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Gallipoli 1915

A Campaign Which Would Change A War

   A Sequel to Invasion 1915

By David Atwell



For all intents & purposes, the 1915 German invasion of Great Britain had failed not long after it had begun…

The conclusion to Invasion 1915


The Gallipoli Campaign was the brain child of Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty. Although it did not go exactly as planned, the Gallipoli Campaign was always intended to relieve German pressure, from the other fronts in France, Belgium & Russia, by forcing German forces to spread ever further across Europe. Furthermore, it was also a campaign to knock Turkey, an ally of Germany, out of the war. Turkey was seen to be the ‘sick man of Europe’ & Churchill, among others, believed that victory would be quick. Then, with Turkey out of the war, Allied convoys could reach the Russian Black Sea ports, & in doing so, bring desperately needed war munitions & other supplies to the Allies eastern partner.

Yet Gallipoli was undertaken at a dangerous time for the Allies - especially for the British. Having just been invaded by the German Invasion Army, many in Britain argued against Churchill’s plan to divert troops & material to a campaign on the other side of Europe. Furthermore, many even argued against sending further reinforcements to the British Expeditionary Force in France. In the end, though, a compromise was made wherein much of the British Mediterranean Force was to be made up of Empire troops, whilst British troops were kept in British for use against the German interlopers.

Although Churchill was to later add a few more British divisions than at first authorised, in other words the Naval Division, he was only given the green light after the government had been assured, by the British Defence Force, that the German Invasion Army was effectively sealed up in Northumberland & Durham. Of course, it must be noted, that the attack upon the Dardanelles, using both naval & army units, was actually authorised prior to the invasion of Britain by Germany. As a result, most of what Churchill had asked for was already in place in the eastern Mediterranean region when the German invasion took place. Nothing more, however, would be needed from Britain other than the final order to commence the campaign.

Not everything, though, as noted was to go to plan. Initially Churchill’s plan called on the Royal & French Navies to attack up the Dardanelles, pass the Turkish forts, & onwards to Constantinople. Following such a move, a corps of troops would arrive to occupy European & Asian Minor Turkey, whilst troops from India would occupy Mesopotaimia, & troops from Egypt would occupy Palestine & Syria. The naval attack, however, was not to be successful as will be discussed below. Nonetheless, Churchill was not going to be deterred &, it is due to the failure of the naval attack, that the most successful Allied land operation in the war to date would eventuate. It would also make the word ANZAC forever synonymous with Gallipoli. The ANZAC Corps successful break-out from Suvla Bay (later called ANZAC Cove), & the subsequent March to Constantinople, would ensure Allied victory.

The Naval  Attack

“The Allied Armada's naval attack began on 19 February 1915. Until 13 March 1915, they continuously bombarded the Turkish forts and opened a way for the minesweepers. However, they had confronted with the Turks' tough resistance. The Turkish gunners did not bother to reply the Allies' bombardment. This showed that, to open the Dardanelles was not that easy and the Allies could have cleaned only the first five miles of the strait.

Until 18 March the Allied Armada destroyed Seddulbahir and Ertugrul forts located on the European shore and Kumkale and Orhaniye forts located on the Asiatic shore. It seemed that the entrance was now clear but the future was still uncertain. Nobody guessed what was going to happen on 18 March 1915.

On 17 March 1915, Admiral de Robeck was in charge to proceed the plan in place of Admiral Carden. In respect of Carden's plan, the Allied Fleet appeared in the entrance in the morning of 18 March. De Robeck himself commanded the Fleet's most powerful squadron.

In bright sunshine and without the possibility of surprise, de Robeck in HMS Queen Elizabeth led the first wave up the channel at 10:30. Queen Elizabeth's target was Mecidiye fort, HMS Lord Nelson was going to bomb the Namazgah fort and HMS Inflexible's object was Hamidiye fort. This was called as "A Line" and it was begun to be proceeding at 11:30. De Robeck's most powerful ships commenced to bombard the central forts.

