This blog is about our trip to Turkey in June and July this year ( 2013). As usual we’ll be recording our experiences and responses to the people, the food and the culture. But this time our travels also have another more serious side. We are going to take the opportunity to visit some of the places where Helen’s grandfather, Maurice Delpratt, was held for over three years as a prisoner during the First World War. He returned to Australia in 1919, married Mary Esther Davies and had three daughters, Barbara, Catherine (Helen’s mother) and Janet (who is travelling with us). He died in 1957, only a few months after Helen was born.
The catalyst for this, is reading for the first time the old letters that Maurice wrote from the prison camps. These have been kept by the family and recently were presented to the Queensland State Library. There are over 200 letters and they paint a poignant picture of a modest and decent man surviving the daily hardships of a prison camp in the remote mountains of Central Turkey.
John’s grandfather, Ernest Strambini, also fought at Gallipoli. It turns out that our grandfathers, both from Queensland units, were there around the same time and probably dug in on the Gallipoli Peninsula not too far from each other. We hope to learn more about this from Australian military historian Bill Sellars who lives in Eceabat on the peninsula. Bill has very kindly offered to show us around the Gallipoli battlefields and point out where our grandfathers saw action, and in Maurice’s case, where he was captured.