First day at Gallipoli
A very pleasant drive down to the Gallipoli Peninsula through fields of bright yellow canola crops and pine forested mountains had us arriving at the Kum Hotel in time for lunch. It was the first taste of the fabulous food and hospitality of this hotel, which is only 10 minutes drive from the Anzac area. Our rooms are small, but comfortable, and once we had mastered the mysteries of plumbing, wrestled with our door locks and understood the purpose of the hole in the bathroom (ventilation) we all felt at home.
Our first trip to Beach Cemetery was very special. It was a warm afternoon, the calm sea, birdsong and well-tended site was peaceful. It's hard to imagine that in such a beautiful place so many men fought, suffered and died. Johanna presented Major EC Oldham, killed in action age 38 on 25 April, as part of the landing. He was with the 10th Battalion, enlisting in SA. He left behind a wife and 2 yr old child. His service record showed there was issue between his wife and his mother as to who should receive his personal effects. At this cemetery we also found the grave of John Simpson Kirkpatrick.
We talked about the Gallipoli campaign, the typical soldier from Australia, their reasons for enlisting and what it would have been like on the first days of the landing. At Ari Brunu we walked up the beach where the men from Queensland's 9th Battalion first landed on 25 April. It's not hard to imagine the difficult task of battling up the steep and rugged terrain. Some of us collected souvenir pebbles from the beach, while also testing our skills on skipping stones across the water (Madeleine the undisputed champ).
In Shrapnel Valley cemetery Sharon presented a couple of the soldiers she is laying poppies for on behalf of the Ararat Genealogical Society and Ararat RSL. This included William Hodge McGregor from the 4th Light Horse, at the request of his niece, Mrs Sneazwell, who has never been able to visit the site. The epitaphs on the graves sometimes give very personal insights, some very simple (Well done Ted) and others surprisingly contemporary (Dinkum Aussie).