National Geographic : 1965 Aug
of the time could cope with its manifold prob lems. Close coordination among sea, land, and air forces simply did not exist. And yet, in one of history's most haunting might-have-beens, Gallipoli almost succeeded (pages 172-3). Before the harsh, confused ten-month cam paign ended, the British and French had lost six battleships and suffered 250,000 casualties. But indecision and delay dogged every move. The navy never made a truly determined attempt to fight its way to Constantinople; the army committed its brigades in niggardly and haphazard fashion. Even so, the Turkish General Staff admitted after the war that on several occasions the invaders had come with in a single well-pressed attack of victory. The Gallipoli campaign ended with ig nominious evacuation. A general came from London to assess the situation. He counseled immediate withdrawal. As Churchill wrote acidly, "He came, he saw, he capitulated." The failure at Gallipoli spelled failure for Winston Churchill. He alone had supported the campaign with unswerving faith. The full blame, therefore, descended upon him. The government fell, and he was relegated to a minor cabinet post. 180 "I am finished," he told a friend. As he left the Admiralty in disgrace, his sole comfort lay in the words of Lord Kitchener, "There is one thing at any rate they cannot take from you. The Fleet was ready." The debacle at Gallipoli shadowed Church ill's life for more than a decade. During the 1920's, the cry "What about the Dardanelles?" greeted him wherever he spoke. Ironically, no strategist now questions the wisdom of the ill starred operation. Churchill's plan had failed not in the conception, but in the execution. Resigning his government post, the former First Lord went to France. There, with dis tinction, he commanded a battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. Once a general repri manded him for having his headquarters in an area exposed to enemy fire. "It's positively dangerous," sputtered the officer. "Sir," replied Lieutenant-Colonel Church ill, "it is a very dangerous war." Twenty-four years after being driven from the Admiralty, Churchill returned as another holocaust swept across Europe. The navy, which he had served so well, had not for gotten him. A delighted signal flashed from the Admiralty to all ships: "Winston is back."