STRAITS British Policy towards the Ottoman Empire and the Origins of the Dardanelles Campaign © 1997-2005 Geoffrey Miller





STRAITS : British policy towards the Ottoman Empire and the Origins of the Dardanelles Campaign © Geoffrey Miller



Map of Turkey
STRAITS British Policy towards the Ottoman Empire and the Origins of the Dardanelles Campaign © 1997-2005 Geoffrey Miller



Chapter 2




The Young Turks




Sir Edward Grey
Sir Edward Grey

The incoming Liberal administration of 1906 had many problems to contend with. Soon to be pledged to a programme of extensive social reform[1] and hopeful of a reduction in the onerous naval estimates they immediately saw the former goal jeopardized by the prospect of a naval arms race created by the launch of the revolutionary new battleship, Dreadnought. Despite the Anglo-French entente, relations with Russia were still at a low ebb following the infamous Dogger Bank incident of October 1904 when trigger-happy Russian warships, on their way to reinforce the fleet in the war with Japan, fired on British trawlers in the scarcely credible belief that they were Japanese torpedo boats waiting in ambush. On the diplomatic front, the Conference at Algeciras had just been convened following the First Moroccan crisis which arose when, in March 1905, the Kaiser, grievously seasick in a howling gale, thankfully descended on firm ground at Tangier to mutter a pledge to uphold the independence of Morocco.[2] While the wind snatched his words and scattered their meaning amongst the bemused onlookers, the significance of his appearance at the port was all too apparent in Paris and London. This heavy-handed attempt to convince the French that they would be wiser to co-operate with Germany, not England, had the opposite effect to that intended. As a result of the threat of war with Germany, secret Anglo-French military conversations commenced and were later sanctioned by Grey, though this fact was withheld from most of the Cabinet. If, within months, the European outlook showed signs of improvement, the defence of the Empire, and the concomitant financial strain that this entailed, remained.

                Following a dispute over the Turco-Egyptian frontier,[3] by the spring of 1906 the question of the defence of Egypt was beginning to push to one side that of India in the discussions of the C.I.D. At the meeting on 6 July Grey was sufficiently surprised by the remarks of Sir John French, one of the military representatives, as to warrant the latter preparing a secret memorandum on A Turco-German Invasion of Egypt which succinctly set out the European political situation as viewed by the military.

Germany is known to be jealous of our maritime supremacy, and has adopted an attitude generally hostile to our commercial and political interests. Turkey is entirely alienated from us for reasons which are well known. These two Powers are believed to be in close sympathy, the word and advice of Germany counting for a great deal in the counsels of the Ottoman Empire. There is, in fact, something very like a secret alliance between them, and all their interests in the Near and Middle East are antagonistic to ours. France desires peace at almost any price, and is unlikely to intervene in any quarrel in which she is not directly interested. Russia may probably be regarded as a quantité négligeable for some years to come. Austria-Hungary and Italy practically neutralize one another.

In French’s opinion, ‘Many German officers are at the present moment serving in the Turkish army, and German influence is paramount…From the outset, therefore, of any war between Turkey and ourselves I believe we may be certain that, although at first the hand will be the hand of Turkey, the voice will be the voice of Germany.’ It was also a cardinal feature of his memorandum that French assumed ‘that the Dardanelles are effectually closed against the enterprises of our fleet.’[4]

                French’s ideas did not meet with universal approval. Lord Cromer (who considered the C.I.D. was not the proper forum to discuss strategical problems founded on a political hypothesis) was quick to acknowledge that, ‘As regards German aid to Turkey, I daresay there might be some truth in the ideas that have been floating about in the political world for some while, to the effect that some German politicians rather look forward to using Turkey as a cat’s-paw with which to annoy us’; nevertheless, when he looked at

the internal condition of Turkey, to the state of Arabia, to the general unpreparedness of the Turks, to the vacillation of Turkish statesmen, to the suspicions which are always engendered in their minds by the action even of their European friends, to the remarkable capacity of the Turks for missing all their opportunities, and for doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, it is, at all events, not at all improbable that if the Germans attempt to carry out a policy of this nature they would be deceived, and that the reed on which they were leaning would pierce their own hand.[5]

Cromer’s diatribe commanded respect in view of his long experience as Consul-General in Egypt, and was not untypical of prevailing attitudes to Turkey. Indeed, although Abdul Hamid had succeeded in entangling Germany in the Ottoman Empire, he was never able to extract a guarantee for the territorial maintenance of his Empire and refused to countenance the idea of a formal alliance which, to be attractive to Berlin, required a strong army; and the Sultan, ‘despite his high military spending and his commitments to army reform, saw a strong army as a threat to his own position.’[6]

                The whole question of war with Turkey was set down for discussion in the C.I.D. on 26 July 1906. As ever, that inveterate scribbler Lord Esher had prepared his own memorandum before-hand and, jealous as always of the privileged platform provided him by virtue of the Committee, it was no surprise that he disagreed with Cromer’s views as to where the limits of C.I.D. inquiry should be drawn. Besides, French’s ‘political hypothesis’ of a secret understanding between Germany and Turkey which might possibly develop into an open alliance was ‘a condition by no means unthinkable, and of which certain members of the Committee have asserted that they possess good evidence. Sir John French has himself vouched for the large number of German officers whom he saw last year employed as instructors…’[7] When the meeting convened Grey began by pointing out immediately that any attempt to discuss the issue raised by French of war with Turkey would be difficult until a decision could be arrived at as to the current state of thinking regarding the feasibility of forcing the Dardanelles. In this respect the debate was hampered as, although the navy was represented at the Committee by the ineffectual First Lord, Tweedmouth, and the new D.N.I., Captain Ottley, the crucial figure of the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir John Fisher, was absent. Tweedmouth, following what he thought were Fisher’s views, explained that, though not impossible by the Navy alone, the operation was fraught with great risk and ‘it would be a costly proceeding, since the forts commanding the Straits were now armed with powerful guns and the Turks had the assistance of German artillery officers and men.’ Not only would ships inevitably be lost but the expectation of these losses would necessitate a special vote in the Navy Estimates, a remark Tweedmouth evidently believed would be sufficient to silence his Liberal colleagues.

