Our ANZAC memorial ceremony in Gallipoli.
Arrival at ANZAC cove for us was in polar contrast to those New Zealanders, who 101 years ago found themselves on the very ground on which we stood.
I picked up my luggage from the bus undercarriage and found myself a hammock in the waiting area. It was shaded by trees, while a gentle sea breeze rocked me.
Soldiers’ under immense fire jumped with heavy packs into water of an unknown depth. They pushed up to the exposed shoreline, and then with huge courage they dug in. Forming a trench and making their front line.
Here in ANZAC cove, we unrolled our sleeping bags and lay down on the same ground as our brave soldiers. They had set in for up to eight months, as it began to rain I was grateful we would only spend one night.
While the blood has long been washed away, ghosts of the past remain. In the night, were no generals shouting orders, no guns or explosions, no cries of the wounded. The night was quiet. Only the moon sat waiting and watching, no enemies. I looked out to the sea, the dark blue water was quietly lapping the coastline, soldiers would have seen the water hued red. I saw the great cliffs in which hidden Turks vehemently defended their country from, showering the invading ANZAC forces with bullets. I felt frightened for them and sorry for the families they had left behind, unknowing of the seemingly suicidal task their Fathers, sons, husbands, brothers’ were tasked to face.
The morning brought a tremendously moving dawn service ceremony. We walked up a road with panoramic views following the forward assault path as the front lines pushed further and further up the cliff to the peaks of Chanik Bear. There were 45 Grave and memorial sites on the way up. We saw trenches a meagre five meters apart in which battle raged. Seeing everything in person is a very real memory I will hold onto.
Upon reaching the summit we attended the New Zealand ANZAC memorial ceremony. With immense pride of nation, together we sung our anthem. Stories from those veterans who are no longer with us were recounted. Wreaths were placed at the foot of the monument and for the first time at the Turkish ceremony an emotionally charged Haka was performed. It was truly magnificent.
It isn’t often one celebrates failure. He in Turkey though that’s not what we are celebrating, we commemorate the good spirit, the courage and the mutual respect in which both the ANZACs and the Turks fought their war. With every ANZAC day to come I have a heightened understanding and respect of those ANZAC warriors.
‘Lest We Forget’
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