Anzac Day is the perfect time to remember Gallipoli
PROMOTION | Gallipoli is unique in world history. It is not just a battle, it is also an epic tale of courage, self-sacrifice and stubborn endurance. It’s a story of enemies who displayed mutual respect during the battle and who became friends after it.
NO ONE crossing the straits of the Dardanelles can miss the huge impression of a soldier on the European side of the channel. The relief, drawn out in stones, is there to remind us of the unfortunate battle of Gallipoli, where almost 100,000 people lost their lives. Turks, Anzacs, British, French, Indians and others. A poem is inscribed on the hill next to the soldier to remind the passer-by of the brutal and sad confrontation of World War I.
Bilmeden gelip bastýöýn,
Bu toprak, bir devrin battýöý yerdir.
The soil you tread
Once witnessed the end of an era.
Foes become friends
Gallipoli is unique in world history. It is not just a battle, it is also an epic tale of courage, self-sacrifice and stubborn endurance. It’s a story of enemies who displayed mutual respect during the battle and who became friends after it. No battle has forged such strong comradeship and everlasting peace in its aftermath. On the shores of Gallipoli, Australia and New Zealand became nations and Turkey embarked on its journey to become a republic from the ruins of an empire.
When you visit the peninsula, you will see the trenches of both the Anzacs and the Turks, which in some places stood only a few metres apart. Great mutual respect still exists between the two cultures as it did back then. The Turks could not help but admire the way the Anzacs fought with such courage and tenacity. Enemy soldiers, at times, would toss cigarettes and food to each other instead of bombs and bullets. During cease fire, when it was time to clear the slain from dead man’s land they would each help carry the others fallen to their enemies trenches.
To die for one another
The one that got me from all the Gallipoli stories is from the Fatal Shores documentary, where a man tells the story of being shot. Wounded and returning to the trenches, he saw four of his mates lay stricken. ”They were crying for water,” he tells the camera emotionally. “They were wounded, fatally wounded, and they were crying for water.” Holding back tears, he continues: “So, thirsty myself, I threw them my water bottle. They needed water…so I threw them my water bottle.” It was such a simple act, from one wounded man to another – but it showed these boys would do anything for one another, even if they were at risk of dying themselves.
Until recently, it would have been seen as somewhat provocative for a local Turkish group to link itself to Australia’s Anzac experience. But, over the past decade or so, there has been a remarkable change in the public mood of these one-time protagonists. Turks and Australians have seemingly buried their enmity and now see Gallipoli as a unique bond shared between the two nations. The Turks now think fondly of the Anzacs. “In Turkey, we don’t consider them as the enemy any more. They fought bravely, Turkey is proud of those who fought on both sides. It was our greatest military victory. But your sons, buried in Turkey, are our sons.”
It is quite like Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s immortal pronouncement almost eighty years ago:
“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.”
This respect between Turk and Australian, born out of war against each other, is truly unique. Come Anzac Day each year, neither Australia’s political leaders nor the RSL embraces the Germans or Japanese as it does the local Turkish community. Lest we forget.
Don’t miss the chance to experience Anzac Day in Gallipoli this year with Fez Travel. For more information go to FezTravel.com