The Turkish-held Dardanelles channel provided a link between the Aegean and Black Seas. It was a vital strategic objective for the Allies as its closure prevented supplies from being moved through the Mediterranean to and from Russia. A campaign was promoted by First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill to secure the channel and also provide a way of reaching Constantinople and so removing Turkey from the war. It was also seen as a way of easing the pressure on Russia, which was under attack from Turkey in the Caucasus, and of giving the Allies’ war new momentum away from the stalemate of the Western Front.
When British, French, Australian and New Zealand troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsula on the north of the channel they faced a tenacious and motivated enemy who had had months to prepare and dig in following abortive Allied navy raids at the start of the year. The collier SS River Clyde had been converted to carry 2,000 British troops. It was to beach at Cape Helles and allow the troops to disembark through holes cut in the hull. Unfortunately it didn’t make its landing point, stopping too far out. Soldiers were cut down as they left the ship in open view of the defenders. The dead and wounded turned the water red: half the men were killed within minutes.
I do not order you to fight, I order you to die, was what Lieutenant Colonel Mustafa Kemal told the men of the 57th Infantry Regiment.Every member of the unit was killed or wounded, and in tribute the modern Turkish Army has no such numbered regiment.
78% of the men in one ANZAC battalion suffered from dysentery. Illness caused more men to become unfit for duty than combat injuries.