The family of Sir Winston Churchill has defended the Gallipoli campaign, telling SBS in an exclusive interview that it was 'the right thing to do' despite the loss of more than 113,000 lives.
On the eve of the Anzac Day centenary, the family of Sir Winston Churchill, the former Lord of the British Admiralty and architect of the failed First World War landings, has told SBS World News the Gallipoli campaign was "the right thing to do" despite the loss of more than 113,000 lives.
"There are many people in Australia, to this day, who deeply resent what happened," the former British Prime Minister’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, said in an exclusive interview.
"Just because it (Gallipoli) didn’t go well, doesn’t mean to say it wasn’t the right thing to do. And despite the terrible losses I think the effort was the right one to make," the 67-year-old said.
8,709 Australians lost their lives during the campaign and 19,441 were wounded.
"I think the concept, as I say, was very bold: to try and divert the war from the terrible mud and muck and barbed wire of France," Sir Nicholas said. “But at the end of the day, of course the overwhelming emotion anyone would have about Gallipoli is sadness for those who lost their lives.”
“There is a picture of him [Mr Churchill] painted after Gallipoli and he looks so sad in that picture that you can see the terrible sadness in his eyes," Sir Nicholas said. “In fact, my grandmother was so worried about him that she thought that the grief might kill him.”
"There are many people in Australia, to this day, who deeply resent what happened. Despite the terrible losses I think the effort was the right one to make."
Rupert Soames, the Chief Executive of outsourcing giant Serco, has also defended his grandfather’s role in the Dardanelles Campaign.
Visiting the Anzac War Memorial during a recent visit to Sydney, the 55-year-old told SBS World News Anzac troops are among the world’s bravest and toughest soldiers.
“It was a good plan, it was a good strategy, but it was poorly executed,” he said. “It was a plan that he enormously believed would be a great strategic advance and would cut the First World War short,” he said.
The doomed Dardanelles campaign cost Sir Churchill his title of Lord of the Admiralty and threatened to thwart his political ambitions.
“He resigned from the Government and went to fight in the trenches,” said Sir Nicholas. “He resigned on a Thursday morning and by Friday afternoon he was in the trenches with the Grenadier Guards in Flanders.”
The Churchill family said this time in the political wilderness, reflecting on the failings of Gallipoli, would later help the British Prime Minister claim victory in the Second World War.
“It would have been the end of any other man’s career and perhaps it is an indication of how great a man he was that it wasn’t the end of his,” said Rupert Soames.
“He wrote after Gallipoli that the greatest lesson that he learnt from the military operations was that you should never undertake a cardinal act of war without having complete charge over the whole operation,” said Sir Nicholas.
“That was what he learnt and that is what lead to the formation of the concept of combined operations and the planning of many of these major operations like, the D-Day landings.”
“These great action that involved all three services at the same time was, I think, driven by his experience at Gallipoli.”