Gallipoli

Gallipoli - reserve

1914 Sep. 1 - Russia gained agreement from Greece to attack the Dardanelles, and Churchill supported Russian-Greek plan Sept. 1 to land 60,000 on west coast of Gallipoli; Churchill was violently anti-Turk; did not believe Turkey would stay neutral as other Allied leaders hoped. But Greeks backed out, due to influence of King Constantine's wife who was the kaiser's sister, and Russia backed out, not being able to spare any troops from the Eastern front. However, Churchill remained committed due to the effects of artillery on reducing fortresses, as the Germans had done in August.

Sept. 27 - Brit squadron off Dardanelles ordered a Turkish torpedo boat to turn back, and Turkey closed the straits, detained French and British ships in the straits, laid mines.

Oct. 28 - The Turkish fleet in the Black Sea bombarded Russian ports of Odessa, Sebastopol, Feodosia.

Oct. 29 - Turkey Parliament decided to enter the war, launched preemptory raid on Russian Black Sea bases by cruisers Goeben and Breslau and Hamidie; in Dec., Turkey launched attack in Caucasus against Russia, and in Feb. 1915 in Mideast against Suez.

Oct. 31 - Churchill wanted an immediate "demonstration" against the Dardanelles where the German cruisers had been hiding since escaping from a British pursuit across the Mediterranean in August. Now that Turkey was no longer neutral, Churchill thought "it is a good thing to give a prompt blow."

Nov. 3 - The "demonstration" was a 20-minute bombardment by 2 British battleships on Fort Sedd el Bahr and by 2 French battlehsips on Kum Kale, causing little damage but did blow up a powder magazine in the Sedd-el-Bahr fort.

Nov. 25 - Churchill proposed the Gallipoli plan to the new War Council as an alternative to the stalemate and high casualties on the Western Front, as a way to help the Russians, and an opportunity to use the great British Fleet in an offensive attack rather than wait passively for the German fleet to come out. Later he told Prime Minister Asquith, "Are there not other alternatives than sending our armies to chew barbed wire in Flanders? Cannot the the power of the Navy be brought more directly to bear upon the enemy? We ought not to drift."

Dec. 13 - The small British sub B-11 sank the Turkish battleship Messudieh in Sar Sighlar Bay.

1915 Jan. 13 - War Council approved Churchill's plan for a naval attack on the Dardanelles using the new Queen Elizabeth battleship and 14 older battleships that could be spared from the Home Fleet. Churchill also began plans to assemble a land force of Anzacs in Egypt, but was vague on preparation because Kitchener opposed using troops to invade Gallipoli, only to support the naval attack.

Jan. 28 - First Sea Lord Fisher opposed the plan, threatened to resign, did not believe ships could destroy land forts; he had failed in 1883 to destroy the Egyptian forts at Alexandria, and believed as Nelson had believed that "any sailor who attacked a fort was a fool."


PHASE ONE - Naval Attack

Feb. 19 - 1st Naval bombardment unsuccessful.

Feb. 25 - 2nd Naval bombardment unsuccessful.


PHASE TWO - Force the Channel

Feb. 26 - Navy bombarded entrance forts; Marine demolition teams went ashore and cleared guns from deserted forts, including Krithia (the only time British troops would set foot in the village). 50 large guns were destroyed by the end of February, but Turks began to return and drove the Marines back to the ships.

Mar. 2 - Navy bombarded Intermediate defenses on Asiatic shore, began minesweeping with 21 small fishing trawlers converted with minesweeping gear, but slow, only able to go 3 knots against the Dardanelles 5-knot current. Turks used five powerful searchlights to stop night minesweeping attempts.

Mar. 5 - HMS Queen Elizabeth bombarded Inner Defenses across the peninsula.

Mar. 12 - Kitchener changed his mind about using land forces in Gallipoli, and put Gen. Ian Hamilton in command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) of 70,000. Turkish forces widely dispersed, Allies had advantage of stronger forces.

Mar. 17 - Admiral Carden became ill, replaced by Admiral de Robeck on the eve of the attempt to force the channel with an armada of 18 battleships.

Mar. 18 - Naval attack on the Narrows began at 10:30 am, but was turned back by the minefields, and by howitzer fire from the mobile batteries. British gunfire had hit only 8 of 176 Turkish guns. At 2 pm, French battleship Bouvet sunk in 60 seconds after hitting a mine. At 4 pm, cruiser Inflexible and battleship Irresistible hit mines, and at 6 pm the battleship Ocean hit a mine. The British were stunned by the loss of ships and the failure to penetrate the minefield, but the Turks were running out of ammunition and began evacuating Constantinople, fearing another British attack would succeed. However, de Robeck lost his nerve and feared losing any more ships.


PHASE THREE - Landings

Mar. 22 - Gen. Ian Hamilton met with Admiral de Robeck aboard the Queen Elizabeth, and they agreed to proceed with the combined land-naval attack on Gallipoli. Churchill announced this decision to the War Council Mar. 23. No one made the decision in the Council or in the Admiralty. It was made by the local commanders.

Mar. 24 - Gen. Liman von Sanders took command of the Turkish 5th Army and the land defense of Gallipoli. Until this time, a land invasion would have had a good chance of succeeding, due to the poorly equipped 5th Army lacking ammunition and even clothing and boots. Sanders said on March 27,"If the English will only leave me alone for eight days," he could prepare a defense. They left him alone for 4 weeks, as the British landings did not begin until Apr. 25. He created a reserve force, built roads and bridges, put shoes on the 80,000 bare-foot Anatolian peasant conscripts. He positioned troops to defend likely points where the British would attack, with his strength inland on the ridges, not on the coast, putting the division commanded by Lt. Col. Mustapha Kemal to defend Gaba Tepe, although Kemal and most Turks wanted to defend the beaches. Hamilton did not prepare his troops, lacking artillery (only 118 guns), no high explosive shells, no grenades, not trench periscopes. Churchill's RND had different rifles than Hamilton's MEF. There was little security, orders were sent by post office mail, officers gave interviews to the press. Airplane pilots wrote reports on their observations of Turkish defenses, but the reports were lost. There was no cooperation between naval staff and army staff. The Navy planned to renew the attack on the Narrows as soon as the troops landed, but did not use the new destroyer minesweepers that arrived in April. Engineer Col. Joly de Lotbiniere built 8 floating piers in Alexandria to be towed to Gallipoli with 4000 tins of fresh water, but Navy turned the tow job over to private merchant ships who cut the piers loose in the Mediterranean and they disappeared. The campaign failed because it was a failure of administration and organization.

Apr. 24 - 200 ships moved from Mudros to Gallipoli.

Apr. 25 - British landed at Cape Helles, Anzacs at Ari Burnu, and French at Kum Kale. At Ari Burnu, Anzacs were landed in the wrong place, north of Anzac Cove, because some staff had changed landing site. They found sheer cliffs, not sandy beaches, and some units were annihilated by machine-guns. Only a small sandy stretch could be used for landings, thus the boats had to wait and the landing operation delayed. The attacks over the following weeks were not made in force, but piecemeal as troops trickled ashore. Fighting gradually spread to hills and valleys inland, where Mustapha Kemal led defense from Koja Cheme Tepe on the Sar Bair Ridge. At Helles, the main fleet bombarded the tip of the peninsula, and landings began at beaches V, W, X, Y, S. The British 29th Division landed at W and V, came under heavy machine-gun fire and many died in the boats and at waters edge. The 3000 French landed across the strait at Kum Kale without much opposition. The force of 2000 men landed at Y beach.

Apr. 28 - British attack began on Helles, to capture the high fortress of Achi Baba, but stopped by trenches south of Krithia. The Queen Elizabeth fired one shrapnel blast that destroyed an entire Turkish company on the west side. British and French lost 3000 casualties of 14,000 troops. Very little Allied artillery support, while Turkish artillery grew stronger. Little communication with Navy, and ship bombardments were not effective against small targets such as the trenches. The First Battle of Krithia put an end to Hamilton's assumptions that the Turks would flee from their positions rather than stand and fight. The Turks counterattacked May 1, shouting "Allah."

May 6 - the Second Battle of Krithia was fought until May 8, Allies lost 6000 and gained only 600 yards. The Australians lost 1000 trying to advance up the slopes of Krithia Spur in the center. By May 10, the French had lost 12,610 out of 22,450 since the start. Both British and Turks low on ammunition, could only sit and wait. Hamilton asked for reinforcements, but British War Council debated 3 weeks, giving time to the Turks to strengthen defenses.

May-Dec. - stalemate and trench warfare

May 10 - Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) had suffered 6554 casualties out of 25,000, and Kemal's Turks lost 14,000. At the end of April, the Anzacs had nearly been defeated at Anzac Cove, but managed to control the ridge from Lone Pine, where the Turks neglected to build defenses in the first three days, to Russell's Top. Kemal counterattacked Apr. 28 but naval gunfire on Battleship Hill stopped the Turks, and made them wary of exposure to naval gunfire in the future. A man named Garland from the Cairo arsenal made improvised bombs from food tins filled with bits of barbed wire and spent Turkish bullets, gunpowder or some kind of explosive detonator, and a fuse wire. One man held the bomb behind his back with a match-head on the fuse, and a second man rubbed a match-box against the match-head to ignite the fuse, shouted "Ready" and the first man threw the bomb. These homemade devices were unreliable and dangerous, but were the only substitute for grenades until late May 1915. According to correspondent Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, "The whole scene on Anzac beach reminded one irresistibly of a gigantic shipwreck. it looked as if the whole force and all the guns and material had not been landed, but had been washed ashore." There was a steady shelling from Turkish battery in the Olive Grove south of Gaba Tepe. The Anzacs suffered a lack of sanitary preparations or latrines, large numbers of green flies called "corpse flies" that caused dysentery diarrhea known as "Gallipoli Gallop", the hot sun, smell of rotting bodies, the constant scratching due to body lice, the maggots on the trench floors, the steady diet of greasy bully-beef, brick-hard biscuits unlike the fresh bread that French mobile bakeries made for their troops.

Stories became legends such as "Simpson and his donkey" about a private who carried the wounded down Monash Valley with his donkey until killed May 19. Anzacs and Turks hated each other, created atrocity stories of mutilation that in fact were the effect of the machine gun, stories of bayoneting of prisoners, snipers, attacking with screaming voices. Corporal Beech invented a periscope rifle at Quinn's Post where the Turk trenches were only 10 yards away. Also by the end of May, grenades became available, and screens of wire-netting were built as "bomb-catchers" to defend against Turk grenades, and Turks put up logs. The front line at one place was called Bomb Ridge. Stalemate existed through the summer. Gen. Sir William Birdwood was a competent commander at Anzac Cove, urged "cautious aggression" but not waste, made do with shortages, urged the Australians to build bullet-proof parapets and go on night patrols to prevent Turks from stringing wire, which the Anzacs did not do. Anzacs did not like him or his "Birdie's bull" instructions.

May 12 - one of the rare examples of army-navy cooperation took place at Y beach when Navy gave close support to a Gurkha attack on the bluff, very successful with few casualties, and was renamed Gurkha Bluff.

May 13 - Churchill wanted a naval attack in the straits, but on May 12 the British Navy suffered its greatest single loss in the Dardanelles when the battleship Goliath was sunk by torpedoes and 575 men drowned. The Admiralty withdrew the Queen Elizabeth and abandoned the naval attack. Lord Fisher was concerned about the drain on the fleet and impact on his shipbuilding program caused by Gallipoli campaign, but agreed to Churchill's plan for some older ships and 2 E-class subs.

May 25 - German sub U-21 began to sink ships off Helles, and British withdrew fleet to Mudros protected by torpedo nets, but the U-21 sunk the battleship Triumph off W beach, and the next day sunk the battleship Majestic off Sedd el Bahr.

May 27 - The Gallipoli disaster caused Herbert Asquith to remove Churchill from the Admiralty, replaced him with Arthur Balfour, and Lord Fisher was replaced by Henry Jackson, and to form a new coaltion government May 25 with the Conservatives led by Andrew Bonar Law and Liberals led by David Lloyd George. The War Council was replaced by the Dardanelles Committee.

June 4 - British launched major offensive, the Third Battle of Krithia, also called the Battle of the Fourth of June. Allies lost 6500, Turks lost 9000. Since the start, Allies had lost 60,000 and the hospitals in Egypt and Malta and Mudros were full and supplies exhausted. Artillery allowed to fire only 8 rounds per day. This was the time of the "shell scandal" in London when the government was accused of mismanagement. London agreed to send more troops, as the public perception of Gallipoli was positive and excited, due to Churchill's speeches, photographs, reports of Ashmead-Bartlett, and the comparison with the failures in France. George Lloyd wrote to his wife, "the one thing that hits one in the face the whole time is the very small number of men who are efficient. What is the cause of it? is it our system of education, is it something in the character that we are breeding? This is the one thing - the one thing - that has struck me over and over again." Lloyd was one of the 3 members of House of Commons serving in Gallipoli, with Aubrey Herbert and Josiah Wedgewood.

June 21 - French attack took the hilltop of the Haricot Redoubt over the Kereves Dere, successful due to heavy artillery bombardment. The British attack June 28 on the Gully Spur failed due to lack of artillery shells, although Turks suffered heavy casualties in their counterattacks, 10,000 dead left in this area of the Gully Ravine, with bones still found today.

July 10 - The 3 liners Aquitania, Mauretania, and Olympic began to arrive with 3 divisions of Kitchener's New Army, raising Hamilton's force to 120,000.

