Gallipoli: Turkey, Military Tourism, World War Site


This land had once turned into a deadlock, the blood was making the sea red. When you dive, you see the huge battleships, including HMS irresistible even armor guns of ships pointing towards Turkey positions. 

 If Military History excites you, this place which I am going to talk about in Turkey looks peaceful , undisturbed and calm with the ANZAC cove , in fact its very scenic site to visit but has the military history of deadliest bloodshed which was doomed to failure due to failed attempts by General Hamilton of British Military and Churchill. A rare example of how failed and rushed planning can cost many lives.

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 The guide at our bus said ‘Let me ask you guys, we always ask the visitors if they had any one known who had died in the Gallipoli Campaign. One of the travelers had come all the way to visit the cemetery where one of his relative has died’. The guide also told us, I wouldn’t know if any of my relatives were dead here, because by 1930’s Turkish people had no surnames. Also the casualties from Turkey were very less compared to the rivals. In fact, the evaluation was more successful than the attack, it was more planned. The few soldiers felt ashamed of leaving the dead bodies and the graves and return back. Today there are no survivors of Gallipoli campaign - The first world war site.

 Now, after Kanchanaburi in Thailand which is a site of second world war, this was my second visit to a place that holds very significant Military history. Coincidentally, we recover from the pains of the past, and what remains are stories of yesteryear fights and struggles, but this place would indeed move you because this is a vast area with many points of views and graves with quotes and is scenic too! I mean if no one had told me before, I would have thought 'Such a nice place!'

 The youngest soldier of it was an Australian named Fredrick just 15 years 10 months old who died here. He lied about his age when joining army, he said he was 17. When he had wanted to join the army, his family didn’t let him so he told them he will find a way went ahead with his free will and eventually joined army. During the campaign he lost his life - he was the youngest kid in action.

Dardanelles , the narrow channel which separates Europe from Asia was one of the most fought over seaways in the world which links the black sea and Russia with the medirrentarian. Turkey(a then ally of Germany) was a backdoor to Europe. During the first world war, Churchill (political head of royal navy) believed that naval attack would soon break it down. The British and French had old warships.

 In Feb, 1915, the battleships started bombarding the forts of dardanelles. Churchill believed that Turkish soldiers would surrender once they saw the navy threatening their capital Constantinople.

 Constantinople is today’s Istanbul. The Ottomans were living in the narrowest part of dardanelles. Ottoman Empire was in bad condition during the beginning of the first world war, and was known as the Big Man of Europe. Before Gallipoli, Ottoman empire had 9 more battles. There were around 90,000 Turkish soldiers sent to fight with Russia and there were many causalities.

The Ottomans

In those days, the two most powerful empires was the British Empire and the German Empire. In the young groups of Ottoman, a leader emerged, and he had an agreement with Germany. So British empire said we are not sending Battleships to you, because you may use it against us. This was a big opportunity to Germany and they send the Ottomans 2 battleships. But in 1914, these battleships bombarded some of Russian harbors with German Flags and they had Ottoman Flags and Ottoman uniform. so everyone thought that the attack was by Ottomans, and a war was declared by British and the Russians to Turkey and they thought they could easily get via dardanelles and once they do the naval attack they would capture Constantinapole, the current Istanbul.

 In 1915, 18 rebel ships came to the channel of dardanelles and day by day they were bombarding the Canakkale side and the peninsula side. All the 18 battleships, had entered the channel of dardanelles. As they came closer, they opened fire. By Ottomans, an establishment of mine fields and mine waters were set to place, so there are many bunkers on this strait. The first attempt had failed.

The Failed Attempt and deadliest battle

The strategy was then to land troops at 6 beach points at different points of peninsula and make the naval attack a success.

 The name of the Turkish International Airport is Ataturk. Ataturk was the best commander of Turkey during world war I. Ataturk means father of the Turks, and after the defeat of Ottoman Empire, he led the movement.

