Walking in the footsteps of the ANZACs
Today was our big day on the peninsula. We began by a walk along ANZAC cove I wasn't sure what to expect, it was difficult to connect the tiny beach we walked along with the photos that I have seen from the time.
We then went to Shrapnel Valley cemetery which was very peaceful and beautiful and with the Judas trees in flower and the nightingales singing it was amazing to think that this place once saw such horrıfıc conflict. While we were there we had the first of our presentations by the students and teachers. In all sıx of the students presented well researched and heartfelt personal stories ın the various cemeteries we visited.
Our guides Ozgur and Stuart had more fun than they have had in a long time leading us on a walk that neither had done before up Shrapnel Valley to 4th Battalıon Parade Ground Cemetery. They both insisted that we were never really lost, they just needed to find the right path. The walk was such a fantastic way to see the area from a different perspective, and to get an small understanding of the experiences of the ANZAC's.
Talking with the students today has been extremely rewarding, and they have been asking thoughtful questions and very rewarding to see that glimmer of understanding and empathy that comes from walking the same tracks and standing in the sames places as those diggers in 1915.
Ab initio of our visit to Beach Cemetery again, I was struck by the profound emotions which had overwhelmed the group and myself upon our first experience there. Today we have been privileged to truly realise the abiding legacy of the ANZACs in a small way for what they were. I can now say having had this experience that without having known the men which fought for my country, that they were loved and missed with such abound acquity that one can't help but find themselves encompassed by the emotions, sadness, pride and humbled empathy that is attached to realising the hardships that the ANZACs faced.
Such hardships were impressed upon us by our trek from Shrapnel Valley to the 4th Battalion Parade Ground Cemetery. This trek hot, long and produced numerous abrasions as we traversed the shrubbery, thorns, pine needle, branches along an absolutely abtruse so called "path" interwined somewhere along the hills and bush we crossed. The experience needless to say was intensive and my hiking boots definitely came in handy, but most of all the experience if nothing gave all the Simpsonites an insight into how fortunate we are. I cannot begin to imagine the logisitical problems involved with their passage through the mountains and hills. We walked the terrain the soldiers of all sides endured so regularly and we did it unencumbered by stores and equipment. Such logistical problems the ANZACs would have encountered during the Gallipoli campaign were transportation of various fresh foods needed in order to sustain themselves, among such foods was bread (baked at Imbros), meat, vegetables and fruits. Other objects dragged up the hills were artillery, ammunition and water tanks. These supplies were vital to their survival, however diseases such as enteric fever and typhoid which dominated the casualties (approximately 1/3 of those which served during the Gallipoli campaign) were worsened by the lack of water provisions available to the soldiers as they evaded fire whilst collecting supplies. The soldiers also transported their water in kerosene tins, leaving green unsanitary water of which these brave men were rationed with about 750ml's of water each day. To live in such conditions seems entirely alien to me and survive has the sacrafice made here. We are so fortunate, peace is such a sacred and important aspect of our lives and I am ashamed to say that I haven't recognised just how much sooner. So thank you to those I never met, who fought on my and my families behalf.
The feelings I now summarise are something that you have to experience to truly understand, to be afforded a glimpse into the lives of so many fallen is an honour. I cannot begin to express what saddens one is faced with as they read the epitaphs embedded into the graves of the ANZACs. From the lengthy epitaphs that consume you with emotion such as "could I just clasp your hand once more just to say well done" and "There are many heroes in this world but there is one hero in my heart" to the simple powerful words of "From Mother and Dad".
I have never been so moved in my life, so to all who have not yet visited Gallipoli it is imperative that you do.
Until next time Guele Guele