Spending a day at Gallipoli was an unforgettable experience.
Coming from Australia, and having had troops from Australia fight at Gallipoli, you get a basic general knowledge about the battle of Gallipoli through schooling.
I never knew that I would one day visit Gallipoli in the flesh, and be standing in the very same spot that these men were fighting and these battles were taking place.
But this year, on our trip to Turkey, that is exactly what I did. Before I went, I thought it would be sad, interesting and I was hoping to learn a lot about the war.
The Battle Of Gallipoli
The battle of Gallipoli happened during the First World War. It was an attempt to take down Germany, by attacking their allies, which included Turkey. After unsuccessful attempts of ships in the Dardanelles, the decision was made to have ground troops attempt to take down the Turkish forts that commanded the Dardanelles. The campaign ultimately failed to do so, and troops were later withdrawn. There were approximately 26, 111 Australian Casualties, including 8141 deaths. For both sides, it is estimated over 120, 000 deaths resulted.
What I Discovered On My Day At Gallipoli
There were a few things that I noticed or learnt at Gallipoli, which I didn’t expect.
- The battle and landing areas appeared quite small. The guide did say that at the time of the war, the areas near the water were actually larger, but have eroded over time. But still. It was small.
- The battle areas were spread out rather then being one giant battle field.
- The land was extremely mountainous, thus the conditions were difficult. The landing spot was actually an error, and the intended landing spot was a much flatter land.
- Apparently on some battle fields, in the trenches, troops would throw food to the enemy troops, and the soldiers grew to respect each other.
- There are well kept graveyards and memorials on Turkish land, for the troops that invaded their country.
After A Day At Gallipoli
I still don’t know a lot about the war at Gallipoli. I left still not really understanding. And perhaps that was the saddest part of the day, the loss of so many lives… for what?
Although the battle was failed in many ways, it was the soldiers on both sides who both lost and won. Some soldiers were injured, some lost their lives, and others lived and still lost so much. But the soldiers won too, because the most inspiring stories of our day in Gallipoli were those of the soldiers attitudes and actions in adversity.
The attitudes of the soldiers led to a respect between enemies. It is a rare thing to have a war that is the beginning of a friendship. A great example of this is the words of past Turkish President Ataturk, about the Australian and New Zealand troops that fought in Gallipoli:
Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours… you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.
I left Gallipoli with great respect for the men who fought and sadness for the lives that were lost. It’s ironic that the same land that was the battle of Gallipoli, is now the land we all stand side by side. On ANZAC Day in 2015, 100 years since the battle of Gallipoli, people from Australia, New Zealand and Turkey will come together in Gallipoli, to remember the lives lost.
Advice For Visiting Gallipoli
We had a 5 or 6 hour bus ride from Istanbul the morning of our tour. And going to Gallipoli is not going to one place. It is going to lots of different sites around Gallipoli. You will constantly be getting on and off a bus if you do a bus day trip. As tiring as it was, I’m personally glad to have done a guided tour as I wouldn’t have known where to go otherwise and I wouldn’t have got the knowledge from the guide. It is a long day, so try and make the following day a more relaxing one. And you don’t need to wait until ANZAC day to visit Gallipoli. Yes on ANZAC day there is a service, but you also may not be able to see all the different areas that day either.