Gallipoli

Canakkale Travel Blog

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Çanakkale harbour

People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia)

The journey from Istanbul to Canakkale took six hours and culminated with a thirty minute ferry ride across the Dardanelles. Almost 94 years ago the Allied forces had tried to steer their naval vessels through this strait, only to strike mines and become incapacitated. This was to be the beginning of a failed campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula, which had the ultimate aim of catching the Ottoman capital of Constantinople, modern day Istanbul. A lot has gone since then, but still people return in their droves to pay homage to those who fell, both defending and attacking these fabled shores.

Flower on the coatal road near Eceabat


It was already dark by the time that we checked into Hotel Efes, which was actually our third choice, but the first two were closed for winter. I find it a strange concept that Hotels close in the off season, as its the first time i can remember coming across it, but thats probably because i travel to countries in season, or to destinations where 'seasons' don't exist to the same degree. An en-suite double room cost 35YTL ($22), which seemed like a fair price and the old lady running the place was really nice, so it wasn't a bad choice. Having checked in, we went out to eat lahmacun and a kebab and then returned to the Hotel to take an early night.

On Wednesday morning we went out for breakfast in a small cafe near our Hotel and then caught the 09.00 ferry to Eceabat.
Bird stood on the waters edge
Crossing the strait we saw a small castle that was located at Kilitbahir and also a verse that was penned by Necmetin Halil Onan and written into the mountain in Turkish, which read:

“Traveller, halt! The soil you heedlessly tread

once witnessed the end of an era.

Listen! In this quiet mound

there once beat the heart of a nation”


Stepping off the ferry we took a brief look around a small museum that was situated next to the dock. Other than a large diorama and statue, there wasn't much to see, so we pushed on to Kilia Bay Information Centre, which was a couple of kilometres to the North. I was a little disappointed with what was on display here, with only a few photos and some general History on the region, whilst the cafe seemed to take up more floor space.
Crustaceans ın the rocks on a Gallipoli beach


It would have been an 8km walk from here to the Kabatepe Information Centre and Museum, but we were lucky enough to flag down a lift from a minivan, and the driver was kind enough not to charge us. There was a 2.50YTL ($1.50) entrance fee into the Museum, but it was well worth it as the displays were more interesting and personal than the ones at Kilia, at least in my opinion. There were some letters from soldiers, weapons, uniforms, ammunition, bullets that had fused together in mid-air and the skull of a man with a bullet embedded in it.

Having improved our knowledge about the battles, topography and participants, it was time to go and witness first hand where the bloody and heroic encounters had taken place. Whilst the sea battles had commenced in the Dardanelles on 18thMarch 1915, the ground attack began on April 25th1915, from the Aegean coastline.
Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery
Troops landed at several sectors across the Southern tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula, with large concentrations in the region just North of the village of Kabatepe. It is likely that the Allies had aimed to land at Kabatepe itself, but unexpected currents had blown the boats some 5km's North of the designated landing zones, which was essentially the beginning of the end for the campaign.

Following the coastal road from Kabatepe, the mountains gradually became steeper the further North that we progressed, which highlighted the fact that had the Allied troops landed where they were supposed to, then their path inland would have been far less problematic. It wasn't just the terrain that got in the way of the Allied troops, but also the fearless Turkish soldiers, who stood and fought for their motherland.
Gravestone ın Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery
And who else but Mustafa Kemal - aka Ataturk - should be waiting with his 57thInfantry Regiment for the first wave of attacks. Then just a young divisional commander, Kemal sent his troops into battle with the words:

“I am not ordering you to attack, I am ordering you to die. In the time it takes us to die, other troops and commanders will arrive to take our places”

I'm not sure this motivational speech would work on everyone, but each of his subordinates took the orders with bravery and conviction and fought to the death, with not one soldier remaining alive by the end of the clash. Their lives were not given in vain, as they bravely held their line long enough for reinforcements to arrive, who repelled the Allied fighters back.

