Sunday, May 15, 2016

AltHistory Scenario #20: What if the Battle of Gallipoli Succeeds?

Welcome to (Alt)History Inc blog post #50! In the past ten months, and with over 8,500 pageviews from all over the world to show for it, I've done my best to provide some new alternate history scenarios to the internet to enjoy, and though I have been slacking a bit as I work on other stuff, I still plan to continue to write for (Alt)History Inc and continue providing entertainment and information!

And now on to today's Alternate History scenario:

In 1915, the Allies were in a tenuous position. German troops had occupied almost all of Belgium, advanced deep into France before finally being halted at the Battle of the Marne in September 1914, and inflicted disproportionate defeats on the Russian war machine, and advanced deep into Poland. British and French battles to try to reclaim the initiative in the west bogged down into trench warfare, while the corrupt and inefficient Russian Empire was only taking half-hearted steps fix their position. However, Russia's big problem was the difficulty in supply from their Allies. The only year-round port they owned was in the Black Sea, which was now closed off thanks to the Ottoman Empire's entry into the war on the side of Germany.

And it was all because of these two ships, the Goeben and Breslau. They're story is another AltHistory scenario in the making.... 
British First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill proposed a daring plan: land an amphibious force at the Dardanelles, march to Constantinople, and not only open a trade route to their beleaguered ally, but also to force the Ottoman's out of the war, possibly leading to a collapse of the German and Austrian position in Europe.

Plans were drawn up, but the original plan to just use the Royal Navy and French fleet, mostly battleships and minesweepers to allow the fleets to simply sail to Constantinople were delayed and a major landing force was added as well. This was to counter one of the biggest foreseen problems: mobile Ottoman artillery batteries couldn't be destroyed by bombardment, but could attack the minesweepers. So if an infantry force could, at the very least, pin down or destroy the artillery, then the battleships could destroy the fortresses to allow the army to pass.

With the plans drawn up by April, and troops in place in the 81,000 strong Mediterranean Expeditionary Force under General Sir Ian Hamilton (namely Australian and New Zealand troops of the ANZAC Corps, but also British and French units that could be spared from the Western front), the invasion of Gallipoli began on April 3. While the troopships and landing craft had difficulties in landing the initial troops, often times miles from where they were supposed to land, the battleships were able to suppress the weakened and surprised Ottoman troops, and by April 8, the Allies were marching over the Gallipoli Peninsula on to their target of Constantinople, and the fleet, unhampered by artillery, was able to destroy the forts and remove mines from the area to allow the ships to pass to the Sea of Marmara. Efforts by the Ottomans to either stop the invading force or the warships was haphazard and ill-coordinated and planned. Allied forces were mostly slowed by the lack of easy transportation and lack of supplies, but by the beginning of May, the first scouts reported that they saw the Queen of Cities in the horizon.

No, it's actually Byzantium!
The Ottoman's were in total and complete disarray. As the news of the British, French, Australian and New Zealand forces approaching Constantinople reached the city, panic set in. Disillusioned by the war and the defeat by the superior western powers caused riots and protests in the city, along with Arabian revolts in Palestine and Mesopotamia, despite the official censorship of the news. In the face of the revolts and mutinies by troops, Sultan Mehmed V, his court and advisers such as Enver Pasha, along with thousands of inhabitants fled the city to Anatolia, leaving the Ottoman's leaderless. As the Allies arrived outside of the city, some 50,000 strong, with a fleet of 20 battleships, the military governor surrendered the city.

