problems during October resulted from his policy of staking all on Said Halim
being able to control the situation; the initial hope that this policy might
succeed proved to be short-lived. The Grand Vizier’s minor victory in the
Council of Ministers in September was but a false dawn; worse, the result was
counter-productive in that Enver now bypassed Said Halim in his dealings with
the Germans and so further contributed to the Prince’s increasing irrelevance.
There is some evidence that Mallet began to realize that he too had backed the
wrong horse, all of which contributed to the added nervous strain he was under:
‘Even his saving sense of humour seemed to have completely deserted him’,
wrote the Counsellor, Beaumont.Mallet’s frustrations were voiced in a long and, in places, intemperate
letter to Grey’s private secretary, William Tyrrell, on 16 October:
the Germans have reason to be well satisfied with the remarkable results of the
presence of Goeben in this port, yet
they have not achieved their main object which was and is the outbreak of war
between Turkey and Great Britain & Russia. Another object is to achieve a
protectorate by peaceful penetration which they have really achieved. It is
extraordinarily difficult to know what is going on and I feel sometimes
bewildered by the maze of lies and wild rumours which reach me every hour of the
day. The most circumstantial reports based apparently upon unimpeachable
evidence are flatly contradicted by equally circumstantial reports based upon
similar evidence. It is quite impossible to believe anything at all, whatever
the authority, and one has to fall back on probabilities relying on one’s own
judgment & forming one’s impressions.
Turkish troops listening to the proclamation of a Jihad
regard to his many conversations with the Grand Vizier, Mallet was convinced
that Said Halim ‘knows that the situation of the [Ottoman] Empire is desperate
— that bankruptcy is not coming but already there, that the people are worn
out with 3 years of war and unrest and with the prospect of another war with
they know not whom, simply to gratify the vanity of a fatuous young idiot like
Enver & a mad German general like Liman.’
Despite all the evidence to the contrary Mallet still could not give up hope
that ‘if we still continue to exercise patience and if we still have successes
as I do not doubt, we may pull it off, and that although we are at the mercy of
an incident, it is not I but Wangenheim who will have to leave first. I confess
that I should hate to be beaten now by Wangenheim, who is a typically
unscrupulous and contemptible form of Teuton.’ And, as far as the Straits were
concerned, ‘It will be impossible’, Mallet contended, ‘to allow this gate
on a great highway to be in the hands of a set of epileptic lunatics for
On the day he wrote this, Mallet learned from a Greek source that
extremists were allegedly plotting to assassinate him within four days. As a
precaution he remained in the Embassy on the 17th, venturing out only briefly to
see Giers who advised him not to attend the memorial service to be held the
following day for King Carol of Roumania. Whether or not there was a plot afoot
his circumspection was rewarded, for Mallet was still alive on the fourth day.
No sooner had he thwarted the conspirators than Mallet heard of a planned armed
demonstration against the Embassy: to counter this he borrowed Lord Gerald
Wellesley’s motor and had it sent to collect the rifles kept in store for such
an eventuality. Once more the attack did not materialize and, much to the
annoyance of Lord Gerald, the upholstery on his car was badly stained by the oil
smeared on the rifles.
The death of King Carol
– an ardent supporter of Austria – had upset perceptions as to the alignment
of Roumania which, it was now thought, would gravitate towards the Entente. If
the pendulum had begun to swing towards continuing neutrality, the arrival of
the first shipment of German gold on 16 October, and the apparently unequivocal
conversion of Talaat and Djemal to intervention, sealed the fate of the Ottoman
Empire. On 22 October Enver presented the Germans with his war plans. The War
Minister maintained that, due to the continued uncertainty in the Balkans,
substantial Turkish forces would have to remain in Thrace. The options that
remained were, in the main, those that had been canvassed in the preceding
months: the proclamation of a jihad
against the Entente; the dispatch of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (though
this would take some time); diversionary operations against Russian land forces
in the Caucasus; seek out and attack the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Of the four
options, only the last promised immediate results; the plans were unhesitatingly
approved by the Germans. One final hurdle remained for Enver. Now, at the last
minute, Halil and Talaat began to waver. There was even talk of Halil and Hafiz
going to Berlin to plead for another six months’ neutrality as Turkish arms
remained inadequate for the task.
It was too late. Enver promptly resorted to subterfuge by handing Souchon a
sealed order to commence hostilities against Russia without a formal declaration
of war. If, however, Enver found that he could not persuade his colleagues to
acquiesce in such a radical course the Minister for War would instruct Souchon not
to open the orders — this was to be the pre-arranged signal that, to force the
issue, Souchon himself would have to manufacture an incident. Wangenheim,
however, was not at all satisfied with this arrangement.
On 23 October the Ambassador sent the Commander of the German Naval Base, Humann,
to see Enver who, typically, was not in his office. Humann thereupon dictated a
note to Colonel Kiazim Bey, Enver’s A.D.C.:
Ambassador is of opinion that Fleet Commander Admiral Souchon must have in his
hands a written declaration from Enver Pasha if Souchon is to carry out
Enver’s plan to cause Russian incident. Otherwise, in case of military failure
or political defeat for Enver, a grave compromise of German policy with
extremely fatal consequences is inevitable.
subterfuge had been designed to override opposition from his own side and did
not take into account Wangenheim’s last-minute faint-heartedness. In the
circumstances, there was little that Enver could do but comply, which he did two
Minister Enver Pasha to Admiral SouchonOctober 25, 1914
entire fleet should manoeuvre in Black Sea. When you find a favourable
opportunity, attack the Russian fleet. Before initiating hostilities, open my
secret order personally given you this morning. To prevent transport of material
to Serbia, act as already agreed upon. Enver Pasha.
[Secret order] The Turkish fleet should gain mastery of Black Sea by
force. Seek out the Russian fleet and attack her wherever you find her without
declaration of war. Enver Pasha.
too, had some final instructions for Souchon: ‘(1) put to sea immediately, (2)
no aimlessness, but war by all means, (3) if possible, report soon to Berlin on
Souchon now had a surprise for Enver. Rather than an incident at sea, the
Admiral had determined upon the far more provocative scheme of attacking the
Russian coast! On that afternoon the German officers began to leave the
congenial environment of the steamship General
to rejoin their ships, German or Turkish, which were congregated around Goeben.
Aboard Breslau orders were issued to set out for the Black Sea for scouting
practice; Lieutenant Dönitz later recorded that word had been received that the
Russians were sowing mines at the entrance to the Bosphorus and that Souchon
planned to cut off their retreat!
In reality the plan was for a simultaneous attack at four locations –
Sebastopol, Theodosia, Novorossisk and Odessa – early on the morning of 29
October. Goeben, accompanied by two torpedo boats and a gun boat, would go to
Sebastopol; the targets for Breslau
(accompanied by Berk) and Hamidieh
would be Novorossisk and Theodosia respectively; while Odessa would be attacked
by three torpedo boats. The fleet sailed on the evening of 27 October. One of
the torpedo boats detailed for Odessa developed engine trouble and turned back;
the remaining two (Muavenet and Gairet) sighted the lights of Odessa at 3 a.m. on the 29th. On a
moonless night the boats were unsure as to how to enter the harbour when,
fortuitously, three steamers emerged, the first showing lights. The Turkish
vessels quickly ran past the emerging ships, into the harbour and, from about 70
yards, put a torpedo into the Russian gunboat Donetz. One French and three Russian steamers were also damaged, as
were shore installations and a sugar factory.
The premature bombardment had, though, ruined Souchon’s plan for
simultaneous attacks, as Goeben was
still some hours away from Sebastopol. At 4 a.m. she intercepted a Russian W/T
message, en clair, reporting the
Odessa action so that when, just before 6.30 a.m., Goeben
sighted her target, the shore batteries had been alerted and were prepared for
action. Goeben’s bombardment of
fifteen minutes’ duration did not go unanswered and she received at least
three hits from heavy shells, one of which resulted in a boiler being shut down.
This action was witnessed by Engineer Lieutenant Le Page, who had been seconded
to the Russians by Limpus. While this was going on the Russian minelayer Pruth
(loaded with 110 mines) blundered on to the scene and was promptly scuttled by
her crew who viewed their ship as being no more than a giant floating bomb
waiting to be detonated. Three modern Russian destroyers attempted to chase the
fleeing attackers but abandoned their effort when the leading boat was hit.
At the same time Hamidieh
arrived at Theodosia. With no opposition evident a German and a Turkish officer
proceeded on shore to give notice of the coming bombardment, to enable civilians
to evacuate the area. A similar warning was delivered at Novorossisk by Berk
which eventually opened fire shortly before Breslau
arrived. Breslau did not, in fact,
reach the port till 10.50 a.m., having first laid a barrage of 60 mines in the
Kertch Straits, then, with her engines stopped, she commenced a leisurely
bombardment of over 300 shells in two hours concentrating first on the oil tanks
on shore, before shifting her aim to the ships in the harbour, ultimately
sinking 14 vessels including (in contradiction to the German Official History)
the British registered steel schooner Friedericke.
All the Turco-German ships returned safely to the Bosphorus.
The photograph, above, of the ship's bell from Friederike
was kindly supplied by Mikhail Bobryshev (UMS-Novo Commercial Director).
The bell was found at Novorossiysk Harbour.
News of the attack, which was received in London at 5.45 that evening, 29
was already common knowledge in Constantinople that afternoon. Djemal, dining at
the fashionable Cercle d’Orient, was
reported to have reacted furiously when he became aware of the news and to have
denied vehemently any knowledge of the attack; when Vere (the Armstrong-Vickers
representative) saw Djemal at 9.30 that night to ask if the rumours were true,
the Pasha – still professing to know nothing about the Black Sea incident –
lost his temper and shouted, ‘That swine Admiral von Souchon has done this.’
While Djemal’s protestations of innocence may, or may not have been, genuine
even Liman von Sanders subsequently denied any foreknowledge of the attack upon
the Russian coast.
For the personnel at the British Embassy the absence of the Turco-German fleet
from the Golden Horn did not presage the events which had now followed; even so,
an aura of calm prevailed as if, at last, a burden of uncertainty had been
lifted and everyone now knew where he stood. Ryan, for one, had left the
Embassy, as usual, at 5 p.m. while, twenty minutes later, Mallet – sanguine to
the last – telegraphed Grey that ‘Unless there are military reasons to the
contrary, I think that HM Government should continue to avoid a rupture with
Precautions were, nevertheless, still taken and when Ryan returned at 6 p.m. he
‘found the Chancery being packed up, so well-prepared were we for a sudden
Grey was, in the meantime, waiting to hear what the Russian attitude would be:
‘Unless Grand Vizier is strong enough to arrest and punish those responsible
for this outrage and make immediate reparations to Russia’, he informed
Mallet, ‘I do not see how war can be avoided, but we shall not take the first
step.’ Grey continued to be deeply concerned of the effect upon the Muslim
population of the Empire if Britain should be cast in the rôle of aggressor;
nonetheless, he could not accept Mallet’s advice.
Mallet saw Giers and Bompard that evening and they agreed between them to
suggest that, as the Ottoman Government must have had prior knowledge of, and
authorized, the attacks, the Porte should be instructed to ‘choose between
rupture with Triple Entente or dismissal of German naval and military
Mallet should have been spared the necessity of having to make such a fatuous
demand as the following day – 30 October – Giers was instructed to ask for
his passports and Mallet, following his own instructions, proposed to do the
same; however his telegram informing Grey of his intention crossed with one from
the Foreign Secretary directing Mallet to send in a note to the Porte expressing
‘the utmost surprise of the wanton attacks made upon open and undefended towns
of a friendly country without any warning and without the slightest
provocation.’ Mallet was to demand that the Turkish Government dismiss the
German missions and repatriate the German sailors; they would have twelve hours
to produce a satisfactory reply to the note, otherwise Mallet was then to ask
for his passports.
At thirty-five minutes past midnight that night (30/31 October) a warning
telegram was sent by the Admiralty to all Mediterranean commands informing them
of the twelve hour time limit.
The countdown to war now appeared a formality. Yet Mallet, encouraged by what he
believed to be credible internal opposition on the 30th, still held out a last
lingering hope. The shock of Souchon’s fait
accompli had reverberated throughout the Porte that day in a series of
confused and emotional meetings convened by the Turks. At the first of these the
vote was 17-10 in favour of intervention upon which Said Halim, Djavid and three
other ministers promptly resigned. Enver had not, apparently, counted on Said
Halim taking so principled a stand and the Minister for War promptly went to
work: he could not afford to lose Said Halim as the Grand Vizier was a useful
figurehead who might, additionally, be able to buy time by continuing to string
along the Entente Powers. So it was that, subject to heavy pressure at the
second meeting that day, Said Halim returned to the fold — reluctant as ever
to give up the sybaritic pleasures of his post. In one sense the arguments were
irrelevant as Souchon’s action had moved the debate away from being a purely
Turkish decision: Russian soil and Russian ships had been shelled; Russian
sailors and civilians killed; and, incidentally, a British ship had been sunk.
Souchon could no longer be disavowed.
