Churchill's Dilemma
The Real Story Behind the Origins of the 1915 Dardanelles Campaign
by Graham T. Clews
September 2010, 343pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-38474-5
$55, £43, 48€, A76
eBook Available: 978-0-313-38475-2
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In January 1915, Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, intended to activate plans to kill Germans in northern Europe. The Dardanelles campaign was conceived as a temporary diversion. Instead, circumstances contrived to make the campaign the defining event in Churchill’s tenure as First Lord—and one of the most significant failures in his extraordinary career.

This book completely rewrites the history of the origins of the Dardanelles Campaign and Winston Churchill's role in it, adding a new perspective to the military and political history of World War I.

Churchill’s Dilemma: The Real Story Behind the Origins of the 1915 Dardanelles Campaign is an entirely original study of the origins of the disastrous Dardanelles Campaign of 1915 and Winston Churchill’s role in it. The work challenges long-held beliefs about Churchill’s actions as First Lord, including the perceptions that he had a preoccupation with the Dardanelles bordering on obsession, and that he only reluctantly promoted a naval-only attempt to force the Dardanelles because there were no troops available for a full-scale amphibious assault on the Peninsula.

Opening with a brief study of prewar naval policy in the age of the mine and submarine and the implications of the growing threat from Germany, this in-depth study shows that neither perception is true. Churchill’s preoccupation was with northern Europe, not the Mediterranean. He promoted his naval-only operation because he hoped this would preempt a major British military commitment to a southern theatre that would compromise his northern aspirations. In studying the motivations that drove and the other key players in this drama, this groundbreaking work does nothing less than unlock the true origins of the Dardanelles campaign.


  • Maps of the sites that figure prominently in the campaign
  • Black-and-white photographs sourced from around the world
  • A summary of Churchill's/Fisher's unsinkable fleet of monitors
  • A chart providing details of the Dardanelles defenses in 1915
  • A full bibliography of primary and secondary sources
Graham T. Clews is a retired teacher living in Canberra, Australia. He completed this work for his MA in history through the Australian Defence Force Academy campus of the University of NSW. This is his first book.


"Unlike so many books that claim to tell the “real story” behind dramatic events, Churchill’s Dilemma delivers the goods. Remarkably, nearly all the evidence Clews uses to support his thesis has been available to scholars in published form for years. But the results are no less impressive. Clews’ analysis of the origins of the Dardanelles campaign is thorough and insightful."—Finest Hour, March 1, 2011

"... The book is of value as a piece of argumentation and as a presentation of a novel point of view ... Recommended."—Choice, June 1, 2011

"This detailed analysis of the origins of the Dardanelles campaign gets to the heart of a matter that is still shrouded in mystery and mired in controversy. Graham Clews is to be congratulated on his meticulous scholarship."—Trevor Wilson, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Adelaide, and author of The Somme

"It’s clear that the planning process for the Dardanelles-Gallipoli campaign went badly wrong. Looking for a way to employ Britain’s superior naval strength in 1915, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill sent an ill-fated fleet to the Mediterranean. As Graham Clews argues, the Dardanelles was never anything more than a secondary operation to Churchill, who remained fixated on his true obsession: a massive amphibious landing in the Baltic, on the North Sea island of Borkum, as well as an eventual drive into the Baltic. Clews has written an important book, showing us how what happened in the Straits, an all-naval operation starved of troops until it was arguably too late, was not an accident, but exactly what Churchill intended all along."—Robert M. Citino, Professor of History, University of North Texas, author of Blitzkrieg to Desert Storm

"This is the most thorough study yet produced of the Dardanelles campaign and the part played by Winston Churchill in it. No specialist on Gallipoli or those with an interest in Churchill should ignore it."—Robin Prior, Emeritus Professor Trevor Wilson School of History and Politics, University of Adelaide, author of Gallipoli: The End of the Myth
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