The Royal Navy in the Mediterranean 1900-1915


"Straits" Table of Contents

The "Straits" Trilogy by Geoffrey Miller



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British Policy Towards the Ottoman Empire and the Origins of the Dardanelles Campaign

The University of Hull Press, 1997
ISBN 0 85958 655 3 softcover

xxvi + 604 pages
12 illustrations, 1 map
Full bibliography, notes and index
Card cover




Table of Contents

List of Maps and Illustrations
1 Abdul the Damned
The reign of Abdul Hamid—the Russo-Turkish war of 1877—Britain intervenes—the fleet at the Dardanelles—the Congress of Berlin—progress and despotism—the wrong horse—the Mediterranean agreements of the 1890s—Germany steps in to fill the breach —the concession for the Baghdad Railway—the threat from Russia—the new strategic alignment.
2 The Young Turks
The defence of Egypt—Military apprehension regarding close Turco-German ties—the 1906 C.I.D. debate on war with Turkey—the question of the Dardanelles—a difference of opinion within the Navy—the view from the Foreign Office—the General Staff appreciation—intelligence gathering—the malign influence of Gerald Fitzmaurice— unrest within the Empire—the Anglo-Russian Agreement—the signal for the revolution —a guerilla campaign—the British Embassy caught on the hop—Fitzmaurice’s appraisal —the constitution is reinstated—hopeful signs of improved Anglo-Turkish relations —Grey’s fears—his instructions to the new Ambassador.
3 Revolution and Counter-revolution
The new regime—an early test—the secret Austro-Russian agenda—the Bosnian crisis —Isvolsky thwarted—Russia reconsiders her relations with Turkey—the demand for a Conference—the awkward question that has come too soon—Isvolsky’s new proposal— his threat—Cabinet considers and rejects the latest proposal—the question of reciprocity —the Straits memorandum—the hope that the question may now be postponed—a Conference or direct negotiations?—Isvolsky’s delicate position—the Turks seek assistance—a Balkan entente?—an offensive alliance—the first signs of reaction—the difficulty of dealing with the Committee—Parliament re-opens—a breakthrough—the Austro-Turkish Protocol—an ingenious idea—the Turks hold out for more.
4 A Chance is Lost
A Japanese analogy—the appointment of a British Naval Mission—more anxiety over German influence—the Baghdad Railway controversy—Kiamil overreaches himself—a game of bluff—the Russo-Turkish Protocol—the Conference proposal shelved— Nicolson advocates an Anglo-Russian alliance—Grey’s refusal—Hardinge’s attitude—the counter-revolution—the Action Army marches—the demise of Abdul Hamid— Lowther’s patronizing attitude—the Young Turks are granted a second chance— Lowther fights back—Austrian ambitions satiated—Isvolsky embittered—the devil you know.
5 Railways and Navies
The attempt to separate army from politics—Ottomanization versus Turkification—the C.U.P. splinters—a British railway—British penetration into Mesopotamia—a new naval programme—a British snub—relations deteriorate—the threat of Pan-Islamism—a change of emphasis in Russia—foreign money—a scheme to employ German naval officers is nipped in the bud—a new realism—the Baghdad Railway reconsidered—Italy jumps the gun.
6 The Turks Attract No Bids
The Turco-Italian War—opening shots—Italy alienates her friends—the Foreign Office remains faithful—the Turkish appeals for intervention—an effective guerrilla war—the Tcharykov intrigue—a Turkish offer of alliance—Churchill’s advocacy—Grey adopts a conciliatory line—the Admiralty is unconcerned—who will make the first move?—a new Russian initiative—the Russian Ambassador is disowned.
7 A Harmless Sort of War
The war does little damage—the hunt for scapegoats—attacks upon the C.U.P. increase —the ‘Big Stick’ election—Italy steps up the war—a pointless attack—a small victory for the Concert of Europe—a Russian volte-face—the Dodecanese occupied—the British position—Foreign Office concerns over the evacuation of the Mediterranean—Crowe’s memorandum—the C.U.P. is overthrown—a short-lived peace is achieved.
8 A Dangerous Season
