C.E.W. Bean, Australia's War correspondent wrote the Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18. It is his description in Chapter XVII "The Preparatory Demonstrations - Lean's Trench", that we have relied heavily upon for the real detail needed to complete the project. Only in Bean's work do we get a sense of the trench as most official maps show nothing but a vague scar on the land. Much of this detail has been translated into illustrations of the attack by James Hurst in his excellent work, 'Game to the Last' about the 11th Battalion in Gallipoli. Both these works have assisted us greatly in drawing up a plan of the trench layout. While we strive for accuracy, no detailed images survive of the trench itself apart from a series of photographs taken under Bean's direction in 1919 which portray a trench largely reclaimed by the native bush. Nevertheless, while accepting that without having actually been there we are delivering our interpretation, the trench map we have developed and amended is based as closely as we are able to do on Beans original illustrations and must be accepted as close as we will get. Artistic license will clearly be, to some extent, necessary while remaining realistic and true to the descriptions we have, and relying in part on many of the other photographs of Turkish trenches extant, notwithstanding the alterations made by the 11th Battalion during that first intense night.
The working plan
It is envisaged that visitors will walk a time path detailing relevant events in the 11th's progress toward August 1915 from the bottom of the above plan to the uppermost point. At the top end you will enter a tunnel, the tunnel constructed by engineers to blow mines, and adapted into communications tunnels, and from there you will be led down to the trench, where, acting as reinforcements you will be pushed along for approximately 70mtrs, meeting actors along the way who will give you an insight into life at that moment on 6 August 1915. You will then re-enter another tunnel out into the 21st Century. Those who have paid an additional fee on top of the gold coin donation will continue down the trench to the southern most point where they will be kitted up and photographed in a similar pose to the photo we have of members of the 12th in the same spot. Those visitors will then enter the last tunnel and return out to the area where a Roll of Honour will be maintained.
That is the plan. But that is also two years away.
The saps into 'Turkish' communications trenches will disguise sound systems to give you a sense of activity with the noise of shell and rifle fire. Empty bullet cases will litter the floor. Allusions to the dead will fill the spaces you walk. Realism and experience will always be the key to this project.
See the GALLERY for regular photographic updates of progress.