After months of stalemate on the Western Front, the British and French decided they would open a second front by attacking Germany’s ally – the Ottoman Empire.
In March 1915 they sent a fleet of battleships through the Dardanelles in an effort to reach the Turkish capitol, Constantinople, and force the Ottoman government to surrender. However, the Dardanelles were well defended by forts and sea mines and the Allied fleet suffered heavy losses. The naval campaign was abandoned until the forts could be captured by amphibious assault.
Assault on Gallipoli is a two-player strategic wargame that covers the key battles of the Gallipoli Campaign. One player controls the Australian, New Zealand and British forces while the other controls the Ottoman Turkish forces. The game focuses on the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) sector of the campaign; thus, it does not cover the British and French landings at Cape Helles or Suvla Bay. The board presents one of the narrowest sections of the Gallipoli Peninsula, from ANZAC Cove to Mal Tepe and Khetia Bay – as indicated by the red box in the map below. The ANZAC goal was to capture this area and cut off the Turkish forces fighting the British and French at Cape Helles further south.
The heights of Chunuk Bair and Mal Tepe were considered especially important because they provided observation of both sides of the Peninsula. From here the ANZACs could capture the forts which dominated the Narrows and thus allow the battleships of the Royal Navy to sail up to Constantinople. At least that is what was supposed to happen.
In fact, the British commanders had seriously under-estimated the Turkish resistance. The Turkish soldiers were veterans of the Balkan Wars, armed with modern, German-made rifles and artillery. Inspired by the leadership of Colonel Kemal and Lieutenant Colonel Sefik, they stopped the ANZACs in their tracks. The ANZACs only managed to establish a small beachhead, which was repeatedly counterattacked by the Turks.
In August 1915, the British and ANZACs made another attempt to seize the ridges of Sari Bair. The New Zealanders and Gurkhas managed to capture the heights for two days but were eventually overwhelmed by Turkish counterattacks. In December, after eight months of fighting, the ANZAC forces were evacuated.
In the words of Australian war correspondent, Charles Bean: “ANZAC stands for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never admit defeat.”
Lest we forget.