News

Historic wreck found at Gallipoli

Discoveries: The hospital barge from above.
Discoveries: The hospital barge from above. Mark Spencer

A COFFS Harbour photographer has spearheaded an incredible discovery at Anzac Cove.

Mark Spencer's work with Australia's leading maritime archaeology team has uncovered a number of new shipwrecks - and one that is very close to home.

Dr Spencer's great uncle may have carried wounded soldiers to a hospital ship that the team uncovered during the first scientific ocean survey of the seabed in Anzac Cove.

"My great uncle on my mother's side, Hector Markey, was a stretcher bearer in the second half of that Gallipoli campaign," said Dr Spencer.

"It was an amazing feeling to stand exactly where he stood on the shoreline 95 years ago and view the landscape in such a different context.

"Then, when diving off Anzac Cove, we found the deep water barge. It's very possible my great uncle carried wounded soldiers to this very barge.

"Only then I realised how these relics have the ability to transport one back in time."

The hospital vessel was one of a number of historic shipwrecks, the expedition "Project Beneath Gallipoli" located from the eight-month World War I battle.

"That one wreck in particular really brought home the agony of the conflict," NSW Government Maritime Archaeologist Tim Smith said.

"Detected 1.3 nautical miles off Anzac Cove in 55 metres of water, the wreck had only been known as an obstacle to local Turkish fishermen.

"When dived and recorded, we confirmed it was a type of barge known through historic photos for carrying dead and seriously wounded Anzac troops off the beach in 1915."

The survey team used a detailed sidescan sonar survey of the seabed to find the wrecks adjacent to the famous Anzac Cove, Brighton Beach, North Beach and Suvla Bay.

Another significant discovery came in the form of a towed landing barge, which was the precursor to the classic motorised landing barges made famous in the Normandy beach landings in World War II.

"I imagined myself inside the barge waiting for the ramped door to drop down," Dr Spencer said.

"I tried to feel what that must have felt like when landing as the enemy to another's shore."

The underwater evidence also gave a horrifying insight into why the Diggers' beach landing and initial assault on the Gallipoli Peninsula went so horribly wrong, playing out as the most bloody and futile campaign of the modern era.

"The shallow water immediately off Anzac Cove was no safe haven for tired Anzac soldiers," said Dr Spencer.

"We saw many bullets and lead ball shrapnel which exploded out of shells fired towards the beach by the Turks. I believe some 600 soldiers were killed just swimming or hanging around the beach over the eight months of the campaign. It was certainly no holiday destination."

The expedition team also managed to prove that a known wreck in Suvla Bay was in fact the remains of the British Destroyer HMS Louis. This vessel ran aground in October 1915 and was destroyed by Turkish shell fire.

Mr Smith said the wreck had previously been identified as a vessel engaged in water supply.

But the Australian researchers confirmed it to be a naval warship by its four Yarrow steam boilers.

Other significant finds included a wreck located in just a metre of water off the beach, British type .303 rifle ammunition, remains of lead balls from the devastating Turkish shrapnel shells and remains of several pontoons.

Those piers are believed to belong to the Royal Australia Navy's Bridging Train - an engineering unit based in Suvla Bay and in charge of stores of water and supply.

Made possible through a State Government grant, the expedition hopes other targets are likely to be identified as the sonar data are analysed in detail back in Sydney

Providing a tremendous insight into the previously undervalued underwater component of the battlefield, the team is now planning a return next year.

There it will continue its important heritage mapping work ahead of the 2015 centenary of the Gallipoli campaign.

A report outlining the shipwrecks and various war relics will be presented to both the Australian and Turkish governments.

In those reports an assessment will be provided on how best to manage these unique under-water archaeological sites in the future.

"This is a landmark project. It adds another dimension to our understanding of the Gallipoli landings," Dr Spencer said.

"History becomes very tangible. It's like visiting a museum under the sea."



Council candidates talk climate change

Members of the Coffs Coast Climate Action Group and local residents call on the CommBank to refuse funding for coal projects.21 MAY 2015Photo Gemima Harvey/Coffs Coast Advocate

COFFS Harbour City Council candidates will discuss climate change

Delicious meals are the real deal

CELEBRATION: Meals on Wheels Sawtell branch chef, Belinda, bakes cupcakes for clients.

MEALS on Wheels is "taking it to the streets”

Milestone for two cultures

HONOURED: Uncle Trevor Wilson attended the flag raising at Fitzroy Barracks.

Flag raising at Fitzroy Barracks serves as big step forward

Latest deals and offers

MOVIE REVIEW: Life on the Road

Ricky Gervais, Ben Bailey Smith and Foregone Conclusion (Steve Clarke, Andy Burrows, Stuart Baxter Wilkinson, Michael Clarke) in a scene from David Brent: Life on the Road.

Ricky Gervais has brought David Brent back to life on the big screen

Jessica Alba wants tequila shots served at her funeral

Businesswoman and actor Jessica Alba

There won't be mourning at this funeral

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

Charlize Theron's son dresses up as Frozen character

Actor Charlize Theron

Star's son spotted dressed a beloved Frozen character

BOOKS: Food for thought in Caroline Beecham's latest novel

Maggie's Kitchen by Caroline Beecham is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

New novel reminds readers that bravery exists in many forms

TELEVISION: New show is a Survivor, for now

Jonathan LaPaglia hosts the TV series Australian Survivor.

WHAT happens when a new show with a big budget flops?

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m