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



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STRAITS British Policy towards the Ottoman Empire and the Origins of the Dardanelles Campaign © 1997-2013 Geoffrey Miller














Formal Text of the Turco-German Alliance of 2 August 1914

1.   The two contracting parties agree to observe strict neutrality in regard to the present conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.

2.   If Russia were to intervene actively in the war, so that the casus foederis would arise for Germany in regard to Austria, the casus foederis would also arise for Turkey.

3.   In case of war, Germany will leave her military mission at the disposal of Turkey. The latter, for her part, assures the said military mission an effective influence on the general conduct of the army, in accordance with the understanding arrived at directly between His Excellency, the Minister of War and His Excellency the Chief of the Military Mission.

4.   Germany obligates herself, if necessary, by force of arms to guarantee Ottoman territory in case it should be threatened.

5.   This agreement which has been concluded for the purpose of protecting both empires from the international complications which may result from the present conflict goes into force as soon as it is signed by the above mentioned plenipotentiaries, and shall remain valid, together with any mutual agreements, until December 31, 1918.

6.   In case it shall be denounced by one of the high contracting parties six months before the expiration of the term mentioned above, this treaty shall remain in force for a further period of five years.

7.   This present document shall be ratified by His Majesty the German Emperor, King of Prussia, and by His Majesty the Emperor of the Ottomans, and the ratification shall be exchanged within a period of one month from the date of its signing.

8.   The present treaty shall remain secret and can only be made public as a result of an agreement arrived at between the two high contracting parties.

In testimony whereof, etc.                         Baron v. Wangenheim                            Said Halim




The Shirey Story


At the beginning of November 1914, just as the staff at the British Embassy in Constantinople were hastily preparing to depart, Andrew Ryan, the dragoman, was approached by a certain Dr Guy O. Shirey of Memphis, Tennessee bearing a perfunctory, and decidedly non-committal, introduction from Henry Morgenthau, the American Ambassador — no more than one of the Ambassador’s calling cards with “Introducing Dr Shirey” on it! Shirey claimed to have been, first, on the steamship General as she aided and abetted Souchon’s escape from Messina to the Dardanelles, and then on one of the Turkish torpedo boats that had taken part in the attack on Odessa. The was desperate to leave Constantinople, but could not afford the fare of £5; Ryan therefore arranged for him to leave with the British Embassy staff, aboard the SS Ernest Simon. Although, personally, Ryan did not like Shirey he was, nevertheless, convinced of his genuiness. Shirey proceeded to explain his remarkable adventures:

                Being an American citizen I felt I should make a statement as to who I am, and why I was on a German passenger boat…I am an American doctor from Memphis Tennessee, was doing hospital work in New York City when I went into the steamship service of the Hamburg-America Line to China. In going from Algiers (our first port) to Port Said the boat received by wireless that war between Germany and France and Russia had started, and they must go quickly into Italy or neutral territory. So we went into the port of Messina. In this place I was transferred to the steamship General of the D. O. A. Line, they telling me at the time they needed a doctor very much, so I went more for curiosity and humanity’s sake than to help the company I was working for, and being a doctor and neutral I felt it my duty to go along and take care of the sick and wounded.

                We followed Goeben and Breslau out of Messina on the 6th August 1914 in the early evening. I knew nothing of the sailing orders or where we were going, except what the officers told me, and what I found out later was that the intention was to go to the Adriatic Sea, but orders came to go to Constantinople, then a day later orders from Department in Berlin said to go no place but await orders, they never came, so the German admiral ordered all to go to Constantinople. So we came there, apparently without much trouble, except a running fight between an English boat (later learned was Gloucester) but it only exchanged shots with Breslau who dropped behind us while we went away to Smyrna and the Goeben went to Dardanelles. We later (4 or 5 hours after arriving at Smyrna) went to and entered Dardanelles, and came to Constantinople on the 12th or 13th August, when I found that England was also in the war. A little later I asked Consul-General Waugh to send me to England for the Red Cross service, this was turned down and I could not pay my expenses to England. So I remained on the steamship General until the 31st October 1914, when I am now on my way to England.

                But during my stay on General, which became the subject of entertainment for Goeben, Breslau and the Turkish fleet, I became on intimate terms with all who came on board, including the admiral and all Turkish officers. On the 27th October I found that there was to be war declared against Russia at 4 a.m. on the following Thursday, and a few minutes [later] all commanders (German) and men (German) of the torpedo flotilla (Turkish) began to leave for their respective boats, and the German commodore asked me if I should like to see a little fun as was about to start. I said to him I shall be glad to go along to take care of the sick and wounded. So this, together with my excess of curiosity, sent me along to look after them from a surgical point of view, as there was no other doctor with the torpedo boats.

