Our first full day on the battlefields begins with a reading from a diary brought by Brian and Sue who are two tour members with a relative at our first stop, ANZAC Cove. This reading gives an additional view to the first day of combat on the 25th of April from a soldier in artillery, not the frequently described first wave solders. It describes in detail a very long and hard day that started with a mid-morning landing and did not finish until the following morning when they had to dig fox holes to sleep in.
Viewing ANZAC Cove up close for the first time is amazing. You can’t help but wonder how so many battled so hard on such a small and hash location. No image or footage can truly show just how steep this ground is. A short walk from the vantage point overlooking the cove is the grave site for ANZAC Cove.
Amongst the many headstones here is one that has become a must stop for many Australians when visiting. It is the headstone of John Simpson Kirkpatrick of the “Simpson and his Donkey” fame. This headstone is the same as all others at any of the memorial sites in the area.
Each headstone has the person’s name, their unit, the date they died and their age. A small cross is in the top left corner next to the name on most headstones. Some have the Star of David to identify those of the Jewish faith and some have no religious marking at all. A lot stones have a personal inscription as each family was allowed to provide a message of up to 66 characters. These can be very poetic and moving.
From here we can see Shrapnel Valley, it is a short trip across to the beautiful memorial site at the bottom. From a distance you can see two large Judas trees that are in full spring bloom. This is a beautiful site and it is hard to images the harsh battle that took place and the numbers that where killed.
The Shrapnel Valley memorial site is also the start of our first walk on the battlefield. A track on the left side of the memorial runs along a ridge line to Plugge’s Plateau. At the top of this track, which is steep at first but then flattens off, is a great view of the Sphinx, Razors edge and Shrapnel Valley it self.
About a third of the way up is the closest location we can find that matches a recently discovered piece of footage of ANZAC Cove that was taken during the conflict. The original can be seen below together with a piece of footage of the length I have taken to show what the area looks like now.
After lunch we travelled to the top of the hills to see Lone Pine. Only a short look here as we will be returning on ANZAC day. But there was time for some people to find the names of relatives and leave tributes.
Next was a walk to the 4th Battalion Parade Ground Memorial. This is about 200m down a steep track and is the starting point for our walk into Shrapnel Valley. This walk gives us a very good idea of just how hard this country must have been to move in, let alone conduct a war on. While the track is good and clear now you can see what a photo has difficultly showing. That is just how steep the ground is and how dense the bush land is.
Before dinner a small group of us do a short walk up and over Bolton’s Hill via Sappers post and out via Shell Green, down what remains of Artillery Road. This is to help John Hamilton and Stephen Midgley as they write histories on different topics on people who operated in this area during the conflict.