The Dardanelles campaign was part of a plan to challenge the Ottoman Empire in a move designed to assist the Russian army and ensure that the Russians could export much needed produce by sea. From the outset, it was a controversial plan, with the geography of the region creating many challenges. In March 1915, a British and French fleet was forced to retreat as it approached the Dardanelles.
Rather than abandon the plan, though, British strategists, led by First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George were reluctant to give up an ‘eastern solution’ which might alleviate the stalemate on the Western Front.
The Australians and New Zealanders were only one part of the plan, which included British troops landing at the tip of the Peninsula (Cape Hellas) and the French launching an assault on the Asian shore of the entrance to the Dardanelles, opposite the British landing position. The Anzacs were to land along the Aegean coast, about 20 km north of the British.
The Australian Government was not part of the planning process, and had no input into the British strategic planning.
The campaign was a costly one for the Allies, with estimates of around 45,000 and a further 97,000 wounded (this included approx 8,000 Australians killed and more than 20,000 wounded; while around 21,000 UK and Irish died). By contrast, the Ottoman Empire lost around 87,000.)
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