Friday, 28 August 2009

Our Mecca?

Wasn't completely certain as to whether we'd be making the Australian (and kiwi) pilgrimage to the Dardenelles but we realised it would be a time before we did return to Turkey and knew it should be done.  A long awaited victory in the principality of Catan preceded an early wakeup call (we've just been started edging towards the semblance of a sleep-in) and we took another journey on one of Turkey's superb buses (??) towards the site of Australia's greatest defeat.  The tour was very long with many stops but once we managed to crack Hasan's challenging accent it was very informative and very emotional.  I've always tried to pride myself on trying to get a balanced view of things and it is only from the Turk's themselves that one can get their side of this story.  From the museum with its contrasting letters to home from the Australian conscript and the Turkish martyr to the site of the landings at Anzac Cove (who could have possibly thought that it was a potential landing site?) to the memorial to the greatest eulogy ever said and the cemeteries scattered all over the point, it truly is a holy place.  And not just for us, we may have gone over as Brits and returned as Australians and New Zealanders but a part of modern Turkey, distinct from the Ottoman Empire was also forged on these battlefields.  I've grown up being taught the larrikin spirit and defiant nature of the diggers at Gallipoli but the memorials show the humour and strength of the thousands of Turks who also fought there and as one Mehmet reminded me, 'they came to invade, we came to defend'.  One of the few great conflicts where such carnage was conducted by such 'gentlemen'.

No comments: