On the Turkish memorial are words attributed to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, President of Turkey, sent in 1934 to an official Australian, New Zealand and British party visiting Anzac Cove:
Those heroes that shed their blood, and lost their lives ...
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side,
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries ...
Wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have
Become our sons as well.
In 1915, Kemal was one of the Turkish divisional commanders at Gallipoli and was particularly noted for his fighting leadership during the Battle of the Landing and during the August Offensive.
Your way now leads south around Anzac Cove. You can also head along the beach itself but when you reach the end it will be a scramble to get back up to the road. Stop by the memorial at the southern end of the cove with the Turkish words ‘Anzak Koyu’ (Anzac Cove). In 1985, the Turkish Government agreed to the official naming of this place as ‘Anzac Cove’. In return the Australian Government named a stretch of Lake Burley Griffin at the end of Anzac Parade in the national capital ‘Gallipoli Reach’. A section of Princes Royal Harbour in Albany, Western Australia was also named ‘Atatürk Entrance’ in memory of the first convoy that left Australia in November 1914 for the war in Europe. Many of the men on those ships, Australians and New Zealanders, later became part of the Anzac Corps and landed here at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. They were the original Anzacs.
And a little rotting pier
During the Gallipoli campaign there was no better-known place than Anzac Cove. It received this name as early as 29 April 1915, by request of the commander of the Anzac Corps, Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood. Sometime after June 1915, a photograph of the cove appeared in Australian newspapers, a blunder, Bean felt, that would have given ‘priceless intelligence’ to the enemy artillery officers had it ever reached them! Like no other spot on Gallipoli, Anzac Cove has become the image of Anzac. This is not surprising. Something like 50,000 Australians fought at Gallipoli and, although there were other landing places, the great majority of them landed here. That was certainly true of those who served between April and August 1915 in the ‘old Anzac’ area. Consequently, thousands of families all over Australia had a son or husband who knew something of Anzac Cove.
Bean records that some 27,000 Australian, New Zealand, British and Indian troops were put ashore in Anzac Cove between 25 April and 1 May 1915. While the great majority of these troops were Australians and New Zealanders there were also units that many in Australia today have never heard of. Among them were the Ceylon Planter’s Rifle Corps, the Indian Mule Cart Transport, the Zion Mule Corps, the 7th Indian Mountain Artillery and about 2,500 men of the British Royal Naval Division, Chatham, Portsmouth, Nelson and Deal Battalions. All of these units fought alongside the Anzacs. Indeed, it was a 33-year-old Englishman, Lance Corporal Walter Parker, Portsmouth Battalion, Royal Naval Division, who gained the first Victoria Cross awarded at Anzac for his bravery under fire between 30 April and 2 May.
For eight months between April and December 1915, Anzac Cove became, in Bean’s words, Anzac ‘city’:
We are never likely to see anything like it again in history, for two reasons. For one thing, it is the complete base for an army, which you can take in with a single glance; stacks of every sort of supply – biscuits, cheeses, fodder, disinfectant, beef, sugar; ordnance stores – clothing, cans, boots, carts, spare wheels, engineer’s stores of every sort, great beams and baulks, rails – every one of the great accumulation of things an army wants.
[Charles Bean, official despatch, Gaba Tepe 28 June 1915, Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No 97, 26 August 1915, p 1635]
Crawling up the hillsides above the ‘city’ were the ‘business suburbs’. In Anzac Gully behind the beach was Corps Headquarters and the dugout of the Corps commander, Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood. Sir William could be seen most days swimming in the blue waters of the cove like thousands of other men who worked on the beach or who had come down in some ‘fatigue’ party from other parts of Anzac to fetch and carry materials back to their own positions.
But Turkish gunners had an almost precise fix on Anzac Cove and many men were killed or wounded in the beach area or in the water by bursting shrapnel shells. Most of these came from a gun battery christened ‘Beachy Bill’. It was estimated that during the campaign over 1,000 men were killed or wounded in Anzac Cove by ‘Beachy Bill’ alone. So constant was it you had to get used to the shelling and, where possible, even find it funny. Sergeant Cyril Lawrence, 2nd Field Company, Australian Engineers, went swimming in the cove on the evening of 10 June 1915 when ‘Beachy Bill’ opened up:
There were hundreds on the beach and one of the shells burst over a latrine up on the hillside. The men sit on this, which is just a beam supported at each end over a long hole, like a lot of sparrows on a perch. There is nothing to hide them from the view and they look extremely funny to see all their bare bums in a row … one burst over this latrine. In the scatter that followed, none waited to even pull their trousers up. The roar of laughter that went up could have been heard for miles. It’s only these little humorous happenings that keep things going here.
[The Gallipoli Diary of Sergeant Lawrence of the Australian Engineers, Sir Ronald East (ed), Melbourne 1983, pp 27–8]
So effective was the shelling of the cove that it determined movement by the little transport ships running supplies into the pier, Watson’s Pier, constructed under the supervision of Major Stanley Watson, 1st Australian Division Signals Company. Approach to the pier by day became an almost suicidal matter so from early June all reinforcements were landed by night.
After the evacuation of December 1915 Anzac ‘city’ disappeared rapidly. When Bean visited here in early 1919, just three years later, he found that everything moveable had been cleared by the Turks – ‘Now nothing stirred except the waves gently lapping on the shingle and a few of the piles of our old piers gently swaying in the swell’. Two white steel lifeboats used to land troops were also on the beach and Bean had one of them shipped back to Australia where it is on display in the Introductory Gallery of the Australian War Memorial. Of all the descriptions of Anzac Cove none is perhaps more evocative than that of soldier-poet Leon Gellert. Gellert landed here on 25 April 1915 with the 10th Battalion, South Australia, and was evacuated in July with dysentery:
There’s a lonely stretch of hillocks:
There’s a beach asleep and drear:
There’s a battered broken fort beside the sea.
There are sunken trampled graves:
And a little rotting pier:
And winding paths that wind unceasingly.
There’s a torn and silent valley;
There’s a tiny rivulet
With some blood upon the stones beside its mouth.
There are lines of buried bones:
There’s an unpaid waiting debt:
There’s a sound of gentle sobbing in the south.