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The National Army Museum Book of the Turkish Front


Robert Dunlop
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ISBN 0 330 49108 3

Having seen this book just published in paperbook, I picked up a copy and have just finished reading it. Lord Carver had just completed the manuscript before he died in 2001.

The book covers the British and Dominions battles with the Ottoman Army and German forces in Gallipoli, Egypt, Palestine and Mesopotamia. All of the major battles are covered in this overview. There are four maps: the Ottoman Empire, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia and Palestine. Unfortunately, there is not enough detail in the maps to follow the specifics of a battle. It would have been a great help to have battle maps as well. In their absence, the text can be difficult to follow - not because it is badly written but because the detail is lost without the visual aids (at least in my case). I have read several books on these campaigns so I came to this book with a reasonable knowledge of the various battles. It would be more difficult without this prior experience.

The other minor criticism is that the book focuses on two major areas: Gallipoli, particularly Suvla Bay; and Kut, immediately before, during and after the siege thereof. The extraordinary events of the Battle of Megiddo do not have the same depth of coverage for example. I experienced none of the gripping tension that the Marquess of Anglesey conveyed in his description of this battle. Indeed, in the epilogue, Lord Carver points out that Megiddo led to the retention of mounted cavalry for too long after World War One (was he an Army man perchance?).

I did enjoy the lengthy and detailed anecdotes that Lord Carver included liberally throughout the text. The epilogue was fascinating too. Field Marshal Lord Carver had been Chief of the General Staff and Chief of the Defence Staff. In some respects, he was therefore uniquely placed to comment on whether the Middle Eastern campaigns were of any value. To read his complete analysis, you will have to get the book but I leave you with the tantalising ending:

The lives lost by British, Australian, New Zealand and Indian soldiers in the war against Turkey between 1914 and 1918 changed the area decisively, but whether for better or worse it is hard to say.

Robert

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Robert,

Thankyou for going to the effort of posting up your evaluation of this book .

I am very interested in the campaigns in Palestine & Gallipoli, and was not aware of the existence of this book.

I was wondering if you had also read 'Ordered to Die- A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War' by Erickson. I am currently reading this expensive book on loan from a friend. It is very interesting book, but do I not have anything to compare it with.

If you have read both books, I would be interested to know which one gave you the greater insight into the Turkish/Ottoman Army in the First World War?

Thanks

Geoff S

(P.S.I have had the good fortune in the last 12 months of making some rare books finds this year, and trying to limit my book buying obsession)

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I was wondering if you had also read 'Ordered to Die- A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War' by Erickson.

If you have read both books, I would be interested to know which one gave you the greater insight into the Turkish/Ottoman Army in the First World War?

Geoff

Geoff

I have read Erickson's book. It gives a much better overview and definitely gives deeper insight into the Ottoman Army. One of the best books in this regard, though 'Caucasian Battlefields' probably gives the most detail of all with respect to the Ottoman Army in the Caucasus.

Another fascinating, and rare, view of the Ottoman Army in Gallipoli is Lt Mehmed Fasih's diary, now translated into English (ISBN 975 94818 3 9). And it is affordable :rolleyes:

Robert

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Thank very much Robert. I will make a note of the books you have listed. It is very hard to keep up with all the books that have become available recently as I am so focussed on the older/rarer items.

Cheers

Geoff S

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  • 8 years later...

Found this book in a charity shop and I would say it's worth the three quid I paid for it. I wouldnt be convinced that it'd be worth full price.

I did quite like the fact that the three major campaigns against the Turks are covered in some detail. And I did like the usually quite extensive quotations from memoirs, diaries, etc, held by the National Army Museum. But I didnt find it an enjoyable or particularly interesting read. In between the personal accounts, the writing style is very much a narrative that "Brigade A went that way, while Brigade B went through this Wadi, blah blah, and Brigade C did something that the reader won't give a monkey's about as they've now nodded off."

It'll be finding its way back to the charity shop in due course.

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Quite agree John,

I read Lord Carver's book on the Italian Campaign 1943-5 and swore afterwards I would not read another of his titles. I was tempted with the above book on the Turkish Front as my grandfather served in Egypt and Palestine, but then I saw who had written it ...

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