A century has now gone by, yet the Gallipoli campaign of 1915-16 is still infamous as arguably the most ill conceived, badly led and pointless campaign of the entire First World War. The brainchild of Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, following Turkey's entry into the war on the German side, its ultimate objective was to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in western Turkey, thus allowing the Allies to take control of the eastern Mediterranean and increase pressure on the Central Powers to drain manpower from the vital Western Front. From the very beginning of the first landings, however, the campaign went awry, and countless casualties. The Allied commanders were ignorant of the terrain, and seriously underestimated the Turkish army which had been bolstered by their German allies. Thus the Allies found their campaign staled from the off and their troops hopelessly entrenched on the hillsides for long agonising months, through the burning summer and bitter winter, in appalling, dysentery-ridden conditions. By January 1916, the death toll stood at 21,000 British troops, 11,000 Australian and New Zealand, and 87,000 Turkish and the decision was made to withdraw, which in itself, ironically, was deemed to be a success.
Alan Moorehead OBE, was born in Australia in 1910, but resided in England and Italy for most of his life from 1937-83. He was a war correspondent and author of popular histories, most notably two books on the nineteenth-century exploration of the Nile: The White Nile and The Blue Nile. His trilogy The Desert War on the North African campaign 1940-43 in which he reported events on the frontline is still seen as a definitive account.