8 Things You May Not Know About the Gallipoli Campaign

8 Things You May Not Know About the Gallipoli Campaign

1. The Allies wildly underestimated their enemies.
Long called the “sick man of Europe,” the Ottoman Empire had suffered one military defeat after another in the lead-up to World War I. Its reputation was so bad, in fact, that the British and their main allies, the French, half-thought they would cause the government to collapse simply by showing up. With their modern battleships busy fighting Germany, they almost exclusively employed outdated models during the Gallipoli campaign. They also made little effort to gather intelligence on the opposing Ottoman force. Lacking adequate maps, the steep gully-filled terrain caught them by surprise. And to top it off, most of their troops were inexperienced.

2. The Allies hoped to win with their navy alone.
Believing that victory could be achieved without the use of the army, the British and French opened up the Gallipoli campaign on February 19, 1915, with a long-range naval bombardment. After a bad weather delay of nearly a week, they then knocked out the forts at the mouth of the Dardanelles, the narrow strait separating Europe from Asia that served as the gateway to Constantinople. The next step involved sending minesweepers into the strait to clear the way forward; however, steady howitzer fire from shore prevented them from effectively doing their job. Since big warships could not shoot accurately enough, and marine landing parties faced stiff resistance, all attempts to silence these howitzers failed. Yet Allied leaders back home enjoined their military commanders to press ahead anyway, and on March 18 they attempted to power their way through the strait with 18 battleships, along with cruisers, destroyers and numerous other support vessels. Sure enough, mines and shellfire sank three of these battleships and severely damaged three others, forcing a retreat. Days later, it was decided that army troops would be needed after all.

3. The Allies never made it much past the beach.
The ground attack began on April 25, when Allied soldiers landed simultaneously at various points near the mouth of the Dardanelles. British troops carved out a foothold at Cape Helles, the southernmost point of the Gallipoli Peninsula, located on the European side of the strait, and were soon reinforced by the French. But despite several bloody battles, they never managed to advance more than a few miles inland. Not far to the north on the Gallipoli Peninsula, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps established an even more tenuous foothold, having been stopped in its tracks by future Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, then a divisional commander. With both bridgeheads devolving into trench warfare similar to that on the Western Front, the Allies launched a new amphibious assault in early August. This only succeeded, however, at forming a third static foothold.

4. One of the few things that went well for the Allies was the withdrawal.
Historians often criticize the Allied generals for acting incompetently throughout the Gallipoli campaign. Yet they did get one thing right. As they gradually evacuated the peninsula in December 1915 and January 1916, they ordered the troops to bring in empty supply boxes, leave up extra tents, light extra cooking fires, continue firing artillery and even put helmets on sticks to exaggerate their numbers. Such trickery helped prevent the Ottomans from understanding exactly what was happening until it was too late to press their advantage. During the entire evacuation process, they inflicted virtually no casualties—much to the pleasant astonishment of the Allied force’s newly installed top commander, who had estimated losses of 30-40 percent.

5. Submarines played a major role in the campaign.
Though Allied troops and surface boats struggled to make any progress at Gallipoli, several submarines succeeded in sneaking through the Dardanelles and into the waters around Constantinople. Attacking merchant vessels, warships and troop transports alike, they largely prevented the terrified Ottomans from moving men and supplies by sea. One particularly daring British submarine commander, Martin Nasmith, destroyed more than 80 enemy craft. He once even fired at soldiers along the shore and landed a saboteur to blow up a railway bridge. The Germans likewise had submarines operating in the area, including one U-boat that sank two British battleships in the span of 48 hours. Meanwhile, up in the sky, British seaplanes made history with the first-ever aerial torpedo attacks.

6. Gallipoli almost derailed Winston Churchill’s career.
As Britain’s powerful First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill masterminded the Gallipoli campaign and served as its chief public advocate. It was no surprise then that he ultimately took much of the blame for its failure. Demoted in May 1915, he resigned from the cabinet altogether a few months later and took off to head an infantry battalion on the Western Front. “I am finished!” Churchill supposedly remarked. By 1917, however, he had received a new cabinet post. From there, though his political opponents delighted in shouting out “Remember the Dardanelles” in the House of Commons, he slowly worked his way back up, culminating in his appointment as prime minister in 1940 when Britain stood essentially alone in the fight against Nazi Germany.

7. Three separate national identities were forged at Gallipoli.
Despite having just gained a large (albeit incomplete) measure of independence from Britain, Australians and New Zealanders did not necessarily identify themselves as distinct until the horrors of Gallipoli awakened their national consciousness. Since 1916, the two countries have held an Anzac Day every April 25, named for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) that fought in the campaign. The holiday, somewhat akin to Memorial Day in the United States, commemorates those who have died in war and is celebrated, among other things, with a dawn service, veterans’ marches, the wearing of red poppies and the gambling game two-up. A heightened sense of nationalism also emerged among the victors at Gallipoli, which Atatürk and his cohorts used to great effect in founding the independent Republic of Turkey out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. Australians, New Zealanders and Turks all commonly make pilgrimages to the battlefield, now a protected national park with numerous gravesites and memorials.

8. The last Gallipoli survivor made it to the 21st century.
Having lied about his age to enlist, 16-year-old Alec Campbell arrived at Gallipoli in October 1915, only to fall ill with a bad case of the mumps. Subsequently discharged as medically unfit, he spent the rest of his life in his native Australia, working on a cattle station and then as a carpenter before getting his economics degree and joining the civil service. Of the roughly 1 million British, French, Australian, New Zealand, Indian, Canadian, African, Ottoman and German men who took part in the Gallipoli campaign, an estimated 110,000 died on the battlefield. Of the rest, only a handful lived to see the 21st century. Campbell was the last known survivor, finally succumbing in May 2002 at the age of 103.

The Gallipoli campaign

The Gallipoli campaign was a bold Allied offensive against the Ottoman Empire, launched in April 1915. The objective of the campaign was to seize control of the Dardanelles peninsula and the Bosphorus, giving Allied navies and merchant ships passage between the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

The Gallipoli campaign failed due to miscalculations, tactical errors and an underestimation of Ottoman forces. After sustaining heavy losses and a long period of stalemate, Allied forces were withdrawn at the end of 1915.

