The Gallipoli Pilgrimage by John Patchett

Early on 9 January 1916 the last British troops withdrew under cover of darkness from the beaches of Helles; the Gallipoli campaign was over.

As in the previous month when ANZAC Cove and Suvla Bay areas were silently emptied of troops, the operation was a tactical success with no loss of life suffered.
What had started as a bold and imaginative Allied plan to eliminate the Ottoman Empire’s threat to Russia had over the previous ten months been conducted with almost unrelenting incompetence at the command level.
Of the half a million Allied troops deployed around half had become casualties of enemy action, disease and extremes of weather. The Turks had suffered even more but had won a decisive victory.

01 Helles
The Helles Memorial, where 21,000 are remembered.

The main reasons for failure were quite clear, even at the time. There was no element of surprise as the Royal Navy had been trying to force the passage of the Dardanelles to attack Istanbul long before it was admitted that a land force would have to play a major role by deploying onto a hostile shore.
The fighting ability of the Turks and their Ottoman subjects was also severely underestimated. They had faltered as our allies in the Crimea and in more recent showings against Greece and Russia they had come off badly. However in all these previous encounters they had been outnumbered and badly administered. This time they were fighting on their own soil.
02 Cemetery at V Beach
Cemetery at V Beach, Helles, showing wall mounted cross, Stone of Sacrifice and pedestal graves.

The Turks had some professional German support in the field. They also had an outstanding divisional commander in Mustafa Kemal who later, as Kemal Ataturk, led his country to a political revival the results of which can still be seen today.
On the other hand the Allies had a largely overage and indecisive command structure, which wasted the bravery of its troops, from Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand and India.
03 The Sphinx jpg
The Sphinx cliff feature above ANZAC Cove.

In previous editions of Salute magazine I have extolled the benefits of taking part in a professionally run battlefield tour, something I had not been able to do myself for several years. The hundredth anniversary of Gallipoli seemed the right time to change all this and for some very good reasons.
My grandfather had been to Gallipoli as a young gunner with the Royal Field Artillery; he had never been inclined to speak about it, nor the following years in Salonika, on the Western Front and in Russia.
For my wife Durga the rationale for going there was stronger still. Her great grandfather had enlisted in the Gurkhas in Burma and fell at Gallipoli. When her mother’s family fled from the invading Japanese in the next war all their family records were lost, thus information for more detailed research was not available.
It was almost certain that he died with 2/10GR, the battalion I joined in 1967. We added another, local angle for our visit as a villager remembered on our Kingussie War Memorial had died there with the ANZAC forces, having emigrated to Australia in 1907.
04 Lone Pine
A stunningly imaginative epitaph on a grave at Lone Pine.

After a long deliberation we chose Leger Battlefield Tours and had no reason to regret this, as they had well rehearsed schedules and provided excellent value for money. We had British Airways flights and a night in Istanbul at each end of the trip.
The five nights on the peninsula were at the pleasant Kum Hotel, on the beach on the west, facing the Aegean Sea, whereas most other groups stayed in the towns of Eceabat or Canakkale. We had three and a half days covering the battlefields at a sensible pace, then a day at Eceabat, Canakkale and Troy.
Finally we had an afternoon and the following morning before the flight home to explore Istanbul. The friendly people, fascinating historical sites and the superb tram service made us wish we had had more time there.
06 Grave of Havildar Puna hang Limbu
Grave of Havildar Punahang Limbu at Chunuk Bair.

