The Gallipoli Campaign

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Gallipoli map
From I. McGibbon (ed.), Oxford companion to New Zealand military history

The Ottoman Empire had declared its neutrality in the war but between August and November 1914 that neutrality eroded and finally they entered the war, declaring a jihad (holy war) against France, Russia and Great Britain. The Ottoman Empire was on the decline, its former glory a faded memory. Impressed by the German industrial power and military strength, the government hoped to acquire new territories in the competitive race for colonies and to restore some of its lost possessions.

The Ottoman Empire was a serious threat to the British Empire and the British were anxious to protect the oil pipeline, critical to the British fleet, the source of Britain's power.

The Allies began a campaign by sending a fleet in February 1915 to force a passage up the Dardanelles. They were forced to retreat after suffering heavy damage from Turkish guns on both sides of the straits. A landing of army troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula was the next attempt in April. They launched an expeditionary force including British French, Australian and New Zealand troops, hoping to fight through to the Ottoman capital and clear a supply route through the Dardanelles to Russia. There were landings at several points on the peninsula, but they were unable to break through the Turkish troops.

I f a breakthrough had been achieved, the Turks would have been unable to prevent Britain and France from joining the Russians in the war against Austria-Hungary and Turkey.

The campaign was disastrous. Casualties were high on both sides, but the Turks were able to maintain control over the Dardanelles. The Allies suffered heavy losses and were withdrawn. They lacked the logistical support to maintain a defensive presence.

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