The Trojan War(s)
The tour guide we had yesterday at Troy made an interesting point.
Evidence from earlier strata at the Troy site suggests that battles were fought there much earlier than Priam’s time. Likely for the same reason: control of the waterway of the Dardanelles.
In fact, the battle Homer wrote about wasn’t even the last for this reason. The first world war’s battle of Gallipoli was also fought over control of the Dardanelles. Completely different belligerents, but a modern “Trojan War”, nonetheless.
Dardanelles Crossing, Turkey
The best way to experience the crossing from Europe to Asia is by sea. Not that there’s a buoy or a wall or anything with a big sign that says “now leaving europe…”, but generally once you’ve crossed the Dardanelles, you’ve crossed continents.
The very windy ferry ride
My brother, looking ever so Steven-Segal-like, and my sister in her bright red coat
Even their ferries are adorned with the Muslim crescent moon!
Me on the windy deck. I’m wearing 1 parka, 1 biker jacket, 1 sweater, 1 top, 1 tank, and 2 pairs of leggings, with gloves, a scarf and boots. Still, it was cold.
WHAT A PHOTOBOMB
A giggly group of singing teens on some sort of class trip
Funny/interesting ferry details
About to reach the other side, Canakkale!
Photos: Canon EOS 450D + 10-22mm
British Goals in Gallipoli
In early January 1915, the Russian Army was under intense pressure. The Battle of Sarikamish had reached a crisis state, and Russia begged its allies to launch a diversionary operation against the Turks. With the Western Front already a stalemate, a new front was desperately needed. Kitchener, Secretary of State for War in England, was less than enthusiastic. The British Army was fully committed in France and had suffered its own losses. However, he realized that should such an operation be undertaken, the best site would be in the Dardanelles. An attack on the Ottomans was also hoped to draw both Bulgaria and Greece into the war on the side of the Allies.
At the outset of the war in England, it was widely expected that much of the war would be decided by the Royal Navy. First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill had been eager for battle since the war’s beginning, but more action had gone to the army than the navy. The proposed opening of a third front through the Dardanelles presented an opportunity for Churchill and the Navy to show its worth.
Prior to the war, the British Navy had considered the possibility of an amphibious assault against Germany through the Balkan coast. It was a logical step to apply these plans to a proposed assault on Turkey through the Dardanelles. The project was largely guided by hopes and aspirations, but fell to a lack of practical application and operational difficulties. Churchill himself wrote in 1911 that “it is no longer possible to force the Dardanelles, and nobody should expose a modern fleet to such peril”. In order to successfully pass through the straights the navy would require a sizable landing force of 75,000-100,000 men to deal with Turkish shore defenses covering the narrower parts of the channel, while the landing force would require the force of the navy’s large guns to establish a firm hold in the first place.
The place decided for such a landing, the Gallipoli peninsula was ideal for such a diversionary effort. It was suited to the British military capabilities, and stationed on the peninsula was the Ottoman 1st Army, effectively the entire Turkish military reserve. If Gallipoli were taken, it would prevent the Turks from deploying their reserves elsewhere. Further, Kitchener suggested that the opening of the Dardanelles would open the way to Constantinople. The British foreign secretary supposed that a success in Gallipoli would provoke an uprising in the Turkish capital. Success in the Dardanelles would have further repercussions.
One of Churchill’s primary reasons for an invasion through the Dardanelles was the possibility that success there would bring Greece in on the side of the Allies. This would mean that the Greek army could be used against the Turks, while the British army could be withdrawn and redeployed to France. Further, it would lend credence to British proposals to both Bulgaria and Romania. Perhaps most importantly, if the Allies were to control the straights, Russia would have access to a warm-water port, and crucial supply lines. Both England and France were convinced of the power of the “Russian steam-roller” and it seemed that Russia had more men than arms, and if they could all be equipped properly, the Imperial Russian Army could provide a massive push through the German lines.
Despite the high-aspirations of the planners, and despite the courage of those involved, ultimately, the Gallipoli Campaign would not yield the massive rewards it promised. As with many aspects of the War, the reality did not conform with expectations.