Mallet subsequently had a ‘very painful’ interview with the Grand
Vizier, who was said to have pleaded ‘Do not abandon me’. This, and
Djavid’s report of that day’s meeting, given to the French Ambassador,
resulted in Mallet informing Grey that he was ‘unwilling to leave if there is
slightest chance of change in situation during next twenty-four hours.’ The
situation, however, deteriorated rapidly: Giers left on 31 October, while
Morgenthau, the American Ambassador, advised Mallet in strict confidence to go
as soon as possible for, from the information at Morgenthau’s disposal, there
was ‘no chance of favourable solution.’ Mallet, who planned to leave that
same evening, responded to one final plea from the Grand Vizier and consented to
stay over till 1 November to allow another interview to be scheduled. This last
act of consideration for Said Halim was unnecessary: at 5.05 p.m., 31 October,
the order went out from the Admiralty to all ships, ‘Commence hostilities at
once against Turkey. Acknowledge.’
The smoke that rose from the Embassy garden told its own forlorn story: ‘the
documents and records of British achievements in Turkey for over one hundred
years were slowly burning before the eyes of the Ambassador and his Secretaries.
It was the funeral pyre of England’s vanishing power in the Ottoman Empire.’
Mallet and Ryan drove out to Said Halim’s country residence late on the
afternoon of 1 November but, as Ryan had foreseen, ‘the meeting produced no
change in an irremedial situation.’ Together with the French, Mallet and his
staff left that evening by train to Dedeagatch (the only exit as the Dardanelles
remained closed) and there boarded the SS Ernest
Simon on 2 November.
From Dedeagatch they proceeded via Athens and Malta to Marseilles, then by train
to Dieppe, finally reaching London on 11 November.
After Mallet had taken his leave on the evening of 1 November, Said Halim had
other visitors: the Grand Vizier was again wavering and Enver and Talaat arrived
to ensure his final adherence to the cause. Although now abandoned, and with war
inevitable (and Talaat reminded Said Halim that it was he who had signed the
alliance with Germany and would, therefore, be responsible for the consequences)
it apparently still took a threat to his life to persuade the Prince to comply.
the prevailing attitude in London regarding Turkey had already become firmly
established, this allowed the Foreign Office officials time to rehearse their
arguments to explain the unavoidable rupture of relations. The Press Bureau was,
therefore, suitably quick off the mark in issuing a lengthy statement on the
morning of 31 October in defence of Foreign Office policy:
since the German men-of-war, the Goeben
and Breslau, took refuge in
Constantinople, the attitude of the Turkish Government towards Great Britain has
caused surprise and some uneasiness. Promises made by the Turkish Government to
send away the German Officers and crews of the Goeben
and Breslau have never been fulfilled.
It was well known that the Turkish Minister of War was decidedly pro-German in
his sympathies, but it was confidently hoped that the saner counsels of his
Colleagues, who had had experience of the friendship which Great Britain has
always shown towards the Turkish Government, would have prevailed and prevented
that Government from entering upon the very risky policy of taking a part in the
conflict on the side of Germany. Since the war, German Officers in large numbers
have invaded Constantinople, have usurped the authority of the Government and
have been able to coerce the Sultan’s Ministers into taking up a policy of
embarrassingly, Sazonov hesitated over declaring war on Turkey even though the
attack upon his homeland had been flagrant and unprovoked and the Ambassador had
been withdrawn on 31 October. Such unexpected circumspection was the result of
Sazonov’s desire for Turkey to remain intact until at least 1917, when Russia
would be strong enough herself to force the issue of the Straits — his quarrel
was with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Rather like the Grand Vizier, Sazonov
seemed to believe that, by ignoring the problem, it might go away; only a direct
order from the Tsar secured the Russian declaration of war against Turkey on 2
November. This unanticipated Russian intransigence resulted in Britain
involuntarily leading the way to strike back at the Turks.
At the Cabinet on 2 November Grey reported that the situation in Turkey
was still obscure; despite this, the general opinion was that, after what had
happened, there should be a vigorous offensive and every effort should be made
to bring in Greece, Bulgaria and, above all, Roumania. ‘Henceforward’,
Asquith reported to the King, ‘Great Britain must finally abandon the formula
of “Ottoman integrity” whether in Europe or in Asia.’
While the politicians debated, far away, off the Dardanelles, the last futile
act of the drama was being played out. On the back of the Admiralty copy of
Grey’s telegram to Mallet of 30 October, which set the Turks a twelve hour
time limit to respond to the British ultimatum, Churchill had written in blunt
red pencil, ‘1 S[ea] L[ord]. Admiral Slade shd be asked to state his opinion
on the possibility & advisability of a bombardment of the sea face forts of
the Dardanelles. It is a good thing to give a prompt blow.’
Slade replied the same day:
bombardment of the sea face of the Dardanelles Forts offers very little prospect
of obtaining any effect commensurate with the risk to the ships. The Forts are
difficult to locate from the sea at anything like the range at which they will
have to be engaged. The guns in the Forts at the entrance are old Krupp and
would probably be outranged by those in the Fleet, but it is not known where the
new guns 16.5" Krupp said to have been mounted by the Germans are situated.
It may be possible to make a demonstration to draw the fire of these guns &
make them disclose themselves trusting to lack of training of the gunners —
but it would not be advisable to risk serious damage to any of the battle
cruisers as long as the Goeben is
effective — A little target practice from 15 to 12 thousand yards might be
following day, 1 November, the order was sent to Admiral Carden: without risking
either his own or the French ships a demonstration was to be made against the
forts on the earliest suitable day from long range and with the ships underway.
Approaching soon after daylight, Carden was instructed to retire before return
fire from the forts became effective; and, lest Carden should entertain any
doubts that this was just another of Winston’s caprices, Churchill ended the
signal by declaring that the First Sea Lord concurred.
This reassurance might not have been as comforting as Carden imagined.
Battenberg, at the end of his tether after constant attacks in the press
questioning his patriotism, was unwell and no longer up to the job. The
whispering campaign had been so effective that, as early as 30 September,
Commander Domvile recorded in his diary that ‘There is a persistent rumour
that P[rince] L[ouis] is shut up in the Tower...’
Churchill’s own performance was also coming under increasing criticism after a
series of failures
and, to protect his own position, a change was required at the Admiralty — a
First Sea Lord with energy and ideas. It was, apparently, Haldane who first
suggested, on 19 October, that Fisher should return to the Admiralty (in
addition to Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson).
Churchill received Asquith’s approval for the change the following day; the
Prime Minister had not found in Prince Louis a congenial colleague when
Churchill’s absences had forced them to work together. ‘I think’, Asquith
informed Venetia Stanley that afternoon, ‘Battenberg will have to make as
graceful a bow as he can to the British public.’
