Work at ANZAC Cove

For many of us Aussies a pilgrimage to Gelibolu (Gallipoli) is a must do in our lifetime.  The area is steeped in history, an ancient history, a pained history and a history of heroism by the boys and men who left home yearning for adventure, ready to fight for their King and country only to lose their lives and lay buried far from home.

Anzac 3

We visit the memorials at Çanakkale Şehitleri Anıtı (Çanakkale Martyrs Memorial), the Nek or Kanlisirt Anıtı (known to us as ANZAC Cove), and these memorials are a reminder that war is full of unsung heroes and, whether they were part of the Allied forces or a Turkish soldier, we remember the sacrifices that they made so we could live today in freedom.  This bond between the Johnnies and the Mehmets was well expressed by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, President of Turkiye, who in 1934 made this uplifting and consoling comment to an official, Australian, New Zealand and British party visiting ANZAC Cove:

Those heroes that shed their blood, and lost their lives …
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side,
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries …
Wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have
Become our sons as well.

Those words make hearts swell around the world in pride and are now an integral part of the Gallipoli story.   I remember standing at the memorial at Kanlisirt Anıtı  and I openly wept as I read those immortal words.

Tonight this news item passed my desk –

gelibolu-yarimadasindaki-kitabeler-onariliyor-89763

I felt sick to my stomach.

There were more photos but these appear to have been deleted.

Before we all jump the gun and turn into keyboard warriors (and believe me I was screaming blue murder and ready to call Karl Stefanovic who would fly over and single-handedly sort it out with The Powers That Be) the report attached to this photo states that the Canakkale Savaslari Tarihi group are undertaking maintenance and repair to the memorial due to natural erosion to the inscriptions and repair work and this work is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.  Although I understand that the work may have needed to have been undertaken this memorial is held in extremely high regard by Australians and New Zealanders.  I think that perhaps some discretion should have been taken by the officials undertaking this work to minimise the shock to visitors who have come to pay their respects.

I hope that the work is completed quickly and this site which is so important to all of us is returned to its former glory – for all our sakes.

(If anyone has any further information regarding this work please send me a link).

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Dear Türkiye

I am not standing by your side today for I am far, far away but I know that you are suffering and I weep for you.

image1I know you must feel manipulated and bullied by those who want you for their own personal gain. Those that feel that they can control you and own you. I see you being scrutinized and gossiped about by your so-called friends and neighbours who twist their own hateful words to the world until you feel that there is no hope left. And I know there are those that wish you nothing but harm with wave after wave of attacks against your countrymen by an enemy wielding instruments of death. You have been overwhelmed by the hatred when you yourself have been so generous and opened your heart and your arms to welcome so many less fortunate. It must be hard to hold your head up high with so many wishing you harm.

Fighting for your life can be painful and God knows you have suffered. We are all witness to your pain. I know that you have tried to be strong. I see your brave attempt to take control of your future but you just weren’t strong enough today. Don’t give up Türkiye. Don’t let the hate and the negativity win.

A great man once said, “Peace at home, peace in the world”. You and I know that great man as your father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He once made you strong. He once made you proud. And if you just remember Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in time of pain you will become a strong and proud nation once again.

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Gallipoli 2015

On 25 April 2015 Australians and New Zealanders around the world mark the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landings on Gelibolu peninsula.  For Daughter and I it will have a very special meaning – my Grandfather and her Great Grandfather fought at Gelibolu as part of the 7th Light Horse Regiment, 1st Division (although the terrain at Gelibolu was deemed unsuitable for mounted troops after the initial loss of lives his regiment was sent into battle as reinforcements in May 1915).  More so Daughter’s Great, Great Grandfather on her father’s side fought and died at Gallipoli when the first wave of troops landed at ANZAC Cove.

7th Light Horse Regiment, 1st Reinforcement

I did not get the opportunity to meet my Grandfather Leslie Vivian Morgan.  He passed away long before I arrived on the scene.  I do not have any photographs of him and I do not have anything personal to hold but I do have my mother’s memories in my heart.  Memories of a man who fought bravely at Gallipoli for his country.  She spoke of his bravery and his sacrifice and gave thanks to him and to his “brothers in arms” so that we could grow up in a country of peace and prosperity.

Now 100 years on I thought it would be a fitting memorial to my Grandfather and, of course, to my mother to attend at the commemoration on ANZAC Day.  Sadly in January I found out that I was 18 months too late to apply for tickets.  It also seemed that as we do not live in Australia we are ineligible to apply anyway.  “But hold on!  I live in Turkiye!  And my Grandfather fought at Gallipoli!  Surely that has some merit?”  Hayir!

As much as I could kick myself for not investigating how to obtain tickets earlier I am also so proud of how many Australians want to be there to recognise the service and the sacrifice made by so many men all those years ago.

