Thursday, January 10, 2013

Battle of Gallipoli

By 1915, the war in the West had bogged down. Both sides had constructed massive trench networks and were losing men in futile assaults against the fortified positions. Additionally, the shocking defeat at Tannenberg had put Russia’s back to the wall, risking the Allies losing a valuable contributor to the war effort. With the casualties mounting, the Allies decided on a gamble; open up a second front. Sir Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, decided on an attack on the Dardanelles in modern-day Turkey to threaten the Ottoman capital of Constantinople. The allies hoped the second front would help break the deadlock on the Western Front, and bring relief to the beleaguered Russians by opening up a sea route for resupply. When initial naval attacks failed, the Allies decided on an amphibious assault to crush the Ottoman army. The allies believed that the Turks would simply fold up and collapse with minimal casualties (the Ottoman Empire was called the “sick man of Europe” in that time and was viewed as being weak. However, the exact opposite happened. The Turkish troops dug in and resisted, stymieing the Allied landings. The result of this, along with poor planning on the part of Allied commanders, was the Allied troops were bogged down on the beaches and failed to achieve their objectives, and the Gallipoli front eventually bogged down into the same trench warfare as seen on the Western Front as British, Australian and New Zealand forces clashed with the Turks, trying to break out of their beachheads. The allies ended up losing 220,000 men to the Turks 253,000, and the Ottoman Empire earned a stunning victory.

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