Meanwhile, Allied Fleet had entered the fire line coming from Kumkale. Turkish hotwizers began to fire, but their guns could not cover the distance and the gunners failed to reach the ships. At midday, Allied Fleet had destroyed the Cimenlik and Hamidiye forts. De Robeck signalled his second wave to go in closer, Guepratte's French squadron, Bouvet, Charlemagne, Gaulois and Suffren with HMS Triumph and Prince George.

This step of the plan was called as "B Line". Guepratte led his squadron through the British line and subjected the shore defences. Under Turkish gunners' heavy fire, the squadron had reached the B Line. After a mutual bombardment, the Allies had succeeded to stop the middle forts but the central forts continued to fire. Two British ships, HMS Triumph and HMS Prince George had taken their positions in A Line and they targeted Mesudiye and Yildiz forts.

Turkish forts on the European shore were under a fierce fire. Most of the bombshells had hit them and destroyed the telephone lines. Moreover, Mecidiye fort stopped with the death of its gunners.

If the allies could have succeeded the second step of the plan, second squadron commanded by Colonel Hayes Sadler would have moved and replaced the third squadron. De Robeck signalled the French to retire for his third wave of advance, Ocean, Irresistible, Albion, Vengeance, Swiftsun and Majestic.

As the French ships led by Suffren had their return, wheeled away to make room for the second squadron, something unexpected had happened, around 14:00. French ship Bouvet following immediately Suffren hit a mine and within two minutes had disappeared entirely, with the loss of almost all her crew. As the steamboats immediately arrived to rescue the crew, they only could save 20 people's lives. At 12:30, Gaulois hit a mine but she could have left the strait with a serious stroke. At 15:30, Inflexible hit a mine not far from the grave of Bouvet.

Despite severe damage, she could have arrived to the island of Imros. Shortly afterwards, Irresistible hit a mine; out of control she was near the Asiatic shore to attract the attention of Turkish gunners and her crew was taken off. On 8 March, Turkish minelayer Nusret had surreptitiously laid a line of mines parallel to the Asiatic shore, and now these mines were unexpectedly destroying the Allied Armada. As De Robeck had realised that the Turks had laid mines to the channel, he abandoned the attack. At 18:05, while the second squadron was withdrawing, HMS Ocean hit a mine and she exploded. Despite a heavy fire, her crew was evacuated.”

(This entire OTL passage is a direct quote from The Naval Attack, by  “Aktuel”, The Gallipoli Campaign 1915. Web address:

Plans & Armies

Much of the Allied plans, for dealing with Turkey, depended upon the success of the Anglo-French naval attack on the Dardanelles. Now that the naval attack had been met with disaster, a new & bolder plan had to be improvised. This was not all that hard, as it may seem, as plans were around in how to deal with Turkey if the Dardanelles were ever denied to the British. These plans, which would be modified for the current situation, called for the landing of a force on the Gallipoli Peninsular. This force would secure a bridgehead & then move up the European side of the Dardanelles & onwards to Constantinople. It was as much as a bluff as anything, but the thought that the Ottoman capital could be captured would make the Turks see reason & hence surrender.

Although the situation in 1915 demanded much more than a bluff, the original strategy of taking Constantinople was nonetheless the final objective of the Gallipoli Campaign. Yet, what with events taking place in Britain at a premium, conducting any further military action elsewhere, let alone in the eastern Mediterranean, seemed impossible. Churchill, however, was able to argue otherwise & with much success. Demonstrating that a land offensive at Gallipoli would require no further troops from Britain, than he already had, he was finally given permission from a reluctant British government to go ahead with the operation. It was just as well for the sake of the war.

For the most part, the fighting would fall to Empire troops as only three British & three French divisions would be “officially” involved in the entire campaign. There was, though, regardless of what the British Prime Minister of the time had authorised, one further British division included. This was the Royal Naval Division, which was fleshed out entirely by surplus Royal Navy personnel, most of whom had never fired a rifle before in their lives. However, as said, the main fighting force would come from Empire troops, most notably the Australians, while New Zealanders & Indians were also involved. As a result, three Australian divisions (two infantry & one light horse) would be in the thick of the fight along with two ANZAC divisions (involving personnel from both Australia & New Zealand) & one Indian division.

