Copyright D Smyth Aug 2004

Originally, the Gallipoli campaign was planned to be a purely naval show. But let me go back in history a little further even than that.
The Gallipoli campaign was caused, basically, by the fact that Turkey entered the First World War. There was no need for Turkey to do so; for no one threatened her seriously and both the Allies and the Central Powers (Germany) wanted to keep her neutral.
However, the government of the Young Turks, who had deposed the Sultan, had placed their country in a chaotic political situation. Among other problems, their government was bankrupt.
The hopelessness of the situation compelled the Young Turks to look to the outside world for allies, and the choice rested between Britain and Germany.
Britain was not enthusiastic about "taking on" the Turks as allies, but the Germans were.
In August 1914 the British Naval Mission was still operating in Constantinople, but it was out-numbered by the German military mission which was actively infiltrating the Turkish Army.
This created complicated intrigues in Turkey.
The situation between Britain and Turkey became tense when Britain refused to deliver two warships which she was building for Turkey.
On August 3rd, 1914, Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, announced that in the interests of British national security the two ships had been requisitioned by the Royal Navy.
Germany responded by offering Turkey the battle-cruiser GOEBEN and the light-cruiser BRESLAU, which "happened" to be in the Western Mediterranean at the time.
The GOEBEN had a displacement of 22,000 tons, had ten 11 inch guns and a speed of 26 knots. She could dominate the Russian Black Sea fleet, whose presence was worrying the Turks at that time, and out-distance, though not out-gun, any British navy ship in the Mediterranean.
British warships shadowed the Germans but had orders not to fire until war broke out with Germany - which it did at midnight on August 4th.
By that time the German ships had eluded the British with no credit to the British Admiral, (who was later court-martialled) and on August 9th, they steamed through the Dardanelles.
This still did not, however, bring Turkey into the war: Germany, as well as Britain and its Allies, were still attempting to get Turkey to remain neutral, although Germany had reservations about this.
The situation was a stalemate until after the Battle of the Marne (when the Allies drove the Germans back on the River Marne relieving the threat to Paris) on 14 September, 1914. This battle showed decisively that Germany was not going to "walk through" the British and the allies, and that the war would not by any means be over by Christmas, as almost everyone had forecast.
As a result, Germany began to look for allies and decided that she wanted Turkey in the war.
One of the earliest indications of this changed attitude was in the treatment of the British Naval Mission in Constantinople. This Mission, under the command of Admiral Limpus, had for some years undertaken the training of the Turkish Navy, With the arrival of the GOEBEN its position had become at first embarrassing and then insupportable. Early in September it was clearly impossible for Admiral Limpus to go on. On the 9th the Mission was withdrawn, and the Germans now controlled the Turkish Navy as well as the Army. Then on September 26th, a Turkish torpedo-boat was stopped as she tried to leave the Dardanelles by the British squadron lurking there2 and when it was found that there were German soldiers on board, the vessel was ordered to go back to Turkey. On hearing this news the German Army officer commanding the fortifications, took it on himself to close the Dardanelles. New mines were laid across the channel, lighthouses were extinguished, and notices were put on the cliffs warning all vessels that the passage was blocked.
Things were quiet for about a month, and then, on the 29th October, the GOEBEN, the BRESLAU and a Turkish squadron which was manned in part by German soldiers, steamed through to the Black Sea, and on this and the following day they opened fire without warning on Odessa harbour, on the Russian fortresses at Sevastopol and on Novorossik, sinking all shipping they could reach and setting the oil tanks on fire.
On October 30th the Russian, British and French ambassadors at Constantinople delivered a twelve-hour ultimatum to the Turkish government and, when it was unanswered, asked for their passports. Hostilities began on the following day, and on November 3rd several British and French battleships bombarded the forts at the entrance to the Dardanelles (without much effect).
Nothing much happened after this until January 3rd, 1915, when Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, received an appeal from the Russians to start a movement against the Turks which. would compel them to relax their pressure on the Russian army in the Caucasus.
Kitchener thought the only plan likely to meet with success was to sweep through the Dardanelles and capture Constantinople.
The famous British admiral, Lord Fisher, who had been brought out of retirement to become First Sea Lord, agreed with Kitchener's proposal but added the reservation that the action must be immediate.
