Vice-Admiral John Michael De Robeck

Vice-Admiral De Robeck was the cautious commander of the Navy as it attempted to force the Straits in March 1915. When these failed due largely to undetected mines, he decided to call off the naval assault despite firm opposition from his ADC Commodore Keyes who was convinced that an adjusted assault could still persevere. Instead De Robeck backed the idea of landing troops ashore and seizing the heights. However, the initial assault was not as dynamic as was required and the hoped for quick resolution to their problem was not forthcoming.

The arrival of German submarines in the area further complicated matters for De Robeck and his conservatism after the loss of several ships made supporting the bridgeheads even more complicated. When the Salonika Front was opened, yet more demands were placed on De Robeck's ships.

When Commodore Keyes advocated yet another assault in the Autumn, De Robeck opposed it believing that it would achieve little and cost yet more ships lost. He did, however, allow his ADC to go to London to plead his case, to little avail. De Robeck supported the evacuation which was completed professionally and with considerable organisational skill. At heart though, De Robeck was yet another example of a leader who was not quite dynamic enough for the demands placed upon him by the Gallipoli campaign.

The Gallipoli Campaign

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by Stephen Luscombe