Dardanelles Campaign


Dardanelles Campaign
or Gallipoli Campaign

(1915–16) Unsuccessful British-led operation against Turkey in World War I, intended to invade the Dardanelles strait, conquer the Gallipoli peninsula, and occupy Constantinople (Istanbul).

In response to a Russian appeal to relieve pressure against its troops on the Caucasus front, Britain agreed to a naval action against Turkey at the Dardanelles. When bombardment alone failed, British and Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in April 1915, where they met strong resistance from Turkish forces under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. After six months of standoff, the campaign was halted and Allied troops were skillfully withdrawn under difficult conditions. Allied casualties numbered about 250,000. The failed campaign gave the impression that the Allies were militarily inept, prompting the resignation of Winston Churchill, the chief promoter of the venture, as first lord of the admiralty.

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▪ European history
also called  Gallipoli Campaign 

      (February 1915–January 1916), in World War I, an Anglo-French operation against Turkey, intended to force the 38-mile- (61-km-) long Dardanelles channel and to occupy Constantinople. Plans for such a venture were considered by the British authorities between 1904 and 1911, but military and naval opinion was against it. When war between the Allies and Turkey began early in November 1914, the matter was reexamined and classed as a hazardous, but possible, operation.

      On January 2, 1915, in response to an appeal by Grand Duke Nicholas, commanding the Russian armies, the British government agreed to stage a demonstration against Turkey to relieve pressure on the Russians on the Caucasus front. The Dardanelles was selected as the place, a combined naval and military operation being strongly supported by the then first lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill (Churchill, Sir Winston). On January 28 the Dardanelles committee decided on an attempt to force the straits by naval action alone, using mostly obsolete warships too old for fleet action. On February 16 this decision was modified, as it was agreed that the shores of the Dardanelles would have to be held if the fleet passed through. For this purpose a large military force under General Sir Ian Hamilton was assembled in Egypt, the French authorities also providing a small contingent. The naval bombardment began on February 16 but was halted by bad weather and not resumed until February 25. Demolition parties of marines landed almost unopposed, but bad weather again intervened. On March 18 the bombardment was continued; however, after three battleships had been sunk and three others damaged, the navy abandoned its attack, concluding that the fleet could not succeed without military help.

      Troop transports assembled off the island of Lemnos, and landings began on the Gallipoli Peninsula at two places early on April 25, 1915, at Cape Helles (29th British and Royal Naval divisions) and at ANZAC beaches (Australian and New Zealand troops). A French brigade landed on the Anatolian coast opposite, at Kum Kale, but was later withdrawn. Small beachheads were secured with difficulty, the troops at ANZAC being held up by Turkish reinforcements under the redoubtable Mustafa Kemal, later to become famous as Atatürk. Large British and Dominion reinforcements followed, yet little progress was made. On August 6 another landing on the west coast, at Suvla Bay, took place; after some initial progress the assault was halted.

      In May 1915 the first sea lord, Admiral Lord Fisher, had resigned because of differences of opinion over the operation. By September 1915 it was clear that without further large reinforcements there was no hope of decisive results, and the authorities at home decided to recall Hamilton to replace him by Lieutenant General Sir Charles Monro. The latter recommended the withdrawal of the military forces and abandonment of the enterprise, advice that was confirmed in November by the secretary of state for war, Lord Kitchener, when he visited the peninsula. This difficult operation was carried out by stages and was successfully completed early on January 9, 1916.

      Altogether, the equivalent of some 16 British, Australian, New Zealand, Indian, and French divisions took part in the campaign. British Commonwealth casualties, apart from heavy losses among old naval ships, were 213,980. The campaign was a success only insofar as it attracted large Turkish forces away from the Russians. The plan failed to produce decisive results because of poor military leadership in some cases, faulty tactics including complete lack of surprise, the inexperience of the troops, inadequate equipment, and an acute shortage of shells.

      The campaign had serious political and diplomatic repercussions. It gave the impression throughout the world that the Allies were militarily inept. Before the evacuation had been decided, H.H. Asquith (Asquith, H H, 1st Earl Of Oxford And Asquith, Viscount Asquith Of Morley)'s Liberal administration was superseded by his coalition government. Churchill, the chief protagonist of the venture, resigned from the government and went to command an infantry battalion in France. In the end the campaign hastened Asquith's resignation, and his replacement as prime minister by David Lloyd George, in December 1916.

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Universalium. 2010.

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