The Gallipoli Campaign
The Great War 1914-18
At the start of the 20th century Turkey remained the head of the Ottoman Empire which extended into parts of modern-day Greece, Bulgaria, the Middle East and controlled access to the Mediterranean Sea via the Aegean Sea. Turkey had been engaged in the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 which gave its army fighting experience if nothing else.
In 1914 Germany began to make overtures to persuade Turkey to join its side in the event of any future war. As events headed towards war later that year, Russia declared war on Turkey on 2nd August, followed four days later by Britain and France who also declared war on Turkey.
Winston Churchill, then First Sea Lord, devised a plan which he believed would knock Turkey out of the war and relieve the pressure on Russia's border with Turkey. An amphibious operation was planned which involved French and British forces and Australian and New Zealand troops forming the ANZACs. The first landings took place in April and initially they were successful with advances being made. However, Turkish troops were re-organised and deployed to positions which checked the Allied landings and prevented any further territorial gains. It was a stalemate and the campaign ground to a stop, casualties mounted for no advantage.
Finally, it was decided to halt the campaign and in December 1915 the ANZACs were withdrawn, followed on the night of 8th - 9th January 1916 by the British.
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