The Turks, for the most part, had an inferior force defending the Gallipoli Peninsular in both numbers & equipment. Even with the efforts of the German General von Sanders to “modernise” the Turkish army, it was nonetheless substandard when compared to most European armies of the period. Turkey had entered the First World War unprepared, & even though it had repulsed the Anglo-French fleet attacking the Dardanelles, a major land engagement was really beyond its ability. To add further to its problems, only two divisions, the 9th & the 19th, had been stationed on the Gallipoli Peninsular to counter any invasion.

Supporting these two divisions, however, von Sanders had wisely stationed two more further up the Peninsular should an invasion take place. The 5th & 7th Turkish Divisions would thus double Turkish numbers defending against any Allied attack. Finally, the Turks had the 12th & 14th Divisions guarding the northern exit of the Peninsular. In many respects, the Turks had organised a reasonable defence under the circumstances. What the Turks did not know, however, were the Allied plans or their overall strength of numbers, let alone the capabilities of the Australian solder.

The Landings

The invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsular took place in the pre-dawn light of 25th April 1915. There would be two important locations where the Allied troops came ashore. The first was at the tip of the Gallipoli Peninsular, whilst the most important was at Suvla Bay. The thing, though, that concerned the British planning staff was the impact of the tides & not the Turkish defenders. Several Royal Navy officers were quick to point out that, during the landing phase, the landings could take place at the wrong location, considering the invasion of Turkey soil was to take place in darkness. Thus elaborate plans were put in motion to ensure that the Allies landed in all the right places.

This was harder to do in practice than in theory. Still, the leading echelons of troops, all in boats, had a Royal Navy liaison officer with them, who’s job it was to ensure that the right location was reached. It meant that fewer infantrymen went in with the first wave, but the danger of landing at the wrong place was deemed far more important.

Just as important, too, was the fact that the next waves all landed at the correct location. Again, darkness could ensure that, even though the first wave may have landed at the correct location, there was no reason whatsoever that the rest of the infantry would make it to the right place at the right time. As result of these concerns, the Naval officers, who arrived with the first wave, would have a special lantern with them that had a single lens which concentrated light in the one direction. Coloured, so that the next waves knew exactly where to head for, the entire landing turned out to be more than adequately successful.

As a result of these initiatives, the great bulk of the initial invasion force was able to come ashore relatively unchallenged by the Turkish defenders. This, however, was soon to change. On the southern landings at Cape Helles, the British & French soon found themselves with a battle on their hands. They had just begun to advance inland, not more than 500 metres, before the defenders realised the situation taking place on the beaches before them. The fighting soon became quite intense as the Turks fought stubbornly. Soon, the British & French had to call upon, as dawn broke, the supporting naval ships for several bombardments. Not all of these were successful, even though, the British & French were able to push the defenders back some two kilometres from the original landing zones.

The Australians & New Zealanders, on the other hand, could not of had it easier. The initial landings were exactly where they were supposed to take place. As a result, they had an easy time disembarking on land & an open plain before them to advance. This was essential, in the staff planning, in order for the ANZACs to quickly form up  & push inland, as the overall plan required the British & French to hold down the Turkish defenders on the Peninsular itself, whilst the ANZAC Corps cut them off at the northern end.

Success At Suvla Bay

Within hours of the landings, all appeared to be going exactly as planned. The British & French had done their part, although with more casualties than hoped for, but nonetheless the ANZACs were ashore & heading inland. The ANZAC Corps, however, soon found themselves facing two Turkish battalions which had dug themselves in. Battle was soon given, & such was the ferocity with which the Turks offered in defence, the invasion forces had to take stock in their attacks.

This situation would, though, change once it was realised that less than 2 000 enemy troops barred the way to the ANZAC advance. Although it would cost the ANZACs over 3 000 casualties, in their head long attack, they soon overwhelmed the Turkish defenders & were once again advancing east. All seemed fine until, though, reports began to reach the Australians that two Turkish divisions were heading towards them. Already, the Turkish commander on the scene, Mustafa Kemal, had summed  up the overall position & had called for reinforcements.

