Day 72. 90km. Çanakkale (Gallipoli peninsula)

Posted: November 26, 2014 in Cycling, Turkey
Tags: , , ,

The sun came out on this frosty day as I peddled alone on the wind-swept peninsula. Outside, I only heard the tranquil sound of the wind and the waves, but inside I felt the earth shudder, the chatter of rifles, and the screams of pointless death around me – almost 100 years ago. Tiny knolls in an all too common rolling-hill landscape have great significance by the death burden they carry. Today I felt that burden, and cried.

Anzac Cove

Anzac Cove

What a peaceful place. I was alone today. The roads were empty. Some farmers ploughed their fields. Some people were picking olives. Most of the time, it was me, the sun, the wind, and my thoughts. Thoughts of what happened here 100 years ago. How insignificant and mundane the famous beaches were. I stopped at Beach V – one of the Allies’ landing points at the southern tip of the Gallipoli peninsula. There was hardly a beach at all.

Beach V

Beach V

There were two areas – two little specks of land – that were held by the Allies for the extent of the Gallipoli battle. One was at the tip, and one at Anzac Cove. The Helles Memorial overlooks Beach V.

Helles Memorial

Helles Memorial

Around Anzac Cove, small knolls, undulations, crags, all have Australian names. They were too insignificant to have Turkish names. Now their significance is burned into history. I visited a cemetery near Anzac Cove. Protected from the wind, there was an eery silence. The lawn was lush and the sky was blue. A bird flapped overhead. I stood there amongst the gravestones. Men aged 22, 21 – I saw one 17. All died in 1915. Here where I stood were trenches.

Cemetery

Cemetery

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

At the going down of the sun

At the going down of the sun

In the morning

In the morning

Monument to the Fallen

Monument to the Fallen

Words of Atatürk

Words of Atatürk

Comments
  1. Alessandro says:

    You have a way with words and feelings my friend. Great writing of your visit to the Monument to the Fallen.
    If you have the time and inclination, perhaps you could go to the eastern periphery of the town of Gabze – which is not far from Istanbul. In there there is the tomb of Annibal (yes: Annibal of the elephants across the Alps and the siege of Rome). Apparently (almost) nobody in Turkey knows that they have such an illustrious guest. Thus, getting directions to get to this monument is not easy.
    If you are going to try write this note on a piece of paper “GENERAL ANIBAL MEZAR” and ask when in Gabze. How do I know all this? From a marvelous book about Annibal by Paolo Rumiz (a very good writer). It was first published in installments on a daily paper here in Italy. Here is a link and you can see a picture of the place of the burial. In the words of Rumiz: “Non è una tomba ma è tutto quel che resta di lui, sei stradine concentriche che portano a una roccia con incisa la sua faccia sul lato del tramonto. Intorno, una corona di cipressi. All’inizio di ogni sentiero, una lapide in una lingua diversa.” = “It is not a tomb, but this is all that remains of him, six concentric pathways leading to a rock carved with his face. Around it a circle of cypress trees. At the beginning of each path, a headstone, each inscribed in a different language”.
    http://www.repubblica.it/2007/08/speciale/altri/2007annibale/annibale-26/annibale-26.html
    (It is in Italian)

    Ciao and keep up the good work.

  2. jovialspoon says:

    A very moving post, thank you. Many Australians visit Gallipoli on or around ANZAC Day, and from the pictures I’ve seen, it’s often very crowded. Somehow I think significance of that place would be even more strongly felt if one were visiting alone as you have done. The photos are both sad and beautiful.
    Here’s to good travelling.
    Michael

    • Thanks, Michael. I agree with you. I am very honoured to have been able to visit when I did. Perfect weather for the trip, and more importantly, alone. It gives a totally different connection to the place and what happened there.

  3. […] Tonight was a performance on 100 years of Çanakkale – a terrible battle at Gallipoli – equally horrific for our Turkish hosts and the ANZACS as we were called (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – which James and I were representing). Here 250,000 Turks, Australians, New Zealanders, French and British died in a blood bath for access to the thin straights of water connecting the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. I saw the battle fields first had last year by bike. […]

  4. I can only imagine how moving a place this is. Gallipoli has long been on my places to visit.

    Lest we forget.

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