Commodore Roger Keyes

Commodore Roger Keyes was a remarkable ADC to Vice-Admiral De Robeck. He was a highly dynamic leader who Keyes was closely associated with the maritime aspects of the Dardanelles campaign from its early stages to the final evacuation. When the first naval attempt failed, Keyes was adamant that they could continue, they just had to better prepare for the unexpected mines that had been the cause of the initial setback. Unfortunately for him his superior hesitated and decided to support the assault to gain the heights around the Dardanelles themselves.

He also did much to support the naval aspect of the landings and was a critic of the lackadaisical approach of many of those involved. In the autumn, Keyes became a protagonist for another naval assault. He believed that they had built up enough expertise and knowledge to make a success of another determined attempt. Once again De Robeck over-ruled him but did at least give him permission to return to London to put his case forward to the War Cabinet there. Churchill and Balfour were attracted to the idea but the establishment were reluctant to commit yet further resources and sought the best way to evacuate instead. On return to the theatre, Keyes tried once more but General Monro and a reluctant Kitchener vetoed the proposal. To the end of his days, Keyes was convinced that another attempt would have been successful and would have knocked Turkey out of the war three years before she was finally defeated.

The Gallipoli Campaign

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by Stephen Luscombe