                Ottley supported his First Lord by referring to previous discussions on combined operations which, added to the experience of the combatants at Port Arthur in the recent Russo-Japanese War, clearly demonstrated the superiority of forts over ships. In the face of this onslaught only Cromer appeared to hold firm: he ‘urged that the opinion of naval and military officers possessing special local knowledge should be obtained with regard to the feasibility, either as a naval or as a combined operation, of forcing the passage of the Straits.’ What Cromer did not then divulge – the real reason for his seeking the opinion of the man on the spot – was that the C-in-C, Mediterranean, Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, had told him the passage of the Dardanelles was not difficult! When Fisher was made aware of this the following day (after he received a report of the meeting from Ottley) the First Sea Lord went immediately to Tweedmouth to point out that this was none of Beresford’s business. ‘The most distinguished people advise freely when they have no responsibility’, chided Fisher. Besides, the forcing of the Dardanelles was now, Fisher argued, in the first place a military operation and ‘with the altered condition of German supervision and German handling of the Dardanelles’ defences, and German mines and German torpedoes, I agree with Sir John French that we cannot repeat Sir Geoffrey Hornby’s passage [of which Fisher was a participant]…and even if we get passage, there is the getting back…But of course a reasoned argument will be got out to satisfy the Defence Committee.’ Fisher would have to wait until the next meeting of the C.I.D. to have his say.[8]

                Both French and Fisher had laid stress on how the extent of German infiltration in Turkey had considerably altered the options available to the British, either simply to exert pressure on the Porte or, more importantly, to defend Egypt without resorting to French’s scenario of a large standing army. In contrast, the private view from the Foreign Office ignored the Germans altogether. The Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Charles Hardinge, had studied the memoranda of French, Esher and Cromer and thought he knew better. ‘I quite understand’, he informed Esher, ‘that the Admiralty would object to attempting to force the Dardanelles, which could not be done without incurring serious losses if the Turks know at all how to handle heavy guns. But as I know the Dardanelles’ forts well both from the sea and from the Asiatic land side, my conviction is that unless a lot of new forts have recently been created, which is not very probable, the forts could be taken from rear by a force landed at Besika Bay on the Asiatic Coast after the fort commanding the bay had been destroyed by naval gunfire, a process which it would not be difficult to achieve…’[9] This, in turn, contradicted the view of the Director of Military Operations, General Grierson, who urged that the best method of forcing the passage would be to capture the forts on the northern coast by attacking them in the rear with troops landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula! Nevertheless, it was the view of the Foreign Office which prevailed: if thought necessary, an attempt to force the Dardanelles, even though it would entail considerable losses, and whether accompanied by an expeditionary force or not, might prove the surest method of defeating the Turks.[10]

                The next meeting of the Committee of Imperial Defence was not until November. By this time the position had changed once more: Fisher turned up this time; Haldane, the War Minister, decided to voice a negative opinion; and Grierson was absent[11] — his place being taken by Major-General John Ewart, who had set about reorganizing the military intelligence divisions of the War Office, and who had his own ideas concerning Turkey. Fisher set the tone by declaring that ‘Germany now controlled the Dardanelles, and we could no longer hope to bribe the defenders into allowing us to pass unharmed through the Straits. He hoped that no attack on the Dardanelles would ever be undertaken in any form.’ Esher did not go this far but declared that any attempt to force the passage should be accompanied by military force. This raised the problem for Haldane that a reverse suffered by troops landed in the Gallipoli Peninsula, of which there would be a ‘grave risk’, would have a ‘serious effect on the Mahommedan world’. He then went further: the loss of ships would also have a deleterious effect and he thought some other means should be found of bringing pressure to bear on Turkey, for example, by seizing some of the islands in the Aegean. The new D.M.O., Ewart, adopted a position somewhere between Haldane and Esher by advocating sudden attacks using troops from Malta supplemented by landing parties from the fleet; surprise however had to be absolutely necessary for this to succeed. That nothing was eventually decided was clear from the hopelessly wide-ranging conclusion of Campbell-Bannerman, the Prime Minister, who summed up the three forms of attack available: naval action alone; or naval action supplemented by a military coup de main; or naval action accompanied by a military expedition on a large scale![12] Yet, however vague, these options would remain the same in 1915 — a devastating indictment of the poverty of war planning.

                Campbell-Bannerman did however order a thorough investigation of the subject to be made by the War Office and Admiralty. This report — The possibility of a joint naval and military attack upon the Dardanelles[13] — was completed on 19 December 1906. The General Staff began by concurring with the naval viewpoint ‘that unaided action by the fleet, bearing in mind the risks involved, is much to be deprecated.’ Even if, the report added, ‘it were feasible to rush a number of His Majesty’s least valuable ships past the batteries lining the Dardanelles and over the minefields which are believed to exist in the channel, their arrival off Constantinople would be no guarantee that the Sultan would be thereby brought to reason.’ Furthermore, if in the worst scenario the squadron was destroyed, even though expendable, the ‘news would at once spread through the whole Mohameddan world that the British Empire had experienced a serious humiliation’:

A mere naval raid, therefore, into the Sea of Marmora being at once such a dangerous and ineffective operation, it must be taken for granted that, if ever an attempt to force the Dardanelles is made the work will have to be undertaken by a Joint Naval and Military expedition having for its object the capture of the Gallipoli Peninsula and the destruction of the forts…The General Staff…fully accepts the Admiralty view that few operations of sea power in combination with a modest land force promise to be more effective in their final results than the seizure of the Dardanelles. The governing factor however, in the consideration of any schemes of coercion in relation to the Turkish Empire, is that success must be certain.

Failure to achieve success would result in a general uprising throughout the Muslim world. Yet for success to be assured the navy would have to guarantee that the landing force should reach the shore unmolested, and that, once ashore, should be free from hostile fire while they formed up; the General Staff doubted that the Admiralty could give this absolute guarantee.

                The General Staff was drawn to four conclusions: ‘ (1) that any policy of hostility to the Turkish Empire would add greatly to our military responsibilities in the East (2) that active military coercion of the Sultan, with the forces at our disposal, involves risks which no Government should lightly incur (3) that if pressure is to be exerted on the Porte, that pressure should be political, except so far as the Navy is able to co-operate by blockade, and by the seizure of islands (4) that the defence of Egypt, though requiring careful consideration and study, gives at present no grounds for concern.’ Captain Ottley, replying for the Naval Intelligence Department and citing the example of a recent Japanese attack upon Russian positions, argued that the General Staff was inclined to underrate the assistance which could be rendered by heavy covering fire from naval vessels. Nonetheless, he still felt that the attack could only be carried to a successful conclusion ‘provided the Government of the day were prepared to utilize a sufficient force for the purpose, and to incur heavy losses.’ Overall, Ottley maintained that, whereas the General Staff appeared to regard the enterprise as too hazardous to be attempted, the Naval Intelligence Department believed that there was ‘no reason to despair of success, though at the expense, in all likelihood, of heavy sacrifice’. Even so, as it was considered ‘inexpedient’ to have ‘any document extant which indicated that coercion of Turkey was a matter of such difficulty’, the invaluable General Staff report was quietly withdrawn, filed away and forgotten — until 1915, when it was resurrected too late to influence the course of events.[14]