The Ottoman position

The Ottoman Empire occupied a position of great strategic importance, sandwiched between the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Balkans, the Middle East and northern Africa. Ottoman power was dwindling, however, due to internal problems and rising nationalist movements in their empire.

Prior to the war, Ottoman rulers had sought a military alliance to bolster their regime. Britain was their preferred ally. Constantinople launched three successive attempts to forge an alliance with London (1908, 1911 and 1913) but each was rejected.

For Britain, the strategic advantages of an alliance with the Ottomans were outweighed by having to prop up the crumbling empire. Britain had also signed an alliance with Russia, a traditional rival of the Ottomans.

The German alliance

Germany was more interested in an Ottoman alliance, particularly as the clouds of war gathered.

Since 1904, Berlin had been constructing a railway across Ottoman territory to Baghdad. Once completed, this railway would provide easy access to and from ports and oil fields in Mesopotamia (Iraq). An alliance with the Ottoman sultanate would help secure this Berlin-to-Baghdad railway. It would give Germany a measure of control over the Bosphorus, a neck of water connecting the Mediterranean with the Black Sea. It would also provide land access to northern Africa and the Middle East.

German-Ottoman negotiations intensified during the July crisis. A secret alliance was finally signed on August 2nd 1914, just five days after the first declaration of war. The Ottomans did not formally enter World War I until late October, when their fleet entered the Black Sea and shelled Russian ports there.

Allied strategy

The push for an assault on the Ottoman Empire emerged in late 1914. With the Western Front quickly slipping into stalemate, some Allied commanders argued for the creation of a ‘second front’ against the weaker Ottomans and Austro-Hungarians.

In Britain, a major advocate for this strategy was Winston Churchill, a young aristocrat who had been appointed First Lord of the Admiralty before his 37th birthday. Churchill held a low opinion of Ottoman military capacity. He considered Ottoman land forces to be ill-equipped, disorganised and poorly officered, while the Ottoman navy relied mainly on decrepit 19th-century ships.

In February 1915, a joint Anglo-French naval force attempted to blast open the Dardanelles. Their ships sustained heavy damage from mines and land-based artillery.

The decision was made for an amphibious landing sometime in April or May. This assault would seize control of the Dardanelles coastline and clear it of artillery. This would give Allied ships a clear run to the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus, where they could attack the Ottoman capital, Constantinople.

The campaign takes shape

An Allied invasion force was hastily organised. Since generals were reluctant to release men from the Western Front, the landing force was comprised mainly of British units stationed in the Middle East, British Empire forces (Australians, New Zealanders, Indians and Canadians) and 80,000 French troops from Africa.

Fully aware of Allied intentions, the Ottomans began preparations to repel an invasion. They were assisted by General Otto Liman von Sanders, a German military envoy, who gave them advice on likely Allied strategy and how to prepare defences.

While Ottoman troops trained and drilled, defensive positions were built along critical points of the Dardanelles peninsula. This area was known to the locals as Gelibolu, or Gallipoli. The coastline was mined, beaches were fenced with barbed wire, machine-gun nests were installed on elevated positions.

While the Allies were confident of victory, the six-week interregnum between their February naval assault and the April landing would prove fatal. Ottoman forces, though still thinly spread and poorly equipped, were well prepared.

Allied plans go awry

The Allied plan aimed to bombard Ottoman defences with naval artillery then disorient their forces with co-ordinated landings at several points on the peninsula.

When the invasion began on April 25th, however, the plan quickly went awry. At two landing points, the Allies encountered much stronger opposition than anticipated. At ‘V Beach’, British troops approaching the beach in boats were strafed with machine-gun fire.

On the other side of the peninsula, Allied soldiers reached ‘W Beach’ but found it strewn with barbed wire and mines. Ottoman machine-gun nests in elevated positions opened fire on them once ashore. The death toll at these two beaches exceeded 50 per cent.

Meanwhile, landing forces elsewhere on the peninsula strolled ashore with barely a casualty. The Allied soldiers at ‘S Beach’ found it defended by only 15 Ottoman soldiers. At ‘Y Beach’, the coastline was deserted and British soldiers stood on the beach, pondering what to do.

The April 25th landings

The most famous blunder of the Gallipoli campaign occurred further north at ‘Z Beach’, north of Gaba Tepe.

The objective here was a broad four-mile stretch of flat coastline – but when the mission began before dawn on April 25th, the boats became disoriented in the pitch-black night and landed a mile north of their target. Instead of ‘Z Beach’, much of the Australian and New Zealand contingent came ashore at a small inlet, later dubbed ANZAC Cove.

As the Allies came ashore, Mustafa Kemal, one of the Ottoman Empire’s most talented officers, moved in and set up defensive positions around the inlet. Surrounded by high hilltops and thick scrub, ANZAC Cove was easily defended by Ottoman snipers and machine-gunners, most operating from elevated positions.

Allied attempts to break out of the area and move inland were repelled. Within a week, the situation at ANZAC Cove had reached a stalemate.

The Dardanelles stalemate

Though unable to advance, the Allies maintained their positions on the beaches of the Dardanelles peninsula for almost eight months.

Further breakout attempts were launched in August at Lone Pine, Chunuk Bair and The Nek – but all failed with high casualties. No further offensives were contemplated.

Elsewhere, British and French forces were no more successful in gaining ground or moving up the peninsula.

The retreat

By early December, London had decided to abandon the Gallipoli campaign. ANZAC Cove was evacuated by sea in December 1915, an operation many considered the most successful element of the campaign. The rest of the peninsula was evacuated by mid-January 1916.

The attempt to capture the Dardanelles was an unmitigated military disaster, riddled with false assumptions and poor planning. It cost in excess of 44,000 Allied lives.

In contrast, the defence of Gallipoli was the Ottoman Empire’s most successful military operation of the war.

The date of the landings, April 25th, is today known as ANZAC Day, a day of war remembrance in Australia and New Zealand.

A historian’s view:
“From the British perspective, few military operations can have begun with such a cavalier disregard for the elementary principles of war. Gallipoli was a campaign driven by wish-fulfilment rather than a professional assessment of the strategy and tactics required. Right from the beginning, it was a distraction from should have been the main business of the war: concentrating scarce military resources on defeating the Germans on the Western Front.”
Peter Hart

1. The Gallipoli campaign was an Allied attempt to capture the Dardanelles peninsula, in order to gain access to the Black Sea and knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war.