Churchill and Kitchener agreed that whatever the action was, it must be carried out by Royal Navy ships.
The Commander-in-Chief of the RN forces which were stationed outside the Dardanelles, Vice-Admiral Sackville-Carden, was asked his advice and replied that he did not consider the Dardanelles could be rushed. He recommended extended operations with a large number of ships.
Admiral Carden sent a plan, which involved the use of no less than 12 battleships, 3 battle-cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 17 destroyers, 6 submarines, 12 minesweepers and a score of other craft of all kinds. Further assistance was to be obtained from a French squadron of four battleships and auxiliaries.
At a meeting of the War Council on 28th January Lord Fisher changed his attitude once again and became opposed to the Dardanelles scheme, which he said could only be justified on naval grounds by military co-operation.
Fisher in fact tried to resign as a protest, but was persuaded by Kitchener not to do so and to support Royal Navy action against the Dardanelles.
By the middle of February Kitchener, however, was himself coming round to the idea of sending an army to the Dardanelles, and on the 16th he announced that the 29th Division could sail for the Aegean. It would assist the marines already on the spot in mopping up the Gallipoli peninsula, and later in occupying Constantinople. This brought so sharp a protest from the generals in France (who wanted the 29th Division there) that on February 18th, the day before the naval bombardment began, Kitchener revoked his decision and said that the Australian and New Zealand divisions then in Egypt should go instead. At this the ships which the Admiralty had assembled for the transport of the 29th Division were dispersed.
Later Kitchener changed his mind yet again, and decided that the 29th Division would be sent as well.
Meanwhile, the Navy was still on the scene at the Dardanelles.
A bombardment which had begun on l9th February was resumed on 25th when all guns were destroyed on each of the two outer forts on the European and Asiatic shores.
Landing parties were disembarked, mines were swept and as a result the Fleet sailed six miles inside the straits.
Bad weather then intervened and the Fleet withdrew, but plans were made to renew the Naval operations on 18th March.
General lan Hamilton was appointed to command the military force and left London on 13th March with his staff, with an inaccurate map of the Gallipoli area, with a 3-years-old handbook on the Turkish army and with a lot of other doubtful information.
They arrived on the 18th March in time for Hamilton to board the cruiser PHAETON to watch an assault by the British and French warships.
At that stage Hamilton was a Commander-in-Chief without an army or a plan.
The naval battle with the shore guns was not a success this time. It had been preceded by a test bombardment to find out if the Turks had 15-inch guns. The Turks had these - as it was discovered later - but cunningly did not use them, and the allied fleet was thoroughly deceived.
Between the 18th and 22nd March the allied fleet lost the IRRESISTIBLE, the OCEAN and the BOUVET, sunk by mines floated down the Dardanelles on the four-knot current. HMS INFLEXIBLE was saved only by the skill of her commanding officer, Captain Phillimore.
On the 22nd March Vice-Admiral de Robeck, who had succeeded Admiral Carden, (who had been sent home) decided to withdraw and do no more until the army - now scattered along the Mediterranean - was assembled and ready to land.
De Robeck described the result of the bombardment as a disaster and, as he had lost three battleships in the 18th of March attack, he apparently felt he should not try any more.
The Admiral's Chief of Staff, Commodore Roger Keyes, was appalled at the decision and pleaded with him to carry out a plan he had to make a new attack, aided by a new minesweeping force which had been organised.
De Robeck and Keyes went to see General Hamilton about it and were assured that the army would be available on 14th April.
They decided to wait, but Keyes said he was "fearfully disappointed and unhappy". The general feeling both then and now was that, if the Navy had returned to the attack, the Dardanelles would have been forced by a purely Naval operation.
In fact, much later, the Turkish leader, Enver, himself said that if the British had only had the courage to rush more ships through the Dardanelles they could have got to Constantinople.
That was the end of the all-Naval participation in the Gallipoli Campaign.
The real disaster lay ahead.
The landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula, as everyone knows, began on 25th April. The 15 year-old midshipmen, displaying great and mature courage in what was the biggest amphibious naval landing that had ever taken place commanded the boats taking the soldiers ashore. The Australians and New Zealanders, however, were put ashore a mile or so out of position - at Anzac Cove instead of Gaba Tepe. This seems to have been the fault of the Navy, although the Turks later claimed to have deliberately moved a marker buoy during the night to deceive our boats.
