A belated Anzac Day post.
Here's C. E. W. Bean, the official historian of Australia's involvement in the First World War, on why the infamous Suvla landings on 6 August 1915 didn't cut the Gallipoli peninsula and open the road to Constantinople:
The reasons for the failure, which affected the fate of the Australian and New Zealand forces more profoundly than any other episode in the campaign, may be laid bare by future historians, probing unflinchingly for the causes. Many of the Anzac troops, on whom it left an enduring impression, attributed it partly to the senility of the leadership, partly to the inexperience of the troops, but largely to causes which lie deeper in the mentality of the British people. The same respect for the established order which caused Kitchener to entrust the enterprise to unsuitable commanders simply because they were senior, appeared to render each soldier inactive unless his officer directed, and each officer dumb unless his senior spoke. The men had doubtless the high qualities of their race, among them orderliness, decency, and modesty; they could follow a good leader anywhere as bravely as any troops in the Peninsula. But an enterprise such as that of Suvla demanded more than the ability to follow; it required that each man, or at least a high proportion of the force, should be able to lead; and the necessary quality of decision, which even a few years' emancipation from the social restrictions of the Old World appeared to have bred in the emigrant, was -- to colonial eyes -- lacking in the Suvla troops. Moreover a large proportion of the new force had come straight from the highly organised life in or around overcrowded cities, and as a result they lacked the resourcefulness required for any activity in open country. They lacked also the hardness to set a high standard of achievement for themselves, while that demanded of them by the regimental and brigade staffs was -- to put it mildly -- inadequate for one of the decisive battles of the war. Further, though many reports had been heard concerning the excellent physique of the New Army, the standard in that respect was very uneven. There were in reality two well-defined types, the officers as a class being tall and well developed, but a majority of the men cramped in stature, presumably as the result of life in overcrowded industrial centres under conditions not yet operative to any marked extent in the great cities in Australia.
Hmm, so it's the fault of the British soldier for being 'cramped in nature' and lacking in 'resourcefulness' and 'hardness', unlike the strapping young colonials, of course. At least Bean allows himself an out, in the form of 'future historians'. One of these historians, Robin Prior, argues that -- contrary to received wisdom -- the primary aim at Suvla was actually just to set up a supply base for the northern Allied forces, which it did successfully. Any advances across the peninsula were secondary to this, and in any case were never likely to amount to much given the geography, the forces available and the operational plan. Which last, as it happens, was partly authored by Captain Cecil Aspinall, who later wrote (as Aspinall-Oglander) the British official history of the Gallipoli campaign, where he was quite happy to blame the commander on the ground, the elderly but inexperienced Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stopford, for the 'failure' of his plan.
Something for me to bear in mind when I talk to my students in a few weeks about the (brilliant but misleading) 1981 film Gallipoli. Especially the scene where the radio operator at the Nek, where waves of Australian soldiers have been uselessly slaughtered in assaults against Turkish trenches in support of the landings, reports that the British at Suvla have met no resistance but, instead of advancing inland, are 'sitting on the beach drinking cups of tea'. Peter Weir probably can't be blamed for portraying the British military, officers and other ranks both, as incompetent when even the official historians are happy to do the same.
See C. E. W. Bean, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918, volume 2: The Story of ANZAC from 4 May, 1915, to the evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula, 11th edition (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1941), 715-6; Robin Prior, Gallipoli: The End of the Myth (Sydney: UNSW Press, 2009), 207-9.