GALLIPOLI by Eric Bush


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Bush was a fifteen-year-old midshipman during World War I--his first assignment was command of a ship hauling British soldiers to their graves on the barren Turkish coast. He refuses to concede the idiocy of the carnage produced by His Majesty's hope that Turkey could be conquered by naval bombardment and land invasion, counting, like the Bay of Pigs planners, on an internal uprising that never took place. Nevertheless the book testifies to the folly of the Gallipoli venture which ended with the bald fact of a quarter of a million casualties on each side. Bush agrees with the assessment of Winston Churchill, one of the perpetrators of the fiasco, that the plan itself made sense; hasty, inadequate preparations were at fault. The latter claim is indeed borne out--the Royal Navy relied on antique Admiralty maps and inadequate medical supplies; men with heavy packs drowned ""like a stone."" Bush, who exemplifies the colonial officer's view of war as the sacrifice of a few thousand feckless natives, admits that the Turks fought better than expected, especially the units under Ataturk's command. The strategic crux of the matter is blurred over with histories of regiments like the First Royal Dublin Fusiliers, whose wives and dogs alike are traced to their final resting places. Striking firsthand material, apologetic history.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1975
Publisher: St. Martin's