2. The campaign was devised after the Ottomans entered the war as a German ally. It was championed by British commanders such as Winston Churchill, who perceived the Ottomans as militarily weak.

3. The Gallipoli landings went awry early due to errors in planning, intelligence and Allied ships landing at the wrong sites. Ottoman troops were also aware of the offensive and thus able to prepare.

4. The Allies met stiff resistance from Turkish soldiers and incurred heavy casualties. They were bogged down in the Dardanelles for eight months.

5. In December 1915, Allied commanders decided to withdraw from Gallipoli, an operation carried out successfully. The campaign failed to achieve its objective but cost in excess of 44,000 lives.

1. Fly Swarms

The hot climate, putrefying bodies and unsanitary conditions led to huge swarms of flies at Gallipoli, which made life almost unbearable for the men there. The flies plagued them all the time, covering any food they opened and making it impossible to eat anything without swallowing some of the insects with it.

As Gallipoli veteran Stanley Parker Bird said: ‘There were colossal swarms of these pests which had bred in the dead bodies not buried in no man’s land, where it was impossible to recover them without incurring fresh casualties.’

Gallipoli: 5 reasons why the First World War campaign was a failure

But for the achievement of the Australian and New Zealander Army Corps (Anzac) in carving out a small bridgehead at Anzac Cove, the WW1 campaign to seize the Gallipoli peninsula was a disaster, says Peter Hart. Writing for BBC History Magazine, the author of a 2011 book on the disastrous First World War campaign offers his explanations for the Allies' failure in 1915

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Published: April 9, 2021 at 11:11 am

What happened at Gallipoli?

The Gallipoli campaign was a terrible tragedy. The attempt by the Allies to seize the Gallipoli peninsula from the Ottoman empire and gain control over the strategically-important Dardanelles failed in a welter of hubris, blood and suffering. Located just across the Dardanelles straits from the fabled city of Troy, its classical undertones have helped create a rich mythology of ‘the terrible ifs’ of what might have been achieved with ‘a bit more luck’. The beach landings at Helles – the first made against modern weapons systems – saw incredible heroism and turned the sea at V Beach red with blood.

Gallipoli is today synonymous with the achievement of the Australian and New Zealander Army Corps (ANZAC) in carving out a small bridgehead at Anzac Cove. That maze of tangled gullies and ridges is still sacred for Australians.

But for all that the campaign was an utter failure. The question is why? Here are five possible reasons…

The Gallipoli campaign was poorly conceived

The First World War stalled when the huge armies of Germany and France fought themselves to a standstill on the Western Front in 1914. When the Ottoman Turks attacked Russians in the Caucasus mountains in December 1914, Russia went to her allies requesting help. The British were fully committed elsewhere but a group of politicians led by Winston Churchill, then at the Admiralty, sought to help Russia with an attack on the Gallipoli peninsula that aimed to gain control of the Dardanelles straits that separated Asia and Europe. This, it was boasted, would remove one of the allies ‘propping up’ Germany, influence wavering Balkan states and open the sea route to Russian Black Sea ports for the export of munitions to feed Russian guns on the Eastern Front.

Much of this was nonsense. There was no backdoor to Germany no easy route to victory, no allies that propped her up. Germany operated on interior lines of communications and even in the event of a Turkish defeat would merely have rushed reinforcements to bolster her Austro–Hungarian allies.

Finally Britain did not have sufficient munitions for her own armies. Britain had to fight the war as it was not how visionaries dreamt it might be. German armies were deep in France, and Britain could not just abandon her ally to her fate. The priority of the Western Front meant that the Gallipoli expedition could never be given sufficient men and guns to have any chance of success. As such it should never have been started.

The myths of the battle of Gallipoli

Professor Gary Sheffield challenges some commonly held assumptions about this failed attempt to change the course of the First World War…

The British Army wasn’t ready

The British Army of 1915 was not yet ready for war. There were not enough guns or shells for the Gallipoli campaign to have any chance against Turkish troops once they were well dug in, with barbed wire, machine guns and artillery. Success demanded hundreds of guns that did not exist, fired by gunners not yet trained, using complex artillery techniques that had not been invented, firing hundreds of thousands of shells as yet not manufactured. It required infantry tactics not yet painfully developed in the heat of battle and support weapons not yet imagined.

Gallipoli shared the failings of every campaign launched in that benighted year: a lack of realistic goals, no coherent plan, the use of inexperienced troops for whom this would be the first campaign, a failure to comprehend or properly disseminate maps and intelligence, negligible artillery support, totally inadequate logistical and medical arrangements, a gross underestimation of the enemy, incompetent local commanders – all of which was overlaid with lashings of misplaced over-confidence leading to inexorable disaster.

Gallipoli was damned before it started. Every day merely prolonged the agony and it ended in such catastrophe that it could only be disguised by vainglorious bluster.

Inferior leadership

The British commander was General Sir Ian Hamilton who was one of Britain’s greatest soldiers. He was no fool, but his plans for Gallipoli were fatally overcomplicated. He launched multiple attacks, each dependent on each other’s success, but left isolated when things went wrong. Taken as a whole, his schemes were utterly unrealistic. Everything had to go right, but his plans demanded incredible feats of heroism, raw troops would have to perform like veterans and incompetent subordinates lead like Napoleon. Above all, his plans demanded that the Turks put up little resistance. When the landings failed he blamed everyone but himself.

“Behind us we had a swarm of adverse influences: our own General Headquarters in France, the chief of the imperial general staff of the War Office, the first sea lord of the Admiralty, the French cabinet and the best organised part of the British press. Fate willed it so. Faint hearts and feeble wills seemed for a while to succeed in making vain the sacrifices of Anzac, Helles and Suvla. Only the dead men stuck it out to the last.” – General Sir Ian Hamilton

Opposing Hamilton was a German, General Otto Liman von Sanders. A steady professional, Liman husbanded his reserves until he knew what the British were doing before committing them to devastating effect. He was fortunate indeed in one of his Turkish subordinates Colonel Mustafa Kemal. As Kemal led his 57th Regiment into action against the Anzacs on 25 April his chilling words have gone down in legend: “I don’t order you to attack – I order you to die. In the time which passes until we die, other troops and commanders can take our places.”

