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Chunuk Bair (Conkbayırı)

Where History and Heroism Meet: The Battlefields of Chunuk Bair (Conkbayırı)
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Discover Chunuk Bair (Conkbayırı): A Historical Landmark of Gallipoli

Located at the pinnacle of a rugged hill, just 600 meters beyond the Talat Göktepe Monument, Chunuk Bair (Conkbayırı) stands as a poignant testament to the fierce battles of the Gallipoli Campaign. This historical site is divided by a T intersection, leading visitors to two significant locations steeped in history.

The Right Turn: Kemalyeri (Scrubby Knoll)

Taking a right turn from the intersection leads you eastward to the spot where Mustafa Kemal, having stayed awake for four days and nights, directed part of the counterattack on the night of 9–10 August during the August offensive. This path also leads to Kemalyeri (Scrubby Knoll), which served as his command post. The area is imbued with the strategic brilliance of Mustafa Kemal, later known as Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey.

The Left Turn: Chunuk Bair and the New Zealand Memorial

A left turn takes you 100 meters to Chunuk Bair, the initial objective of the Allied landing in April 1915, now home to the New Zealand Memorial. On 25 April, as Anzac troops ascended the scrub-covered slopes, Mustafa Kemal, then the divisional commander, brought up the 57th Infantry Regiment. He issued his famous command: “I am not ordering you to attack, I am ordering you to die. In the time it takes us to die, other troops and commanders will arrive to take our places.” The 57th Regiment was decimated but successfully held the line, inflicting significant casualties on the Anzacs below.

From 6 to 9 August 1915, Chunuk Bair was the epicenter of relentless combat, resulting in the loss of 28,000 men on this ridge. Today’s peaceful pine grove belies the brutal reality of almost a century ago, when relentless fighting turned the area into a desolate wasteland. The Anzac attack on 6–7 August, involving the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade and a Maori contingent, was deadly. The subsequent attack on 8 August reached a level of ferocity that Mustafa Kemal described as “scarcely describable.”

Memorials and Reminders of Sacrifice

On the western side of the road stands the New Zealand Memorial, alongside reconstructed Turkish trenches. A giant statue of Mustafa Kemal marks the site, with signs indicating where he gave crucial orders, observed the battle, and where shrapnel nearly took his life, only to be stopped by his pocket watch. While these exact locations may be debated, the enduring power of his legend remains undeniable.

To the east, a side road leads to the Turkish Conkbayırı Mehmetçik Memorial, featuring five giant tablets with Turkish inscriptions that recount the battle’s events. Continuing beyond Chunuk Bair, the road extends to Kocaçimentepe, less than 2 kilometers away.

Conclusion

Chunuk Bair is more than a historical site; it is a place of remembrance and reflection. It offers a profound glimpse into the courage and sacrifice of those who fought in one of World War I’s most grueling campaigns. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a traveler, or someone paying homage, Chunuk Bair provides a deeply moving experience that connects past heroism with present peace.

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