All know how the landings went, and how the whole Gallipoli campaign went from then on.
About the only successes were those of the British submarines, led originally on 25th April by the Australian Submarine AE2.
She, under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Stoker, on 25th April, while the landings were in progress, most gallantly and skillfully dived through and under the minefields and succeeded in entering the Sea of Marmora - the first British submarine to do so. On the way through the straits she sank a Turkish cruiser, ran aground twice, was fired on by over a hundred guns from 8 inches to 14 inches in calibre, and was nearly rammed four times. Once into the Sea of Marmora, for five days she attacked enemy shipping but, on April 30th, while diving to escape the attentions of the Turkish torpedo-boat, the Sultan Hissar, the submarine got out of control. As she was alternately breaking surface and descending to a great depth, the enemy scored a hit and holed her in three places. Stoker ordered his crew to swim for it and he went below to open the sea cocks. He was accompanied by the First Lieutenant, Lieutenant Haggard (who, incidentally, was later the author's wife's father).
While they were below, the ship was settling in the water, and the Sub-Lieutenant on the conning tower anxiously called them up. So they dashed up the ladder, just in time. The water was only about two feet from the top of the conning tower; and only a small portion of the stern was still above the water. On this were clustered the last halfdozen of the crew, the remainder being already overboard.
A minute later she slid gracefully below the surface, on her last and longest dive. Captain and crew were picked up and made prisoners of war.
But I must return to the overall position, some months later. By then so many other British Submarines, commanded by such famous officers as Naismith and Holbrook, had got through the Narrows that a hopeful situation existed, of which no-one took advantage.
The situation ashore on the other hand, was hopeless, and so were the conditions.
In Britain Lord Fisher had become increasingly angry at the situation. Churchill wanted a limited naval advance before the Turkish Army was defeated, but Fisher was opposed to this.
Following the sinking of the battleship GOLIATH on 12th May, Fisher had wanted to order the huge QUEEN ELIZABETH to return to England, and he had won his point and the ship had been recalled.
Lord Kitchener complained bitterly that he had sent an army into Turkey because he had been assured that the Navy would force the Dardanelles. The Navy had failed, he said.
Fisher retorted that he had been against the Dardanelles adventure from the beginning.
Churchill and Fisher agreed on the replacements that were to be sent for the QUEEN ELIZAETH; but later on Churchill added two E-class submarines without informing Fisher.
So Fisher resigned.
This gave the Conservative Opposition their chance to attack Churchill, and they managed to persuade Prime Minister Asquith to have him dismissed from the War Cabinet.
They then obtained eight posts in the new Coalition Ministry, which was formed.
Thus the Gallipoli fiasco had produced only the end of the Liberal government and the discrediting of the Navy Chiefs.
On August 6th General Hamilton began his last great assault, at Suvla Bay, but it was a horrible failure. Four thousand Anzacs were killed, mostly at the diversionary battle of Lone Pine, commanded by the author's father, and General Hamilton was sacked by Kitchener.
For three months the War Cabinet argued about whether the campaign should be continued.
Finally, the evacuation was ordered in November.
It was completed on 20th December - a triumph of military discipline and amphibious planning and an operation of which the Turks completely failed to take advantage.
Whatever may be said about the Gallipoli Campaign as a blunder or a brilliant idea it was the greatest amphibious operation ever undertaken up to that time.
Nearly everything was experimental for modern warfare; the use of naval aircraft and submarines; the trial of naval guns against shore batteries; landing large armies in small boats on a hostile shore; the use of radio ... and so forth.
All this had its influence in World War II, the Mediterranean landings, the "island hopping" of General MacArthur's Pacific Campaign and the second front in Normandy. Gallipoli was a guide-book to modern warfare.

c Copyright CDRE D. Smyth AO RAN Ret'd Aug 2004










































































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