Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, October 21, 2019

A Virtual Anzac Day at Gallipoli

Readers of Roads to the Great War probably know that the Gallipoli Peninsula is pretty rugged terrain. Usually when you visit the battlefields there, though, you have the luxury of being driven to the highest elevations. That is not, however, the case every 25 April, the day of the annual Anzac Day Commemoration. The roads to the heights are all shut down for the day. Here is what you would be in for, step-by-step, if you are ever able to visit the site on some April 25th in the future and attend all the major events. 

Sunrise Ceremony at North Beach, Anzac Cove
(0530-0615 hrs)

The first event of the day honors the predawn landing of 25 April 1915. Tour buses are not allowed within 1 km of Anzac Cove. This will be your last motorized trip of the day until you depart the peninsula. After this initial event you need to start your hike for Lone Pine. Pack rations and lots of water.

Lone Pine Commemoration (1000-1045 hrs)

Site of a ferocious attack during the August 1915 Allied offensive, Lone Pine is the most hallowed of locations at Gallipoli for Australians. It is reached by a 3 km uphill walk about half of which is unpaved and very steep. Don't dawdle afterward, though—you, have another 1.2 km uphill march ahead of you and you will have to skedaddle to catch the the next event, the most important Turkish memorial of the day.

Turkish 57th Regiment Ceremony (1115-1200 hrs)

The 57th Regiment was the unit Turkish hero Mustafa Kemal ordered to die guarding the heights above Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915. The unit was annihilated that day but held the heights, and they are honored with each Anzac day with their own ceremony. Afterward , you have one remaining 2.3 km stretch uphill to the peak known as Chunuk Bair to manage, and you have a full 30 minutes to do it.

Mustafa Kemal and New Zealand Memorials at Chunuk Bair
(New Zealand Commemoration 1230-1315)

Congratulations! You have climbed vertically about 860 feet since daylight and have made it as far as the entire Allied Expeditionary Force did in 1915. New Zealanders captured this high ground at Chunuk Bair, but their replacements could not resist the onslaught organized by the man of the hour, Mustafa Kemal, when he arrived on the scene. Kemal is the great hero of Gallipoli, personally directing the defeat of three Allied operations during the campaign and is remembered at this location and many other places around the battlefield. After the ceremony, however, your day is not quite done. Now you just need to walk back down to the beach the way you came to meet your bus.

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