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Gallipoli and 2015 – A place for remembrance for New Zealanders and Australians

17th February 2015

2015 will be the anniversary of the 100 years of the landings at ANZAC cove. As a child growing up in NZ the significance of the events at Gallipoli were always with me. Be it from the once a year cold early morning remembrance parades with family members to the history lessons at High School.

Gallipoli really became personally when as a 16 year old I was helping my grandmother move house and came across not only medals from WW1 but letters to my grandmother and family from her late brother. I knew my great uncle had been killed at Gallipoli but what we found was hand written letters of his time as part of the campaign. This seemed to now make it personal.

On the 25th April 1915, the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) landed on the beach at Gallipoli. The campaign strategy devised by British high command had never intended landing troops. The strategy simply put was to “sail a fleet of ageing French and British battleships up the Dardanelles taking the badly organised and ill equipped Turks by surprise and with little resistance park the battleships off Constantinople and demand the Turks surrender and hence end their continued participation in WW1” but of course history tells a different story.

My great uncle was one of the troops in the landing force. We of course do not know the detail of what happened to him but he didn’t make it back from Gallipoli. The ANZACs were expected to make a dawn landing coming off the beach into open terrain and overrun the Ottoman Turkish troops, push inland and link  up with the other troops landing at different parts of the peninsula,

In July 2013 I completed my own personal journey and visited Gallipoli. The first thing that I visited before any of the memorials or landings was the massive plaque with the personal words of Ataturk. I have to say I never seen something written so perfectly. My visit had no real great plan to it but somehow seeing the words of Ataturk first up really set the context because it reminded me of not only the ANZAC loss but also the huge Turkish loss defending their homeland.

From the beach you can see Lone Pine, the Australian Memorial site and cemetery. The Lone Pine battle took place over four days in August 1915.  The battle for Lone Pine was a diversionary attack, the true objective being to secure the crucial high point of the peninsular in the battle for Chunuk Bair. New Zealand troops led the attack on Chunuk Baır, suffering a huge loss of life, although they secured the high point for 2 days, Turkish troops counter attacked reclaiming the ground. Chunuk Bair is the official New Zealand Memorial site and cemetery. There are 632 graves in the cemetery with only 10 identified. The memorial commemorates 856 New Zealanders  who have no known graves.

I tracked down my great uncles name and memorial to close my personal journey. I finalised my tour by visiting the Turkish Memorial site and cemetery. Like all of the sites beautifully tended and kept.

I have heard people say Gallipoli is an inspiring place. I am not sure it is inspiring due to the massive losses of life on all sides but what it does do is inspire people like me to visit and remember the sacrifices that people make. If you do intent to visit you can arrange a tour from Istanbul, however a better proposition is to base yourself in Canakkale.

The 100 year anniversary of the landings at ANZAC Cove and access to the dawn service will be by ballot due to the huge interest. I myself will not be going as I have had my memorial moment.

Lest We Forget

[With special thanks to M. Brinkler]


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