[ad#World Nomad 2LP]Traveling around the world is really about the knowledge you gain. Let me clear the air and explain that before visiting Gallipolli, I really had no idea what Anzac Day was since I’d never heard of it. I thought Anzac was a Turkish word.
In fact Anzac is a compound word created during the first world war when Australia and New Zealand still did the bidding of the British Empire. It’s a word used to describe the people from Australia and New Zealand.
At the time of the first world war, hundreds of thousands of Anzacs were shipped to the Galibolu or Gallipolli Peninsula where they were supposed to defeat the Turkish soldiers, open up the Dardanelles, and then take control of the Bosphorus, Istanbul, and the Black Sea.
Things didn’t go as planned. Instead, the battle raged from 25 April 1914 until 9 January 1916. The battle called by various names, in Turkey- The Cannakkale Wars, – in Australia and New Zealand, Gallipolli. For the Turks (then part of Europe’s sick man- the crumbling Ottoman Empire) it was the brave last stand before the fall and for the Anzacs, it was the first real battle. Despite the huge casualties to both sides, the battle built a lasting friendship between the two nations and people. Each year tens of thousands of Anzacs come to Gallipolli. In total nearly 400,000 casualties resulted from this battle.
It was trench warfare at it’s most ugly and despite the many deaths, it was also considered to be one of the last ‘gentlemen’s battles’ of any war as the long suffering troops would share tea, hard biscuits, and other food items. Turkish soliders earned immense respect for often putting themselves in harms way to rescue their enemies.
Perhaps the most defining events of the battles were when a relatively unknown officers named Mustapha Kemal disobeyed orders and in fact, stopped the Anzac invasion with his troops. Nearly his entire regiment perished and he too would have died if not for a watch in his chest pocket which stopped a bullet from going into his heart. The battle made Kemal famous and later he came to be called Attaturk which means, Father of the Turks. He built modern Turkey into a secular republic. Perhaps I will write more of this remarkable man in the future. Read more about Attaturk.
Our tour of Gallipolli was fantastic. We booked it through Crowded House Hotel and were fortunate to have perhaps the most famous guide of the peninsula.
Our tour guide was the energetic Bulent Bill Korkmaz. ‘Bill’ was a wealth of information and made the battlefields come to life, luckily without the flying bullets. The tour was 45 lira and included lunch, the lunch was really awful, a tasteless cheese sandwich and some junk food snacks thrown in a bag, but the tour was worth it anyway. Bill’s Aussie accent (he’s Turkish but he’s spent so much time guiding Aussies that he sounds like one) and his colorful stories of the history of the place, the history of tourism in Gallipolli, and the history of his tourists. When he began there were less than 1000 tourists in a year. Now Anzac Day alone brings upwards of 10,000.
It was more than just an interesting tour of a beautiful place with a rich historical background. It was a look into the soul of this nation that we are now living in.