On April 25, 1915, the Peninsula of Gallipoli, strategic point between the Aegean Sea and the Strait of Dardanelles, is stormed by the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF). Comprising British, Australian, New Zealand and French units, the MEF was placed under the command of British generals. Its landing at Gallipoli is in fact the second phase of a combined operation, which began on February 19, 1915, but this operation was a failure for the Allies.
The objectives of the Gallipoli landing
This Dardanelles campaign is largely driven by the will of the First Lord of the Admiralty (Commander General of the Royal Navy):Winston Churchill, to apply a peripheral solution to the problem of the stagnation of the Western Front. The allies chose Gallipoli, a city and seaport in northwestern Turkey, in the province of Çanakkale, on a narrow peninsula stretching as far as the Dardanelles.
The takeover of the Gallipoli Peninsula, according to Churchill, would lead to the rallying of Bulgaria and Greece to the Entente and consequently the opening of a second front against the Central Empires. On the other hand, it would secure the freedom of communications with the precious Russian ally.
The Dardanelles: a resounding failure for the allies
However, reality will quickly destroy his hopes. Firstly, the naval bombardment campaign preceding the land operation was a failure, secondly the landing proved to be much more difficult than expected. The Ottoman command was able to place its defensive device in critical places and the troops are showing great resistance. They can count on competent officers, including a certain Mustafa Kemal ...
For the Entente soldiers it was the start of an eight-month hell where the violence of the trench fighting combined with logistical difficulties (especially the supply of drinking water). After several fruitless and bloody offensives, the MEF ended up evacuating Gallipoli during the month of December. The campaign cost the Entente over 140,000 men (and the Ottomans 250,000) and resulted in Churchill losing his post as First Lord of the Admiralty.
- La Poudrière d'Orient, Volume 1: L'Enfer des Dardanelles, by Pierre Miquel. Body 16, 2004.
- Les Dardanelles 1915 - A failed strategy, by Rigoux Pierre. Economica, 2013.