The overall commander, the German von Sanders, was at somewhat odds with the Turk Mustafa. There were various reasons for this, but primarily, Sanders had seen, on the Western Front in France, what stubborn defences could do to infantry. As a result, instead of withdrawing from the Peninsular & attacking en masse the ANZACs at Suvla Bay, the two Turkish divisions, that were on the lower part of the Peninsular, were ordered to stay put. In many respects, this was exactly what the Allies wanted. As such, instead of the ANZACs taking on all four Turkish divisions, the ANZAC Corps only had to take on two of them.

Still, that meant that the ANZACs would have to take on the Turkish 5th & 7th Divisions all the same. And the Turks were going to offer a savage fight as a result. Ironically, though, Sanders fears about how infantry faired  in the face of stubborn defence was about to come true. General Birdwood, commander of the 1st ANZAC Corps, immediately ordered a defence of the Suvla Perimeter. No sooner had the Australians & New Zealanders dug primitive trenches, did the Turks attack. For four days, the Turks went on attacking with little concern to casualties. The death toll was horrific. The Australians, knowing full well if they were pushed back meant their annihilation, & stood firm in the face of the Turkish onslaught.  The Allies brought everything to bare against the Turks, including a savage bombardment from the Allied ships off Suvla Bay.

The most important of these savage battles took place around the Chocolate & Green Hills. The 7th Turkish Division, which had kept to a minimum on the first two days of battle, launched a divisional attack amounting to all 15 000 troops of the division. The Turks, even at one point, managed to push the Australians of the 1st Division back from their defences, only, in turn, to be pushed back themselves. By the end of the day, some 8 000 Turks had become casualties, whilst 4 000 Australians were also dead or wounded.

The crunch time came, however, on the 30th April. With Allied reinforcements coming in the shape of the 2nd ANZAC Division, 2nd Australian Division & the 29th Indian Brigade, the ANZAC Corps counter-attacked all along the Perimeter. The Turks soon found themselves in full retreat & the 19th Turkish Division had to commence defensive operations against the 29th Indian Brigade. Effectively, however, the 5th & 7th Turkish Divisions ceased to exist.

The ANZAC Break Out

As a result of the ANZAC counterattack around Suvla Bay, the 1st Australian & 1st ANZAC Divisions began to advance with little opposition across the Peninsular in order to cut off the two Turkish divisions to the south. This was achieved with some effort, fore by now Mustafa was well awar of the situation. Sanders, too, became deeply concerned &, as a result, gave the go ahead for Mustafa’s own 19th Division to counterattack the southern flank of the ANZACs advance.

This was all Mastafa needed to go from the defence to offensive by attacking the 29th Indian Brigade. But, the Indians were as professional as anyone else. They knew how to fight & were not to be overrun as easily as Mustafa was led to believe. The Indian Brigade could, thus, be extremely proud of its performance. Under constant attack for two days, from the Turkish 19th Division, they managed to stubbornly hold on until the Turkish attacks finally gave way. They had given as much as they got &, although their causalities were high, they had ensured that the ANZAC flank was protected. The all important ANZAC attack across the Peninsular could thus continue. Furthermore, the Indians wrote their name into history at Gallipoli with much valour & honour.

Still, on 1st  May, the Indians were replaced by the second wave of troops which had been kept in reserve since the initial invasion. These principally included 2nd French along with 43rd & 52nd British Divisions. By committing these troops, the commander of the Gallipoli Offensive, Birdwood, had, however, no powerful reserve left, save for two Indian Brigades  the Australian & New Zealand (ANZAC) Mounted Division. Nevertheless, as fate would have it, Birdwood’s decision turned out to be fundamental in avoiding disaster.

Meanwhile, the ANZACs Corps went on the offensive. Knowing that their flank was secured, all four ANZAC Divisions moved east against pitiful opposition. Only a handful of troops, the remnants of the 5th  & 7th Turkish  Divisions, were the only thing in its way from capturing the town of Gallipoli itself, & with it, cut off the two Turkish divisions still on the Peninsular. The only problem, now, was the fact that the 12th Turkish Division had dug in around the town in order to stop the Australians reaching this all important objective. Thus on the 5th of May, the ANZACs would have another battle on their hands. In anticipation of this, the ANZAC Mounted Division landed at Suvla Bay. Within 24 hours, it found itself in reserve near the town of Gallipoli waiting for a breakthrough. It would, though, have to wait a little longer than expected.

