RBL Kyrenia Branch – Çanakkale
Despatches : Day 4 – 23rd September 2012
By Margaret Sheard
23rd September – Day 4 was our last day in Çanakkale so we packed our belongings and they were loaded onto the coach ready for the long trek back to Izmir later in the day. The coach was loaded and at 10am we were off on another excursion to the mine layer Nusret, the Çimenlik Fortress and the naval museum which were all in the same vicinity so not a lot of travelling this time.
We arrived at an area near to the ferry terminal and after a short walk we arrived at our destination The grounds around the fortress were really well laid out and are maintained by the Çanakkale Naval Museum Command, there were numerous cannons, guns and naval armaments on display including part of the wreckage of a German submarine. This was the UB-46 constructed in Bremen and put to sea in 1915, it was hit by a mine on 7th December 1916. In 1993 part of the wreckage was found in the Kemerburgaz district of Istanbul but despite further efforts the rest of the wreckage has not been located.
We had some time to walk around the grounds and view all of the features before entering the fortress. Unfortunately, there was no photography allowed inside the Çimenlik Fortress and its grounds so it was a shame we could not record what we saw. We were told that the castle walls were 8½ metres thick and at one point there was a very deep hole in one of the inside walls where the castle had been damaged by an unexploded shell fired by the Queen Elizabeth battleship during the Gallipoli conflict. We managed to obtain picture of the hole made by the shell from the Turkish navy website and there is a lot of further very interesting and exciting information to be found on the Canakkale Naval Command Museum web site.
Inside the fortress we had a short film show and then were able to wander around and view all of the items and information on display before moving on to the mine layer which was moored near to the museum and fortress. At one point someone noticed a submarine going out to sea but it was quite a long way off so we were not able to get a very close view of it.
We were welcomed aboard the reproduction Nusret Mine Layer by some smiling sailors and given a tour around, and going down very steep ladders we were able to view the quarters of the crew which had hammocks in the extremely small area which looked very cramped to me. There would have been 3 watches so the sailors took it in turns to sleep, eat etc. The captain’s cabin, although very small, was very smart, as was the officers’ cabin.There was a sick bay, galley and wardroom, again all very small areas. We then came up on deck and down another ladder to what would have originally been the coal store and more sleeping area for the crew, now it is a small cinema with carpeting, a luxury which I am sure the crew would never have imagined or enjoyed.Up on deck again I managed to have a few words with the 3 sailors on duty and luckily Alison was on hand to interpret as they had very limited English.
I asked how many would have manned the ship and they said a total of 64 including the captain and officers. How on earth did they get all those men on what is a relatively small ship?Still smiling broadly they bade us farewell and we then proceeded to the naval museum.
The museum, situated across the square, again was a very well laid out building with a series of rooms depicting the various battles, armaments and uniforms were also on display and a lot of written information, luckily in English as well.
We then made our way back towards the ferry terminal to a restaurant where we had a lovely lunch and then got on the coach and made our way back to the hotel to collect a few of the group who had chosen to do their own thing that morning. We said farewell to Alison who had been our interpreter for the last few days as she was due to go back to Istanbul and there wasn’t much point in travelling down to Izmir with us.
Then came the gruelling 6 hour journey back to Izmir, it didn’t seem quite so long on the way back and we had a few stops, including a visit to an onyx factory where there were hundreds of animal figures of all shapes and sizes, vases – large and small, all in different shades of onyx, plus a huge room where there was an enormous amount of jewellery on display. I was tempted but the prices were a little on the high side.
We arrived back in Izmir at around 7.30pm and checked into the Hotel Konak which was right on the sea front and quite close to the town.By the time we had checked in and been allocated our rooms it was getting quite late and as we had already had lunch and were feeling pretty tired we just chilled out and had an early night.