Turkey day 21 - Military Museum & resting

And as we left Chunuk Bair, Robin stopping on his own to take in the memorial to his Great Uncles - incredible moving stuff. He is touching the names.

Standing with the family on ANZAC Cove in Gallipoli – the famous beach where the ANZAC’s landed 100 years ago.

A very special important day today, I got to explore in person at my own speed the battlefields and the key sites of the New Zealanders involved in the Gallipoli campaign. I have been working up for this day for months so I was really excited. Originally the plan was to do a tour of Gallipoli with a tour local company but I soon cancelled this and went for a self-study option – the much better way of doing it. Over the last few months I have read several books on New Zealanders at Gallipoli including Col. Malone’s diary (commander of Wellington Regiment and who captured the high point of Chunuk Bair) plus and have several dedicated ANZAC guide books. The ferry across was simple and I was soon driving towards ANZAC Cove. First stop was Shrapnel Valley which was a key supply route up to the front line. This was the first time Grandma had visited a cemetery for soldiers killed in action – so it was very moving for her. Especially as a number of the descriptions on the graves are written by mothers about their sons, very heart reaching.  E.g. ‘Tread gently on the green grass sod a Mother’s love lies here’ & ‘My son would that I could have died for thee’.

Entering Shrapnel Valley with the large military graveyard. Shrapnel valley can be seen on the left.

Visiting a graveyard with soldiers who died near the immediate area is a powerful thing.

We then climbed up to Plugge’s Plateau which is a climb of about 500 meters uphill and a walk of about 1km. There is another smaller cemetery here and a good view down into ANZAC Cove below. This was a key area captured by the ANZAC’s on the first day.

Finishing the walk up from Shrapnel Valley on the left.

As you can see, a much smaller graveyard compared to the much more dangerous Shrapnel Valley. Plugge’s Plateau was reasonably safe compared to other places at Gallipoli and was where artillery was based.

View from Plugge’s Plateau to ANZAC Cove below.


Grandma looking down into ANZAC Cove.

Julianne and Luke looking down into ANZAC Cove.

The Gallipoli Rose.

Gallipoli I have discovered is not just about the big battles which took place such as Chunuk Bair & Lone Pine but the months and months of holding on at the top of very steep cliff faces. From Plugge’s Plateau I could see into the rear of the key front line positions of Courtney’s and Quinn’s Posts. It is amazing to see how steep the terrain was. Looking up at these 2 military posts from behind it’s amazing to think they held on against very strong Turkish resistance for months and months. The fall of any one of these finger holds would have meant the Turks could have fired directly into the beaches below and this would have meant the end of the campaign.

View up to the front line from the rear, the front line is the steep ridge in the distance and where Quinn’s and Courtney Posts were located.

It took us a while to get up and down from Plugge’s Plateau and it was almost time for lunch but before that we had to first visit Beach Cemetery to the south of ANZAC Cove.

Beach Cemetery is where the famous man with a donkey – John Simpson Kirkpatrick is buried, who was one of many who carried wounded to the beach via a donkey, but is the famous Australian to do so.

The family standing around the headstone of the man with a donkey.

Then onto Ariburnu Cemetery to the north of ANZAC Cove and actually gives you access to the beach of ANZAC Cove.

Ariburnu Cemetery.

The moving words from Ataturk.

This little cove with its steep cliffs is clearly not a good place to do an amphibious assault and as a Kiwi it is very moving to be here, especially as 100 years ago they had been on the beach for only 2 days and were struggling to hold onto the cliffs above. The beach has been officially renamed by Turkey to ANZAC Cove and in return there is a statue to Ataturk in both NZ & Australia; ours is in Wellington.

ANZAC Cove and the steep cliffs.

Grandma was quite blown away as she never in her life thought she would be standing on ANZAC Cove.

Standing with Robin on ANZAC Cove.

ANZAC Cove with Luke.

We then moved up the road to the ANZAC Commemorative Site where the Dawn Service had been held and we had lunch in the car.

Grandma and Luke exploring the ANZAC Commemorative Site.

Grandma was impressed at how close I had got during the dawn service.

Strange to see it so empty after how full it was a couple of days ago. I was sitting on the left of the path.

After lunch we went and visited the smaller cemeteries north of ANZAC Cove, which were outposts during the war.

There is actually the remains of an original landing boat that can still be seen on the shore which was very surprising.

Walking between Cemeteries at Gallipoli.

This area north of the beaches is where the assault on the 7th of August took place that lead the Kiwi’s taking the highest point in Gallipoli and hold it for several days – Chunuk Bair.

There is a path that starts from here down near the beach and leads up along through the 3.5 kilometres where the battles actually happened that I was very keen to follow. So I put Luke on my back grabbed a small amount of water as we are running low and started the trek up to Chunuk Bair from the beaches with Julianne.

The walk was amazing as I am now very familiar with the key battle areas such as Rhododendron Ridge, The Apex and so on. The walk was not easy as it is 3.5 km’s long with 15 kg’s of Luke on my back but was so worth it. As I climbed I could clearly see how the troops got lost in the dark at the beginning, could see the area where both Auckland and Otago Regiments were slaughtered trying to get to the top during daylight. This is the same area where Malone from Wellington Regiment refused an order which was a brave thing to do, but he took his men up at 3am the following morning and easily captured Chunuk Bair. Also up on Rhododendron Ridge you can clearly see into the Nek, where 3 waves of Australians Mounted Rifles rose into certain death as shown in the famous film Gallipoli with Mel Gibson. As the Australians very bravely went to their death’s the New Zealander’s had a great view of what was happening down below, must have been very hard to watch.

