Lest we forget…

After sadly leaving Istanbul behind we set off in the most luxurious bus I have ever seen en route to Canakkale. I’m talking wifi, only 3 huge seats across, personal screens with your own selection of movies (sadly all in Turkish) and an attendant in bow tie who served us multiple lots of tea and biscuits through the 6 hour trip. Needless to say the trip was pretty comfortable and it seemed like no time at all before we were jumping out of the bus and walking the strenuous 20 or so metres to our hostel.

For those who haven’t been to Turkey we’d come to Canakkale as it’s one of the closest places to base yourself to visit the Gallipoli peninsula. I had actually visited Gallipoli before – in my crazy 18 countries in 6 weeks Topdeck tour back in my gap year. I was extremely moved by my visit then and felt it was a must see, so I had no qualms visiting a second time so Will could see it as well.

We set off on a day tour and were lucky enough to have an amazing Turkish guide who constantly impressed us – not only with his in depth knowledge of dates, specific decisions made, people, places etc – but also with the empathy and understanding he showed for both parties involved in the battles in and around Gallipoli.

The genuine affection that was shown between the Turkish and Australian soldiers was something that stood out to me as an exceptional and exemplified the friendly and loving nature of both Turkish and Australian people alike. There was a plaque there which displayed a section of a speech made by Ataturk – a Turkish army officer and revolutionary statesman who became the first president of Turkey. I felt that his words best conveyed the respect that all of the soldiers obviously felt for each other.

A section of a speech Ataturk gave about the ANZAC soldiers…

At one stage of the trip we walked beside a statue of a large man carrying a smaller man in his arms. Our tour guide told us the story of how an Australian soldier was lying wounded and crying out in pain in no-man’s land between the trenches. Apparently after hearing the man’s cries and seeing that he wouldn’t be able to move himself a Turkish army officer raised the white flag to call a cease fire, ran into no man’s land, picked up the injured soldier and carried him over to the Australian trenches. We heard many more extraordinary stories in the same vein throughout the day.

A statue that depicts a Turkish army officer carrying a wounded Australian soldier to safety…

It really is an incredible place to visit and when you’re actually able to see the place where so much life was lost and wasted it’s really hits you what a terrible tragedy war is.

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