As one of the most fervent supporters of British imperialism, Winston Churchill believed that Russians would advance to Istanbul and claim the Straits as soon as they got the opportunity. Therefore, he wanted to act first, believing that he would go down in history if he took Istanbul.
However, Churchill overlooked the spiritual strength of the Turks and thought that as soon as the formidable British ships with modern weapons were seen in the Bosphorus Strait of Istanbul, the Turks would surrender. This was a big mistake and Churchill had to pay for it with a shocking defeat, first at sea, then on land.
Jon Henley from the Guardian pointed out the irrationality of Churchill’s acts in his piece ‘Remembering Gallipoli: Honoring the Bravery Amid the Bloody Slaughter’ and called Churchill the ‘ambitious‘ conceiver of the ‘badly planned and appallingly executed’ Gallipoli Campaign. Even if he was right about Churchill’s futile ambitions, Henley must have known that the Gallipoli Campaign resulted in a defeat for the British, not because it was appallingly executed, but because of the faith and determination of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the passion of the Turkish people, resulting from their unshakable faith in God.
Following the fiasco, Churchill resigned as the person primarily responsible for the loss of the British army in Gallipoli (December 1915). When Lloyd George took over as the Prime Minister in 1917, Churchill was appointed as the Minister of Munitions and continued his political career despite minor interruptions. It is interesting that, even after the Gallipoli defeat, Churchill could make a come-back on the political scene. This was possible because he was a loyal –as the British put it– ‘British bulldog‘. As a matter of fact, during WWII, instigated by the British deep state, Churchill was again on the scene.
After the British navy and army sustained a heavy defeat in Gallipoli, many criminal investigations were started against Churchill. While before the defeat, he was confident in his skills and made arrogant remarks saying that he would soon be sitting in the center of Muslims, Istanbul, in his navy uniform, he completely changed his tone following the defeat, especially in the face of accusations directed at him. One day, backed into a corner by the criticism, he said:
“Don’t you understand? We didn’t fight the Turks at Gallipoli. We fought God and of course we lost.” (Certainly Almighty God is above such remarks). (The Victory of Faith at Dardanalles), Nesil Yayınları, 2015)
British General Sir Ian Hamilton, who led the Allied forces during the Gallipoli Campaign, would make a similar remark:
We lost not to the physical strength but to the spiritual strength of the Turks because they didn’t even have any gunpowder left. But we fought powers descending from heavens. It was as if, even before we came here our destiny was set and it was being implemented.([Legendary Gallipoli], Istanbul: Cihan Publication, 2012)