The changeover was not all plain sailing however as the King, who was, on the
one hand ‘a good deal agitated’ about Battenberg’s position, was equally
horrified at the prospect of Fisher’s return. The pretext Churchill required
was provided on 27 October when the new super-dreadnought Audacious
struck a mine and was lost.
The First Lord saw Asquith that morning to report the catastrophe and was
described by the Prime Minister as being ‘in a rather sombre mood’ — a
considerable understatement. ‘Strictly between you & me’, Asquith
confided to Miss Stanley, ‘he has suffered to-day a terrible calamity on the
sea, which I dare not describe, lest
by chance my letter should go wrong…He has quite made up his mind that the
time has come for a drastic change in his Board; our poor blue-eyed German will
have to go, and (as W. says) he will be reinforced by 2 “well-plucked
chickens” of 74 & 72…’
By the 28th Asquith was adamant that Battenberg must go; Churchill had had a difficult interview with the Admiral
made all the more poignant as Prince Louis’ nephew had been killed in action
the previous day. Now thoroughly dispirited, ‘Louis behaved with great dignity
& public spirit, & will resign at once.’ Still, though, the King had
an ‘unconquerable aversion’ to Fisher. Asquith played his part in the coup
to the hilt, declaring to the King’s private secretary that nothing would
induce him to part with Winston, ‘whom I eulogised to the skies, and that in
consequence the person chosen must be congenial to him.’
Battenberg resigned, a broken man. It was, the Prime Minister admitted, a much
more difficult job to get the King to consent to Fisher’s appointment than it
was to get his approval of Battenberg’s resignation. At an interview with the
King, after lunch on 29 October, Asquith wrote that
gave me an exhaustive & really eloquent catalogue of the old man’s crimes
& defects, and thought that this appointment would be very badly received by
the bulk of the Navy, & that he would be almost certain to get on badly with
Winston. On the last point, I have some misgivings of my own, but Winston
won’t have anybody else, and there is no one among the available Admirals in
whom I have sufficient confidence to force him upon him. So I stuck to my guns,
and the King (who behaved very nicely) gave a reluctant consent. I hope his
apprehensions won’t turn out to be well founded.
old reprobate was back at the Admiralty on 30 October, the day Churchill had
determined that Carden should bombard the Dardanelles’ forts. By this time
Churchill had already – in as much as it was possible for him – developed a
grudge against Turkey; but it is also tempting to suggest that the precipitate
order to Carden owed more than a little to Churchill’s desire to impress
Fisher and to demonstrate to his critics that the Admiralty was now under new
management, with past disasters forgotten, and resolute action to come. However
difficult it might be to untangle the swirling mix of motive and emotion wrapped
up in the order to Carden, it is without question that it was to have the most
The infallible Captain Richmond was, as usual, less than impressed with
the Admiralty’s way of conducting business; it was an infelicitous attribute
of Richmond that he always believed he could do the job better himself. ‘Of
course’, he recorded on the day the order was sent, ‘Sturdee has no notions
of what to do [about Turkey] beyond the crude one of sending a ship to fire upon
their troops between Gaza & El Arish, & even that I had to suggest to
him…It is pitiful to see the lack of co-operation between Army & Navy in
Limpus, now ensconced at Malta, also became aware of the order to Carden and was
so concerned he sent Sturdee a personal telegram on 2 November urging caution:
knowledge of Turks leads me to think result would be reported widespread in
Constantinople Allied Fleet have attacked and have been repulsed with serious
loss. Naturally have no knowledge of plan, but it seems to me that first thing
to free passage of Straits is a land attack on forts on Asia side.
far as Richmond was concerned, this looked like the end of the matter. He noted
on 3 November that orders had been sent to bombard the forts, ‘but Limpus
pointed out that such an action could not be conclusive & the Turks would
use our necessary withdrawal to boast of a victory. So I dare say we shall not
For once, Richmond was wrong. At 5.45 that morning Carden’s ships had opened
fire, his objective being ‘to do as much damage as possible in a short time
with a limited number of rounds at long range, and to turn away before the fire
from the forts became effective.’ To accomplish this, he allowed a mere eight
rounds per turret.
Britain had commenced hostilities before
the official declaration of war!
The immediate results were better than expected, particularly those
obtained by the British battle cruisers, and included the destruction of Fort
Seddel Bahr when its magazine exploded after being hit. ‘It seemed to me’,
noted an onlooker on Dublin, ‘to be
a deliberate bombardment of practically every building in sight, care being
taken not to hit the minaret. This would be because of its use for range finding
and also perhaps of a wish not to offend religious sensibilities. The main
target was certainly the fort, which we made a mess of, culminating in a huge
explosion. There had been sporadic return fire from several positions but we
certainly weren’t hit and it was all a most one-sided affair.’
Djevad Pasha, the Turkish commandant, testified after the war that this attack,
though more or less a reconnaissance, caused more damage than any succeeding
‘The Turkish guns were quite outranged’, noted the commander of HMS Harpy,
‘and as far as I could see, only a few ricochets came near us…I hope this
war will be prosecuted with vigour, and that we shall not be content with a 20
minute bombardment occasionally.’
Asquith, however, was less impressed: ‘The shelling of a fort at the
Dardanelles seems to have succeeded in blowing up a magazine’, he wrote,
adding cynically, ‘but that is peu de chose. At any rate we are now frankly at war with
This was, in a formal sense, still incorrect.
In Constantinople von Usedom admitted that the long range shooting had
been remarkably good and the demonstration had produced near panic in the
capital, resulting in a conference being convened of Government representatives
and town authorities to discuss the measures to be taken to safeguard the city,
its treasures, valuables, holy places, and the Sultan. There was even talk of
laying a minefield in front of the Golden Horn
while steam was raised in Goeben so
that she could sail to the Dardanelles and assist if necessary.
In London the Cabinet reached the conclusion that, due to the bombardment and
destruction of the fort, ‘a final declaration of war against Turkey could no
longer be postponed.’
On the afternoon of 4 November Tewfik Pasha, acting under instructions from
Constantinople, called on Grey and asked for his passports. The following day
Britain and France declared war on Turkey. Churchill would not let up; he asked
Carden four days later to report on any way the Turks could be injured
‘without undue risk or expenditure of ammunition.’
Carden was not keen, replying that there was not much that could be done at
present without using a full charge in the 12-inch guns.
Undeterred, Churchill again asked Carden for his proposals for injuring the
Almost in desperation, Carden replied that, apart from preventing contraband
entering through the Dardanelles or Smyrna, which he was already doing, the only
other option was a further bombardment.
‘The bombardment should be repeated’, Churchill instructed on 16 November
before Vice-Admiral Oliver’s timely intervention prevented another futile
demonstration. ‘Possibly’, the Admiral minuted, ‘the guns have not enough
remaining life to make it advisable to bombard again with full charges.’
