All but two of the cemeteries of the 1914-1918 War, Haidar Pasha and Chanak, are on the Gallipoli Peninsula, which stretches southwards for 60 miles from the Sea of Marmora in the north to Cape Helles in the south. The 31 war cemeteries are in three areas, all within 25 miles of Cape Helles. They consist of the Cape Helles group of cemeteries near the southern end of the peninsula where the British and Indians landed on 25th April 1915; the Anzac group of cemeteries in the so-called Anzac Area on the west of the peninsula about 15 miles north of Cape Helles, where the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed, also on 25th April; and the Suvla group of cemeteries near Suvla Bay, a few miles north of Anzac Area, where the British made new landings to support further Anzac attacks from 6th August 1915.
All troops, Commonwealth, French and Turkish, fought desperately and courageously in a bleak and difficult terrain, losses on both sides being high. But eventually the attempt to dislodge the Turks and gain control of the Dardanelles failed and, on 20th December, the last rear guards were taken off Suvla and Anzac. Early in January 1916, the last British troops were evacuated from Cape Helles. In all 25,000 British, 22 Newfoundlanders, 7,300 Australians, 2,400 New Zealanders, and 1,700 Indians (and perhaps 10,000 French) are buried or commemorated on this small strip of land. The Commonwealth graves are marked by semi-recumbent stone 'Gallipoli' plaques.
One great difference between the Gallipoli cemeteries and those elsewhere in the world is the abnormally high proportion of markers which bear a superscription making it clear that the exact place of burial in the cemetery is unknown. In many cases, the best that can be stated is 'Believed To Be Buried In This Cemetery'. Most of the cemeteries have an inscribed stone block near the entrance stating the number of unidentified burials.
The difficulty in locating the exact position of the graves and in identifying them is due to the nature of the close fighting during the nine months' campaign. No Army Graves Unit was able to visit the battlefields until after the Armistice, by which time many of the original wooden markers which had survived shelling and fighting had been displaced, lost, or destroyed by nature.
Azmak Cemetery, Suvla
Azmak is the most northerly of the cemeteries on the peninsula and was constructed at the end of the war. Its graves are of those who died on the Suvla plains in August 1915 or in later actions in the vicinity. It contains 560 British and 12 Newfoundland burials and 500 who are entirely unidentified.
Lancashire Landing, Helles
The 29th British Division (later to serve with distinction on the Somme) landed at Cape Helles on 25th April in five small coves, codenamed S, V, W, X, and Y Beaches. The 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers landed at W Beach under very severe fire and cut their way through wire and trenches to establish themselves on the hills inland. The beach became known as Lancashire Landing as a tribute to their endeavours.
The cemetery, the greater part of which was made between the landing in April 1915 and the evacuation in January 1916, contains 1,200 British burials, two Newfoundland, 30 Australian, 15 New Zealand and 20 unidentified.
|The text on this page has been taken from Courage Remembered, by Kingsley Ward and Major Edwin Gibson.|