Historical Dictionary of the British Empire

By James S. Olson; Robert S. Shadle | Go to book overview

G

GALLIPOLI, BATTLE OF (1915). The Battle of Gallipoli was an attempt to remove Turkey from World War I. In January 1915, the British ambassador in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) relayed a Russian request that some kind of action be attempted to relieve Turkish pressure on the Caucasus Mountain region; the Russians withdrew the request later. Winston Churchill,* the first lord of the admirality, saw tremendous possibilities if the Gallipoli peninsula could be taken, because its high ground could dominate the Dardanelles and the Narrows. The widest point of the straits was only about four-and-a-half miles. If a fleet could force the straits, Constantinople would almost certainly fall and perhaps Turkey as well. First Sea Lord Jack Fisher felt an army was essential for success. He would later resign because of his objections. Secretary for War Kitchener* liked the idea but would not allow any troops to leave France.

The first part of the campaign started in mid-February and involved a British- French fleet under the Admiral Sackville Carden. Mines were cleared and fortifications reduced in the Dardanelles, but Carden became ill and was replaced by Rear Admiral John de Robeck before the attacks on the Narrows. The allied force included numerous small craft and sixteen battleships, including the dreadnought H. M.S. Queen Elizabeth. On March 18, an undiscovered minefield destroyed three battleships, and three others were disabled in the same area. Robeck withdrew without realizing that the Turks were very near defeat.

During March and April, an expeditionary force commanded by General Ian Hamilton* was thrown together. It numbered about 75,000 men, but pre- planning was so poor that it was over a month before an attack could be mounted. The Turks had plenty of time to prepare their 60,000 men. The first landings took place on April 25. The British 29th Division landed near Cape Helles and suffered appalling losses. They were able, however, to break the

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Historical Dictionary of the British Empire
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • A 1
  • B 93
  • C 230
  • D 349
  • E 390
  • F 416
  • G 448
  • H 494
  • I 546
  • J 593
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