Sunday, November 17, 2013

silhouettes on the dardanelles

When you have a long weekend handed to you, you must take advantage of that extra day and do something worthwhile like taking road trip. As soon as I got home from work, the car was packed with spare clothes, sketching materials, binoculars, a telescope and a tripod— I also threw in a copy of Letters of Vincent Van Gogh for good measure. We headed west towards the Dardanelles.

After spending the night in Eceabat, we drove along the coast of the Gallipoli Peninsula, curious about this narrow piece of land where more than 130,000 soldiers lost their lives during World War I. The bloody, eight-month Gallipoli Campaign began in 1915 as the British Empire attacked the peninsula with the hopes of capturing the strategic city of Constantinople, landing thousands of Australian, New Zealand, Indian, and French soldiers on Gallipoli's shores.

Remnants of bunkers and forts like Fort Namazgâh (pictured here), still dot the countryside. It's hard to imagine the violence in this serene landscape, under such a blue sky, but among the olive trees, thousands of gleaming white headstones stand to remind. This land is a graveyard.

The advancing Allied battleships entering the Dardanelles must have looked much like the silhouettes of benign cargo ships on the horizon today. What did the Turks feel upon seeing those dark shapes? And the men on the ships— what ran through their heads?

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