The Gallipoli Plan

The First World War was an unprecedented catastrophe that shaped our modern world. Erik Sass is covering the events of the war exactly 100 years after they happened. This is the 155th installment in the series. NEW: Would you like to be notified via email when each installment of this series is posted? Just email RSVP@mentalfloss.com.

November 25, 1914: The Gallipoli Plan

The tragic Gallipoli campaign, which lasted eight months from April 1915 to January 1916 and saw around half a million casualties from combat and illness on both sides, had its origins in First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill’s ambition to exploit British sea power with an attack on the flanks of the Central Powers spearheaded by the Royal Navy. Churchill and First Sea Lord Admiral Jackie Fisher believed, rather optimistically, that they could sidestep the stalemate on the Western Front and deliver a decisive blow to end the war by playing to Britain’s traditional area of strength; not coincidentally, it would also burnish the reputation of the “senior service,” which had stumbled badly in the opening months of the war with multiple defeats due to bad luck and sheer incompetence.

The Ottoman Empire’s declaration of war on the side of the Central Powers in early November 1914 vastly expanded the scope of the conflict and confronted the Allies with an array of new threats, the most immediate of which was a Turkish attack on British-occupied Egypt. Indeed, as soon as they entered the war the Young Turk triumvirate of Enver Pasha, Djemal Pasha and Talaat Pasha began planning an offensive to seize the strategic Suez Canal, connecting Britain to India and Australia, with help from a German officer, the memorably named Kress von Kressenstein. 

While they hurried troops from India, Australia, and New Zealand to Egypt to defend the canal, the British cabinet also considered ways to carry the fight to the Turks using Britain’s available resources. One obvious possibility was a campaign to wrest control of the Turkish straits and Constantinople, thus decapitating the Ottoman Empire and reopening the maritime supply route to Russia through the Black Sea.

Churchill first presented his proposal to attack the Turkish straits to the British government’s War Council on November 25, 1914, arguing that an offensive would force the Germans to send reinforcements to the Turks, drawing troops away from the Western Front. In its original form the plan was mostly a naval operation, sending a fleet of obsolete battleships and smaller ships to “force” the straits by clearing mine fields overpowering the Turkish fortresses on shore; only later would it snowball into a full-scale amphibious debacle (illustrating the phenomenon now known as “mission creep”).

Of course even in its original limited form the plan carried considerable risks, as the War Council minutes noted: “Mr Churchill suggested that the ideal method of defending Egypt was by an attack on the Gallipoli Peninsula. This, if successful, would give us control of the Dardanelles and we could dictate terms at Constantinople. This, however, was a very difficult operation requiring a large force.” The other members of the War Council were skeptical at first, but Churchill’s persistence and enthusiasm eventually won them over, and planning began for one of the bloodiest battles of the war. 

Kitchener’s Army

The First World War was unprecedented in its scale and violence, which produced huge numbers of casualties and forced both sides to begin drawing on their reserves of manpower much sooner than anyone expected. Although British newspapers were generally circumspect about the losses suffered by the British Expeditionary Force (due to strict limits on coverage and careful filtering of information by the government) by late November the bloodshed at Mons, the Marne, the Aisne, and Ypres had all but wiped out the original all-volunteer army; according to an official tally, by December 1914, out of 140,000 men the BEF had suffered 95,654 casualties, including 16,374 dead, forcing British generals to hurry troops from overseas to fill in the gaps. 

With France outnumbered on the Western Front and Russia struggling on the Eastern Front, Britain not only needed to make good these losses but quickly field a much larger army in order to even have a chance of winning the war. After shocking the public with his prediction that the war would last three years, in early August 1914 Secretary of State for War Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener called for the creation of a vast new army numbering at least a million men. Days later Parliament quickly approved plans to recruit half a million men, with another 300,000 added by the end of September.

As events at Ypres soon showed, even this was insufficient. On November 1 Kitchener promised French chief of the general staff Joseph Joffre that Britain would have a million men in the field within eighteen months, and on November 20 Parliament voted to add another million men to the recruiting goals. Now-iconic recruiting advertisements showed Lord Kitchener pointing at the passerby imploring him to “Join Your Country’s Army!”

The first few months saw hundreds of thousands of young (and many not-so-young) British men heeded the call, with groups of friends flooding recruiting centers to join up together in “pals” regiments. As in so many other war-related areas, the huge response seemed to catch British authorities completely unprepared, as reflected in the rudimentary or simply non-existent food, lodgings, uniforms, and equipment that welcomed new recruits. One 21-year-old British recruit, Robert Cude, noted in his diary: 

… no steps were taken to receive us, and so no food awaited us, and no sleeping accommodations… Very little breakfast awaited us. Was one of the unlucky ones myself. Could not stomach the fight for a bit of greasy bacon. Still, to add insult to injury, am told to wash up the plates of those who had been fortunate… We are to help form another new division, remainder go to Dover… No food, manage to sleep a little with someone sleeping on top of me. Breakfast arrived at last, one sausage per man, no bread, then beginning to resent treatment… camp in uproar, armed pickets on gates, only infuriated men more. Boys demand food, failing this, leave to go home and get some. 

