WW1 WI: Allies land anywere else but Gallipoli

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by mattep74, Jul 29, 2019.

  1. mattep74 Well-Known Member

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    WI the allies decided to knock OE out of the war by landing somewere else along the coast that had no high ground and then strike towards Istanbul?
     
  2. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

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    Fail, like otl all the terrain favour the defenders, in fact gallipoli was the best place or send them to verdun meatgrinder
     
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  3. Thomas1195 Well-Known Member

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    Alexandretta, although the idea was opposed by the French
     
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  4. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    There was also the earlier offer by the Greeks to send 250,000 troops but the Russians would not hear of it as they had long considered the area in their sphere and did not want the Greeks anywhere near 'Constantinople'

    See how that worked out for them!
     
  5. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    Wonder if the Brit/French acceptance of that would have led to modern Greece extending to Ionia & other bits of Asia Minor
     
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  6. Scott Washburn Well-Known Member

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    It always seemed to me that the place to land was at the 'neck' of the Gallipoli peninsula, rather than the tip. Cut the whole thing off at the start. The Ottomans could ferry some supplies across the Dardanelles from the south shore, but probably not enough to supply a large garrison. Once the peninsula was in British hands, artillery fire from there could help neutralize the defenses on the south side and the fleet could pass through.
     
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  7. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    Possibly if Russia still collapses into civil war.

    What's Italys take on the region - I know they considered the Balkans to be their Sphere of influence - not sure if that extended to Asia Minor?
     
  8. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    Or an earlier effort - the Peninsula was virtually undefended in the months before the landing (the Ottomans were able to scrape together a force just in time - mainly from the Eastern parts of the Empire - ironically many of those soldiers were Armenians!) but the Entente telegraphed their intention during those months with the effort to force the passage and before that by shelling forts for no other reason than to shell them.

    An earlier effort either at the neck or as per OTL would likely have succeeded - indeed Henry Morgenthau the US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire of Armenian Genocide whistle blower fame and father to the Henry Morgenthau of the Morgenthau plan noted that the Ottoman Government and German Embassy where absolutely shitting themselves as they had no faith in their ability to defend the peninsula against a determined attack and were ready to flee into the Asian side at a moments notice.
     
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  9. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    There was nothing written in stone for the Gallipoli campaign. About every aspect could have turned out different for the Entente. Back in 1982 I sat through a series of lectures on the campaign that examined it from the aspect of violating ten basic principles of warfare. The lecture ripped apart the British Army Generals, and a Admiral on this.

    Speed: Our instructor noted the near lackadaisical pace of preparations. He referred to a memo from Churchill to the commander questioning this and urging more urgency. For whatever reason Churchil was unable to fire that commander & install a more appropriate man. Possiblly because Churchill at the time was in Charge of the Navy & lacked the ability to prod Army officers? In any case the Entente had a window of opportunity of several months and missed it by just a few weeks. After the Ottoman reinforcements arrived.

    Security & Deception Two other basic principles the lecturer addressed. He pointed out the British security for both planning and preparations were abysmal. Every messenger boy, donkey driver & waterfront stevedore in Egypt knew the details. Ottoman spies were active & feeding the information back to Istambul on multiple channels. Hand in hand with that was the deception plan or operations was described as about as ham handed or amateurish as could be has. Even the press was not fooled and news stories about the oncoming new attack in the Dardanelles were appearing in multiple languages.

    Had the Brits got the first item right, or the first three, the operation would have been a success and held as a great victory, despite every other cock up along the way.
     
  10. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    I know a lot of people on here disagree but I think that a more determined effort to force the Dardanelles would have succeeded - the mine sweeper force had just been sorted what with so many RN sailors from those sunken BBs now manning them instead of civilian crews and getting better at the sweeping day by day - even at the loss of a few more obsolete battleships that were going to be scrapped anyway - even in the middle of a war!

    Churchill wanted an infantry attack to go in to support it but was told no by Kitchener (who quite correctly wanted to build up forces on the Western Front) and then eventually yes as more troops started to become available from both the new army and the Empire at large (and the means to arms and equip them)

    Maybe the delay in committing troops was justifiable given the need to stand up a continental army in Belgium and France - but I keep coming back to the initial bombardment which was almost an act of petulance followed by the failure to carry through the attempt to force the Dardanelles, followed by the failure to employ Greece's offer to assault the peninsula before we even get to the then (as you quite rightly pointed out) farce that was the land campaign.

    As for Op sec
     
  11. Scott Washburn Well-Known Member

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    There seems to be considerable disagreement on just how close the naval assault came to success. I've read some sources which said the forts were wrecked or out of ammunition and the Ottomans were out of mines to replace those swept or detonated. One more strong push would have succeeded and Turkish resistance would have collapsed and Istanbul would have fallen. And then I've read other sources that say the forts were still in good shape and more ammunition and mines were being brought up and the Turks' morale was good. So who knows?
     
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  12. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    The RN didn’t have good enough charts of this area. To improve this data would require survey ships taking soundings which would advertise the intent. As it was when they had improved their knowledge around Suvla for the August landings some X lighters still ran aground on off shore obsacles.
     
  13. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    I think the story that the forts were out of ammo was from an English officer chatting with a Turkish counterpart after the war. Apparently the Turkish archives disagree with the often repeated claim. Harvey Broadbent, who can read Turkish, discovered this for his book ‘Defending Gallipoli’.
     
