16,00 troops arrive on the beach ... but the real action happens inland.
It’s 1915, and Britain and its allies have been at war with the Central Powers – Germany and Austria-Hungary – for more than six months. The Allies are fighting German forces that have pushed across Belgium and into France. But already a costly stalemate has developed on the Western Front.
Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, has a plan.
Britain will attack the Central Powers from a different direction; it will turn its might on the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottomans have joined the war on the side of the Central Powers, attacking Russian ports in the Black Sea and trying to regain territory from the Russians in the Caucasus; the Russians have asked Britain and France for help.
The Ottomans also have control of a valuable sea route: the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits, which form the gateway between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. If the Allies could take control of the straits, they could ship munitions to Russia, and Russian ships trapped in the Black Sea could sail out supplies.
The plan takes shape. A British and French fleet will clear the Dardanelles of mines, sail up the waters and pound Ottoman forts before it eventually shells the capital, Constantinople, into submission.
The bombardment begins with small attacks by Allied ships, with mixed results. In flexing its muscle, though, Britain has signalled its intentions. On March 18, the main attack starts. British and French battleships run the gauntlet of the straits. The Ottomans are ready. Their guns and mines sink three battleships; 700 sailors die.
With the straits impassable by sea, the British War Cabinet moves to plan B: within days of the Allies’ failed naval attack, they announce that they will land troops on the Gallipoli peninsula who will overrun Ottoman defences on the ground, capturing the forts along the Dardanelles and clearing the way for an attack on Constantinople.
British troops will land to the south at Cape Helles and advance to higher ground at Achi Baba; while French soldiers launch a diversionary attack at Kum Kale.
Australian and New Zealand units will come ashore on the western side of the Gallipoli peninsula, move across its peaks and take the heights overlooking the Dardanelles at Mal Tepe.
The Anzacs have been training near the Egyptian pyramids, on the edge of the desert at Mena. In March, they sail to the Greek island of Lemnos, 100 kilometres from the Gallipoli peninsula, to prepare to fight the Turks.