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Attack of Allied armada to dardanelles 1915

The Naval Operations in the Dardanelles Campaign (17 February 1915 – 9 January 1916) took place against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. Ships of the Royal Navy, French Marine nationale, Imperial Russian Navy and the Royal Australian Navy, attempted to force the defences of the Dardanelles Straits. The straits are a narrow waterway which connects the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea, via the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus. The Dardanelles Campaign began as a naval operation but the success of the Ottoman defence supported by German Generals and weapons led to the Gallipoli Campaign, an attempt to occupy the Gallipoli peninsula with land forces supported by the navies, to open the sea route to Constantinople. The Allies also tried to pass submarines through the Dardanelles to attack Ottoman shipping in the Sea of Marmara.

British battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth f

Ottoman entry into the war

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Ottoman Empire had a reputation as the sick man of Europe. After the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, the French, British and Germans had offered financial aid. In December 1913, the Germans sent a military mission to Constantinople, headed by General Otto Liman von Sanders. The geographical position of the Ottoman Empire meant that Russia, France and Britain had a significant interest in Ottoman neutrality.

German diplomats offered Turkey an anti-Russian alliance and territorial gains. On 30 July 1914, two days after the outbreak of the war in Europe, the Ottoman leaders, unaware that the British might enter a European war, agreed to a secret Ottoman-German Alliance against Russia, although it did not require them to undertake military action.

On 2 August, the British requisitioned the delivery of the 2 modern battleships which were built in British shipyards for Ottoman Navy. This strained Ottoman-British diplomatic relations  & in order to get more influence the German government offered 2 battleshps SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau instead of the ones in British shipyards. In September, the British naval mission to the Ottomans was recalled and German Navy took command of the Ottoman navy. The German naval presence and the success of the German armies, gave the pro-German faction in the Ottoman government enough influence to declare war on Russia.

Hostilities between Ottoman & Britain began on 28 October, when the Ottoman fleet, including Goeben and Breslau which were flying the Ottoman flag but still commanded by German officers and manned by German crews conducted the Black Sea Raid. 
Odessa and Sevastopol were bombarded, a Russian minelayer and gunboat were sunk but the attempt to neutralise the Black Sea Fleet of Russia failed.The Ottomans refused the demands by allies which were about the expelling the German missions. Russia formally joined the Central Powers & declared war on Turkey on 2 November. Britain and France declared war on Turkey on 5 November and the Ottomans declared a jihad (holy war) later that month. The Caucasus Campaign, an Ottoman attack on Russia through the Caucasus Mountains began in December and led to the Battle of Sarikamish, leading the Russians to call for aid from Britain in January 1915. The Mesopotamian campaign began with a British landing to occupy the oil facilities in the Persian Gulf. The Ottomans prepared to attack Egypt in early 1915, to occupy the Suez Canal and cut the Mediterranean route to British India and the Far East

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The Royal Army planned an amphibious landing near Alexandretta in Syria in 1914, to seperate theOttoman capital from Syria, Palestine and Egypt. The Alexandretta landing was abandoned because it required more resources than France could allocate. The White Sea in the Arctic and the Sea of Okhotsk in the Far East were icebound in winter and the Baltic Sea was blockaded by the Imperial German Navy. The only way to sent supplies to Russia was through the Dardanelles was to neutralize the Ottoman Empire. 

On 11 January 1915, Vice Admiral S. H. Carden proposed a plan for forcing the Dardanelles using battleships, submarines and minesweepers & the British War Council approved the plan. France contributed a squadron including fourbattleships and the Russian navy provided a light cruiser Battleship. In early February 1915, the naval forces were supplemented by contingents of Royal Marines and Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) divisions which have been training in Egypt. They would be used to occupy Constantinople after the straits had been taken with naval attack.

Ottoman defence Fortifications in Dardan

In August 1914, the defence line of Ottomans were consist of two fortresses at the end of the Gallipoli peninsula and two on the Asiatic shore. The forts had 19 guns, four with a range of 14 km and the rest 5-7 km. Four field howitzers were dug in at Cape Tekke on the European side.The fortresses had been built to cover a minefield, which in August 1914 was a line of mines across the strait from Kephez Point to the European shore. Fort Dardanos was the main work which had two new 6-inch naval guns. Five forts had been built on the European side and six on the Asian side with 72 heavy and medium guns. Most of the artillery was obsolescent but there were 8 long-range guns with a range of more than 15 km. 

