Shrapnel Valley (also known as Shrapnel Gully) was often a safer way to the front lines during the Gallipoli Campaign although nearly always under heavy Turkish Army bombardment; hence the name.
The Cemetery was laid out near the exit to the beach from the valley, south of Anzac Cove in early May 1915. After Lone Pine it is the largest battlefield cemetery in the old Anzac sector. Despite being some 1,000 yards (914 metres) from the Turkish lines the cemetery was constantly exposed to enemy sniper fire. On 9 May 1915, Chaplain Ernest Merrington wrote of his visit there:
“The bullets often fell thickly around our little parties of workers on this site which has become forever sacred to Australians and New Zealanders … I was down there by myself at dawn, and found the fallen men laid side by side ready for internment. For hours I worked, laying the bodies in the graves, with no assistance except for a few men of a fatigue party making a track near by. I placed the identity discs and personal effects at the head of each grave. I counted 42 Australians and 10 Turks. The sun arose over the eastern hill revealing the awesome scene around me, of death, nobility, valour and sacrifice.”
[AWM 1DRL/496 Chaplain Ernest Northcote Merrington, 1st Light Horse Regiment.]
Reverend Walter Dexter organised working parties to build a low rock wall around part of the cemetery to protect it from flooding winter rains and obtained paint and other materials to ensure the neat appearance of the graves.
Today Shrapnel Valley with its distinctive Judas tree is considered to be amongst the most beautiful on the peninsula. Largely completed during the Gallipoli campaign, a small number of graves were incorporated into the cemetery after the war. Of the 683 burials in the cemetery, 527 are Australians, 56 New Zealanders, 28 British and 72 unknowns. Special Memorials commemorate 23 men believed to be buried here.
Gallipoli Campaign Turkey World War 1