The Story of the Great War, Volume III (of VIII) - History of the European War from Official Sources
Author: Various
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected. Hyphenation and accentuation have been standardised, all other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling has been maintained.

Page 239, "The concentration one for operations" has been changed to "The concentration zone for operations".]


History of the European War from Official Sources

Complete Historical Records of Events to Date, Illustrated with Drawings, Maps, and Photographs

Prefaced by

What the War Means to America Major General Leonard Wood, U.S.A.

Naval Lessons of the War Rear Admiral Austin M. Knight, U.S.N.

The World's War Frederick Palmer

Theatres of the War's Campaigns Frank H. Simonds

The War Correspondent Arthur Ruhl

Edited by

Francis J. Reynolds Former Reference Librarian of Congress

Allen L. Churchill Associate Editor, The New International Encyclopedia

Francis Trevelyan Miller Editor in Chieft, Photographic History of the Civil War

P. F. Collier & Son Company New York




P . F . Collier & Son . New York

Copyright 1916 By P. F. Collier & Son




I. Campaign in the Caucasus 9 II. Turkish Advance Against Egypt 15 III. Failure of "Holy War" Propaganda 21 IV. Results of First Six Months of Turkish Campaign 25 V. The Dardanelles—Strategy of the Campaign 27 VI. Fortifications and Strength—First Movements 34


VII. Why Japan Joined the Allies 40 VIII. Military and Naval Situation in the Far East 46 IX. Beginning of Hostilities—Attacks On Tsing-Tau Forts 52 X. Capture of Tsing-Tau 60


XI. Campaign in Togoland and the Cameroons 62 XII. German Southwest Africa—Rebellion in Union of South Africa 68


XIII. Preparations for an Offensive 79 XIV. Battle of Neuve Chapelle Begins 83 XV. Operations Following Neuve Chapelle 92 XVI. Beginning of Second Battle of Ypres 99 XVII. The Struggle Renewed 106 XVIII. Other Actions on the Western Front 115 XIX. Campaign in Artois Region 121 XX. British Forward Movement—Battle of Festubert 128 XXI. Sir John French Attempts a Surprise 134 XXII. Attacks at La Bassee 140 XXIII. Operations Around Hooge 146 XXIV. Franco-German Operations Along the Front 151 XXV. Campaign in Argonne and Around Arras 158 XXVI. Belgo-German Operations 166


XXVII. The War Zone 170 XXVIII. Attack on the Dardanelles 174 XXIX. German Raiders and Submarines 179 XXX. Italian Participation—Operations in Many Waters 186 XXXI. Story of the Emden 193 XXXII. Summary of the First Year of Naval Warfare 206 XXXIII. Fights of the Submarines 209 XXXIV. Sinking of the Lusitania 222


XXXV. The Carpathian Campaign—Review of the Situation 235 XXXVI. Battle of the Passes 241 XXXVII. Battle of Koziowa—Operations in the Bukowina 244 XXXVIII. Fall of Przemysl 249 XXXIX. New Russian Offensive—Austro-German Counteroffensive 258 XL. Campaign in Galicia and Bukowina—Battle of the Dunajec 264 XLI. Russian Retreat 276 XLII. Austro-German Reconquest of Western Galicia 281 XLIII. Campaign in Eastern Galicia and the Bukowina 289 XLIV. Russian Change of Front—Retreat to the San 293 XLV. Battle of the San 297 XLVI. Recapture of Przemysl 301 XLVII. Capture of Lemberg 306


XLVIII. Winter Battles of the Mazurian Lakes 313 XLIX. The Russians Out of Germany 317 L. Tightening of the Net—Report of the Booty 319 LI. Battles of Przasnysz—Before Mlawa 324 LII. Fighting Before the Niemen and Bobr—Bombardment of Ossowetz 329 LIII. Russian Raid on Memel 334 LIV. German Invasion of Courland—Capture of Libau 337 V. Russian Offensive from Kovno—Forest Battles in May and June 342 LVI. Campaign in Southern Poland—Movement upon Warsaw 345 LVII. Battle of Krasnik—Capture of Przasnysz 348 LVIII. Grand Offensive on the Warsaw Salient 356 LIX. Beginning of the End 361 LX. Warsaw Falls 366