The proposal lapsed — for the time being.
Carden’s few rounds had blown up a fort; this short term damage, and
the temporary panic in Constantinople (which soon subsided), were however in no
way offset by the long term consequences of Churchill’s folly. As a result of
the First Lord’s ‘prompt blow’ the following improvements were made to the
defences of the Dardanelles:
i.damage done to Seddel Bahr repaired
ii.number of 15 cm L/40 QF guns at Dardanos increased from 2 to 5
iii.a new battery, 3 x 15 cm L/40 QF naval guns, had been completed at
Messudieh on European shore
iv.the minefield batteries had been greatly strengthened by addition of a
number of fixed light QF guns removed from Turkish warships and by several mobile field batteries
v.additional minefields had been laid
vi.searchlights had been increased in number and power
50 and 60 mobile mortars and howitzers had been established in concealed
positions on bothsides of the Straits, between the inner and outer defences
viii.the range-finding, fire observation and control systems had been improved
ix.the emplacement of the heavy gun batteries had been strengthened by
increasing the thickness of earth covering of traverses and parapets, and
the provision of sandbag buttresses and revetments to protect guncrews and ammunition stores
x.the construction of Djevad Pasha battery (3 x 15 cm L/26 Krupp
guns) had been commenced near WhiteCliffs and was approaching completion at end of February 1915.
report made for depressing reading but contrasted markedly with Churchill’s
own evidence at the Dardanelles Commission: ‘…as far as I can recollect’,
he answered at that time,
object was to see what the effect of the ships guns would be on the outer forts
— whether they would injure them…It lasted only 10 minutes. We thought it
would be useful to ascertain this, and also, the war having just begun and the
Fleet having waited off the Dardanelles for some weeks, it seemed a convenient
moment to exchange shots with the forts and to acquire any information about the
effect of the guns on the forts…It did not seem likely to do any harm in the
way of putting the enemy specially on their guard, and in fact it did not
produce any evil consequences; the enemy took no steps in consequence of
Churchill’s prevarication, the Report of the Dardanelles Commission concluded
that the demonstration, which was characterized as “unfortunate”, was ‘a
mistake, as it was calculated to place the Turks on the alert’ and it was made
clear that the orders to bombard had emanated solely from the Admiralty — the
War Council had not been consulted.’
Although, clearly, the Dardanelles defences were being strengthened
before the bombardment the main purpose of this was to prevent the ingress of
the Allied fleet and so give the Turco-German fleet a free hand in the Black
Sea. Neither the troops nor equipment were then in place to have repelled a
combined operation. Just as important, the emphasis of the Turco-German defences
was altered: mines would now be adopted as the primary weapon, and the guns on
both shores would be deployed to protect the minefields. It was this decision
which would eventually seal the fate of the Dardanelles Expedition.
Churchill was obviously concerned enough about the advance warning he had
provided of a possible allied attack for him to want to deny, in his evidence,
the fact that this affected Turkish planning.
Lloyd George certainly ‘partly blamed’ Churchill for the war with Turkey:
‘The situation was not desperate even after the attacks by the Goeben
on Russian Black Sea Ports’, the Chancellor maintained in Scott’s record of
the conversation. The Turks ‘did not concern us and it was open to Russia to
ignore them but the perfectly useless bombardment by the fleet of one of the
Dardanelles Forts and the seizure of Akaba brought us at once into war.’
Churchill had, in effect, launched his own private war against Turkey.
Yasamee has argued that the three factors which ‘tipped the balance in favour
of intervention’ were: ‘the German alliance, which Talat in particular was
reluctant to betray; the presence of the Goeben
and Breslau, which gave the Empire naval security against Russia, as
well as an easy route into the war; and the Germans’ offer to subsidize the
Ottoman war effort.’
Of the three, only the possession of the German ships, under German command,
could guarantee Turkey’s entry into
the war. It was feasible that, without the presence of the German ships, Turkey
could, if so inclined, have kept out of the war indefinitely. Despite the fact
of the Turco-German alliance on 2 August, little had happened since: on the day
after the signing a British Admiral still remained in charge of the Turkish
fleet and would continue to do so for another month. Despite a report to the
contrary from the Military Attaché, the Turkish mobilization was lethargic, a
result in part of dire economic necessity. By September, German hopes that
Turkey would participate actively in the war rested with Enver Pasha, the
Minister for War, whose position was not strong enough to allow him to take
unilateral action. Enver’s first attempt to force the issue – his
authorization to Souchon on 14 September to patrol in the Black Sea in an
endeavour to manufacture an incident – soon fell foul of the
anti-interventionists in the Turkish Cabinet. This rebuff was viewed so
alarmingly by the Germans that von Usedom admitted that the various German
technical missions existed ‘only through Enver, and depend on him for
results’. Von Usedom further believed that if the anti-interventionists gained
the upper hand ‘the prospect of working
with the Turks will have passed.’
When dealing with these arguments, the wider strategic position should
not be overlooked; indeed it would come to assume crucial importance. During
August it appeared as if the German forces would soon achieve the victory that
was widely expected. Not until early September was the German advance on the
Western Front checked after which there would be an impending stalemate.
Similarly, despite an initial crushing victory in the East, Austro-German forces
had received a check at the First Battle of Warsaw while, further south, the
Austrians were being hard pressed by the Serbs. By October, it was no longer
possible to assume automatically that the only result of the war would be a
German victory. Yet it was the chance to regain territory as a result of a
victorious march with the Central Powers that weighed so heavily in the counsels
at the Porte. Once the issue was in doubt, if only slightly, Enver lost a key
bargaining point. Worse, if it appeared that the Entente Powers might actually
be making some headway, the arguments in favour of continuing Turkish neutrality
would be overwhelming. Enver had little choice but to force the issue before
news was received of a setback to German arms.
To accomplish this task his method of attack was two-pronged: a demand
for German gold which, when forthcoming, at least invoked a moral debt for
Turkey to enter the lists and second, if all else failed, a direct order to
Souchon to attack Russian ships. The Turkish demand for T£2 million was quickly
met by the Germans; however, this was not as conclusive as it might have seemed,
as previous shipments had been sent to little effect. Mallet had already
surmised that the Turks might be playing with the Germans, ‘and having
obtained from them soldiers, sailors, cannons, supplies, money and promises they
are now showing great and increased reluctance to pay the bill.’
