9/1/1916 Gallipoli: Turks count cost of victory as last Allied soldiers leave

Allied forces landed in Gallipoli last April in an attempt to clear a route through the Straits for a naval assault on Constantinople. The attack failed, with Allied troops finding themselves confined to tiny enclaves. An attempt to renew the offensive in August was another failure. After that the Allies decided to evacuate from Gallipoli. Troops were shipped from the northern enclaves of Anzac Cove and Suvla Bay before Christmas.

Now over two nights the last men have been taken from the southern enclave at Helles Point. The evacuation has proceeded without a hitch, for all that the Turks were watching for any sign of the men being withdrawn. Now as dawn breaks over the peninsula they rejoice to find that their enemies have gone. Cautiously occupying the British lines (perhaps losing some men to booby traps) they find a wealth of supplies that the invaders have left behind.

The resolute defence of the Turks has won a great victory, but at terrible cost. In the whole campaign they have lost some 86,500 men killed. The losses of the Allies are smaller but still considerable. Some 20,000 British army soldiers have died in Gallipoli (of whom many are from India) and some 10,000 French. 8,700 Australians met their end in this doomed enterprise and some 2,700 New Zealanders.

The campaign has ruined the reputation of its main architect, Britain’s Winston Churchill. A year ago he was a leading cabinet minister, now he is in the trenches commanding a battalion in France. On the Turkish side the campaign has transformed Colonel Mustafa Kemal into a national hero. Although the Turks were commanded by Germany’s Liman von Sanders, Kemal captured the Turkish imagination thanks to key interventions at the start of the battle and during the August offensive.

image sources

Turkish soldiers (David Doughty; I particularly recommend this site to anyone who wants to see stunning illustrations of the campaign)

Mustafa Kemal (left) and other Turkish soldiers (Wikipedia)

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