This unflinching martial spirit inspired the Turkish troops to victory.

The Turks were experienced and well led

Colonel Mustafa Kemal, who became President Kemal Atatürk after the war, summed up the grit and determination his countrymen demonstrated at Gallipoli. A good proportion of the Turkish soldiers had recent experience fighting in the Balkan wars of 1912–13. But all of them came from a country where life was hard. They made tough, well-disciplined soldiers when fighting in defence of their homeland.

“But think about the enemy which landed at Ari Burnu shores equipped with the most advanced war machinery, [they] were, by and large, forced to remain on these shores. Our officers and soldiers who with love for their motherland and religion and heroism protected the doors of their capital Constantinople against such a strong enemy, won the right to a status which we can be proud of. I congratulate all the members of the fighting units under my command. I remember with deep and eternal respect, all the ones who sacrificed their lives…” – Colonel Mustafa Kemal

In contrast, with the exception of the British 29th Division and two French divisions, most of the Allied troops committed to battle were inadequately trained. It was not that the Anzacs, the reservists of the Royal Naval Division, the Territorials and the first of Kitchener’s New Armies raised in 1914 were not keen it was just that they were not yet ready for war in such an unforgiving environment as Gallipoli. The Turks were experienced and well led. They were determined to win – and they did.

It was a logistical nightmare

The United Kingdom was some 2,000 miles away and the nearest ‘real’ base was that of Alexandria back in Egypt with its spacious quays, cranes, lighters, tugboats and plentiful labour. Yet it was nearly 700 miles from Alexandria to Gallipoli. The advanced base of Mudros on the island of Lemnos, some 60 miles from Helles, had a good natural anchorage. But that was all it offered – there were no port facilities. A phenomenal amount of work was required to build it up into a military supply base.

There was an advanced supply depot at Imbros, but even then there were still 15 miles of open sea to the Gallipoli peninsula where all the thousands of tonnes of necessary foodstuffs and munitions had to be landed on open beaches. Makeshift piers were all they had and these were ephemeral in the face of the raw power of the sea. Every day of the campaign Turkish shells crashed down on the beaches while soon U-boats lurked offshore.

Gallipoli was a logistical nightmare that would make any responsible staff officer tear his hair out. As a method of waging warfare, it was insanity.

Peter Hart is a military historian specialising in the First World War. He is the author of Gallipoli (Profile, 2011)

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Aircraft over Gallipoli: The Air Campaign in the Dardanelles

In March of 1915, the Turks started to prepare for an invading force from the Western Allies in the Dardanelles sector of the Ottoman Empire.

They created an army group specifically tasked with repelling the expected Allied forces.

The Turkish 5th Army was formed on March 25th, 1915, and it was led by Field General der Kavalleri Otto Limon von Sanders, who headed Germany’s military mission in Turkey.

The town of Gallipoli held the field headquarters for the 5th Army, who did not have any air power until the middle of July 1915.

Due to the Turkish leadership’s disregard for military aviation power, it reached them slowly.

The war officially moved to land at the Dardanelles Straits on April 25th, 1915, when the Gallipoli Peninsula saw the arrival of British and French forces.

During that time, the 5th army only had three Albatross B.I. and one Rumpler B.I aircraft.

The use of the Albatross B.I as a reconnaissance aircraft began in late 1913, and it was one of the first to have the pilot and observer side-by-side.

The purpose of having the two in a tandem configuration was so that the observer could see the same things as the pilot.

The fuselage of the aircraft was 28’ 1’’ in length with a height of 11’ 6’’, and the wingspan was 46’ 11’’ with a completed wind of 46’ 11’’.

The Albatross B.I. had a Mercedes DI engine that was able to produce up to 100hp, but the top speed of the aircraft was only 60mph.

The estimated B.I climb rate was at 200’ per minute, the maximum take-off weight was 1,800 lbs, and its operational range was 400 miles.

Albatros B.I. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Rumpler B.I was one of Germany’s first “battleship planes,” and it was used by the Ottomans over Gallipoli.

It was a type 4A platform, and its fuselage length was 27’ 6’’ while its height was 10’ 1’’.

The wingspan of the Rumpler B.I. covered an area of 42’ 6’’, and it was equipped with a Mercedes DI-Krei engine that was able to produce 104hp allowing it to reach 75-79 mph.

The crew of the aircraft had a pilot who was in the rear of the main fuselage with the observer behind the main propeller mechanism.

The Rumpler began flying on the field in the summer of 1914, and it was provided by Germany to help Turkish defense.

Rumpler B.I Aircraft. Image: Flickr

On the morning of March 18th, the Ottomans had the first air mission of their campaign, and it was led by the only Rumpler held by the Turks.

It underwent a reconnaissance mission to track and monitor the movement of the Allies, and the pilots reported back that the Allies had a much larger force than expected.

At 3:35 p.m. on the 18th, the Ottomans sounded the alarm for full invasion.

Prior to the invasion from the Allies, they sent out scout planes to search for explosives in the Straits, a place full of sea mines.

The planes were eventually called back due to heavy seas, but they believed the area was clear of mines.

This mistake would end up costing high numbers of casualties with the sinking of the Irresistible, Bouvet, and Ocean.

The Ottomans used the Rumpler to launch scout missions over the straights.

The first one found that the Allied armada was retreating from that area, but Turkish aircraft was grounded the next four days due to the weather.

Action resumed on the 22nd when a Royal Navy Scout plane crash landed after being hit by a Turkish artillery shell.

The Ottomans performed another patrol mission on the 26th, and they received two more B.I Albatross planes from the German government.

The Turk’s limited air power was crucial in providing reconnaissance, and they used it to keep track of the Allied armada.

The French and British used their air power to launch offensives, and the French had a squadron, including eight Farman HF.20 aircraft, stationed at Bozcaada.

The HF.20 was designed by Henri Farman, and it was a simple but under-powered aircraft.

