In our Anzacs footsteps Veterans fall in for parades
TWO descendants of Gallipoli veterans are trading places this year and learning what life was like on the other side of the battlefield.
Year 13 Mt Albert Grammar student Spencer McGarry and Turkish student Gizem Gencel are stepping into each other’s shoes for six weeks after winning an essay competition.
The inaugural American Field Service Gallipoli Youth Award invited New Zealand and Turkish students to write about a blood relative who fought at the battle.
Spencer’s essay and film documentary on his greatgrandfather William Titley Palmer won him a return airfare to Turkey, where he is staying with Gizem’s family in Cannakkale and attending her high school for six weeks.
Tomorrow he will take the 20-minute ferry ride to the nearby Gallipoli Peninsula to speak at the Anzac ceremony, where he’ll read his essay and The Ode to the Fallen.
Speaking on the phone from Cannakkale, Spencer says he is enjoying his time in Turkey and has been visiting the local historic sites.
“It’s quite different over here,” he says.
“But because so many people speak English I haven’t had too much trouble.”
He hopes to visit Hill 60 tomorrow where his greatgrandfather fought so he can try to find a piece of shrapnel or other bit of memorabilia.
He says researching the essay was made easier by his family’s good record-keeping and his great-grandfather’s war diary.
Here on the other side of the world, Gizem, 16, has been enjoying Mt Albert life and says her time here has been a great cultural experience.
Her great-grandfather Ali Sabir died at the battle in 1915.
Although she says she had less information about her ancestor to work with, she was determined to win the competition because she wanted to come to New Zealand.
“I knew everything from the Turkish side and it’s so good to see everything from the other side too,” Gizem says.
Tomorrow she will attend three Anzac services where she’ll read her essay.
She will be escorted by Spencer’s older brother Thomas, who won the Prime Minister’s Essay Competition in 2006 for his account of his great-grandfather’s life.
Thomas has been granted time off from his position in the New Zealand Army to attend the event and will carry his great-grandfather’s sword by his side.
The boys’ mother Kay McGarry says the family has a wonderful history of keeping records of their war ancestors and has an impressive collection of memorabilia and photos from William Titley Palmer himself.
“The boys have always grown up with a shelf full of that kind of thing,” Mrs McGarry says.
“It’s been a big part in their lives.” A host of Anzac Day services will be held tomorrow to honour those who served the country.
Two commemorative services will be held at the court of honour in front of the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
A parade of veterans will assemble at 5.30am in the museum carpark before marching along Cenotaph Rd for a 6am dawn service.
There will be a civic service at 11am, with a parade assembling on the eastern side of the museum carpark at 10.15am.
Veterans who show their badges or medals on Anzac Day and Super Gold Card holders will be able to travel for free on NZ Bus Link buses which run from 5am. Other Anzac Day services:
Grey Lynn – parade starts at 9.45am from the corner of Castle St, travelling along Richmond Rd and Francis St for a 10am service outside the RSC clubrooms
Mt Albert – parade starts at 9.25am at the carpark near Alberton Ave shops, with a 9.30am service at the Mt Albert War Memorial Park
Mt Eden – service at 11am at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall, with a parade at 10.50am from Dexter Ave, along Dominion Rd
Mt Roskill – starting at the intersection of Cullen Ave and May Rd, a parade will start at 9.25am and a service will be held at 9.30am at Mt Roskill War Memorial Hall
Onehunga – departing from the corner of Trafalgar St and Onehunga Mall at 9.45am, the parade will travel to Church St and Pearce St and return to Onehunga Mall for a 10am service at the RSA
Pt Chevalier – parade starting at 10.30am from Alberta St, travelling along Pt Chevalier Rd and Great North Rd, finishing at the RSA for a 10.50am service.
Visit www.maxx.co.nz for travel information.
Other side: Turkish exchange student Gizem Gencel will attend three Anzac services.
Lifetime experience: Spencer McGarry will read his essay at the service at Gallipoli.