LXI. Diplomacy in the Balkans 369


LXII. Spirit of the Italian People—Crisis of the Government 379 LXIII. The Decision Made—Italian Strategy 382 LXIV. Strength of Italian Army and Navy 388 LXV. First Engagements 392 LXVI. Fighting in the Mountains 402 LXVII. Attacks in Gorizia 408 LXVIII. Fighting in the Alps—Italian Successes 416 LXIX. More Mountain Fighting—Results of First Campaign 419


LXX. Beginning of Operations 423 LXXI. Preparations for Landing—Composition OF Forces 429 LXXII. Plans of Sir Ian Hamilton—First Landing Made 437 LXXIII. The British in Danger—Bitter Fighting 446 LXXIV. Further Efforts at Landing—Failure to Take Krithia 454 LXXV. Krithia Again Attacked—Heroic Work of "Anzacs" 459 LXXVI. Russo-Turkish Operations 469


LXXVII. The Cameroons 481 LXXVIII. British Conquest of Southwest Africa 484 LXXIX. Other African Operations 493


LXXX. Mesopotamia and Arabia 497 LXXXI. Syria and Egypt 503


Zeppelin Attacked by Aeroplanes Frontispiece

Opposite Page Belgians Re-forming for a Fresh Attack 78

Prayer in a French Church Used for a Hospital 158

Great Liner Lusitania 222

Grand Duke Nicholas 270

Triumphal Entry of Austrians into Przemysl 302

Prince Leopold of Bavaria in Warsaw 366

Cloud of Poisonous Gas Released by Italian Troops 414

Stores at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli 462


Page Strategic Railway System in Eastern Germany Which Made Quick Concentration Possible (Colored Map) Front Insert

Gallipoli 29

Kiao-Chau (Tsing-Tau) 43

German Possessions in Africa 65

Western Battle Line, January 1, 1915 81

Neuve Chapelle, Battle at 88

Ypres, Gas Battle of 113

Fighting in Alsace-Hartmannsweilerkopf 119

Artois, Battles in 126

German Submarine War Zone 172

Emden Landing Party, Cruise of 195

Carpathian Passes and Russian Battle Line 237

Przemysl, Detail Maps of the Forts of 248

Galician Campaign from Tarnow to Przemysl 279

Galician Campaign from Przemysl TO Bessarabia 291

Riga, German Advance on 338

Warsaw, German Attempts to Reach, in 1914 358

Warsaw, Advance and Capture of 367

Coasts of Italy and Austria, Showing the Naval Raid in May, 1915 395

Austria, Italian Attack on 410

Dardanelles, Pictorial Map of, Showing Where the Allies Landed 439

German Southwest Africa, Conquest of 491

Mesopotamia—The British Operations from the Persian Gulf 499

Suez Canal, Turkish Attack on 506




Disquieting as was the British offensive in Mesopotamia, the Turkish General Staff were not to be drawn by it from considerations of larger strategy. Acting in agreement with the German and Austrian General Staffs, plans were rapidly pushed for an aggressive offensive in the Caucasus, that old-time battling ground of the Russians and the Turks. Germany was being hotly pressed in France by the armies of Belgium, France, and England, and feared an offensive on the part of the Russian army.

Across the great isthmus separating the Caspian and Black Seas run the Caucasus Mountains. Parallel to this range of towering mountains, the highest in Europe, runs the frontier line of Russia and Turkey and Russia and Persia, winding in and out among the Trans-Caucasian Mountains. About two hundred miles from the Russo-Turkish frontier stands Tiflis, the rich and ancient capital of Georgia, and one of the prime objectives of any Turkish offensive. One of the few railroads of this wild country runs from Tiflis through the Russian fortress of Kars, forty-five miles from the Turkish frontier, to Sarikamish, thirty miles nearer. On the Turkish side the fortress of Erzerum stands opposed to Kars, but suffering in comparison by the lack of railroad communication with the interior of Turkey.