The aircraft consisted of a wooden fuselage of 28’-9’’ with a height of 10’-0’’, and the wing structure was 51’-0’’sq.

The HF.20 had a Gnome 7A 7 cylinder, and its rotary engine was able to generate 80hp, allowing the aircraft to reach speeds up to 65mph.

The plane could not keep up with the speed of the new German pursuit planes, but it was able to stay in the air for 3hrs and 20mins, which was important for recon missions.

The aircraft was equipped with a 0.30in machine gun for defense.

While the Turks often suspended air missions due to the bad weather, the Allies were willing to fly under most conditions, and they allowed the planes to go longer distances.

The Allies also adopted new technology quicker, which allowed them to hold an advantage in the air.

The Sopwith Tabloid seaplane was the Allies’ main plane at the start of the expedition.

The Tabloid had an airframe height of 10’-0’’ with a length of 23’-0’’, and its wingspan was 25’-6’’ sq.

The aircraft was equipped with a single Gnome Monosoupape 9 cylinder rotary engine, which could produce up to 100hp.

The Tabloid had a maximum speed of 92mph, an operational range of 315 miles, and a ceiling of 15,000’.

It only had enough space for one individual, and the fully-loaded weight was 1,580lbs.

In late June, the situation of the battle was changing on the ground and the air after the Turks successfully defended against an Allied invasion.

The Germans sent the Turks two samples of the Gotha Airplane on July 5th.

The aircraft, which were sent to Canakkale Fortress Command, brought excitement to the Turks and fear to the British and French.

The Gotha was one of the best aircraft ever developed.

The allies knew they were in trouble on the peninsula by August 10th, and they could not keep fighting on the Conkbayiri line.

On the Anafartalar front, the allies had a failed attack on the morning of August 13th.

The final battle for Anafartalar commenced on the 17th, and the Ottomans held strong despite the allied bombardment of Turkish defense positions.

The French and British high commands abandoned the campaign a month later, and they began to retreat while defending against the increasingly sized Ottoman air force.

Turkish seaplanes sometimes went on bombing missions over allied camps and artillery positions.

The allies eventually evacuated the peninsula in January 1916, and the Dardanelles sector air defense was assigned to the new Dardanelles Squadron.

The Gallipoli campaign

By 29 April, the battle of the landing was over both sides had fought themselves to a standstill. While the New Zealanders and Australians had established a beachhead at Anzac Cove, they had failed to capture Mal Tepe, let alone the north-south road. Yet the Ottomans had failed to throw the invaders back into the sea. Further south at Helles, the British and French had established a tenuous foothold on the peninsula but failed to achieve their other objectives. It was a stalemate.

Early offensives

In the aftermath of the landings, the Anzacs spent time consolidating their position. Unit commanders restored order and discipline. Men dug trenches, unloaded stores and established lines of communication between the front line and headquarters.

Malone and Quinn's Post

Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone commanded the Wellington Battalion at Gallipoli. In the weeks after the landing, he helped consolidate and secure vulnerable parts of the Anzac perimeter. At Quinn’s Post, where a small advance by the Ottomans would have threatened the entire front, Malone established an almost impregnable defensive position. He died on Chunuk Bair on 8 August 1915.

Once the perimeter was relatively secure, ANZAC commander Lieutenant-General Birdwood attempted to take the offensive. On the evening of 2 May, the New Zealand and Australian Division, supported by four Royal Naval Division battalions (recently arrived from Helles), launched an attack on the dominating Baby 700 position. The plan called for Australian units to attack from Quinn’s Post while the Otago Battalion advanced out of Monash Gully, north of Quinn’s, and secured the seaward slopes of Baby 700. Australian troops would then move forward to take the inland slopes.

Poorly prepared and badly coordinated, the attack went badly from the outset. The Otago Battalion’s move from Walker’s Ridge to the head of Monash Valley took longer than expected, and it was not in position when the Australians launched their attack. When the Otagos finally charged out of Monash Gully, 90 minutes late, the forewarned Ottomans mowed them down. At daybreak, the exposed nature of the New Zealand and Australian positions became apparent as they drew heavy fire from Second Ridge. When they withdrew, units of the Royal Naval Division tried to continue the advance, but also suffered heavy losses. The failed assault cost the Anzacs a thousand casualties and gained nothing.

Battle of Krithia

Unable to break through at Anzac, Hamilton focused the MEF’s energies on the Helles sector, targeting the village of Krithia (Alҫitepe) and the hill known as Achi Baba (Alҫi Tepe). An attack by British and French forces on 28 April – the First Battle of Krithia – made little headway and cost some 3000 casualties. To offset these losses, Hamilton dispatched the 29th Indian Brigade and British 42nd Division to Helles from Egypt. Another French division arrived shortly afterwards. The Ottomans matched this build-up of forces and on 1-2 May launched a major attack on the Allied line, which only just held.

After defeating the Ottoman attack at Helles, Hamilton decided to launch a new offensive towards Krithia to take advantage of the ‘weakened’ Ottoman defences. He looked to Anzac for the reinforcements needed for this second attack. On the night of 5-6 May, the New Zealand Infantry Brigade and the 2nd Australian Infantry Brigade were ferried down to Helles, along with one New Zealand and four Australian field artillery batteries which had been unable to get ashore at Anzac.

I watched the 12th Nelson Company make an advance over open country called the Daisy Patch. There was absolutely no cover for them. They lost their commanding officer, and several men were casualties. Ray Lawry then came up and led the 2nd Company over the same place, with a good dash. He got through safely, setting a fine example of courage to the men. He is a plucky beggar.
Our turn to go across came next, and we went over the top in good order, with the best of luck. At once we were greeted with a terrible fusillade of rifle and machine gun fire, which was deadly. The man on my right had his brains shot out into his face, and the chap on my left was shot through the stomach. Halfway across the patch I tripped over a root and fell down. I lay still for two or three minutes until I had recovered my breath. Then the bullets started plugging up the earth all around me, so I got up again and made for the Turkish trench as hard as I could go. I reached it without being hit, but was almost dropping with weakness. There was no room in the trench for me, so I jumped into a river bed close by and found a safe place.