                The relative positions of the War Office and Admiralty had therefore been reversed, and it was no surprise, given the lack of consensus, that the C.I.D. concluded, in February 1907, that ‘the operation of landing an expedition on or near the Gallipoli Peninsula would involve great risk, and should not be undertaken if other means of bringing pressure to bear on Turkey were available’.[15] The knowledge that the most obvious means of coercing the Turks was to be avoided if at all possible severely limited the options open to the Foreign Office in their dealings with the Ottoman Empire. Having arrived at this conclusion a sub-committee was formed at the behest of Lord Esher to investigate alternative means of military coercion other than a Dardanelles expedition. The sub-committee itself would not report until March 1909,[16] and then was more concerned with the defence of Egypt. For the meantime intelligence gathered from within Turkey would be essential to form an opinion on the relative objections of the War Office and Admiralty. Yet even in this vital area planning was also being compromised – either by the amateur status of the would-be agents or by their pre-conceived ideas – with the whole situation then exacerbated by the dependence of the Military Attachés upon the local Foreign Office officials for information. Of the War Office’s original military intelligence sections (MO1–MO4, shortly to be expanded to include MO5 and MO6) MO2 dealt with the Ottoman Empire, in addition to Europe, Austria-Hungary and Abyssinia! In the reorganization that followed, that part of Arabia south of a line drawn from Aquaba to Basra was hived off, with a few exclusions, to the Indian War Office and, to reflect the alteration, a report was commissioned on Syria to replace the earlier one on Arabia. The bulk of the report was based on the groundwork of the Military Attaché in Constantinople, Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Maunsell, who had been the consul at Van until his transfer to the capital in 1901, but who had fallen out of favour by the end of 1905 and had been demoted to the Macedonian gendarmerie before retiring the following year. At the Embassy in Constantinople Maunsell was on especially close terms with Mark Sykes, an ‘honorary attaché’, who shared his views regarding the defence capabilities of the Turks and the forces they could utilize against Russian incursion and who was also in favour of curbing German domination. Sykes took over the writing of intelligence reports after Maunsell’s retirement.[17]

                Sykes’ companion honorary attachés in Constantinople included Aubrey Herbert and George Lloyd, monied young men with a fascination for the East but owing no particular allegiance to the Foreign Office or War Office, and lacking training in either vocation.[18] While this might have seemed an admirable attribute, the lack of pre-conceived ideas also made them susceptible to the wiles of the éminence grise operating within the confines of the imposing if severe building atop the hill in Pera — for they were attached to an embassy nominally under the control of the Ambassador, Sir Nicolas O’Conor, but already subject to the influence of the dragoman, Gerald Fitzmaurice.[19] O’Conor, a Roman Catholic Irish landlord, frail and languid (the latter quality emphasized by deep blue eyes) had a genuine love of the Ottoman Empire and had, since taking up the post in 1898, striven to improve relations between Turkey and Britain. By 1906 though the 63-year-old Ambassador had grown tired of his advice being disregarded and had allowed himself to become too closely associated with Abdul Hamid.[20]

                O’Conor’s lassitude, which intensified after Grey took over the reins at the Foreign Office, drove Sykes away from him. O’Conor believed that the new Liberal Foreign Secretary could not do much damage to Anglo-Ottoman relations, a belief not shared by Sykes who would return to England in 1907 to contest a seat in Parliament as a Conservative. Sykes turned instead to Fitzmaurice: like the Ambassador the dragoman was an Irish Catholic with intense blue eyes who, being a good deal shorter, made up for this lack of stature by sporting a large red moustache and by retaining a fiery emotion his weary boss lacked. Fitzmaurice’s particular passion centred on his belief in a conspiracy of Zionists and Freemasons busily plotting in Salonica the overthrow of Abdul Hamid. Not that he was over-enamoured of the ageing Sultan: he wrote to Aubrey Herbert (using the prevailing arachnoid imagery) that they were ‘all of us grouped around the Grand Old Spider who unceasingly weaves cobwebs as meshes to strangle the interests and prestige of the British Lion.’[21] Still, at least one knew where one stood with Abdul Hamid. Whatever benefits might follow the overthrow of the Sultan’s regime were viewed as illusory or ephemeral by Fitzmaurice who had fixed his colours firmly to the Hamidian mast, for better or worse, which tended to blind him to the danger growing from within the Empire against the regime.

                In 1905 the future President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal, then a young army officer, was, with his friend Ali Fuad, arrested and charged with plotting against the regime; imprisoned for some months and then exiled to Damascus, Ali Fuad was, a year later, posted to Salonica. It was an unfortunate choice: Salonica contained the most rabid element of a growing movement of young officers and reactionaries styling themselves the Committee of Union and Progress (C.U.P.).[22] This nationalist grouping had emerged following a major split in the Ottoman opposition movement in 1902. It was in June 1889 that a group of medical students in Constantinople founded a secret society in opposition to the Hamidian regime. Contact was later established with a similar movement of liberal exiles in Paris, led by Ahmed Riza, who, in addition to their other activities, produced a journal (La Jeune Turquie) from which the popular appellation ‘Young Turks’ later derived. A second journal, openly smuggled into Turkey by the agency of the foreign post offices, was subtitled ‘Order and Progress’. Given the progressive aims of the movement, ‘Union’ (of all races) was substituted for ‘Order’ and the Committee of Union and Progress was born.[23] The C.U.P. was, at first, neither the sole nor the most prominent of the various factions opposed to the Sultan; however it rapidly attracted adherents who recognized its growing strength even if they did not share all its aims.

                By the autumn of 1896 the Committee was in a position to launch a coup in Constantinople, which failed after the Palace had been alerted by an informer. Following a prolonged crackdown by the authorities, the focus of opposition moved to Paris, and it was here, in February 1902 that a major conference was held to co-ordinate future opposition activities. The call for such a congress was necessitated by the fact that, by this time, the C.U.P. had become an umbrella organization for a loose grouping of factions. A leading scholar of the Committee in this period[24] has identified five separate factions: Ahmed Riza’s group, which advocated the return of the constitution in a parliamentary framework and no foreign intervention; high ranking statesmen within the regime who proposed instead an advisory council to the Sultan; the medical students, with no clear agenda; a fourth group influenced by the anarchist movement; and, finally, a Balkan network promoting a Turkish national ideology.[25] During the 1902 Congress the delegates split decisively over the question of whether foreign intervention would be necessary to achieve their aims. This division allowed the Turkish nationalists to assert themselves following a hiatus, and it was this agenda which was adopted by the reactionaries in the Third Army Corps in Macedonia.