Similarly, when on 23 October Mallet became aware of the latest shipment of
gold, he maintained that this ‘need not indicate immediate declaration of
A further complication had arisen for Enver following the death of King Carol of
Roumania which cast some doubt on the prospect of Roumania aligning herself with
the Central Powers; indeed, the very possibility that she might gravitate
towards the Entente, when combined with the lack of German progress on the
battlefield and the weak position of the Turkish forces, was enough to warrant
talk of a Turkish envoy being sent to Berlin to plead for a further six months
The only sure means by which Enver could force his country into the war
rested solely with the command of Admiral Souchon. Before it was too late, on 25
October 1914, Enver issued the fateful orders to Souchon.
Two things should be noted in Enver’s orders: first, that Souchon was directed
to attack the Russian fleet and
second, that the Turkish fleet was to
gain mastery of the Black Sea. Clearly however, the second task would have been
beyond the means of the Turkish fleet without the presence of Goeben
and Breslau, while Souchon himself
decided to go a step further and attack the Russian mainland. Between them,
Enver and Souchon ensured Turkey’s entry into the war at the end of October
1914. The question remains, could Enver have achieved the same result without
the presence of Souchon’s squadron?
Captain Reginald Hall, the Director of the Intelligence Department at the
Admiralty from October 1914, maintained in evidence before the Dardanelles
Commission that, ‘From very certain information one could definitely say that
the entry of Turkey into the war was forced by the guns of Goeben, by Goeben actually
arriving there – that the entry of Turkey was by no means a unanimous opinion
of the Young Turk party itself.’ When queried on this point, Hall reiterated,
‘Yes, there is unquestionable evidence that their arrival there forced Turkey
into the war.’
Lloyd George also maintained that the escape of Goeben
and Breslau ‘was directly
responsible for the entry of Turkey into the War.’
Despite their insistence, the question of whether it can be established beyond
doubt that the acquisition of the German ships caused Turkey’s entry into the
war is fraught with imponderables: for how long could the Ottoman Government
have resisted the unrelenting German pressure? What was the possibility of a
Russian incursion on Turkey’s eastern frontier which would have resulted in
war from another direction? Would the simmering dispute with Greece over the
Aegean Islands have dragged the Turks into a wider Balkan conflict? Nevertheless
possession of the two ships greatly facilitated the onset of war by ceding to
Turkey at a stroke command of the Black Sea; furthermore Admiral Souchon had a
degree of latitude available to him in his actions that did not fall to General
Liman von Sanders, the head of the German Military Mission to Turkey. The
Turkish game of avoiding action for as long as possible was transparent and
Souchon certainly hastened its conclusion; as he himself declared, ‘I have
thrown the Turks into the powder-keg and kindled war between Russia and
It is difficult to see what options would have been available to Enver if
Souchon had not successfully escaped the clutches of Admiral Milne. With
recollections still fresh of its poor showing against the Greek Navy in the
Balkan Wars, the Turkish fleet, as it stood before Goeben’s
arrival, could not have hoped to sortie into the Black Sea with any certain
prospect of a successful encounter with the Russian Black Sea Fleet. With this
path closed Enver would presumably have pushed for a Turkish advance upon the
Suez Canal, yet with this option he faced the resolute objection of General
Liman von Sanders who strongly doubted the value of this operation. Enver
himself admitted that a sizeable proportion of the Ottoman Army would still have
to be committed to a defensive posture in Thrace. It is reasonable to presume
that Enver might have been placed in the position of having to rely upon a
Russian incursion through Persia as a pretext but, with her hands full
elsewhere, would the Russians have been so foolhardy? Otherwise he could have
tried to force the Russians’ hands by closing the Dardanelles. Yet, when first
approached by von Usedom early in September 1914 with a request to close the
Straits and complete the mine barrier, Enver at first demurred as the result
might be an Entente ultimatum which could lead to a war that the Turks were then
anxious to avoid until assured of Bulgaria and Roumanian non-intervention.
However, when, within a month, a new minefield had been laid and the Straits
closed there was no ultimatum. Whether the Russians would have continued to
accept this state of affairs if war against Turkey had not broken out in
November is problematical; however, as pointed out above, they were hard pressed
in the north and could ill afford the opening of a new front.
If Enver could not have forced the issue in the way he did, and Turkey
thereby remained neutral, within a month the news from all fronts would have
been less than reassuring and certainly would have emphasized the fact that
there was little expectation of a quick German victory.
Would much have changed if Turkey had maintained her shaky neutrality into 1915?
It is difficult to imagine that the agonizing of the British Cabinet over the
stalemate on the Western Front in December 1914 would not still have taken
place. New troops were becoming available, including the Empire contingents, and
there would still have been anxious debate in London before they were
dispatched, as Churchill complained, to chew barbed wire in Flanders. In that
case, presumably, Lloyd George’s suggestion of an attack upon Austria would
have been canvassed more thoroughly.
Further, if the Dardanelles remained closed even though Turkey continued her
neutrality (and this was always a distinct possibility), there would have been
heavy pressure applied by the Entente Powers to force a re-opening. At any time
an ‘incident’ might have occurred off the Straits. All these suppositions
were rendered irrelevant by Souchon’s actions in the Black Sea on 29 October
1914. Germany had supplied the means and on that morning Souchon achieved the
end. Souchon’s disregard for Enver’s orders revealed fully who was in
control at the Porte. As Admiral Limpus noted in his last letter from
Constantinople, ‘Patience, and events unfavourable to Germany, coupled with
resentment against German presumption, may yet cause the Turks to discuss with
Great Britain, or France, the means of ridding themselves of their present
masters.’ Limpus believed that ‘even without menaces, patience and the logic
of events will make it difficult for the Germans to persuade the Turks to make
an irretrievable false step.’
Where persuasion failed, Souchon acted. Without Goeben
how different it might have been.
Sir Henry Beaumont, unpublished typescript
autobiography, p. 436.
It should be made clear that Mallet was here
repeating the views of Said Halim.
Mallet to Tyrrell, 16 October 1914, Grey mss., PRO
FO 800/80; see also, Heller, pp. 150-1.
Mallet to Grey, private, very secret, 19 October
1914, Grey mss., PRO FO 800/80; Beaumont autobiography, p. 436.
Buchanan to Grey, no. 598, 3 November 1914, PRO Adm
137/96; Yasamee, “Ottoman Empire”, in Wilson (ed.), Decisions
for War, pp. 256-7; Djemal, Memories
of a Turkish Statesman, p. 129; Heller, British
Policy towards the Ottoman Empire, p. 152; Kurat, How Turkey drifted into World War I, p. 311.
and the Ottoman Empire, pp. 53-4. Souchon’s foray into the Black Sea
was in direct contravention of the third condition originally stipulated for
Goeben to be able to remain in
Constantinople: namely, the German ships ‘were not to enter the Black Sea
until a firm commitment had been obtained from Bulgaria for common action
Humann to Enver, 23 October 1914; Enver to Souchon,
25 October 1914, both quoted in, Jackh, The
Rising Crescent, pp. 116-7.