Internal unrest—the Balkan League—the not-so-secret treaty—the First Balkan War— the Turks are routed—the fall of Constantinople looms—a new Grand Vizier—the delicate British position—a Russian over-reaction—the Turkish line holds—an armistice and a conference in London—a review of 1912—new proposals for the Baghdad Railway—the Conference reconvenes—the problem of Adrianople.
9 Enver Intervenes
A coup is planned—the pretext—Enver and Talaat act to prevent an ignominious peace —the personalities of Enver and Talaat—a new reply is sent—hostilities re-opened— Lowther grows weary—Fitzmaurice turns against the Ambassador—the final battle for Adrianople—the fall of Adrianople—the Turks sue for peace—the Treaty of London —the problem of the Aegean Islands—a strong navy—British Naval Mission—Lowther’s alarming reports.
10 The Open Mind
Grey plans Lowther’s recall—Kiamil’s coup is forestalled—the assassination of the Grand Vizier—the consolidation of the C.U.P.—Talaat, Enver and Djemal come out into the open—a new approach for a defensive alliance—the credentials of the Ambassador-designate—the Second Balkan War—a Bulgarian miscalculation— Adrianople is re-taken—the preservation of Ottoman integrity—the Turks try the patience of the Powers—the problem of coercion—the closed mind.
11 The Mission
Mallet – a new direction?—the German Military Mission—the appointment of Liman von Sanders—the Russian reaction—the delicate British position—the difficulty of dealing with Sazonov—the comparison with Limpus—Sazonov ups the stakes—the strength of the Entente put to the test—a possible concession—Grey’s predicament— Mallet’s conciliatory approach—German intelligence—the collective inquiry to the Grand Vizier— Russia must be supported.
12 The Unhappy Plight of Admiral Limpus
Signs of a compromise—Enver becomes Minister for War—Liman’s promotion—the crisis subsides—Russia considers her options—Sazonov’s standing is lowered—pressure to strengthen the Entente—the work of Admiral Limpus—the fate of the Brazilian battleship—Turkey buys a dreadnought—the dockyard concession—a rebuke—the Admiral’s disillusionment—Limpus attempts to leave.
13 Russian Machinations
The islands’ question—a new cause for concern—Venizelos makes mischief—Liman exceeds his remit—the Straits are strengthened—the Turks are annoyed, the British suspicious—a shift in German policy?—the Russians take a pragmatic line—the limitations of Russian foreign policy—the Turks offer an alliance—Sazonov vacillates —Turkish naval building—tension with Greece—the curious case of the fortuitously delayed dreadnought.
14 The Alliance
The easing of local tension—another alliance approach—changes in the Embassy— Fitzmaurice is forced out—Mallet on leave—German doubts begin to surface—a decision is reached—every rifle is required—the forced conversion of Ambassador Wangenheim —the terms of the Treaty—Austria declares war on Serbia—the Russian mobilization— Goeben is required—a possible trade-off?—an alliance is concluded.
15 The Embargo
Churchill’s hand is forced—a deliberate act of policy?—an inconvenient opinion—policy or piracy?—a race against time—Raouf is dispossessed—the Turkish protest—Enver puts a price on Turkish assistance—a double game—Turkish mobilization—the Foreign Office abandons hope—Said Halim strikes a hard bargain—conflicting reports—a convergence of opinion—the position becomes clearer.
16 Negotiate and Temporize
Activity in Constantinople—a Bulgarian compact—Enver’s unusual request—his motives examined—the Turks temporize—continued anger at the pre-emption—Limpus desires to be recalled—the question of payment—procrastination in London—Admiral Milne is kept in the dark—a definite clue is received—no action is taken— the performance of the Admiralty and Foreign Office—the conspiracy in Athens.
17 The Bogus Sale
Earnest entreaties—where was Churchill?—good news from Constantinople—the onerous burden of the Chargé D’Affaires—a clearer indication of the Turkish attitude— the German ships arrive—disbelief in London—final acceptance—a provocative blockade?—efforts to keep Turkey neutral—Enver prevaricates—sanctuary is granted —an inspired compromise—the reaction in London—recognition of the fait accompli.
18 The Turks Play a Double Game