                Kemal himself would visit Salonica unofficially in 1906 to rally support until, in June the following year, his request for a transfer to the Third Army was, perhaps injudiciously, granted; however, by the time of his return, the movement had gained both sufficient strength and enough forceful adherents to push Kemal to the periphery. New men, such as Talaat Bey, a local postal official, had come to the fore.[26] Given the passions aroused by the alleged injustices of the Ottoman rulers against their Christian subjects in Macedonia, Salonica was an ideal spot at which to foment and channel the revolution. Yet when, as a ‘punishment’ for travelling too much and ignoring his chancellery duties, Aubrey Herbert was assigned by O’Conor to keep the Butcher’s Book of Macedonia he had ‘been surprised to find that many of the worst atrocities were committed by the Christians upon their own kind.’[27] This was certainly the view that filtered back to London.[28]


In the meantime, negotiations continued towards an Anglo-Russian agreement.[29] Initially the prohibition on Russian warships traversing the Straits suited Britain well, but by 1903 the Defence Committee had decided that the strategic disposition in the Mediterranean would not change even if Russia obtained free egress. In the spring of the following year King Edward, on a visit to Copenhagen, was introduced to Alexander Isvolsky, the Russian Minister there, who broached the subject of an Anglo-Russian Entente. Asia, he argued, was big enough for everyone and should not present a problem in coming to a rapprochement: but what was the King’s attitude on the Straits? While admitting that the principle of closure was not absolute and that it might be possible to conceive a situation in which everybody would gain from opening the Straits, the King nevertheless pleaded that British public opinion would not allow of such a move yet.[30] Within months of this promising initiative however the Russian Baltic Fleet, on its doomed voyage to annihilation in the Straits of Tsushima, had opened fire on British trawlers in the Dogger Bank. The indignation following this incident put paid to the easing of tension and resulted in a firm British veto on any attempt to send the Russian Black Sea Fleet through the Straits to follow the course of their Baltic brethren, for which, presumably, the Russian sailors offered up a silent prayer of thanks to Lansdowne.[31]

                By 1906 the way was open once more for patient diplomacy to resume.[32] The Russo-Japanese war had ended; Grey had come to the Foreign Office seeking better relations with Russia; and Alexander Isvolsky was now Minister for Foreign Affairs. Isvolsky’s fixation with the Straits was not without reason as virtually all Russia’s export trade went through the waterway[33] but while, in theory, it remained open to merchant ships at all times, this rather depended on having either Turkey or Russia in charge at the Porte. The prospect of German influence becoming paramount was viewed with alarm. Previously, the prohibition on warships was not to Russia’s detriment, in view of the chronically poor state of her Black Sea Fleet. This defensive posture had begun to change in certain circles with the realization that, due to the increased instability in the region ‘navigation through the Straits was increasingly put at risk. The Straits might now be closed owing to a variety of circumstances quite beyond Russia’s control.’ The only way to circumvent this problem would be to have the Straits opened to Russian warships for the protection of trade.[34] When, late in 1906, Hardinge informed the Russians that, in the question of the Straits, ‘we should be glad to consider any proposals that Russia might submit’, Isvolsky ‘beamed with pleasure’ and described the intimation as ‘a great evolution in our relations and a historical event.’[35] Grey, however, more cautious than his Permanent Under-Secretary, preferred not to bring the Straits into what he termed ‘this Asiatic Agreement’. The fact is, he declared,

that if Asiatic things are settled favourably, the Russians will not have trouble with us about the entrance to the Black Sea, but France at any rate must be taken into our confidence before we take engagements, and we should expect Russia’s support about some Egyptian and other kindred things in the Near East, which matter to us and are important to us.[36]

As Grey had only recently been assured that the defence of Egypt gave no cause for concern, its mention might have been no more than a bargaining ploy to seek the maximum concession where it really mattered — on the Indian frontier. A secondary motive was later outlined by Hardinge: ‘Russia’, he declared, ‘will inevitably be drawn into paying greater attention to her position in the Near East & there she will constantly find herself in conflict with Germany and not in opposition to us’.[37] Isvolsky was content to abide by Grey’s wishes, for he had other plans stirring, plans which would lead eventually to a flawed attempt to reach a separate agreement with Austria-Hungary.

  At four o’clock on the afternoon of 31 August 1907 the Anglo-Russian Convention, regarded by Isvolsky as little more than a form of insurance, was signed at the Russian Foreign Office. The following summer, to cement the relationship, King Edward visited his cousin, the Tsar. On Saturday, 6 June 1908, the King and Queen and Princess Victoria, accompanied by Hardinge, Arthur Nicolson, Sir John French, Sir John Fisher and their entourage boarded the Victoria & Albert and steamed out into a furious sea that rendered all on board horribly ill[38] until, the following Tuesday, the anchor of the Royal Yacht clattered down ‘in the small but tense roadstead of Reval.’ The significance of the meeting that followed was not in what was said, nor even what was not said, but rather in what it was thought was said! The business side, in the hands of Isvolsky and Hardinge, was primarily confined to the question of the programme for Macedonian reforms, while Hardinge wished to impress upon the Russian the need for his country to be militarily strong in Europe.[39] Isvolsky, however, apparently came away from the celebrations with the impression that he had obtained British support for his ambition to open the Straits to Russian warships, whereas Hardinge probably did no more than make a general comment that the Straits should be open to everybody.[40] For the hotheads of the Third Army Corps in Macedonia the portents were far more ominous. Rebellion had been spreading throughout the army in the spring and the C.U.P. had plans afoot for a revolution to begin on 1 September,[41] the anniversary of Abdul Hamid’s accession.[42] Unaware of the nature of the talks, news filtering through of the Reval meeting was enough to convince the leaders of the C.U.P. that the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire by the Great Powers was about to commence.[43]

                The situation in Macedonia was now running out of control. The day after the ending of festivities in Reval an attempt was made on the life of Nazim Bey, the Commandant de Place (head of the military police) of Salonica. Nazim was about to return to Constantinople,[44] presumably to report on the state of affairs in the region. While half of Salonica society, enjoying the warm summer evening, gathered in the public gardens to listen to an open air concert, a man dressed in the uniform of a Turkish officer crept into the garden of Nazim’s house and peered through the jalousie to see the Commandant seated with an adjutant. Raising his revolver, the would-be assassin fired two shots; sensing something was amiss, Nazim moved instantaneously and was spared.[45] But the attempt on his life resulted in a commission of inquiry being appointed to investigate the condition of the Third Army Corps. The Commission arrived in Salonica on 20 June and, before long, a popular young officer, Major Enver Bey (who happened to be Nazim Bey’s brother-in-law) was implicated as a ringleader of the revolutionary movement and was summoned to Constantinople ‘with all sorts of promises of reward and advancement’. Wisely, Enver chose to disappear instead, though news was soon received in Salonica that he was gathering adherents to his cause — in this case deserters from the garrison of Tikvesh. Enver had not been the first to raise the standard of revolt: he had been preceded by Major Niazi Bey who had conducted a guerrilla campaign in the vicinity of Monastir since fleeing from Resna on 3 July 1908, after he had been uncovered as a C.U.P. activist.[46] Every passing day brought with it a new intake of recruits to the camps of Enver and Niazi; virtually powerless, Abdul Hamid sent a senior commander to put down the rebellion. The unfortunate Shemshi Pasha had no sooner sent the Sultan a cable from the telegraph office at Monastir on 7 July to inform His Sublime Majesty that he was successfully suppressing the rebellion when, emerging once more into the harsh light of day, Shemshi fell to an assassin’s bullet. Undeterred, Abdul Hamid dispatched another emissary to carry on the work of Shemshi, but Marshal Osman Pasha fared little better for, shortly after his arrival in Monastir, the new commander was fired at and ‘somewhat severely wounded’.[47]

