Sunday 24 April 2011 by Stuart Baines. 1 comment
Battlefield Tours, Simpson Prize 2011

Today's trip was a chance for us all to look at the role that other nations played in the campaign and experience the different ways that they commemorate. We started the day by driving down to Cape Helles to walk the beaches and cemeteries that house the British troops killed in the campaign. It was particularly moving for everyone to see where the River Clyde came ashore. Knowing what those Brits went through it really bought a respect for the bravery that they fought with.

We went to the French cemetery next. This is one of my must sees on the peninsula for a few reasons. It is to me the most haunting of places as it is not beautiful like the cemeteries of ANZAC it is quite cold with rows and rows of crosses made from star pickets and the Memorial at the top of the slope looking down over these black crosses. There are four large white marble boxes, like giant planter boxes. Each is a mass grave to 3000 brave Frenchmen, mostly colonial troops, and each reminds us how cheap life can be. The other sadness I feel for this cemetery is that it always seems to be empty, like the British cemeteries, the only visitors seem to be the same faces that stay at the Kum Hotel with us.

Today is International Children’s Day in Turkey, a day that marks the opening of parliament. To mark the day there was a special ceremony at the Turkish Memorial. This is a monolithic structure on a point that looks out over the see. It can be seen for miles, in fact it was in full view from Troy. The ceremony had hundreds of people and we arrived just as half had decided to leave. As we struggled up the steep path towards the Memorial itself I felt like a salmon swimming against a tide of people. This is a great opportunity for the students to meet local kids. They were literally swamped with kids of all ages and lets face it, some adults as well. They were very keen to have their photos taken with the foreigners and there was lots of giggling, gesturing and bumbling sign language to be able to communicate but there seemed to be a connection there. We even managed to attract a Turkish man with a mullet. Clearly the mullet has spread.

The afternoon was getting ready for the big day. Rehearsals at Lone pine and then a quick dash to a boat to cruise down to Suvla Bay. It is quite amazing to approach the shores of Anzac forma boat like they would have so many years before. Quite incredible.


Jill McAlary

Great to read of the daily adventures. It sounds like everyone is immersing themselves in such a unique experience. Anzac Day 2011 will be truly memorable for these young people.