Despatches: ANZAC Voyage Re-Enactment

Posted by Marcus Falay on April 28, 2013

Lest we forget.

Welcome to Despatches, the Gallipoli-2015 Epic cruise and tours newsletter.

Another Anzac Day is behind us, leaving just one before the centennial event. Cabins are still available aboard the Epic Cruise. But with 2015 closer than ever, bookings are running hot. If you haven’t confirmed yet, there will never be a better time:

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You can join the conversation and hear all the latest Gallipoli-2015 news at our Facebook page. Regular Epic Cruise and ANZAC updates are also published at the Gallipoli-2015 Blog. But for now, please enjoy reading this edition of Despatches. This issue’s feature articles include:

Gallipoli cruising - ANZAC voyage re-enactment
Hot off the press - Mooring off Anzac Cove
The voice of Anzac - Landing at Gaba Tepe
This month in 1915 - Sir William Throsby Bridges
On the radar - Anzac Centenary grants program

Quick cabin update: Category 1, 2 and 10 cabins are sold out. Limited category 5, 6, 7 and 11 cabins remain. If you haven’t booked aboard the Epic Cruise yet, please don’t delay. Just a 20% deposit will secure your cabin of choice, and the experience of a lifetime.

Anzac cruising

ANZAC voyage re-enactment

It was midnight on 24th April 1915 when the ANZACS set sail from Lemnos Island. As the 98th Anzac Day is commemorated, we take a quick look at Day 4 of the Epic Cruise Itinerary.

Lemnos Island, Greece

An evocative journey back in time commences at 12:00 midnight. Minute by minute, the long voyage to Anzac Cove will be re-enacted, just as those young men experienced almost 100 years ago.

While the ANZACS boarded landing boats to head ashore, you will watch the dawn on board your cruise ship as we drift past Anzac Cove at North Beach.

The cruise ship will then sail on to the seaport town of Canakkale. This is the closest port to Anzac Cove and our point of departure before mooring off North Beach ahead of Dawn Service commemorations. Local port authorities have assured Gallipoli-2015 the cruise liner will be accommodated.

After breakfast, cruise passengers will commence their Gallipoli pilgrimage. Today’s land tour commences aboard a luxury five star coach and visits significant sites. Anzac Cove, Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair are highilights amongst today’s tour destinations.

The voice of Anzac

Landing at Gaba Tepe

"By this time we could just make out the distant hills and we must have been only about a hundred yards off the shore, when the Commander of the Naval Pinance sang out the words “Tell the Colonel these devils have brought us a mile too far North."
T E Drane Anzac Gallipoli War Diary

The Generals, Major Casey & Colonel Patterson during the Anzac Landing 25 April

The landing at Anzac Cove was a stealthy affair. At 4:30am, at the calm moment between night and day, the first waves made their way ashore. Today this location is known as Anzac Cove. But in 1915, it was an isolated and poorly defended bay.

The ANZACs rapidly captured the beach but soon found they were hemmed in by the terrain and Turkish reinforcements. From their location, the day’s objective seemed ill-conceived ... even hopeless. Had they landed in the right position?

It was first planned the ANZACs would go ashore at Gaba Tepe, south of Anzac Cove. T E Drane’s diary notes “... I have learnt that it was the strong current that was running that carried us out of our way.” Whether it was the current, reliance on old maps or a late strategic change may never be known.

Many men of ANZAC (and their leaders) believed they had made landfall at Gaba Tepe. Actually, this location was far better defended. So in some ways actual landing point was fortuitous.

A force of 120 eventually made Gaba Tepe on 4th May. This ill-conceived raid was an immediate failure, leaving the men to seek the shelter of low sea cliffs while waiting to be evacuated.

The Australian War Memorial collection includes a first-hand account, with this interesting observation:?

It was first intended the ANZACs would receive further training in Egypt. But, as they crossed the Indian Ocean and entered the Suez Canal, Turkey had become allied with Germany. A decision was taken to land in Egypt instead.

"The Turks did not fire a shot at the wounded men or those assisting them; the more lightly wounded limped down after the stretcher cases. When they had been towed out the enemy’s fire broke out again."
T E Drane Anzac Gallipoli War Diary

Gaba Tepe, circa 1915

Hot off the press

Mooring off Anzac Cove

The big news this Anzac Day has been Department of Veterans’ Affairs support for cruise ships mooring off Anzac Cove during the 2015 Dawn Service. “I think that is a very clever response,” Tim Evans from the Department of Veterans' Affairs told reporters at the site. “It's that sort of ingenuity we support completely.”

Following the ballot announcement, Gallipoli-2015 had already taken the initiative to canvass this possibility with port authorities in Canakkale. At this stage, only two other vessels might also be anchored off North Beach. Both of these cruises are understood to be sold out.

Dr John Basarin and Marcus Falay meet the Canakkale Port authority representative.

The Epic Cruise will moor as close as practical to Anzac Cove overnight on 24th April 2015. Depending on proximity, it may be possible to observe official proceedings from the deck. Regardless, there will be a respectful service aboard and live broadcast of proceedings at North Beach.

Even before the ballot announcement, it was clear the number of people hoping to visit Gallipoli for the Anzac Centenary would far outweigh venue capacity. For this reason, as well as safety and protecting the fragile environment, the decision was taken to limit access. There will be only 8,000 Australians and 2,000 New Zealanders holding Dawn Service tickets.

Visiting Gallipoli for the Anzac Centenary will be a deeply personal journey. To give passengers some choice around their Dawn Service experience, Gallipoli-2015 offers three alternatives:

Official Dawn Service
ballot ticket holders will be transferred to and from the cruise ship to attend official commemorations at North Beach

On Board Commemoration
a respectful service aboard the cruise liner will be followed by live broadcast of official proceedings at Anzac Cove

Independent Dawn Service
plans are being finalised for a dignified event within Gallipoli National Park to be followed by a live broadcast and gunfire breakfast

This month in 1915

Sir William Throsby Bridges

"We come to beginnings only at the end."
Sir William Throsby Bridges

Major General Bridges and his division were first ashore at Anzac Cove when the 1st Australian Division landed on 25 April 1915. A furious day of fighting ensued and, together with Major General Godley became convinced the following day would bring only disaster. Although he recommended a retreat, Bridges was ordered to hold Anzac beach.

William Throsby Bridges

The force stayed and Bridges began a dangerous daily routine of visiting the firing line. Although some recollections have him renowned as cold and aloof, he was also admired for his fearless courage. This daily touring the front lines under heavy fire and disregard for his own personal safety would be Bridges’ undoing.

On 15th May, he was mortally wounded by a Turkish sniper. His femoral artery severed, Bridges was dragged to safety and transferred to a hospital ship. Amputation was recommended, but the General had already lost too much blood for such a risky operation. He died three days later.

The only Australian WWI soldier to be so honoured, Major General Bridges’ body was returned home. He was buried in the foothills of Mt Pleasant, at Duntroon – the academy he once founded and led.

On the radar

Anzac Centenary grants program

Remembering the service and sacrifice of Australians is something we can all be part of. The Australian government has established an Anzac Centenary local grants program. Communities are being encouraged to develop their own WWI commemorations right across Australia.

Grants applications are now open for community projects planned for the Anzac Centenary. Each Member of Parliament has up to $100,000 to make available for local events. Contact your local member to find out more or visit the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board website.

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Kind regards,

Marcus Falay