                The Committee initially chose the remote region of Okhrida as their headquarters and it was no surprise when nearby Monastir became the first place to proclaim the return of the 1876 Constitution for this was the primary aim of the C.U.P. which was, to begin with, more in the nature of a conservative group forced to act rather than an out-and-out revolutionary party. Indeed, one of their first acts was to approach the British Consul in Monastir and announce that a rebellion would soon take place, which was not directed against the Christians, and to ascertain the attitude of the British to such an event.[48] Because of the popular appeal of its modest demands the movement could not be contained in Monastir and soon reached Salonica where support against the regime could always be counted upon. Frantic instructions were dispatched from Constantinople to the Inspector-General of Macedonia, Hussein Hilmi Pasha, who, facing ‘a difficult situation with both dignity and skill, sent long telegrams representing the futility of attempting repression when every instrument of force was in the possession of the other side.’[49] By 21 July the game was up for, on that day, the rebels cabled a demand to Abdul Hamid: restore the Constitution or be deposed.[50]

                With little room to manoeuvre Abdul Hamid attempted to forestall the inevitable by dismissing both his Grand Vizier, Ferid Pasha, and the Minister for War on 22 July. In Ferid’s place, Said Pasha, who was known to be friendly to the British, was appointed in the desperate hope of buying time and staving off the reforms demanded. On that day most of the British Embassy staff were enjoying the Turkish Lawn Tennis finals from where rumour reached them of a ministerial reshuffle.[51] The insurrection caught all the Constantinople embassies on the hop, but particularly the British. O’Conor had died in office on 19 March 1908[52] and Hardinge had recommended his place be taken by Sir Gerard Lowther who would not arrive until 30 July. In the interim the Chargé d’Affaires, George Barclay, took over which allowed Fitzmaurice to strengthen his grip on the affairs of the Embassy. After O’Conor’s death the dragoman had written privately to Grey’s private secretary, William Tyrrell, outlining the problem Lowther was likely to face:

During the last few years our policy, if I may call it so, in Turkey has been, and for some time to come will be, to attempt the impossible task of furthering our commercial interests while pursuing a course (in Macedonia, Armenia, Turco-Persian boundary etc.) which the Sultan interprets as pre-eminently hostile in aim and tendency. These two lines are diametrically opposed and consequently incompatible with one another. In a highly centralised theocracy like the Sultanate and Caliphate combined, with its pre-economic conceptions, every big trade &c. concession is regarded as an Imperial favour to be bestowed on the seemingly friendly, a category in which, needless to say, we are not included…One feels that the British Gov[ernmen]t whether Liberal or Conservative must needs continue on its present course in Macedonia so that until that embroglio works itself out any British Ambassador here must necessarily find himself in the equivocal, if not impossible position of having to goad the Sultan with the pinpricks of reform proposals while being expected to score in the commercial line successes which are dependent on the Sultan’s goodwill.

In particular, Fitzmaurice had become deeply antagonistic to the proposed Macedonian reforms which could not be reconciled with the continued exhortation from London to obtain new commercial concessions, while also denying the Sultan additional revenue by refusing to allow the custom dues to be increased.[53] Until the Macedonian tangle could be ‘unravelled’ Fitzmaurice maintained that the new Ambassador should be ‘a man who is not in a hurry to make a reputation, who is serious, level-headed, and sympathetic and who is consequently likely to impress the Sultan and inspire him with personal confidence.’ It remained to be seen whether Lowther would fit the bill.[54]

                Meanwhile, on 23 July, at a prolonged Council of Ministers at the Palace, Abdul Hamid’s first instinct was to try to repress the constitutional movement; from this course he was eventually dissuaded: ‘It must have indeed appeared incomprehensible to His Majesty that, with the immense army he had always maintained, a handful of rebels could not be suppressed.’[55] The question then arose of some reform short of the restoration of the constitution. When convinced by his more senior ministers, including the new Grand Vizier, Said Pasha, that the time for such transparent gestures had passed, Abdul Hamid ‘declared himself against half-measures, and decided to re-establish the Constitution, which he said he had himself granted, and which had never been abrogated.’[56] Early next morning, 24 July, a ‘short and inconspicuous’ paragraph appeared in the press that the Sultan had decided to convoke Parliament.[57] Ever the political pragmatist, Abdul Hamid maintained that his suspension of parliament in 1878 was never intended to be permanent but was a temporary measure (albeit one that had lasted 30 years) necessary to enable him to push through his programme of modernization.[58] And, cashing in on his temporary popularity, the Palace was thrown open to the people on Sunday, 26 July, 60,000 of whom came to honour the deliverer of the constitution.[59]

                The coup had been, to general surprise, bloodless. When it became apparent in Salonica that the C.U.P. had achieved its aim Enver, who had returned the hero ‘escorted by a regiment of artillery and two hundred decorated carriages’, climbed on to a table in the hall of the Salonica Club on the afternoon of 25 July and delivered a ‘very modest and manly speech’ in which he declared that ‘he offered his life as a sacrifice to the cause of the nation, and the Almighty had been pleased to restore it to him.’[60] All of this posed something of a problem for Mr Barclay, the stopgap British Minister in Constantinople, who wanted to know ‘what was this C.U.P., of which people were beginning to talk.’[61] Indeed, the Foreign Office obtained more information on the C.U.P. from the British Embassy in Paris than from Constantinople![62] After being so badly caught out, Barclay had to act quickly to retrieve the situation and, by 26 July, was writing Grey: ‘It would be rash at this early date to hazard any predictions as to the consequences likely to follow the success achieved by the Young Turkish party, but at least it may be said that the reform which is today the subject of such general rejoicing has a better chance of proving a reality than any of the reforms granted by Abdul Hamid in the past.’[63] All in all, confided Hardinge in London, it was a ‘splendid opportunity for Sir Gerard Lowther to arrive at Constantinople’ presaging perhaps a complete reversal of British policy towards Turkey. While concerned that the Russians should not revert to the intrigues of 1876 to upset the constitution Hardinge added, ‘I can only hope that the Young Turk movement has a permanent basis, and that it may perhaps be a bulwark to the new Constitution. Unless this is so, I cannot help feeling that the Sultan will not accept the present situation, but he will endeavour to upset it on the first possible occasion. In this course he would no doubt be encouraged by Germany, since that Power cannot feel at all pleased at the blow her influence will receive in Constantinople.’[64] As predicted, Lowther did receive an enthusiastic reception when he arrived on 30 July: the horses were unharnessed from his carriage and cheering Turks instead provided the motive power to pull the new Ambassador up the steep hill to the Embassy in Pera.[65] The antediluvian city had become vibrant, radiant, as, from the humblest to the most exalted, the inhabitants were swept by a wave of profound excitement and anticipation. It seemed as if a new era in Anglo-Turkish relations was about to begin.

