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The Dardanelles Strait, separating Europe and Asia Anatolia, was fortified in the fifteenth century with massive bronze bombards causing any unwelcome ships to run a truly formidable gauntlet. So it proved on 18 March 1915 when a powerful fleet of British and French warships attempted to force a passage to allow minesweepers to clear the Strait. The attack failed at the cost of three ships sunk and three more seriously damaged. The Allied inability to control the Strait necessitated and, crucially, delayed the disastrous Allied invasion of Gallipoli that cost the lives of some 250,000 men.
The author makes an in-depth study of the Turkish defences that caused such loss to the Royal Navy and French allies and reveals that the Ottoman army and Turkey's coastal defences relied almost entirely on the German firm of Krupp for guns. This choice was a crucial element to the successful defence of the Dardanelles. Using excellent illustrations he also examines the relative strengths of the Royal and French Navies and Turkish coastal defences.
This definitive work examines the flaws of Winston Churchill's strategy and identifies the inadequacies of pitting warships against shore fortifications. Damningly, the author's research proves that British intelligence sources had previously assessed that a naval attack alone would not succeed.
Many of the fortifications on the Gallipoli peninsula and the Asian shore are still accessible. The Defence of the Dardanelles helpfully identifies those that can be visited, many of which still have wrecked guns emplaced.
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