Special Report

19 Amphibious Assaults That Changed the Course of History

Source: north-carolina-state-archives / Flickr

6. Fort Fisher, North Carolina, USA
> Date(s): Jan. 15, 1865
> Conflict: Civil War
> Landing force: 10,000
> Invaders: United States (Union)
> Defenders: Confederate States of America

Union forces maintained naval superiority against the Confederate forces during the entirety of the Civil War. No other battle illustrated the Union’s ability to leverage this power more than the amphibious assault on Fort Fisher at the mouth of the Cape Fear River just three months before the end of the war. The Jan. 15 landing was a success after Union commanders learned from their mistakes in a first failed attempt to take down this last Confederate port a month earlier.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

7. Tripoli, Libya
> Date(s): Oct. 10, 1911
> Conflict: Italo-Turkish War
> Landing force: 20,000
> Invaders: Italy, Emirate of Asir
> Defenders: Ottoman Empire

The Italo-Turkish War was started by Italy, which had expansionist aspirations to establish a colony in North Africa by seizing Ottoman control of coastal areas that make up modern day Libya. Italy’s amphibious landing succeeded in quickly taking control of Tripoli in large part because its naval guns had longer ranges than Ottoman coastal defenses. The outbreak of World War I forced Italy to focus its efforts on the European front, but Italy did not conclude its occupation of Libya until the early 1930s.

8. Anzac Cove, Turkey
> Date(s): April 25, 1915
> Conflict: WWI
> Landing force: 16,000
> Invaders: British Empire
> Defenders: Ottoman Empire

Some 16,000 soldiers from Australia, New Zealand, Britain, France, and India landed on the Turkish Gallipoli peninsula in order to help local naval operations and relieve pressure on the Russian forces who were battling the Turks in the Caucuses. The Gallipoli campaign was a disaster despite the achievement of the Australians and New Zealanders in establishing a bridgehead at Anzac Cove.

9. Saaremaa, Hiiumaa, and Muhu, Estonia
> Date(s): Oct. 11, 1917
> Conflict: WWI
> Landing force: 24,500
> Invaders: Germany
> Defenders: Russia, Estonia

Operation Albion was an amphibious assault in the Baltic Sea in a determined effort by Germany to force Russia to seek peace. The Germans aimed to occupy islands in the Gulf of Riga bordering Estonia and Latvia, thus threatening the major Russian port city of Petrograd, known today as Saint Petersburg. The operation was a success, in part because of Russian disorganization just prior to its Bolshevik Revolution that took place two weeks after the end of the successful German amphibious assault.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

10. Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands
> Date(s): Aug. 6-9, 1942
> Conflict: WWII
> Landing force: 6,000
> Invaders: United States and allies
> Defenders: Japan

The amphibious assault on the Solomon Islands of Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Florida, marked the first major amphibious landing by U.S. forces of World War II. The assault also sparked a series of naval battles to quell the Japanese Imperial Navy’s attempt to reinitiate offensive campaigns against the U.S. after a series of losses earlier that year. Despite initial mistakes by the U.S., including insufficient logistics to move soldiers and supplies inland, the Americans learned how to fight Japan island by island, albeit at great cost to U.S. soldiers’ lives.

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