The fall of the "Old Man of Europe" reverberated throughout Europe. With the Suez Canal secure, Indian, Australian and New Zealand troops and supplies could now reach France and England with no issues. Supplies quickly began to flow to Russia, allowing the Industrial powers of England and France to supply Russian armies. While leadership and tactics were still woefully inadequate, new artillery, rifles, ammunition and food, and investment in railroads and roads to transport the new supplies, bolstered the Russian Empire, giving Czar Nicholas II a new lease on life. At the same time, with only a small force in Turkey and surprise at the quick collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Allies were unable to influence the creation of new states in the Middle East as they had been planning. Turkey, under Mehmed V's brother Mehmed VI, established the Kingdom of Turkey at Ankara, renouncing the Ottoman Empire and laying claim only to Anatolia and offering to negotiate peace with the Allies on behalf of the Ottoman Emprie, which France and Britain accepted. The rest of the Arabian territories declared all forms of kingdoms and republics and monarchies, leading to a long, multi-factional civil war that would last until 1924. The allies at the moment had little choice but to ignore the fighting and wasn't able to influence the outcome as much as they wanted.

So... basically like IRL, right?
Germany, now with only Austria-Hungary as an ally, quickly felt the pressure of a reinvigorated Russia. While German troops under Hindenburg and Ludendorff were able to keep pushing east, the cost continued to go up, and it wasn't clear if they really knew where to go that would knock out the exceedingly vast and hostile Russia. But pressure on the west forced the Germans to shift more troops west to try to resist that attack, but also gave General Erich von Falkenhayn the push to attack the French fortress of Verdun to try to distract French attention, which began in October 1915. However, the hasty attack, the lack of artillery and reserve troops, and faltering morale of the German troops resulted in a failure, and his sacking in February and replacement by Ludendorff.

But it wasn't enough. Austria-Hungary cracked under the pressure of the Russian armies, and Germany was forced to rescue their ally, stretching their already thinly spread troops further. Attempts to bring Bulgaria and Romania into the war on the Central Powers side fizzled out with the defeat of Turkey, with Romania entering on the Allies side soon after Italy had done the same. The failure of Verdun, and a massively successful British and French offensive at the Somme and General Bussilov in Russia crushing the Austro-Hungarian armies lead to Kaiser Wilhelm II suing the Allies for peace. Wilhelm II then abdicated the throne to his son, who became Wilhelm III.

The Treaty of Windsor signed in 1917 that followed was a lot more lenient than expected. Germany gave up Alsace-Lorraine and their navy and had to pay reparations, but no attempt was made to limit the German army. Austria-Hungary collapsed before a peace treaty could be negotiated, but the attempts by German Austrians to unite with the German Empire were kiboshed by the Allies. But new nations like Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and a multitude of other small nations sprung up from the corpse of the Hapsburg Empire.

Poor, poor Austria-Hungary. Hundred's of years of marriage and (mostly failed) wars, and all you got out of it was a footnote in an alternate history article. This time.

With peace restored, efforts to prevent another major war began in earnest. Germany was the first, announcing they were cutting down the size of their standing army, which Britain and France quickly followed suit. Russia, however, was hesitant to cut down the army, as they feared massive unemployment and unrest. Instead, Czar Nicholas II began to say that the brave Russian armies were denied their right to destroy Germany and Austria by Britain, and began to rearm and modernize with the help of the French even more than before the war. Britain, stunned at the ingratitude of the massive efforts, including taking Constantinople, that the Allies had to undertake to save Russia. A long "Cold War" began in Europe, with Britain now allying with Germany to confront their new enemies in Russia and France. Elected Prime Minister in 1925 on his war record, including the successful Gallipoli Campaign, Winston Churchill began to push for a strong force to stand up to a re-surging Russia, but his bellicose stance lead to Churchill being forced out of office by 1931 as the Great Depression struck the world.

The Middle East, on the other hand, continued to be racked by wars as the various small states, such as the Sultanate of Mesopotamia, the Kingdom of Palestine, and the Republic of Syria, fought over vast stretches of desert, especially once oil was found. The Kingdom of Turkey, after receiving Constantinople in the aftermath of the war to keep it out of Russian or British hands, began to play a middle power between the rival Great Powers, receiving massive aid in rebuilding their nation and turning it into a secular, wealthy and prosperous constitutional monarchy on the lines of Great Britain.

But what do you think? What would have happened had the Allies captured the Dardanelles and Gallipoli? Or if you have a topic or idea you would like me to talk about, please leave comments below, email me at, or tell me on Twitter @tbguy1992.

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