Walter (Bill) Leadley, Canterbury Battalion, in Gavin McLean, Ian McGibbon and Kynan Gentry (eds), The Penguin book of New Zealanders at war, Penguin, Auckland, 2009, p. 136

In the Second Battle of Krithia, which began on 6 May, the Allies launched a series of unsuccessful daylight assaults on the Ottoman trenches. They suffered heavy losses and were unable to break through. The New Zealand Infantry Brigade went into action on the 8th, tasked with capturing Krithia. It was a disaster – the New Zealanders had little time to prepare and attacked behind a weak artillery barrage. The troops charged across the Daisy Patch into a hail of Ottoman machine-gun and rifle fire. The New Zealand infantry suffered 835 casualties and achieved nothing, an experience repeated all along the line. By the time Hamilton broke off the attack that evening, the Allies had lost 6500 men killed or wounded and advanced just 500 m.

Reinforcements arrive

Following the Krithia debacle, the shattered New Zealand Infantry Brigade was taken out of the front line and went into reserve at Helles. It received a much-needed reinforcement draft of 900 men from Egypt before shipping back to Anzac on the night of 19-20 May. In the interim, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade (commanded by Brigadier-General Andrew Russell) and the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade had arrived at Anzac on 12 May. Sent from Egypt without their horses, the Mounted Rifles fought as infantry for the remainder of the campaign.

The Mounteds’ baptism of fire was not long in coming. On 19 May, some 40,000 Ottoman troops attacked the Anzac perimeter in an attempt to overrun and annihilate the enclave. In the New Zealand sector, troops successfully defended Russell’s Top against a series of frontal assaults, while the Australians did the same further south. The Anzacs inflicted enormous casualties on the attacking waves of Arab and Turkish infantry. By the end of the carnage, more than 3000 Ottoman bodies carpeted no-man’s-land. As these rotted in the sun, the smell became so unbearable that both sides agreed to a day-long truce on 24 May to bury the dead. This respite in living conditions was short-lived.

As soon as you grabbed a corpse by the arm to drag it over to a hole, the arm came off in your hand. So you just ended up by scratching a little bit of trench alongside of it, rolling it over into the trench and scraping some stuff back over the top. Nobody handled on that day was buried more than six or eight inches underground.
The stench was so numbing that the incentive was to get out of it as quick as you possibly could. So finally, instead of one man digging a hole here, 10 men got on to it and scratched and scratched, and instead of one body going into it, 20 bodies went into it. We thought, We’ll eventually have all this land, they can have reburials and sort it out. But we never took that land, and those dead were never buried any deeper. The first shower of rain, they were practically out and about again.

Vic Nicholson, Wellington Battalion, in Jane Tolerton, An awfully big adventure: New Zealand World War One veterans tell their stories, Penguin, Auckland, 2013, p. 71

Stay or go?

With Allied operations at Gallipoli going badly, the newly formed Dardanelles Committee (which had replaced the War Council) met in London to consider the future of the campaign. Should they continue with the land operation, or cut their losses and withdraw? Influenced by political considerations, they decided to persist, and agreed to send Hamilton additional forces.

Hamilton made further attempts to break through the Ottoman lines at Helles during June and July. Heavy artillery bombardments preceded small gains at the cost of 12,000 British and French casualties. Ottoman troops merely pulled back up the slopes of Achi Baba and waited for the next onslaught. With the situation at Helles seemingly stalemated, attention switched back to Anzac.

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About the Author

GERRY DOCHERTY was born in 1948. He graduated from Edinburgh University in 1971 and was a secondary school teacher by profession. He taught economics and modern studies, developed a keen interest in the theatre and has written a number of plays with historical themes. One of these plays was the powerful story of two cousins from his home town of Tillicoultry who were both awarded the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Loos in 1915. Energised by the research he had undertaken to write this play, he was intrigued by Jim Macgregor’s work on the First World War, and their mutual interest developed into a passion to discover the truth amongst the lies and deceptions that the official records contained. JIM MACGREGOR was born in Glasgow in 1947 and raised in a cottage in the grounds of Erskine Hospital for war disabled. There he witnessed the aftermath of war on a daily basis and, profoundly affected by what he saw, developed a life-long interest in war and the origins of global conflict. Jim graduated as a medical doctor in 1978, and left the practice in 2001 to devote his energies full-time to researching the political failures in averting war. His numerous articles have been published on subjects such as miscarriages of justice, the Iraq War, global poverty, and the rise of fascism in the United States. His powerful anti-war novel The Iboga Visions was published to critical acclaim in 2009.

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Gallipoli Dissected: What did Britain get wrong?

In the run up to the 100th anniversary of the start of the Dardanelles campaign, we speak to Nigel Steel, Principal Historian for the Imperial War Museums’ World War I Centenary Programme and co-author of Defeat At Gallipoli about what really went wrong, and how this brutal clash under the Mediterranean sun would shape the national identities of three nations…

Why was the Gallipoli put forward and given the green light?

The landing on the Gallipoli peninsula was only undertaken after the failure of the Royal Navy’s attempt to force the Dardanelles using ships alone.

This operation, to push ships through the Dardanelles and capture the Turkish capital Istanbul (then still known to the Allies by its older name of Constantinople), was initiated in response to the combination of a number of key strategic opportunities: providing direct assistance to Russia, bypassing the inertia of the Western Front and galvanizing the undecided countries of the Balkans to join the Allied side.

It was on this basis that the campaign received Cabinet approval at the end of January 1915.

What was the aim behind the operation?

The intention was to project a British squadron of ships through the Dardanelles into the Sea of Marmara in order to reach Istanbul. It was believed that, if the Royal Navy appeared there, quickly and in some strength, the Turkish government would collapse and the country disintegrate into chaos. This would, in turn, effectively force Turkey out of the war.

However, the British ships were unable to overcome the well-built and determinedly manned Turkish defences along the Dardanelles. On 22 March it was decided troops would now have to land to clear the shoreline of hostile guns in order to allow the mines in the water to be cleared and the main forts to be destroyed by naval gunfire from close range. The military landing was only ever intended as a step towards resuming this naval operation and throughout, the capture of Istanbul remained the ultimate objective.

6th Battalion soldiers leaving the transport ship, 25 April 1915

What technology, weapons and methods of warfare were used by the British forces at Gallipoli?

