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Gallipoli Redux

I seldom introduce matters of a personal nature into this blog, but the situation in Turkey/Syria that led to the timely warning issued yesterday by the Australian DFAT will cause some significant soul-searching in this country as well:

"In new travel advice issued yesterday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told Australians to exercise a "high degree of caution" in Turkey "because of the threat of terrorist attack".

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) said it would not be issuing new advice to travellers in response to Australia's warnings.

A Ministry spokesman said travel advice for Turkey would be kept under close review in the lead-up to events at Gallipoli in April.

MFAT was advising against tourist and non-essential travel to parts of Turkey which bordered Syria, Iran and Iraq. It also said New Zealanders should exercise caution elsewhere in Turkey "due to the threat from terrorism and potential for civil unrest".

I decided two weeks ago that my intended visit to Gallipoli on 25 April accompanied by my son Sam who is based in New York was not particularly wise in the circumstances, and we both opted out before the closing date. We had earlier decided that the loss of my uncle Clifford on the beach on the 25th was significant, and along with my father Osborne's involvement on the Somme two years later (aged 17!) warranted an application for two of the 2,000 places reserved for Kiwis.

The upping of the terror threat level was only one of several dis-incentives that included information in the documentation with which we had been supplied. Somehow the thought of standing up all night ("monitors will prevent lying down!") did not impress, and 10,000 Aussies and Kiwis, many of a similar older age group, queuing for "limited toilets"!) was somewhat of a put-off.

I read elsewhere on the net that the reason for the monitors is to prevent untoward activity by young antipodean couples - such has been prevalent in the past apparently in order to secure entry into the Gallipoli  equivalent of the Sky High Club - much to the understandable chagrin of the Turkish 'hosts.' 

Look, I am not going to deny that the twenty something year olds in 1915 had it far worse, but we have come some way since then, and my emotional attachment to the beach where Uncle Clifford died would definitely be diminished by repeated and painful urinary experiences.

Sam agreed, and we both opted out - I hope that someone equally or more worthy manages to secure the places we have vacated, and that the weather is kind to the attendees. I will accept the brick-bats that will no doubt be coming in my direction for failing the 'courage' test!




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Reader Comments (2)

You have probably made a sensible call on this visit Bill.
With the Governments recently announced intentions regarding security and a contribution to the counter-force to face the Islamic State, the security situation facing New Zealanders who travel may be increasingly volatile. I might imagine that the Gallipoli 2015 event in Turkey would be seen as a reasonably effective target for terrorist elements who may want to fire a warning shot, as-it-were, across the bow of those nations who choose to support the Americans (particularly). No doubt John has been persuaded by Barack about the course of action New Zealand ought to take (although Barack has been knee-capped by the recent American mid-term elections), and the P.M.'s speech of Wednesday was a direction indicator. Your comment about limited toilets and painful urinary experiences may pale into insignificance beside the involuntary expulsion of excreta that the country might have when the implications of our position regarding terrorism arrive on our doorstep.
But what are we to do? Build another walkway on the east coast, or, perhaps, be thankful for the capacity of the east coast sewage systems.

November 6, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Gallipoli is a place I will visit at some stage but the thought of doing so during the hype of the Centennial is not ideal. To my mind a trip like this requires a modicum of quiet contemplation along with the patter of a local guide or of a knowledgable war buff from wherever.

Not a failure of courage but a wise strategic withdrawal.

Pity Churchill did not do the same 100+ years ago.

November 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeter

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