Gallipoli July 2012

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Arrive Ataturk Airport and stay at Titanic Port Hotel on Sunday night. I thought this hotel was very average. Firstly we had problems getting here on a Sunday, the airport taxi drivers do not like short journeys, and we had a very grumpy ride to the hotel.

titanic Port Hotel

Titanic Port Hotel

Then they apparently forgot to scan our passport and phoned the room sometime after 22.00 for them. they did not understand that we were asleep after a day in the air, nor did they understand why we thought that the request could have waited till the morning. I thought that the hotel was nearly on the water, but is well set back, and is just another reasonable quality hotel with nothing to distinguish it from many others in the world

Pick up Hertz car at airport on Monday morning and drive to Gallipoli Houses Hotel. It took a fraction over 4 hours, without a stop. Gallipoli Houses Hotel on TripAdvisor and Hotels own web site . Double room with dinner is from 70 euros to 100 euros per day depending on the room.

We stayed here 5 nights when visiting the battlefields - you can therefore deduce that I have an interest in the Gallipoli campaign. The directions the the hotel supplied were spot on, and we had no problem finding the hotel - without instructions you would never have managed it. The hotel is very close (by car) to Anzac beaches, and Suvla Bay and Cape Helles are further on. We used a normal car (not 4WD) and in summer had not problems with the roads in the more remote areas. The rooms are comfortable and with air con (which is necessary in summer) and ours had a nice terrace. WiFi was available, and (just) reached our room

A really nice breakfast, and dinner (no choice) was something to look forward to, the food is excellent - remember that they do not serve dinner on Sat and Sun if planning to stay on those nights. Particularly noteworthy for me was Eric's selection of Turkish wines - I tried a different one each night, the reds are much better than the whites, and at the top end of the price scale the reds are outstanding. The owners Eric (Belgian) and his Turkish wife Ozlem go out of their way to make you welcome and supply any information you need on touring.

The evocative song you want to listen to is "And the band played waltzing Matilda" click here and listen to it while looking at the photos

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We get settled in at Gallipoli .. .Houses. It is very hot in this area summer. Our room is up .. ..these stairs, and had a balcony.

I suppose I was surprised how untouched the area was by tourism. All you will find is a small cafe near Anzac and another at Helles where the River Clyde dropped its unfortunate contingent. Today nothing remains of the battles except cemeteries (all very well kept) so to get the most out of your trip do a little research before you go.

The Gallipoli Campaign consisted of 3 Landings

Cape Helles

The Helles landing was made by the 29th Division under the command of Major-General Aylmer Hunter-Weston, on five beaches in an arc about the tip of the peninsula, designated from east to west as S, V, W, X and Y beach. Of these the main landings were at V Beach, beneath the old Seddülbahir fortress, and at W Beach, a short distance to the west on the other side of the Helles headland.

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Cape Helles is the location of the ..biggest landing by the Allies. The memorial records the many.. with no known grave.
The base of the memorial gives .. .some history, plus lists of fallen. V Beach cemetery is right on the. .sea where the landing happened
Overlooking V beach to the .. .north were Turkish guns with.. clear field of fire over troops .. landing on the beach below.
Turkish memorial on the heights . .and graves below. V Beach .. is very peaceful, with one ..small cafe and few tourists
In 1915 the SS River Clyde .. ..grounded here, too far offshore ..hundreds died before reaching . .the beach.
Men relaxing in 1915 under the . .cliffs of V Beach, but still in .. .range of Turkish guns.This area was covered in barbed wire
The cafe now looks over V .. Beach, and little sign remains of . the landing or the River Clyde. The beach runs south.
This is the centre of V Beach and .a steady procession of cargo .. ships head to Istanbul. Lt.Col C Doughty-Wylie grave

At V Beach the covering force from the Royal Munster Fusiliers and Royal Hampshires was landed from a converted collier, SS River Clyde, which was run aground beneath the fortress so that the troops could disembark directly via ramps to the shore. The Royal Dublin Fusiliers landed at V Beach from open boats. The troops emerging one by one from the sally ports on the River Clyde presented perfect targets to the machine guns in the Seddülbahir fort. Out of the first 200 soldiers to disembark, only 21 men made it onto the beach. The battalions which landed at V Beach suffered about 70% casualties. Six Victoria Crosses were awarded among the infantry and sailors at the V Beach landing, and three more were awarded the following day as they finally fought their way off the beach. After the landings, so few remained from the Dublin Fusiliers and Munster Fusiliers that they were amalgamated into one battalion, "The Dubsters". Only one Dublin Fusilier officer survived the landing; and overall, of the 1,012 Dubliners who landed, only 11 would survive the entire Gallipoli campaign unscathed.

