We have just got back from a ten-day trip to Gallipoli – our first visit for ages because of COVID. It was really special. The Gallipoli battlefields and cemetaries are chastening reminders of the horrors and sacrifice of war: abandoned French heavy guns, trenches and dugouts everywhere and even pieces of bone that still litter the ground. It’s military history full of dramatic incident and controversy.
All this is set amidst a beautiful scenic area that resonates with the ancient history of Troy, just across the Dardanelles. We visited the landing beaches – ‘V’ Beach, ‘W’ Beach, ‘X’ Beach, ‘S’ Beach, ‘Y’ Beach and Anzac Cove – each with its own fascinating story of heroism on both sides. Moving inland, we charted the battles that have made Gallipoli a legend to this day. New to many visitors is the cleared scrubland at Anzac, which reveal the trenches from 1915 in all their complexity. One perfectly preserved system on Silt Spur, adjoining Lone Pine, is staggering, with even the small periscope posts surviving at the end of tunnels. Looking out across what was No Man’s Land, they face across a small valley to the Turkish lines just a few yards away. Imagine being out there alone on duty on a dark night.