Bones unearthed at Anzac Cove

Two days after the controversial road at Anzac Cove opened to traffic, there are fears thousands of soldiers’ remains will be exhumed and trenches destroyed if the Australian Government’s request for further roadworks at Gallipoli goes ahead.

After weeks of silence, Australian Prime Minister John Howard admitted last month his Government had requested the roadworks.

But an Australian living on the Gallipoli peninsula fears that a proposal to improve the road between the Australian memorial at Lone Pine and the New Zealand shrine at Chunuk Bair could be even more devastating.

The single-lane road runs along the front line of the Gallipoli campaign; Anzac trenches and tunnels only metres away on one side, and Turkish fortifications on the other.

Thousands of men from both forces are buried under the road in what was known as "no-man’s land".

"If they dig up that road to improve it, they will unearth scattered remains," said Bill Sellars, an Australian journalist who has lived in Turkey for 10 years and on the peninsula since 2002. "It will destroy the link with the past. All we will have is a series of roads linking us up to carparks and concrete memorials."

Mr Sellars claimed to have found a human upper arm bone in a new carpark at Shrapnel Gully, one of three carparks built into the ridges as part of the Anzac Cove roadworks.

Other bones were found among the works, which Turkish officials claimed were animal remains.

Buses made use of the new 6.5km road yesterday as the first of the thousands of expected New Zealand and Australian pilgrims paid their respects at the beach where 24,000 Anzacs landed on April 25, 1915. The track which the Anzacs built above the beach when they landed remained largely untouched until more than 30 years ago.

Then work requested by the Australian Government changed the look and feel of Anzac Cove, as well as disturbed remains. From the narrow strip of rocky beach, a sheer cliff of 5m rises to the 20m wide two-lane coastal road which abuts another sheer 30m rise made up of excavated dirt and rubble, rather than the ridges which housed the Anzacs, their headquarters and hospitals.

"It needed some repair work, no one ever argues that," Mr Sellars said. "But the scale of work is excessive. It has changed the shape of Anzac Cove, it has disrupted relics and human remains. But it has cut through the historic fabric of the terrain here and broken the link I think we have with the people who landed here that first morning."

Meanwhile, the New Zealand flag will be fluttering alongside the Australian flag for the first time on the Sydney Harbour Bridge this weekend.

"We must never forget that Anzac means Australian and New Zealand. There can be no better way to symbolise the bond between our two nations," said New South Wales Premier Bob Carr.

- AAP

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