The first graves that we reached were at Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery, where headstones gave some idea of those who perished.
Gravestones at the Ariburnu Cemetery
Most of the deceased seemed to be between 18 and 30, although there was one child who had only experienced 15 years on God's great Earth, before been whisked off to a better place. It was quite a sobering feeling to think that someone almost half my age had once visited these shores too, but on a small boat, carrying a rifle and under heavy fire. No sooner had he arrived, he departed for ever.

Gallipoli can arguably be seen as the true birth of three nations; Turkey, Australia and New Zealand. Now i know that technically this isn't a Historical fact, but in the hearts of people connected to these countries, i am sure many would agree. The Ottomans as they were then known were defending their own land and developing an insatiable sense of Nation in doing so, whilst our Antipodean brothers were suffering heavy losses at War, for the first time in their History.
Plugges Plateau Cemetery
It is due to this that Australians and New Zealanders have a special affinity with these battle grounds, more than the English or French, who actually lost considerably more people. In fact i didn't even get one History class on Gallipoli at school, as in British History its a minor event, even though there were over 200,000 casualties and 36,000 dead - hardly a small number, but possibly a reflection of our bloody past.

The next section of coastline that we came to was Anzac Cove, named in commemoration of the Aussie and Kiwi soldiers who lost their lives here. The Ariburnu cliffs rise sharply, just inland of the beach, and its little wonder that minimal ground was covered by the men who set foot off their boats here. Today, a moving plaque with Ataturks words reads:


“To us there is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets.
Lone Pine Cemetery
.. You, the mothers, who sent your sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom... after losing their lives in the land they have become our sons as well.”

To me this typifies the spirit that the War was fought in and the subsequent relationships of the countries once it had all ended. I do find it a little sad though that people always associate the tragedy on these shores as only occurring to the Australian and New Zealand forces, as there were many brave British, French, Indian, Polynesian and of course Turkish troops that perished here too. To me its similar to the myth that the holocaust only happened to Jewish people - something that the Jewish community even claims to be the case - when so many other races and religions perished as a result of Hitlers lethal purges, during the Second World War.
Graves at Lone Pine Cemetery


Continuing along he road we came to the Ariburnu Cemetery, Anzac Commemorative Site, Canterbury Cemetery, No 2 Outpost and New Zealand No 2 Outpost. The graves all looked well maintained and all told similar stories of cherished sons dying for their Empire, King, Country, and fellow men. Its hard to fully appreciate what so many of these individuals gave up, for the greater good of the World. I would like to think that the human race has benefited from the Allied forces succeeding in this War and the one that followed 21 years later, which to my mind can partially justify such catastrophic loss of life.

To head to the monuments inland we had to retrace our steps for a couple of kilometres and cut up a steep path just beyond Plugges Plateau and Shrapnel Valley Cemetery.
Turkish trenches
It gives an idea of the terrain that they haven't cut a trail up this part of the slope, yet men carrying guns and ammunition were expected to scramble up, under heavy gunfire � a thankless task if ever i heard one.

An uphill dirt road of 1.5kms brought us to Lone Pine Cemetery, where most of the gravestones read “(insert persons name) is thought to be buried here”. In total over half of the missing soldiers were never identified, and in this segment alone, 4,000 men died on the evening of August 6th1915, when the Allies launched a second major offensive to try and break through the Turkish lines. After three days of fierce fighting there was once again stalemate, with opposing trenches literally metres from each other and neither side giving a quarter.
Mehmet Cavus Monument


The next three Allied cemeteries that we came upon were those at Johnston's Jolly, Courtney's & Steele's Post and Quinn's Post. On the opposite side of the road � thus the Turkish side - was a memorial to Sergeant Mehmet. The story with this guy goes that he fought with his gun until there was no more ammunition and then picked up stones and began to throw them at the enemy. When Mustafa Kemal heard of this feat of bravery, he instantly applied for Mehmet to receive a medal for bravery.

Another kilometre uphill brought us to 57 Alay (57thRegiment) Cemetery, which had a monument of a soldier with a gun on the left of the road and the cemetery and monument for the officers and soldiers on the right. This was the regiment that Ataturk commanded and who i mentioned in an earlier paragraph.
Trojan Horse
We just had time to see the Kesik Dere Cemetery and Mehmet Cavus Monument, before deciding that we had to make a move home, before it got dark. It took us an hour to get back to Kabatepe Information Centre and we were once again incredibly lucky to catch a free ride back to Eceabat aboard a workers bus, just in time for the 17.00 ferry to Canakkale.

