Today is a day where we try to experience the peninsula as much as we can the way the soldiers did. Cruising the waters off the Anzac area of operations gives the students a perspective of where the major actions of the campaign happened and maybe a sense of what the men saw as they rowed ashore. Walking the front line, a little surprise for the students that will give them a taste of how these men lived, and then on to a walk through the New Zealand area down to the beach. Always a long day but I have found it a rewarding one.
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.
Thank you to everyone who submitted their guess for this week. As promised, here is the answer:
It is a wooden sign, which reads “English burying place”, made from a section of packing case.
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.
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.
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.
For over a decade the Australian War Memorial has supported the Simpson Prize, the premier history based essay writing competition for Australian school students. In the 2014 centenary, the Simpson Prize has once again inspired students across the nation, and eight lucky winners, one from each state and territory, have today touched down in Istanbul for the start of their tour of Turkey and the Gallipoli battlefields. I have the honour of leading the group again this year and being their battlefield guide.
What link does the Australian War Memorial have to George Clooney, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett?
In the Memorial’s National Collection is a Second World War medal group belonging to Aeneas John Lindsay McDonnell, born at Toowoomba, Queensland, in 1904. He enlisted for military service in Brisbane in May 1944. McDonnell had already served overseas with the Red Cross in Africa and the Middle East from April 1940 until November 1943, and enlisted with the AIF at the rank of lieutenant.
What is it?
Examine this object and tell us what you think it is in the comments. (Hint: It was found at Shrapnel Gully, Gallipoli, in 1918.)
We will post the answer and the full story next week!