It took about an hour to walk up to the New Zealand Monument at Chunuk Bair but it was almost like a rite of passage actually walking the route and land the Kiwi soldiers took 100 years ago and I was amazed how narrow and step it was in places.

About a quarter of the way up, on Table Top. Chunuk Bair memorial is directly above in the centre of the picture along the top of the ridge. This is the terrain the soldiers would have had to climb, though there would have been a lot less trees back then.

At one of the really narrow points, leaving the Table Top and heading up onto Rhododendron Spur. Also one of the clear areas where you can easily imagine what it would have been like 100 years ago – you can clearly see how it would have been hard for the ANZAC’s soldiers going up to pass the wounded coming down, something mentioned in accounts from the soldiers. 

Looking back down towards the sea.

An original hole dug by ANZAC Engineers.

Julianne and I with Luke at the summit of Chunuk Bair after walking up. The Turkish flag at the top can be seen in the background.

I was fine carrying Luke up but Julianne was not feeling so good so she took a lift down with a son of a Gallipoli veteran who we meet near the top along with Luke and I returned back down on foot to the beach by myself where the car was with Grandma and Robin.

On the way back down I visited The Farm Cemetery which is about 500 meters below the summit and requires extra walking to get to. This cemetery was very moving; it was large as over 600 soldiers are buried inside but there are only 8 headstones as the majority are just not known. So there is this large area walled off like all the other cemeteries but instead of headstones there are just some lovely trees instead – wow I was blown away by the simple majesty of The Farm Cemetery. Well worth the walk.

The Farm Cemetery.

Walking back down to the beaches I was able to reinforce and confirm the key areas and stages of the battle which after all my reading – it was a good feeling to put it all together.

The walk-up and back down took about 2 and a half hours so a lot longer than I had planned, but there were still a number of sites I wanted to visit so no time for rest as it was after 4pm.

So back in the car I drove back past ANZAC Cove and up through the old front lines up to Lone Pine. This large cemetery is often associated as the Australian memorial because the Australians captured this area in August and held it which was impressive but Lone Pine is actually a memorial to all those who fell at Gallipoli who don’t have a known location including people who died on ship after being wounded at Gallipoli and were on the way to hospital.

The memorial at Lone Pine.

Lone Pine Cemetery, as you can see this was the most crowded visit during the day.

From Lone Pine I went up the ridge to Courtney’s & Steels Post Cemetery. Here I climbed behind the cemetery and just behind it was the sudden drop of a near vertical cliff. The drop below me was now covered in trees, but 100 years ago this was the front line with hundreds of soldiers living on it – amazing. I could see back onto Plugge’s Plateau down near the beach which I had been at this morning – so overlooking the Shrapnel valley but from the other end. It really brought home the amazing feat that the ANZAC’s held these cliff faces and I am glad I have my books and are not on a tour. The cemeteries are moving but don’t really let you experience or see the actual battlefields – and getting behind Courtney’s Post was really easy and it was only a couple of meters to the sudden drop down to the beaches.

Courtney’s & Steels Post, with the cliff face of the front line just behind it – but not that you would know looking at the cemetery.  

Looking back down to Plugge’s Plateau below, where I was this morning.

I then went up to Quinn’s Post just up the road. This is the post that Col Malone from the Wellington Regiment transformed from the most dangerous place on the front line to one of the safest by a number of means such as roof’s over the trenches to stop grenades and a policy of firing twice for every shot fired at them. After getting behind the cemetery it was a lot hard than Courtney’s & Steels Post, I clambered down about 5 meters and came to a flat area in the bush which could well have been part of Malone’s trench system, but it is not obvious anymore.

Quinn’s Post.

5 meters down from the ridge on what is likely to be part of the old Malone’s trench system.

View from behind Quinn’s Post, down to the coast.  

Then a visit to the Turkish Memorial opposite Quinn’s Post. It’s important to remember that they lost tens of thousands of men due to the invasion as well.

Further up the road was the famous Australian battle of the Nek, an area no bigger than 2 tennis courts which I mentioned earlier. Those Australians were so brave to raise out of those trenches into certain death. .

Grandma, Julianne and the boys at the Nek. This cemetery is almost the size of the area the Australians charged across.

Some of the original trench remains in the area.

Just down from the Nek towards the beach back across ANZAC territory is Russell’s Top, a key area captured early in the campaign which I walked down to see.

Standing at Russell’s Top facing backwards towards the steep terrain where Quinn’s Post is located and the front line.

From here you are right above ANZAC Cove looking down – very surreal being above and behind the sphinx which is so prominent from below.

Looking down from Walker’s Ridge to the ANZAC Commemorative Site just north of ANZAC Cove with the sphinx on the left.  

By this time it was getting late so back in the car and onto Chunuk Bair. It was quite neat to be on back on Chunuk Bair after walking all the way up and down only a few hours ago. There is all the seating still up from the New Zealand Service from two days ago, through it was being started to be pulled down while we were there. The Turks work late as it was 6pm by the time we got there and they were still working away. Importantly Julianne got to show Robin his Great Uncles who are recorded up here, very moving for her and Robin was clearly picking up on it even at 5.

Julianne showing Robin and Luke where there Great Uncles are written.

Grandma looking down from Chunuk Bair towards the beaches below.

Looking back on the ridge I had climbed up only a few hours earlier.

Robin playing in the reconstructed trenches.

The New Zealand Memorial at Chunuk Bair with a lone wreath on it.

We left around 6ish and started down to Canakkale, once we got through the ferry I got the hotel to park our car. It was now around 8pm, quite late after a long day. And then it took about 30 minutes of walking to find somewhere to eat, as the first place from the Lonely Planet guide no longer exists. As the number of days left in Turkey are limited I want to make sure I get to eat lots of Turkish meals before I leave.

Adam Weller