Goeben’s new refuge—Souchon travels to Constantinople—Sazonov reacts at last— Grey’s cautious approach—Churchill’s personal appeal—the anomalous position of Admiral Limpus—Limpus is sacked—Crowe’s intervention—a grand ceremony—solemn assurances—strategic options—the difficulty of achieving surprise—the trap for Souchon —Mallet returns—an immediate success—a new pragmatism—an unwarranted complaint—an assurance is given—Mallet is deceived.
19 The Forward Policy of Winston Churchill
A generous offer?—who rules at the Porte?—Djemal’s shopping list—patience wears thin —no effort is made to repatriate the German crews—patience is exhausted—a signal to attack—German gold to bribe the Turks—the mission of Admiral Guido von Usedom —a plan for British action—Churchill applies the pressure—the assurance to Greece—a less than generous offer—Talaat springs a surprise—a new posting for Limpus—Mallet objects—Churchill’s fury—an unsatisfactory arrangement—unseemly haste—the Naval Mission departs—varied intelligence.
20 The Last Hurrah for Said Halim
The Dardanelles defences—unrelenting German pressure—Enver’s authorization—a step too far—Said Halim rallies support—the victory is short-lived—Mallet’s rebuke— Churchill renews his attack upon Mallet—Carden’s new orders—a minor incident—the Straits are closed—Mallet’s surmise—a lack of suitable agents—Talaat, the pivotal figure?—Kühlmann’s mission—Enver’s mercenary suggestion—Germany buys Turkish action—hope is abandoned in London.
21 The Private War
Mallet stakes all—Enver’s secret arrangement—the German plan—the bombardment— the burden of uncertainty is lifted—a fatuous demand—last minute Turkish doubts—no disavowal is possible—the Embassy staffs depart—Foreign Office policy is defended— Sazonov hesitates—the formula of Ottoman integrity is abandoned—Churchill’s prompt blow—change at the Admiralty—Fisher returns—Limpus urges caution—a futile demonstration—its consequence—panic in Constantinople—the declaration of war— Churchill orders a repeat dose—the Turkish response—Churchill prevaricates—a private war.
22 The Lure of the Dardanelles
The attractions of the Dardanelles—a right and obvious method—no army is forth-coming—the effect of Carden’s lucky shot—Churchill’s volatile mind—the exploits of B11 and Doris—the Turks under-estimated—the appalling prospect on the Western Front—Hankey’s memorandum—Churchill’s option—Fisher’s caution—competing pro-jects—Lloyd George enters the fray—the higher direction of the war—a Russian appeal —Enver takes charge—a Turkish rout—Kitchener’s pessimism—no troops to spare— playing the German game.
23 Fisher’s Folly
An important adherent—Fisher’s crucial contribution—an important alteration—a gibe —its curious effect—the inquiry to Carden—an alternative explanation—Northern possibilities—a limited action?—planning for the Borkum operation continues—Carden’s reply—its effect—Admiral Jackson’s cautious appraisal—the question of timing— intelligence from Constantinople—a window of opportunity—the debate in the War Council—Kitchener now enthuses—Balfour is prescient but quiet—Fisher loses his grip.
24 Conversion
A convergence of desires—Churchill holds to the Northern option—Carden’s plan arrives—a novel suggestion from Fisher—conflicting signals—Churchill’s bombshell in the War Council—Asquith’s curious conclusions—the issue is fudged—Churchill proposes, Fisher opposes—Fisher catches cold—his unease becomes known—Hankey intervenes—send for Jellicoe?—Churchill acts to silence the opposition—Fisher’s surprising reaction—a sad spectacle—Hankey and Fisher collaborate—Churchill finds a scapegoat—Asquith’s lapse of judgment.
25 Persuasion
Problems with the French—a rebuff—Grey’s support is enlisted—a further precaution— Churchill cannot risk the French obtaining command—The First Lord has his way— Augagneur is convinced—the Grand Duke is dealt with—the Russians are surprised —Fisher makes a stand—Asquith stands firm—a scene in the War Council—Kitchener’s athletic intervention—were the risks made clear?—a trade-off—Fisher’s reluctant acceptance.
26 Decision
