Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 45, September 2001
"GALLIPOLI 1915 - A TRIBUTE TO THOSE WHO WERE THERE"
By Colin and Patricia Townsend
When I compiled and wrote "Gallipoli 1915 - A Tribute to those Who Were There", a New Zealand perspective, I had no idea of what the outcome would be. I, like all authors wanted to see my work in print but as the publishing industry did not beat a path to my door, a small private print was discussed. It was felt that there should be enough copies made available for the families and friends of those who had contributed to the book. This was achieved and we were pleasantly surprised when more and more enquiries and orders started to come in. The Internet played a part in promoting the book and it was from this source that our friendship began with Australian, Dean Hunter, a professional guide and Gallipoli historian working for Hassle Free Tours, out of Canakkale in Turkey.
He asked my permission to use quotes from his copy of the book for they conveyed to the people in his tour parties, simply but with authenticity, what it was like to fight, suffer and die on the Gallipoli peninsular.
Dean and I started a regular correspondence and he soon discovered that I had never been to Gallipoli and, with poor health and limited funds, my wife, Patricia and I would realistically never get there. Dean and I both have a passion for the August Offensive and he suggested that the best time to be on Chunuk Bair would be 8 August, 2000, bing the 85th Anniversary of New Zealand winning and holding against overwhelming odds these most important heights for those 36 hours.
Time passed and then the fantastic news that Hassle Free Tours had made all necessary accommodation arrangements and would fly us both to Istanbul and then by bus and ferry to Canakkale. We were both overwhelmed by this most generous offer and with bags packed and best wishes from our family and friends, we soon found ourselves landing at the Istanbul Airport.
On 8 August we made our way by ferry across the Dardanells to the Gallipoli Peninsular. We then drove by coach to the summit of Chunuk Bair, where my wife and I were made welcome by the New Zealand Ambassador to Turkey, Mr Alan Cook, as well as his wife, Private Secretary and others of his staff. Also there to greet us warmly was Mr John Price and his wife. Mr Price is the manager of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. We then fronted up to the Turkish media, consisting of various television channels and newspapers. That evening, back at Canakkale, in the Anafartala Hotel, Patricia and I were the guests of the Ambassador and his wife and had a most pleasant time sharing the top table with them and other invited guests. Next morning a photograph taken on Chunuk Bair had found its way on to the front page of one of the daily newspapers.
We have had an experience brought about by people we had never met and whom we shall now never forget.
Our grateful thanks to you all.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mr Townsend is a member of the Paeroa & District Historical Society