Despite all these discouraging circumstances, however, the Turkish General Staff, dominated by the indefatigable and ambitious Enver Pasha, was not to be deterred. A brilliant and daring plan of campaign, aiming at the annihilation or capture of the entire Russian Caucasian army, the seizure of Kars and Tiflis, and the control of the immensely valuable and important Caspian oil fields, was prepared. The unwelcome task of carrying this plan to completion and success was intrusted to Hassan Izzet Pasha, under the general guidance of Enver Pasha and his staff of German advisers.

The heroic efforts of the Turkish troops, their grim but hopeless battle against equally brave troops, appalling weather conditions, and insuperable obstacles, their failure and defeat when on the very verge of complete success, make an intensely interesting story.

Stationed at Erzerum, Turkey had the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Corps. In addition, the Thirty-seventh Arab division had been brought up from Bagdad to strengthen the Eleventh Corps. At Trebizond two divisions of the First Corps had been brought from Constantinople by sea. These forces totaled about 140,000 troops. At and about Kars, General Woronzov, the Russian commander, had between 100,000 and 110,000 troops at his disposal from first to last. But although weaker in numbers he had the inestimable advantage of operating with a line of railroad at his back, whereas the Turkish commander had to depend entirely upon road transit, 500 miles from the nearest railroad.

The conditions absolutely necessary for the success of the Turkish plan were the holding of the Russian force beyond Sarikamish, and the accurate timing of the flanking attacks, otherwise the Russian commander would be able to deal with each force separately and defeat and perhaps destroy them.

The campaign opened on November 20, 1914. The Russians, advancing across the frontier from Sarikamish, took Koprikeui, within thirty miles of Erzerum. There, for some time, they remained while the Turkish command prepared for their great coup.

About the middle of December, 1914, the Eleventh Corps of the Turkish army moved out of Erzerum, engaged the Russians at Koprikeui, defeated them after a short, sharp struggle, and drove them in disorder a dozen miles to Khorasan. While the Eleventh Corps was thus engaged the Ninth and Tenth Corps, marching forty miles to the north in terrible weather, succeeded in crossing the high mountains that guard the Russian frontier. On Christmas Day they looked down on the town of Sarikamish and the vital railway that stretched away to the eastward. At the same time the two divisions of the First Corps, stationed at Trebizond, making a wider sweep, had, by forced marches through a blinding blizzard that threatened to make necessary the abandonment of the artillery, reached the vicinity of Ardahan.

The Tenth Corps had reached and was threatening the railway east of Sarikamish on the road to Kars. Its defeat was absolutely necessary to the safety of the Russian army. It was therefore the object of General Woronzov's first attack. During four days every available man and gun he could bring up on the railway were thrown against the rapidly dwindling ranks of the Tenth Corps. The Turks fought bravely, but weight of numbers and superiority of communications told in the end, and the Ottoman forces were driven into the mountains to the north.

The defeat and retreat of the Tenth Corps exposed the left flank of the Ninth, commanded by Iskan Pasha. General Woronzov took full advantage of the situation. Iskan and his 40,000 troops were soon fighting a desperate battle against an enveloping movement that threatened to encompass them.

Of the 40,000 troops of the Ninth Corps, a bare 6,000 struggled out of the mountains to the vicinity of Sarikamish, where they were rallied by Iskan Pasha. For six days and nights this heroic band made a determined attempt to capture the town held by a comparatively weak Russian garrison. Finally, when, surrounded by overwhelming Russian forces, it became apparent that no Turkish relief could reach him, Iskan Pasha and the remnant of his once proud corps surrendered.

Sarikamish was defended against Iskan's 6,000 by a mere handful of soldiers. Time and time again urged by their German officers, the Turks hurled themselves against the thin Russian line. It bent but did not break, as step by step, fighting fiercely all the way, it retreated before weight of numbers. And when relief did come to the defenders, and Iskan and his force were compelled to surrender, the brave little Russian band was completely exhausted.

