The join of the Ottoman Empire into World War I wasn't a coincidence. This was a part of a well planned game by both sides of World War I. At the time, Russia wasn't in good condition and the Ottoman Empire was located on the Dardanelles and Bosphorus Straits which were for its allies( England and France) one of the obstacles in reaching to Russia. On the other hand, Germany needed greatly to change the direction of the war. If the Ottoman Empire entered the war, new battlefields will exist and their load would be decreased.
Ottoman Empire was not involved into World War I until England captured two war ships, Sultan Osman I and Resadiye which were ordered and pre payed to English Shipyards by Ottoman Empire. This capture caused high tensions between two countiries.Then two German war ships naming Goben and Breslaw were sent by Germany to compensate loses of the Ottoman Empire. During the voyage they were attacked by the British Navy forces, escaped and anchored in Dardanelles on August 10 1914. British and French ships came in front of the strait and waited for the return of these ships. After long conversations, Ottoman Empire accepted these two ships and announced that they were bought from Germany. They joined to the Ottoman Navy. The names of these two ships were replaced with Turkish names as Midilli and Yavuz. They came to Istanbul carrying the flag of the Ottoman Empire. On August 15 the authority of Ottoman Navy replaced from English Maritime Comitee to the German Admiral Wilhelm Souchon who came with Goeben. On October 27, 1914, these two ships with the other members of Ottoman Navy sailed to the Black Sea under the commendmend of Admiral Souchon. On October 27, sunk two Russian ships and attacked the Russian Harbours of Odessa, Navroski, and Sivastapol for two days. Russia declared a war without waiting for an explanation from the Ottoman Empire. This attack is thought to be planned by General Enver who was under the German pressure. He was the leader of the political party of "Ittihat veTerakki" , the millitary affairs of the Ottoman Empire, and was the person that initiated the end of the Ottoman Empire. Essentially Britain, France, and their allies had blocked the Canakkale strait after the entrance of German ships into the strait. As a result, Ottoman Empire entered into World War I. Four days later, Britain and France declared war and a few days later (November 3) a huge navy consisting of England, France, and their allies, attacked the straits of Dardanelles. The Ottoman Empire replied with their declaration of war.
Gallipoli wars can be examined in two phases; sea wars and land wars. After the first bombardment, until March 18, 1915, the strait forts were bombed many times. According to sources, 11 attacks were made and each of them continued four days. The entry forts were closed after the first three attacks. Then the other forts in the strait were bombed accordingly. The Ottoman forces had almost 100-150 guns at 40 bases to the 247 cannons of the ally ships. In addition to ground bases, the straits were mined. Until the end of the war, approximately 610 mines were set into the deep water of the strait. And two underwater nets againts the submarines had been set, one of them was between Karanfil point and Akyarlar, the other one was infront of Nara Point.
On March 18, 1915, the enemies attempted a final attack which was expected by the Turkish side as well. The goal was to pass from Dardanelles and occupy Istanbul. Admiral Robeck divided his navy into three groups. first group consisted of Queen Elizabeth, Agamemnon, Lord Nelson, Inflexible, Triumph (English battleships). The second group of Albion, Irresistable, Wangeance, Switsure, Majestic, Prince George, Ocean, Corn Wallis (English battleships). At the third group consists of Bouvet, Gaulois, Souffren, Charmagne, Canopous (French battleships). The attacks were planned in four phases. The first and second groups would enter the strait and destroy the inside forts and clear the mines in the entrance of the strait. The second phase French battleships would join the first and second groups. In the third phase, French battleships would pass the English battleships, move forward and pass the strait. Finally the last phase, occupation of Istanbul.
Strait of Dardanelles has a different geography; the entrance of the strait is wide and the middle part is narrower. On the wide side at the entrance, there were four main forts; Seddulbahir fort on the European side and Kumkale, Orhaniye and Ertugrul forts on the Asian side.On the narrow side, at the middle part; Kilitbahir fort was on the European side and Hamidiye on the Asian side which protect the strait. Between the entrance and the middle part there were several small forts and had many guns along the shore.