In the same vein James Hall, an American who volunteered to serve in the new British army, recalled:

Although we were recruited immediately after the outbreak of war, less than half of our number had been provided with uniforms. Many still wore their old civilian clothing… We did not need the repeated assurances of cabinet ministers that England was not prepared for war. We were in a position to know that she was not… Our deficiencies in clothing and equipment were met by the Government with what seemed to us amazing slowness.

In any event the response was hardly one of uniform, unalloyed patriotism. Unsurprisingly Britain’s ever-present class tensions manifested here as well, as some working class men believed they detected a certain hypocrisy among their social betters when it came to joining up. In a scene which could be right out of “Downton Abbey,” in one rural village Reverend Andrew Clark noted at the beginning of September: “Village lads are not very pleased at pressure put by the Squire to compel his two footmen to enlist. To use the phrase of one of the lads, the ‘idle sons’ of the house ought to have set the example of going, though married, with children and something over the age.”

Meanwhile the overseas troops, mostly Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders, were training in Salisbury Plain in southwest England, which – aside from the chance to see Stonehenge – they generally viewed as a dismal bog, especially when rain turned it into a vast expanse of mud (which was excellent preparation for Flanders). One Canadian recruit, J.A. Currie, summarized the training regimen in Salisbury Plain: “The battalion soon settled down to a hard syllabus of training and instruction, beginning with squad drill. It was drill, drill, drill, all day long, rain or shine, and it was almost always rain.” And an anonymous Australian recruit noted wryly: “Barring the heavy frosts, the rain, and foot-deep mud, things weren’t so bad in camp.” Marches were another favorite pastime, according to the same Australian: “After lunch we usually went for a route march… On most days we did about ten miles, but twice a week or so we put in a fifteen to twenty mile stunt…”

Although the overseas troops were all volunteers apparently eager to serve “King and Country,” and many even identified themselves as “British,” national identities had already begun forming within the Empire and these, along with inevitable class tensions and rigid army discipline, inevitably gave rise to personal conflicts.

J.A. Currie recalled the case of one Canadian recruit who was found drinking whiskey outside the camp by military police, who testified: “When we told him that it was our duty to take him into custody, he became very abusive, calling us ‘Thick-headed John Bulls,’ ‘Fat-headed Englishmen,’ ‘Mutton heads,’ ‘Blasted Britishers,’ etc. He had also abused the English people in very violent terms.” 

According to another Canadian recruit, Harold Peat, British authorities were confused by the Canadians’ relatively egalitarian social relations: “The military authorities could not understand how it was that a major or a captain and a private could go on leave together, eat together, and in general chum around together.” Of course at the same time the overseas troops had their own views on social graces, and often professed to be shocked by the behavior of the British lower classes. Ever opinionated, the anonymous Australian had mixed views on British Tommys: “Tommy Atkins can fight… but compared with the Australasian bushman… he is in many respects an uncivilised animal.” 

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10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

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The Hilarious Andy Bernard Blooper You Can Actually See in The Office

Ed Helms as Andy Bernard in The Office.
Ed Helms as Andy Bernard in The Office.
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't love the humor of The Office, and even the cast themselves couldn't get enough of the sometimes cringe-worthy comedy. In a past interview, Ed Helms, who played the hilarious Andy Bernard, revealed the one scene he just could not stop laughing in during filming.

As Looper reports, the actor stopped by The Dan Patrick Show in 2018 to talk all things Dunder Mifflin. When asked if he had a hard time keeping the laughter to a minimum, Helms revealed there had been a number of times he couldn't keep a straight face. In fact, he had to hide from the camera in one scene to mask his laughter, which made it into the final cut.

"I was a disaster. Just breaking all the time. Steve Carell, he just slays me," Helms said. "A lot of times, if I was doing a scene with Steve, I would have to look at his chin. Because I couldn't look him in the eyes. I would lose it." When looking back on the holiday episode "Secret Santa," the actor recalled, "I had to duck behind a plant. You can see in the actual episode in the background. And, by the way, that was like take 30 because I had been laughing in every single take."

If you look closely at the moment where Kevin sits on Michael's lap, you can also see Mindy Kaling failing to hide her laughter in the background. This scene really had the Dunder Mifflin crew losing it, just like the fans watching from home.

[h/t Looper]