                The proud confident expectation of that time induced a momentary suspension of belief. Hardinge’s hope that damage might be inflicted upon the German position was not realized as the Germans, themselves, in turn quickly perceived the anomalous position in which the British were placed, after the conclusion of the Anglo-Russian Agreement, by their support of the anti-Russian C.U.P.[66] Grey was certainly aware that a new complication had arisen: ‘we have now to be pro-Turkish’, he minuted, ‘without giving rise to any suspicion that we are anti-Russian.’[67] The Foreign Secretary subsequently expanded on this aspect: ‘We were in favour of the new régime in Turkey,’ he informed Isvolsky, ‘not in order that we might support Turkey against Russia, but because we regarded an independent and well-governed Turkey as the only alternative to anarchy and confusion.’[68] Grey could also have mentioned that, however despicable Abdul Hamid’s autocratic regime was, it also acted as a strong and necessary bulwark against the competing Balkan interests of Austria and Russia.[69] Similarly, despite his public pronouncements, which tended invariably to be sympathetic to the new regime, it is clear that Grey harboured grave misgivings regarding the possible restitution of the Constitution. On the day after Lowther’s triumphant arrival, Grey penned his instructions to the new Ambassador, highlighting the problems that might ensue for the control of the British Empire’s Muslim subjects consequent upon a successful reform movement in the spiritual centre of Islam:

My dear Lowther,

                You have reached Constantinople at a most favourable and interesting moment. How little we either of us foresaw, when you were appointed, the reception you would actually get!

                The telegrams and my speech in Parliament will have explained to you my attitude. We should avoid making the Turks suspicious by attempting to take a hand where we are not wanted: but we should make them understand that, if they are really going to make a good job of their own affairs, our encouragement and support will be very firm, and that we shall deprecate any interference from outside on the part of others. I do not mean that we should go to the length of intervention to protect them; but that our diplomatic attitude will be benevolent, and our influence used to secure a fair chance for them.

                Of course, things cannot continue going on as well as they are at present, and it is impossible to say what troubles there may be before us. But we must make it clear that our quarrels have been, not with the Turkish people, but with the government of creatures against whom the Turks themselves have now protested.

                If Turkey really establishes a Constitution, and keeps it on its feet, and becomes strong herself, the consequences will reach further than any of us can yet foresee. The effect in Egypt will be tremendous, and will make itself felt in India. Hitherto, wherever we have had Mahometan subjects, we have been able to tell them that the subjects in the countries ruled by the head of their religion were under a despotism which was not a benevolent one; while our Mahometan subjects were under a despotism which was benevolent. Those Mahometans, who have had any opportunity of comparing the conditions of Mahometans ruled by the Sultan and the conditions of those ruled by us, have generally been ready to admit the difference in our favour. But if Turkey now establishes a Parliament and improves her Government, the demand for a Constitution in Egypt will gain great force, and our power of resisting the demand will be very much diminished. If, when there is a Turkish Constitution in good working order and things are going well in Turkey, we are engaged in suppressing by force and shooting a rising in Egypt of people who demand a Constitution too, the position will be very awkward. It would never do for us to get into conflict on the subject of Egypt, not with the Turkish Government, but with the feeling of the Turkish people.

                I give this as only one of the matters which will require careful handling, some time sooner or later.

                Meanwhile, as regards Turkey herself, our course is clear: we must be ready to help the better elements, to wait upon events, and give sympathy and encouragement when required to the reform movement …Please send me your views quite freely, and give me any suggestions and advice which you may think wise.[70]

Lowther replied immediately, wanting to know what language he should use if the Khedive of Egypt was so thoughtless as to touch on the question of the granting of the Constitution.[71] To this, Grey replied cautioning Lowther to ‘say as little as possible to the Khedive about a constitution for Egypt. If Turkey settles down to a free and enlightened Government, it must have a great effect in Egypt and upon our policy there. But for the moment all we can say is that we want to see what is going to happen in Turkey and that the development of representative institutions in Egypt will continue to receive constant consideration.’[72] However, when ‘some enthusiastic Nationalists’ arrived in Constantinople from Egypt ‘clamouring for help and support’ not only were they met with no encouragement, they were soundly lectured on how good their lot was: ‘They were told that they were not suffering from corrupt administration; since they had been under British tutelage their resources had not been squandered or their people oppressed, they had enjoyed civil liberties, and had been raised to a condition of prosperity and security unknown before. The emissaries… were practically forbidden to give vent to the ideas here…’[73]

                As for the prospect of now working with an enlightened Turkish administration Grey, himself, remained inclined to believe that it was all too good to be true. As he informed Lowther:

                What has happened already in Turkey is so marvellous that I suppose it is not impossible that she will establish a Constitution, but it may well be that the habit of vicious and corrupt government will be too strong for reform and that animosities of race and religion will again produce violence and disorder. Or out of the present upheaval there may be evolved a strong and efficient military despotism. The effect upon the politics of Europe of a strong and reformed Turkey would be very great. But it is too soon to speculate upon these contingencies.

                For the moment good influences seem to be uppermost, the dislike of the old régime and the desire for something better are strong, the rejoicing at the upset of the old and the prospect of a new régime is genuine; our course is clear; we must welcome and encourage this prospect as long as it continues. But we must be careful not to give Russia the impression that we are reverting to the old policy of supporting Turkey as a barrier against her and should continue to show willingness to work with Russia when possible.[74]

At least Lowther, presumably tutored by Fitzmaurice, saw one positive aspect: there would be great openings for British business. ‘There seems no reason’, he predicted, ‘why their finances should not very easily be put right. And they will surely want to buy ships.’[75]

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[1]    After a quiet legislative year in 1906, dominated by the Education Bill, the following year was much more productive. In particular, Asquith’s 1907 Budget foreshadowed the introduction of the old age pension.

[2]    Douglas Porch, The Conquest of Morocco, p. 137.

[3]    The ‘Tabah’ incident resulted after the occupation of this port by Turkish troops. Thus emboldened, the Sultan sought to claim control over the Sinai Peninsula, before eventually being forced to back down on 13 May. Gooch, The Plans of War, pp. 249-53.

[4]    Sir John French, A Turco-German Invasion of Egypt, 16 July 1906, PRO Cab 38/12/42.

[5]    Remarks by Lord Cromer on Sir John French’s memorandum, 23 July 1906, PRO Cab 38/12/44. Cromer had rather missed the point that French was considering a theoretical situation some years hence.

[6]    Feroz Ahmad, “The Late Ottoman Empire”, in Kent (ed.), The Great Powers and the End of the Ottoman Empire, p. 12. Feroz Ahmad also notes the comment of the German General von der Goltz who stated, after the Balkan War, that while the Ottoman Empire had such vast borders and so many enemies no power would wish to form an alliance with it.

