Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source3
Extracts from a report by Sir Ian Hamilton, British commander at Gallipoli, to Lord Kitchener, March 1915
(Catalogue ref: PRO 30/57/61)
  • At the time he was writing this report, 18 March 1915, Sir Ian Hamilton had been in charge of operations at Gallipoli for just one week.
  • The naval attack had started on 19 February. From then until early March, warships bombarded Turkish positions and sent raiding parties of Royal Marines ashore to destroy Turkish forts and guns. All of these actions were relatively successful, but they were only against the weaker Turkish fortifications.
  • Hamilton's report describes his views on arriving to take charge of the Gallipoli campaign. It is clear that he was not well informed about the task before he arrived there.
  • The P.S. section of his letter describes the disastrous naval attack on the main parts of the Dardanelles on 18 March. An attack by 16 French and British warships was meant to clear the Turkish defences. As a result of mines, the British and French lost 3 battleships and 3 more were crippled. This meant that the action would now have to be mainly an army campaign.
  • Hamilton had 75,000 men at his command, and this proved to be nowhere near enough to capture Gallipoli. The Turks had strengthened their garrison and dug strong fortifications. Hamilton was also short of supplies and ammunition for most of the campaign. In addition to this, the military had hopelessly underestimated the difficulties caused by weather and disease.
  • Hamilton was replaced in October 1915 and this effectively ended his career. Sir Charles Monro replaced him. After a little over a month in charge, Monro recommended that British and Allied forces should pull out of Gallipoli.
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