ANZAC Day in Gallipoli – A Dedication

| April 27, 2012 | 26 Comments

97 years ago on the 25th April 1915 tens of thousands of men and boys, most younger than me,stood on the shores of Gallipoli Peninsula. Britain had asked for something that could never be given back. Britain asked for what are now known as; The ANZACs.

ANZAC Cove Gallipoli

ANZAC Day in Gallipoli – ANZAC Cove

These ANZACs, or more specifically the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, were lured to the shores of Turkey during World War I by the sense of adventure, travel and the glory of war. What the ANZACs didn’t know 97 years ago was that more than 10,000 of them would never see their families again. All in the name of protecting our nations.

For that, we are eternally grateful.

ANZAC Day in Gallipoli

We can only begin to imagine what must have run through the minds of those soldiers as the dawn broke across such a magnificent landscape. Was this the adventure that they sought months ago in New Zealand.

ANZAC Cove sunset

ANZAC Day in Gallipoli – ANZAC Cove sunset

At the beginning, probably. By the end of the first day, I think not.

Sitting in the cold at ANZAC Cove overnight on the 24th April we feel lucky to have our sleeping bags to keep us warm. While all they had was courage and the beginning of what would become the birth of a nations identity.

ANZAC day in Gallipoli is a pilgrimage for Kiwi’s and Australian’s. Every year thousands of young, and old, travel thousands of kilometers to the same shores that many of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers stood all those years ago. There is a strong need for us to see where our heritage comes from.

The 9 months in the trenches of ANZAC Cove also created strong bonds that have become known as “mateship“. It is a bond between those men in the trenches that was born from the need to form a lifeline to your home and family through your friends. Living and dying in such hellish conditions halfway around the world will quickly create that unbreakable bond.

And I believe that is why so many survivors refuse to speak of what happened during World War I.

Shrapnel Valley ANZAC Cove

ANZAC Day in Gallipoli – Shrapnel Valley

ANZAC Day in Gallipoli Dawn Service

As the dawn breaks, the darkness that grips ANZAC Cove is broken while the silence is broken by a high pitch Waiata (traditional Maori word for song) welcoming us to the ceremony and commemorating those that were lost. Just as it was on the 25th April 1915 the beautiful shoreline of the Aegan Sea and rugged steep Turkish cliffs at our backs are revealed in the morning light.

Beauty surrounds us everywhere on Gallipoli Peninsula and we cannot comprehend how such a place of stunning wilderness could have seen so much bloodshed. The ground beneath our feet must have run red with the blood spilled from so many ANZAC and Turkish soldiers.

Our sleep filled eyes are quickly forgotten as you suddenly remember what we have come to Gallopoli for. We have come to honour those who fell on distant shores. And honour we do.

Once the dawn service has finished in ANZAC Cove it is a tough3.1 km slog uphill to the Lone Pine, site of the Australian service. And then another 3.2 km further up to Chunuk Bair, the site of the New Zealand service. Huffing and puffing in the early morning light under the scorching sun we have to keep reminding ourselves that this is nothing compared to what our soldiers went through.

Chunuk Bair ANZAC Cove Gallopoli, ANZAC Day in Gallipoli

ANZAC Day in Gallipoli – New Zealand Memorial at Chunuk Bair

I don’t know how you could but try to imagine that uphill slog with an 80 pound backpack. Oh yea, don’t forget that your friends are falling in the hundreds around you and bullets continue to fly around your head. Any second could be your last. Like I said, pretty hard to imagine.

Reaching the individual and personalised ceremonies is a really special feeling. Being surrounded halfway around the world by thousands of your fellow countrymen is a very moving experience. In fact, there is probably nowhere else in the entire world where New Zealander’s and Australian’s have such strong ties to a country.

A final thought.

Attending the celebrations, and I use the word celebration for all it is worth as it is a celebration of countries coming together, was a very moving and once in a lifetime experience for us. Being able to share it with our fellow Kiwi’s and Australian’s will forever hold a special place in my heart.

The most amazing feeling that I took away from the entire experience was that we were not even in our own countries. Here we were standing on the Turkish shoreline remembering a war in which so many of our own soldiers killed Turkish soldiers. But we are continuously welcomed. After so much horror for both sides we are still all able to come together out of a mutual and strong respect for one another.

For that we are thankful.

