Turkey marks 99 years since vital Canakkale victory

On March 18, 1915, Ottoman soldiers repelled an attempt by the British and the French to invade Istanbul via the Canakkale straits.

Turkey marks 99 years since vital Canakkale victory

Nearly every country in the world today has some kind of story of a national struggle in which all walks of life came together to sacrifice their blood, sweat and tears for the sake of their homeland and their people. Turkey is no different, and today as a nation that emerged from the debris of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish people remember those who gave their lives to resist the invading British and French forces at the battle of Canakkale 99 years ago.

Although the Ottomans had previously been allies of the French and the British against the Russians, a series of events leading up to the First World War forced a shift in alliances. The Ottomans were already under siege from the east by the advancing Russians throughout much of the 19th century. At the same time, Russian-sponsored independence campaigns were also squeezing the Turks out of the Balkans. These wars severely exhausted the Ottoman budget and left them unable to repay loans taken from the British and the French.

The Greeks were also marching towards Thrace, capturing the strategic city of Selanik (Thessaloniki) from the Ottomans on their way in 1913. This defeat for the Ottomans confirmed their status as the so called 'sick man of Europe', with the British and the French losing hope in their long-time Ottoman allies completely. Instead, the British and the French formed an alliance with the Greeks to protect their interests in the Agean Striats against Russian-ally Bulgaria as well as an increasingly threatening Germany in central Europe.

This newfound alliance, at the expense of the Ottomans, put the Ottomans in greater trouble. Whereas before they only had to worry about their fronts in the Caucasus and Balkans being under threat, the Ottomans suddenly found themselves surrounded by hostile forces, as southern neighbors Cyprus and Egypt were already under British occupation. British operations in the Middle-East also put Ottoman interests in Arabia in danger. This left the Ottomans with no other choice but to enter the First World War on the side of Germany, prompting the Allies (Britain and France), to launch a campaign to occupy Istanbul, the Ottoman capital.

From April 25, 1915, to January 9, 1916, a joint British and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul and secure a sea route to Russia. British commander Admiral Sackville Carden developed a three stage plan to pass from the Canakkale Straits. The plan included neutralisation of the Turkish forts guarding the entrance, then clearing of the Turkish minefield, and finally a drive into the Sea of Marmara.

The Allied forces' naval attack began on February 19, 1915. Until March 13, they continuously bombarded the Turkish forts and opened a way for the minesweepers. But they confronted with Turks' determined resistance. The Allies could only clean the first five miles of the straits.

By March 18, the Allied forces had destroyed the Seddulbahir and Ertugrul forts located on the European shore and Kumkale, as well as the Orhaniye forts located on the Asiatic shore.

The Allied Fleet appeared in the entrance of the channel on the morning of March 18. Britain's Queen Elizabeth led the first wave up the channel. Queen Elizabeth's target was Mecidiye fort while the other vessel Lord Nelson would bomb the Namazgah fort. Inflexible's aim was to destroy the Hamidiye fort.

As the French ships had took their turn, something unexpected happened. French ship Bouvet hit a mine and within two minutes was started sinking, with the loss of almost all her crew. British ships HMS Irresistible and HMS Ocean also hit mines and exploded hours later.

The allies withdrew the remaining ships, marking one of the most critical victories for the destiny of the Turks. Both the March 18th Naval Victory and the Gelibolu (Gallipoli) land victories restored the Turkish Army's prestige in the world and constituted a milestone in Turkish nation's struggle for independence. According to Turkish sources, the Allies' total casualties were 187,000 soldiers while the Turkish causality rate was about 211,000 soldiers.

The victory gave the Turkish nation, which had been stagnating since the 18th century, a sudden and significant morale boost that carried through into the following land operation, where the allies were met by an uncompromising Turkish defense.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Mart 2014, 18:08
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Not every country, you must read that history carefully.. this is Çanakkale and 2- the independence war