On March 18, 1915 at 11:10 am, the attack started. The first and second English battleships entered the strait and started to bomb. Before these, mine-search ships had entered the strait but three of them were destroyed by the shore guns, others escaped. It was risky for the battleships to continue the fight. The Ottoman's fort guns returned their fires. This attack wasn't effective. Allies were confused because of the fires from the forts that were thought completely to be destroyed. Powerful English and French battleships decided to go forward without searching for mines. Then French battleships entered the strait and stopped five mile away from the English battleships. Mesudiye, Dardanos, and Kepez forts were at the range of their guns.
Then French battleships began moving to take place in front of the navy. Then suddenly Bouvet hit one of the mines, and it sunk immediately. The shock spread over allies, because they tought all mines had been cleaned at this area before. But who would know that Nusret, the Turkish mine ship, had mined the same area after their cleaning operation. Irresistible and Ocean wanted to help Bouvet but because of the mines and heavy fire from the shore, they were damaged. After a few minutes these two enormous battleships were lost in the cold water of the strait. On the other hand, Gaulois, Souffren, Agamemnon, Albion, Inflexible, and Charlmange were in a very risky situation and getting worser. At the receding maneuver, Gaulois and Souffren hit the mines. Enemies lost half of their navy. Turkish forces lost 3 guns, 44 martyrs, and had 70 casualties. Passing through the strait with battleships was impossible for the allies. They finally realized the fact that Strait of Dardanelles can not be crossed through. After that the land fights began.
From March 18 to April 25, the allies prepared to land at Gallipolli pennisula. Three landings were done at Kumkale, Saros Gulf, and Besige Harbour. These were made to mislead Turkish forces and to hide the main target. Liman Von Sanders, General of the strait forces, thought the target was Bolayir, the most narrow neck of the pennisula. He believed that Turkish forces could not stop the enemy forces at the shore but they could be stopped at the upper side of the shores. This thought was completely wrong. Therefore, the battle was too bloody and long.
The allies had three targets: Seddulbahir, the first point of the pennisula, Ariburnu and Kabatepe ( known today as Anzac Cove ), and Suvla Bay. The first two landings were done on April 25, 1915.
On April 25th at 02,00am. A few battle ships were infront of "Kaba tepe" and "Ari Burnu" shores, carrying 1500 armed Australian soldiers. None of them knew what is going to happen.. They came to these lands for their colonists.
When they were close to the shores 3 hundred yards, there was still no sound. Then suddenly, a fire was shot. The men jumped from the boats and began to approach to the shores. Some drowned because of their heavy packs. The Anzac legend had began. When they reached the shores, they realized that the landing was not on the preplanned area, cliffs were standing infront of them as an obstacle.
When the sun raised, it showed that they were not on the Kabatepe beach. The current last night had swept them a mile north of the main target. They stucked in a norrow beach between the sea and the sharp cliffs. The troops had spread over the beach. Some groups of Australian had panetrated in land for a mile or more, but most of them were still on the beach among the rocks and the scrub of the ravines. The situation of the Turkish troops on the hills were the same as much as the Dominions.
By 7 am. one officer with his two scouts had succeeded to reach first three ridges on the coast. They could see the calm water of straits. The other group was very close to peak of Chunuk Bair as much as a half mile and there was no defense seen on the hills. The fair and hopelessness were gone and instead a string belief took place on Anzac troops. In few minutes, officer gathered their troops and began to march through the hills.
