Battle of Gallipoli


Gallipoli is a peninsula which is located in northwest coast of Turkey between Gulf of Saros and Dardanelles. This battle took place in the year 1915 and it was fought during World War I (1914-1918). In the Battle of Gallipoli troops were landed by the British using Australia and New Zealand Army Crops.

Battle of Gallipoli was a combat between the Central powers and Allied Powers and during this battle Gallipoli peninsula became the center of bloody war. Central powers were Germany, Ottoman Empire (modern Turkey), Hungary, Bulgaria; Allied Powers were Russia, France, Australia, USA, United Kingdom and Germany. In January 1915 Russia asked Britain and also France for assistance and the Gallipoli Campaign was born. Allied powers were extremely in need of an alternative route to Russia. Russia found itself isolated and it lacked modern weapons although had a large army. England and France wanted to supply Russia with weapons and munitions. There wasn’t any land route available to Russia and routes by sea had risks for running Russian ports because they were very far away from the fighting and some very close to enemy naval. The plan of British and French armies was to force opening waterway to Allied shipping to allow Russia to receive weapons and munitions from its allies. The Black Sea’s only entrance was through the Bosporus so Dardanelles which is a waterway to reach Russia from Aegean and Bosporus was the most ideal place to conquer. If attack could be successful on the Dardanelles, it would link the separated Allies. Allied leaders believed that Ottoman Empire could be eliminated from the war when its capital Constantinople could be captured. The Dardanelles was controlled by Ottoman Empire, modern Turkey today and Ottomans was the member of Central Powers.

Winston Churchill who was the first Lord of the Admiralty put forward his plans for a naval attack on the Dardanelles. Task was assigned in February 1915 by The Royal Navy and French Navy. First naval attack to the Turkish shores was on February 19, 1914 and the second one was March 18. First naval attack was the greatest assemblage of naval firepower ever seen with eighteen battleships. It is believed that history repeated itself because three thousand years ago the strongest navy of that time had also sailed to the Dardanelles with thousand black ships and 10000 Greek soldiers for fighting against Trojans. On 19 February 1915 the black ships were once again in the Dardanelles. Then they attack again on 18 March but they got huge damages on their ships. 18 March 1915 was the Turks’ first victory for many years. After the failure of naval attacks, Allies understood that naval power alone would not be enough to open Dardanelles so the first part of the great adventure, the sea battle, was over. It was easy to understand for Turks that land attack was being prepared because a silence settled over peninsula; no ships and no guns were fired around. They had to fortify the Gallipoli Peninsula. Something had to be done quickly because allied attack was expected at any time. They posted lookouts on hilltops and cliffs.

Allies had all plans and The Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was formed of the volunteer Australian and New Zealand Army Crops (Anzac). The plan was to take the Gallipoli Peninsula with a military force composed of Australian, New Zealand, British, French, Indian soldiers. Approximately 60,000 Australians and 18,000 New Zealanders were part of a larger British force. Commander of the Allies’ troops was Sir Ian Hamilton. They chose the sandy beach as the best landing place on peninsula because high ridges close to the beach formed a natural defense. Turks didn’t made arrangements to defend this beach because they hadn’t expected a landing in this coast. Just they sent a part of battalion of infantry here.

Turks lay in supplies and waited and their commander was Mustafa Kemal. Hamilton directed his first attack for the conquest of the Gallipoli Peninsula very early in the morning on April 25th. The royal Navy’s covering fire began at 4.30am. Some battalions landed under heavy fire and battle started on 25th of April, 1915. Turks had been pushed back at mid morning and Australians trudged toward the first range of hills so war had moved inland. It was a successful landing for Allies but it was not a right place. Anzacs found themselves at the foot of an exceedingly steep hill. They realized that an error had been made. Current of the sea drifted them to the north and they landed on the steepest and the most inconvenient part of the peninsula. But maybe the landing at Anzac Cove was not accidental because General Birdwood wrote to the Australian Minister that disembarkation at Anzac Cove had been his own idea. When Australians had reached their first objective, Plugge’s Plateau at 5:30 am Turkish elements had been dealt with there. Gun fire of Turks went on for all day long. Australians cold not dig trenches because of gun fire and shrapnel bursting. Anzacs could not see where the firing was coming from. Australians and New Zealanders fought as long as they could before giving up. Soldiers died in fearful numbers.

At the end of April the number of dead and wounded on Turkish and Anzac sides ran into the tens of thousands. Allied troops began to depart from the peninsula and the last troop departed on January 9, 1916.

Allies lost over 44000 men and 97000 wounded; Turks lost over 87000 men and 165000 wounded. It will be right to say the attempt failed with heavy casualties on both sides.

As a result of this failure Britain’s influence in its dominions had declined and this failure has put an end to the British Empire’s apogee also. Countries on the Black Sea coast had negative effects on international trading; the course of history for Russia had been changed. It was a successful evacuation and even the sound of battle never returned to Gallipoli. On 20th of December, 1915 at 4 o’clock in the morning there was not a living Anzac left on peninsula. During the armistice Anzacs saw Turks in a new light and they realized that Turks were not barbarous savages or fiercely evil as the propaganda proclaimed. During the battle the distance between the Anzac and Turkish trenches in some places was 15-20 meters and there was a constant traffic of gifts, Turks threw over dried raisins and sweets to Anzacs, Anzacs threw tinned food and cigarettes to Turks.

Turks, Germans, Austro-Hungarians, British, French, Australian, New Zealanders, Indians, Ceylonese, Greeks, Arabs, Egyptians, Newfoundlanders (Canada) and Maltese were nationalities involved in the Gallipoli Campaign.