In 1915, World War One spread to the Pacific Ocean, in the Dardanelles. They decided to attack here, because on the Eastern and Western fronts, the trench-warfare in these areas has resulted in a stalemate. This meant a ‘quick victory’ which the allies had hoped for, had been halted. They now needed another alternative, to attack the Germans.
The new ‘war council’, which was set up to achieve new alternatives, decided to attack through the Dardanelles, to capture Constantinople, and to knock Turkey out of the war. The decided to do this, as if Turkey were knocked out, neighbouring countries like Greece, Bulgaria, and Romania, would join the allies. At the time, it was thought that these three countries would be joining the Central Powers.
On the 28th January 1915, the war council decided on an attack on the Dardanelles, using naval ships. However, on the 16th February, they decided also on providing soldiers from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC’s), to assist the Navy, on the ground attack. They decided to use the ANZAC’s, because Lord Kitchener refused to release the 29th division, as he thought they would be needed on the Western Front. On February 19th, 1915, at 8:00am, the attack began.
The attack through the Dardanelles on Galipoli, however, not a success. There were many reasons for this failure. The first was the plan was not thought-out very well at all. The first factor falling under this category is that they attacked in the early morning, in the daylight. This meant the Turkish troops were at their strongest, and they could see the British landing on the beaches. Also, the beach that they landed on, was surrounded by steep hills and mountains, which the British and ANZAC’s had to climb up. These hills were also the perfect position for Turkish snipers to position themselves, and look down on the beach:
“The landing place was a difficult one… backed by a very high mass of hills… being exceedingly steep… it is a stiff climb even up the zigzag path…”
Capt. Guy Downey
Also, when the British landed on the beaches, they stopped for a rest, rather than ‘pressing on’ to reach the Turks on the front line:
“While their senior officers strolled about through the scrub inspecting the position the men sat down to smoke and brew themselves a cup of morning tea…”
When the British troops managed to reach the front line at the top of the hill, they did not dig themselves in. This cost the lives of 700 men, by dawn. The Navy then withdrew the rest of the men.
With the situation of the hill being the perfect spot for Turkish snipers to sit and look down onto the beach, this is exactly what they did. The Turkish fired on the British, from the exact moment from when the departed the landing boats:
“Many were killed in the water, many, who were wounded, were swept away and drowned; others, trying to swim in the fierce current, were drowned by the weight of the equipment.”
Also, due to how the trenches were positioned, and the great torrents of rain that followed, the trenches themselves, flooded with horrifying consequences:
“…In one trench when the flood rose, a pony, a mule, a pig, and two dead Turks were washed over the barricade together…”
The second reason for the failure of the Dardanelles campaign, was bad organisation. The first factor why this meant failure for the campaign was of the campaign was that the officers did not synchronise their watches. This meant that when the troops landed (on the wrong beach) that the Navy (who were meant to bomb the Turkish defences from the sea), were not taken out, and so the troops got fired upon, whilst they were still debarking from the ships, in the water.
The third reason for the failure of the Dardanelles, was poor command. The first factor why this was a failure was poor knowledge of far the enemy had advanced:
“General Hamilton’s only intelligence consisted of a 1912 manual on the Turkish army, some old (and inaccurate) maps, a tourist guide book, and what little could be gleaned from the Turkish desk at the foreign office.”
Also, no orders had been sent to X beach, for the troops to link back up with those of Y and S, at the top of the hill. With all of this confusion, officers lost command of their troops, due to how mixed up they got:
“They had no orders to link up with the forces on Y beach or S beach.”
On the second attack, a new leader was appointed to take command of the troops. The man appointed for this task, was a Sir Frederick Stopford. He was seen as an incompetent old fool who had no idea of what he was doing:
“…An elderly and decaying general who had never commanded troops in war…”
Stopford stayed upon his hip, whilst the troops under his command made their way to the front line. He then gave no further orders, until four days after the attack had begun.
The fourth and final reason for the failure in the Dardanelles, was that inadequate force and supplies had been sent to Galipoli, form Britain. The small (or lack of) rations, also lead to sickness among the troops. With bad weather, and poor medical supplies, the situation got worse:
“At dark the sleet increased, the mud froze, and there our men lay, most of them without overcoats, and many of them without food…”
Also, lack of water was another major problem. As the troops were so far away from fresh water, pipes had to be run into trench, for the troops to drink out of. Shrapnel, enemy troops, and allied troops that had gone ‘mad’ pierced the supply hoses:
“Several men went raving mad from thirst, others assaulted the water guards, pierced the supply hoses, or swam to the lighters to beg for water…”
With all of this confusion and exhaustion led to the allied forces advancing in any way, towards the Turks.
In conclusion, I do not think that any one factor was to blame for the failure of the campaign, it was a mixture of all of the factors. However, I do believe that the ill thought out plan and poor organisation was probably the main factors to blame, if I had to choose one. I think this because, these two are basically linked, and so they have the most factors to consider.