Here is an extract from my personal diary about the one hundred years commemorating the terrible number of young soldiers who gave up their lives at Gallipoli in Turkey in 1915. Gallipoli guards the Dardanelles penisula and was a crucial entrance to dominate during World War 1.
Fri Apr 24
Up very early in Izram and on our way to Gallipoli. It is a 5 and a half our trip according to our trusty Tom Tom GPS. We want plenty time up our sleeves to cross the Dardanelles Peninsula. We must be there before 9pm to get the shuttle bus to the ANZAC Cove memorial site where we spend the night before the dawn service. Commemorating all the lives lost by Australian and New Zealand soldiers there in 1915. Expecting it to be cold. We have warm clothes and sleeping bags but only allowed one little knapsack each and most of that taken up with sleeping bag. Up at 5am. Out by 6am. Stopped for breakfast enroute. Big day at Cannakale with local Turkish celebrations. Got there and ferry was closed. Luckily asked guy on corner who spoke English and told us to drive to Femez 5 km round the coast which we did. Ferry was there but not signposted, luckily we found it. Saw cruise ships docked there. Crossed to Ecebal where we had lunch by the sea surrounded by Kiwis. Drove to the cemetery at Akbas where we left the car on the side road and began our long registration process which had about 6 different stops and registrations. Received not one armband but two, one luggage label, labeling us as PV Private Vehicle, most were yellow bus labels with numbers as the vast majority of the 10,000 people there came by tour, only a handful came on foot or by vehicle. I saw yellow bus labels in excess of number 300 bus, so there were a lot of bus tours there. Later had two lanyards round neck as well as the two wristbands. One lanyard with ticket with number for Lone Pine seating, and one with limited mobility assistance for seating for the dawn service. We drove to a holding pen where we waited until the buses started running to the main beach site for the dawn service. Arrived mid afternoon and waited all night in our seats until the dawn service finished in the morning. Security was running well and friendlier than airport security.
Saturday Apr 25
Was cold but we had rugged up well. We left our double sleeping bag there after the service as did others. We were lucky we had a seat, those without seats had to stand most of the time as there was no room to lie down or sit. They managed to squeeze all 10, 000 people plus officials into the area which was absolutely packed. Spirits were generally good. During the long hours there was entertainment on the big screens. Army band played and there were two good military singers, one from Aus and one from NZ. They screened short films about Gallipoli and a month by month account of what it was like for the ANZACs during that bloody campaign. What a mess, Winston Churchill had a lot of blood on his hands forcing them to continue in terrible conditions. Both Anzacs and Turkish soldiers fought bravely and long and hard. Such a waste of so many thousands of young lives. It was moving to see epitaph after epitaph of young men, many of whom were killed landing on the beach before even reaching the land. So sad and very moving. How if affected so many Australian families, many losing not one son, but multiple young men.
The service was moving too and attended by the Prime Ministers of Australia, Turkey and New Zealand and the national anthems were all sung. The Gallipoli choir had lovely voices and sang in sweet harmonies. They were compiled of girls from All Hallow School in Brisbane and boys from St Josephs Terrace in Brisbane, they sung well at both ceremonies.
Prince Charles and Prince Harry attended and gave speeches and officials from various other countries also attended.
After the dawn service, we were slowly transported to Lone Pine for the Australian only ceremony. The Turkish and New Zealanders had their own ceremonies in other locations too. There was lots of waiting time before and after the ceremony and this was frustrating for many as most had lost at least one nights sleep by then, but overall spirits were good and the crowd behavior was very respectful. At Lone Pine Princes Charles and Harry did a walk about (as did some military people) and they were very popular. We met Michael's sister Wendy after the ceremony and had a good catchup - we were lucky to meet up in such a large crowd.
We were incredibly fortunate to be allowed to take the first shuttle out at about 3.30pm. The buses must have been going for many many hours, probably late into the night. We drove to Cannakale and quickly made the first ferry after the ceremony. We could see many buses lined up behind us. Those after us would not only have the delays in leaving Lone Pine, but also the further delays waiting for the ferries if they were travelling south as we were. We fell fast asleep in the car on the ferry and took it in turns to drive back to Izmir where we arrived 5 hours later, absolutely exhausted and happy we had attended the hundredth anniversary of ANZAC in Gallipoli.