                At this time all boats were congregating outside of the Black Sea to get their orders from Goeben, and sent on the different missions of destruction to the Black Sea fleet (Russian) and to various Russian towns, and we – that is, the torpedo boat which I was on – received the order that they were to go to Odessa. The SMS Goeben with 2 torpedo boats and one small gunboat went to Sevastopol, bombarded the place set one part of the town on fire and sunk [sic] several small Russian gunboats and damaged the larger vessels and the fortress. Also sank one Russian mine steamer with 700 mines on board, and took 30 to 40 prisoners, also a transport (Turkish) with many mines on board accompanied the Goeben, and after the bombardment laid them around Sevastopol absolutely bottling up the remainder of the Russian fleet…

                The SMS Breslau sank 14 steamers most Russian (some said to be English and French). The steamers were forced to go out to sea by a small cruiser (Turkish) which was duly completed a few weeks ago and larger than the Durpak Reis, with 2 funnels, went into the small places in Eastern Black Sea and told the harbour officers to send the steamers out at once or they would shoot on the town and destroy it, which said steamers came forth and were sunk by Breslau, except a large coal steamer which was taken as a prize, and was coming towards Constantinople the 31st October, the last I heard along with Goeben.

                The Samsun (Turkish transport) with many mines dropped them along the Russian coast on the Western side of the Black Sea, all during the night of the 28th and 29th October. Also the Breslau had mines, and they were dropped around Sevastopol…Whether there was a single gun fired by the Russians other than Odessa I do not know. I saw many Germans who had been at several different places (including Sevastopol) and none mentioned that they had been fired upon either first or last. All engaged seemed to be satisfied with the results…

Shirey also made a second statement – The Odessa Engagement : What I actually saw – relating his Black Sea escapade in greater detail.

                Orders were given the boat [Ghairet] which I was on outside the Bosphorus about dusk Tuesday 27th October. The commodore [Corvette-Cpt R. Madelung] explained to the Turkish commander that the Russian Ambassador would be given passports at 4 a.m. Thursday following and war would be declared. This boat was to go to Odessa with two others to “blow it up”, as he told them. So they were satisfied to go. Slow speed all night, and next day to Odessa, sighting the town at 3 a.m. Thursday 29th October. All lights on torpedo-boats (only two now, as one was sent back on account of bad engines) inside the breakwater at 3.30 a.m. or 3.45 a.m. and went alongside one of the Russian gunboats which was at entrance of harbour (alongside I mean) stopped broadside 70 yards away (about) and fired torpedo into her. She sunk [sic] within 6 or 7 minutes.

                On through the harbour the boat went (Turkish), firing on most every steamer of any size with 8.8 cm guns, mostly on water-line. Many holes were shot, and they seemed to be sinking when I last saw them. The other torpedo-boat came in behind us and sighted another gunboat (Russian) and fired a torpedo into her (whether she sank or not I do not know) but a great hole, or rather a break, was in side of her. This torpedo boat seemed to be firing her guns into everything in sight, including the boat I was on. The two torpedo-boats went outside, and the commodore ordered the other one to go to the petroleum tank and fire on, which was done.

                By this time there seemed to be a shot now and then from shore, but the boat I was on went back to entrance of harbour and fired on some small steamers and tore up a pier.

                By this time there seemed to be rifle and artillery fire from shore, the lookout saying a machine gun was working from an auto, and horses with canons attached drove up. So the order was given to run away. So it was done, amid a few whistling bullets above our heads.

                Then the return to the Bosphorus…was uneventful, arriving there on morning of the 30th October about 9 a.m. Immediately came ashore and began to make arrangements for leaving Turkey and the Turco-German fleet, for I had had enough.

Shirey’s story must remain something of an enigma. While it has a ring of truth about it, and generally cannot be faulted on facts, it would still have been possible to have picked up such information from German officers, wishing to boast to a neutral American about their exploits. Having boarded the Ernest Simon on 2 November with the British Embassy staff the mysterious Dr Shirey departs from the scene and is not heard of again.


This appendix is subject to copyright and cannot be reproduced here.
It is available, however, in the printed copy of the book.





The Sultan and His Executive


Extracts from the Annual Report for Turkey for the Year 1906:

Position of the Sovereign and the Machinery of Government (by Ronald Macleay).

(Enclosure in Despatch from Mr G. Barclay, No. 43 of January 18, 1907, R[ec’d]. February 11, 1907.)


Source: British Documents on the Origins of the War 1898-1914, Edited by G. P. Gooch and Harold Temperley, Volume V, The Near East, pages 1-7.


                “…Although theoretically the Sultan of Turkey is an absolute monarch, his authority both in temporal and spiritual matters is, in practice, subject to certain limitations. These restrictions are the outcome, in the first case, of the pressure or direct intervention of the European Powers, national custom, local privileges, and, to a lesser degree, of public opinion; and in the case of his spiritual authority, the limitations are to be sought in the obligations imposed upon the Prophet’s successors to conform strictly to the precepts of the Koran and the traditions of the sacred law.

