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View series: The first World War, 1914-1918

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The Dardanelles Campaign

This map is part of a series of 20 animated maps showing the history of The first World War, 1914-1918.

From the time of the Ottoman Empire’s entry into war, Winston Churchill, British Minister of the Navy, pleaded for a Franco‑British intervention in the Dardanelles.

Such an attack would allow the allies to regain the initiative at a time when the situation seemed deadlocked on the French front and to re‑establish easier communications with Russia.

Despite opposition of several French and English military officials, the operation was given the go‑ahead at the beginning of 1915.

A naval operation to force a route through the Dardanelles all the way to Istanbul was launched on 18 March. Turkish shore batteries and mine fields across the strait sank several ships, thereby putting an immediate stop to this attempt.

The Allies then decide to mount a land operation. One month later, English, Australian, New Zealander and French troops landed south of the Gallipoli peninsula. Despite heavy losses, two footholds were established, but the allies made only limited progress against the solid defence system that the Turks, aided by the Germans, had had the time to reinforce.

At the beginning of August, a second landing was carried out a little farther north in order to go behind the Turkish positions. This action was no more successful, and the battle dragged on.

The allied troops remained blocked for several months, in dire living conditions, before being pulled out at the beginning of 1916.

In this Dardanelles operation, 200,000 allied soldiers, mostly English, Australians and New Zealanders, were killed or wounded.