Allied Ships Bombard Turkish Forts

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 169th installment in the series.

February 19, 1915: Allied Ships Bombard Turkish Forts

The tragedy of Gallipoli was the result of a series of errors and misjudgments by British civilian leaders and military commanders, which began to unfold on February 19, 1915, with the first Allied bombardment of Turkish defenses at the Dardanelles.

With the Western Front in stalemate and Russia on the defensive in the east, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill wanted to use British naval power to make a breakthrough on the flanks of the Central Powers. Churchill convinced his fellow cabinet members that the Royal Navy could decisively alter the strategic balance by forcing the Turkish straits and capturing Constantinople, thus knocking the Ottoman Empire out of the war and reopening the maritime supply route to Russia through the Black Sea.

Crucially the original plan called for an amphibious element, with ground forces landing on the Gallipoli peninsula to attack Turkish positions from the rear; however Secretary of War Lord Kitchener refused to divert any troops from the precarious Western Front, so the cabinet eventually approved a purely naval operation, pitting an Allied fleet against interlocking Turkish defenses including forts, mobile artillery, mine fields, and submarine nets. Everyone involved recognized from the beginning that the plan was risky, but they were persuaded by the promise of huge gains—maybe even an end to the war.

In mid-February a formidable Allied naval force gathered in the Aegean Sea, under the overall command of Admiral Sir Sackville Carden. The British fleet consisted of the super-dreadnought HMS Queen Elizabeth; three battle-cruisers; twelve older (“pre-dreadnought”) battleships; four cruisers; 16 destroyers; five submarines; seven minesweeping trawlers; and the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal with six seaplanes aboard. The French contingent consisted of four “pre-dreadnought” battleships, two destroyers, one submarine, and fourteen minesweepers.

Carden had divided the attack into a number of phases, aiming to methodically dismantle the various layers of Turkish defenses one by one. In the first phase, battleships would bombard the Turkish forts protecting the entrance to the straits with their heavy guns at long distance, outside the range of the Turkish coastal artillery. In the second phase, they would press ahead into the mouth of the straits, where the minesweepers would begin clearing the minefields so the battleships could destroy the mobile artillery batteries protecting “the Narrows,” the strategic choke point where the channel was less than two kilometers wide.

Operations for the first phase began on the morning of February 19, 1915, with long-range shelling of the four forts covering the entrance to the straits—two located on Cape Helles at the tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula on the European side, the others at Kumkale on the Asian side, not far from the ruins of Troy (below, a Turkish gun at Kumkale today).

Although they scored a number of hits, British and French commanders were dissatisfied with their gunnery, believing minimal damage had been inflicted; in fact the damage was substantial, but the Allies had no way of observing this. When they finally approached for close-range bombardment, Turkish forts laid down a heavy return fire and kept the Allied ships moving, making it even more difficult to target effectively (luckily for the Turks, the Allied commanders were also unaware that the forts were running low on ammunition).

After a delay caused by storms and rough seas, the Allies would return to the attack a week later, on February 25, 1915, and again in early March (top, HMS Agamemnon fires at the Turkish fort at Sedd el Bahr on March 4, 1915; above, Agamemnon under fire on February 25). These attacks, combined with landings by British marines, finally managed to subdue the outer forts—but now the fleet ran into fierce defensive fire from the well-hidden mobile artillery batteries protecting the inner entrance to the strait. These proved much more difficult to clear, in part because the Turks moved them at night—which meant, in turn, that the relatively defenseless minesweepers couldn’t clear the minefields before the Narrows. The plan was stalling at the second phase.

In mid-March these obstacles would force the Allies to adopt a new, even riskier strategy: the minesweepers would clear the minefields by night, so the battleships could destroy the mobile batteries and rush the Narrows in one fell swoop. However the nighttime minesweeping missions were unsuccessful; even worse, unbeknownst to the Allies the Turks managed to lay a new minefield in Erenköy Bay, along the eastern approach to the Narrows. On March 18, 1915, this would result in disaster for the Allies.

See the previous installment or all entries.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The Psychological Tricks Disney Parks Use to Make Long Wait Times More Bearable

© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
© Jorge Royan, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

No one goes to Disneyland or Disney World to spend the day waiting in line, but when a queue is well-designed, waiting can be part of the experience. Disney knows this better than anyone, and the parks' Imagineers have developed several tricks over the years to make long wait times as painless as possible.

According to Popular Science, hacking the layout of the line itself is a simple way to influence the rider's perspective. When a queue consists of 200 people zig-zagging around ropes in a large, open room, it's easy for waiting guests to feel overwhelmed. This design allows riders to see exactly how many people are in line in front of them—which isn't necessarily a good thing when the line is long.

Imagineers prevent this by keeping riders in the dark when they enter the queue. In Space Mountain, for example, walls are built around the twisting path, so riders have no idea how much farther they have to go until they're deeper into the building. This stops people from giving up when they first get in line.

Another example of deception ride designers use is the "Machiavellian twist." If you've ever been pleasantly surprised by a line that moved faster than you expected, that was intentional. The signs listing wait times at the beginning of ride queues purposefully inflate the numbers. That way, when a wait that was supposed to be 120 minutes goes by in 90, you feel like you have more time than you did before.

The final trick is something Disney parks are famous for: By incorporating the same level of production design found on the ride into the queue, Imagineers make waiting in line an engaging experience that has entertainment value of its own. The Tower of Terror queue in Disney World, which is modeled after a decrepit 1930s hotel lobby down to the cobwebs and the abandoned coffee cups, feels like it could be a movie set. Some ride lines even use special effects. While waiting to ride Star Wars: Ride of the Resistance in Galaxy's Edge, guests get to watch holograms and animatronics that set up the story of the ride. This strategy exploits the so-called dual-task paradigm, which makes the line feel as if it's going by faster by giving riders mental stimulation as they wait.

Tricky ride design is just one of Disney's secrets. Here are more behind-the-scenes facts about the beloved theme parks.

[h/t Popular Science]