Wednesday, April 25 1990
Greece and Turkey have a lot of natural springs & where these springs are, quite often they erect, what looks like a stone memorial, with a pipe sticking out that has spring water continually flowing from it, this morning at one of these springs, I did some hand washing as well as myself & also my hair, the water is so cold that your head seems to contract & is quite painful, but the feeling of cleanness is wonderful. We then started our last leg (hopefully) to Gallipoli, Jenny mozzed us all by saying nothing else could go wrong - WRONG - The bloody car wouldn't start - flat battery. I could have pulled my hair out, I am sure there is some force working against us going to Gallipoli (spelt Gelibolu). Luckily Andrew had some jumper leads, & we were finally away.
We arrived in Gelibolu & headed for the tourist office, to pick up map & directions. We drove straight to Anzac Cove, where the soldiers first landed April 25th 1915. Parked the car & read the moving epilogue by ATATURK 1934, & looked at the gravesites. Conway & all the others we travelled to Egypt with arrived, so it was hello's all around, & then we secured our positions as close to the fence, separating us from the stage as possible for the 5.30 am dawn service. The bay is full of naval ships (destroyers etc, all like in battleships!!) as well as a aussie submarine. As it's getting darker, the atmosphere is just getting better & better. Somebody has just stood up, & led us singing all the Aust songs like Tie me Kangaroo, There's a track winding back etc, etc & we all did (there are thousand's of aussie backpackers by now) a really beautiful version of Waltzing Matilda everyone seemed in tuned and nobody seemed to be shouting. It sounded great & made you proud to be an aussie.
They had put lights all around the sub & it was lit up, as well as the aircraft carrier having a huge kangaroo lit up on the side. They looked fantastic. The Australian army was on hand for parking, lighting etc & they did a fantastic job & having them there seem to keep the crowd under control without ever having to become heavy handed. They were efficient & friendly & a full to credit to themselves. As dawn slowly approached, one digger was brought in as well as some war widows, & everyone stood up & gave them a big clap. Slowly more & more people arrived, & everywhere was packed.
Bob (primeminister) arrived to loud cheers & then slowly one by slowly one the diggers (all 59 - one was N.Z) were sitted & the ceremony began. The microphones appeared not to be working, so it was hard to hear the speakers (as listed in my booklet that was handed out for free). Bob Hawke you could hear fairly well, obviously he knows how to project his voice. We then had prayers before the last post & then the ode:
They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them,
not the years condemn
At the going down of the sun,
and in the morning
We will remember them.
We will remember them.
One of the diggers turned 103 today.
We then sang 'God Save the Queen' & of course 'Advance Australia Fair', which made the voice tremble & squeak & bought a tear to the eye. The ceremony finished after the N.Z anthem. The next service was a wreath laying ceremony at Lone Pine we had a brief sleep & then jostled for best positions.
Bob Hawke, gave a great speech, it was moving without going overboard & was not dragged out. It bought a lump to our throats as well as his. A tree was then planted, & then wreaths were laid & of course the last post was played. The ode (to prayer?) was recited by Brigadier Alf Garland, National President R.S,L). You couldn't get near to see all the wreaths so we are dropping the others in town to catch there ferry & after we have a short nap we are going back to have a look. Rang Mum and Dad, talked to long, it will cost them a mint this phone call!
Took ferry across to Cannackle, where a lot of aussies were staying including the group we travelled to Egypt with.
We sat in a cafe, talked & had a few quiet ones. Caught 1.00am ferry back, which was full of Turkish people (it seemed rather late).