Ataturk came to know about the landings in the ANZAC cove, and then he came to a position. Hamilton troops were mix of regular soldiers from all over the empire, french colonial troops and they were joined by ANZACS, volunteer from Australia and New Zealand who were still partly trained. That’s why you’d see a lot of Australians and New Zealanders here who had either come to pay respect to their ancestors who gave their life.

 The other soldiers would land on 5 beaches at the end of Galipolli peninsula, 3000 ANZACS would land at ANZAC cove. Naval bombardments succeeded in bombarding the Turkish forts and guns, but by then the Turkish army came to know of attacks. The turks started constructing defenses. More than 200 allied ships had gathered bringing troops and equipment. They climbed up the steep hill with their ammunition. The first attack succeeded at one of the beach point because the Turkish army had unanticipated the climb.

Barbed wire under the water and the Turkish Defense

At other points, however, the landings were deadly. The allied soldiers were faced with heavy fire by Turkish soldiers and by barbed wires beneath the water.

When the soldiers jumped into the water, the barbed wire would tear open their stomachs and the water would turn red. 400 men died in the landings.

The Heavy Firing & The Missed goal

The landings at V beach was very deadly. There were 2000 troops in the ships, Lt Colonel Williams, his optimism was premature to think that there was no disturbance. The ships ran short from the landings by the winds, 2km ahead of the area and didn’t reach the beach. As the soldiers came out of ship doors and gates and jumped in the water, the heavy firings by turks was one of the bloodiest landings ever heard of. By the end of first day, the troops were supposed to have captured Achi Baba the hill, however they were still struggling with the beach.

More Bloodbath

The plans by Hamilton were failing as the maps they were using was 60 years old with some of which points didn’t even excisted / couldn’t find. There were 5000 soldiers killed and wounded, and many were left unattended. The dardanelles campaigns was supposed to be for a few weeks, but even after 6 months there was no progress, so General Hamilton thought they would land on Suvla bay which was a easier flat beach up north the ANZAC cove. Twice as many troops were deployed. There was no bombardment in the area. Although the flat beach was easier to land, it was surrounded by high hills. Once again the planning by British army failed because they started enjoying the beach celebrating victory of some sort as they had advanced equipment and ammunition and the landings was successful , than thinking the victory would be of who reaches the hill first. The turks reached high grounds and there was bigger bloodshed with massive deaths. They opened fire on the allies, not even giving them a minute to survive from up above the hill.

 There are many cementories in the area owing to so many deaths. Many of these soldiers have stories of survival and struggle, one of which is carrying wounded soldiers on a donkey of an Indian soldier. There is also a Turkish cemetery memorial. The gentlemen in Gallipoli campaign shared ciggertaes and chocolates too. There are many diaries in the memorial. All the trenches are original and there is an australian tunnel(300 metres) where ANZAC soldiers were carrying the indonesian soldiers.

 57th regiment to respect them is still here. In one of the cemetery, there is a lone pine there. There are names written on the wall. In one of the cemetery, an old man statue is there who used to love soldiers who survived the Gallipoli campaign. Before he lost his life in 1994, he and the last australian soldier met each other. In our hotel, there was a big picture of them.

You need a whole day to visit this site, and probably a good travel agent / guide too to understand what is so significant about this place. I would highly recommend Travel Shop Turkey and their services for this one. The guide was very well informed, we boarded their bus in Istanbul , and he got us, hooked to all the stories he told us plus the beautiful site.

It takes 5 hours to reach Gallipoli. Canakkale is a small fishing town, but we really liked it. We even gate crashed a jazz bar for free!

From Gallipoli to Anzac by Ferry

Rocking the jazz pub at Canakkale.
It was surprising to meet the locals, and you know what they said to us,
That they love 'Aamir Khan'
We stayed at Anzac hotel in Canakkale

All in all, I hope you like it. And if you did, give me a thumbs up. Coming up next, Troy Turkey.

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