Anzac Cove
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Roadworks at Anzac Cove uncover bones and open old wounds Article from: HERALD SUN

Ian McPhedran

 

October 28, 2008 12:00am

TURKEY has stopped controversial roadworks at Gallipoli after more human bones were unearthed by a road grader.

 

The Australian Government was notified last week that the remains of World War I soldiers had been dug up and immediately called for the work to cease.

 

Turkish authorities agreed and Australian officials have been investigating.

 

It is believed a wayward contractor may have wrongly sealed the roadway built to provide access to Lone Pine cemetery and other sites.

 

That resulted in the heavy grader being called in to secure the edge and expand the drainage ditch.

 

Historian Bill Sellars, who lives at Gallipoli, discovered a skull and several bones close to Lone Pine last Tuesday.

 

He informed the Australian Embassy in Ankara that night and the remains were still there on Thursday. By Sunday they had disappeared.

 

Mr Sellars said the bones he saw could have come from three or more soldiers.

 

"More remains were found by the Turkish workers who removed them," he said.

 

Mr Sellars, who has campaigned vigorously against the roadworks, said the latest disturbance was shocking.

 

"This should never have happened again. I am deeply angered by this," he said. "One of the key parts of our history is being bulldozed."

 

He said after the 2005 roadworks scandal, when bones were found on the First Ridge Road, agreements were made to map and preserve the entire Gallipoli battlefield.

 

"Three years on nothing has happened and we are facing the same situation. It is outrageous."

 

Veterans Affairs Minister Alan Griffin said Australia had appointed its representatives to the archeological review panel.

 

"We are awaiting further responses from the Turkish Government," he said.

 

RSL chief Bill Crews praised the Turkish authorities and said it was a matter of balancing the risk of disturbing bodies with the needs of tens of thousands of visitors to the battlefields.

 

Author and historian Garrie Hutchinson said disturbing dead soldiers was hardly surprising given the thousands of men still missing from both sides.

 

"Anywhere you put a grader up there you will find bones," he said.

 

Speaking from Egypt, Mr Hutchinson said the Turks only built the roads because they thought that was what Australia wanted, but he says it should never have happened.

 

Some 7247 Australians and 87,000 Turkish soldiers died during the 8 1/2-month Gallipoli campaign.

 

In 2005 human bones were uncovered during excavations for the First Ridge Road. The second road runs near the place where 3000 Turks and 160 Australian troops were killed during a major Turkish offensive on May 19, 1915.

 

A eight-hour truce was called on May 24 so the rotting bodies could be buried in pits and trenches alongside what is now the sealed road.

 

In addition to 7200 Diggers, 26,000 British and other Commonwealth troops, 15,000 French and 87,000 Turkish soldiers died in the Gallipoli campaign.

 

Some 22,000 lie in war cemeteries, including 9000 whose identity was known, but thousands more lie strewn across the landscape.

 

After the 2005 bones debacle, the Howard government undertook to post an official from Veterans Affairs to exclusively monitor developments on the peninsula. That promise was broken.

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