Winston Churchill’s World War Disaster

ImageOr was it. Winston Churchill came up with a number of ideas to win or shorten The Great War. He had seen war first hand and understood war was not about parading the troops or ships with their brass work showing. Two areas of contention come up often with Churchill early in the war. One deals with the Naval Division and the other the Ottomans.

The Naval Division was formed to utilize the reservists not assigned to ships. The two brigades  were attached to the Marine Brigade forming the Royal Naval Division. It is often said that these troops (sailors) were under trained. And they were, but no troops were trained for what became expected of them in 1914. Also the BEF at the time was made up of only four infantry divisions and a single cavalry division. By adding the Royal Naval Division the army increased their infantry by 25%. Their initial use at Antwerp helped stabilize the Belgium lines for a short period of time. Unfortunately it was little to late as the Germans were bringing up their artillery and took the city.

At Gallipoli the troops served with distinction in an unfortunate situation. This unfortunate situation was trenches in the thin soil of Gallipoli. There was little reason for the troops to be in such a situation. The initial naval assaults to force their way through came close to success. It was the lack of planning (civilians of fishing boats to clear mines) and leadership that caused the failure. The third planed attempt was called off by the Cabinet, Admiral de Robeck, First Sea Lord Fisher and the Admiralty with Commodore Roger Keyes on the losing side. We do not know if Keyes was right, but it appears that an attempted should have been made with sailors on the minesweepers.

384px-Royal_Naval_Division_recruiting_posterOnce the decision to land troops was made troops had to be gathered and brought together. Time was lost and the Ottomans were allowed to improve their defenses. But once again leadership failed. On two occasions during the landings troops were pulled back to the establishing beachheads instead of moving to the high ground and the road network. Never were the Allies to see these positions under their control.

Last item that is often brought up is that Churchill helped push the Ottoman Empire into the hands of the Germans. Some say it was the Admiralty’s problem in catching the battlecruiser SMS Goeben. Others bring up the confiscation of the two battleships being built by the British for the Ottoman. They were used under the names HMS Agincourt and HMS Erin. None of these pushed the Ottomans into the Central Powers. The decision was made in secret before the confiscation but it was good press for the Ottomans. Also the Goeben had little hope of returning to the North Sea so the choices were allied Austria’s port of Pola or Constantinople. From a strategic position Constantinople has more options and you would only send her there is you knew how it was going to be received. This was a decision made knowing how the Ottomans were leaning.

So was has history been hard to Churchill, yes it has. He was not perfect but did well considering the leadership and resources at hand. It was good he was their in 1914 and than again in 1940.

Just my 2¢.
This rant is started with reading a post from the History Channel. Your opinions may vary.

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