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Gallipoli Tour September 19th -26th

Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 9:53 am
by barnard
Gallipoli Tour
September 19th –26th 2004

Having been the Anzac co-ordinator at Sutton Veny school for several years people were always asking if I had visited Gallipoli or Australia the answer to both of theses questions had always been ‘No I haven’t‘ but I would love to go to Gallipoli, to see feel and touch the place to be able to share with the children my experiences.

I never thought that I would ever make the trip to Gallipoli and it is thanks to so many people that I did. It was our head teacher Christine Folker who set the ball in motion and from there it gathered speed. Major General Robert Staveley spoke to Colonel Michael Hickey who in turn approached the Gallipoli Association who agreed to award me a bursary for the trip to the peninsular. During all of this Annabel Merriman was the go-between for the school with copious amounts of e.mail back and forth to all and sundry, I am so grateful to her for all of her help.The Australian High Commission with whom I have had a deal of contact over the years also agreed to sponsor my tour along with the Sutton Veny Parochial Church Council. That was it, all was arranged and I was off, bound for Turkey with 9 members of the Association with James Watson- Smith as out tour leader and Colonel Michael Hickey as our guide.

After a long coach trip with our driver Mustafa and Turkish guide Temar we arrived at our hotel in Canakkale. It wasn’t until the next morning that one was able to appreciate the wonderful view across the Dardanelles.

Our first day was spent at the ancient city of Troy (a must to see for any tourist). We took lunch at the little bar/restaurant and were fortunate to have a book on Gallipoli signed by its author Mustafa Askin.
We then visited the Dardonos Battery to study the Naval Attacks of 1915 ,the views here were quite staggering.
Then to the Canakkale Naval museum and Cimenlik Fort, we climbed aboard the Nusrat, (well at least a jolly good replica of the original), the afternoon finished with a few cold beers in the student bar.

Monday saw us all out early to catch the small (very small) ferryboat across the narrows to Eceabat and for me my first taste of the places I had read about. There were only two of us out of the 10 who had never been to Gallipoli, myself and a very enthusiastic Kiwi.
The Turkish Memorial above Morto Bay which it would seem can been seen from all over the peninsular. The symbolic headstones laid out in the Turkish flag. We set off for the French cemetery above Morto Bay it was here that I had the first of several tasks I had agreed to do whilst away. This was to photograph the French cemetery for our French family we have at school.

From here we travelled to V beach, it was here the River Clyde was run ashore having been used as a latter day Trojan horse, the troops a sitting target for Turkish guns waiting around the natural amphitheatre above.
Later that day we visited Twelve-Tree Copse for what was a very moving and emotional visit for one of our group members.

Tuesday was the day I had been most waiting for,to stand above Anzac Cove the place that every year I talk to the children about, to see it for myself was a dream come true.
We visited the Gaba Tepe information centre and walked around the museum. It was here that I met Mike Godwin and his school party from McKay North State High School in Queensland. Mike is a teacher whom I met in England in September 2002. I knew he was going to be in Canakkale and on the peninsular around about the same time as we were, but didn’t expect to come across him quite so suddenly. After a brief introduction to some of our group members we went our separate ways and did not bump into each other again. His group had an incredibly busy tour, which would take them to France before their return to Australia.

We were dropped at the entrance to Gully Ravine then onto Shrapnel Valley and up to Plugge’s Plateau amongst the gorse bushes, the heat was oppressive and the terrain unstable under foot, one couldn’t help but imagine what those young men had gone through bearing weighty packs, with little or no fresh water and under constant enemy fire.
Our descent was a little quicker, with loose rocks under foot a little more wearing on the ankles and knees too.

We took the coach to Lone Pine. Another task awaited me here.
To find the name of another soldier, W.Combs, his family from Ballarat Australia were not sure if I would find his name here or in the cemetery at The Nek. He was a soldier of the Australian 8th Lighthorse regiment killed in action on August 6th at the attack on The Nek.

I did find his name among the many others carved into one of the memorial panels. What a moving place, so many headstones so many names.
We visited The Nek that same day what a most haunting place, so many killed and yet only 5 named headstones, a cemetery so empty, yet so full. It is the place that remains uppermost in my mind when I think of Gallipoli and all for the sake of not synchronising watches!

At Chunuk Bair it was time for our New Zealand friend to have his precious few moments alone, to pay his respects to a family member who lost his life there during the New Zealand attack of 6th-10th August 1915.

It was also our first visit to Bigali and the house/headquarters of Kemal Ataturk. An incredible little village that time has left almost untouched. We had a few very welcome cold beers at the local bar.

Wednesday we visited Suvla, Scimitar Hill, Lala Baba, Hill 10, Chocolate Hill – so called because the soil is so dark (chocolate coloured) compared to soil in other areas of the peninsular. We didn’t get too far across the field before barking dogs appeared and we swiftly, disappeared!

Thursday - Options Day – Carol and I elected to take the short trip once again across the water to spend the whole day walking up over and around the peninsular. We were dropped at the Australian memorial walked along to Ari Burnu stopped briefly at Anzac Cove then made our way firstly to Shell Green Cemetery. We walked further up the hill to Lone Pine Cemetery (according to Andy Mullen head of the walking tour this isn’t far and not steep at all, believe me, it is!) we met the walking tour party for lunch. We then took the coach and after dropping the walking tour at Chunuk Bair we went on to 7th Field Ambulance, from here we walked the route along to Embarkation pier, N.Z No 2 Outpost, Canterbury and stopping again at Ari Burnu to just sit with our thoughts and catch up on diary entries whilst waiting for the walking tour to collect us before heading back to the ferry and the hotel. Dave one of the Australian walkers went for a swim at Anzac Cove as so many of his countrymen had done 89 years before.

Friday was our last day in Canakkale. We took our usual morning trip across the water. After a very moving service at the Helles memorial and another task completed for me, to find two names out of the thousands there and photographing them for families back here in the U.K with help from fellow tour members I was able to complete this task. We visited Redoubt Cemetery for our tour leader to pay his respects to a family member before moving on to Twelve Tree Copse for a final visit to the grave of Major Godfrey Barker.

All too soon we were packed and heading for Istanbul,an overnight stay and back to our families. The tour was something I have dreamt about. I learned so much more about the campaign. I also learned that very few people visit only once and having been there I now know why !

Nicky Barnard
Sutton Veny C of E School

Posted: Tue Apr 12, 2005 3:27 pm
by SB
Great post Nicky, thanks for sharing that.


Re: Gallipoli Tour September 19th -26th

Posted: Fri Dec 28, 2012 12:47 pm
by Stephen Cooper

I hope that you are still active on this forum. I came across your mention of visiting the grave of Major Godrey Barker at Gallipoli, but I cannot determine from your post why he was notable to you. I am researching him as one of many KES B'ham alumni who died in WW1. This will be part of a book that I hope will be published for the centenary.

I am gratfeul if you would respond if you read this, but very much at your discretion.
best wishes
Stephen Cooper

Re: Gallipoli Tour September 19th -26th

Posted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:19 pm
by barnard
To: Steven Cooper
Major Godfrey Barker was the uncle of one of the Gallipoli Association members on the tour.

Re: Gallipoli Tour September 19th -26th

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 5:58 pm
by Stephen Cooper
Ah, I'm a member of the Gallipoli Association and sepaking at their Annual conference so will enquire through them.
Many thanks

Re: Gallipoli Tour September 19th -26th

Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:15 pm
by barnard
Dear Stephen
The Association members name is Patrick Harland. I haven't heard from Patrick for a couple of years! However, I am sure the GA can put you in touch with him.

Nicky Barnard