This book, in the Despatches from the Front series, is primary source material, valued by schollars and enthusiasts alike. It also provides a number of readable despatches from senior officers who are able to provide a detailed assessment, having access to reports from junior officers, the results of reconnaissance, and the direct knowledge of how and why they took the decisions that shaped the outcome.
NAME: Despatches from the Front, Gallipoli and the Dardanelles, 1915-1916
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: John Grahan, Martin Mace
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Gallipoli, Dardanelles, Great War, WWI, World War One, First World War, Turkey, Black Sea, amphibious landings, shore bombardment, Winston Churchill
DESCRIPTION: This book, in the Despatches from the Front series, is primary source material, valued by schollars and enthusiasts alike. It also provides a number of readable despatches from senior officers who are able to provide a detailed assessment, having access to reports from junior officers, the results of reconnaissance, and the direct knowledge of how and why they took the decisions that shaped the outcome.
Vice Admiral Carden details the naval attack on the Dardanelles. General Hamilton describes the fighting on the Gallipoli Peninsular. General Munro provides an assessment of the situation in October 1915, and Vice Admiral Sir John Robeck reports on the evacuation.
Gallipoli is generally regarded as a military disaster and a retrospective view will conclude that it damaged political careers, failing to achieve its objectives. Had the campaign succeeded it might have led to Turkish surrender and would have opened access to the Black Sea with the ability to support the Russians. It therefore offered justification. The landings might have succeeded had more resources been allocated and better advanced planning been conducted. A more vigorous prosecution of the landings and breakout from the beach head, before the Turks could establish defensive positions, could have avoided the troops being pinned down by relatively light Turkish forces.
The assembled despatches lay out the basis of discussions and the outcome without confusion. The commanders could only execute orders with the knowledge and resources available at that time. Fascinating accounts from those who were there.
What began as a naval campaign with clear stated objectives was stretched into an amphibious assault. As the first waves failed to breakout, increasing numbers of troops were thrown in. By the time half a million were committed, and casualties stacked up, the political will failed. General Hamilton refused to accept his plans and deployments were seriously flawed. After his dismissal, General Munro assessed the situation and recommended evacuation. The invasion and evacuation will continue to be argued as new information continues to emerge, but the contents of this book lay out the views of the time and show why senior officers acted as they did.
A plate section of well-selected images adds to the despatches. Whatever the political ad military decisions, the sailors and soldiers acted with discipline and great courage, reflected by the award of medals. There were many examples of courage and innovation, such as the RNAS seaplane that torpedoed a Turkish vessel while still taxing for take-off. Of the 39 Victoria Crosses awarded, there were included the first VC awards to the Australians, the New Zealanders and the Royal Marines.