Gallipoli: A Military Disaster of WWI
Gallipoli: A Military Disaster of WWI

Gallipoli: A Military Disaster of WWI

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  • Pages: 5 (1186 words)
  • Published: November 11, 2017
  • Type: Case Study
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The 1914 Gallipoli campaign was a renowned military failure during World War 1, notorious for its dire circumstances and prevalent mortality rates. It is recognized as a significant military disaster. The campaign aimed to secure the Dardanelles through a naval onslaught, to facilitate the passage of Russian merchant fleet (disallowed by the Turks), to acquire authority over the Black Sea entrance, and to capture Constantinople, Turkey's capital.

Winston Churchill devised a plan to aid Tsar Nicholas of Russia, who was seeking assistance in relieving the pressure from the Turks during World War 1. The plan aimed to remove Turkey from the war, leading to a breakthrough in the Western front and eventual victory. Churchill was highly supportive of the naval attack proposed to execute the plan.

By sending battle ships into the Dardanelles, he convinced Lord Fisher, the


First Sea Lord, to put the plan into action. Although Turkish forces had strong defenses, the attack commenced in February 1915, resulting in the sinking of three battleships and damaging three others, significantly curtailing progress. In response to these losses, they switched tactics to an invasion of Gallipoli. However, the Turks were already aware of the situation and managed to bring in reinforcements and establish more robust defenses within two months. The ensuing fighting took place at various beaches over a few months, but a stalemate ensued.

The Gallipoli campaign was a disaster for the allies, severely hindering their goal of defeating Turkey in the war. Four main reasons are responsible for its failure, which include mistakes made in planning and leadership. If these errors were addressed properly, the outcome could have been different. Winston Churchill is largely to

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blame for formulating an ill-conceived and poorly planned strategy.

Churchill's belief that the capture of Constantinople and the cessation of the Dardanelles would be easy was misguided. He underestimated the determination and resilience of the Turks, which ultimately proved costly to his plan. Neglecting to consider this factor was a significant flaw in his campaign strategy, as it had an impact on the success of the campaign.

Although Churchill had intended to send warships through the Dardanelles, the Turks proved to be a formidable opponent and fiercely fought back, resulting in significant difficulties for the English and French military. Mines caused damage and sinking of warships. Churchill's efforts to recover included proposing a military attack on Gallipoli, which took two months of planning before execution. Unfortunately, during this time, the Turks were informed of their plans and fortified their defenses by stationing 5 additional divisions on Gallipoli beaches - bringing their total to 6.

Churchill's plan was compromised, as the element of surprise was ruined, leading to stronger enemy resistance. The military operation became considerably more difficult for Churchill's troops. The operation involved 35,000 soldiers led by Lieutenant General Hunter Weston to Cape Helles, and 17,000 Anzac troops commanded by General Sir William Birdwood to Anzac Cove. General Sir Ian Hamilton oversaw the entire operation.

The plan crafted by him effectively facilitated the armies' disembarkation. A contentious aspect of his strategy was the delegation of substantial autonomy to his subordinates in devising their tactical approaches. Accordingly, both commanders opted to adopt distinct methods for their landings. Specifically, General Birdwood selected the cover of darkness to execute his landing at Anzac Cove.

This was a display of inadequate leadership

from Birdwood which caused confusion among numerous soldiers. The soldiers were unable to progress to their assigned positions due to their lack of comprehension about the terrain. This is an illustration of poor organization as the soldiers were not familiar with the land. The commanders should have conducted proper research on the terrain and the soldiers should have been briefed on what to anticipate when they reached the landing site. Nevertheless, the delay in advancing until daylight provided the Turkish soldiers with ample time to position themselves and prepare for battle.

General Hunter Weston adopted a distinct strategy at Cape Helles. He made a decision to land his troops beyond daybreak, granting him increased regulation over his men, although giving the Turks a greater opportunity to shoot at his soldiers. This form of leadership and administration enabled soldiers to be strategically positioned, however, also increased the risk of casualties and injuries from enemy fire. Subsequently, the next course of action for the soldiers was pivotal in determining the outcome of the battle.

Despite the soldiers' uncertainty about what actions to take, due to a lack of communication from their commanders, there was no guidance provided. Sir Ian Hamilton remained 10 miles away from the situation, disconnected and unable to provide orders. The soldiers awaited direction while Turkish soldiers on the beaches prepared for battle resulting in hasty decisions, including the construction of trenches, contrary to their intended plans.

The situation on the western front was mirrored by the events in August 1915 when General Hamilton instructed the Anzacs to launch an offensive at Suvla Bay, resulting in a stalemate with casualties and months of fighting. General Stopford, an

elderly and experienced commander, was tasked to lead the attack.

Despite bombarding the Turks with bullets and shells, the General missed his chance to get his men onto high ground, resulting in the enemy being able to regain their position after a failed attack. The casualties were heavy. This failure highlights the General's poor organization skills, particularly in terms of timing and watch synchronization with the soldiers. Had these issues been addressed, there could have been a different outcome.

During the campaign, the soldiers were significantly impacted by the lack of resources and support from Britain due to an ill-conceived plan, subpar command and disorganized operations. One factor influencing this failure was the inadequate supplies and forces. Additionally, prior to the land attack at Gallipoli, all ships had stopped at Egypt to obtain supplies. However, upon departure, they were excessively loaded causing the need for a full reorganization before proceeding with the assault. This process was highly time-consuming and contributed to further delays.

During the summer, soldiers faced increased difficulties caused by inadequate manpower and resources. A significant hurdle was the lack of water, which forced them to survive on a mere third of a gallon per day. Additionally, obtaining water proved challenging due to its distant source being 700 miles away in Egypt's Nile River. These harsh conditions led to dysentery outbreaks from heat and corpses, resulting in many soldiers requiring medical evacuation.

Because of the absence of a water supply in the battle zone, around 1,000 soldiers had to be evacuated every week. This led to increased casualty rates and fewer troops on the battlefield. As a result, there was insufficient support from Britain. A more effective

approach for generals would have been to keep some soldiers in Britain until they were needed. It is worth noting that even though it was unsuccessful overall, the evacuation was actually the most successful aspect.

As per my point of view, the primary cause of the campaign's failure is an improperly planned strategy. Had the plan been more sound, it would have possibly prevented other issues, leading to success for the allies and potential victory in World War I.

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