Book Review: Gallipoli: Command Under Fire


by Edward J Erickson

Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2015. Pp. 288. Illus., maps, appends, notes, biblio., index. $25.95. ISBN: 1472806697

Leadership in the Gallipoli Campaign

Prof. Erickson (Marine Corps University), who has written extensively on the Ottomans, including Ottoman Army Effectiveness in World War I and Gallipoli: The Ottoman Campaign, gives us a detailed analysis of the leadership and the exercise of command and control at corps and army levels during the Gallipoli Campaign.

The growing frustration of the Asquith Government with the rising casualties on the Western Front, combined with pleas from Russia for greater support, dictated a change in Allied strategy, which led to the decision to take the Ottomans out of the Great War; If Turkey could be forced out of the war the lines of supply to Russia would be opened. The British and French fleets raided the forts on the Dardanelles but were unable to run pass them, which alerted the Ottomans to their weakness in the theatre, and prompted them to strengthen their defenses, which in turn frustrated the subsequent Anglo-French Gallipoli landings. 

Allied operational concerns were many. Trained manpower was hard to obtain. One of the few divisions with prewar regulars had to be diverted from the Western Front to the expedition, and Field Marshal Sir John French was less than pleased about this turn of events. The British Army was hard pressed to supply much more manpower for the expedition, and the French could only supply a small corps for the operation, while the New Zealanders and Australians provided additional troops, mostly recent volunteers, along with an Indian Army contingent. 

Erickson, who had access to extensive Turkish as well as British archival material in preparing this work, concludes that the Ottomans out-maneuvered and out-generaled the Allies in the campaign, undertaking a skillful and determined defense. So rather than deliver a knock out blow against the Ottomans, the Dardanelles Front turned into a strain on the Allied war effort.

Erickson has made an excellent addition to his earlier fine books on the military operations and history of the Ottoman Army in the first two decades of the twentieth century.               


Note: Gallipoli: Command Under Fire is also available as an ePub, $9.99, ISBN 978-1-4728-1341-1, and in PDF, $9.99, ISBN 978-1-4728-1340-4.    


Our Reviewer: Independent scholar Dan David is the author of The 1914 Campaign: August-October, 1914 and numerous reviews and articles. Formerly the manager of Sky Books International, in New York, he is a member of the Board of the New York Military Affairs Symposium, and chairman of the NYMAS Book Awards Committee. His most recent reviews for StrategyPage include Monty's Men: The British Army and the Liberation of Europe, The Edwardian Army: Recruiting. Training. and Deploying the British Army. 1902-1914, and The Indian Army on the Western Front.

Reviewer: Dan David   

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