The Strategy of Gallipoli

World War 1 started on 28 July 1914, by the beginning of 1915, just six months later, the whole of the Western Front was at stalemate. With the front bogged down, unrest had become evident amongst the strategists, many had suggested opening up a front through the Balkans, but the idea was shelved.

Now though, the Russians were being threatened by Turkey in the Caucasus, and turned to the Allies for assistance, with Russia fighting on the side of the Allies they were left with little choice.

It was decided to mount a naval bombardment prior to a sea landing, to take the Gallipoli Peninsula, on the Dardanelles western shore.

The Beginning:

On the 19 February 1915 the British and French began a long range bombardment of Turkish coastal positions. Having been driven back by the Turks a second attempted bombardment was started. 18 battleships entered the straits.

Bad weather was causing problems and hampering the operation. Having had time to re-group, Turkish shore-batteries, or undetected mines, sank three of the ships, and severely disabled three others. The sea attack was then called off.

The Landings:

By the time the amphibious landings began, on the 25 April 1915, the Turks had strengthened their fortified positions, and increased their numbers six-fold, anticipating the sea invasion.

After heavy fighting, two bridgeheads were formed. One at Helles on the southern tip of the peninsula, and one on the Aegean coast at Gaba Tepe. Gaba Tepe was to become known as Anzac Cove, in honour of the Australian and New Zealand forces, who held it against heavy Turkish odds.

With a lack of any worthwhile intelligence, no prior knowledge of the terrain, and fierce resistance from a superior Turkish force, the landings got horribly bogged down with the Allies continuing to take heavy casualties. Attempts were made to open a third bridgehead at Sulva Bay on the 6 August, to join up with the Anzac’s at Sari Bair.

Seven months later, Evacuation:

When this move also proved in-effective, and with no chance of reinforcements arriving it was decided to evacuate the 105,000 troops. The withdrawal began on 7 December 1915, and was completed 9 January 1916. The cost to allied forces was 250,000 casualties including 46,000 dead.

Anzac Day at Gallipoli:

As the British have Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, so the Australians and New Zealanders have Anzac Day. A day of remembrance for the thousands who fell at the Battle of Gallipoli and other actions around the world, Anzac day is held annually on 25 April.

With the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign on the 25 April 2015, 40,000 relatives of those do died have shown interest in attending the Gallipoli 2015 dawn service being held at the Gallipoli peninsula memorial.

With just 10,500 being allowed to attend on site, the Australian government is holding a ballot to pick those who can attend. 8,000 tickets are to be distributed to the Australians and 2,000 to the New Zealand contingent, in proportion to those who fell.

Preparations and Precautions:

The Gallipoli Commemorative Service will be held In the Gallipoli National Park. With no form of shelter you will be in the open for between 12-24 hours. While daytime’s can be hot and sunny, the temperature at night can drop to freezing, so warm clothing is a must. The terrain is also very uneven; you may well be walking up to 8km while there, or spending time standing in long queues during security checks.

For those who miss the cut:

For those who missed out on the ballot, many tour companies are laying on commemoration tours. Visiting the sites of the battles and trenches where loved ones fell. Visits to the Gallipoli memorial site are also included, though not on commemoration day.

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