An immediate meeting is convened—tacit acceptance—the power of naval weaponry—a misapprehension—Hankey’s concern—a new French initiative—the prevarications of Premier Venizelos—the question of troops —a new offer to Greece—Hankey’s calculating assent—Kitchener has second thoughts —pressure is applied—the effect of the opening bombardment—troops are committed.
Part Three OIL
27 The Oil Equation
A hidden agenda?—a Persian oil concession is granted—Admiralty trials—oil to be used as an adjunct only—the competition is eliminated—D’Arcy’s lack of success—Fisher, the oil maniac—the last-minute strike—the new menace—Churchill, another convert—the Pakenham Committee—the Royal Commission on Oil Fuel—a forgone conclusion?— the quest for the Mesopotamian concession—Greenway’s alarming evidence—Fisher is unconcerned—the advantages of oil—a surprise recommendation—the Commission bites back—APOC vs. Shell—the question of price.
28 Admiralty and Oil
The Admiralty balks at Greenway’s terms—the need for capital—Indian participation? —Churchill’s important memorandum—competing standards—Churchill argues persuasively—the debate is inconclusive—the decision to revert to coal in the Revenge class —the Admiralty tries to enlist the support of the India Office—the logical conclusion —the Admiralty enters the oil business—the last opposition is silenced—Anglo-Turkish negotiations—Admiral Slade’s commission—a multitude of applications—a deal is done —the Fusion Agreement—a final complication.
29 A Hostage to Fortune
Anglo-Persian makes a move on the Mesopotamian fields—the question of direct influence in Mesopotamia—the Admiralty position—the Admiralty and Foreign Office clash—the problem of overt British participation—the undesirability of reciprocal rights —the negotiations stall—the finalization of the APOC deal—Churchill’s five conditions —harsh criticism—appeasing the Russians and Shell—the test of war—the British position in the Gulf secured—the fate of Constantinople—Russian apprehension —confusion amongst the allies—no way to run a war.
30 The Great Prize
The Director of Naval Intelligence and his private initiative—the reappearance of Fitzmaurice—secret Anglo-Turkish talks—something more than money—electrifying news—Fisher’s hasty reaction—a secondary bombardment—an approach to the Vali of Smyrna—the promise of a coup—Grey has no room to manoeuvre—the failure of these attempts—the question of Greek participation—Grey’s innocuous statement—Russian apprehension turns to alarm—fears of a separate peace—another sweeping offer by Venizelos—the Russian veto—a compromise?—Foreign Office objections—the issue is decided in Athens—the Tsar’s decree—a link between Constantinople and Persia?—the Russian proposal is debated—a quid pro quo—the fate of the neutral zone in Persia—the consideration of British desiderata—summary.
31 Armistice
The Turks routed—Bulgaria sues for peace—Turkish peace feelers—the troublesome question of command—Clemenceau and Lloyd George trade arguments—a new Ministry—the egregious General Townshend—an unseemly altercation—the vital four conditions—the Turkish position—their desire to deal solely with the British—the question of unconditional surrender—the Turkish delegates arrive—the Armistice terms—difficulty over the conditions—problems with the French—the Armistice is signed—the hard-line Foreign Office attitude—a final word.
one Formal Text of the Turco-German Alliance of 2 August 1914.
two The Shirey Story.
three A Pertinent Exchange of Letters.
four The Sultan And His Executive.
five Extracts From A Memorandum By Mr. Adam Block Respecting Franco-German Economic Penetration Up To 1906.
six Turkish Armistice Terms.
seven Defence of the Suez Canal, Narrative of Events, 25 January to 8 February 1915.
eight List of Grand Viziers, 1908 to 1919.
nine List of Alternative Place Names
ten Memorandum by the General Staff Upon the Possibility of a Joint Naval and Military Attack Upon the Dardanelles.
eleven Biographical appendix


SMS Breslau
SMS Breslau off Constantinople


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HMS Berwick : Original artwork © 2004 Geoffrey Miller
HMS Berwick
[Original artwork © 2004 Geoffrey Miller]


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