                “The claim of the Osmanli Sovereigns to the Khalifate reposes on the right of possession by conquest, and dates from the year 1517, when the Sultan Selim I destroyed the Mameluke power in Egypt, and obliged Mutawakkil III, a descendant of the Abbassides established in Cairo, to make over to him his nominal Khalifate, together with all the attributes, relics, and other sacred possessions of the office.

                “There is no question that by strict Mohammedan tradition the Khalifate could only be held by a member of the Koreish tribe, and the candidates for the office were elected by the heads of the religious community at Mecca, although it was customary for the earlier Khalifs to designate during their lifetime the person to whom they desired should be elected to succeed them.

                “In spite of the fact that the claim of the Osmanli Sultans to fulfil these conditions is obviously fictitious and untenable, their position as Khalifs has never been disputed by the Sunnite Mahommedans, and not merely by those who are subjects of the Ottoman Empire, but also by the members of the same sect in India, Arabia, and Africa. The sovereignty over the Holy Places of Islam and the possession of the sacred relics, including the Prophet’s sword and mantle, appear to be recognized as constituting an unimpeachable title to the sacred office of “successor” to the Prophet…

                “The present machinery of government in Turkey is a development of the Board or Council known as the “Divan,” which was instituted by the Khalif Omar I on Persian models…the Council was presided over by the Grand Vizier, an office of Persian origin, which Orkhan, the second Sultan of the Osmanli Dynasty, is said to have introduced.

                “The Grand Vizier acted as the Sultan’s lieutenant and the depositary of his temporal authority. The administration of justice, the management of the revenues, and even the command of the Imperial forces, devolved upon him.

                “The Grand Viziers were chosen arbitrarily by the Sultans, and often without respect to talent, fitness, or any other qualification for such an important post. Their powers are limited only by the strength of will and individuality of the Sovereign. Under some of the weak, effeminate Sultans of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries the Grand Viziers have been practically omnipotent; under stronger and more autocratic Rulers their rôle has been reduced to that of a subservient Prime Minister…

                “The Grand Vizier is President of the Council of Ministers, but he cannot, strictly speaking, be called a Prime Minister, as the responsibility of the Ministers to the Sovereign is individual, and not collective. The Grand Vizier is the usual mouthpiece of the Government, and the wishes and commands of the Sultan are made known by him to his colleagues. He can issue instructions to the other Ministers and the Heads of the various Departments, and he exercises a practical control over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as his Highness assumes the responsibility for the international relations of the Empire, and all important questions of foreign policy are discussed directly between him and the foreign Representatives at Constantinople…



Extracts from a memorandum by Mr. Adam Block respecting Franco-German economic penetration up to 1906.


Source: British Documents on the Origins of the War 1898-1914, Edited by G. P. Gooch and Harold Temperley, Volume V, The Near East, Enclosure 1 in No. 147, Sir N. O’Conor to Sir Edward Grey, Therapia, July 3, 1906, pages 174-80.



                “The first appearance of German financial establishments in the arena of Turkish finance may be dated from October 3, 1888. Up to that time, although German Houses and the German investing public had doubtless been buyers of Turkish stock, yet they had hitherto merely been ordinary investors rather than the principals in loan operations and financial transactions with the Ottoman Government. Since the failure of the Turkish Government to meet its liabilities just before the Turco-Russian War, the field they now entered upon had been left almost exclusively to the Imperial Ottoman Bank, and as England for various reasons had turned its attention elsewhere, the French Committee of that Establishment had practically no competitors with which to contend.

                “In 1888 Mr. Alfred Kaulla, Director of the Württembergische Vereinsbank at Stuttgart, in the name and on behalf of the Deutsche Bank at Berlin and its group, contracted for a 5% Loan of £stg.1,5000,000, secured on the Fishery and other specified revenues to be handed over for collection to the Administration of the Ottoman Public Debt. This loan is generally known as the “Fisheries” Loan…On the 1/13 March, 1894, however, the Germans again appeared on the scene, and the 4% Railway loan for frs. 40,000,000 was the result of their negotiations.

                “The German group was represented by Mr. Alfred Kaulla, acting in the name and on behalf of the Deutsche Bank, the Württembergische Vereinsbank and the Deutsche Vereinsbank at Frankfort; and by Mr. Maurice Bauer, Director of the Wiener Bankverein, in the name and on behalf of the Dresdner Bank at Berlin and the Banque Internationale de Paris.