Poppies-Original-Landing-Point-Gallipoli

As I do each year on 25 April I will be up at dawn.  There is no dawn service here in Mersin so I will walk down to the beach, close my moist eyes and, in my mind, I will hear that lone trumpeter play The Last Post.  I will think of my Grandfather and all those boys, those men, both the Mehmets and the Johnnies, who lost their lives fighting for you and me.

Lest We Forget.

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A 60 Second Political Update by Janey

As expected Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now the President-elect of this great country of Turkey picking up 52% of the vote.  Incidentally he had a crushing defeat the area that I live in Mersin.  But the battle for Erdogan has only just started with him now wanting to change the constitution that has stood in place since Ataturk was named Turkey’s first President on 30 May 1920.

flag

So what does that mean? 

Simply put the role of President in Turkey is seen as more of a ceremonial post but Erdogan now wants to change that role to make it a more executive decision-maker as seen in the US. 

How would he affect the change?

For Erdogan to change the Constitution he is going to need two-thirds of the vote in Parliament and right now I cannot see him getting that many votes although I guess only time will tell.

Accepting his win he spoke about “old” Turkey no doubt putting in first seeds in people’s minds about the need to change the Constitution:

“Today is the day that we initiate a social reconciliation process.  Please leave aside the old discussions, old disputes, old tensions in the old Turkey. “

A nice speech but let’s remember this was the man who attempted (and for a period achieved his intention) of banning Twitter and Youtube (and for some strange reason the website Funny or Die is still blocked damn it!) as well as the recent corruption scandals and anti-Government protests.  Turkey’s economic growth has now peaked and to be honest I think the Government is going to have its work cut out for it over the coming years.

Conservative or Secular?

With Erdogan becoming President and wanting to make executive decisions I see a huge change coming in Turkey’s future.  A more conservative and religious future which will only polarise the more westernized secular Turkish person.  

What happens now?

On 28 August Erdogan will take an oath in front of Parliament in which he promises to abide by Turkey’s principle of secularism.  With his own Islamist leanings and his penchant for restricting rights such as freedom of speech may prove difficult for Erdogan to balance.

The result of the election was never in doubt but whether he will succeed as President and with his reforms still is.  In our little village, however, there was still fun to be had with one enterprising person putting himself up for vote with little placards placed around the village.  If only this vote counted.

I promise my next post will be a little brighter and giving you something more than political dribble. What is that old saying?  Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.  Some such nonsense anyway.

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Standing on the Peninsular

For many of us Aussies a pilgrimage to Gelibolu or Gallipoli is a must do in our lifetime.  The area is steeped in history, an ancient history, a pained history and a history of heroism by the boys and men who left home yearning for adventure, ready to fight for their King and country only to lose their lives and lay buried far from home.

Looking across Gelibolu Peninsular

Looking across Gelibolu Peninsular

Daughter and I travelled to the Gallipoli peninsular a few years back and had the good fortune of being shown the area by a Turkish author whose books explored the history in a Turkish light.  Slightly different to the stories that I had grown up with but the one thing that stood out to me was the number of young men who died on both sides.  Australia lost over 8000 men at Gallipoli however there were over 18,000 Australian casualties in all.  Turkey, on the other hand, were fighting beside Russia and sent a huge contingent to protect the peninsular from the British Empire.  Over 57,000 Turkish men were killed with over 100,000 casualties.  These are some pretty daunting numbers in anyone’s books.

One of the many trenches

One of the many trenches

Visiting Gelibolu and the surrounding areas of ANZAC Cove, Lone Pine, The Nek (chilling) and all too many cemeteries was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life.  There are no words to explain my emotions sitting on the beach and looking up at those ominous cliffs.  The enormity of what these boys were sent to do is astounding and although the campaign failed in its objective of knocking the Ottoman Empire out of the war the actions of our brave soldiers gave us the Anzac legacy that we are so proud of today.

Daughter at Simpson's Grave

Daughter at Simpson’s Grave

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives…
You are now living in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace, after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, 1934

Anzac Day

I can see why the people in Turkey give such high esteem to this man amongst men – I cannot imagine the British Prime Minister or even our own Australian Prime Minister ever being so gracious.

There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets.

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Who Runs The World?

I received a number of emails yesterday about how “political” my views were regarding the proposed internet ban in Turkey.  While I feel my last post was not political and more my feelings vented I will endeavour to keep this blog a little more lighthearted although before I return to my normal, more humorous take on Turkey I just want to say congratulations to all the women who stood up for their God given rights in Istanbul last night.

women

What began as a peaceful demonstration campaigning for equality and women’s rights in Turkey quickly escalated into a scuffle with riot police.  *sigh*

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was a strong advocate for women’s rights in Turkey.  He once said:

To the women: Win for us the battle of education and you will do yet more for your country than we have been able to do. It is to you that I appeal.
To the men: If henceforward the women do not share in the social life of the nation, we shall never attain to our full development. We shall remain irremediably backward, incapable of treating on equal terms with the civilizations of the West

I will leave it at that.

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