Only 14 of the guns were modern long-range pieces, the rest were old-fashioned pieces.  The gunners were poorly trained & there was little ammunition. Night illumination consisted of a searchlight at entrance to the Straits. The forts though, were easily visible.

Attack to Straights

Churchill ordered an attack on the Dardanelles on 3 November 1914.   Britisdh & French battleships started to attack before a formal declaration of war had been made by Britain. The attack was to test the Ottoman defences and in a twenty-minute bombardment, a shell struck the magazine of the fort at Sedd el Bahr, dismounting ten guns and killing 86 Ottoman soldiers. Total casualties during the first  attack were 150 & forty of them were German. Atter the effect of the bombardment the Ottomans strenghened their defence & began laying more mines.

The defence points at the entrance to the straits were vulnerable to bombardment  but the inner defences covered the narrows near Çanakkale. The straits depended on ten minefields, with 370 mines laid near the narrows. Allied forces were unaware that a Turkish mine boat laid too many mines on the previous night. On 19 February 1915, two destroyers started to attack & first Turkish shot was fired by the 240 mm Krupp guns of the Orhaniye Tepe battery in the early morning. The battleships HMS Cornwallis and Vengeance moved in to engage the forts and Cornwallis opened fire. The effect of the long-range bombardment wasn't as expected & the shots were behind the artilleries & fortifications. Indirect fire was insufficient because the ships weren't anchored for a suitable shoting position.
On 25 February the Allied attacked again & the Ottomans evacuated the defence lines. The fleet entered the straits. They  raided the Sedd el Bahr and Kum Kale forts.  On 1 March, four battleships bombarded the defences the progress of clearing the minefields was slow & ineffective. The unarmored minesweepers were unwilling to work under fire. The strong current in the straits wes hardening minesweeping. 
Queen Elizabeth was called on to engage the inner defences. On the night of 13 March, the cruiser HMS Amethyst which led six minesweepers was hit and was badly damaged. 


HMS Cornwallis Bombarding (Above)

March 18, The Day of Defeat

The event that finalizes the battle took place on the night of 18 March when the Ottoman minelayer ship Nusret laid a line of mines in front of the Kephez minefield. The Ottomans had noticed the British ships turned to starboard into the bay when withdrawing after the raids. The clear water meant that the mines could have been seen through the water by reconnaissance aircraft. The British plan for 18 March was to destroy the artileries guarding the first five minefields than clean the mines during the night. The next day the remaining defences around the narrows would be defeated and the remaining minefields would be cleared. But the allies weren't aware about the newly laid mines. 
The British & French battleships attacked in three lines with supporting ships on the flanks. The first British line opened fire from Eren Köy Bay around noon. The Ottoman fire began to hurt  Gaulois, Suffren, Agamemnon and Inflexible. When the Ottoman defences were silent, de Robeck decided to withdraw the French line and bring forward the second British line as well as Swiftsure and Majestic. The area hasn't been cleared off mines succesfully. Aerial reconnaissance also failed to spot the line of mines laid by Nusret in Eren Köy Bay. , The French Battleship Bouvet while turning to Eren Köy Bay, struck a mine. The explosion was so effective that the huge battleship capsized and sank within a couple of minutes with 639 crewmen, only 48 of whom were survived. At first it appeared that the ship had been torpedoed.
The British battleships, than, attacked with a higher force. Around 16:00, the Battleship Inflexible struck a mine in a place too close where Bouvet had sunk. She was lost 30 crew, but remained afloat and eventually beached on the island of Bozcaada and temporarily repaired.  HMS Irresistible was the next which met with mines and as it began to drift, the crew were taken off. At the evening the battleship HMS Ocean struck a mine which made the ship adrift. 

HMS Irresistable, the last breaths (Above)


The Ottomans sank three battleships, damaged another and inflicted seven hundred casualties on the British-French fleet while having only 118 casualties. 
The fleet lost more ships than the Royal Navy had suffered since the Battle of Trafalgar; on 23 March, de Robeck telegraphed to the Admiralty that land forces were needed. With the failure of the naval assault, the idea that land forces could advance around the backs of the Dardanelles forts and capture Constantinople gained support as an alternative and on 25 April, the Gallipoli Campaign commenced.

Watch the Video About Dardanelles Campaign's Naval Operations. Click the video above

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