30th July 2015:
The next day we headed off early to catch the ferry for our boat ride to the Gallipoli Peninsula. On leaving the pier we looked back and said goodbye to Asia. Another milestone of our journey had been reached, we were heading for Europe.
First stop of the day was to the Gallipoli Interpretation Center where we went through a series of 11 halls to learn about the history of the conflict. Basically it was pure empire building of the major powers of the day as they tried to take over Turkey and the strategic supply routes. The centre gave us a very good context for our later tour of the peninsular and the battlefields. we came away with a far better understanding of the bravery and courage of the soldiers and sailors of both sides and the challenges both sides faced in this senseless folly.
It was good but very sad to visit Anzac Cove and see the actual conditions that the Anzacs faced. The first grave stone I came across was that of John Simpson: the man known as the Man and his Donkey – he died aged just 22 on the 19th May 2015 less than one month are they landed on the beach – what an impression that one man can make.
The graves and grounds are being extremely well cared for by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission and it is a great credit to them and the New Zealand and Australian Governments for the effort they have put in to honour our war dead. Turkey likewise is to be commended for the way they have allowed and assisted that effort. It really puts in in to meaning the words of the famous Turkish General:
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 Jonnies and Mehmets to us where they lay 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.
“Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk”.
Whilst visiting the Lone Pine Cemmetry, I came across a young lady carefully cleaning one of the many gravestones. I walked up to her and asked her if it was someone special, to which she replied, that she had just found the the grave marker of her great uncle, Sammuel Poole. Emma’s story is that she had been living in London for two years working as a lawyer and was returning to Melbourne (although she is a country girl from NSW). Emma had decided to fly home via a Turkey and had come to pay her respects to the Anzacs.
Emma’s simple gesture touched my soul; such a special person.
Later she wrote the following message on my car: