The Gallipoli Campaign was one of the most costly, yet iconic battles fought during World War I. From April 25th, 1915 to January 9th, 1916, Allied forces from Great Britain, France and Australia/New Zealand (ANZACS) engaged in ferocious hand-to-hand combat against Turkish defenders to gain control of the Dardanelles Strait in an attempt to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople. Over 130,000 soldiers died in the campaign with many more wounded or missing in action. The legacy of this historic event still resonates today through remembrance ceremonies every year around the world. In this content, we share the 10 facts about the Gallipoli Campaign.
- 1 How did the Gallipoli Campaign start?
- 2 What was the main point of the Gallipoli Campaign?
- 3 Why is it called Gallipoli?
- 4 What were the major goals of the Gallipoli Campaign?
- 5 Who led the Turkish in Gallipoli?
- 6 Was the Gallipoli Campaign successful?
- 7 How long did the Gallipoli Campaign last?
- 8 How did the Gallipoli Campaign end?
- 9 The Allies planned to win with their navy alone
- 10 Three separate national identities were formed in Gallipoli
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How did the Gallipoli Campaign start?
On April 25th, 1915, Allied forces launched an assault on the Gallipoli peninsula in Ottoman Turkey, officially beginning the Gallipoli Campaign. This campaign was part of a larger plan to defeat the Ottoman Empire and would eventually involve ships, troops, and other resources from Great Britain, France and Australia/New Zealand (ANZACS).
What was the main point of the Gallipoli Campaign?
The Gallipoli campaign was an attempt by the British to drive Turkey, Germany’s ally in World War I, out of the conflict. It began as a naval operation, with British battleships sent to Constantinople (now Istanbul). This didn’t succeed due to the ships being unable to pass through the strait that is known as the Dardanelles.
Why is it called Gallipoli?
The term ‘Gallipoli’ is derived from Greek and literally translates to ‘good city’. This place, now a part of Turkey, is currently known as ‘Gelibolu’. It has a long history, most of which was recorded in ancient Greek documents going back centuries.
What were the major goals of the Gallipoli Campaign?
The Allied forces devised a plan to push past the straits, take over Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), and force the Ottoman Empire out of World War I.
Who led the Turkish in Gallipoli?
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Turkish Republic, was a pivotal figure in the Gallipoli campaign. On April 25th 1915, Atatürk was the leader of the 19th Turkish Division and moved swiftly to stop Anzac troops who had descended upon the area and were making their way up the slope.
“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives …You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.” M. Kemal Atatürk
Was the Gallipoli Campaign successful?
The Gallipoli campaign was a costly failure for the Allies, as they failed to gain significant ground and lost thousands of men. For the Turks however, Gallipoli was a great success as it defended their homeland against invasion and allowed them to maintain control of what is now known as the Dardanelles.
How long did the Gallipoli Campaign last?
The Gallipoli campaign was a struggle lasting eight months, during which New Zealand troops, as well as those from Australia, Great Britain and Ireland, France, India and Newfoundland faced harsh conditions and faced off against Turkish forces determined to protect their homeland.
How did the Gallipoli Campaign end?
The Gallipoli campaign ended with a successful Allied evacuation of the peninsula on January 9th 1916. The withdrawal of troops from the area was carefully organized by British officers, and it marked an end to a long and difficult conflict.
Before the start of World War I, the Ottoman Empire underwent a series of military defeats, causing its reputation to decline significantly. The British and their main allies, the French, believed that their mere presence could destabilize the government due to its poor state. During the Gallipoli campaign, they relied mainly on outdated battleships since their modern ones were engaged in fighting Germany. They also neglected to gather sufficient intelligence on the opposing Ottoman force and were caught off guard by the challenging terrain, for which they had inadequate maps. Additionally, the majority of their troops lacked experience.
The Allies initially relied on their navy to win the Gallipoli campaign, believing that they could emerge victorious without deploying their army. On February 19, 1915, they commenced the campaign with a lengthy naval bombardment, hoping to knock out the forts at the mouth of the Dardanelles, the narrow strait that separates Europe from Asia and served as the entrance to Constantinople. Despite a week-long delay due to bad weather, they succeeded in destroying the forts.
However, their attempts to clear the strait using minesweepers were hindered by howitzer fire from shore. Despite several failed attempts to silence the howitzers, Allied leaders urged their military commanders to continue the campaign. On March 18, they launched an attack with 18 battleships and numerous support vessels, but the campaign suffered a significant setback as three battleships were sunk and three others were severely damaged by mines and shellfire. As a result, the Allies realized that they needed to deploy army troops, which they had initially hoped to avoid.
Three separate national identities were formed in Gallipoli
After gaining a significant degree of independence from Britain, Australians and New Zealanders did not have a strong sense of national identity until the tragedy of Gallipoli awakened their consciousness. Anzac Day is observed on April 25 every year in both countries, in remembrance of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought in the campaign. Similar to Memorial Day in the United States, the day commemorates fallen soldiers with traditions such as a dawn service, veterans’ marches, wearing of red poppies, and the game of two-up. The Gallipoli campaign also spurred a rise in nationalism among the victorious soldiers, which Atatürk and his allies capitalized on to establish the independent Republic of Turkey after the Ottoman Empire. To this day, Australians, New Zealanders, and Turks visit the battlefield, now a protected national park featuring numerous gravestones and memorials.