Besides the impossible landscape and the poor planning, a major factor in the defeat at Gallipoli was illness. ‘After over three months of fruitless and costly attacks on the Turkish positions defending Krithia and Achi Baba, living conditions in the Helles beach-head were almost unendurable; thousands of unburied corpses lay between the opposing lines, giving rise to plagues of rats and millions upon millions of ‘corpse flies’ which, feeding voraciously on decomposing bodies, led to widespread outbreaks of disease, notably dysentery, greatly aided by poor trench hygiene.’ (Gallipoli Association).
One of the effects of dysentery is that it makes you feel very, very tired. This meant that thousands of soldiers were not in any state to fight, even though they might not have been ill enough to be sent to a military hospital.
Here Keith Dolan, tour guide, gives his views on the issue.
The problem was made worse by the lack of space on the peninsula. Many bodies had to be buried right next to where the soldiers lived. Download a PDF with photos showing this.
You can hear recordings of Gallipoli veterans here, in which they describe the terrible conditions they endured, including difficult terrain, lack of water, lice and flies as well as disease and dysentery.
What about food and water? The Allies were far from home and trapped in a dry landscape so food was processed and water had to be severely rationed. The Turks were also short of food but were able to bring fresh fruit and vegetables from farms inland, so perhaps their diet was better. They also had access to fresh water. This useful video looks at the diet of the two armies.