“ Thefailureof Gallipoli was mainly caused by poor Alliedleadership” Gallipoli is a peninsula in the Dardanelles in eastern Turkey. Gallipoli and the surrounding areas of the Dardanelles were the locations of some of the most contentious battles of the First World War in 1915 and 1916. The military campaign is well known as one of the great disasters of British military history. In 1915 the First World War in northern Europe was deadlocked and ideas were being discussed about opening up new military fronts. One suggestion, in 1915, a decision was made to help Russia who was being threatened by Turkey.
An allied plan was made to attack through the Dardanelles in an attempt to take Constantinople (today known as Istanbul) to make a link with Russia. The failure of this attempt was caused by many factors. Much of the military planning was poor. The strength of the Turkish forces was greatly underestimated partly based on poor military intelligence. The initial naval attack was undertaken by older ships that were though inadequate to fight the Germans in the Atlantic but suitable to be used to fight the Turkish.
The slow preparation for the naval attack allowed the Turks to fortify the waterway with mines and artillery. Following the failure of the initial naval attacks there were many delays on starting the land campaign allowing the Turks to heavily entrench the peninsula that was already very unsuitable for a military attack. “ The Allies landed against the most heavily defended and best-prepared position in the Ottoman Empire. ” Despite this there was evidence that some landing points were almost undefended yet the Allied troops dug in on the beaches and waited for the Turkish troops to arrive.
There are many other examples of failures of military planning. Two whole military divisions were landed on the same beach within hours of each other in darkness sustaining massive casualties. Landings were made in the wrong locations, for example, next to heavily defended steep cliffs. Attacks were poorly synchronised following the initial landings, a military stalemate ensued and there were further delays in getting reinforcements although the Turks were able to reinforce continuously.
The lack of progress in the campaign led to major political disagreements in Britain and senior military figures resigned followed by a change in government. While many of the problems came from poor political and military leadership and planning, other factors such as bad weather also contributed. As the conflict went on into the summer, conditions for the soldiers became appalling due to the weather and particularly dysentery diseases. More attacks were carried out, but all were ultimately unsuccessful.
Probably the greatest miscalculation that was made was not only to underestimate the numbers of the Turkish troops but to also underestimate their military skill and resolve. It was almost as if the Allies felt it was much easier to overcome Turkish soldiers than it was to win the war in northern Europe. The Allies were fighting against soldiers who had a very strong sense of national identity. Despite being regarded as a great Allied military disaster, the Turks suffered greater losses in the campaign.
Ironically, the only parts of the military campaign that were considered as a success were the troop evacuations. The Gallipoli campaign was ill conceived with disagreement at the political level with a major underestimation of the opposition forces and the military difficulty of the target. Subsequently many bad military decisions were made. While some allowances may be made for adverse weather, difficult geography and climate, most of these problems should have probably been anticipated. Most significantly there was a massive underestimation of the capability of the enemy.