Gallipoli Campaign: Facts, History & Impact
The Gallipoli Campaign was a military operation during World War I that aimed to secure a sea route to Russia and weaken the Ottoman Empire. General Sir Ian Hamilton was appointed to lead the campaign, which began with a naval attack on the Dardanelles in February. The land invasion started in April 1915, with troops landing at several points along the Gallipoli peninsula, including Helles and Krithia.
The campaign was marked by fierce fighting and high casualties on both sides, with little progress made by either the Allies or the Ottomans. Despite this, it is viewed as a significant event in the history of World War I, with its impact felt not only on the battlefield but also on the political and social landscape of the countries involved.
So what exactly was the Gallipoli Campaign? It was an attempt by Allied forces - primarily from Britain and France - to open up a new front against Germany by attacking through Turkey. The hope was that this would help break the stalemate on the Western Front and allow for supplies to be sent more easily to Russia.
General Sir Ian Hamilton led this ambitious campaign, which began with a naval attack on Turkish positions in February 1915. However, despite initial success in breaching some of their defenses, Turkish counterattacks eventually repelled them.
In April 1915, Allied troops landed at several points along the Gallipoli peninsula, including Helles and Krithia. This marked the beginning of what would become one of World War I's most brutal campaigns. Over eight months of intense fighting ensued between two sides determined to hold their ground.
Despite heavy losses suffered by both sides - around 250,000 casualties overall - neither side could gain any significant advantage over each other. In January 1916, after months of trench warfare and failed offensives, Allied forces were finally evacuated from Gallipoli.
The importance of this campaign cannot be overstated. It was a major strategic gamble by the Allies that ultimately failed. The campaign's failure had a significant impact on the war, prolonging it and leading to many more casualties.
The Gallipoli Campaign also had a profound effect on the political and social landscape of the countries involved. In Australia and New Zealand, for example, it is commemorated as ANZAC Day - a day to remember those who fought and died in this campaign.
Ottoman and Allied Preparations for Defense and Landing
Ottoman forces were well aware of the possibility of an Allied landing on the Gallipoli peninsula during World War I. They had prepared their defenses accordingly, including the placement of artillery and fortifications along the coast. Ottoman troops were reinforced with soldiers from other parts of the empire, including Arab and Kurdish units, to bolster their defenses against the expected amphibious landing.
The Ottomans had a clear advantage in defending their land as they knew every inch of it. The terrain was rugged, and there were only a few beaches that could be used for landing. The Ottoman defenders used this to their advantage by placing artillery on high ground overlooking these beaches. This allowed them to rain down fire on any incoming ships or troops.
The Allied fleet launched a naval attack on the Turkish defenses before the landing, but Ottoman defenders were able to hold off the assault with heavy fire from their coastal artillery. The Turkish guns caused significant damage to several Allied ships, forcing them to retreat back out to sea.
Despite these initial successes for the Ottoman defenders, the Allies eventually managed to land on the peninsula and engage in fierce fighting with Ottoman forces. The beachheads established by British and French troops proved difficult for Ottoman forces to dislodge due to superior firepower provided by machine guns and artillery.
The Ottomans also faced issues with communication between different units due to language barriers between Arabic-speaking soldiers from Syria or Iraq and Turkish-speaking soldiers from Anatolia or Rumelia.
The Beginning of the Gallipoli Land Invasion
April 25, 1915 marked the beginning of one of the most significant battles in history: the Gallipoli land invasion. This battle was fought during World War I and was an attempt by British and French forces to secure a sea route to Russia by taking control of the Gallipoli Peninsula. The land invasion began with troops landing at two main points: Suvla Bay and Gaba Tepe.
First Day of Invasion
The first day of the invasion saw troops coming ashore at Cape Helles, with the 29th Indian Brigade being the first to land on the Gallipoli Peninsula. The soldiers arrived early in the morning, under cover from Turkish guns that were positioned on high ground overlooking the beaches. The Turkish army had been preparing for an attack for months and had dug trenches along the coastline, making it difficult for allied troops to gain a foothold on land.
Suvla Bay and Gaba Tepe
The Suvla Bay landing was carried out by British forces under General Stopford's command. However, due to poor planning and communication issues, they failed miserably in their objectives. On the other hand, Gaba Tepe was taken over by Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who managed to establish a beachhead after fierce fighting against Turkish defenders.
Winston Churchill's Role
The Gallipoli campaign was overseen by Winston Churchill, who was serving as First Lord of Admiralty at that time. He believed that capturing Constantinople would be a quick victory that could help end World War I sooner than expected. However, his plan failed due to poor planning and coordination between allied forces.
ANZAC Cove and Advancement Across the Peninsula
ANZAC Cove holds a special place in the hearts of Australians and New Zealanders as it was here that their soldiers landed on April 25, 1915. This day is now commemorated as ANZAC Day in both countries. The landing at ANZAC Cove was part of a larger campaign to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula from Turkish forces during World War I. While the campaign ultimately ended in failure, the bravery and sacrifice of the ANZACs are still remembered today.
