How are you all? Thanks to everyone for emailing us and keeping us up to date with all the goss at home - keep them coming. Have been feeling slightly homesick especially after the trip to Gallipoli
We had one day in London to wash all the clothes in our backpacks (just about anyway) and head off to Turkey. We stayed in Istanbul for a couple of days and then travelled to the Gallipoli peninsular for ANZAC day which has been the highlight of my entire trip. We had a tour of all the battles and ANZAC cove. In some places you looked out of one side of the bus and saw ANZAC trenches and looked out the other side and saw Turkish ones - they were literally the width of a single lane road apart. There were memorial plaques for soldiers at many of the battles - only when they knew who fell there. Some were in lines and on the headstone it says 'it is believed that the remains of ' when they know they are buried there but don't know where. There are others, arranged more haphazardly, where they know exactly where they are buried. Any other names are at Lone Pine - where the Aussies won a battle during the campaign and held that spot until the retreat.
We got to the dawn service at 2am - our tour guide telling us there were over 300 buses in front of us! Was so crowded but we found a nice position and wrapped ourselves up in the sleeping bag and waited until 5.30am for the service. Lots of people had arrived early the evening before and slept on the grass so there was this blanket of people below and behind us. The service was great. It was amazing to look behind you and at your feet and see the very places they were talking about in the speeches. It was cold too - I can't even begin to think what it would've been like 87 years ago when they jumped into the water and got to the beach.
The best part of the day was the Australian Memorial up at Lone Pine. The pine tree in the middle of the memorial is actually one of the original species that grew there. Apparently, they were all wiped out in a fire after the war but one of the Australian soldiers had sent a pine cone home during the war and his mother grew it to a small tree, brought it back and planted it at Lone Pine. We got a spot directly underneath that pine tree for the service! We sang and did Mexican waves to occupy ourselves until the service began at midday. Then war veterans were invited to sit in some chairs up the front. When the first emerged from the crowd everyone started clapping and cheering. Then the next entered and we did the same thing. Every single veteran got a cheer from the crowd - especially a very elderly veteran with a chestful of medals. Then it was announced that a Turkish veteran would be joining us and he got a standing ovation. After the service everyone was going up to the veterans and asking for photos or just chatting to them - I saw a few people just walk up and shake their hand and walk off.
By the end of the day we were exhausted - not just because of our coughs and lack of sleep but also emotionally exhausted. There were so many times people were moved to tears with all the speeches and stories and the enormity of it all.
We found this day really important to both of us. Craig and I have been seeing all these old temples and forts and buildings and churches, learning about all the history of many other countries and for the first time we were learning and understanding about our own.
I hope ANZAC day was a great day for you all. It has definitely taken on a whole new meaning for me.
melly and craig