Wednesday 23 April 2014 by John Holloway. 1 comment
Education at the Memorial, News

Thank you to everyone who submitted their guess for this week. As promised, here is the answer:

It is a wooden sign, which reads “English burying place”, made from a section of packing case.

It was found by Australian Ernest Peacock at Gallipoli in 1918, just after the war. The Allies had once again landed on the Gallipoli peninsula – this time in peace – where they would occupy the forts of the Dardanelles they had never reached in 1915. With the experience of the Gallipoli campaign still vividly in mind, Australians and New Zealanders strongly desired to be part of this landing force. As a result, members of the 7th Light Horse Regiment and Canterbury Mounted Rifles landed there on 5 December 1918.

Peacock, who found the wooden sign and signed his name at the bottom, was not one of these soldiers however. He was a businessman from Melbourne who traveled extensively in his work for the Australian YMCA. Shortly after seeing the last shots fired by the Allied guns at Vimy Ridge, in France, he arrived at Gallipoli to accompany the Australians.

Peacock collected the wooden sign from a wire fence the Turks had erected around the Shrapnel Valley Cemetery – now the resting place of over 500 Australians killed by the Ottoman guns and snipers that rained hell on the Anzacs’ supply route in 1915. Peacock wanted the sign to be preserved as evidence that the Turks had “cared for our dead in a becoming manner”.

Shrapnel Valley Cemetery: in 1915 and 2008.

Indeed they had. Not long after Peacock died, in 1934 the Turkish president Kemal Pasha (Atatürk), who had fought the Anzacs during the war, wrote a tribute to those that had died:

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours... you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.

Kemal Pasha (Ataturk), first president of the new Republic of Turkey.


B. Davis

It is amazing that any wooden relics survive. Thank you for sharing this story.