                “This seems to be the starting point of the Franco-German entente on Turkish finance…”

                “In September 1888, a German group obtained the concession of the line from Haidar-Pasha to Angora (the line Haidar-Pasha—Ismidt was up to that time in the hands of an English group). The distance is 578 kilometres, and the guarantee was frs. 10,300 per kilometre for the Haidar-Pasha—Ismidt section and frs. 15,000 for the Ismidt—Angora section…

                “In 1893, the same group obtained the concession for the extension of the line from Eski-Shehr to Konia — a distance of 445 kilometres. The kilometric guarantee is frs. 13,727, the payment of which is so arranged that the Government cannot be called upon to provide more than frs. 6,740 per kilometre…”

                “In 1890, a German group at the head of which was Mr. Alfred Kaulla, obtained the concession for 99 years of the Railway from Salonica to Monastir…The Salonica—Constantinople Junction Railway is a French Company. The concession for 99 years was obtained in 1892 by M. R. Baudouy…In 1893, M. Georges Nagelmackers obtained from the Ottoman Government the concession for 99 years of the Smyrna–Cassaba –Alashehr Railway, which had originally been in the hands of an English Company, as well as the concession for the same period of the line from Alashehr to Afioun–Karahissar…”

                “In 1902, a concession for 99 years was granted to the German group (Deutsche Bank) working the Anatolian Railway for a line from Konia to Baghdad. The distance is 2,000 kilometres, split up into sections of 200 kilometres:— the first section from Konia to Eregli having been opened to traffic in 1905. The Government in consideration of a loan of frs. 54,000,000, granted by the Deutsche Bank for the purpose of constructing the first section of the line, guarantees to the Company an annuity of frs. 11,000 for each kilometre constructed, and a sum of frs. 4,500 per kilometre for working expenses, in all frs. 15,500 per kilometre…During the negotiations for the Baghdad loan 1st series, the French claimed a participation, and obtained it —40% is the amount…”

                “In the meantime, in spite of the Anglo-French entente, England and English finance is left out in the cold. When it is too late we shall bestir ourselves to counter-act the preponderating economic influence of the 2 countries, as we seem to have done with the German Baghdad Railway, in which we only took an interest when the concession was granted to the Germans…”

                “At any rate let us open our eyes to the facts. If we take into consideration the ever-increasing influence of France and Germany in finance and Railway enterprise; if we take also into consideration the rapid and successful extension of French and German industrial enterprises (Docks, Quays, Tramways, &c.), all of which is due just as much to the pushing methods and adaptable policy of the promoters thereof as to the unvarying and undisguised direct diplomatic intervention and support of their respective Ambassadors and official Agents; it is evident that the 2 countries are tightening, and intend to tighten, their economic hold on the country until, as Sir Edward Grey is reported to have said of Persia:— “The integrity which we are always talking of respecting will no longer be there to respect.”



Turkish Armistice Terms

October 1918

This appendix is subject to copyright and cannot be reproduced here.

It is available, however, in the printed copy of the book.



Defence of the Suez Canal

Narrative of Events, January 25 To 8 February 1915

R. H. Peirse, Vice Admiral, HMS Swiftsure, in the Suez Canal, Feb. 8, 1915

This appendix is subject to copyright and cannot be reproduced here.
It is available, however, in the printed copy of the book.




List of Grand Viziers 1908 to 1919


Mehmed Ferid Pasha      14 January1903 to 22 July 1908

Mehmed Said Pasha      22 July 1908 to 4 August 1908

Mehmed Kiamil Pasha      5 August 1908 to 14 February 1909

Hussein Hilmi Pasha      14 February 1909 to 13 April 1909

Ahmed Tewfik Pasha      14 April 1909 to 5 May 1909

Hussein Hilmi Pasha      5 May 1909 to 28 December 1909

Ibrahim Hakki Pasha      12 January 1910 to 29 September 1911

Mehmed Said Pasha      30 September 1911 to 16 July 1912

Ahmed Muhktar Pasha      22 July 1912 to 29 October 1912

Mehmed Kiamil Pasha      29 October 1912 to 23 January 1913

Mahmud Shevket Pasha      23 January 1913 to 11 June 1913

Said Halim Pasha                12 June 1913 to 3 February 1917

Mehmed Talaat Pasha      4 February 1917 to 8 October 1918

Ahmed Izzet Pasha      14 October 1918 to 8 November 1918

Ahmed Tewfik Pasha      11 November 1918 to 12 January 1919




Alternative Place Names


Formerly Currently
Adrianople Edirne
Alexandretta Iskenderun
Chanak Çanakkale
Constantinople Istanbul
Dedeagatch  Alexandroúpolis
Gallipoli  Gelibolu
Janina  Ioánnina
Monastir Bitola
Salonica Thessaloniki
Scutari, Albania Shkodra
Skopje Üsküb
Smyrna Izmir
Yesilköy San Stefano




Memorandum by the General Staff Upon the Possibility of a Joint Naval and Military Attack Upon the Dardanelles.

This appendix is subject to copyright and cannot be reproduced here.
It is available, however, in the printed copy of the book.



 Biographical Appendix

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