April – June
Following their unexpected success in Mesopotamia Campaign, the British command reconsidered their plan in favour of aggressive operations. In April 1915, general Sir John Nixon was sent to take command. He ordered Major General Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend to advance to Kut or even to Baghdad if possible. Enver Pasha worried about the possible fall of Baghdad, and sent the German General Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz to take command. On 12 April, Süleyman Askeri attacked the British camp at Shaiba with 3800 troops early in the morning. These forces provided by Arab sheiks produced no results. Süleyman Askeri was wounded. Disappointed and depressed, he shot himself at the hospital in Baghdad.
On 20 April, the Siege of Van brought the conflicts into city of Van. On 24 April, Talat Pasha promulgated the order on April 24 (known by the Armenians as the Red Sunday) which claimed that the Armenians in this region were organized under the leadership of Russians and had rebelled against Ottoman government.
On 25 April, the second part of the campaign began on the Gallipoli Peninsula on the European side of the Dardanelles, when the Allies launched an amphibious assault. The troops were able to land but could not dislodge the Ottoman forces after months of battle that caused the deaths of an estimated 131,000 soldiers, and 262,000 wounded. Eventually the Allied forces withdrew. The campaign represented something of a coming of age for Australia and New Zealand who celebrate 25 April as ANZAC Day. Kemal Ataturk, who later became the first leader of modern Turkey, distinguished himself as a Lieutenant Colonel on Gallipoli.
On 6 May, General Yudenich began an offensive into Ottoman territory. One wing of this offensive headed towards Lake Van to relieve the Armenian residents of Van. The Fedayee turned over the city of Van to the Russians. On 21 May, General Yudenich received the keys to the city and its citadel, and confirmed the Armenian provisional government in office with Aram Manukian as governor. Fighting shifted farther west for the rest of the summer with Van secure. On 6 May, the Russian second wing advanced through the Tortum Valley towards Erzurum after weather turned milder. The Ottoman 29th and 30th Divisions managed to stop this assault. The X Corps counter-attacked the Russian forces. On the southern part, the Ottomans were not as successful as they had been in the north. On 17 May, Russian forces at the city of Van continued to push back the Ottoman units. The city of Malazgirt had had already fallen on 11 May. The Ottomans' supply lines were being cut, as the Armenian forces caused additional difficulties behind the lines. The region south of Lake Van was extremely vulnerable. During May, the Ottomans had to defend a line of more than 600 kilometres (370 mi) with only 50,000 men and 130 pieces of artillery. They were clearly outnumbered by the Russians.
On 27 May, during the high point of Russian offensive Ottoman parliament passed the Tehcir Law. Talat Pasha, the Interior Minister, ordered a forced deportation of all Armenians from the region. The Armenians of the Van resistance and others which were under Russian occupation were spared these deportations.
On 19 June, the Russians launched another offensive northwest of Lake Van. The Russians, under Oganovski, launched an offense into the hills west of Malazgrit, but they underestimated the size of the Ottoman forces in this region. They were surprised by a large Ottoman force at the Battle of Malazgirt. They were not aware that the Ottoman IX Corps, together with the 17th and 28th Divisions was moving to Muş also. The 1st and 5th Expeditionary Forces were positioned to the south of the Russian offensive force and a “Right Wing Group” was established under the command of Brigadier General Abdülkerim Paşa. This group was independent from the Third Army and Abdülkerim Paşa was reporting directly to Enver Paşa.
- April - June 1915
April 1915, Armenian troops holding a defense line at the Siege of Van
1915, Armenian resistance members from Adapazari committee
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