Gallipoli

Gallipoli

Gallipoli

 

The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, the Battle of Gallipoli or the Battle of Çanakkale (Turkish: Çanakkale Savaşı), was a World War I campaign that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916. The peninsula forms the northern bank of the Dardanelles, a strait that provides a sea route to what was then the Russian Empire, one of the Allied powers during the war. Intending to secure it, Russia's allies Britain and France launched a naval attack followed by an amphibious landing on the peninsula with the eventual aim of capturing the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). The naval attack was repelled and, after eight months' fighting, with many casualties on both sides, the land campaign also failed and the invasion force was withdrawn to Egypt.
 
 
 
The campaign was one of the greatest Ottoman victories during the war and a major Allied failure. In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the nation's history: a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. The struggle formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence and the founding of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who first rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli. The campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand and the date of the landing, 25 April, is known as "Anzac Day". It remains the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in those two countries, surpassing Remembrance Day (Armistice Day).
 

Ottoman entry into the war

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottoman Empire was the "sick man of Europe", weakened by political instability, military defeat and civil strife following a century of decline. Power had been seized in 1908 by a group of young officers, known as the Young Turks, who installed Mehmed V as a figurehead Sultan. The new regime implemented a program of reform to modernise the outdated political and economic system and redefined the racial make-up of the empire. An enthusiastic supporter, Germany provided significant investment. German diplomats subsequently found increasing influence despite Britain previously being the predominant power in the region, while German officers assisted in training and re-equipping the army. Despite this support, the economic resources of the empire were depleted by the cost of the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 and the French, British and Germans had offered financial aid. A pro-German faction influenced by Enver Pasha, the former Ottoman military attaché in Berlin, opposed the pro-British majority in the Ottoman cabinet, and subsequently moved to secure closer relations with Germany. In December 1913, the Germans sent a military mission to Constantinople, headed by General Otto Liman von Sanders. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Empire's geographic position meant that her neutrality in the event of war in Europe was of significant interest to Russia and to her allies France and Britain.
 
 
During the Sarajevo Crisis in 1914, German diplomats offered an anti-Russian alliance and territorial gains in Caucasia, north-west Iran and Trans-Caspia. The pro-British faction in the Cabinet was isolated due to the British ambassador taking leave until 18 August. As the crisis deepened in Europe, Ottoman policy was to obtain a guarantee of territorial integrity and potential advantages, unaware that the British might enter a European war. On 30 July 1914, two days after the outbreak of the war in Europe, the Ottoman leaders agreed to form a secret alliance with Germany against Russia, although it did not require them to undertake military action. On 2 August, the British requisitioned two modern battleships – Sultân Osmân-ı Evvel and Reşadiye which were being built for the Ottoman Navy in British shipyards – for their own use, alienating British supporters in Constantinople despite the offer of compensation if they remained neutral. This action strained diplomatic relations between the two empires and the German government offered two cruisers, SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau to the Ottoman navy as replacements, in an attempt to gain influence. The Allies tried to intercept the ships, which escaped when the Ottoman government opened the Dardanelles to allow them to sail to Constantinople, despite being required under international law, as a neutral party, to block military shipping. By allowing the German ships to enter the Dardanelles, the Ottomans confirmed their links to Germany.
 
In September, the British naval mission to the Ottomans, which had been established in 1912 under Admiral Arthur Limpus, was recalled due to increasing concern they would soon enter the war and command of the Ottoman navy was taken over by Rear Admiral Wilhelm Souchon of the Imperial German Navy. Acting without orders from the Ottoman government, on 27 September the German commander of the Dardanelles fortifications ordered the passage closed, adding to the impression that the Ottomans were "in the German camp". The German naval presence and the success of German armies on all fronts gave the pro-German faction in the Ottoman government enough influence to declare war on Russia. On 27 October, Goeben and Breslau, having been renamed Yavûz Sultân Selîm and Midilli, sortied into the Black Sea, bombarded the port of Odessa and sank several Russian ships. The Ottomans refused an Allied demand to expel the German missions and, on 31 October 1914, officially entered the war on the side of the Central Powers. Russia declared war on Turkey on 2 November. The next day, the British ambassador left Constantinople and a British naval squadron off the Dardanelles bombarded the outer defensive forts at Kum Kale and Seddulbahir. A shell hit a magazine, knocked the guns off their mounts and killed 86 soldiers. Britain and France declared war on 5 November and the Ottomans declared a jihad (holy war) later that month, launching an offensive in the Caucasus against the Russians to regain former Turkish provinces there. Fighting also began in Mesopotamia following a British landing to occupy the oil facilities in the Persian Gulf. The Ottomans prepared to attack Egypt in early 1915, to occupy the Suez Canal and cut the Mediterranean route to India and the Far East. Strachan wrote that in hindsight Ottoman belligerence was inevitable, once Goeben and Breslau were allowed into the Dardanelles and that delays after that were caused by Ottoman unreadiness for war and Bulgarian neutrality, rather than uncertainty about policy.