In their pursuit of the remnants of the Tenth Corps the Russians met with some of the difficulties that had been the undoing of the Turks. Furthermore, although the Ninth Corps had been hemmed in so that no relief could reach it, the Turkish command had by no means lost the power of effective counteraction. The Eleventh Corps at Khorasan carried on an energetic campaign against the Russian front, gained a local and tactically important success, and drove the enemy back as far as Kara-Urgan, less than twenty miles from Sarikamish. Indeed, so serious became the threat to the Russian forces that General Woronzov, much against his wishes, was compelled to call off the pursuit of the Tenth Corps and strengthen the Sarikamish front with the troops that had been operating farther to the east.

In the second week of January, 1915, between these forces and the Eleventh Corps of the Turkish army a fierce battle, lasting several days, opened. The struggle was of the utmost intensity, at times developing into a hand-to-hand combat between whole regiments. On January 14 the Fifty-second Turkish Regiment was put to the bayonet by the Russians. At Genikoi a regiment of Cossacks charged, during an engagement with a portion of the Thirty-second Turkish Division, and killed and wounded more than 300.

It must be remembered in judging the terrible nature of the struggle that the armies were fighting in difficult country. The battle of Kara-Urgan, furthermore, was waged in a continual snowstorm. Thousands of dead and wounded were buried in the rapidly falling snow and no effort was made to recover them. By the end of this week, January 16, 1915, owing largely to their superior railway communications and the possibility of reenforcements, the Russians had not only checked the Turkish offensive, but had decisively defeated the Eleventh Corps. Pressing their advantage the Russians pursued the beaten Turks toward Erzerum, but the heavy snows prevented them gaining the full fruits of their victory.

If the Eleventh Corps had not won a victory it had, however, accomplished its object in that it had relieved the pressure on the Tenth and enabled it to make good its escape to the north, where it proceeded to effect a junction with the First Corps. The experience of this First Corps had not been a happy one. We left it on Christmas Day, 1914, overlooking Ardahan. A week later it entered the city and prepared to carry out its role in the general offensive by advancing upon the Russian right flank at Kars. It met serious opposition, however, when it attempted to move out of Ardahan, was itself compelled to retreat, and finally sought safety beyond the ridges to the west. There, in the valley of the Choruk, it joined up with the Tenth Corps. Together they continued their retreat upon Trebizond. Subsequently they tried a new offensive in the Choruk valley which was undecisive, however, and at the end of January, 1914, the situation had developed into a deadlock.

The Turkish troops in their operation in the Caucasus appeared to have suffered from the difficulty of keeping open their sea communications with Constantinople. Lacking railways they relied too much upon supplies arriving at Trebizond. The Russian fleet in the Black Sea was active, however, and upset the Turkish calculations. In the first week of January, 1915, at Sinope a Russian cruiser discovered the Turkish cruiser Medjidieh convoying a transport. After a short engagement the Medjidieh was put to flight, and the transport sunk.

On January 6, 1915, the Russian Black Sea fleet ran into the Breslau and the Hamidieh and damaged them both in a running fight. A week later Russian torpedo boats sank several Turkish supply boats near Sinope.

While this fighting was taking place in the north, farther to the south toward the Persian frontier the Russians were attempting a turning movement against the Turkish right flank. At the same time that the Russian force in the north crossed the Turkish frontier the Russian column entered Turkey fifty miles farther southeast. On November 8, 1914, this force entered the Turkish town of Kara Kilissa. A week later, making its way southwest for a distance of twenty miles, it engaged, near the village of Dutukht, a Turkish force composed largely of Arab troops of the Thirteenth Corps. At the outset the Russians met with a measure of success, but on November 22, 1914, the Turks, having been reenforced by troops from Bagdad, began a fierce offensive. After indecisive fighting in the Alashgird valley the Turks, about the middle of December, 1914, almost caught the Russians in a bold enveloping movement north of Dutukht. In order to escape the Russians were compelled to retreat hurriedly and thus ended their offensive operation in this section.

