Stanley, Peter: Broadbent’s Defending Gallipoli reviewed

Stanley, Peter

Defending Gallipoli review: how the Turks reacted to the Anzac landings‘, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 April 2015

The review compliments Broadbent for undertaking the massive task of translating and using disorganised Turkish archives to produce not just Defending Gallipoli; the Turkish Story, but also a larger book, Gallipoli: the Turkish Defence.

The project is a triumph. It enables us to answer important questions that have obsessed generations of historians who have been hampered by seeing only one side of the picture. What did Ottoman commanders know of the invaders’ plans? How were they able to react so swiftly to stymy the invaders, in April and in August? How were they able to sustain their costly but ultimately successful defence? Above all: what did they know of allied plans to evacuate the peninsula, in December 1915 and January 1916?

Broadbent has assembled the Ottoman evidence to narrate the campaign as it looked from Ottoman headquarters. He confirms what we have suspected – that Mustafa Kemal was not the only energetic Turkish commander – Australians have fallen for the Atatürk legend as much as they have swallowed the Monash legend. He shows that Mehmet Şefik deserves credit for helping to hold the Anzac landings. Above all, he confirms that it seems that the elaborate ruses that preceded both the evacuations of Anzac-Suvla and Helles succeeded without the Turks realising that the evacuations they expected were happening.

The review notes Australian sympathy, almost sycophancy, towards Turkey in relation to the Gallipoli campaign.

Over the past 30-odd years Australians have come to accept – indeed to embrace – a Turkish view of Gallipoli. Australians’ credulous acceptance of the misleading Atatürk quotation – the one supposedly but not actually addressed to “Anzac mothers” in 1934 – indicates how completely their former enemies have won them over.


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