In the evening we went to see a Trojan Horse that was located on the waterfront and then took a walk to the bus station to find out the timetable for buses to Behramkale the following day. Kebab and Gozleme was on the menu for Dinner and we were in bed by 23.00, as it had been a long, tiring, emotion filled day.

Deats says:
Thanks Sylvia - you have quite a historic birthday!

Portia - we walked loads, i think it gave a feel for the land and what it must have been like fighting there. Obviously nothing can really compare, but i think it was a good way to see the sıte. Im pleased it didnt rain!
Posted on: Feb 22, 2009
sylviandavid says:
I just read this again... What a good write up.... August 6 is my birthday... big battle in world war I and Hiroshima was bombed in world war II.....
Posted on: Feb 21, 2009
portia says:
A lot of walking? but it seems you saw a lot more. it was a sobering place to visit, and you had good weather too.
Posted on: Feb 21, 2009
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Çanakkale harbour
Çanakkale harbour
Flower on the coatal road near Ece…
Flower on the coatal road near Ec…
Bird stood on the waters edge
Bird stood on the waters edge
Crustaceans ın the rocks on a Gal…
Crustaceans ın the rocks on a Ga…
Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery
Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery
Gravestone ın Beach (Hell Spit) C…
Gravestone ın Beach (Hell Spit) …
Gravestones at the Ariburnu Cemete…
Gravestones at the Ariburnu Cemet…
Plugges Plateau Cemetery
Plugges Plateau Cemetery
Lone Pine Cemetery
Lone Pine Cemetery
Graves at Lone Pine Cemetery
Graves at Lone Pine Cemetery
Turkish trenches
Turkish trenches
Mehmet Cavus Monument
Mehmet Cavus Monument
Trojan Horse
Trojan Horse
Clock Tower at Çanakkale
Clock Tower at Çanakkale
“Traveller, halt! The soil you h…
“Traveller, halt! The soil you …
Seagulls at Çanakkale harbour
Seagulls at Çanakkale harbour
Eceabat harbour
Eceabat harbour
Museum at Eceabat harbour
Museum at Eceabat harbour
Monument at Eceabat harbour
Monument at Eceabat harbour
Flowers by the road side
Flowers by the road side
Bullet to the skull - Kabatepe Inf…
Bullet to the skull - Kabatepe In…
Birds stood on the waters edge
Birds stood on the waters edge
Gallipoli Beach
Gallipoli Beach
Gallipoli Beach
Gallipoli Beach
Lıttle bug on the road
Lıttle bug on the road
Gallipoli coastline
Gallipoli coastline
Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery
Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery
Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery
Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery
Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery
Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery
Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery
Beach (Hell Spit) Cemetery
Ataturks famous words...
Ataturks famous words...
Anzac Cove
Anzac Cove
Me at Anzac Cove
Me at Anzac Cove
Aegean coast
Aegean coast
Boats floating in the Aegean
Boats floating in the Aegean
New Zealand No 2 Outpost
New Zealand No 2 Outpost
Tree near Canterbury Cemetery
Tree near Canterbury Cemetery
Canterbury Cemetery
Canterbury Cemetery
Elegant tree
Elegant tree
Cones on a tree
Cones on a tree
Cemetery by the sea
Cemetery by the sea
Sun trying to break through the cl…
Sun trying to break through the c…
Gallipoli Coastline
Gallipoli Coastline
Lone Pine Cemetery
Lone Pine Cemetery
Statue at 57 Alay (57th Regiment) …
Statue at 57 Alay (57th Regiment)…
Monument at 57 Alay (57th Regiment…
Monument at 57 Alay (57th Regimen…
57 Alay (57th Regiment) Cemetery
57 Alay (57th Regiment) Cemetery
Monument at 57 Alay (57th Regiment…
Monument at 57 Alay (57th Regimen…
57 Alay (57th Regiment) Cemetery
57 Alay (57th Regiment) Cemetery
Trojan Horse
Trojan Horse
Canakkale
photo by: irmayu