Thursday, 26th April 1990
Well I didn't think anything could top yesterday, but today was even more special than yesterday. We arose at 11.00, had brunch, then went to the Museum which was only one small room but interesting artefacts, including a skull with the bulled still in top of it. We then headed back to Lone Pine, where we read the wreaths that had been laid, & had a look at the whole area, which had been covered by people last time. We then looked at all the trenches, that still stretch in all directions just near the cemetary. Earlier we had seen some photographers turning up & wondered what it was about we then heard that all the diggers were turning up. As we were returning from the trenches, the buses pulled up, and all the old diggers started getting out. They were all back to wander at their leisure. It was fantastic to see so many of them walking by themselves & as chirpy as buttons. They were given small wreaths to place on graves, or their battalions listings. One old dear asked how much they were, & was told of course they were free. Again the military was fabulous & helped them all around. One digger who was in a wheelchair, decided he wanted to go for a walk, & asked the soldier escorting him if he minded! The soldier reply 'You can do whatever you want'!! I had my photo taken with J.D. Robertson, who said they had all had a marvellous time, we just wandered about, talking to them, & getting them to sign their names on our Anzac Booklets, as I was talking to one digger, Channel Nine cameras came up & filmed us talking. The digger said we could get engaged if we like! It was all the more special because this visit had not be publicized, so they could look around peacefully & there was only a handful of people there. Of course military, ambulance, etc, made it seem quite a few people. It was a moving & touching experience.
We then travelled onto all the other points that had been held & lost by aussies & turks, & have finished the day in Canakkle ready to start the rest of our journey through Turkey.
Letter to Family
26 April 1990
Dear Mum & Dad, Nick & Jim, This is being written 'upstairs' in the combie, by candlelight (candle courtesy of Agi Theodorra Church) (there were hundreds lying on the ground). This is a tiny church that has 17 trees growing out of the roof. This was in Greece. I spoke to you on Anzac Day & I didn't think anything could top that really special day, but the day after we went back to look at all the wreaths that had been laid at Lone Pine, we had just finished looking at some trenches nearby, when all these buses pulled up & all the diggers descended. They had come to wander around the cemetery at their leisure.
It's hard to explain how watching some old men walking around a cemetary can be so moving, but it was truly touching. You are watching a moving piece of Australian history. Many were pointing out there friends graves & the memorial with their battalions. They were given wreaths to place where they wished, with whatever they wanted written. One old dear asked how much he had to pay for the wreath! We chatted to quite a few & got them to sign our programs, they were happy to talk to us & all of them are full of beans. When I was talking to one of the diggers, Channel Nine cameras came up & filmed for a good couple of minutes, so if you think you saw me, your right!! They were there for about 1½ hours, one bloke I had to break into a jog to catch him, we asked him if he was training for the Olympics & he laughed. Because I think they wanted the diggers to look around in relative peace, they had not publicized the diggers return, so we were virtually the only people there, which was great. Each digger had a Naval, army or airforce person, to help them around & they did their country proud, they also seemed in awe of these blokes & full of admiration. All the diggers were in agreeance, that they had had a marvellous time. One also asked me when we could get engaged!
I hope I didn't make it sound soppy, but it would have to rate as one of the best days in my life.
I said on the phone, that Bob Hawke's speech was brilliant & everyone young & old & whatever party they voted for, were all just as enthusiastic & praiseworthy.
Today we visited the ancient ruins of Troy, some which date back to 3000B.C. Turks are big on pastachio nuts & I have quickly become a convert. I think there expensive in Aus, arnt they? I paid about $AUS3.50 for ½ kilo. We have been eating a takeaway called 'Donna Kebag', it's kebag with lettuce, tomato etc, in bread, which is like a full loaf cut in half, very filling & cost about Aus $1.25 - Yumo! Had a bit of Melbourne weather today - I was sunbaking at lunchtime & then it was raining an hour later! Because we are free camping in the combie, showering is rare, but at least it keeps the flies away! I climbed one the mountains of Gallipoli and neally became a casualty myself, when I started sliding & couldn't stop for awhile! Anyhow stayed tuned, for the next exciting installment of Lisa's leyland brother's trek across Turkey!
Lots of love, Take Care. Lisa xox