The Turkish Counterattack

If the Indian Brigade thought that they were going to get some rest from the fighting, they were soon to be disappointed. On the day after they were withdrawn, the Turks launched their surprise counterattack. Nothing like it had been seen previously, for the struggle of the Peninsular to date, as the Turks were desperate & determined to smash the invading army & drive it into the sea. Yet as much as the Turkish counterattack a surprise to the Allies, the Turks were in for a surprise as well. Nonetheless, that had not stopped the Turks, during two nights of preparations, from transporting two divisions, the 3rd & 11th Divisions, across the Dardanelles in secret.

Yet, thinking that their were up against only one brigade, with possibly only another in support, the Turks soon discovered, to their horror, that the 2nd  French, 43rd  & 52nd  British Divisions had taken over the front line facing 19th  Turkish Division. Having not known of this recent deployment, the Turks, nevertheless, had stealthily moved their 3rd  & 11th  Divisions into place, after crossing the Dardanelles, into positions in the line next to the 19th Turkish Division. Thus at dawn, on 6th May 1915, the Turks opened a savage attack.

This battle, well known to the Turks as their last desperate affair, was actually two different engagements. The lessor part of the Turkish plans involved the 12th Division demonstrating in order to catch the attention of the troops ANZAC Corps. This was more or less achieved with little effort, but the main part of the engagement was to the south.

With little regard to personal safety, the three Turkish divisions attacked simultaneously over a four kilometre front. The Allies were, without a doubt, surprised, but somewhat prepared all the same, by this ferocious attack. At several locations, the Turks managed to break the Allied line & got into the rear areas of the Allied divisions. Desperate battles thus took place almost everywhere. Hence there was, by midday on 6th  May, no true front line to speak about as companies & battalions more or less had individual engagements at various locations. More to the point, it appeared at one point that the Turks, should they have any further reinforcements, could trap the ANZAC Corps concentrated further north around the town of Gallipoli, not to mention push the British & French into the sea.

Unlike the Turks, however, the Allies did have reinforcements to call upon, even if this only meant the exhausted Indian 29th Brigade, & the two recently arrived brigades that made up the rest of the Indian Division. Nevertheless, & far more importantly, it was enough for the Allies. By 3pm, the Turkish threat had been averted &, after several savage encounters, the Turks had either been killed, taken prisoner, or pushed back to their starting positions. Although the Allied forces had taken a sever beating, the last attack of the Turkish Army had been defeated.

The March to Constantinople

The next day, after the massive Turkish counterattack, the 2nd Australian & 2nd ANZAC Divisions went on the attack at the town of Gallipoli itself. It did not take long, as a result, for the defending 12th  Turkish Division to find itself in serious trouble. Having said that, the Australians did not get it all their own way as, just as it appeared that the 12th Turkish Division was about to break, the Australians discovered that the Turks had been reinforced by their 14th Division.

At ANZAC headquarters, this event was greeted with some glee, even though the soldiers in the front lines though otherwise. But according to military intelligence, it meant that the last actual Turkish division available for the defence was now entering the battle. If the Turks were to be defeated now, little would stand in the way of an Allied advance to Constantinople. As a result, tomorrows battle would include all four ANZAC divisions, whilst the Light Horse & Mounted Troopers would be readied for the pursuit phase.

And so it was, on 8th May 1915, possibly the most important battle to take place thus far on the Gallipoli Peninsular, now took place. Out numbered by four to one, the Turks gave a good account of themselves regardless of their dire situation. Having thrown back three assaults by the ANZACs, which caused nearly 4 000 casualties, Birdwood decided to hit them with every piece of artillery he could find.