Still farther to the south, in Persia, the Turks and Russians also battled. Not only because of political conditions, but because of the nature of the country, it was easier for Russia and Turkey to attack each other through Persia than directly across other frontiers, just as it was easier for Germany and France to reach each other across Belgium. At the outbreak of war both Turkey and Russia, recognizing these circumstances, were occupants of Persian territory. Early in November two Russian columns marched across the northwest corner of Persia and into Turkey by the Kotur and Khanesur passes, evidently with the important city of Van, on the lake of that name, as an objective. At a point near Dilman, and again at Serai, they drove the Turkish troops back toward Van, but were checked by reenforcements.

Meanwhile the Turks had a more considerable success to the south. Apparently taking the Russian higher command completely by surprise, Turkish troops advanced almost unopposed to Tabriz, the most important of the cities of northern Persia. Alarmed by this, Russia sent a strong force which, on January 30, 1915, succeeded in recapturing the city.

Thus, up to the end of January, 1915, nothing decisive had been accomplished on the Caucasian front by either Turkey or Russia. The Battle of Sarikamish, resulting in a Turkish loss estimated by the Russian authorities at 50,000, while decisive enough locally, seems to have had no appreciable effect upon the situation as a whole. For reasons resting very largely in the difficulty of finding the troops necessary, as well as in the conditions of the country and the weather, the Russians had been unable to follow up their success. Indeed, the offensive appears to have continued in the hands of the Turks.

It is probably the case that Russia was unwilling to detach any considerable number of troops from her Polish and Galician front, where important events were brewing. Her General Staff rightly regarded the Caucasian front as of secondary importance—and like Austria on her Italian frontier, determined to fight a defensive campaign.

However that may be, conditions after the first few months of campaigning settled down into a stalemate. Engagements on a relatively small scale were reported from time to time, but the balance of advantage remained fairly even. Both countries had fronts where victories would bring larger returns and more immediate effect upon the ultimate outcome of the war.



To the Turk no operation of the war appeared more important than did the campaign against Egypt. That in the early days of the struggle in 1914 he contented himself with what amounted to little more than a demonstration designed to hold as many British troops in Egypt as possible was due primarily to considerations of larger strategy. Undoubtedly, by his incursion into the Sinai Peninsula and his half-hearted attempt with a hopelessly small force to cross the Suez Canal, he learned many lessons invaluable in any future and more ambitious campaign. Considered as a diversion the early advance upon the Suez was a success: as a serious military operation, resting on its own legs, it was a fiasco.

No operation the Turks might have conducted could have been so unwelcome to the British as was that against Egypt. For weeks in advance it was discussed by English writers and, while they all, naturally, agreed that it was foredoomed to failure, there was an undercurrent of apprehension in official circles. It was realized that many untried problems and theories would be put to a severe test by such a campaign, if undertaken in a serious way by a large and well-equipped force. Of a purely Turkish force, commanded and organized by Turkish officers, there was no fear, but such wonderful organizers had the Germans proved themselves to be that the combination of Teuton brains and Turkish fighting qualities and endurance was regarded as formidable.

It was realized in England also that any measure of success that might come to an invading force would have two very serious results. It would not only threaten, and perhaps sever, the shortest route to the east and so seriously embarrass the trade, military and naval efficiency of the Allies, but it would have a grave and perhaps decisive effect upon Mohammedan malcontents in Egypt and India.

The exact truth of the conditions in India and Egypt will possibly never be known, so rigorous were the operations of the censorship set up by the British War Office. One thing is certain, however: in both countries political conditions were serious before the war and they could not, by any stretch of optimism, be conceived as improving with the coming of a great struggle aimed at the only remaining independent Mohammedan power.

