Turkey // The North Aegean //

Central inland sites

A one-way road, roughly following what was the front line, leads uphill from the Kabatepe Information Centre to the former strongholds (now cemeteries) scattered around Çonkbayırı hill.

Beside the road, a massive statue depicts a purported incident from the first day of landings – a Turk carrying a wounded Australian officer back to his lines – supposedly witnessed by another officer who later, as Lord Casey, became Governor-General of Australia. However, Casey didn’t mention the incident in his memoirs, and wasn’t even at that sector of the lines, so the statue is best viewed as an allegory of the chivalry that (sometimes) prevailed in the campaign.

Just beyond is Lone Pine (Kanlı Sırt), lowest strategic position on the ridge and the largest graveyard-cum-memorial to those buried unmarked or at sea. Action here was considered a sideshow to the main August 6–9 offensive further up Çonkbayırı; 28,000 men died in four days at the two points. Just up from Lone Pine is the Mehmetcik memorial to the Turkish soldiers who perished, while at Johnston’s Jolly (named after an artillery officer who liked to “jolly the Turks up” with his gun) there’s a heavily eroded section of trench beneath the pine trees. Most of the trenches on display are reconstructions; the originals are hidden and little visited. British/Anzac ones followed a zigzag course, while the Turks adopted the German dogtooth pattern. All along the ridge, opposing trenches lay within a few metres of each other; the modern road corresponds to the no-man’s-land in between.

Further along, on the right, is the 57th Turkish Regiment cemetery, whose men Mustafa Kemal ordered to their deaths, thus buying time for reinforcements to arrive. Here the religious aspect of the campaign for contemporary Turks is made clear, with an inscription eulogizing martyrdom and a small open-air prayer area. Just beyond, a left fork leads to The Nek – the scene of the futile charge and massacre of the Australian Light Horse Brigade at the conclusion of Peter Weir’s 1981 film Gallipoli.

To the right, the main road continues uphill past Baby 700 cemetery – marking the furthest Allied advance on April 25 – and to the massive New Zealand memorial obelisk and the five-monolith Turkish memorial atop Çonkbayırı hill (Chunuk Bair). An inscription chronicles Kemal’s organization of successful resistance to the August Allied attacks, and marks the spot where Atatürk’s pocket-watch stopped a fragment of shrapnel, thus saving his life.