A little over 100 years ago, on 25 April 1915, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) arrived on the western shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula to a small cove that now goes by the name of ANZAC Cove. As members of the commonwealth, the ANZAC was required to join the chaos of WWI. From this day until September that same year, the brave troops fought against the Turkish 57th Regiment for control of the Dardanelles Strait and ultimately for control of the Black Sea trading route to Russia. Today, ANZAC tours from Istanbul and Eceabat take you to the main three monuments in the region, as well as original WWI battlefields, open trenches and sunken warcrafts.
WHAT IS ANZAC DAY?
ANZAC Day was originally created by Australian officials to commemorate the loss of their ANZAC soldiers during the 1915 Dardanelles Campaign. New Zealanders join the commemorative service, which is held on the same day and at the same time that the ANZAC fleet arrived in Gallipoli and the disastrous war began. Although ANZAC Day was initially founded for the remembrance of Australian and New Zealand forces, Turkish nationals, who refer to their fallen troops as martyrs, also attend ANZAC Day ceremonies and pay their respects to their own lost soldiers.
The Lone Pine Memorial is dedicated to the servicemen of the former British Empire who died fighting in Gallipoli. It sits on the same hilltop the troops fought for during the battle of Lone Pine and takes it’s name from the single tree that grew on the battlefield. The memorial stands above the original trenches and commemorates the lives of 3,268 Australian soldiers who lay in unmarked graves, as well as the 960 Australian men who were buried at sea.
Chunuk Bair Memorial is on the western side of the peninsula overlooking ANZAC Cove on one of the peaks of the Sari Bair Ridge. It was officially opened on 12 May 1925 by General Sir Alexander Godley, a commander of the ANZAC who was briefly present at the Battle of Gallipoli. The monument is in remembrance of the 849 soldiers who died during the Dardanelles Campaign, many of whom have no official grave. The site of Chunuk Bair is where a battle took place from 6 to 10 August 1915 and inscribed on the stone is ‘In Honour of the Soldiers of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force 8th August 1915. From the Uttermost Ends of the Earth’.
MONUMENT TO THE TURKISH 57TH REGIMENT
The monument on the slopes of Baby 700 Hill represents the troops of the 57th regiment of the Turkish army. Constructed in 1992, this monument marks the spot where the most brutal conflict took place—a pinnacle location that would have meant success for the ANZAC forces had they managed to capture the base. The 57th regiment repeatedly held off attacks and their loss of troops was colossal. Below the monument is a commemorative garden and a statue of Turkey’s oldest Gallipoli veteran.
ANZAC DAY SCHEDULE
The official Anzac Day service begins at the Lone Pine Monument at 5.30 am, when there is a formal speech by war veterans or officials. Wreaths are presented, hymns are sung and speeches are made before both the Australian and New Zealand National Anthems are sung and the Last Post is sounded. Finally, a minute of silence is held. Before the Anzac Dawn Service, a smaller ceremony is held in the dark, lit only by candlelight. Representatives from the armed forces read aloud excerpts from journals and letters written at the time of the battle, and photos of war veterans and documentaries are displayed on a screen.
Later in the morning, a 10:00 am service is held at Lone Pine specifically dedicated to the Australian forces. Then, around midday, a service for the fallen New Zealand troops is held at the Chunuk Bair Monument.
HOW TO ATTEND
Getting to and from the ceremony can be difficult as hotels and guesthouses in neighbouring towns are quickly booked out. Also, some roads are closed to make way for processions and the Veterans March, and parking is limited. However, free buses are provided and travel agencies can organise private transport to and from the Gallipoli Peninsula and to the ANZAC Day ceremonies.