Review of “Victory at Gallipoli 1915”

Victory at Gallipoli 1915: the German-Ottoman alliance in the First World War
By Klaus Wolf, translated by Thomas P. Iredale
Published by Pen & Sword Military in collaboration with the Gallipoli Association, 2020
First published in German under title “Gallipoli 1915: Das Deutsche-Türkische Militärbündnis im Ersten Weltkrieg” in 2008
Hardback ISBN 978 1 52676 816 2
Pages 243 main body text. Total 370 includes appendices (one of which is a list of all German officers), notes, extensive bibliography and index. Illustrated, some colour.
Cover price £30.
Reviewed by Chris Baker. Copy kindly provided by publisher.

Gallipoli. That famous battle between Australians and Turks, right? Well, no, not really. The Australians were with New Zealanders, and there were far more British troops at Gallipoli, and Indians, too. Oh, and it was a campaign undertaken by the Entente forces rather than just the British, so it included a very large French component. Alright, so it was Entente forces against the Turks? No, and after reading “Victory at Gallipoli 1915” it is clear to what extent German command, ideas, methods, technology and troops were embedded into the Ottoman side of this campaign. Other than at the very highest level of command, the German component of the land campaign has received scant attention in published hstories. This book is an excellent corrective to that, and I am sure it will be quoted in many a work in future. Credit to the Gallipoli Association for picking up the baton and working with the author, the translator and Pen & Sword for bringing it to the English-reading public.

I found this a most absorbing read. It is clearly well researched and thoughtful, covering not only the actual period of conflict at the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915, but the gradual and far from straightforward development of German-Ottoman military and naval relationships going right back through the 1800s. Most importantly, perhaps, the Germans – small in number but highly regarded and positioned well within the Ottoman political-military scene – played a key part in the modernisation of the artillery and sea mine barrages covering the Dardanelles passage. Many readers will know well that it was the defeat of Entente attempts to pass through the Dardanelles by sea that led to the landing of forces on Gallipoli and the Asiatic shoire in April 1915, and all else that followed.

“Victory at Gallipoli” covers the operation in defence of the three landing areas on the peninsula (Cape Helles, Anzac and Suvla Bay) in good detail, and carries on through to the withdrawal of Entente forces. It also includes an interesting chapter on the formation of the Turkish air arm and air operations in the campaign, and one on the German military cemetery at Tarabya near Istanbul (which, I confess, I did not know existed).

Certainly recommended for anyone interested in this campaign and a fine illustration of the complexities of a world war.

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