Thus at midday ten Allied batteries opened fire on the Turkish defences. It went on for an entire hour. The sound was deafening. The Turks had experienced nothing like it. It was even greater than when the Allied Navies tried to force their way through the Dardanelles a few months before. By the time the artillery had finished their part, 20 000 Australians & New Zealanders went in to finish the job. Although there were numerous pockets of Turkish resistance, the ANZACs enjoyed large numbers & took little time in gaining victory.

Yet if the Turks thought that they could gain precious time, even though a defeat by defending the Gallipoli township to the last, they were to be disappointed. Immediately after the Australian infantry had killed or captured the last Turkish soldier, the ANZAC Mounted Division was given its orders. Having stayed out of any fighting, until now, the horsemen had to endure the reticule from their fellow countrymen. Now the Australian Light Horse, & their cousins the New Zealand Mounted Troopers, were given the opportunity to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the Great War.

And so the Mounted Division charged off north, not stopping for anyone. At first, they came across many Turkish units making as best they could away from the Gallipoli battlefields. These were rounded up as prisoners, but these soon became a problem as hundreds soon turned into thousands. The Turks had fought as well as anyone, but they were clearly defeated. Even now, being taken prisoner was already anticipated. As the Mounted Division continued on its demanding advance, they did not bother to take prisoners any more. Such was the mental state of the Turkish units that they came across.

Not far behind the Australian Light Horse, the entire ANZAC Corps came marching. Soon they too came across hundreds of Turkish soldiers just waiting around to surrender. At first, some of the Turks tried to resist the Light Horse, but when it became well known that they would be treated well, then the Turks volunteered by the thousands into captivity.

By 12th May, the Australian Light Horse found themselves gazing upon Constantinople. There had been no major resistance to their advance, save for the odd occasion. Not far behind the horsemen, came the Australian & New Zealand infantry. But if the Allies thought that they could march straight into the great city without a fight, well, surprisingly, they were right for once. Acting cautiously, whilst waiting for the infantry to arrive, several scouting parties were sent into Constantinople to gain intelligence. One such party even bumped into some Turkish officers who, after a brief verbal exchange, communicated to the Australian horsemen that they were willing to discuss terms of surrender.

Word quickly got back to ANZAC headquarters &, the next day, General Birdwood arrived to ascertain the accuracy of the matter. Thus, under a flag of truce, Birdwood entered Constantinople, with a small escort, to meet the Turkish officers in question. Upon arriving at the headquarters to the Turkish Army, Birdwood sat down to discuss an armistice with none other than Mustafa Kemal. The two chatted briefly, almost as old friends, whilst an agreement was arranged for the Turkish surrender. Although Mustafa made it clear that he could only surrender Constantinople & European Turkey, it was more than enough for Birdwood to accept on behalf of the Allies.


On 18th May 1915, with Constantinople in the hands of the Australians, the Ottoman government had had enough. Having more & more of the newly named ANZAC Army arrive outside of Constantinople,  made the Ottoman government request a cease-fire shortly followed by an overall armistice. Surrender negotiations would follow a short time thereafter. Alas the Australians would not be involved with any these negotiations except in the initial armistice with Mustafa & the granting of the overall cease-fire. Instead, the British & French were solely involved in the ultimate surrender process. Not even the Russians were granted any audience with the Ottoman’s, & could only make “requests” to their allies, during the negotiation period in late May & early June.

The long term consequences, for both the Ottoman Empire & the Central Powers, were to be harsh. Six months after the official surrender to the Allies, the Ottoman Empire broke up under the strain of Arab rebellion, Allied demands for territorial “protectorates”, & the internal political manoeuvres of the group known as the Young Turks. At the head of this group Mustafa Kemal, the commander of the Turkish 19th Division & the Turkish counterattack that almost succeeded, soon made his presence felt when civil war broke out in Asian Minor (modern day Turkey) a year later in 1916.

Then, two years would go by whilst Turkey involved itself in her own little war, whilst the Great War ragged around her. In the end, not only did Mustafa Kemal win, but Turkey itself would arise from the ashes, like a phoenix, from both the Great War, & her own civil war, to become a modern nation unto herself. The same story, though, of defeat, followed by triumph, could not be said for the remaining Central Powers. However, the future experiences of these countries & empires is a story for another time & place.




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