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













This is the second volume of a projected three volume history of the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean and British policy towards the Ottoman Empire from the turn of the century until the inception of the Dardanelles campaign. The first volume, Superior Force: the conspiracy behind the escape of Goeben and Breslau, published in 1996 by the University of Hull Press, examined in detail the escape of the German Mittelmeerdivision and revealed how that escape was facilitated as a result of the political divisions in Greece in 1914. These divisions again play a part in the current volume, once planning began for the Dardanelles campaign. However, the greater portion of this book is given over to an analysis of British policy towards the Ottoman Empire, charting the many lost opportunities and failed policies, in the period from the Young Turk revolution of 1908 until the outbreak of war between Britain and Turkey in November 1914. The complex situation in Constantinople between August and October 1914 occupies the central part of the book, which concludes with a detailed analysis of the inception and planning of the Dardanelles campaign, including the part played by Goeben and the hidden British agenda centred on the Persian and Mesopotamian oilfields. 


Anyone attempting such a task is at once hampered by the lack of Ottoman archival material. As Feroz Yasamee has recently noted [in Wilson (ed.), Decisions for War, p.229], ‘The archives of the Ottoman government have yielded little to historians, which is not surprising…The archives of the Unionist Party, which controlled the Ottoman government in 1914, disappeared at the end of the war, and may have been destroyed.’ On the other hand, the British archives, from the correspondence of the Foreign Secretary and his officials and ambassadors down to letters written by the second Dragoman at the Embassy in Constantinople, are voluminous. I have tried to incorporate as much Ottoman material as is available in the public domain, but, as the sub-title indicates and as the place of this volume in the overall scheme of the projected trilogy dictates, this work is unashamedly Anglocentric in its approach. (The projected third volume charts the history of the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean from its turn of the century zenith to its decline after 1912. The parlous state of Anglo-French naval co-operation and the extent of the moral commitment to France are also examined. Although there is a certain amount of overlapping, each volume 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 for the period 1900-15.) 


My researches have been immeasurably aided by the knowledge and courtesy displayed by the staffs of all the archives in which I have worked: the Public Record Office; the National Maritime Museum; the Department of Documents at the Imperial War Museum; the Naval Historical Library; the British Library Department of Manuscripts; the National Library of Scotland; St Antony’s College, Oxford (Centre for Middle Eastern Studies). Similarly I have received unfailingly good service from the British Library and, more recently, their Document Supply Centre through which deliveries were made to Flamborough library. 


For permission to quote from material to which they own the copyright, I would like to thank the following: the Trustees of the National Maritime Museum and the British Library. Crown copyright material is reproduced by permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. Material from letters by the Prime Minister to His Majesty King George V is reproduced by gracious permission of Her Majesty the Queen. Extracts from Margaret Fitzherbert, The Man Who Was Greenmantle (John Murray, London, 1983) are reproduced by permission of John Murray (Publishers) Ltd. Extracts from Marian Kent (ed.), The Great Powers and the End of the Ottoman Empire (Frank Cass, London, 1984) are reproduced by permission of Frank Cass & Co. Ltd, Publishers. Extracts from Hankey, Lord Maurice, The Supreme Command, 2 vols., (George Allen & Unwin, London, 1961) are reproduced by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Extracts from The Hollow Detente (George Prior Publishers, London, 1979) are reproduced with the kind permission of R. J. Crampton, MA, PhD, FRHistS. Extracts from The Companion Volumes published by William Heinemann as an adjunct to the Life of Winston S. Churchill are reproduced with permission of Curtis Brown Ltd, London on behalf of C&T Publications: Copyright C&T Publications Ltd. Extracts from “Notes on the Proposed Greek Participation in the War” and The Sword and the Olive by Sir George Rendel are reproduced with the kind permission of Miss Rosemary Rendel. I am also grateful to Miss Rendel for supplying a transcript of her taped conversations with her father. Extracts from, M. & E. Brock (eds), H. H. Asquith: Letters to Venetia Stanley, (Oxford, 1982) are reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. An extract from the diary of Admiral Sir Gerald Dickens is reproduced with the kind permission of the Imperial War Museum. I am also very grateful to Mr L. G. W. Beaumont for permission to read his father’s unpublished autobiography. 


Where copyright has not lapsed, I have attempted to trace known copyright holders; however, I offer my sincere apology if I have inadvertently infringed any other copyright. If the owners of such copyrights would care to contact me I will ensure that a suitable acknowledgement is made in subsequent editions of this book. 


In any book dealing with the Ottoman Empire the question of place names and the spelling of personal names involves certain problems. The simplest solution, and the one I have adopted in this work, is to use throughout the spellings which were current at the time. Thus, Constantinople not Istanbul, Smyrna not Izmir, Adrianople not Edirne, and so on. The maps provided show 1914 names; comparison with a current atlas will reveal other changes. Similarly, for the sake of consistency Turkish names appear as they did in contemporary letters and dispatches: for example, Djemal Pasha (not Cemal Pasa), Djavid Pasha (not Cavid Pasa), Abdul Hamid (not Abdülhamit).


As before my debt to my parents and to my partner, Lesley, is incalculable. They know, without the need of this paragraph, that this book could not have been written without them. With their permission I would like to move on to the next generation and dedicate this book to my nephews, Timothy and Daniel.

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

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