Summer Politics

The battle was barely a month old at Gallipoli before its effect was being felt among the highest levels of the British government. The legendary Admiral Fisher, First Sea Lord and an old friend and associate of the current First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, had disagreed with Churchill from the start about the Gallipoli campaign. After a costly month of fighting and failure, relations between the two men had deteriorated to such a level that the two barely spoke, with Fisher considering Gallipoli from the start to be an irrelevant and now costly sideshow, and Churchill blaming the Navy for failing to press home the attacks when they still had the advantage of surprise.

In mid May, after bitter and semi public argument, Fisher resigned. This contention between such high ranking navy officials caused a political storm which almost brought down the Liberal government of Prime Minister Asquith. Rowdy scenes in Parliament blaming Asquith for the unfolding debacle were only quietened by the forming of a coalition government with his political opponents. Churchill was demoted and given a sinecure job of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster where he would be out of the way as a requirement for the support of Asquith's Conservative opponents. Under the stresses of war, the government would remain shaky, with scheming and intrigue aplenty in London, as the military campaign continued to play out.

As for the soldiers, there was no hope of it ending just yet. Hunter-Weston at the Helles front and General Hamilton, commanding the entire Gallipoli operation, was still confident of eventual victory, and the battle now had a political dimension to it. Various interests in London were determined to see success. So the troops remained, clinging to their cliffs and their beaches, as the summer wore on. In the terrible midsummer heat, with their backs to the sea and no rear areas in which to recuperate, they endured conditions suffered by no soldier in France. The corpses from the battlefields that were not collected and buried bloated under the sun and stank so bad that the smell could be detected on the British warships miles off shore. Poor sanitation due to the realities of thousands of men crammed into a tiny area of beach and cliff led to so many flies it became difficult to eat. Shelter was limited in the cliffs and gullies, and logistics were strained to the limit and beyond as the men had to be resupplied over the beach, in range of the Turkish guns. Fortunately for the Allies, the Turks had a woeful shortage of artillery. Though plenty of manpower.

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