Gallipoli 100 is now behind us and for all the pitfalls put in our way Military History Tours powered on and with the flexibility of a good organisation and well thought out plan, all that was planned came to fruition. The members of our touring party were promised that those who had a ballot ticket would be attending the Government Services and those without a ballot ticket would attend a full ANZAC Day Dawn Service on the shores of the Dardanelles.
As well as the respective services, all would be taken over the battlefields and at 18 specific sites would meet one of our Historians, all serving or retired soldiers, who, with that skill that comes from service would take them through the history and actions that had occurred at that site 100 years before. All those promises were kept and more.
The touring programme on the battlefields was highly praised and many compliments were passed concerning the knowledge of our historians. At the Government Services, those attending were very pleased that they were able to attend and thought the Services moving and memorable. There was not one complaint on the conduct of the Services. However, the organisation of the entry to the Services area and the extraction from Lone Pine at the conclusion of the Services was a complete shambles and of the 314 coaches, number advised, delivering attendees to the Services, many were still at Lone Pine at 2000 hours.
Those waiting for their coaches to be released to them were standing in the dark and cold with many sick and with nearly all support leaving the hill before those last few coaches. In 2005 there were 600 plus coaches and all were off the hill before dark. It seems there was no really viable transport plan. The young co-ordinators tried their best but a flawed plan is just that.
I will leave further comments of this issue to others and now move on to more pluses. The G100 Surf Boat Race down the Dardanelles and the re-enactment of the Surf Boats landing onto the beach at Gelibolu at 0430 on ANZAC Day were huge successes. The alternative ANZAC Day Dawn Service, the first ever on the Peninsula, was also a success with around 5000 in attendance. The 100th Anniversary Ball in the Convention Centre with Barker College providing the orchestra and choir to the event was an unbelievable fitting conclusion to the 100th Anniversary period and all attending should be proud they were there in support of those lost 100 years ago..
The main tour concluded in Istanbul on the 27
We docked, said goodbye to those travelling with us and then the small group of our historians who will be with me in France and Belgium for the Western Front Tour. transferred to Venice Marco Polo Airport for our flight to Paris. We arrived into Paris and are awaiting the next phase of this memorable adventure as we gather around us those members of our touring party.
We are staying at the Novotel Convention and Wellness Hotel in Roissy-en-France which is an old village near CDG Airport. Our preparations are complete and the Western Front awaits.