The instructions were contained in a letter from
Humann to the Captain of Goeben,
26 October 1914, quoted in Jackh, p. 117. Humann had requested of the
Captain: ‘You have two documents on board which perhaps one day will have
great historical significance – Enver’s secret order and his note sent
to Admiral Souchon yesterday. Even the Colossus, Goeben,
is perishable. Wouldn’t you therefore want to deposit the papers here on
Dönitz, The Cruises of
the Breslau, (Berlin, 1917), English translation in PRO Adm 137/3896.
This charge was also repeated by Kopp, Two
Lone Ships, p. 88.
The auxiliary minelayer Beshtau
was also set on fire: Nekrasov, North
of Gallipoli, (Boulder, 1992), p. 24.
Der Krieg Zur See, pp. 5-13; Deposition by Dr Guy O. Shirey, 31
October 1914, Ryan mss., PRO 800/264; The Turkish Navy in the Dardanelles Campaign, chapter 12 of the
Report of the Committee Appointed to Investigate the Attacks delivered on
and the enemy defences of the Dardanelles Straits, PRO Adm 186/600; Engineer
Lieutenant Le Page to Admiralty, 7 November 1914, PRO Adm 137/881;
Consul-General Roberts, Odessa to Grey, no. 76, 29 October 1914, PRO Adm
137/881; Deposition of second mate Samuel Springhall of the ship Friedericke,
11 December 1914, PRO Adm 137/881; Nekrasov, North
of Gallipoli, pp. 24-5.
Consul-General Roberts to Grey, no. 76, sent 12.57 p.m.,
received 5.45 p.m., 29 October 1914, PRO Adm 137/881.
Eastern Construction Committee to Churchill, 17 November 1914,
enclosing report by Mr James Stewart, PRO Adm 137/881. See also, Ryan, The
Last of the Dragomans, p. 105; Beaumont, typescript autobiography, p.
438. Dr Stuermer, Two War Years in Constantinople, p. 235, footnote. According to Dr
Stuermer, Djemal’s words upon hearing of the attack were, ‘So be it, but
if things go wrong, Souchon will be the first to be hanged.’
Liman von Sanders, Five
Years in Turkey, p. 31. Yasamee [“Ottoman Empire” in Wilson (ed.), Decisions
for War, p. 257] notes that Djemal issued orders to the Turkish Fleet to
obey Souchon’s orders; however this still might have referred to an attack
upon the Russian Fleet only. For, while an incident with the Russian Fleet
might be explained away by asserting that the Russians had fired first, the
option of pleading self-defence was lost when Russian cities were bombarded.
Mallet to Grey, private, 29 October 1914, Grey mss., PRO FO
Grey to Mallet, 29 October 1914, WSC Comp. vol. III, pt. i, p. 233; see also, Bertie diary, entry for
30 October 1914: ‘I would not consider the Turkish (German) attack at
Odessa as an act of war which we need to take up. Let the Turks
attack us or declare war against us so that our Mussulman subjects may see
that we are not the aggressors…’
Mallet to Grey, 29 October 1914, WSC Comp. vol. III, pt. i, p. 234.
Grey to Mallet, no. 727, 30 October 1914, PRO Adm 137/96.
Admiralty to All Medt Commands, 31 October 1914, PRO Adm
Nevertheless, the attempt was still made! A communication was
issued from Turkish Headquarters on the 30th that ‘the Russian fleet
followed all the movements of the Turkish fleet and interfered with its
exercises. The Russian fleet began hostilities to-day. The Russian
mine-layer, three torpedo boats and a coal tender advanced to-day toward the
Bosphorus with hostile intentions. The Goeben
sank the mine-layer, took the coal tender, heavily damaged one torpedo
boat…and successfully bombarded Sevastopol…It has been learned from
prisoners that the Russians intended to mine the entrance to the Straits and
destroy our fleet.’ Liman von Sanders, Five
Years in Turkey, p. 31.
Admiralty to all ships, 31 October, PRO Adm 137/33.
Gilbert, First World War,
p. 106 quoting Betty Cunliffe-Owen, the wife of the Military Attaché.
Mallet to Grey, 31 October 1914, WSC Comp. vol. III, pt. i, p. 241; Ryan, The Last of the Dragomans, pp. 105-6; Trumpener, Germany
and the Ottoman Empire, pp. 56-7; Heller, British
Policy towards the Ottoman Empire, pp. 152-3; Kurat, How
Turkey drifted into World War I, pp. 313-4.
Trumpener, Germany and
the Ottoman Empire, pp. 60-1.
Press Bureau statement, 31 October 1914, WSC Comp. vol. III, pt. i, pp. 238-40; Heller, pp. 152-3.
C Jay Smith, The 1914-15
Straits Agreement, p. 1030.
Asquith to the King, 3 November 1914, PRO Cab 41/35/56.
Minute by Churchill, 30 October 1914, PRO Adm 137/96.
Slade to Churchill, 30 October 1914, ibid. The underlining was Churchill’s. Slade suggested three other
points at which to strike at the enemy: ‘1. A ship to be sent to Akaba to
shell the wells and the stores said to be collected there. 2. The force at
Bahrein to be moved up the bar of the Shatt al Arab at once ready to land
directly the ultimatum expires. 3. To send a ship to El Arish to command the
coast road to Egypt.’
Admiralty to Carden, no. 590, 1 November 1914, PRO Adm 137/96.
Domvile, diary entry, 30 September 1914, NMM Dom 24. A saner
appraisal was provided by S. C. Colville, who wrote to the Second Sea Lord
on 10 November 1914, ‘as regards P. Louis of course all that about his
being a spy is “rot”, but from what one has heard & knows it is
pretty well self-evident he had become a non-entity & a simple tool in
W. C.’s hand…’ Colville to Admiral Hamilton, 10 November 1914,
Hamilton mss., NMM HTN/117.
‘Poor Winston is in rather bad luck just now,’ commented
Asquith to Venetia Stanley on 21 October. Asquith
Letters, no. 186, pp. 280-1.
Gilbert, Winston S
Churchill, 1914-1916, pp. 143-7; Mackay, Fisher,
‘It is far the worst calamity the Navy has so far
sustained,’ declared Asquith, ‘as she cost at least 2½ millions. It is
cruel luck for Winston…’ Asquith to Venetia Stanley, 28 October 1914, Asquith Letters, no. 192, pp. 290-1.
Asquith to Venetia Stanley, 27 October 1914, Asquith Letters, no. 191, pp. 287-8. Note: Fisher was in fact 73,
Asquith to Stanley, 28 October 1914, Asquith Letters, no. 192, pp. 290-1.
