The Dardanelles Campaign (Gallipoli)
In 1915, the Entente launched naval and land operations to knock the Ottoman empire (Turkey) out of the war with a single decisive blow. The brainchild of the mercurial British First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, the initial plan took advantage of the Entente’s naval superiority. Obsolescent Entente warships were to force the narrow Dardanelles Straits, after which warships could threaten the Turkish capital, Constantinople (Istanbul). An Anglo-French fleet assembled off the Gallipoli peninsula and in February–March 1915 it fought its way up the Dardanelles, in the face of fixed and mobile Turkish and German shore batteries, three shore-mounted torpedo-tubes and minefields. While the larger ships engaged the shore batteries, trawlers swept for mines. This was a slow process, with the capital ships retiring at dusk to return the following day. The naval force made steady progress, passing the outer forts, and was approaching the final set of defences at the Chanak (Canakkale) narrows on 18 March 1915 when it hit a recently laid undetected minefield. The French battleships Bouvet and Gaulois and the British Ocean, and the British battlecruisers Irresistible and Inflexible, were sunk, beached or badly damaged.