The Gallipoli Campaign

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In January of 1915, the British decided to undertake an operation in the Dardanelles, they hoped to force their way into the Ottoman capitol of Constantinople. Initial British planning for the operation placed the size of the landing party at between 75, 000 and100, 000 troops, they planned to have  the landing party deal with the Ottoman defenses on the shore of the Gallipoli peninsula and the navy  provide fire support. [1] The British military hoped to keep the Ottoman 1st Army stranded, they feared this army would be moved out to supply backup support to other Ottoman forces. Prior to the British attack, the Ottomans and the Germans greatly improved their defenses along the Gallipoli Peninsula.They built numerous ramparts to combat the British troops . Interestingly enough, the majority of the officers of the Ottoman 1st were German.  [2]

When British and French warships entered the Dardanelles strait, they were vulnerable to mines the Ottomans had placed in the water. Minesweepers coped with both fire from Ottoman batteries and the fast moving current that flowed from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean. One French and two British warships sunk due to damage received from the mines. The army made its landing on April 25, 1915. [3]

The navy continued to provide fire support for the army on land. The Ottoman forces quickly learned to neutralize the naval gunfire by attacking at night, or by building their trenches close to the British and Allied positions. The British brought in submarines to sink Ottoman merchants ships supplying the Ottoman forces. [4]

The leader of the British, French, and imperial forces was a sixty two year old veteran of the colonial wars named Sir Ian Hamilton. The Ottoman forces were led by the German officer Liman von Sanders. The landings were poorly managed, British, Australian, and troops from New Zealand were packed too densely in some areas, and they were quickly attacked by small groups of Ottoman forces led by a young Mustafa Kemal. [5]

The Gallipoli Campaign

Men on both sides faced incredible heat and disease spread by flies and contaminated food and  water supplies.[6]

Beginning in December of 1915, the British forces began evacuations. At the end of the campaign the Ottomans suffered fatal casualties and wounding of around 87, 000 men, the French around 20, 000, the Australians around 10, 000, and the British around 40, 000. [7]

(Image Credit: The Gallipoli Campaign posted on the Australian Department of Veteran Affairs website)

 



[1]Hew Strachan, The First World War (New York: Penguin Group, 2003), 117.

[2]Ibid., 119.

[3]Ibid., 119.

[4]Ibid., 120.

[5]Ibid., 121.

[6]Ibid., 122.

[7]Ibid., 123.

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