In considering Gallipoli, it is very important to remember how early in the war it took place. It was one of the first offensive operations undertaken by the British Army, with only Neuve Chappelle in March 1915 and the initial stages of First Ypres in October 1914 having preceded it.

No real lessons had yet been learned from the fighting on the Western Front that could be translated into new tactical doctrines. The Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) that landed on 25 April 1915, including British, Irish, Australian and New Zealand troops, was equipped and trained in almost exactly the same way as the original British Expeditionary Force (BEF) that went to France in August 1914 and was almost exactly the same size.

The MEF’s performance, brave and resourceful as it was, revealed the same inexperience in modern, industrialised warfare that the BEF had also shown eight months earlier.

Was the Ottoman Empire really the ‘soft underbelly of Europe’ as Churchill stated?

This is a common misrepresentation of Churchill’s position. This phrase actually applies to operations in the Mediterranean during the Second World War not to Gallipoli. In 1915 Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty and was responsible for pushing through and instigating the naval attack on the Dardanelles. The decision to land at Gallipoli was agreed locally between the naval and army commanders and Churchill had little part in the subsequent military operations.

Turkey, or the Ottoman Empire as it was then, was certainly seen as one of the weakest members of the Central Powers. But Britain’s attack also had a sound strategic basis. When they entered the war, the Turks directly threatened a number of vital British interests such as the Suez Canal and the Anglo-Persian oil fields. The attack on Turkey was as much about protecting these as striking at Germany through its most vulnerable ally.

Why did it fail? Was it a case of poor preparation by the British or were the Ottomans stronger than first thought?

There were many reasons why the April landings were frustrated and failed to reinvigorate the naval attack on the Dardanelles. There were only a limited number of options open to the attacking troops and all surprise had been lost. Neither the naval nor military staffs had any experience of planning this kind of complicated combined operation. Nothing like it had really been attempted since the landing at Aboukir in 1801.

But above all, no one on the British side expected the Turks to fight so effectively and so resolutely. Their troops were well sited, well motivated and determined. They were defending their homeland and religion against attack by a powerful alien enemy. Without any shadow of a doubt, it was the Turks who won the battle of the beaches and all the operations that followed.

Why were landings sanctioned after the ineffectiveness of the Royal Navy? Was it desperation or a possible good alternative tactic?

The landings followed on logically from the suspension of the naval attack. None of the politicians in London saw them as anything other than an extension of what was already under way. The question was not referred back to the Cabinet, nor did the Prime Minister interfere. It is this lack of political intervention and questioning of what was going on that is perhaps the strongest indictment of the way both campaigns were conducted.

Britain was in no position to undertake a major new military campaign. Its industrial infrastructure was already struggling to keep pace with the growing demands of the Western Front and the ‘shell scandal’ precipitated by the attack at Aubers Ridge a few weeks after the landing showed how the country had not really yet moved onto a real war footing.

At Gallipoli the landing was seen as necessary to enable the push towards Istanbul to be continued. But no one in authority questioned whether the capture of the Turkish capital was still feasible. I believe by 25 April it no longer was and the landings began a new phase of a campaign that was already unwinnable.

Lifeboat carrying men of the 1st Divisional Signal Company, 25 April 1915

What was the bloodiest operation of the whole campaign?

The largest individual action of the Gallipoli campaign was at Suvla Bay on 21 August. As well as attacks on Scimitar Hill and the W Hills, nearby Hill 60 was also assaulted. The tinder dry landscape was set alight by the shelling and fires burned across the battlefield.

One British officer, Captain Guy Nightingale of the 1st Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers, explained to his mother: “Our headquarters was very heavily shelled and then the fire surrounded the place and we all thought we were going to be burned alive. Where the telephone was, the heat was appalling. The roar of the flames drowned the noise of the shrapnel, and we had to lie flat at the bottom of the trench while the flames swept over the top… The whole attack was a ghastly failure. They generally are now.”

What was the role of the ANZACs in the campaign?

The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) had been diverted to Egypt in December 1915 to continue its training before carrying on to the Western Front. It was therefore already in theatre when planning began for a military assault on the Peninsula. ANZAC was given the subsidiary role of landing north of Gaba Tepe, while the main landing was undertaken at Cape Helles by the British 29th Division.

The Australian and New Zealand troops failed to capture the vital high ground of Chunuk Bair that dominated their beachhead, and the position they developed surrounding the beach that became known as Anzac Cove was soon tightly hemmed in.

For both Australia and New Zealand, Gallipoli was an important moment as it was the first time their soldiers had fought in war as national armies, rather than simply as constituent parts of the British forces, as in South Africa during the Boer War.

Australian troops going into action, 25 April 1915

What technology, weapons and methods of warfare were used by the ANZACs?

The Australians and New Zealanders used the same basic weapons and equipment as the British troops. However, distinct, national characteristics soon revealed themselves in battle. The Australians and New Zealanders were less hierarchical and tended to show more initiative. Yet, this looser discipline was not always an advantage.

Once pinned down within the claustrophobic positions surrounding Anzac Cove, the ANZACs showed themselves to be masters of trench warfare. They dug deep trenches across the hillside that can still be seen today. They were aggressive in defending their positions and in launching attacks, such as at Lone Pine during the August offensive. In assessing the significance of Gallipoli for Australia and New Zealand, it is also vital to remember that throughout 1915 this was their entire involvement in the war and the campaign became the focus for the people of both nations in a way that has endured ever since.

How did the campaign affect World War I as a whole?

The fighting at Gallipoli and the overall strategic failure of the whole campaign led directly to new campaigns and new political agreements across the modern Middle East, the consequences of which can still be felt today.

It clearly exposed the limitations of British and Imperial military understanding in the first year of the war and showed how far away Britain was from becoming a major military power. Gallipoli stands right at the very beginning of the long, painful journey to the hard-nosed, battle-forged professional soldiers of the British Armies in France of 1918. It showed everyone that neither Britain nor its Empire were ready or prepared to fight a world war in 1915.

Members of 13th Battalion, AIF, occupying Quinn’s Post, 25 April 1915

The battle is often portrayed as Britain versus Turkey. Were the Germans and French involved and if so, in what capacity?

