During the Gallipoli campaign at Anzac many battlefield cemeteries were constructed. With war’s end in 1918 and the defeat of Turkey, British units were despatched to the Gallipoli peninsula where they began the task of locating cemeteries, marking graves and burying the unburied dead. This work was carried out initially by British Graves Registration personnel and in the Anzac sector it was overseen by an Australian Gallipoli veteran, Lieutenant Cyril Hughes, a Tasmanian.
In November 1919 Hughes was appointed Director of Works in control of the Imperial War Graves Commission’s (now Commonwealth War Graves Commission) cemetery and memorial construction program on Gallipoli. Under him was a mixed labour force of Turks, Greeks and White Russians, none of whom spoke English. Hughes, in his own words, communicated with them in ‘a mixture of Arabic, Turkish, and Greek’. He found that ‘the fact that I’m an Australian is better still’. Hughes was also impressed by their capacity for work and remarked ‘Thank goodness all my fellows can do about fifteen things’.
For the building work Hughes developed a Turkish quarry on Gallipoli at Ulgardere. According to one authority, the stone there was of ‘that same class as that of which the Homeric walls of Troy were built’. Some of this stone was brought in by lorry but the rest was transported by sea to North Beach where an aerial ropeway was constructed to take it up on to the ridge and down to Lone Pine. As construction work proceeded, the peninsula received its first visitors, although the intention was to keep them firmly away until all work was finished. In April 1920 Hughes wrote of someone who may have been the first Anzac pilgrim:
One old chap managed to get here from Australia looking for his son’s grave; we looked after him and he’s pushed off to Italy now.
Gradually, throughout the early 1920s, the cemeteries and memorials were built to the specifications of the Scottish architect, Sir John Burnet (1857-1938). Burnet’s designs for Gallipoli differed from those used on the Western Front in France and Belgium. The three distinguishing features of the peninsula’s cemeteries are:
- a walled cross instead of the free standing Cross of Sacrifice;
- stone-faced pedestal grave markers instead of headstones; and
- a rubble-walled ha-ha (sunken fence) to channel away fast-flowing flood waters.
Northern Anzac war cemeteries and memorials on the Gallipoli Peninsula
On the Gallipoli Peninsula today are 34 war cemeteries, 25 of which are in the Anzac area. There are a number of memorials to the missing, the largest of which are the Helles Memorial and the Lone Pine Memorial. On Chunuk Bair there is also the New Zealand National Memorial. This is a battle memorial to the New Zealand soldiers who served on Gallipoli.
Map of the Gallipoli Peninsula (top map): This map shows the Gallipoli Peninsula from Suvla Bay in the north to Cape Helles in the south. Between those, down the coastline, with the Aegean Sea to the west, are marked North Beach, Ari Burnu, Anzac Cove and Gaba Tepe. The Dardanelles run north-east from Cape Helles, with the heights of Alçıtepe and the coastal town of Eceabat shown on the peninsula coast and the town and seaport of Çanakkale on the southern coast of the Dardanelles at it’s narrowest point. An arrow further up the Dardanelles pointing north-east identifies the direction of Istanbul.
In the north, a box marks the area within which are the cemeteries of Anzac, marked as ‘North Graves’ and covering from Suvla Bay to Anzac Cove and in the south the tip of the peninsula is marked by a box within which the southern cemeteries and gravesites are found, marked as ‘South Graves’.
Map of the Anzac war cemeteries (detail map): This map is an enlargement of the detail box labeled ‘North Graves’ on the Gallipoli Peninsula map, showing the coastline from Suvla Bay in the north to just south of Anzac Cove and approximately seven kilometres inland. The access roads and tracks are marked, with the cemeteries and memorials located along them.
Marked from north to south are Azmak, Hill 10, Lala Baba, Green Hill, Hill 60 Cemetery and New Zealand Memorial. Closer together, in less than 2 kilometres of each other in the south of the map are 7th Field Ambulance, Embarkation Pier, New Zealand No. 2 Outpost, The Farm, No. 2 Outpost, Chunuk Bair Cemetery and New Zealand Memorial, Baby 700, Canterbury, The Nek, Ari Burnu, Walker’s Ridge, Quinn’s Post. Plugge’s Plateau, Courtney’s and Steel’s Post, 4th Battalion Parade Ground, Beach Cemetery, Johnson’s Jolly, Shrapnel Valley, Lone Pine Cemetery and Memorial and Shell Green.
The Gallipoli cemeteries contain 22,000 graves. However, only 9,000 of these are of identified burials with grave markers. Where it is known that a soldier is buried in a particular cemetery but his grave could not be definitely established, he is commemorated in that cemetery by what is termed a ‘special memorial’. The British and Dominion ‘missing’ - approximately 27,000 men – are commemorated by name on five memorials — Helles (British, Australian, Indian), Lone Pine (Australian and New Zealand), Twelve Tree Copse, Hill 60 and Chunuk Bair (New Zealand).
The Anzac graves
- 4th Battalion Parade Ground
- 7th Field Ambulance Cemetery
- Ari Burnu Cemetery
- Azmak Cemetery
- Baby 700 Cemetery
- Beach Cemetery
- Canterbury Cemetery
- Chunuk Bair Cemetery and N.Z. Memorial
- Courtney’s and Steel’s Post Cemetery
- Embarkation Pier Cemetery
- Green Hill Cemetery
- Hill 10 Cemetery
- Hill 60 Cemetery and NZ Memorial
- Johnston’s Jolly Cemetery
- Lala Baba Cemetery
- Lone Pine Cemetery and Memorial
- N.Z. No.2 Outpost Cemetery
- No.2 Outpost Cemetery
- Plugge’s Plateau Cemetery
- Quinn’s Post Cemetery
- Shell Green Cemetery
- Shrapnel Valley Cemetery
- The Farm Cemetery
- The Nek Cemetery
- Walker’s Ridge Cemetery
About the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is responsible for marking and maintaining the graves of those members of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars, for build ing and maintaining memorials to the dead whose graves are unknown and for providing records and registers of these burials and commemorations, totalling 1.7 million and found in most countries throughout the world. The Commonwealth cemeteries and memorials on the Gallipoli Peninsula are maintained by Commission staff. Enquiries on location of individual burials or commemoration on the Gallipoli Peninsula may be directed to the addresses below: