By Richard Freeman
Few military campaigns have caused as much controversy as the Dardanelles Campaign of 1915.
Aiming to force the Ottoman Empire out of the war, British and French ships began a naval assault on the Dardanelles in February 1915. Both Winston Churchill and Lord Kitchener approved of the plan, which would have undermined Germany, boosted ally Russia, gained Balkan support and shortened the war. But the Allies had vastly underestimated the Ottomans.
The campaign was, as Prime Minister Henry Asquith put it, ‘the one brilliant idea of the war’ but in practice became a catastrophic failure. With the navy unable to successfully bombard the Turkish forts and thousands of soldiers killed on the beaches by landmines, the campaign was abandoned less than a year later and over 44,000 allied men were dead. But what exactly went wrong?
Richard Freeman’s The Dardanelles reveals who really made the major decisions of the doomed campaign and explores the true roles of Churchill, Kitchener, Asquith and others in a wholly inadequate War Council.
Richard Freeman graduated in mathematics before following a career in distance education. He now writes on naval history. His other books include Midway, Pearl Harbor and Coral Sea 1942.