Because of summer heat and centenary crowds we went at the end of September and in our week there progressed from cool tee shirts to warm fleeces. There were 27 in our group, all of whom had either been with Leger before or had a family reason to visit Gallipoli.
Our tour guides, Gary Ashley and Erdem Keseli, were outstanding in every way, taking on a large number of personal requests to visit particular graves and memorials as well as providing detailed commentary and assistance throughout.
The Turkish authorities have taken great care to preserve the battlefields though the growth of trees and shrubs now make it difficult in some areas to relate to photographs and accounts of the time.
In a straight line it’s only twenty miles from Helles in the south to Suvla Bay at the northern limit of the landings but there is plenty to see in between. In particular the Canakkale Destani is an ambitious museum project, which makes you feel you were there, sometimes very forcefully. It’s largely unsubtle propaganda, of course, but in my opinion none the worse for that.
09 Trojan Horse
The Trojan Horse from the 2004 Brad Pitt film is now at Canakkale.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission continues to do a magnificent job. As on the Western Front there are many more names on memorials, 27,000 plus, than on individual graves, 6,000 plus, interestingly about the same figures as for the whole of the Burma campaign, excluding prisoners of war.
Due to local religious sensitivities the Cross of Sacrifice is replaced by a plainer one embedded onto a memorial wall, which also incorporates the Stone of Remembrance. Due to the soggy ground Individual graves are pedestal shaped and without regimental badges.
As ever some of the individual family epitaphs are heart breaking to read even a century on. Most of the cemeteries and memorials were designed by the Scottish architect Sir John Burnet. There were many casualties from Scotland, mainly from the 52nd Lowland Division and two brigades of dismounted Scottish Yeomanry.
10. Hagia Sophia
The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was built as a Byzantine church, then became a mosque and is now a museum.

The French have a separate cemetery with their unidentified dead in four ossuaries. They held the right flank with great gallantry throughout and their artillery supported the whole Helles front. The Turks had no individually identified graves but have erected symbolic, named headstones instead, as well as some striking sculptures of a stridently patriotic nature.
08 The Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea from Shell Green Cemetery.

As the Indian and Gurkha dead were cremated after the war, the only individual 2/10GR Gurkha grave is for Havildar Punahang Limbu whose remains were found quite recently on Chunuk Bair, towards the limit of the Allied advance.
His marker is of Bulgarian granite, which is now being used as the earlier Portland stone discolours in the salty air. For us he symbolized all the Gurkhas who had died so far from home.
On our last evening on the peninsula we visited Shell Green Cemetery, one of many in ANZAC Cove, where we laid a poppy on the grave of Trooper Sydney Brown of the 1st Australian Light Horse. He had come a long way too, from Kingussie via Australia, to his final resting place overlooking the Aegean Sea.
05 Statue of Mustafa Kemal
Statue of Mustafa Kemal at Chunuk Bair.

 
This Gallipoli article was originally written for Salute Magazine, a free magazine for the ex Service community in Scotland. Find out more, here.
 

Famous Landmarks in Europe – Our Top Places to Visit

Europe is a world heavyweight when it comes to impressive landmarks, with just about every country packing a punch in the sight-seeing category.

Iconic structures you could pick out in an instant, architecture as old as time, but which are the best landmarks to visit whilst travelling through Europe? Well, we’ve picked out some of our top places to grab some picture postcard pics whilst visiting the continent…

The Colosseum

colosseum-12108
Oh, yes. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. And what’s more quintessentially Roman than the Flavian Amphitheatre?
While its history may be brutal, the Colosseum’s structure is one to behold, built of concrete and sand, in its day, it could hold up to 55,000 people!
It also takes the top spot as the most famous tourist attraction in Rome – well worth a visit.

The Eiffel Tower

eiffel-tower-1576
One of Paris’ most visited attractions, the Eiffel Tower takes the top spot of most tourists visiting the City of Lights. And, with the stricture standing at 342 metres in height, it is hard to miss.
The tower actually welcomes around 7 million visitors each year which gives it the title of the most visited paid-for monument in the world.

