“Explain the reasons why the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) failed to achieve victory at Gallipoli”
The Australian Imperial Force was the main expeditionary force of the Australian army in World War I. The campaign at Gallipoli in 1915 is regarded as one of the most spectacular failures of World War One. Numerous reasons evidently state why the AIF failed to achieve victory in Gallipoli. The AIF had a poor understanding of the nature of the terrain they were expected to fight on and this was influential in the in the defeat of the allied troops. The poor command and leadership of the army was evident with the lack of maps and the unsuccessful landing while it is also patent through the concerted but unsuccessful allied attempts to break through in the Australian attacks at the Nek. Poor planning and insufficient medical resources brought about a lack of provisions and engendered illness and disease. All these factors combined to play a role in the failure of the AIF to achieve victory at Gallipoli.
The allies had a poor understanding of the nature of the terrain they were expected to fight on and this was significant in their defeat. Both sides were aware that due to the terrain there were only a limited number of locations where the landing could be executed which were Cape Helles, Gaba Tepe and Kum Kale. Land system analysis demonstrates that these were disadvantaged by terrain, with steep, deeply-incised slopes and narrow beaches. Landings was further disadvantaged by inadequate mapping of the peninsula. Furthermore, constant readjustments and gradual northwards drifts meant that the troops landed too far to the north in a steep cove later renamed Anzac Cove, becoming easy targets for the Turks in their position from high up in the cliffs. The terrain is noted by Bean, “steep gravelly waterways … it was as much as a strong man could do.” However, Doyle disagrees stating, “The benefit of the terrain was not effective as there was no reconnaissance raids or other detailed observations.” Furthermore, the difficult landing at Anzac Cove is supported by Crampin, “…. a gradual northwards drift, meant that the troops landed too far to the north. While the view that the failure of victory at Gallipoli was caused by the mountainous terrain can be accepted it is also fair to agree that there were no raids as stated by Doyle. However, such unfair advantages to the Turks clearly puts the AIF in peril, clearly mentioned by Charles Bean. Thus, while Doyle’s view cannot be accepted by all historians, White states that although there was no surprise attack this did not amend the AIF vulnerability. Hence it is clear that the AIF were highly affected by a rigorous environment however, one must also acknowledge the poor command and leadership throughout the campaign clearly affected the AIF’s chance of victory.
Inadequate command and leadership was a significant factor in the failure of the AIF. The prime issue was the underestimation of the scale of what was...