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Gallipoli Campaign Gallipoli Campaign Gallipoli Campaign, April 1915. Date 25 April 1915 – 6 January 1916 Location Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey Result Decisive Ottoman victory Belligerents British Empire Australia British India Ottoman Empire Newfoundland Germany New Zealand Austria-Hungary United Kingdom France Casualties and losses 220,000, 59% casualty 253,000 60% Casualty rate rate The Gallipoli campaign took place at Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey from 25 April 1915 to 9 January 1916, during the First World War. A joint British and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul, and secure a sea route to Russia. The attempt failed, with heavy casualties on both sides. In Turkey, the campaign is known as the Çanakkale Savaşları (Çanakkale Wars), after the province of Çanakkale. In the United Kingdom, it is called the Dardanelles Campaign or Gallipoli. In France it is called Les Dardanelles. In Australia, New Zealand and Newfoundland, it is known as the Gallipoli Campaign or simply as Gallipoli. It is also known as the Battle of Gallipoli. The Gallipoli campaign resonated profoundly among all nations involved. In Turkey, the battle is perceived as a defining moment in the history of the Turkish people—a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the centuries-old Ottoman Empire was crumbling. The struggle laid the grounds for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Turkish Republic eight years later under Atatürk, himself a commander at Gallipoli. The campaign was the first major battle undertaken by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), and is often considered to mark the birth of national consciousness in both of these countries. As Anzac Day, the 25th April remains the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in Australia and New Zealand, surpassing Armistice Day/Remembrance Day. Prelude The Allies were keen to open an effective supply route to Russia: efforts on the Eastern Front relieved pressure on the Western Front. Germany and Austria-Hungary blocked Russia's land trade routes to Europe, while no easy sea route existed. The White Sea in the north and the Sea of Okhotsk in the Far East were distant from the Eastern Front and often icebound. The Baltic Sea was blocked by Germany's formidable Imperial Navy. The Black Sea's only entrance was through the Bosporus, which was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. When the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers in October 1914, Russia could no longer be supplied from the Mediterranean Sea. By late 1914, the Western Front, in France and Belgium, had effectively become a stalemate. A new front was desperately needed. Also, the Allies hoped that an attack on the Ottomans would draw Bulgaria and Greece into the war on the Allied side. However, an early proposal to use Greek troops to invade the Gallipoli peninsula was vetoed by Russia as its South Slavic allies would feel threatened by an expansion of Greek power and influence. A first proposal to attack Turkey had already been suggested by French Minister of Justice Aristide Briand in November 1914, but it was not supported. A suggestion by British Naval Intelligence (Room 39) to bribe the Turks over to the Allied side was not taken up. Later in November 1914, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill put forward his first plans for a naval attack on the Dardanelles, based at least in part on what turned out to be erroneous reports regarding Turkish troop strength, as prepared by Lieut. T. E. Lawrence. He reasoned that the Royal Navy had a large number of obsolete battleships which could not be used against the German High Seas Fleet in the North Sea, but which might well be made useful in another theatre. Initially, the attack was to be made by the Royal Navy alone, with only token forces from the army being required for routine occupation tasks. First Sea Lord John Fisher opposed the campaign and instead preferred a direct naval landing on the north coast of Germany, but Churchill won the argument.  Naval attacks Turkish battery at Gallipoli On 19 February, the first attack on the Dardanelles began when a strong Anglo-French task force, including the British battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth, bombarded Turkish artillery along the coast. Many believed victory to be inevitable. Admiral Carden sent a cable to Churchill on 4 March, stating that the fleet could expect to arrive in Istanbul within fourteen days. A sense of impending victory was heightened by the interception of a German wireless message which revealed the Ottoman Dardanelle forts were close to running out of ammunition. When the message was relayed to Carden, it was agreed a main attack would be launched on or around 17 March. It transpired that Carden, suffering from stress, was placed on the sick list by the medical officer, meaning the fleet was now placed in command of Admiral de Robeck. On 18 March the main attack was launched. The fleet, comprising 18 battleships as well as an array of cruisers and destroyers, sought to target the narrowest point of the Dardanelles where the straits are just a mile wide. Despite some damage sustained by ships engaging the Ottoman forts, minesweepers were ordered to proceed along the straits. According to an account by the Turkish General Staff, by 2pm "All telephone wires were cut, all communications with the forts were interrupted, some of the guns had been knocked out... in consequence the artillery fire of the defense had slackened considerably". The French ship Bouvet was sunk by a mine, causing it to capsize with its entire crew aboard. Minesweepers, manned by civilians and under constant fire of Ottoman shells, retreated leaving the minefields largely intact. HMS Irresistible and HMS Inflexible both sustained critical damage from mines, although there was confusion during the battle whether torpedoes were to blame. HMS Ocean, sent to rescue the Irresistible, was itself struck by an explosion and both ships eventually sank. The French battleships Suffren and Gaulois were also badly damaged. All the ships had sailed through a new line of mines placed secretly by the Ottoman minelayer Nusret 10 days before. The losses prompted the Allies to cease any further attempts to force the straits by naval power alone. Losses had been anticipated during the planning of the campaign, so mainly obsolete battleships had been sent which were unfit to face the German fleet, but many naval officers including de Robeck and Fisher did not consider the losses acceptable. The defeat of the British fleet had also given the Turks a morale boost, although their gunners had almost run out of ammunition before the British fleet retreated. The reasons for the decision to turn back are unclear— if the British had pushed forward with the naval attack, as Churchill demanded, then Gallipoli might not have been a defeat. On the other hand, it is possible that they would simply have trapped themselves in the Sea of Marmara, with insufficient force to take Istanbul and a minefield between themselves and the Mediterranean Sea.
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