Reading and learning are two of my passions and it is my pleasure to share these books with you.I have read them all and have found them to be both insightful and engaging. I encourage your feedback and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.
Maj Chris Buckham
Wednesday, 25 March 2015
Climax at Gallipoli - Rhys Crawley
Climax at Gallipoli
University of Oklahoma Press
August, 1915, the Allies launched a joint operation in the Dardanelles with a
view towards striking eastward across the Gallipoli Peninsula and securing the
strait for a naval thrust into the Black Sea. Ultimately, the idea was to crush
Constantinople (the capital of the Ottoman Empire), force them out of the war
and to open a logistics supply line to the Russian Empire. Driving inland from
ANZAC Cove and Suvla Bay, the Allies came up against a well led, motivated,
entrenched and well supplied Ottoman defender and were defeated after a valiant
but hopeless battle that left tens of thousands wounded and dead.
literature has suggested that, while the Allies were not successful, it was a
very close run thing and that had luck been a little more on the side of the
Empire, victory was well within their grasp. The author has undertaken a study
of the August Offensive with a view to determining whether in fact it was an
'almost' victory. His conclusion is that not only was it not but that it never really
had a chance at all and should never have been attempted in the first place.
authors approach to his evaluation is both technical and belies a knowledge of
the intricacies of military operations. He commences his review with a macro
explanation of the region, the political pressure leading up to the engagement
from London and an evaluation of the key personalities involved on the army and
navy side. He then looks into a series of key facets to any successful
operation: planning, combined operations, operational and tactical logistics,
fire support and mobility.
each, he analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the capabilities and
assumptions made by the planners and how these translated into practical
applications as the operation unfolded. As examples of key failures he notes
the following (and this list is not exhaustive):
1. A failure of the army and navy
commanders to identify expectations and assumptions to one another, nor to
develop a common vision or plan;
2. A failure of logistics due to:
long lines of communications, a convoluted command (and therefore demand)
structure, lack of preparation and development of adequate intermediate staging
bases and insufficient capacity or room on landing beaches for effective
receipt and onward movement of supplies;
3. Undeveloped or tested doctrine
for the complexities of amphibious and joint operations;
4.A lack of appreciation of the requirements of naval and artillery fire
support, its limitations and the lack of a common operating picture for
communications and fire missions; and
5. A complete disregard for the
capabilities of the Ottoman forces facing them.
of these areas in and of themselves would have endangered the success of the
August Offensive, taken together, they crushed any chance of victory.
book is an excellent study of the shortfalls of the August Offensive; its
assumptions, planning deficiencies and doctrinal holes. His study is balanced
and instructive but damning in its revelations. For military planners it is an
outstanding example of capability falling far short of intention but not being
recognized or accepted by those in charge. Additionally, the author has
provided a comprehensive bibliography and notes section that provides the
reader extensive opportunity for further study. The August Offensive should be
studied and reviewed by future commanders for the lessons that it imparts and
the tragedy that it was. Well recommended.