Gallipoli: We Will Remember Them

ANZAC Tribute located in Turkey | Courtesy of Gallipoli tour page
Troops sailing towards the beach | April 25, 1915 | Courtesy of abc.net.au

Boats carrying Australian, British, and New Zealand soldiers, advancing towards the shore, were all nervous about what awaited them, gripping their rifles. Captain Richard Willis, commander of C Company said, “It might have been a deserted land we were nearing in our little boats, then crack.”1 There was a door at the front of the boat that opened, and the machine gun fire was insane. Soldiers jumped off the boat fearing for their lives, equipped with their rifles and their 70-pounds worth of equipment. Some of them died instantly, but some made it to shore, only to be cut down by the barbwire that covered the shoreline, Captain Richard Willis described.2

Map of Gallipoli Peninsular | This week in World War I, June 6-12, 1915 article | Courtesy of Huffington Post

It was war, the Great War, and the British and French troops needed to defeat the Ottoman Empire in order to get access to the Dardanelles straits. Their effort became known as the Gallipoli Campaign. Originally it was only a naval battle. With a fleet of eighteen warships, both British and French navies made an attempt to force their way through the Dardanelles. However, the Ottomans were too strong for them, and the attempt was a failure.3 The reason the Dardanelles were appealing at first was that they believed that it would not require many troops for this operation. How wrong they were. The Gallipoli campaign was conducted by General Sir Ian Hamilton with the plan on the 25th of April, 1915, to land at strategic points across the Gallipoli peninsula, with the ultimate goal of disarming the Ottoman forts at Kilitbahir, enabling the British navy to pass through the Dardanelles.4 The Anzacs were planning to land on Z beach as they were all code worded to S, V, W, X, and Z, all located at different points on the Peninsula. Z beach, located north Kabatepe, was planned to capture Hill 971 and another hill called Maltepe, and then move towards the Dardanelles and reinforce the British troops.5

April 25, 1915, the landing around Ari Burnu on the western side of the Gallipoli Peninsular was a complete mess, with the loss of 5,000 soldiers on the peninsula alone.6 Due to the horrific casualty number, it is now known as the ANZAC cove, in honor of these men. Gallipoli has become a defining moment in history for both Australian and New Zealand soldiers by defining both soldiers’ characteristics: endurance, determination, initiative, and brotherhood. For the Ottomans soldiers, it was the beginning of the decline in their domination of the war.7

Death at Krithia | Courtesy of the Great War Project | greatwarproject.org

The number of deaths in the trenches were diabolical. Over the whole eight months of the Gallipoli campaign, from April 25 to January 9, the allies lost 250,000 people, and the Ottomans lost around the same number. However, the initial landing at Gallipoli tallied up 60,000 people across all beach landings.8 Gallipoli was deemed a total failure overall. With so many casualties and not being able to achieve the objective of getting the naval ships through the Dardanelles, it has gone down in history as a failure of World War I. However, in Australian and New Zealand eyes, they are deemed heroes, going against all odds, fighting out numbered, and given the impossible you could say, for example the Battle of Lone Pine. But they were still able to carry out their duty and have gone down in history as imperishable.9

  1. Joshua Hammer, “A New View of the Battle of Gallipoli, One of the Bloodiest Conflicts of World War I,” Smithsonian.com, Febuary 01,2015.
  2. Joshua Hammer, “A New View of the Battle of Gallipoli, One of the Bloodiest Conflicts of World War I,” Smithsonian.com. Febuary 01, 2015.
  3. “The Anzac Portal,” Why Did Anzacs Land at Gallipoli? | The Anzac Portal
  4. “Gallipoli: The First Day Centenary Edition,” Gallipoli Campaign, abc.net.au.
  5. “Gallipoli: The First Day Centenary Edition,” Gallipoli Campaign, abc.net.au.
  6. Nigal Steel, “What You Need To Know About The Gallipoli Campaign,” Imperial War Museums, June 26, 2018.
  7. Nigal Steel, “What You Need To Know About The Gallipoli Campaign,” Imperial War Museums, June 26, 2018.
  8. David Saul, “Time to Put the Record Straight on Gallipoli,” The Telegraph, April 25, 2015.
  9. David Saul, “Time to Put the Record Straight on Gallipoli,” The Telegraph, April 25, 2015.
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33 Comments

  • I had learned a bit about the landings at Gallipoli, but the significance never really dawned on me before. It was very tragic how around half a million people died on a landing that was considered to be a military failure. I know that the landings of Gallipoli have affected the Australian fine arts and has found its way into some songs.

  • I never knew of the Gallipoli Campaign until I read this article. I do not know that much about World War I, so maybe that should not come as a surprise. Nonetheless, the thing I found most interesting about this article was the large number of deaths in the trenches. World War I was supposed to be “the war to end all wars.” Unfortunately, many other wars have come after the end of World War I, and the bloodshed has continued.

  • As an American often times whenever we study military history, especially World War I and II, we specifically focus only on our own perspective. Personally, I think by doing this we miss out on a lot. What this article does it focus on the perspective of Australian, British, and New Zealand soldiers which is fresh. I am glad I have learned about this battle. While they did not come out the winners, they will not be forgotten and the winners do not always have to write the history.

  • I had never understood how powerful the Ottoman Empire was in the early twentieth century. Obviously, British, French, Australian, and New Zealander armies had underestimated their power, and had paid a devastating price. I found it odd that I was not aware of this war attempt until reading this article. The soldiers that have perished are graciously honored, but this battle should be given more awareness to respect the troops and to exemplify the power of the Ottoman Empire.

  • i think that this article shows the struggle between the value of human life and strategic positioning in wars. The disdain for life shown by the brits is crazy but the result makes you question if it was worth it. were more lives spared or lost with the decisions made. I never knew about this fight much less ww1 as ww2 is usually what is talked about. good job.

  • Heroes are not defined by the amount of battle they win or the glory they gain in battle. Gallipoli, are heroes. Even though, they experienced a lot of causalities. They still fought against the odds and for their land. I believe they are heroes not for what they have won, but for willingness to continue fighting no matter what the odds were.

  • The Gallipoli Campaign truly was one of the most poorly executed battles in WWI. The Allies, rather than cut their losses after the failed naval operation, decided that sending in the colonies of Britain as cannon fodder would be a much easier pill to swallow. The disregard for the lives of their countrymen by the British was unacceptable, yet the Australian and New Zealand troops fought for that stretch of land like the war tilted on it, and were it not for them, the Ottoman’s would still be a nuisance in the war far after the defeat of the Germans.

  • This is an interesting article regarding a less-known event. Despite my love of history, I lacked the knowledge regarding this event. This author was able to establish a historical background that engaged the reader to continue reading on till the very bitter and tragic end. I appreciate this article’s illustration of this brutal conflict that occurred in Gallipoli. While certain events in World War I continue to be over shadowed, this article was able to show that events can still be learned from tragic events.

  • This article was very informative. While I am an avid lover of history, I lack knowledge in the area of World War 1. This article did a good job of conveying information and explaining the history and significance of Gallipoli. While the mission did end in utter failure, it is nice to see that the efforts of those men were not in vain. They are remembered today for their valiant efforts.

  • This was a really interesting article on a topic that I had not been aware of before. I really like how the author ended on a high note of how while the operation was a failure, it helped to reinforce belief in the Australian and New Zealand men fighting the battle. But, with that said, the devastation of the operation was massive, and shows that just because something in war may seem like it will be easy, it can quickly go the other way.

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