New Zealand troops played a significant role in the advancement across the peninsula, particularly in securing high ground and pushing towards the Aegean coast. General Sir Alexander Godley, who commanded the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF), was instrumental in planning and executing many of these actions. The NZEF fought alongside Australian troops as part of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).
The New Zealanders were involved in several notable actions during the campaign, including at Chunuk Bair where they captured an important hilltop position from Turkish forces. The attack on Chunuk Bair was led by Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone who was posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross for his bravery during this action. Another Victoria Cross was awarded to Corporal Cyril Bassett for his work laying communication lines under heavy fire.
The French submarine Joule played a crucial role in supplying and evacuating troops from ANZAC Cove and other beaches along the peninsula while also providing intelligence on enemy movements. The submarine made several trips between France and Gallipoli during its time there, delivering supplies such as food, ammunition, medical equipment, and reinforcements to Allied forces.
Ottoman Counteroffensive in May and August Offensive
Ottoman forces launched a counteroffensive in May 1915, resulting in heavy losses for both sides.
The Ottoman Empire had been caught off guard by the Allied invasion at Gallipoli. However, they quickly regrouped and launched a counteroffensive in May 1915. The Ottoman forces were led by Mustafa Kemal, who would later become the founder of modern Turkey. Kemal played a crucial role in the successful defense against the Allied attacks in March and April. He was able to rally his troops and coordinate their efforts effectively.
The May counteroffensive saw fierce fighting on both sides, with heavy casualties on both sides. The Ottoman forces were able to push back the Allies and regain some of their lost territory. However, they suffered significant losses themselves. Despite this setback, the Ottomans were able to hold their ground and prevent any further advances by the Allies.
Mustafa Kemal's leadership during this critical period was instrumental in turning the tide of the battle. He was able to inspire his troops to fight fiercely and defend their homeland at all costs. His strategic planning and tactical brilliance allowed him to outmaneuver the Allied forces time and time again.
The August Offensive saw the Allies launch a major attack on the Ottoman lines, but they were ultimately repulsed with significant casualties.
In August 1915, the Allies launched another major offensive against the Ottoman lines. This time, they hoped to break through and capture Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). The Ottoman forces were stretched thin from months of fighting, but they still managed to mount a strong defense.
The August Offensive saw some of the bloodiest fighting of World War I. Both sides suffered heavy losses, with many experienced commanders among the casualties. Despite this, however, it was ultimately a victory for the Ottomans. They were able to repulse every attack by the Allies and maintain control over Gallipoli.
British General Sir Ian Hamilton was replaced by General Sir Frederick de Robeck following the failure of the August Offensive.
The failure of the August Offensive led to a change in leadership for the Allies. British General Sir Ian Hamilton was replaced by General Sir Frederick de Robeck. De Robeck was tasked with finding a way to break through the Ottoman lines and win the battle once and for all.
Despite his best efforts, however, de Robeck was unable to achieve this goal. The Ottomans continued to hold their ground, and eventually, the Allies were forced to withdraw from Gallipoli altogether.
Subsequent Operations and June-July Operations
Subsequent Operations in the Helles Sector
Following the April landings at Gallipoli, the Allied forces launched subsequent operations in the Helles sector. The aim was to break through the Ottoman lines and capture key positions. However, these operations were met with fierce resistance from the Turkish troops.
In early December, the 29th Division was sent to reinforce the troops in the Helles sector. Their arrival brought much-needed relief to the exhausted soldiers who had been fighting for months with little progress. With fresh troops on their side, they hoped to make significant gains against the enemy.
June-July Operations: Breaking Through Ottoman Lines
The June-July operations were a major offensive launched by the Allied forces aimed at breaking through the Ottoman lines and capturing key positions. On 28 June, British forces launched an attack on Turkish trenches but were repulsed with heavy losses. The following day, French troops launched a similar attack but also failed to make any significant gains.
By July, both sides had suffered heavy casualties and it became clear that further offensive operations would be futile. The Allied forces were forced to abandon their plans of breaking through Ottoman lines and instead focused on consolidating their positions.
Attempt to Force the Straits
Covering force lands in Gallipoli peninsula
On April 25, 1915, British and French forces launched an operation to capture the Dardanelles, a narrow waterway connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. The goal was to open up a supply route to Russia and divert Ottoman forces from the Suez Canal. The covering force landed on the Gallipoli peninsula but faced fierce resistance from Ottoman troops entrenched on the shore.
Naval force suffers heavy losses
The naval force bombarded Ottoman positions and cleared mines, but suffered heavy losses from mines, shore batteries, and a submarine. The failure of the naval attack forced the landings to proceed without adequate support, leaving troops vulnerable to counterattacks and barbed wire defenses.