Aug. 6 - The Suvla Plan was to land a large force of 20,000, made up of the new divisions sent from London, in the north at Suvla Bay, and attack the high hills of Tekke Tepe and Sari Bar from this direction. Suvla commander Freddy Stopford had successfully landed on the beach, but failed to moved inland quickly to take the ridges. The force lacked artillery and it was unknown how many Turks were defending the Bay. In fact, von Sanders anticipated the attack and marched his forces 30 miles down from Bulair. Stopford on the morning of Aug. 7 faced thousands of Turks who had occupied the ridges during the night. The Suvla Plan also involved a supplementary offensive by the Anzacs who would mount a series of attacks from Anzac Cove, and the two forces would link up. Anzacs captured trenches at Lone Pine in south on Aug. 6, but lost 2000 and the Turks lost 7000. Australian 3rd Light Horse Brigade was part of the Anzac attack in the north against Baby 700 hill on Aug. 6; they were ordered to attack The Nek, while the 1st and 2nd Light Horse attacked Quinn's Post and Pope's Post; watches not synchronized and bombardment ended 7 minutes early; the 1st wave went over at 4:30 am and was obliterated, the 2nd wave at 4:32, and then the 3rd wave, and by 4:45 the attack was over, 372 lost out of 600 (this event would be re-enacted in the 1981 film Gallipoli starring Mel Gibson)

Aug. 8 - Allanson and a Gurkha force of 450 advanced the farthest toward Chunuk Bair, under the summit of Hill Q. Gurkhas had experience in hill fighting, did not bunch up or attack in formation, moved cautiously hole to hole in small groups. Despite this success, the Gurkhas were hit by friendly naval gunfire, but this was not the cause of the failure of the general offensive. It was the lack of support from Baldwin's Brigade, and from New Zealanders attacking Chunuk Bair who lost 1871 out of 4500. On Aug. 10, Kemal ordered counterattack at dawn from Chunuk Bair, "an awesome spectacle" of a silent bayonet attack that quickly overwhelmed the British who lost 1000, killing Baldwin and all his Brigade, but was finally halted by New Zealand machine-guns.

Aug 13 - At end of Battle of Suvla, Allies lost 18,000 of 50,000; in the battles of August, Hamilton had lost 40,000 from wounds and disease and was asking London for 50,000 more. At Helles on Aug. 13, two new divisions arrived, the 53rd and 54th, but without artillery or signal equipment or field ambulances or reserve ammunition.

Aug. 13 - Two British subs got into Sea of Marmara, the E-14 and the E-11, and sank ships and transports.

Sept. - Bulgaria mobilized and London took troops from Gallipoli to Salonika to defend Greece. Bulgaria joining the Central Powers also meant the opening of a direct rail link between Berlin and Constantinople, and the ability to send more supplies to the defenders on Gallipoli. In contrast, British resources were stretched thin to fight on 4 fronts: France, Mesopotamia, Gallipoli, Salonika, as well as in Africa.

Sept. - Keith Murdoch was shocked at the condition of the Anzacs when he visited Gallipoli and talked with the pessimistic Ashmead-Bartlett. In London, he met with leaders and his letter was printed for the Dardanelles Committee that put the blame on Hamilton. In Sept., Hamilton sent Guy Dawnay to London who defended Hamilton, but in fact presented information that supported Murdoch's criticism. Oct. 12 the House of Lords recommended removal of Hamilton and evacuation of Gallipoli.

Oct. 28 - Hamilton succeeded by Charles Monro who arrived in Gallipoli Oct. 28 and at Kitchener's insistence made a survey to report to London, found lack of ammunition, no resources for a winter offensive, units below strength, much sickness, artillery rationed to 2 shells per day, and Oct. 31 recommended evacuation to Kitchener.

Nov. 11 - The Dardanelles Committee became the War Committee and Churchill was excluded. He left the government Nov. 15 to serve in France.

Nov. 26 - Torrential rains and freezing blizzards caused mudslides, collapsed trenches. The Allied force lost 16,000 to frostbite.


PHASE FOUR - Withdrawal

1915 Dec. 10 - Secret evacuation of 80,000 men began at night from Suvla and Anzac, half completed by Dec. 18, fully completed by Dec. 20.

1916 Jan. 8 - Secret evacuation of 35,000 from Helles began at night, completed Jan. 9.

Gallipoli campaign lasted 8 and 1/2 months. Turkish casualties were about 300,000. Of the 500,000 men who served in the Allied force, casualties were 265,000, including 34,000 British dead and 10,000 French dead. Many of the 84 regiments would continue to serve in France. U. S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau believed if the British had won in Gallipoli and defeated Turkey, the Ottoman Empire would have collapsed, no campaigns would be fought in the Mideast, Russia would have been supplied by sea, may have won the Eastern front, no Bolshevik revolution.


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revised 10/30/06 by Steven Schoenherr | WWI Timeline | Links | Topics | Maps | Reserve