Learning Curve, The Great War
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Transcript: Source1
Extracts from a British military intelligence report on the Gallipoli area, September 1914
(Catalogue ref: WO 106/1463)

Source 1b


Access to Constantinople from the Mediterranean is by the straights of the Dardanelles, which are bounded on the S.E. by the coast of Asia Minor and on the N.W. by the Gallipoli Peninsula.

The latter has an extreme length of 52 miles and greatest breadth of 14 miles.

The narrowest portion – only 6,000 yards wide – is at a point 1½ miles S.W. of the village of Bulair, where the peninsula joins the mainland.

The backbone of the peninsula consists of hills which rise in the centre to nearly 1,000 feet.

On both banks of the Dardanelles there are many batteries commanding the passage, those on the Gallipoli side, as a rule, command those on the Asiatic side.

Access to the peninsula from the mainland is closed by the Bulair Lines, which successfully kept out the Bulgarians.

In 1906 a scheme was prepared for the capture of this peninsula. It involved the use of 4 divisions, each of 3 brigades. The general plan was to land them on the S.W. end of the peninsula and take in rear the forts commanding the Daranelles.

Since the date of this scheme the fortifications have been much strengthened, and their armament has been modernized and increased: and it is believed that an attempt to capture the peninsula would be a much more serious operation now, than it was before the Turko-Bulgarian war.

Source 1c

It ought to be clearly understood that an attack upon the Gallipoli Peninsula from the sea side (outside the Straits) is likely to prove an extremely difficult operation of war. The subject has often been considered before by the General Staff and it was examined into by the Committee of Imperial Defence in 1906; it was then decided that such an operation could not be regarded as feasible with the British Troops that might at short notice have been collected for the purpose at that time. Since then the garrison has been greatly augmented, and as a consequence of threats on the part of Greeks and Bulgarians during the first Balkan War, and of the attack made upon the Lines of Bulair, the protection of the rear of the various batteries and the works dominating the Straits was taken in hand. It is understood that what was then done renders them secure against anything in the nature of a surprise attack.

The garrison of the peninsula now normally consists of an Army Corps which may be taken at 27,000 men with 136 guns. But under existing conditions this garrison will almost certainly have been strengthened considerably, and it would be unsafe to assume that the attacking side would only have the above number to deal with. In any case it would not seem justifiable to undertake an operation of this kind with an army of less than 60,000 men against the Ottoman Forces likely to be encountered. These 60,000 might, however, cross the sea in two echelons, admitting of the transports returning to Greece after disembarking the first echelon. The Expeditionary Force could dispense almost entirely, if not entirely, with cavalry, and its mobile artillery might well be composed mainly of mountain batteries.

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