The Gallipoli campaign is important to the town of Luton, due to the sheer number of Lutonians who were fighting there as part of the 1/5th Bedfordshire Regiment. Casulties were very heavy, and it is regarded as the single largest loss of life sustained by the town in a short period of time.
The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, the Battle of Gallipoli or the Battle of Çanakkale; was a World War I campaign that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916.
|Commanders and leaders
Maltese Labour Corps
|5 divisions (initial)
15 divisions (final)
|6 divisions (initial)
16 divisions (final)
|Casualties and losses
|218,000 – 251,000
The peninsula forms the northern bank of the Dardanelles, a strait that provides a sea route to what was then the Russian Empire, one of the Allied powers during the war. Intending to secure it, Russia's allies Britain and France launched a naval attack followed by an amphibious landing on the peninsula with the eventual aim of capturing the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). The naval attack was repelled and, after eight months' fighting, with many casualties on both sides, the land campaign also failed and the invasion force was withdrawn to Egypt.
The campaign was one of the greatest Ottoman victories during the war and is considered a major Allied failure. In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the nation's history: a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. The struggle formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence and the founding of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who first rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli. The campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand and the date of the landing, 25 April, is known as "Anzac Day". It remains the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in those two countries, surpassing Remembrance Day (Armistice Day).
The following extract taken from 'The Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment' by G.W.H. Peters pp. 66-67 - ISBN 0 85052 034 7.
In their very first action on August 15 the 5th Bedfords went off with bayonets fixed and extraordinary dash, rather like Prince Rupert's Cavalry in Cromwell's Civil War. On the first objective it required really superhuman efforts on the part of two experienced officers to restore direction and cohesion. Fortunately this was achieved without sapping enthusiasm for the final charge on a feature known as Kidney Hill.
'It was a great and glorious charge, but the position was won at terrible cost. The whole advance had been made with bayonets fixed and when the final stage was reached and the order to charge rang out the men dashed to the attack. There was no stopping these unblooded British troops; London, Essex and Bedford Territorials charged together, but the men of the 5th Bedfords outstripped the Regiments on their right and left and dashed into the lead, causing the line to form a crescent and sweeping everything before them. Turks went down before cold steel in hundreds, and those who were not killed turned and fled.'
If Kidney Hill did have any tactical importance commanders and staffs seem to have lacked the skill to exploit its capture. The Battalion account reads rather sadly that they held on to it for forty-eight hours, with A skill and tenacity which would have done credit to Regular troops, and were then withdrawn so that the line could be straightened out. And straight it seems to have remained until the evacuation of the Peninsula four months later. When it became apparent that there was to be no quick success at Gallipoli optimistic 'Western Front' voices were raised again. Chief of these was General Joffre. All through the summer of 1915 he had been quietly planning an autumn offensive. The British Government and the British commanders were unenthusiastic as the scale contemplated was such that some of Kitchener's new divisions would become involved before they were deemed ready.
On the other hand we could not argue that these divisions were wanted to exploit a success against Turkey which hadn't materialized.