Çanakkale

When I got on the bus from Otagar to head to Çanakkale it’s fair to say I didn’t know exactly in which direction I was travelling despite staring at the map a few times.
So when I got off the bus and saw the sea before me and nowhere else to go – I assumed I had arrived. But no – not yet.

The short ferry journey across the Dardenelles was a sobering moment in that it was so breezy, sunny and enjoyable. We were taken to the Asian side of Turkey from the European side in just enough time to buy and eat an ice-cream.

A short trip to the Maritime museum the following day met a gap in my knowledge of the terrible, intensive sea battle in March 1915 over this small, but strategically critical stretch of water. The plan of the allied forces was to get access to Constantinople and then to Russia. This little scratchy map shows how:

1915DardanellesCampaignMap3_small2The extraordinary determination of the Ottoman ranks to repel this invasion by the British and French fleet should have made commanders take stock before launching the land assault which resulted in the equally dreadful Gallipoli campaign.

Now stuff of legend, the drama and outcome is well told at the museum with a refreshing take (as you would expect) from the Turkish side. Particularly the heroism of Atatürk who led the command in the Gallipoli campaign and ultimately became the 1st Prime Minister of Turkey when the country became a Republic.

Far more ancient stories of interminable battles on these shores should have been warning enough to every British schoolboy who had read their Homer (as they most certainly would).

The film prop of the wooden horse from the movie Troy sits proudly in this small seaside town which overcame an invasion of some of the worst modern warfare, given the loss of life on all sides.

I hung around all afternoon but since Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom and Eric Bana failed to show up – I got back on the ferry and headed back to Istanbul – happy I’d visited such a lovely place but also a little wiser.

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