One of the most stunning failures of the First World War was the campaign at Gallipoli, which took place in 1915. The Gallipoli War, also known as the Battle of Canakkale, occurred at the peninsular of Gallipoli, in the modern day Turkey, which was previously the Ottoman Empire. The Gallipoli War is famous due to the dreadful conditions undergone by the people who were engaged in the war. The war was brought about by the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, in response to Tsar Nicholas II’s plea for assistance.
As the war began, it involved the British Royal Navy that seized the Dardanelles as well as Constantinople, hence, removing the Ottomans from the First World War. The British Royal Navy was also instrumental in defending the British command of the Suez Canal. Eventually, the Gallipoli War created a new theatre of war, which relieved the pressure on other war fronts.
Right from the beginning, the Gallipoli war was bound to fail. As a matter of fact, the study conducted by Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Fisher, on the possibility of an attack at Gallipoli came out with a negative report. It concluded that the attack would be “mightily hazardous”(The Custodian). Furthermore, a study by the War office in 1906 gave a similar report with recommendations that could involve several risks. However, in spite of the negative reports provided by these two studies, the attack went ahead anyway, albeit eight years later. In actual sense, the attack was a cataclysmic failure. It resulted in a huge humiliation for the British Army, since it had to withdraw from the site after incurring heavy losses (The Custodian).
The Gallipoli war is famous, especially due to the nightmarish circumstances that those who fought in the war had to go through. As a matter of fact, the conditions of the war had a negative impact on the campaign. While some historians are of the view that the circumstances were just the effect of a deliberate failure, others still believe that the conditions as well as the administration of the injured were the significant factors towards the accomplishment of the campaign.
Making the Attack Decisions
By December of 1914, there was already an impasse with regard to the campaign, especially on the Western front. The German Schlieffen Plan as well as France’s Plan XVII had failed to provide any significant conquests as was anticipated (The Custodian). Key leaders on every side were becoming conscious of the fact that the war was actually going to be much more protracted than it was anticipated at first (Hamilton 45-47).
Additionally, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), which was engaged in battle on the Western front, was not large, a highly trained proficient army used to to mass combat. As a result, the bulk of British strength was on the Royal Navy. From this perspective, Winston Churchill, the first Lord of the Admiral, sought for ways of reenergizing the war, by utilizing the British Royal Navy.
Following the outbreak of the First World War, the customary strength of the British forces was most ardently treasured by Winston Churchill. As a matter of fact, as early as August 1914, he conferred over the possibility of engineering an attack on the Dardanelle Straits with the War Secretary of State, Field Marshall Lord Kitchener (Murdoch 39-50). Following Turkey’s entry into the war on the 31st October, 1914, the British War Council held a meeting to discuss the way forward, being that Turkey had joined war on the side of the Central Powers (The Custodian).
Initially, Churchill’s idea of an attack on Dardanelles was rejected. However, as a result of his insistence, Churchill’s idea became more and more appealing, especially as other options were becoming exhausted. The situation was aggravated by the fact that Russia’s Tsar Nicholas II requested for assistance from the British to distract the armies of the Central Powers from laying an attack on Caucases. Eventually, Kitchener, who was previously opposed to the attack, gave the go ahead, albeit unwillingly. However, he was categorical in that the troops would not be involved, and that none of the troops on the Western Front would be involved (Murdoch 39-50).
After several deliberations, the consensus was so arrived. This involved the naval operation, in which the old pre-Dreadnoughts would be utilized. Additionally, one modern ship provided by the British Navy, Queen Elizabeth, would be used. In the meantime, concerns were raised by Admiral Fisher in connection with launching an operation without troops. Inasmuch as Admiral Fisher was concerned about these pertinent issues, his opinions fell on deaf ears. After trying to resign over the war, Churchill and Kitchener persuaded him not to resign. What is more, they requested him to remain in office for the sake of forging a united front.