Subtitle: (Battleground Europe; Gallipoli)
Series Editor: Nigel Cave
Author: Stephen Chambers
Publisher and Date of Publication: Pen & Sword Military 2014
Length etc: 244 pp. with numerous black and white illustrations and maps. Notes, Order of Battle, Index, Bibliography and Recommended Further Reading.
This book is an outstanding contribution to the history of the Gallipoli campaign, covering the August 1915 offensive by British and Commonwealth forces which were met by stiff resistance by the Turkish forces. Covering locations including the attritional battles at Lone Pine, the Nek, Chunuk Bair, Hill 60 and others, the book follows the familiar Battleground Europe format. The first section deals with the historical events that took place during the offensives, and the second section provides descriptions of recommended tours for the battlefield visitor or, in this case, visitors: as the author strongly recommends that the tours should not be undertaken by lone visitors who might find themselves disorientated by the challenging topography of the region, in much the same way that many units found themselves in the wrong locations during the events that unfolded in August 1915.
In the first section, the author's excellent use of survivors' accounts of the actions that they were involved in, presented a compelling picture of courage and 'mateship' amongst the poor bloody infantry, alongside the tragedy of inadequate planning and leadership amongst some of the most senior ranks.
The section dealing with the tours provides a comprehensive guide, encouraging visitors to see for themselves the nature of the landscape in which men were asked to achieve the impossible and, at the numerous cemeteries in the peninsula, to reflect on the lives of those who had fallen; the majority having no known grave.
As I am no expert on the Gallipoli campaign, I took the opportunity to check other reviews of the book on the Amazon.co.uk website, finding (at the time of writing this review) that the eight reviews posted all gave the highest five star ranking. I would wholeheartedly concur with this. It may well be my unfamiliarity with the detail of the campaign, and its geography, that made me feel that a marginal improvement could be made in any future edition of the book by linking the text in the first section of the book more closely to specific maps. It was not always clear to me which of the many maps included would be best to refer to when trying to match the textual description of specific military actions with the complex geography of the area. However, this comment should not be allowed to undermine the importance and excellence of Stephen Chambers' book, which complements his already impressive range of guides on Gallipoli.
Reviewed by Chris Payne