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Report Gallipoli

        Gallipoli   18.08.2005   (here you find the pictures)

As I spent 20 years of my life in Australia it was impossible for me not to have been participating in ANZAC day commemorations and my Anthropology studes included detailed research into how much the involvement of Australian and New Zealand forces in the operation to take the Dardenelles meant in their culture.

Anyone who has seen the film 'Gallipoli' or read any of the books on the subject will agree that it was a remarkable operation, even though a failure for the allies in military terms. During the 15 months that the allies were deadlocked on the peninsular they came to respect their Turkish opponents and likewise the Turks sympathised with the young invaders who were just following orders.

The Turks were fightiing for their own country and were well prepared to die for it. The Anzacs, English, Scottish, French, Indian, Nepalese and Sengalese were a long way from home and enduring terrible conditions.

When the allies finally withdrew, leaving thousands forever lying buried in Turkish soil, the memory of that episode remained ingrained in the memory of all and each side had learned respect for their opponents.

I spent a day and a half visiting the cemeteries and memorials and it was a very moving experience. The last night I was camped alone in a spot very close to Brighton beach, one of the landing spots near Anzac Cove. A Turkish crescent moon with its accompanying star was shining just like the Turkish flag over the sea. I sat reflecting on what I had seen and all my memories of Australia and , as the moon set, gradually the stars came out in all their glory and ;I thought that at least the soldiers on both sides would have been able to see this beauty while they were camped there and maybe it had given them some comfort.

At the museum in the area I found the following poem, which says it all:


Gallipoli Post War Epic


What land were you torn away from

What makes you so sad having come here

Asked Mehmet, the soldier from Anatolia

Addressing the Anzac lying near


From the uttmost ends of the world I come

So it writes on my tombstone

Answered the youthful Anzc,and here I am

Buried in a land that I had not even known


Do not be dishartened, mate

Mehmet told him tenderly

You share with us the same fate

In the bosom of our country


You are not a stranger anymore

You have become a Mehmet just like me


A paradise on earth, Gallipoli

Is a burial under the ground

Those who lost their lives in fighting

Lie mingled in friendly  compound


Mehmet then asked an English soldier

Who seemed to be at the playing age

How old are you little brother

What brought you here at such an early stage


I am fifteen forever, the English soldier said

In the village from where I come

I used to play with the children

Arousing them with my drum


Then I found myself at the front

Was it real or a game, before I could tell

My drum lay silent as I was struck by a shell


A place was dug for me in Gallipoli

On my stone was inscribed Drummer, age fifteen

Thus ended my playful task

And this is a record of what I have done


A distant drum bereaved of its master

Was weeping somewhere around

As drops of tears fell on it

With the soft rainfall on the ground


What winds had hurled all those youthful braves

From four continents of the world

To the Gallipoli gravs

Mehmet asked in wonder


They were Engish or Scottish

They were French or Sengalese

They were Indians or Nepalese

They were Anzacs from Australia or New Zealand


Shipfuls of soldiers who had landed on the lacy bays

of Gallipoli

Not knowing why

Climbed the hills and slopes rising high

Digging trenchs, cutting the earth

Like wounds to shelter as graves

Those who were to die



In one cemetryor another



In the language of the tombstones

At the age of sixteen or seventeen or eighteen

Under the soil of Gallipoli


Thus their short lived stories were told

As inscriptions on tablets of old


Buried there Mehmet of Anatolia

Without a stone to tell

Consoled them saying

Brothers, I understand you so well


For centuries I also had to die

In distant lands not knowing why

For the first time I gave more life not feeling sore

For I gave it in my own in war


Thus the Sultans fief tilled for ags with my hand

Has now become for me a motherland

You who died in this land you did not know

Are no more foreigner or foe

For the land you could not take

Has taken you to her bosom too

You therefore belong here

As much as I do


In Gallipoli a strange war was fought

Cooling off the feelings as fighting became hot


It was a ruthless war

Yet breeding respect

In heart to hart exchangs

As confronting trenches

Fell into closer range

Turning foe to friend

As the fighters reached their end


The war came to a close

Those who survived

Returned to their lands and homes

Leaving the dead behind


Wild flowers, wave after wave

Replaced the retiting soldiers

Wild roses and mountain tulips and daisis

Were spread as rugs on the ground

Covering trench by trench

The wounds of fighting on the earth


The sheep turned bunkers into sheds

The birds replaced the bullets in the sky

Nature with hands holding the plough instead of guns

Captured back the battlegrounds

With its flowers and fruits and greenery

And life returned to the soil

As traces of blood were effaced

Turning the hell of battlefield

Into a paradise on earth


Gallipoli now abounds

With gardensful

With nationsful

Of burial grounds


A paradise on earth, Gallipoli

Is a burial under the ground

Those who lost their livs in fighting

Lie there in friendly compund


Lying side byside

As friends in each others arms

They may sleep in comfort and peace

In the land for which they died


By Bülent Ecevit   1988


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