General Ian Hamilton

General Ian Hamilton was brought in after the War Council determined that the naval action to force open the Dardanelles was unlikely to succeed without land support. He was given the daunting task of preparing the largest ever seaborne invasion in just three weeks. He had the personal confidence of Field Marshall Kitchener with whom he had worked on numerous occasions in the past. He was also a talented writer and had considerable charm, intelligence and charisma.

The task given to him was indeed forbidding but he did attack the problem with resilience and surprising good humour. His core plan was ambitious but not without imaginative flair. He consistently maintained good relations with nearly all people concerned in the operation, from the army to the navy. However, he did lack a ruthless streak when commanders in the field under performed. He could and should have intervened more decisively at replacing sub-par commanders in the field. During the entire operation he only replaced a single commander and only then after serious dilatoriness.

He focussed on getting the men ashore but paid less attention to the supplies and logistics which they needed to succeed in their endeavour. He also underestimated the nature of the terrain he faced and also the ability of the enemy he faced.

He was not given a major command again after the failure of this campaign. He did, however, take his fall of status with grace and buried his work ethic into working with the newly formed British Legion. He wrote an honest and revealing account of the campaign: Gallipoli Diary

Image Courtesy of The Tate

The Gallipoli Campaign

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by Stephen Luscombe