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  14. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    Referring back to the lecture of 1982 the view was the Brits, or at least the Army failed to conduct a adequate recon, or intel gathering effort, by the standards of the era. 'Giving Away' the operation had already happened, refer back to the failures in Security & Deception. Specifically in the case of deception, you don't just recon your intended landing site, but all the good alternatives. You also make a effective effort to mask the reconissance.
     
  15. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    Peter Chasseaud goes into the background planning and intelligence gathering for his excellent ‘Grasping Gallipoli’. Hamilton’s ‘I was given a pamphlet and guidebook to the Turkish army’ was quite incorrect. The planning officer dumped mailbags of material provided to Hamilton and his staff on the table at the Dardanelles Royal Commission. The plans were continuously updated and the last major revision was 1909.

    Indeed the security was so poor that most attache were thinking that Gallipoli was a feint. They called the force ‘Constantinople Expeditionary Force’ and stamped mail CEF...oops. Quickly changed to MEF Mediterranean Expeditionary Force but the damage was done.
     
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  16. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    Interesting gap between 1909 & 1915. I wonder if thats normal for the era, or represents something else? Were the mailbags of material current, or old items from pre 1909? Sometimes the older items can be really useful, other times not so much.

    What else does Mr Chasseaud have to say? This is really interesting.
     
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  17. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    Well, the Ottoman generals made the right interpretation.

    Heres a list of principles of military operations. Similar to that taught at Sandhurst in the present day. How ably did the Galipoli planning and execution violate these?

    Manuver Not sure here. the scheme of maneuver as planned or executed is not clear to me

    Untiy of Command.
    As I understand this was a bit shaky, with the lines of command not clear between the RN & the Army, nor within the Army. Anyone able to clarify this?

    Speed
    Theres the previous comments on the preparations carrying the execution date past the arrival of a viable defense force. There also criticism of the local commanders in being 'slow' in executing their parts in the operation.

    Security
    Any more of value to add?

    Mass
    Kind of weak to me. The criticism is appropriately aimed at a failure to concentrate forces, with multiple landing sites & objectives. That is less valid if the weak defense of the previous months is considered. A dispersed landing makes a bit more sense vs a weak defense.

    Objective
    Here the criticism names multiple objectives, both in geographic positions, and it not being understood what the overriding goal was. to capture specific positions, destroy the enemy force, advance, or consolidate beachheads. The plans as published in orders too the subordinate commanders don't seem to make any of this coherent.

    Offense
    This comes back to Speed & keeping the attack rolling. Many of the commanders from top to bottom are criticized for lack of aggression & seeing the need to attack early on.

    Surprise
    Any more of value to add?

    Economy of Force
    This connects to the failure to mass forces properly in the context.

    Any other principles we should consider here? I've heard criticism for a lack of a useful rehearsal, something that was pounded into us as junior Marine officers, and a lack of a functional forward base for the operation. Any validity for those two?

    Getting back to the Unity of Command, theres often criticism of Hamilton as not the man for the task. At this point I am wondering if the Navy should not have been firmly in charge. This would follow the common practice of the naval commander having overall command in large scale ship to shore operations.
     
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  18. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    I wonder how much of the above was due to the rapid expansion of the Army and a then lack of enough experienced staff officers (and I imagine the Western front sucking up a lot of the talent available) with too much muddling through? After all this was only 6 months after Britain entered the war.
     
  19. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    Yes, from the 1912 Adm Wilson vs Gen Wilson presentation to cabinet that set the BEF commitment to France, the Army took it as tacit approval to expand from 60 Battalions to 60 Divisions. The British Army did not have this depth, the Planning Department was drained of officers to go back to their units to then be killed or wounded in Belgium and France. Loss of corporate memory is the best way to sum it up.

    Another problem was Strategy. There were 3 competing Grand Strategies, Kitchener's France/Belgium, Fishers Baltic and Churchill's Dardanelles. They should have settled on one. Sideline Churchill, sack Kitchener and put Fisher in charge as 'Naval War Lord' but implement Dardanelles not Baltic.
     
  20. Dorknought Well-Known Member

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    The area was a strategic waterway in a war zone (1st Balkan War), hardly a prospect for foreign officers to wander around collecting field observations. The maps they had were quite good for their time and had many very useful notations, like 'no water in the hills', 'very hard going', 'wells in valley'. Many problems were caused by a prewar policy of standardising the contour interval so the contours were reinterpreted. This had the result of flattening out the terrain so that features like the Razorback were depicted as a saddle not a narrow highlighted ridge that could only be crossed single file:
    [​IMG]

    Aerial mapping was in its infancy and Photogrammetry was regarded as a 'toy'. Most of the mapping effort was going into Northern France and Belgium. After the campaign kicked off, Sampson had to bring his personal camera to take aerial photos before the landing.

    The manuals were quite detailed and had notes on all the landing beaches that Hamilton actually used. They also had descriptions and zones much like modern geomorphology to show 'going' areas.

    One stuffup was a force landing on S Beach (IIRC) marched unopposed into Krithia and then left! They then had the 1st 2nd and 3rd battles of Krithia to try and take the village with the result of thousands of causalities.