Asquith to Stanley, 29 October 1914, Asquith Letters, no. 193, pp. 295-7.
Marder, Portrait of an
Admiral, entry for 1 November 1914, p. 122.
Limpus to Sturdee, no. 180, personal, 2 November 1914, PRO Adm
Marder, Portrait, 3
November 1914, pp. 123-4. Richmond continued his entry for that day: ‘We
go to war in a curious way. What more singular than that it was only
yesterday that the Chief of the Staff gave instructions for the defence of
the Suez Canal & that the whole question of how we should act if Turkey
came into the war was raised. Yet Turkey might have come in any day during
the last two months, & the least that could be done in view of her
attitude was to have a clear idea of how we should act if she did come
Carden to Admiralty, 14 November 1914, Lumby, no. 439, pp.
Orders were also prematurely issued to the Indian Expeditionary
Force on 30 October to sail from Bahrein. These, however, were cancelled in
time and the force only departed on 2 November, arriving at Shatt al Arab on
5 November, the day of the British declaration.
Chief Petty Officer W. G. Cave, quoted in, Liddle, The
Sailor’s War, p. 52
Report of the Committee Appointed to Investigate the Attacks
delivered on and the enemy defences of the Dardanelles Straits, chapter 3,
PRO Adm 186/600.
Diary of Admiral Sir Gerald Dickens, 3 November 1914, IWM
Asquith to Stanley, 4 November 1914, Asquith Letters, no. 202, p. 309.
Report of von Usedom, 14 November 1914, PRO Cab 45/215.
Asquith to the King, 4 November 1914, PRO Cab 41/35/57.
Admiralty to Carden, no. 620, 9 November 1914, PRO Adm 137/96.
Carden to Admiralty, no. 295, 12 November 1914, ibid.
Admiralty to Carden, no. 638, 13 November 1914, ibid.
Carden to Admiralty, no. 323, 15 November 1914, ibid.
Minutes by Churchill and Oliver, 16 November 1914, ibid.
Report of the Committee Appointed to Investigate the Attacks on
and the enemy defences of the Dardanelles Straits, summary of chapter 2, PRO
Proceedings of the Dardanelles Commission, questions 1220-1,
PRO Cab 19/33.
Report of the Dardanelles Commission, part 1, p. 14, PRO Cab
19/1. This was not all: the bombardment almost resulted in the Turks
interning all foreigners. That the foreign residents succeeded in escaping
owed much to the resourcefulness and determination of the American
Ambassador. Morgenthau, Secrets of the
Bosphorus, pp. 85-95.
Charmley, Churchill, The
End of Glory, p. 109, asserts that ‘Much nonsense has been spouted
about this alerting the Turks to the dangers of a British attack, but it
appears unlikely that the Turks would not, of their own accord, have
realised that there was such a possibility.’ This ignores the fact that
the main defensive arrangements at the Dardanelles in November 1914 were
aimed at preventing the entrance of a fleet; they were not directed towards
dealing with an assault by troops. And there is no doubt that all
the defences were greatly strengthened after
the November bombardment and before the first landings in April 1915 and
that, crucially, the emphasis was altered from guns to mines.
C. P. Scott, Notes of a
conversation with Lloyd George, 27 November 1914, WSC Comp. vol. III, pt. i, p. 281; Wilson (ed.), The
Political Diaries of C. P. Scott, p. 110.
Yasamee, “Ottoman Empire”, in Wilson (ed.), Decisions for War, p. 259.
Report of von Usedom, 16 September 1914, PRO Cab 45/215 [my
emphasis]. As a direct result of this political defeat Souchon, on 20
September, felt able to send only Breslau
into the Black Sea and then for a matter of a few scant hours. This merely
succeeded in spurring Enver on.
Mallet to Grey, no. 895, 30 September 1914, PRO FO
Mallet to Grey, 23 October 1914, quoted in Kurat, p. 308.
Enver to Souchon, 25 October 1914, quoted in, Jackh, The
Rising Crescent, pp. 116-7.
Proceedings of the Dardanelles Commission, questions 4904-5,
PRO Cab 19/33.
C. P. Scott, diary entry for 27 November 1914, in Wilson (ed.),
The Political Diaries of C. P. Scott,
Souchon to his wife, 29 October 1914, quoted in, Halpern,
A Naval History of World War I, p. 64.
The Bulgarians, for example (also wooed by Germany), waited
until October 1915 before deciding that prospects were then more encouraging
— at which they entered the lists on the side of the Central Powers. If
Turkey had held out until that time it could not be said with all certainty
that they would have joined the Bulgarians. With the memory of the Balkan
Wars still undimmed and Bulgaria now facing the Serbs might Turkey not have
used this opportunity to stab the Bulgarians in the back, in the way that,
in the Second Balkan War of 1913, the Roumanians had so successfully done?
Though, as Hankey pointed out at the time, this presupposed
either co-operation with the Serbian army (which would be difficult without
Greek entry into the war) or a campaign through Montenegro, ‘and neither
campaign would be easy to carry out.’
Limpus to Churchill, 8 September 1914, WSC Comp. vol. III, pt. i, pp. 102-3.
The Links Page :
As the range of our activities is so diverse,
we have a number of different websites. The site
you are currently viewing is wholly devoted to
the second of the three non-fiction books
written by Geoffrey Miller, and deals
specifically with British policy towards the
Ottoman Empire and the origins of the
Dardanelles Campaign. The main Flamborough Manor
site focuses primarily on accommodation but has
brief details of all our other activities. To
allow for more information to be presented on
these other activities, there are other
self-contained web-sites. All our web-sites have
page in common, which allows for easy navigation
between the various sites. To find out where you
are, or to return to the main site, simply go to
Signed copies of Superior Force are still available, priced at £25.00 each plus
postage. For more information, please go to the
The "Straits Trilogy"
Superior Force : the conspiracy behind the escape of
Goeben and Breslau
Volume II: Straits : British Policy towards the
Ottoman Empire and the Origins of the Dardanelles
Volume III: The Millstone : British Naval Policy in
the Mediterranean, 1900-1914, the Commitment to
France and British Intervention in the War
These books provide a comprehensive account of
British naval and diplomatic policy in the two
decades prior to the Great War, focusing in
particular on the escape of the German ships Goeben
and Breslau [Superior Force], the origins of the
Dardanelles Campaign [Straits], and the political
and diplomatic imperatives behind the British
decision to enter the war in August 1914 [The
Each volume of the "Straits" trilogy is designed to
stand on its own; together, however, they represent
the fullest account yet published of the escape of
Goeben and Breslau, the Royal Navy in the
Mediterranean and British policy towards the Ottoman
Empire in the period 1900-15.