Campaign ultimately fails
Despite some success in capturing key positions on the Asian shore and inland, the campaign ultimately failed to achieve its objectives and resulted in high casualties for both sides. Hospital ships were overwhelmed by wounded soldiers who required medical attention.
The East Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (EMEF) was deployed in August 1915 with reinforcements but could not break through Ottoman defenses. In January 1916, Allied forces began evacuating their troops after suffering over 250000 casualties.
Submarine HMS E14's daring raid
One notable event during this campaign was when British submarine HMS E14 managed to navigate through minefields into the Sea of Marmara where it sank several Turkish vessels including two destroyers in one night. This daring raid earned Commander Edward Boyle a Victoria Cross award for his bravery.
Impact of Gallipoli Campaign
The Gallipoli Campaign had far-reaching impacts on World War I as it diverted Allied resources away from other fronts such as France and Italy while boosting morale among Turks who saw it as a significant victory against foreign powers. It also led to political upheavals in Britain with Winston Churchill resigning from his position as First Lord of the Admiralty.
Casualties and Map of the Campaign
Many Casualties on Both Sides
The Gallipoli campaign, fought during World War I between April 1915 and January 1916, saw many casualties on both sides. The total number of deaths and injuries is estimated to be over 130,000. The battle casualties were particularly high due to the trench warfare tactics used in the campaign.
Trench Warfare Tactics
The trench warfare tactics used in the Gallipoli campaign resulted in soldiers being exposed to constant gun fire and mines. This type of warfare was characterized by trenches dug into the ground for soldiers to take cover from enemy fire. However, these trenches also made it difficult for troops to move around or advance towards their targets, making them easy targets for enemy snipers.
Inaccurate Maps Contributed to Losses
Inaccurate maps of the battlefield also contributed to losses during the Gallipoli campaign. Troops were often sent into dangerous areas without proper knowledge of the terrain. This led to many unnecessary casualties as soldiers found themselves trapped or exposed in areas they did not know how to navigate.
Memorials and Monuments
Despite the heavy losses suffered during the campaign, it is still remembered through various memorials and monuments around the world. One such memorial is the Lone Pine Cemetery and Memorial located in Turkey. This monument commemorates Australian soldiers who died fighting in one of the most intense battles of the Gallipoli campaign.
Historical Significance of Gallipoli for Australia and New Zealand
Significance of Gallipoli for Australia and New Zealand
First Major Military Action
The Gallipoli campaign was a significant event for Australians and New Zealanders during World War I. It was also the first major military action for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). The ANZAC forces fought alongside British, French, and Canadian troops against the Ottoman Empire in the Gallipoli Peninsula.
The campaign resulted in heavy casualties for both sides, with over 8,000 Australian soldiers losing their lives. Despite the defeat, the ANZAC forces' bravery and resilience during the campaign became a source of national pride for Australians and New Zealanders. The loss of life was felt deeply by these nations as they were relatively young countries that had only recently gained independence from Britain.
The Gallipoli campaign played a crucial role in shaping Australia's national identity. It helped to establish an independent sense of nationhood separate from Britain. It gave birth to what is now known as "the ANZAC spirit," which encompasses qualities such as courage, endurance, sacrifice, and mateship. These values are still held dear by many Australians today.
Strong Bond with Turkey
The Gallipoli campaign also marked the beginning of a strong bond between Australia and Turkey. After years of conflict between these two nations during World War I, they have since become close allies. Each year on April 25th, both nations commemorate the event with ceremonies at Anzac Cove in Turkey.
Conclusion of the Gallipoli Campaign
The Gallipoli Campaign was a significant event in history that involved the Ottoman Empire and Allied forces, particularly Australia and New Zealand. The campaign was marked by fierce battles, strategic maneuvers, and heavy casualties on both sides.
Despite their preparations for defense and landing, the Ottomans were caught off guard when the Allies launched their invasion. The initial stages of the campaign saw some progress for the Allies, but they were eventually met with strong resistance from Ottoman forces. The ANZAC Cove proved to be a difficult area to advance across due to its terrain and heavy enemy fire.
As the campaign progressed, both sides suffered heavy losses. The Ottomans launched counteroffensives in May and August that pushed back Allied forces. Subsequent operations in June and July did not yield significant gains for either side.
One of the most notable moments of the campaign was the attempt to force the straits. This operation saw British naval ships attempt to pass through Turkish defenses but ultimately failed due to mines and gunfire from Ottoman forts.
The Gallipoli Campaign resulted in significant casualties on both sides, with estimates ranging from 250,000 to 500,000 total deaths. Despite this high cost, there were few gains made by either side throughout the course of the campaign.
For Australia and New Zealand, however, Gallipoli holds great historical significance as it marked their first major military involvement as independent nations. The bravery and sacrifice displayed by ANZAC troops during this campaign has become an important part of their national identity.