From Troy to Helles - Simpson Prize 2014
After a long day looking at the campaign, today was an opportunity for us to look further into Ottoman history and look beyond the Australian perspective. It is important to remember that the Gallipoli campaign was not an Australian campaign and that the ANZAC commitment was just one part of a broader allied force. The British and French commitment particularly was far greater in number than that of the Australians and New Zealanders. I always hope with this part of the itinerary that the students can walk away with greater perspective and a desire to look more deeply.
Our third day in the Gallipoli Peninsula was just as breathtaking and emotionally challenging as the first. We continued to delve deeper not only into the lives of the soldiers and the war but also into the rich history of the region itself.
We headed up to Cannakale early so we could catch the ferry to the Asian side of the Peninsula, or as our guide Orhan said, "where the wild ones live". From there we drove up to Troy and walked throughout the ancient ruins. As we embarked through the old broken walls I tried to imagine the life and stunning architecture the place would have once held. Orhan told us a story of an adventurer and merchant by the name of Harry Schliemann who discovered a huge treasure of jewels in Troy. The jewels then went missing for a long time, before they were discovered in Moscow where they can be found today. It was later discovered that Schliemann smuggled the jewels to Greece before leaving them to his wife, Sofia, after his death. Sofia took the jewels to Germany and left them to her two sons after her death. The sons then took the jewels to Moscow.
Later we visited the Turkish and French memorials. This had a really strong impact on my view of war as it allowed me, for the first time, to view the First World War from multiple countries' perspectives and gain a better understanding of what took place 99 years ago. Looking at the French memorial I felt sorry to say that before seeing those endless rows of graves I had never really bothered to learn anything about the French involvement in WW1. However seeing that all that was left of those brave men was a small concrete tile wired onto an iron cross, stuck into the gravel, I have made it my mission to learn the story of at least one of those soldiers.
I found it very interesting to look at the way the Turkish and Australian memorials compared. The Turkish memorial was more of that of celebration, as they were obviously successful in defending their nation from the Allied invasions. The Turkish memorial also commemorated the role of Ataturk more highly than the common soldier, whereas the Australian memorials didn't differ men based on their ranks and considered every man as equal.
In the evening we visited Cape Helles; I found this part of the day the most confronting as it really hit me how far and wide the pain of the First World War spread. The endless list of names that covered the British memorial sight was painful to look at. I began to consider that behind every tiny engraved name was a person, and behind every person was a unique and one-of-a-kind story.
Hayley Lye (NT)