At W Beach the Lancashire Fusiliers also landed in open boats on a small beach overlooked by dunes and obstructed with barbed wire. On both beaches the Ottoman defenders were in a position to inflict appalling casualties on the landing infantry. At W Beach, later known as Lancashire Landing, the Lancashires were able to overwhelm the defences despite their dreadful losses – 600 killed or wounded, out of a total strength of 1,000. Six awards of the Victoria Cross were made among the Lancashires at W Beach.

W Beach, Lancashire Landing now and then. Looking north. And looking south. Like V .. Beach, a small strip of sand.

The British made a number of major attacks to break out of this bridgehead, but by August stalemate had set in. Eventually a decision to evacuate Helles was made on 27 December. The Ottomans were suspecting an evacuation after the withdrawal from Anzac and Suvla, and mounted an attack on 6 January 1916 but were repulsed. The last British troops departed from Lancashire Landing on 9 January 1916. Amazingly, only two soldiers were wounded during the evacuation, despite the prior warnings of 50% casualties from Sir Ian Hamilton.

The Turks have a number of .. ..memorials commemorating .. ..both Ataturk and their dead . A very elaborate garden of ..
..remembrance, with engraved . ..walls and modern statues can .. be visited. and is the pilgrimage.. .. of the many Turkish visitors


The French are often forgotten . at Gallipoli. Their dead were .. greater than the Anzac dead. The war memorial is near V Beach

Anzac Cove

17,000 Australians and New Zealanders held this enclave, with much bloody attacks and counter-attacks, but very little progress was made by either side once the battle lines were drawn on the summit of the ridge. The frontline of the Anzac battlefield remained little changed from the ground captured on the first day of the landing, a space less than three-quarters of a square mile (2 km²) in size. The first troops which were meant to land on a two mile (6 km) front between Hell Spit and Gaba Tepe, but the landing tows got pushed further north and ended up concentrated about Ari Burnu.

Anzac Cove is much better set . .out as a battlefield for visiting . ..than Suvla or Helles. It has a . new tarmac road leading up to .
.the heights where evocative . .struggles took place at Quinn's Post, Lone Tree, and other .. .battles that are part of ANZAC
.history. I suspect that aid from .. .Australia has gifted this road, as roads in Helles and Suvla are dirt . The odd trench is restored.
From Anzac towards the Sphinx Commemorated by Ataturk. The Anzac Cemetery at the cove  
A nearby small museum   Turkish soldier on the heights And the Turkish memorial

What had been planned as a bold strike to knock the Ottomans out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships.

Suvla Bay

The repeated failure of the Allies to capture Krithia or make any progress on the Helles front led Hamilton to pursue a new plan for the campaign which resulted in what is now called the Battle of Sari Bair. On the night of 6 August a fresh landing of two infantry divisions was to be made at Suvla, five miles (8 km) north of Anzac. The Suvla landing was reinforced by the arrival of the British 53rd and 54th Divisions along with the 10th (Irish) Division from Kitchener's New Army Divisions plus the dismounted yeomanry of the 2nd Mounted Division. The unfortunate 29th Division was also shifted from Helles to Suvla for one more push. The final British attempt to resuscitate the offensive came on 21 August with attacks at Scimitar Hill and Hill 60. Control of these hills would have united the Anzac and Suvla fronts but neither attack succeeded. When fighting at Hill 60 ended on 29 August, the battle for the Sari Bair heights, and indeed the battle for the peninsula, was effectively over.

It took some finding to get to the cemetery commemorating the . Dublins falling in the Suvla area. At the far end of a bad track
The beaches for landing here .. .were wider than at the other .. ..landings, but still many men .. were packed into a small area.

Eventually a decision was made to evacuate Suvla and Anzac. A date in late December was fixed, with the last troops leaving before dawn on 20 December 1915. Troop numbers had been progressively reduced since 7 December 1915. At Anzac, the troops would maintain utter silence for an hour or more until the curious Ottomans would venture out to inspect the trenches, whereupon the Anzacs would open fire. As the numbers in the trenches were thinned, rifles were rigged to fire by water dripped into a pan attached to the trigger. The entire Allied force was evacuated, but large quantities of supplies and stores fell into Ottoman hands. Helles was retained in case the British wanted to resume the offensive.

The loss of life was enormous. Around 480,000 men from the Allies landed in Gallipoli. Soldiers killed in battle (figures from British Nat Archives, across literature the figures vary ) - to this would be added men who died of disease or of wounds. In total 44,000 allied soldiers died in battle and a further 98,000 were wounded

We dropped the car back at Istanbul Airport and went into Istanbul for a stay in the city

David Grant Holidays