[7]    A Turco-German Invasion of Egypt, memorandum by Lord Esher, 24 July 1906, PRO Cab 38/12/45.

[8]    Committee of Imperial Defence, minutes of the 92nd meeting, 26 July 1906, PRO Cab 38/12/46; Ottley to Fisher, 26 July 1906, Fisher to Tweedmouth, 27 July 1906, F.G.D.N., vol. II, pp. 84-5. The question of the Baghdad Railway was also discussed that July: although Grey thought it desirable that the line should be ‘internationalized’ and that Britain should construct and manage the section south of Baghdad, he ‘did not think that we could take any steps towards participation…unless the Germans approached us in the matter’ — which the German Government appeared reluctant to do, despite the fact that ‘their financiers had been active.’ Grey then suggested that, if it came down to a question of raising money in Britain, ‘the Government should treat the undertaking in a similar manner to the Suez Canal and take up the necessary shares.’ Overall, the Committee decided it was ‘most undesirable’ – both militarily and commercially – to have the railway completed and controlled by a foreign Power and that the best arrangement would be to have the Baghdad-Persian Gulf section under a British manager ‘subject to the general control of an international Board.’

[9]    Hardinge to Esher, 26 July 1906, Esher, Journals and Letters, vol. II, p. 172.

[10]  As John Gooch has noted, this conclusion was subsequently removed from the C.I.D. papers, but has survived in War Office records. Gooch, The Plans of War, p. 257 and note 75.

[11]  Grierson had, in effect, been sacked as a punishment for instigating staff talks with the French General Staff without authorization: see, Andrews, Secret Service, p. 32.

[12]  Committee of Imperial Defence, minutes of the 93rd meeting, 13 November 1906, PRO Cab 38/12/55 [my emphasis]. As a result of this meeting the conclusion from the July meeting was expunged.

[13]  The possibility of a joint naval and military attack upon the Dardanelles, 19 December 1906, PRO Cab 38/12/60 [given in full in appendix]. Although signed by General Sir Neville Lyttleton, the Chief of the General Staff, the report’s author was in fact Charles Callwell. Denis Winter, 25 April 1915, appears to suggest that this report is missing and refers to a copy which is accessible in the Bush papers at the Imperial War Museum; part of this confusion could be because he has wrongly dated the report to 1907. Although the report was withdrawn from circulation shortly after being issued, as the reference above indicates, the report can be viewed at the Public Record Office. Winter has also confused Major L. L. R. Samson, a military consul before the War who went on to head the British Secret Service in Athens in 1914, with Wing Commander Charles R. Samson, who commanded no. 3 wing, Royal Naval Air Service at the Dardanelles in 1915.

[14]  Note by M. P. A. Hankey, 24 February 1915, PRO Cab 38/12/60. See chapter 26, below.

[15]  Minutes of the 96th Meeting, Committee of Imperial Defence, 28 February 1907, PRO Cab 38 13/12.

[16]  Report of a Sub-Committee on the Military Requirements of the Empire as affected by Egypt and the Sudan. PRO Cab 38 15/5. See also Gooch, The Plans of War, chapter 8 passim.

[17]  Winstone, Illicit Adventure, pp. 7-8; Roger Adelson, Mark Sykes: Portrait of an Amateur, p. 111.

[18]  Lloyd, in particular, was scathing about the new Liberal Government; see, Charmley, Lord Lloyd and the decline of the British Empire, p. 14.

[19]  Sir Andrew Ryan, The Last of the Dragomans, p. 15: ‘The word “dragoman” is one of the many European corruptions of the Arabic word for translator or interpreter. In the old days in Turkey it applied equally to the modest guides who helped travellers and to persons employed by the foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in the conduct of their business with the Turkish authorities. These, if primarily needed for their linguistic qualifications, were, in fact, much more than interpreters. They were honest, or, as their enemies averred, dishonest brokers between the foreign representatives and the Turks for a great variety of purposes. The system was inextricably bound up with the operation of the Capitulations.’

[20]  Adelson, Mark Sykes, p. 110; Margaret Fitzherbert, The Man Who was Greenmantle, p. 48.

[21]  Quoted in, Fitzherbert, Greenmantle, p. 71. Abdul Hamid shared the dragoman’s unease — the rabble in Salonica was, he knew, ‘affiliated to the Masonic Order of the Grand Orient, and maintained two flourishing Lodges…’ F Yeats-Brown, Golden Horn, p. 12.

[22]  Gwynne Dyer, The Origins of the “Nationalist” Group of Officers in Turkey, 1908-18, Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 8, no. 4, (1973), pp. 121-164.

[23]  Kinross, The Ottoman Centuries, p. 572.

[24]  M. Sukru Hanioglu’s recent The Young Turks in Opposition (Oxford University Press, 1995) is an excellent in-depth study of the various opposition movements and the Committee of Union and Progress in the period 1889 to 1902.

[25]  Ibid., pp. 170-1.

[26]  Shaw and Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire, vol. II, p. 265.

[27]  Fitzherbert, Greenmantle, p. 52. In 1906 the population of Macedonia comprised: 1,145,849 Muslims; 623,197 Greek Orthodox; 626,715 Bulgarian Orthodox; and 59, 564 others: see, Shaw and Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire, vol. II, p. 208, table 3.4.

[28]  See, for example, Grey’s memorandum on Turkey, January 1908, in Lowe and Dockrill, Mirage of Power, vol. III. pp. 461-4: ‘…Armed bands of Greeks, Bulgarians and Servians are all killing each other and the unarmed population. There are a certain number of outrages by Mussulmans upon Christians, and vice versa; but the greatest evil in the country is the outrages of Greeks, Bulgarians and Servians upon each other…’

[29]  Salisbury had in fact commenced negotiations in 1898 and ‘for the purpose of obtaining it was prepared to make sacrifices which made Curzon’s hair stand on end’ (which would have made for an alarming sight) though nothing came of it. Sanderson to Spring Rice, 6 August 1907, Spring Rice mss., PRO FO 800/241.

[30]  William Langer, Russia, the Straits Question, and the European Powers, 1904-8, English Historical Review, vol. 44, (1929), pp. 64-5.

[31]  Conversely, the Japanese Government later admitted that ‘had the Black Sea Fleet been in a position to join that of Admiral Rojdestvensky, the consequences might have been very serious for Japan.’ Sir C. MacDonald to Sir Edward Grey, No. 280, 25 October 1908, BD, V, No. 403, pp 463-4.

[32]  Neilson, Britain and the Last Tsar, chapter 9, passim.

[33]  At the time 10,000 ships cleared Constantinople annually and tonnage had risen 50% in 13 years to 15 million tons in 1904, only slightly less than the tonnage passing through Suez. Langer, Russia, the Straits Question, and the European Powers, 1904-8, p. 64.

