WATCHING the sunrise over the Gallipoli battlefield on the 99th anniversary of the ANZAC landing was described as a surreal experience by one of the Warrnambool students visiting the site.
“It was so quiet, so peaceful — it was hard to imagine it being a war zone,” 16-year-old Warrnambool College student Louis Osborne said.
“When we got there we couldn’t see much but as the sun rose you could see the terrain the soldiers had to climb.
“You see it on TV but actually being there makes you appreciate what they had to deal with.
“I can’t describe in words what I was feeling when I was able to locate where my relative was killed serving his country.”
Louis was part of a Warrnambool group of 24, including 13 students, who took part in a 16-day trip to Turkey’s Gallipoli peninsula to pay their respects to the soldiers killed in action nearly a century ago.
One of the organisers, Warrnambool RSL committee member and Vietnam veteran Doug Heazlewood, said the group spent three days in the Gallipoli region to better understand the complexities of the doomed 1915 battle.
Another Warrnambool College student, 17-year-old student Emily McCullagh, said she was struck by the scene as dawn broke on the gathering of about 8000 people snuggled on the grass areas and in the grandstands.
“This day was very emotional for myself as I have always wanted to stand on the ground that our ancestors fought on for our country,” Emily said.
“From the moment I stepped into the area where the dawn service would take place, I could see that this event was important to many Australians and New Zealanders.”
The students involved in the tour were all aged between 16 and 18 and were selected for their interest and enthusiasm for military history.
The group also met the former proprietor of the Warrnambool Beach Kiosk on Pertobe Road, Suleyman “Sam” Meric, who retired to his homeland of Turkey several years ago.
The trip concluded with a cruise of the Bosphorus. The group is due back in Warrnambool today.