THE mostly Australian and New Zealand crowd waited throughout the night for sun to creep over the steep hills and to experience the dawn services a stone’s throw from where our troops landed on that fateful morning back in 1915, waiting for Anzac Day to begin.
By David O’Neill
FROM there the Aussie contingent made the climb up Artillery track which winds its way to Lone Pine for the Australian Service, while the New Zealanders headed for Chunuk Bair and their own memorial.
I spoke to one such Aussie, Belinda Renzi about her experience, and asked about her reasons for going to Anzac Day at Gallipoli and what she learnt from the now common journey for Australians both young and old.
Hi Belinda, So tell me about your Anzac journey and experience?
Yeah it was pretty amazing, to be there and experience a dawn service and understand what our troops were faced with when they landed at Gallipoli is something I’ll never forget. It was a kind of relaxed mood but also very respectful, especially towards dawn. Not once did you hear anyone complain or become upset which shows how important the experience was to everyone there.
Hearing the last post was in particular special, the bugle call was what the soldiers heard to signal the end of the day and I couldn’t help to think of those who had lost their lives and never got to hear it again.
It was freezing sleeping out under the stars waiting for dawn to arrive and unbelievable to think what the troops faced especially in winter.
So was it what you had expected?
Yes and No, it was hard to know what to expect before arriving and you do get a strange, almost eerie feeling at times. Seeing how close the Anzacs were to the Turkish troops when fighting was pretty scary, and to see the how small the battlefields in some areas such as Lone Pine where thousands lost their lives was something I didn’t expect.
While it was emotional at times it was not as sad as I thought it would be, it was more a feeling of pride than remorse.
What were your initial reasons for making the pilgrimage?
Well I suppose the Anzac legend is something we learn about from such a young age, and I’ve always wanted to make the journey and find out more about this sacred place. Also attending the dawn service every year in Australia you do feel a connection with Gallipoli and it was something that I knew I had to see with my own eyes to understand better. I think that patriotism is becoming stronger in young Australians and you did feel a sense of pride following the footsteps of our ancestors.
So has it inspired you to learn more about our military history?
It has actually. I did do some reading before I went and I’m keen to do some more. One thing that I was disappointed about was that we weren’t able to learn too much about the Turkish perspective and I’d like to understand more about what the battle meant to them.
The famous speech that was made by Kemal Ataturk in which he describes the fallen Anzac’s as “our (Turkey’s) sons as well” was amazing to discover but our guide wasn’t able to tell us any more information on what affect the war had on Turkey.
Would you recommend it to fellow Australian travellers?
Overall it was incredible and something I’m really pleased I had the chance to do. The feeling with so many Australians and Kiwi’s in Turkey was great and the friendliness of everyone is possibly the best part of the trip. The legendary Anzac mateship I’m convinced is still built into our character today.