ONCE, THE BATTLEFIELDS OF THE OLD ARE OPEN-AIR MUSEUMS OF TODAY, COMMEMORATED AS THE PARK OF PEACE.
The closer you get to the shore, the letters written on the mountain dominates the panorama of Eceabat Hills: “Traveler halt!/ this land you tread unaware/ is where an era ended once/ bend down to listen/ this silent mass is where the heart of a motherland beats.” Çanakkale is among the largest field battles of the 20th century. Once, the battlefields of the old are open-air museums of today, commemorated as the Park of Peace. When you listen to the tales of friendship across the trenches and read the letters of the soldiers, the color of this war devastates you more.
A lesson for the humanity
The most striking documents of the Battle of Çanakkale remain at the Kabatepe Museum; items once belonged to the soldiers, letters written to their families, photos of the trenches; one of them even pictures an Anzac soldier offering water to a Turkish soldier, and a skull into which grapeshot is sunk… The Australian soldier Leslie shares his feelings with his mother as it follows: “We were exchanging food today with the Turkish soldiers that we called ‘enemy’ yesterday. Filling the stomachs of the people that you break bread with bullets is so sad.” As the Anzacs retreat at the end of the war, Leslie would regret the each mine that he planted from Anzac Bay to Küçükkemikli: “Mother, I wish that the humanity is going to get a great lesson out of this and stay away from horrifying wars.” One million soldiers fought in Gallipoli Peninsula for nine months. Two hundred and fifty thousand Turkish soldiers were martyred. Two hundred eighty four thousand confederate soldiers died. This location is also where Mustafa Kemal won his great victory at Arıburnu-Anafartalar battlefield.
Friendship with the enemy at the trenches
The most striking part of what is left of this war is the trenches that were dug by both sides in 1915. The tunnels that were dug only for communication by both sides are also significant. One of the communication tunnels of Turks reaches to Kemaliye, and the Anzac tunnel arrives to the shore. It is a well-known fact that the English had advanced digging tools; moreover, they worked with private sector’s miners. Turkish soldiers planned a sudden attack; however, the Anzacs were informed of this operation early, taking measures against it. At the end of this attack, ten thousand Turkish soldiers were martyred in these trenches. In the heat of May, neither side could bury their dead. A cease-fire was declared. Anzac and Turkish soldiers came face to face for the first time during this cease-fire. They began to send each other small notes, food, and souvenirs such as watch and button.
Only the Lone Pine left behind
However, the most visited cemetery among all is the Lone Pine Cemetery where the Anzacs’ organize their greatest ceremony on April 25. The cemetery takes its name from the pine tree that was the only thing left in the middle of the field covered with tombstones following the bombardments. The youngest Anzac soldier’s grave who was 14 year-old and the two characters in Gallipoli of the Peter Weir’s 1981 production Frank and Archy’s tombstones are also in here.
Educated Turks became martyrs
Next to the 57th Regiment’s Cemetery, a middle-aged Turkish soldier statue stands. For the Anzacs, this was a war of the young. Among the Turkish soldiers, there were volunteer university students, teachers, lawyers, engineers, scientists, and doctors. Following the war, a teacher shortage was developed as the Turkish Republic was being established. Universities had to bring foreign professors; people who could only read and write had to be assigned as teachers. In 1921, for the first time in its history, Department of Medicine of University of İstanbul could not produce any graduates.
57th Regiment’s tombstones, which stopped the advancement of the Anzacs on April 25 at the cost of their lives, remain at the 57th Regiment’s Cemetery.
The most expensive breakfast of the world
Witnessing fierce battles, Chunuk Bair is the highest hill, dominating the peninsula. Mustafa Kemal placed emphasis on Chunuk Bair because it was a key position to him. After the British landing on Suvla Bay in August, the target of the enemy was to join their forces at a certain location and then attack and capture Chunuk Bair. The New Zealanders, Australians, and the British determined a meeting point to achieve their plan. The New Zealanders started the preparations that they would call as ‘the most expensive breakfast of the world’ later as they were waiting for other forces to join them. If they had attacked then, they could have captured Chunuk Bair since there were not many Turkish soldiers in the area. While they were having their breakfast, the British and the Australians were running late for different reasons. Being divided into three branches, one group of the Australian soldiers arrived to the meeting point with delay; the second group got lost in the valleys; and the third one couldn’t find their way, despite their Greek guide. Meanwhile, the British couldn’t resist the temptation of the shining beach under the sun and they chose to swim. Mustafa Kemal fought in the front line with the reinforcing units. He was shaken by a piece of shrapnel; he placed his hand on his hearth only to realize that it pulled his watch to pieces. Later, he gave this watch to his friend German Commander Liman von Sanders as a gift and in return, he gave his own watch to Mustafa Kemal as a present. Today, Von Sanders’ watch is exhibited at the Museum of Anıt Kabir; however, whereabouts of Atatürk’s watch is unknown.
Private museum of war relics from a small grocery owner
Although, they were collected amateurishly, the collection of small grocery owner Salim Mutlu, rest in peace, is much richer than many museums’ collections that display what was left from the war at the peninsula. The first war relics museum of Turkey hosts items hinting the war such as porcelain phone pieces, grown pale and unused gauzes, unopened bottles of medicine, water canteens, liqueur bottles, liqueur glasses, letters, balls, riddled metal dishes, forks, spoons, ranks that were probably never came next to each other during the war, various buttons some made in London and some in Australia, shoehorns, rings, bills and coins of different countries, bandoleer buckles written in different languages, tent stakes, bullets, foreign books on war, local and foreign newspaper articles…
The magnificent Çanakkale Monument of Martyrs, which was erected for 250 thousand of martyrs; Seddülbahir and Kilitbahir fortresses, which were built by the order of Mehmet the Conqueror; the statue of Corporal Seyit who placed a 250 kg of cannon ball into the artillery tube and hit the assault ship Ocean are worth seeing.
Watch the sea at the desolate Anzac Bay where the Australian landed.
Watch the sunset at Seddülbahir.
Two bullets that met in the air during the war, which is a one in 160 million possibility, are exhibited at the Çanakkale Military Museum.
Kara Üzüm is a prominent alternative with its cozy ambience and natural breakfast.