Despatches: Homers Epic Destination-Troy

Posted by Marcus Falay on October 24, 2012

Dear friend,

Hello from the Gallipoli-2015 team and welcome to the latest edition of Despatches, your Gallipoli cruise and tours newsletter.

This month, correct weight. With the 2012 Melbourne Cup just days away, we thought an equine theme might be appropriate. Our Facebook community members already know the Australian Light Horse weren’t among the first ANZACs at Gallipoli (they were deployed later without horses). But that doesn’t make for any lack of horse-related stories.

Australia sent 136,000 horses overseas in World War I. One made it back. Sandy, the mount of General Bridges who, you may have read in Despatches last month, was the only WWI soldier whose body was returned home.

Istanbul, Turkey

Thanks to those who have already contacted Dr Basarin about tracing a fallen Gallipoli soldier. You can ask about your relative at our Facebook page or send an email to

Please do get in touch if you’ve got an idea for future Despatches. Until then, we hope this month’s feature articles provide some worthwhile reading:

Gallipoli cruising - Homer’s epic destination - Troy
Hot off the press - Anzac Ballot public forums
The voice of Anzac - Suvla Derby Despatch Riders
This month in 1915 - General Hamilton gets his marching orders
On the radar - after the Anzac centennial

Gallipoli cruising

Itinerary day seven sees our Gallipoli cruise depart the battlefields for nearby Troy. This fascinating ancient site is, of course, the location of the Trojan Wars of Greek Mythology.

The wooden Trojan Horse on display at Troy.

Troy impresses for many reasons, not the least of which is its stunning location and extensive ruins (dated to around 3,000BCE, some of the oldest on earth). The wooden horse on display adds a bit of fun, especially for those travelling as a family.

Most visitors to this ancient destination are intrigued by Troy’s rich history and especially its connection with Homer’s epic, still in print today. However because of the site age, to gain the very best visitor experience, it is advisable to explore Troy with an experienced guide.

We are fortunate to have onboard Dr Carol Scott, who will present and an engaging background ahead of our visit to Troy. Dr Scott is an interesting speaker and world renowned specialist. She has a breadth of experience in bringing history to life through her ancient history studies and international museums work.

Dr Carol Scott will join with other experts aboard the Gallipoli-2015 cruise to guide passengers around Troy’s ancient walls and expansive ruins. Our expert team will point out sites of special significance, the Dardanelles and hills of Gallipoli plus Mount Ida to the east across the Troad (plains of Troy).

An early evening will follow the day’s activities, ahead of the centennial Anzac Day event.

The voice of Anzac

"But this year, the circumstances under which the race was run were greater than the race itself." The Argus, Wednesday November 3, 1915

While it was Patrobas that stormed home to win the race that stops a nation, in a stark reflection of events at Gallipoli, three horses fell during the race. And all the while, ‘Suvla Derby’ despatch riders continued their risky dash to beat the snipers bullet.

They called it the ‘Suvla Derby’ but it more a deadly game of chance. Returned soldiers recollected totaliser betting on which landmark the rider might reach before ‘copping one’.

Following the August offensive, riders were routinely despatched between Suvla Bay and Anzac Cove. They galloped all the way and great risk to keep the lines of communication open ... and hoping against hope to avoid the Turkish snipers.

Photo via TP's Journal of Great Deeds, January 1916

The image above may be Private Blacket, who was injured with the 2nd Light Horse at and returned as a Despatch Rider. Interviewed in his twilight years, he recalled:

“I told this photographer that one of us would ride around there so he could take photos. That goes down well with the public when they see someone galloping around. So we did a canter around for him while we were sitting upright on the horse and he took these photos. We couldn't ride fast as there was a lot of traffic. When despatch riding we would crouch over the neck of the horse to avoid getting shot.”

Hot off the press

The Anzac Ballot consultative process has begun. In case you weren’t aware, part of the government’s ballot announcement included a promise of public consultation. Of course, the cruise itinerary is unaffected by these arrangements.

During October and November, the Department of Veterans Affairs is holding public forums right around the country. The forums provide the Australian community with a chance to put forward their thoughts and views about how the centenary ballot should be managed. In the words of the department:

Each forum includes an overview of how attendance will be managed at Anzac Day in 2015. A DVD shows images of the Dawn Service at the Anzac Commemorative Site, followed by a presentation on the experience of attending the Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli. An open discussion is then held to seek views on how the ballot process should work and whether there should be special representatives at the commemorations in 2015. More than 100 people have attended the forums to date.

Poppies growing wild at Gallipoli in 2005

For those with an interest in taking part in a public forum, details of meeting dates are published online at the Department of Veterans Affairs Gallipoli 2015 website. Information about written submissions is also published at this online location.

Representatives of Gallipoli-2015 are attending most Victorian and several interstate forums. Additionally, our project leader Dr John Basarin will meet department representatives in person following the Tour Operators consultation and briefing meeting in Melbourne.

This month in 1915

The story of military disasters at Gallipoli carried to London by Murdoch and Bartlett had the desired effect. The Commander in Chief of Allied Forces was dismissed in October.

General Hamilton

General Hamilton served in many campaigns and roles in India and Africa over a distinguished military career that began in 1873. As Commander in Chief of Allied forces he was placed at the head of the 75,000 strong expeditionary forces assembled in 1915 to invade the Ottoman Empire.

Allied forces included British, French, Australian, New Zealand, Indian and Canadian contingents. Their objective was to capture Istanbul [Constantinople], the capital of the Empire. Hamilton’s troops including ANZACs spent months of fighting against well entrenched and spirited Turks at Gallipoli, making little progress but incurring severe casualties.

Hamilton was recalled to London on 16 October effectively ending his military career. He was replaced by General Monro who recognised the futility of the campaign and recommended the evacuation which saw all ANZAC troops leave Gallipoli by 20 December 1915.

Australian War Correspondent Charles Bean met Hamilton just before he left Gallipoli. Bean reports of his encounter: “I (Hamilton) want you to send that about the ANZAC men.’ he said. They’re splendid fellows - they’ll hold out against anything that can be brought against them in the way of men.’ The poor old chap looked to me very haggard- almost broken up. Hamilton died in London on 12 October 1947.

On the radar

Some cruise passengers are hoping to explore more of Turkey before or after the Anzac centennial. Because our epic cruise disembarks in Istanbul, a number of different tour options are open. Some exciting boutique tours will depart within days of the epic cruise completion.

A number of Europe tours may also be annexed to your Gallipoli-2015 itinerary. Simply contact us to discover more 2015 travel possibilities.

We hope you enjoy reading Despatches and sharing the content with friends or family. Don’t forget to visit our Facebook community too, where we always publish Gallipoi-2015 updates first.

Kind regards,

Marcus Falay