The fields and poppies of Flanders are of memorial importance for the British when remembering the senseless slaughter of World War One. The battlefields of Gettysburg serve as a solemn memorial for America's most bloody battle - one where Americans killed fellow Americans. For the Australians and New Zealanders, it's the beaches of Gallipoli that call to mind the dreadful price of war.
Today the sites of the Gallipoli campaign are of great importance to Australia and New Zealand and they have funded many memorials, war graves, and other remembrances to be built at the sites. They also go there on special anniversaries to remember.
The Historical Context Of World War One
The First World War was a massive war with many massive campaigns - so many that often many of them are forgotten. The main belligerents of the Central Powers were the German Empire, the Austra-Hungarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire.
All through the war, the British were trying to knock the Ottomans out in an effort to defeat Germany's allies and so diminish Germany's ability to continue the war.
One of the largest mostly British campaigns against the Ottoman Empire was the Gallipoli campaign. It was an effort to take control of the Turkish straits and the Dardanelles so that the British could sail their powerful battleships up and train their guns on the Ottoman capital of Constantinople.
- Gallipoli Campaign: British Effort To Knock Out The Ottomans and Supply Russia
The theory was that it would force the Ottoman out of the war as well as establish a supply route through the Black Sea to Russia so that it could continue to fight the Germans on the eastern front.
The Gallipoli Campaign & Its Impact On New Zealand and Australia
The campaign lastest from 17 February 1915 to 9 January 1916 and did not go according to plan. The campaign got bogged down and the British force was unable to advance along the peninsula due to stout Ottoman resistance.
- Date: 17 February 1915 to 9 January 1916
- Location: The Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey (Today Called Gelibolu)
At this time, Australia and New Zealand were emerging countries within the British Empire. They were in the process of forming their national identities. They were transitioning from thinking of themselves as colonial British to the Australians and New Zealanders (aka Aussies and Kiwis) that they are today.
The British force included significant contingents of Aussies and Kiwis called ANZACS (Australian New Zealand Army Corps). The campaign lastest eight months and resulted in a British evacuation.
- ANZAC: Australia New Zealand Army Corps (Pronounced An-Zak)
- Anzac Day: 25 April - National Holiday In New Zealand and Australia
After the battle, around 250,000 casualties were sustained (a total of 100,000 killed) on both sides with the water leaving a permanent mark on the young countries of Australia and New Zealand. Today every year the countries commemorate Anzac Day on 25 April.
- Australian Dead: 8,700
- New Zealand Dead: 2,700
The Gallipoli Sites Today
The easiest way to visit Gallipoli is to hire a vehicle and go on a self-guided tour. Cars are very easy to hire in Turkey and it is an easy reach from Istanbul (formerly Constantinople).
There are also plenty of guided tour options. Many of the people who come are Kiwis and Aussies, but others come from all over the world. It is also located close to the stunning seaside city of Canakkale and the ancient archeological site of Troy.
One can even see the model of the Trojan horse built for the 2003 movie Troy starring Brat Pit on display in Canakkale. Tours to Gallipoli will typically include vising these places and longer tours often include Ephesus, Pamukkale, and Hierapolis.
Guided Tour From Istanbul To Gallipoli
Gallipolitour.com offers a range of tour options to explore Gallipoli. One example is their 2-day tour to Gallipoli and Troy. This is a great option for those who only have a short time in Istanbul and includes a one-night stay in Canakkale or Eceabat.
The tour picks guests up in Istanbul at around 6.00 am and arrives in Eceabat at around 12.30 where one will enjoy lunch. Then the tour leaves for a fully guided Gallipoli Tour. Gallipoli sites include:
- Brighton Beach
- Beach Cemetery
- ANZAC Cove
- Ariburnu Cemetery
- ANZAC Commemorative Site
- Respect to Mehmetcik Statue
- Lone Pine Australian Memorial
- Johnston’s Jolly, (Turkish and Allied trenches and tunnels)
- Turkish 57. Infantry Regiment Cemetery
- The Nek - Chunuk Bair New Zealand Memorial
On the second day, the tour heads for the nearby ancient site of Troy, one will see the Trojan Horse (not the original one), the archeological sites of Tory, and more.
- Cost: $190.00
- Includes: Hotel Pickup and Drop Off, Breakfast, Professional licensed English speaking guide