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An Unfortunate Accident of Geography: Badlands and the ANZAC Sector, Gallipoli, April–December 1915

  • Peter DoyleEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Military Geosciences book series (AMG)

Abstract

Gallipoli continues to be a cause célèbre for those seeking to assign blame for this ill-fated military campaign fought against the Ottoman Empire from April to December 1915. Variously blamed are weak generals, poor planning and preparation—and even inadequate topographical mapping. Intended to assist the Allied naval fleet in breaking through the Dardanelles Straits, thereby threatening the Ottoman Capital of Constantinople (and, it was hoped, forcing the Ottomans out of the war), the military campaign was certainly hastily conceived and under-resourced. Commencing on 25 April 1915 as an amphibious landing, the campaign soon degenerated into a desperate struggle, as the Allies attempted in vain to break out of tightly constrained beachheads. This study investigates the role of terrain in the warfare of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Sector, from initial landings in April, to attempted breakout in August. At ANZAC, an ‘unfortunate accident of geography’ brought, dry, mostly fine-grained Pliocene sediments to the coast. An upland area created by the North Anatolian Fault System, the fine sediments were (and are) quickly weathered and eroded to form topographically complex gullied surfaces. This would be the almost hopeless battleground of the Australians and New Zealanders in April–December 1915. With the Ottomans holding a firm grip on the ridge top, the ANZAC troops were constrained to a small, deeply dissected and mostly waterless sector of the scarp slope of the Sari Bair Plateau and ridge system. The war here would be hard fought and bloody, with geology having a major impact on its outcome; the withdrawal of ANZAC troops in December 1915.

Keywords

Dardanelles Gallipoli Amphibious landings Badland topography Ottomans ANZAC Water supply Trenches Tunneling 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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