Lest we forget.

About the Author ()

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

Comments (26)

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  1. bronwen burmester says:

    Got shivers all over my body reading your Gallipoli account Cole, thanks.

  2. Pete says:

    I had an interesting conversation with one of our good friends we have made here. Not knowing much about ANZAC day prior to our trip here, I was intrigued that so many people from Australia and New Zealand came here to honor and I questioned him if there had ever been a problem with accepting that they come to your soil to do so. Your last statement is what he could not piece together in English, it sums it up perfectly that it is a mutual and strong respect for one another.

    I am glad that you had the chance to attend, and it must have been emotional and powerful. I imagine it would be to the same effect as myself attending the ceremony in Normandy. Cheers guys, and enjoy some sun and water on the cruise.

    • We have spoken to a lot of Turkish people as well and they are all the same. They love that we come here for ANZAC Day and actually realised that they need to do the same sort of thing so have created their own special monuments as well. There is so much history and passion around Gallipoli so both sides have done a great job of accommodating such a special moment.

  3. Laurence says:

    Visiting places like this always staggers me. The horrors that people endured, and for so long. I am always so grateful for the sacrifices made, but saddened that they were necessary.. and that somehow.. war still exists :(

  4. :) Learned something new. Great information about the ANZAC.

  5. Last year when I went, Chunuk Bair was the biggest memorial of them all, in terms of numbers. I guess its a small area anyway… but there was a mad scramble to get in and listen to the proceedings. How was it this year? How was the atmosphere at the Cove on the 24th? Electric eh? Especially as the sun comes up. Once-in-a-lifetime. Agreed.

    • ANZAC Cove was brilliant during the build up. They had all the music and doco’s playing all night and then as the sun came up it became eerily quiet. Will remember it forever!

  6. Natalie says:

    Have you read the speech by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk regarding the event Cole?

    “Those heroes who 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 here in this country of ours… You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away 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.”

    • They read it out during the commemorations and it really moved the entire crowd. Made us all realise just how special ANZAC Cove and Gallipoli is to the Turks as well. Thanks Natalie :)

  7. Ayngelina says:

    I hadn’t heard of this day until this year. We have something here in Canada like that although it’s very solemn, I get the impression in Australia it’s a big party?

    • It is not so much a party as a celebration of our nations history but still very solemn and extremely moving for us. In the past there has been quite a bit of controversy at ANZAC Cove with drunk Aussies and Kiwi’s which is SO disrespectful. Luckily that has all changed and it is so much better for it now.

  8. Nina F says:

    Sadly, I don’t think the human race will ever be free of war. In the name of freedom and religion, we are still fighting ourselves.

    I had no idea about the meaning of Gallipoli and ANZAC. Thanks for sharing.

    • No worries Nina. I am glad that we managed to teach you something about ANZAC Day :)

      Unfortunately I agree with you that I don’t think we will be free of war. How can we all be so selfish?!

  9. Ali says:

    Great photos. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like for those soldiers, but I think it is so important to continue remembering what they went through for their countries. The horrible events of the past, no matter what form, are vital for improving the future.

  10. I’m really bummed we didn’t make the trek to Gallipoli when we were in Istanbul. It seemed like a very remarkable place, and it’s even more remarkable what all happened there. Thank you for sharing this so I semi-sort of got to experience it … at least virtually.

  11. Turtle says:

    Beautiful story. A lot of people I meet don’t understand why we Aussies and Kiwis commemorate such a great loss. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? It’s not the outcome but the bravery, mateship and patriotism that’s so important.

    • Thanks Michael. I actually don’t like calling it commemorating because I think it should be a celebration. I know it’s not right to celebrate so many dead but to me that’s what ANZAC Day stands for now.

  12. Thanks for sharing this moving experience. Here in the USA, I hadn’t heard of ANZAC Day. It reminds me of the terrible cost of war to all involved.

    • It is a really special day for all Kiwi’s and Aussies Mary so glad you know about it now :). It is ridiculous that in this day and age we are still fighting wars. I just don’t understand it.

  13. Tash says:

    I went in 2005 – an experience that stays with you forever, and brought back again and again every year. Such an important trip for all Kiwis and Aussies.
    Your post takes me back again, today – Lest We Forget
    Tash recently posted..Footy And Social ChangeMy Profile

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