Startling underwater discovery at Gallipoli battlefield

Underwater archaeologists exploring off the coast of Gallipoli, Turkey, have found a somber relic from the famous WWI battle. A barge that removed dead and wounded soldiers from the beachhead back to a hospital ship was found at the bottom of the sea. The team also found the wreck of the HMS Lewis, a British destroyer.

Gallipoli is a Turkish peninsula that controls access between the Black and the Aegean seas. It also guards the western approach to Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which fought on Germany’s side in World War One. In 1915, UK’s First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill decided it was of crucial strategic importance and landed troops there. What followed was a disaster. Allied troops got pinned down on the beaches and endured months of constant fighting before they finally pulled out. The Turks suffered too, with each side losing a quarter of a million men.

The Allied side included not only UK, French, and Canadian troops, but also a large number of men from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The ANZACs, as they’re commonly called, became heroes back home and are national icons to this day. The hospital barge was found near ANZAC Cove, shown here, and was probably sunk while carrying casualties from this famous unit.

Gallipoli is one of the most popular destinations in Turkey. Faint traces of the trenches from 90 years ago are still visible, and guided tours show visitors the locations of the various armies fighting it out for control of the beach and overlooking mountains.

A nice detail about this story is that the archaeologists are a joint Australian-Turkish team. Looks like these folks are remembering their history while putting it behind them.

Photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.