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Remembered Today:

Gallipoli travelogue Part 6


cockney tone
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Well Pal’s, my penultimate self indulgent travelogue for you to suffer!

Another rather dull start to the day, weather wise that is! found us standing on the summit of Chunuk Bair surveying the New Zealanders Cemetery and Memorial. I was surprised to discover that looking inland to the east you could actually see directly across the Peninsula and see the Dardenelles and just pick out the Asiatic Coast.

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Looking to the North East we had a wonderfully panoramic view over Suvla Bay, I had to agree with Clive’s astute observation that it was actually just like looking at a giant map, you could clearly see the Salt Lake, and other easily identifiable features like the headland of Lala Baba and the high ground of Tekke Pepe.

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Our aim on today’s walk was to reach the sea by following (in reverse) the route taken by the NZ Forces during their attacks on the Bair on the 7th/8th August.

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We timed our departure from the NZ Memorial to perfection as a coach load of Americans from a passing cruise ship had rather noisily arrived; I resisted the temptation of telling them that the battle was over and as usual they had turned up a bit late again! (My sincere apologises to our American Pal’s for this rather unkind and cheap shot) :)

From the Bair we took a narrow and very steep footpath that just seemed to disappear into almost a tunnel of pine trees that instantly seemed to cocoon you in darkness, years of fallen pine needles clogged the path muffling our footsteps and cunningly hiding tree roots and the odd loose rock that was waiting to twist the ankle of the unwary. Again their was the wonderful smell of the pine needles, the trees coupled with the gradient also provided a perfect windbreak with the temperature noticeably increasing as we descended, the trusty walking pole was certainly put to good use! (Buy one and get one free in Millets Hertford!)

We soon found ourselves emerging almost blinking back into the daylight before arriving on a small grass plateau that contained the very isolated Farm Cemetery. Here Clive and Julian set the scene perfectly for us and described the actions that took place here, using soldiers contempary accounts of their experiences and also informing us of the British and Ghurkha involvement in the action which I had previously been unaware off! It is worth noting rather ironically that Ataturks statue situated on the Bair could be clearly seen observing us through the trees, a bit like he and his compatriots did over the New Zealanders all those years ago.

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Continuing our decent we joined what I presumed to be an access track that showed traces of some recent vehicle use, in places where the wheels have battled for a bit of traction large ruts had been dug out of the surface exposing the odd remnant of Great War debris, I happened upon the severed end of a spoon, sadly despite a great deal of spit, polish and wishful thinking I could not find any trace of a name or number, so I committed it back to the yellow earth.

Leaving this track we embarked upon what I can only describe as a truly stunning piece of scenery as we walked along a spur called Rhododendron Ridge. The path was somewhat precarious in places and a couple of the safety hand rails supplied looked as they were only held in place by a few dusty cobwebs.

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The hills along this stretch seemed to be comprised of a series of what I would describe as false ridges, each time you think you have conquered the crest the path just simply frustrates you by falling away again before it starts to climb up the next ridge. There appeared to be many man made indentations in the slopes facing the sea, obviously ‘hidey holes’ or dugouts used by the troops as a bit of shelter from the Turkish lead and interference. Again there was also more tangible evidence of the Great War to be seen scattered around, including a ‘key can opener’ for a can of bully beef; however a Pal may correct me on this as I did not know if they had such things in 1915?

One find I most definitely did not pick up and examine was a detonator still wrapped in the shredded remnants of some fabric (gun cotton?) which we surmised could have been from a Jam tin bomb? :o

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Arriving on the deserted coast road we spent time paying our respects at No 2 outpost & New Zealand No 2 Outpost Cemeteries.

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Picnic in hand I took to the beach, which during the war was called ‘Ocean Beach’, it was a very peaceful spot that consisted of no more than 20 meters of beach separated from the single track road by some low sand dunes that showed previous signs of human habitation, in one area there was a considerable amount of old looking broken glass, patterned and blue in colour, we guessed that perhaps they were the remains of medicine bottles as this area once housed a large casualty clearing station. I went for a stroll along the waters edge, not for the first time this trip lost in thought again when I spotted a small piece of shiny rum jar whose rough edges had been worn beautifully smooth by 90+ years of ‘motion by the ocean’ (sorry about that) I have to report that I broke one of my strict personal battlefield rules and placed it in my pocket, it now sits in pride of place on a shelf in my study. :)

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Having been met by the bus we again stopped at Anzac Cove to view the ‘sphinx on the cliff’ that is an amazing site from the beach, before visiting the museum at Gaba Tepe. They had some really interesting artefacts on display but to be honest I was a wee bit disappointed with the place.

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After our now customary stop at the Turkish Baths (without the massage this time) followed by yet another wonderful meal I decided that I would try to find a TV set to watch my beloved Spurs who by chance were playing a Turkish Team, Bestikas in Istanbul, originally I had wanted to try to attend the game in person but was somewhat put off by a 12 hour return taxi trip! So it transpired that I sat all on my lonesome in a cake shop surrounded by very boisterous and very loud, but very welcoming locals, drinking Turkish tea out of charming little glasses and stuffing my face with sticky calorie laden pastries. However I had a quiet chuckle to myself when they showed a large Turkish banner in the crowd proclaiming ‘DO YOU REMEMBER 18th MARCH 1915, HERE IS GALLIPOLI!’ I decided that it was not prudent to upset my congenial hosts by asking them if they remembered the effects of Lawrence of Arabia on the Turkish railways system! Anyway the Sooper Sperz won and I retired to bed a very happy man.

Anyway that’s it for now, just one more account to post covering our last day walking on the Peninsula; a pilgrimage to Lala Bala Cemetery and following in the footsteps of the 1st/5th Norfolk’s!

Thanks for sticking with me pal's Regards to you all,

Scottie.

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Sorry, bit out of the running order but here is a shot of the NZ Memorial from the reconstructed Turkish Trenches on the summit.

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Scottie

Thanks again.

The Anzac Sector , and indeed all of the Peninsula

is a very haunting area.

That is why I have 6 weeks there every year

Peter

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Peter,

i viewed my trip very much as a one off, however I had such an enjoyable trip that it is now fair to say that the Peninusala has captured my imagination and i would love to return.

Since coming back and reading accounts and looking again at the maps etc things tend to make more sense to me having now 'walked the ground'.

Would like to hear more about your travels some time, you must be able to cover a lot more in 6 weeks?

Regards,

Scottie.

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Excellent once again Scottie. The way you have written these reports makes it feel as if I was there.

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I was there on a tour and walking to Lala Baba one woman found a Scottish Horse Cap badge very near the cemetery where I saw some of their burials. I was GREEN WITH ENVY! :angry:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Scottie, this episode of your travelogue has me misty eyed as several of the men I am researching are remembered on the memorial. Thanks again for the photos and your wonderful account on your visit. :)

Cheers, Diane

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