Sagrada Familia

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Whilst Barcelona’s impressive Catholic Cathedral still stands unfinished, you can’t deny that the Sagrada Familia is pretty spectacular.
Designed by architect, Antonio Gaudi, the cathedral has now entered its last phase of construction with the tallest of its new towers set to reach a whopping 172 metres!
After 133 years in construction, if you’re waiting to see the finished piece, it is on track to be finished in 2026 which will also mark the centenary of Gaudi’s death.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

One of Italy's most famous landmarks - The Leaning tower of Pisa
Poor foundations it may have, but if this tower was up right it wouldn’t be as appealing, right? This is one human error we can certainly be thankful for.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a tourist hotspot, and you can be sure to see hordes of people trying to get that one picture showing them propping up the tower, which can be an amusing sight in itself.
Now safely anchored into the ground, you can even take a walk up the tower and what a great thing to say you have done?

Brandenburg Gate

brandenburg-gate-10648
One of the best-known landmarks in Germany, Brandenburg Gate, is a symbol of peace that was built in the eighteenth century, and it’s certainly something to look at.
Originally, the designer’s concept for the gate was a ‘Friedenstor’, or victory arch, as we may know it. Through Berlin’s varied history it has also shared it existence as a political icon and a symbol of a divided city.
Luckily, we can now enjoy the Brandenburg Gate as a symbol of unity. It’s certainly a unique and memorable place to visit during your time in Berlin.

Ancient City Walls of Dubrovnik

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Considered the most magnificent fortification monument in Europe, a walk around the walls of Dubrovnik are sure to be a highlight of your trip to this spectacular coastal city.
Stretching around the city, the walls reach over 2km in distance. So, if you’ve indulged in some of that delicious Dubrovnik seafood, it’s the perfect excuse to fit in a post-lunch stroll.

Acropolis

Landmark in Athens - The Acropolis
Mention an 80ft hill with a flat top and it may not sound overly impressive. Mention its name, and it suddenly becomes one of the most iconic monuments in Europe.
The Acropolis, especially the Parthenon, are by far the most characteristic sights to see in Athens – a must on any trip to the city.
It is considered to symbol the beginning of Western civilisation and the Parthenon was even dedicated to the patron goddess of Athens, Athena, who is also the goddess of wisdom making it a real treat for culture enthusiasts and historians alike.

Duomo, Florence

The Duomo Landmark
It’s hard to miss the Cathedral of Santa Maria, or The Duomo as it’s otherwise known, as it stands high above the red-tiled rooftops that cover the stunning city of Florence.
The iconic dome proved somewhat of a puzzle to the people of Florence, as nobody actually knew how to build it.
It could have been divine intervention, or just good luck, as their prayers were answered by Brunelleschi, a goldsmith and clock maker.
Brunelleschi was the mastermind of the design and engineering miracle and is who we have to thank for one of Europe’s most impressive masonry dome.
 
Phew, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Are there any on our list that you’re longing to see? Let us know in the comments.
 
 

Europe's Most Romantic Cities

They say love is all around us but we just can’t deny that there are some places that just ooze that romantic charm. They have a certain je ne sais quoi, a heart-warming atmosphere and, lucky for us, these places are right on our doorstep.

Yes, it’s the stunning cities of Europe. Maybe it’s the unique architecture, the winding rivers or the mouth-watering cuisine, there’s just something that gets the butterflies of even the most cynical romantic fluttering away.
With Valentine’s just around the corner, you may just be thinking about what Europe’s most romantic cities may be. Wonder no more, you won’t even need your rose tinted glasses to feel this kind of love, here are our top 9 cities perfect for a romantic experience.

9. Verona

Verona
Starting off with the home of the most famous Shakespearian love affair, in at number 9 it has to be Verona. The setting of Romeo and Juliet, it’s certainly a city to play out a true act of affection.
Romeo? where for art thou? Right here. One of the most popular destinations is, of course, Juliet’s Courtyard where tourists will pose for a picture or two upon the balcony.
The city is so famous for love that countless letters addressed to ‘Juliet, Verona, Italy’ are sent every year, there’s even a team of volunteers dedicated to responding to these lovelorn love notes.

