• 4th Battalion Parade Ground Cemetery, Gallipoli

  • Menin Gate Last Post, Ypres

  • Rhododendron Ridge, Gallipoli

  • Tyne Cot, Belgium

  • Villers-Bretonneux, France

Reflections on Gallipoli

By Rod Margetts - Battlefield Tour Guide.

Another April has come and gone and, along with it, another visit to Gallipoli. This year I completed my 13th battlefield tour of the iconic site; something that never gets old. People ask me if I get tired of going to the same place each year and I can honestly say that I don’t, for several reasons. First, I love Turkey in general, and Gallipoli in particular. The Turkish people are welcoming, warm hearted and generous. You only have to read the statement to Australian mothers by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, displayed at Anzac Cove, to get an understanding of the feeling that exists between our two nations.  The Gallipoli battlefield should resonate with all Australians. While the last three years of the WW1 Centenary period focussed attention on the Western Front, we should always remember that the AIF story didn’t start there. The strength of the force was first tested at Gallipoli and the spirit that carried it through the rest of the war was born there. Second, while the story being told is the same each year, the audience isn’t and that’s what keeps me interested.  I’ve always been blessed with good tour groups and this year was no different. The class of 2019 were interested, attentive, cooperative and great travelling companions – you can’t ask for more than that. Groups that mix so well, and get involved in the story, bring the tour to life. It’s the chance to meet new people with a shared interest, or to assist someone to bring a family story to a conclusion, that keeps me coming back. Third, there is always the chance of satisfying a curiosity arising from the story. This year I had a 10-day layover in Canakkale, waiting for a second group to arrive and it provided a Gallipoli highlight for me. Every tour, we talk about the part that the island of Imbros (Gökçeada since 1970), lying soberly off the Anzac coast, played in the campaign and I’ve always wanted to go out there.  So, with time available, a Saturday morning saw me and my Gallipoli team-mate, Dr. Sinan Gőkdemir from the Canakkale University, heading to the ferry from Gaba Tepe. Sustained by a breakfast of bread, cheese and olives during the one and a half hour crossing, and a lunch of roasted goat meat on the island, we spent the day locating General Hamilton’s headquarters, the naval anchorage, the journalists’ camp and the airfield. These are all sites I’ve talked about and have always wanted to see. On the subject of food, there was another highlight that should be part of any visit to Gallipoli. A family from Konya in central Anatolia, an area famous for pide, has opened a restaurant in Canakkale. The signature dish is a metre-long pide, served on a board! To borrow from Crocodile Dundee “…that’s a pide!” Sinan and I only managed three visits there. The ten-day break came to an end with a return to Istanbul airport to pick up the second tour group – the Australian Cricket Team on their way to the World Cup in Britain.  Boronia had been asked to give them the Gallipoli experience, as part of their preparation, and I was lucky enough to get the gig. The following five days touring the peninsula with them was most enjoyable and rewarding. We wish them every success in the competition. That was my 2019 Gallipoli experience. After 104 years the story remains as inspiring and meaningful as ever. If you haven’t been, or if you began your exploration of the AIF story on the Western Front, think about Gallipoli, where it all began. With a fair wind, and providing the creeks don’t rise, I’ll be going next year. It’d be great to see you there.
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One Response to Reflections on Gallipoli

  1. Shirlie Mackey says:

    This was our third time travelling with Boronia Battlefield travel, our second time to Gallipoli,and The Western Front Fromelles/Pozieres 2016 so that can only endorse what a great company they are to travel with.
    Its not often you get a bunch of total strangers just meld together so well for the entire trip April 2019, with Rod and his endless knowledge and personable and manner and wisdom, John who tirelessly plans these trips to make them one to remember.Can’t forget the local lads Sinan our guide and our bus driver who navigated the traffic so well,also cant forget the cooks at Hotel Kum who just supplied us with so much local cuisine.So many laughs, so much local food
    Love the people/culture of Istanbul ,the Turkish Delight, apple tea and Kopte
    Once again Thank you and maybe soon!!!!!

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