[34]  Alan Bodger, “Russia and the End of the Ottoman Empire”, in Kent (ed.), The Great Powers and the End of the Ottoman Empire, p. 82.

[35]  Nicolson, Lord Carnock, p. 243.

[36]  Grey to Nicolson, 1 April 1907, given in Lowe and Dockrill, Mirage of Power, vol. III, p. 460.

[37]  Hardinge to Nicolson, 25 November 1907, Nicolson mss., PRO FO 800/340.

[38]  Fisher wrote mockingly to his wife the following day: ‘I did wish myself on dry land yesterday! I look with horror to the trip back across the North Sea and would like to come back by train.’ F.G.D.N., Vol. II, pp. 180-1.

[39]  The Persian Question also entailed ‘considerable discussion’. See, Memorandum by Sir Charles Hardinge, 12 June 1908, BD, V, no. 195, pp. 237-45; D W Sweet and R T B Langhorne, “Great Britain and Russia”, 1907-1914, in F H Hinsley (ed.), British Foreign Policy Under Sir Edward Grey, pp. 244-5.

[40]  Nicolson, Lord Carnock, p. 273, note 1. Hardinge’s memorandum makes reference to the fact that ‘it would remain a cardinal principle of Russian policy to keep the Straits between the Baltic and the North Sea open’, but does not refer to the Bosphorus or Dardanelles.

[41]  Fitzmaurice to Tyrrell, private, 25 August 1908, BD, V, no. 210, pp. 268-70.

[42]  Another date favoured was 27 September, the Sultan’s birthday. See, Annual Report for Turkey for 1908, BD, V, p. 249.

[43]  Annual Report for Turkey for 1908, BD, V, p. 249.

[44]  He did in fact do so on 12 June.

[45]  The assassin escaped, after firing at the adjutant and another soldier who gave chase.

[46]  Niazi also made off with his battalion funds to help finance the revolution.

[47]  Osman Pasha was later kidnapped. Annual Report for Turkey for 1908, BD, V, pp. 249-50, 287-9; Shaw and Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire, vol. II, pp. 266-7; Sir Edwin Pears, Forty Years in Constantinople, (London, 1916), pp. 253-5; Wilfred Blunt, My Diaries, 1888-1914, (2 vols., London, 1919-20), vol. II, p. 216, entry for 27 July 1908; F Yeats-Brown, Golden Horn, pp. 23-5.

[48]  Annual Report for Turkey for 1908, BD, V, p. 250.

[49]  Consul-General Lamb to Mr Barclay, no. 96, Salonica, 26 July 1908, PRO Cab 37/95/118. Received in London on 10 August enclosed with Sir Gerard Lowther’s dispatch no. 447 of 4 August 1908.

[50]  Kinross, The Ottoman Centuries, p. 574.

[51]  Ryan, Last of the Dragomans, p. 52; Cunningham, The Wrong Horse, p. 67; F Yeats-Brown, Golden Horn, p. 26.

[52]  At his express wish, O’Conor was buried in the British Cemetery at Scutari. Annual Report for Turkey for 1908, BD, V, pp. 248-9.

[53]  Fitzmaurice to Tyrrell, 12 April 1908, BD, V, no. 196, pp. 247-8. Fitzmaurice characterized Britain’s Macedonian policy as ‘insane’. Fitzmaurice to Tyrrell, 25 August 1908, BD, V, no. 210, pp. 268-70. See also: Marian Kent, “Great Britain and the End of the Ottoman Empire, 1900-23”, in Kent (ed.), The Great Powers and the End of the Ottoman Empire, p. 178; Marian Kent, “Constantinople and Asiatic Turkey, 1905-1914”, in Hinsley, op. cit., p. 148; Joseph Heller, British Policy towards the Ottoman Empire, (London, 1983), p. 4.

[54]  Fitzmaurice to Tyrrell, 12 April 1908, BD, V, no. 196, pp. 247-8.

[55]  Annual Report for Turkey for 1908, BD, V, p. 250.

[56]  Barclay to Grey, no. 419, 26 July 1908, PRO Cab 37/95/118.

[57]  Ryan, Last of the Dragomans, p. 60.

[58]  Shaw and Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire, p. 267.

[59]  F Yeats-Brown, Golden Horn, p. 35. Lowther’s subsequent comment was succinct: ‘I thought, that the Sultan, the greatest of living Comedians, was unique when he posed before the crowds as the simple and loving father of his people who for 40 years had been deceived by his advisers as to their real wishes.’ Lowther to Grey, private, 4 August 1908, BD, V, no. 205, pp. 264-5.

[60]  Consul Lamb to Barclay, 26 July 1908, PRO Cab 37/95/118; F Yeats-Brown, Golden Horn, p. 37.

[61]  Cunningham, The Wrong Horse?, p. 67.

[62]  Heller, British Policy Towards the Ottoman Empire, pp. 6-7.

[63]  Barclay to Grey, no. 419, 26 July 1908, PRO Cab 37/95/118.

[64]  Hardinge to Barclay, 30 June 1908, given in Lowe and Dockrill, Mirage of Power, vol. III, p. 464.

[65]  Fitzherbert, Greenmantle, p. 82.

[66]  Heller, British Policy towards the Ottoman Empire, p. 172, note 19.

[67]  Minute by Grey on Lowther to Grey, 7 August 1908, PRO FO 371/545.

[68]  Grey to Nicolson, no. 318, secret, 14 October 1914, BD, V, no. 379, pp. 442-4.

[69]  Grey, Twenty-five Years, vol. I, p. 187.

[70]  Grey to Lowther, private, 31 July 1908, BD, V, no. 204, pp. 263-4. Note: Marian Kent, Constantinople and Asiatic Turkey, Hinsley, op. cit., p. 149, quotes part of this dispatch but omits Grey’s concern regarding the Constitution.

[71]  Lowther to Grey, private, 4 August 1908, BD, V, no. 205, pp. 264-5.

[72]  Grey to Lowther, private, 11 August 1908, BD, V, no. 214, p. 309.

[73]  Annual Report for Turkey for 1908, BD, V, p. 257.

[74]  Grey to Lowther, private, 11 August 1908, BD, V, no. 207, p. 266.

[75]  Lowther to Grey, private, 11 August 1908, BD, V, no. 206, pp. 265-6. Grey was not entirely convinced: ‘I was distressed to find when I came into office’, he replied, ‘how completely we had been ousted from commercial enterprises in Turkey and how apparently hopeless it was to get any footing there. That was why I encouraged co-operation with the French; it seemed as if British enterprise by itself had no prospect. Since then I have been disappointed to find what a very poor set of financiers had got commercial enterprise in Turkey into their hands. It was, I suppose, inevitable under the old regime, for its methods were such that it did not attract the best class of financier.’ Grey to Lowther, private, 23 August 1908, BD, V, no. 208, pp. 266-7.




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