffic exists in other places around the world. Leaving Istanbul was quick and simple, even though we got an idea of just how big a city of 16 million people can be. A drive through green countryside was very pleasant, noting the complete lack of fences and many shepherds with sheep and goats. The boy from Kingaroy has seen plenty of tractors in his time in Australia, but out in the paddocks, not cruising down the road like they do here.
For all Australians, ANZAC Day is a national day of remembrance and commemoration. Looking back to the landing at Gallipoli at dawn on 25th April 1915, what is extraordinary is the speed with which that day became known as ANZAC Day in Australia. The event was so significant that within less than a year the Returned Services Association of New South Wales was raising funds for an ANZAC Day Memorial, and the Queensland Department of Public Instruction had already published a text for students entitled ‘ANZAC Day'.
On the journey from Istanbul to the Dardanelles the Battlefield tour noticed this striking memorial on the slopes of the Kilitbahir Plateau. In English it translates to:
The ground you tread on, unawares,
Once witnessed the end of a generation.
Listen in this quiet earth
Beats the heart of a nation.
Every year, as ANZAC Day approaches, people become curious about ANZAC biscuits. Maybe it's because the thought of them is a delectable relief to the sombreness of that day and all that it represents.But it is easy to make mistakes about ANZAC biscuits, strangely enough. The biscuit that most of us know as the ANZAC biscuit is a sweet biscuit made from rolled oats and golden syrup. These must not be confused with that staple of soldiers' and sailors' rations for centuries, the hardtack biscuit.
If we were sensible and thoughtful students, we would talk about the rich cultural experience we had today visiting the Blue Mosque, Topaki Palace, Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia. We would describe the centuries old Christian and Muslim history associated with these places, reflecting on the significant events and people that are part of Turkish history.
It turns out that Rod Stewart, one of our fellow travellers on the tour, is also a fellow blogger. Rod's grandfather Edward John Howells served at Gallipoli where he was evacuated injured.
Reaching Constantinople (present day Istanbul) was the objective of the Dardanelles campaign in 1915. An objective that failed. The battlefield tour, however, managed to arrive safely at Istanbul airport in high spirits and only slightly crumpled from the long flight. We checked into the Marmara hotel to ‘freshen up' and in the afternoon we set off to cruise on the Bosphorus followed by a visit to the Egyptian Spice Market.
Those of us travelling with the Memorial on the Gallipoli battlefield tour arrived in Istanbul today following a long journey from our various home ports. On a flight of over 22 hours it is inevitable that conversations would be struck and I met several Australians also travelling to Gallipoli. For the first leg of the trip I sat next to an Australian Vietnam war veteran. He was planning on touring the battlefields and to attend the Dawn Service at Gallipoli.