Gallipoli War Memorial Park 70kms

A visit to the Gallipoli War Memorial Park was still pending. I couldn’t leave the area without spending a day discovering the finer detail of this most painful chapter of British history……not just reading about it, but by being physically present in the places where this campaign occurred.

The Park is enormous. I cycled 70kms/45miles, and only visited about half of it. It occupies the whole of the south of the peninsula. The memorials and cemeteries are scattered across the entire area, on the spots where various actions took place. And of course, being on Turkish sovereign territory, the emphasis is on glorifying the martyrs who died for their country. But the tone of reconciliation was established by the great Ataturk himself, when he pronounced the following:

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When I found the lofty British and Allied monument at the southernmost point of the peninsula

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….commemorating the deaths of more than 20,000 soldiers in the 6 months the campaign lasted in 1915, I noticed several coaches arriving and thought I was about to be joined by several dozens of others. But no, there was a Turkish monument further down the hill

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…and several school parties were learning about the military action which resulted in the birth of a new nation, the Turkey we know today.

It wasn’t just Turkey that was transformed….

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..this ANZAC cemetery and memorial will testify to the huge sacrifices made by Australian and New Zealand soldiers, so much so that it led to a break with mother country, and both became independent nations, making the date of their landings on the peninsula ANZAC day (April 15th).

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In Turkey, the annual day of celebration is March 18th, the date they foiled a naval invasion by the Allies. The chief weapon used to prevent invasion was the mine. The strait is so narrow that once a ship was blown up, it caused confusion amongst the others, and the scramble to back off caused several other ships to be destroyed. Hundreds were killed……a shameful military campaign whose objective was to invade a sovereign nation.

On a different tack, I have noticed that the further south I go, the more conservative the people are. Young girls wearing traditional Islamic dress

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…and men constantly fingering their beads

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….and out in the countryside, you frequently come across almost biblical scenes like this

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…we hailed each other across the vast empty space, but once his 5 words of English, and my 3 words of Turkish, were used up, we said ‘gulegule’ (goodbye).

And to make a great day perfect, I am able to sleep in my tent tonight, right next to the Aegean Sea

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…and close by there are hammocks

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…..perfect for unwinding from a busy day. You might suspect that I am beginning a gentle wind down from this trek…..you may be right, but there are still a couple of full day rides to do, as I head more directly for Istanbul, some 350kms from where I am now.
Stay with me!
http://www.justgiving.com/Frank-Burns2

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About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on June 9, 2014, in Kimbolton to Istanbul 4000kms: a crusader's route and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I am sorry this adventure is nearing an end. I have enjoyed following your posts. They have been insightful and informative. I am curious what technology you are travelling with. Laptop? Tablet? SmartPhone?

    • Thanks for those kind comments. Having appreciative readers keeps me posting….
      Technology? I take and use only one device…..a smartphone. It does everything for me….apart from blowing up my tyres! Email, FB, blog,GPS,Skype, camera, e-books and guides. I have apps for the weather, BBC news, Open Street Maps (very useful), and a variety of others.
      It’s not always comfortable eg. blogging on a tiny keypad, but with practice, it can work. It all depends how much you are prepared to carry….

  2. Another insightful post. Gallipoli certainly had a role in Australia’s military history. ANZAC Day, 25th April is full of significance for Australians, even today. Many Australians travel to Gallipoli to celebrate the day.

  3. Very interesting. In Canberra, Australia, there is a boulevard of war monuments leading to their war memorial called ANZAC Parade. There are monuments to each of the services and several wars Australians have fought in. At the spot closest to the war memorial (most honored spot, I would think) is a monument to Gallipoli and what was striking to this ignorant American was the memorial featured a Turkish flag and a rather large bust of Ataturk. I mentioned to my Australian host that this seemed like a WWII memorial with a bust of Hitler and a Nazi flag. My host then explained the reconciliation that has occurred between the two countries since the war. A very unique thing.

    • Thanks for those very interesting reflections, Steve. I know this is a place frequented by thousands of ANZACS every year, especially around April 15th.

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