Gus Mann survived three and a half months in the trenches at Gallipoli.
Gus Mann survived three and a half months in the trenches at Gallipoli. Supplied

Friendship forged

THE year is 2003.

The lady standing by the giant memorial (pictured above, right) is Yeppoon’s Marj Fitzpatrick who is following a nostalgic trail of her late father Gus Mann, armed with letters from him written in the trenches of Gallipoli in 1915.

Gus survived three and a half months as an Anzac on the Turkish peninsula.

He then went on to survive the horrors of the battlefields of France, where he was wounded twice (reported ‘Died of Wounds’ once – which was corrected when Gus crawled back next day from the shell hole where he lay mortally wounded overnight).

He returned to Australia to marry a Charters Tower girl and moved to Rockhampton, where he eventually became local RSL president.

Marj’s pilgrimage to Gallipoli 88 years after her father was obviously memorable enough – but was to become even more memorable.

A Turkish lady named Eser Eken, brought up in a humble local Turkish farming family, had been gradually collecting little pieces of broken china plates being washed up on her beach near Canakkale in the Dardenelles over a period of 15 years.

When it was established that these pieces had actually come from the Allied battleships lying untouched for 88 years in their watery grave she decided to “do something”.

With her artistic background and a vision she felt was inspired by Turkish statesman Kemal Ataturk’s memory, Eser began to create wall mosaics in the form of the Dove of Peace.

After creating many different pieces Eser was invited to hold an exhibition in the Canakkale University on the Dardenelles, near Gallipoli.

The exhibition was called There’s a Time for War and a Time for Peace.

At a coach lunch stop in Istanbul, there on the window was a poster announcing (and explaining) the university exhibition of the peace images.

Marj was able to make contact by phone with Eser just as she was leaving Istanbul.

Further contact by email followed and Marj even had a few shirts about the project sent from Eser in 2004.

Eser reiterated in her emails her hope the Peace Dove image would be part of the increasingly strong friendships between Turks and Aussies.

The poster from the window of the lunch stop in Istanbul now sits on the wall of Marj’s home as a reminder of the dreams of peace-loving people.

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