Friday, 19 November 2010


A couple of weeks ago on a bitterly cold weekend at the end of October, Mrs Istanbilly and I took a drive down to the Gallipoli peninsula. Now, you may or may not be aware, Gallipoli was the scene of a major battle in the first world war. On the 25th of April 1915 allied troops landed at various beaches along the western edge of the Gallipoli peninsula. If you don't know anything about it why not read more here

My Grandfather was one of the troops who died in this ill-fated conflict. I wanted to go there for two reasons - 1. I had been told that it is a remarkably beautiful place and 2. I wanted to see where my Grandad died.

We took a drive down - it is about 5 hours from Istanbul and it was pouring rain down all day! We got there, checked into our hotel The Gallipoli Houses where we quickly settled down with a bottle of wine waiting for dinner.

The next day it was bright and clear but windy and very cold, but out we went to visit various places of interest. I have never been to Flanders but I imagine that it is similar - around every corner is a war memorial or cemetry and we visited quite a few of them.

Helles Memmorial

This is the Helles Memorial and is at the southern tip of the peninsula. There is a wall around the memorial and the names of all the allied soldiers and sailors who died but have no known grave are engraved on that wall. My Grandfather is amongst them but I couldn't take a photograph of his name because the section of wall that he is on is currently being refurbished. Oh well... I will go again.

We didn't just visit the allied cemeteries, obviously there are many Turkish cemeteries and memorials as well.

This was taken at the Cannakale Martyr's Memorial.

Cannakale Martyrs Memorial

Every grave stone has the names of 10 soldiers on it and there is just row after row of them.

This is Soğanlı Dere Şehitliği (Soganlidere Cemetry)

Soğanlı Dere Şehitliği

The grave markers are in the shape of heads with Turkish helmets from the time on them. Each head represents a village/town/city/area where the soldiers came from.

The next day was a little warmer and we went to the western side of the peninsual to visit ANZAC Cove. Gallipoli is very important to the ANZAC's and every year on the 25th of April (ANZAC Day) Australians and New Zealanders gather here to commemorate their ancestors.

Ari Burnu Memorial

This monolithic monument is the Ari Burnu Memorial at ANZAC Cove, it is the words of Mustapha Kamal Ataturk in 1934:

"Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives...
you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
in this country of ours...
You, the mothers,
who sent their sons from far away countries
wipe away your tears,
your sons are now lying in our bosom
and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have
become our sons as well"

Ataturk 1934

Right next to the Ari Burnu Monument is the Beach Cemetery, an allied cemetery in perhaps the most beautiful setting of all.

Beach Cemetery

Although I have many more photographs of the weekend, I will finish with one of the Lone Pine Cemetery. The reason I am in Turkey is because I am a member of staff at the British International School Istanbul and the lone pine is our logo so it felt right to go and visit.

Lone Pine

I took several shots of it but I rather like this one taken directly into the sun using my wide angle lens.

As the weekend progressed, the weather got better and the drive home was really quite pleasant. We had a lovely weekend down there and we want to go again in the spring - apparently the peninsula is covered in wild flowers (and it isn't quite as cold as it was on this weekend).

Something to look forward to and, perhaps, the work on the section of wall that bears my Grandad's name might be finished!


Mama Duck said...

I read your blog, and then followed the Gallipoli Campaign link. Gallipoli is one of those words that you hear, and have a vague notion about - but the facts......

Another day, I shall do more than skim the Ataturk entry, though I think I'd rather buy a good biography.

That must have been a sobering weekend, though, with all those rows and rows of graves. I couldn't understand the open-hearted statesmanship of Ataturk's words on the memorial - surely the Johnnies and the Mehmets were on opposite sides? - and that was the main reason I followed the link. I had never really registered that back in 1915 (the time of the Armenian genocide) Turkey was not the Turkey we now know, but part of the Ottoman Empire, and another world. Modern Turks are no more culpable for that, than are nationals of any other colonial power for the attitudes and actions of past regimes. But the legacy remaqins, in the social and economic repercussions of past policies and activities, and in popular consciousness - in the minds of people like me, who only have the vaguest ideas of the facts and misinformation our attitudes are based on.

Hmm. I should probably shut up and go away before I get really pompous..... oh dear... too late

Jayne said...

Billy, you've done your grandad proud with this post - the photos are (as always) excellent.

All the best for Crimble & the New Year :-)