Gallipoli Was Not Churchill's Great Folly

Most remember Winston Churchill as foreseeing the Nazi threat, winning World War II and pronouncing the arrival of the Iron Curtain. Lesser known is his role in World War I where the Gallipoli campaign is regarded as the stain on an otherwise colossal record. The approaching centenary of World War I is a good time to set the record straight: Churchill was right to propose Gallipoli and right to oppose the withdrawal.

The great and worthy goal of the campaign has been obscured by its retelling in a myth of courage and futility that is only half true. Gallipoli was all about Russia.

On August 4, 1914, Britain joined France and Russia in a war against the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires. One significant European power was yet to declare its allegiances. From modern-day Turkey, the Ottoman Empire had ruled the Middle East - and at times, large parts of Europe - for 600 years. Some of the sultan's advisers argued for the Allies and others for the Germans, while the sultan himself preferred neutrality.

 

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