Gallipoli Campaign, April 1915.
Date 25 April 1915 – 6 January 1916
Location Gallipoli peninsula, Turkey
Result Decisive Ottoman victory
British India Ottoman Empire
Casualties and losses
220,000, 59% casualty 253,000 60% Casualty
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
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
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. 
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.