Blog: Battlefield Tours
Lack of sleep and the enormity of the day yesterday has prevented the blog going up earlier. It is always a unique experience when taking a bunch of teenagers to an event like this. Each year they critically examine their experience and all bring their own perspective. Commemoration is powerful but it also resonates in different ways for people. I am always fascinated to see how our Simpson Prize winners react, and even more so the ensuing debates on the long bus ride to Istanbul.
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.
Today has been a day of contrasts. This morning we walked down one of the major boulevards in the old city, down towards the Hippodrome and beside the Blue Mosque and Haigia Sophia. A beautiful pink and orange sky accompanied us as well as our usual pack of local dogs. With the exception of our little band the streets were virtually empty, the only consistent presence was the Turkish street sweepers that we came across every 100 or so metres. We returned to where we walked after breakfast to start our day's activities and we encountered a sea of tourists.
Today is always my favourite day of the trip. It is the day that I get to be part of the students' and teachers' first taste of the Gallipoli peninsula. It always reminds me of my first steps here and the enormous and profound effect it had on me. Until that time I had focused my studies on the later action on the Western Front. I never understood why a sideshow campaign with comparatively small losses could be so etched into our collective consciousness. Since that time I have always looked for ways that I can share the importance of this experience.
Day two of this experience and we were lucky enough to visit some of the most amazing sites of Istanbul. One in particular, Chora Church Museum gives a particularly interesting window into the layered history of this city. The more time we spend looking into this city and its treasures the more I hope we can start painting a picture of the Turkish people for the students. These are a people with a much longer and in some respects, more complicated history than white Australia and it makes all the more interesting the shared experience of the men at Gallipoli.
Today was a sad day for us all. Leaving the Gallipoli peninsula and leaving behind all those boys from all nations is difficult. We as a group have paid our respects and honoured the men from all sides. It is hard in such a short time, to give a full perspective of the campaign but I am sure that the students and teachers alike are leaving with a new sense of what Gallipoli means and what it was all about.
Today was the day, the culmination of our trip and a chance for us to commemorate the lives, the service and the sacrifice of the Australians we have been learning about for the past days. It also gives the students an oppurtunity to contribute to this national commemoration. The dawn was mild again this year and only needed the sleeping bag for comfort not warmth. It is a long day but rewarding and especially for the students and an experience and memory that will last a lifetime. Rachel played a special part in the ceremony today;
Today was an opportunity for us to have a shorter day in preparation for the ANZAC day activities. We spent the day looking at other parts of the peninsula, making our way down to Suvla and spending more time talking about the Turkish experience. Looking at the experience of the Turkish and the conditions that the Turkish faced is an important way to provide a balance to the tour. It is always a challenge on this day because do security changes, road closures and dignitaries so we always have to play it by ear a little. Bryce reflected on today;