When Australia joined the First World War they thought it was their duty to help the Empire. The way it was described to them was that is was going to be like an Olympic Sport, they looked for men that were fast so they could go over the top of the trenches. They soon learnt that they were just meant to be used as pawns for the British Army and soon turned to hate the Empire.
We were lucky enough to visit Gallipoli in its 100th Anniversary since the Anzac’s were on these shores. I feel like it is important for an Australian to visit Gallipoli once in their lifetime to understand what happened and how the nation was formed and the national pride that has developed since this moment in time.
The Gallipoli Campaign took place from the 17th February 1915 to the 9th January 1916, on the peninsula on the northern banks of the Dardanelles, which is a strait that leads from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea. During the First World War it was important for the Allied Forces to have access through the Dardanelles as it provided a Sea Route for the Russian Empire.
It first began with a Naval Attack organised by Winston Churchill, First Lord of Admiralty. On the 19th February 1915 just months before the Gallipoli Campaign, British and French Navy Battleships began to attack the peninsula but they were met with poor weather and minefields. On the 19th March 1915 the Battleships entered the straits but were met by Turkish Mines where half the fleet was lost which lead the Allied Forces needing to find another way to capture Istanbul.
On the 25th April 1915 the British, French, Australian and New Zealand Army Forces landed on the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula. The Anzacs landed at Anzac Cove at 4am and the plan was to run up the landscape to claim as much land as possible before the Ottoman Forces retaliated. When you are at Anzac Cove you will be horrified at how small Anzac Cove is and how steep, mountainous and dangerous the Gallipoli Peninsula was for these men, after all those years of seeing paintings and photos it was something I was not prepared for.
The Gallipoli Campaign quickly became a stalemate just like the Western Front and just as bloody, as the soldiers on each side lived in muddy trenches that were crowded and surrounded with the death of many of their friends. The Gallipoli Campaign lasted for 9 months before the evacuation in January 1916. The Turkish Forces lost 60,000 Men and the Allied Forces lost 43,000 British, 15,000 French, 8,700 Australians, 2,700 New Zealanders, 1,370 Indians and 49 Newfoundlanders.
The Allied Forces never made it to Istanbul and this was one of the greatest military failures in Anzac History and not to mention during the First World War.
Visiting Gallipoli is a once in a lifetime experience that we should all take. I feel we need to understand what happened there and how this was advertised to enlisting men as a glorified battle to partake in. It is shocking to witness, I had no idea how small the beaches would be as you weave along the coast line.
We visited Cemeteries were their deaths where glorified by their families and the men were so young. Visiting Brighton Beach that still has a bunker on the beach. Visiting the tiny beach where the war began for the Anzacs at Anzac Cove, including visiting further along at the Anzac Commemoration Site were thousands partake in the Dawn Service. Ariburnu where many other Anzacs landed which is now another cemetery and gives you a clear view of The Sphinx which is what the Anzac reached the first day by foot.
We then drove up to the top of the Peninsula which has been really well planned out by the Turkish Government, as the road you drive down is the No Man’s Land between the Anzac and Ottoman’s Forces which gives you an understanding on how small the land was and what a stalemate it was.
We began at Lone Pine Australian Memorial where the Battle of Lone Pine happened and now has been turned into one the major Cemetery sights of the Anzacs. The Lone Pine that stands there today was planted in 1990 from a seed that was germinated in Australia after a pine cove was sent back to Australia in 1915. As you drive down the road to will visit Johnston’s Jolly which has trenches and tunnels left over from the Turkish and Allied Forces. Visiting The Nek which is the smallest bit of land in the world where the Allied Forces had a massive slaughter of Soldiers and Horses, as they kept sending them over the top to gain land. (you will know this story from the film Gallipoli, by Peter Weir) and lastly Chunuk Bair which is the cemetery with many Ottoman Forces laying to rest. It is important to see both sides of the story and by using a great tour guide you will begin to know all that happened on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
If you unable to get lottery tickets to visit Gallipoli during April, you do not need to go just during the Anzac Day Memorial Service that happens on the 25th April at dawn, where there are thousands of Australians and New Zealanders sleeping under the stars waiting for the dawn service. But by going on this amazing tour with Turkey Tour Specialist which is offered at all times of the year you will undertake an incredible journey. We went during January which was eye opening for us to understand what those Soldiers lived through and the bitterness that would have been in the trenches. Our tour was a 2 day trip that included a bus to and from Istanbul with a tour of Gallipoli, then transporting us over the Dardanelles to Canakkale for the evening before visiting Troy in the late morning the following day. It was a very powerful eye opening experience to witness Gallipoli and the Ancient sight of Troy.