It is very misleading to portray Gallipoli as being simply the British Empire versus the Ottoman Empire. It was, in fact, a truly global campaign.

Turkish forces were drawn from regions of Ottoman control as far apart as Salonika and Basra, Tikrit and Aleppo. Reflecting the role of German officers in rebuilding the Turkish Army before the war, both at senior command level and on the battlefield, German soldiers played a key role in the Turkish Army’s performance at Gallipoli.

For the Allies, concerned about British moves across the Middle East, the French also played a part in all stages of the campaign, sending both warships and troops. Although some French soldiers came from metropolitan France, most were Imperial coming largely from Africa. From India, Sikhs and Gurkhas were part of the British forces, and the Newfoundland Regiment joined the 29th Division from North America. Gallipoli really was a microcosm of the wider world war.

Just how did the British hierarchy get so much wrong?

The main problem really was underestimating the scale of what was needed and how ill-equipped Britain was to meet this. When the naval campaign was finally defeated on 18 March, a halt should have been called to reassess and work out if the logical next step – a military landing – could really be afforded.

That this was not done is the real failure at Gallipoli. The Turks had already shown their capacity to defend. Even if the Peninsula had been captured and the ships resumed their attack, by the end of April 1915 it is highly unlikely that the appearance of the British fleet off Istanbul would have led to the overthrow of the Turkish government.

The inability of the Allied force to capture the Peninsula shows that they would equally have been unable to seize Istanbul by force against twice as many troops defending their capital city. This ultimate strategic goal was almost certainly unattainable by early April and Britain’s statesmen in London should have recognised that the situation had changed since January and cancelled the landings before they began.

Did it affect the way the British began new campaigns in the future?

Along with lessons in planning and logistics that were beginning to be learned in France and Belgium, Gallipoli showed the need for clear staff assessments and the identification of clear cut objectives.

The well-planned and executed evacuation of Gallipoli in December 1915 and January 1916 was followed four months later by the surrender of the British and Indian garrison of Kut al Amara in Mesopotamia, where another ill-considered campaign had demonstrated the dangers of ‘mission creep’.

The command and control failures that characterised both campaigns significantly contributed to the steady professionalisation of the British Army, which saw it emerge in the final Hundred Days fighting of 1918 as the dominant element of the Allied forces.

Was there an alternative operation possible? Could it ever have worked?

I have been studying and thinking about Gallipoli since 1985. Each year that passes convinces me more and more that the campaign could never have succeeded. Historians and visitors to the peninsula’s entrancing battlefields are distracted and preoccupied by the tantalizing counter-factual possibilities of ‘what if we had landed here’ or ‘what if we had advanced as far as Achi Baba or Chunuk Bair?’. But this is all irrelevant.

The only thing that mattered was the capture of Istanbul and the defeat of Turkey that should have resulted from it. From 18 March onwards, this was not going to happen. The alternative was what happened in the end in the fight against Turkey. Between 1916 and 1918 it became a long, drawn-out war fought in other regions of their Empire that led to a self-interested carve up of Turkish territory, which still overshadows global politics today.

What would have happened if there was no Gallipoli?

This is a very difficult question to answer as really it is impossible to say. Had Turkey been defeated in 1915, it is possible that Allied support for Russia through the Black Sea might have had a long-term impact in preventing or altering the Russian revolutions of 1917. Had Turkey not suffered such catastrophic losses at Gallipoli, particularly of educated officers and NCOs, its battlefield performance in other regions might have been different and, according to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who emerged from Gallipoli to reform Turkey as a modern, secular republic, the nature of Turkish society between the wars would certainly have been very different.

And we all know that the establishment of Australia and New Zealand as independent nations would not have happened in the same way. Gallipoli stands at the heart of the national identity of three nations: Australia, New Zealand and Turkey.

What did both the Entente and the Central Powers learn from Gallipoli?

Gallipoli confirmed the power of defence over assault in modern industrialised war. With well-motivated troops and scientifically laid out defensive positions, in 1915 it was almost impossible for assaulting troops to break through and capture objectives.

Writing at the end of his battle report, Major Mahmut Sabri, who commanded the 3/26th Battalion that defended the beaches of Cape Helles against the British assault, concluded modestly, “I acknowledge that a battalion is the most trifling element of an army and that it did not do anything else but its duty, and that to stop the enemy’s intention in spite of his superior numbers and armament was due to the grace of God. I consider, however, that its resistance and tenacity on the Seddulbahir [Cape Helles] shore on 25/26 April… is a fine example of Turkish heroism.”

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Gallipoli Campaign, 1915 (Dardenelles): Home

The amphibious assault against a defended beach is fully explored from the perspective of the defender.

The Encyclopedia of World War I by Spencer C. Tucker (Editor) John D. Eisenhower (Foreword by) Priscilla Mary Roberts (Editor) Gallipoli 1915: frontal assault on Turkey by Philip J. Haythornthwaite

Failure to adapt - The British at Gallipoli, August 1915.

Rejecting accepted theories for unexpected military disasters, the authors brilliantly analyze disasters of great magnitude. They assert that military misfortune turns not on individual or collective failure but is rooted in the nature of the complex interconnections between men, systems, and organizations.

See part II: Dardanelles -- Gallipoli

"Between 1911 and 1923, a series of wars--chief among them World War I--would engulf the Ottoman Empire and its successor states. It is a story we think we know well, but as Sean McMeekin shows us in this revelatory new history, we know far less than we think. Drawing from his years of ground-breaking research in newly opened Ottoman and Russian archives, The Ottoman Endgame brings to light the entire strategic narrative that led to an unstable new order in postwar Middle East--much of which is still felt today"-- Jacket.

. 1. Beginning with the causes of the war and the invasion of Belgium in 1914 and carrying the history of the war to the close of 1915

See Ch. 12 Gallipoli / A. John Gallishaw.
Ch. 19 Gallipoli Abandoned / Gen. Sir Charles C. Monro.

There are many people who died in the Gallipoli War from many country. They are 15.000 French, 43.000 British, 2.700 New Zealands, 8.700 Australians, and 1.370 Indians. Besides, there are also wounded people of Australia (19,441), New Zealand (4,852), Britain (52,230), and France (17,000).

The death people of Gallipoli War

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