8. Budapest

Budapest
Reaching over both banks the river Danube, Budapest is a sight to behold. Known as the Paris of the East, it really is a city of romantic beauty.
With stunning architecture from the impressive Parliament Building to the stunning Vajdahunyad castle, there’s plenty to see and do to kick start your romantic heart.
Steal a kiss on the chain Bridge or take a loved up selfie as you take in the sights from the castle district. With the allure of the Széchenyi Thermal Bath thrown into the mix, who could say no to Budapest?

7. Prague

Charles Bridge, Prague
With beautiful coloured buildings, gothic architecture and some amazingly great beer on offer, Prague may be under the radar when it comes to romantic city locations, but it certainly has a lot to offer.
The birthplace of Bohemia, from the love, locks bridge in the Malá Strana district, to the winding paths of Petri­n Park, you could easily fall in love with Prague.
If you’re in the city on the 1st May, a kiss by the statue of Karel Hynek Macha is said to guarantee your love will blossom. The tradition is related to the poem ‘May’ written by Mácha which starts, ‘Late evening, on the first of May—
The twilit May—the time of love.’
The tradition is so popular, Czech couples actually have to queue to steal their kiss with their beloved.

6. Florence

Florence
Italy really is home of the romantic heavyweights and appears once again with a firm favourite, fantastic Florence.
Bordering the Tuscan Chianti country, Florence really is packed full of the flavour of love. And, with almost a third of the world’s art treasures residing in Florence, it really can whet the whistle of the cultural couple.
Romantic strolls? It’s got them in abundance, the narrow streets of the city, the stunning Piazzas and, of course, the romantic River Arno.
To top it off,  the spectacular city views, dominated by the striking Duomo, really do set the scene for the perfect romantic trip.

5. Copenhagen

Copenhagen
If you’re looking for some fairy-tale romance, Copenhagen has just what you are looking for.
The symbol of the city is the world-renowned little mermaid, created by Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen. Her statue even sits on a rock in the harbour – awaiting her love.
With quaint, cobbled streets, this compact city has the wow factor without being overwhelming. Take a stroll over to the harbour bridge and leave a love lock to seal your romance in stunning Copenhagen.

4. Vienna

Vienna
With romantic sight-seeing opportunities and even a huge Ferris wheel to take it all in from above, you’ll certainly feel young at heart in Vienna.
White horses, imperial palaces, beautiful gardens and chandelier-lit coffee houses to enjoy, it’s almost like a scene from a romance feature film.
Take a horse and cart ride through the city and stop off at the beautiful Hofburg Palace, once the centre of the Hapsburg Empire, for a truly Viennese experience.

3. Rome

Trevi Fountain, Rome
Put the Rome in romance, celebrate eternal love in the eternal city – do we need to go on?
Take a Roman holiday in the stunning city of Rome and feel love of colossal proportions.
Recreate the iconic love scene in ‘La Dolce Vita’ by sharing a kiss by the Trevi fountain, saunter down to the Spanish Steps or canoodle at the Colosseum.
The river Tiber is a hot spot for couples, with love lock bridges and a stunning view over the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, especially as the sun sets, that’s certainly amore.

2. Venice

Venice
The creme de la creme of Italian romantic escapes, of course, it has to be Venice.
There’s just something about the winding canals with stunning turquoise water, the gondola rides and with plenty of scenic piazza’s to explore, you’re not short of romantic strolls.
Enjoy the iconic view over the lagoon from San Giorgio Maggiore and tie up your trip in a truly romantic style.

1. Paris

Paris
Be still, my beating heart. In the words of Audrey Hepburn, Paris is always a good idea. Yes, it’s cliche, but you can’t deny the French capital the top spot.
Climb the Eiffel tower to take in panoramic views over the whole city, take a sail down the river Seine or take your love to the Louvre.
There’s a reason why this city is given the name ‘City if Love’, and it’s because it’s so easy to fall in love with Paris.
If you’re struggling to find the perfect Valentines gift this year, check out our gift guide, here.