One of the Turkish commanders called Mustafa Kemal received the information that the Anzac troops had landed on Ariburnu beach. He was with his division at the behind of defence line as a reserve unit. At 6.30 he received an order to stop the Anzac attack. Immediately he moved to stop this attack. The march was slow and the time was flowing. The area was also unknown for Turkish forces. The two guides were lost, Turkish officer found his way with his own ability. Because of long walk, he left his division for rest. When he reached the hills, he saw the battle ships and the transports in the sea. The worse thing was there was no defense infront of the Anzac troops. When he reached the slope of Chunuk Bair, he met a party of Turkish soldiers. They were running back and the enemy was close to the hills. He sent his officers to bring his division to the battle field. He stoped the Turkish soldiers and asked them why they were running. The answer was quite simple: "Sir the enemy" pointing down the hill. He ordered them to fight but they protested because they had no ammunition.
This was the most
critical situation of the Gallipoli war. He ordered again and
forced them to fix their bayonets and lie down in a line. When
the enemy saw their defence motion, they stoped. In his report,
the time that they gained, changed the destiny of the war. He
knew that his division and the other support groups could not
stop soldiers more than 6 thousand. With his division and other
units he started the fire. He immediately realized the situation
of the war and arranged his units. He also ordered other officers
to attend the war to stop the Anzac troops. His words are well
known in the Turkish history :
" I don't order you to attack, I order you to die. In the time which passes until we die other troops and commanders can take our place." This young commander would be the future founder of modern Turkey. This was the epic of 57th Turkish Regiment. There was nobody left from this unit after the fight. They all died.
At the same time there was another fight on Seddulbahir beach and they were not lucky as much as Anzac troops. This was the second phase of the landing. Battles at Cape Helles: Under General Hamilton, 5 separete landing were done to toe of penisula. This place was proper for landing and a perfect target for the naval guns. At the right of the 300 yard wide cove, there was a ruined fortress and a village. Both two were a natural shelter for landers. This area had been searched many times.
In the early morning, the village and the landing areas were bombed by the tramendeus naval warships. There was no reply from the shore. At night, River Clyde - a midsize ship with twenty small boats had began to approach to the shores. The current of strait was giving more trouble. According to the plan of General Hamilton, River Clyde would be agrounded and the soldiers would land ashore. When the River Clyde agrounded, the first boat was a few yards far from the shore. There was unnatural silence. Suddenly a fire burst from the shore which was unexpected. After many bombardments, Turks came out of their trenches and fired. This was the beach the Marines had walked safely two months before.
The men were strugling in the boats. Some of them had jumped into the water and reached the shelter of a little bank on the beach. They weren't moving under the storm of bullets. Men were tired immediately died. A sailor had landed his boat to the shore, realized that all were dead in his boat. Most of them had the same situation. The others died in the boats shoulder to shoulder. Almost all died from the boats, only the men in the River Clyde were secure. Many times the soldiers had tried to get out from the bridges both side of the ship to land on the beach, but each attempt was more bloody than the previous one. Their situation were hopeless. Air commander Samson were flying over Seddulbahir at that moment. He saw that the sea was absolutely red with blood instead of blue.
At cruiser Euryalus General Hunter Weston was knowing nothing about what was happening on the beach. He sent the main body of the troops in a great misunderstanding. This was the massacre of them. At the other landing places, four landing had been going forward. they got much better success. Under the heavy fighting near the Tekke Point, about 1 mile far from the Cape Helles, considerable numbers of soldiers were on two landing place at "Eski Hisarlik"and "Tekke Point". What could be thought about the men on the western side of penisula for fifth landing place. This landing had been prepared for a trap. However nobody had reliazed that there were 2000 men fighting very close. They had their morning breakfast and tea without any defence. They knew nothing about what was going on at the Cape Helles beaches. The commander of this troop had no order to go forward. This pleasure time continued until they realized. If they have moved forward, they would have changed the destiny of the war by encircling the equal number of Turks with themselves. If they did, they might have turned a masacre into a brilliant victory.
