Friendship forged by shared tragedy

THE Gallipoli campaign was tragic for Australia and Turkey but also created a unique friendship between the two nations, according to Gallipoli expert John Basarin.

Dr Basarin presented the Turkish perspective at Deakin on Timor on Wednesday night as part of a project which will take 13 Warrnambool students to Gallipoli this year.

Born in Istanbul, Dr Basarin has spent the majority of his life in Australia. He said by telling the Turkish side, it presented a new window into the Anzac legacy.

“It was a tragic campaign for both sides. Both lost so many people,” he said.

“It created two new nations. The Republic of Turkey was established then.

“It was created out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. For Australia it was a baptism of fire.”

Dr Basarin completed his PhD thesis at Deakin University entitled Battlefield Tourism: Anzac Day Commemorations at Gallipoli, which investigated the motives of those who attend the Anzac Day events at Gallipoli. 

He said the campaign also created an unusual friendship between Turkish and Australian people.

“Turkish people are very proud of that,” he said. 

“That war can lead to peace. They’re also proud that people from a faraway country come to pay homage to their grandparents and relatives.

“It has touched a soft spot in Turkey.”

Thirteen secondary students from Warrnambool College, King’s College, Brauer College and Emmanuel College will join members from the Warrnambool RSL sub-branch in retracing the steps of Warrnambool and district forefathers on the Turkish battlefields as part of the First World War centenary period commemorations.

Dr Basarin was the founding chairman of the Friends of Gallipoli and has been instrumental in providing an opportunity to many young students to go to Gallipoli and attend Anzac Day dawn and Lone Pine ceremonies since 2009. 

He said most young Australians of Anglo-Saxon heritage grew up being immersed in the Anzac legend and many Warrnambool students had relatives who fought at Gallipoli.

He said for those students, being at Gallipoli would be a striking experience and he hoped they would understand the Turkish perspective and the common heritage.

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