New doco dissects Gallipoli tragedy


Gallipoli, Lest We Forget … The Facts
By John Rainford & Peter Ewer
Available at

In their short documentary released just ahead of the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC's ill-fated Gallipoli campaign, John Rainford and Peter Ewer have captured the strategic and tactical blunders that led to the deaths of so many in the 1915 Dardanelles Campaign, and the social and economic context in which it was fought.

All this is presented in plain language that carries punch because the facts they present are so damning.

World War I was fought because the world had been cut up into colonies by the major powers. Rising capitalist economies wanting colonies, like Germany, had to fight the existing imperial nations.

Secret arrangements were made in the years before WWI to divide the spoils of the war that was clearly coming.

Britain wanted control of Middle Eastern oil reserves. In 1908, it cut a deal with the Russian government in which Russia could have control of the Turkish capital Constantinople if Britain could control the Ottoman province of Iraq. In 1913, the British confirmed the deal.

Turkey, a German ally, entered WWI on November 5, 1914. The next day, British forces invaded Basra to seize its oil fields.

A notable feature of the British ruling class at this time was its dissipation. The Edwardian toffs who ruled to their own satisfaction were addled by alcohol and morphine consumption, Rainford and Ewer say. The 62-year-old Prime Minister HH Asquith was consumed by his pursuit of a 27-year-old woman, Venetia Stanley.

Of Winston Churchill, who organised the campaign, Rainford and Ewer tell us that his “boyish enthusiasm for the war was matched only by his thirst for alcohol”.

“These were the Edwardian dilettantes who sent so many men to their deaths,” they say.

Churchill’s first disastrous attempt to capture Constantinople used the Royal Navy on March 18, 1915. A flotilla was sent up the Dardanelle Straits. The Turks simply laid naval mines and sank three British battleships.

Such was the background to the military planning that led to the ANZAC tragedy beginning on April 25, 1915.

The Australian and New Zealand governments were only told about the Gallipoli plan six weeks beforehand — and then only “for information”. The Australian government only asked for detailed maps showing where the troops were fighting and dying three months after the landing.

The film relates the bravery of the Turkish soldiers whose self-sacrifice saved their nation. Also told is the story of the catastrophic British campaign south of the ANZAC forces. Unfortunately, only passing reference is made to the Irish forces who landed at Suvla Bay in August, 1915, which was every bit as hideous as ANZAC Cove.

This 13-minute film is a must see. Rainford and Ewer have summarised precisely why the terrible ANZAC Cove campaign should never be forgotten — and the crimes of the warmongers responsible never forgiven.

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