It was a five hour bus trip From Istanbul to Gallipoli, so I stayed overnight in Çanakkale and did a Troy tour the next day.
The Gallipoli peninsula is a national park now, but was the place in 1915 where 140,000 soldiers died in 260 days.
34,000 UK, 10,000 French, 9,000 Ottoman, 8,700 Australian, 2,700 New Zealander, 1,350 British India and 49 Newfoundland. Twice that many were wounded.
This area was still part of the Ottoman Empire that stretched from the Baltics to what is Saudi Arabia. Turkey only became a republic in 1923.
At the beginning of World War 1, the Ottoman remained neutral. Britain was helping to modernize and develop its navy, and were building two battleships for them. The ships were paid for and almost ready to be delivered when Britain declared war on Germany in 1914 and decided to keep the ships without giving back the money.
Obviously the Ottoman were ticked off, and the Germans took advantage of this. They ‘gave’ the Ottoman two battleships, and over much back room dealing, ended up with the Ottoman joining their side.
This was a problem. Between Germany/Hungary/Austria and the Ottomans, the whole of Central Europe was blocked except to go around the north or south.
The Allies really wanted the only possible path through the Aegean Sea, Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. This way their ally Russia would have an exit and they could open a southern front against Austria-Hungary.
The British sent battleships into the Darnanelles but had to quickly retreat after losing several ships. They had totally underestimated the Ottoman.
They then worked on land invasions which led to many months of trench war standoff. There was a one kilometre stretch were trenches were only 10-20 metres apart and they tossed cigarettes and chocolate at each other during slow times. And spent time digging tunnels under each other to set explosives (why Australians are called ‘diggers’). Then there were times of brutal hand-to-hand fighting.
Temperatures during the summer were in the 30’s and 40’s, drinking water was imported and rationed at times to one a cup a day. Dysentery was rampant, and many men died from disease.
Our tour stopped at all the beach sites, battle areas and many memorials and cemeteries.
ANZAC – Australian New Zealand Army Corps – lost many soldiers at this landing spot
Overlay picture of then and now
Point called the ‘Sphinx’
Statue of an Ottoman soldier carrying an Allied soldier to safety
Turkey regards Gallipoli with strong nationalist pride.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was the Ottoman field marshal in charge of the defence, and he went on to become the first president of Turkey when it was formed in 1923.
It was a moving and powerful day, and we were exhausted. I was happy to crash in my Çanakkale hotel and explore in the morning before the Troy tour began.
Very nice ‘kordon’ (sea wall) which happens to be on the Dardanelles, the strait that was the goal of the Gallipoli war.
Troy, or Truva in Turkish, is a city with a 4000 year history. The site is partially excavated, but the problem is there are nine versions layered on top of each other. The later versions were larger, but in the central part they can’t excavate without destroying others.
Troy was immortalized in Homer’s Iliad, which could have been an embellished version of history. Did Paris actually steal Helen from her husband, the King of Sparta? Or were the Greeks actually fighting for control of the trade passing through the Dardanelles?
There is some agreement of a ten year siege of Troy by the Greeks in 1250 BC. But the story of the Trojan horse is fun if not confirmed.
So the Greeks pretended to leave, but left this horse ‘gift’ outside the gate. They brought it in, had a big party to celebrate the Greeks departure, but during the night the Greek soldiers hidden in the horse came out, attacked the Trojan soldiers and opened the gates for their buddies.
Our guide was full of Greek mythology, and made the tour interesting. So much easier to learn this way!
They used these urns to store water, wine oil and even for burials.
Then it was a ferry back across the Dardanelles and the five hour bus trip back to Istanbul. A day of rest, and then an early morning flight to Cappadocia tomorrow.