To Helles and back – a post from Chelsea

Recreating one of the friezes at the Turkish Memorial

Today saw its start with another extravagant breakfast at the Kum. This morning’s travels were to include visiting the French, British, and Turkish memorials. The days journey began at Cape Helles where the group admired the amazing the view from the high ground of the British Memorial overlooking the entrance to theDardanelles.  Here the monument lists all the names of Allied forces in the campaign as well as the British soldiers and sailors, whom have died throughout the campaign. Following the pathway down we were able to also visit a small beachside cemetery on V Beach.  The cemetery was in a similar style to others that we had previously witnessed, yet its location right along the beach, its tranquility in comparison to the stark nature of the cliffs made it eerily different. Following this we travelled a short journey to the see grave of a single soldier Doughty Wiley. His grave struck us as quiet peculiar. It was the only grave there, and of a very extravagant nature. The story was told to us by our ever trustworthy guide Fred (Ozgur), of how when the solider was killed, his wife – or possibly his lover- travelled to the peninsula to see him buried. She was the only woman to ever visit the peninsula during the campaign.

A visit to the French cemetery surprised everyone. The French ceremony was very different to any other allied cemetery we had previously visited, in a sophisticated French style, the graves marked by crosses, and large mass graves overlooking the cemetery from its highest point at the monument.

 Today was particularly interesting as it is a Turkish commemorative day. It marks the day Ataturk established parliament in central Turkeyafter the occupation that occurred as an aftermath of World War One. The Parliament disregarded any decisions of the occupying forces, and marked the opposition, signifying the beginning of Turkey’s war for independence. Ataturk also announced the day International Children’s Day. Due to these factors today all areas were abundant with Turkish people taking part in the day’s events.  After pushing through crowds of people like salmon swimming up a stream we were able to view the grand memorial. The main structure was a large monument which one was able to walk under featuring the Turkish flag. Here we were swarmed by groups of Turkish children and tennagers who were more than willing to try their English skills on us, while we tried with little elegance to try our limited Turkish, which admittedly extends as far as a poorly pronounced, hello, goodbye, and thank you. The older Turkish school girls took quiet a fancy to our boys, while the girls were inundated with photo opportunities with the Turkish boys who tried to explain to us in broken English that our grandfathers fought here together. The second part of the Turkish memorial featured a listing of all the Turkish soldiers who fought and died in the Gallipoli campaign on glass panels. This is quiet remarkable considering the lack of records that were kept at the time, much research and investigation must have had to go into forming the memorial panels. 

After another filling lunch we headed back up to the familiar Lone Pine where preparations for the Anzac Day ceremony were well underway. We partook in a rehearsal of the ceremony, as so that the logistics could be established and perfected. We were taught how to walk and present wreaths and the general processes of the ceremony. Tanvi was able to run through the reading of her poem. It was interesting to see how the event was pulled together behind the scenes, and to see the involvement of so many people from so many backgrounds. From the band to volunteers, to the Defence Forces, to dignitaries and schoolchildren, the involvement and passion was overwhelming. However I do suspect that the relaxed attitude of the rehearsal will be in stark contrast to the day itself. The ceremony will be broadcast live toAustraliaon ABC 1, at 6pm on Monday the  25 April.

We rushed to the port to embark upon a boat cruise after the rehearsal. The cruise took us up the coast of the peninsula, which enabled us a fantastic view of the coastline, dotted with memorials. Upon the boat cruise Gene made friends with the captain which saw him leave the boat with the captain’s cap and wall plaque. One of the shipmen shared his iPod with us, and brought us some cucumbers to share. If there is one thing you can say about the Turkish people it is that they are friendly and generous. There was a slight incident upon the boat today at which the pompom was ripped from the top of Connor’s beanie and he was left devastated. Lauren came to the rescue later in the evening stitching the pompom back into place and cleverly stitching the number thirteen into the inside, a number that we are sure Connor never wants to see in honeycomb balls again.

This evening was spent in a trivia trial organized by Geraldine. The two teams’ competed fiercely in the competition run by Andrew with the assistance of his lovely showgirl Stuart. After much arguing across teams, and within the teams, the ‘Aguileras’ came out triumphant winning the glorious troy horse key rings. So the evening ended with multiple games of backgammon and knowledge that this time tomorrow we will be preparing for the dawn service, an event that for shadows the day with anticipation.

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5 Responses to To Helles and back – a post from Chelsea

  1. Mrs Margaret Clark says:

    Dear ‘Simpsonites,
    I have been following your journey and experiences through your daily postings. What a wonderful experience for young people to have. Very few get to explore the experience of the ANZACs and the realities of war. It is Easter Sunday here. Wishing you all a very happy Easter especially to my neice Hayley from her Aunty Marg. I caught you on the channel 7 news. Will be watching ABC Anzac evening news, Best wishes. Mrs Margie Clark

  2. Elizabeth and 'The Boys' says:

    Dear all,
    Hoping you all have a wonderful day tomorrow.
    Enjoy the experience!
    From all of us.

  3. Jiil, Patrick & Sarah McAlary says:

    Hey Lauren,
    Happy Easter to all of the Simpsonites.
    We spotted you on the Ch9 news last night. Found the Ch7 segment on the web. Very impressive!
    We will be glued to the telly on Anzac Day. I’m sure you’ll all do us proud.

  4. Graham Watson says:

    To all the “Simpsonites” and especially my darling wife (she is the one who always looks cold) have a happy Easter and enjoy you day. I have been following your journey with just a touch of envy, maybe Carol will do like she said in an all to brief text that she is going to bring me back to see and experience what you all have.
    Have a great time and I’ll see you when you get home babe
    We (me and the boys)miss you
    Graham, Kieren & Lachlan Watson
    PS What’s the real turkish delight taste like

  5. Annabel Astbury says:

    Hi everyone,

    You all did spectacularly well on ANZAC Day. Great to see you all and hear you on the radio.

    Reading through your posts, I can sense a little bit of sadness knowing it’s all coming to an end but knowing that you will be pleased to return to share your experiences.

    This blog has been one of the best that I have read and I have enjoyed every single post that you have made. It seems that Gene has almost become a local!

    Looking forward to hearing more, safe travels,

    Annabel.

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