On April 28, 1915 Org. Hamilton ordered to attack to Kirte Hill (Alcitepe) at Cape Helles (Sebdulbahir). English troops under the navy guns attacked the right side of penisula but they were stoped and pushed back. Then Turkish attacks started on May 1, and continued until May 2, to push the enemy to the sea. In spite of heavy lost, Turks couldn't move them. The power of navy guns was the reason for this failure. Having reinforcement from Egypt, Hamilton ordered another attack towards the Turks on May 6 and continued two days until May 8. English and France troops strengthed by Indian troops and 2 ANZAC troops were taken back from Ariburnu landing, tried to break Turkish defense infront of the penisula. They didn't succeed very much but they were able to occupy a piece of land at Krithia (Kerevizdere). Both sides lost many lives during these attacks.
Dreaming of a great victory, high ranked Turkish officer, Enver Pasha, ordered an attack on Anzacs. Turkish counter attack started on May 19 and failed. Unnumbered attacks were stoped each time. Under the heavy enemy fire, Turkish soldiers were dying before reaching enemy treches or a few who were able to reach the trenches, were losing their lives after the hand to hand fight. 10.000 Turkish soldiers lost their lives at the end of these attacks. Anzacs realized that Turks were fair and brave fighters which were compeletly different than what was told to them. On May 24 the first armitice were agreed by the both sides. For the first time Turks and Anzacs met each other. It was the beginning of close relation with respect. It was significant that Anzacs refused to use gas masks later, believing that Turks were fair soldiers.
During June, Hamilton ordered three attacks to Turkish line at Cape Helles (Seddulbahir) (infront of the penisula) on June 4, 21, and 28. Both sides lost many lives but got nothing. This was the end of Hamilton's dreams at Sebdulbahir landing. These failures caused consideration of a third landing to Sulva bay.
Hamilton realized that as far as Turks control the hill, they would not be succesful. The plan was attacking and occupying the two strategical hills : Kirectepe and Tekke Tepe and joining to Anzac troops and reaching to Chunuk Bair then take Hill 971 at Anzac Cove after following landings at Sulva Bay. The landing started on August 6. At the beginning, they got successful and occupied Kirectepe in spite of strong defense of Turks. But they weren't quick enough to change the destiny of the war at that moment, but they were still superior. Some of the troops reached the Chunk Bair and they were so close to occupy Chunk Bair. Additional Turkish troops were immediatly sent to the Sulva front and Chunk Bair from Bolayir but there were disorders among troops. This reinforcement stoped the enemy advance in Chunk Bair, but situation was very critical. This was the moment to take responsibility for Mustafa Kemal (the heart of Turkish defense). When L.V. Sanders asked for his opinion ; He replied "A unified command" and added "The only solution is to give all the troops under my command". "Won't that be too many" asked Liman. His answer was quick and finally "It will be too few".Limon Van Sanders assigned Mustafa Kemal as the group commander of Anafartalar.
There was no time to wait for reinforcement. it was crucial to stop the enemy moving forward. On August 10, there was an hour to sunset, Turkish troops already took place to attack. Mustafa Kemal was infront of their troops, time was critical. If enemy naval bombartments start, the attack can turn to a mascare of Turks. With his order, Turkish attack was started in the quiteness of the dark. After a second, there was shooting at the enemy trenches nothing else more. First trences were already occupied and the attack was continued down from hills driving the enemy back (known as First Anafarta Victory). "Kirectepe" was taken back after several counter attacks. With the sunset naval bombartment has started but it was imposible to determine exact targets, because all troops were already mixed and fighting then bombardment was stopped. The last Alied attempts were broken at Second Anafarta fights on 16-21 August 1915 and ended with "Kayacik Agili" fight on August 27, 1915.
The troops were evacuated from Suvla and Anzac Cove fronts on December 19-20, 1915. They left "Seddul Bahir" fronts without any lost on January 9, 1916. Allies couldn`t pass from the straits by beating the Ottoman Army, during war there was no way for allied forces to reach Istanbul and then support Russia. But at the end of the war, Ottoman Empire was on the losing side. Allies passed from the straits without fighting and occupied Istanbul, and then they started to share the land of Ottoman Empire under the preplanned treaties.
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