Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source8
Extracts from a report by Sir Ian Hamilton, British commander at Gallipoli, to Lord Kitchener, May 1915
(Catalogue ref: PRO 30/57/61)
  • At the time this source was written, 5 May 1915, the British and Allied forces were facing some of the most fierce and desperate fighting of the campaign. The Allies had landed in Gallipoli on 25 April and had been fighting hard since then.
  • 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. Plus the military had hopelessly underestimated the difficulties caused by weather and disease.
  • Hamilton's letter reveals that the Turkish forces who opposed him were receiving regular reinforcements and new supplies. They were also well trained (and sometimes led) by German officers.
  • It is clear from this letter that British commanders underestimated the Turks. Hamilton believed they were about to crack, but they were still there when he was replaced in October 1915.
  • Hamilton's removal effectively ended his career. He was replaced by Sir Charles Monro. After a little over a month in charge, Monro recommended that British and Allied forces should pull out of Gallipoli.
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