For many months previous to August, 1914, the Indian office in London had been apprehensive of rebellion in India. In Egypt the circumstance that at the beginning of the war the British authorities announced that they would make no use of the native Egyptian army speaks for itself. It was believed in Constantinople and in Berlin that both Egypt and India were ripe for a terrible revolt against the rule of the British Raj: the uprisings of millions of fanatical natives that would forever sweep British control from these two key places to the trade of the world and would institute a Turkish suzerainty, backed and controlled by Berlin. This was thought all the more likely as thousands of the British regular troops had been withdrawn from India and Egypt for service in France, being replaced by raw levies from England and the Colonies.

These, then, were the major considerations that prompted the early offensive against Egypt. It was based upon sound political and military strategy. Just how near it came to complete success, just how much additional worry and effort it added to the burden of Great Britain and France, only a complete revelation of the progress of events in all fields will tell.

In the attack upon the canal the Turks operated primarily from their base at Damascus. As preparations progressed the troops that were to take part in the actual advance were concentrated between Jerusalem and Akabah. Under command of Djemel Pasha, Turkish Minister of Marine, there were gathered some 50,000 troops consisting mostly of first line troops of the best quality, reenforced by about 10,000 more or less irregular Arab Bedouins.

During November and early December, 1914, the force was moved forward by slow and methodical stages, until by December 15 it was awaiting orders to advance, encamped on the confines of the great desert that separated it from its objective.

Here it is well that the reader should have a good idea of the difficulties of the task the Turkish higher command had imposed upon Djemel Pasha and his troops.

The two chief difficulties to be met by the invaders of the Sinai were lack of transport facilities and lack of water. Three routes were possible for the Turkish army, all artificial obstacles being for the moment ignored; two by land, across the Sinai desert, and the third by sea, across the Mediterranean. The latter, however, must be ruled out because the seas were controlled by the Anglo-French fleet. For the same reason, the northern land route had many disadvantages, because it could be commanded for a part of its length by warships. However, it is instructive to examine it in detail.

The whole region crossed by the sea road is desert of the most difficult and forbidding character. By this road all the great invasions—the Roman, Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, and French—have been made. The road enters the desert at El Arish and from there to El Kantara on the Suez Canal, the probable point of attack of an army moving by this route, is 100 miles. Over this whole distance there are only three places, once an army has left El Arish, where water can be had. The first is a matter of a day's march, at El Maza, thirty mile away; the second is at Bir-El-Abd, another day's march; and the third at Katieh, within striking distance of the canal. Without the construction of a special railway the transport of a force large enough to efficiently control the canal by this route seems to be out of the question.

The southern route, known as the Hadj, or Pilgrim's Road, running from Akaba to Suez, besides being longer is even worse off in the matter of water. This was the traditional path of pilgrims traveling from Egypt to Mecca, and still is much in use for that purpose.

Something like 150 miles separate Akaba and Suez, yet only two watering places are to be found in the whole distance. The first is three days' march from the former place, at a point called Nakhl, where modern cisterns had been built and an adequate supply of water for a large force probably was obtainable. The next watering place is another three days' march, at Ayun Mousa, or Well of Moses, within a short distance of the canal.

But tremendous as were the problems facing a considerable body of men in attempting to cross the Sinai desert and arrive at the Suez Canal in condition to fight a strong, fresh and fully prepared foe, they were not to be compared to the difficulties that would face such an army when the canal had been reached. We have seen how great an obstacle a wide river, such as the Vistula, proved to be to an army when attempting to cross in the face of a prepared enemy. In the case of the Suez Canal, although there were no strong currents, a force attempting to cross it had to contend with two added difficulties: The Suez Canal could not, in the circumstances be turned, as was the Vistula by the Germans. Furthermore its defensive value was immeasurably increased by the circumstance that it could and did carry warships of the largest type which not only had the value of fortresses mounting the heaviest of guns, but were mobile as well. And finally, because of the nature of the shores of the canal, it was possible for an attacking force to cross it at but few points.

The question of crossing the canal or dominating it in any sense was for the Turks largely a question of bringing to bear a superior force of artillery—a task that had only to be stated to reveal its difficulties. No force with smaller or fewer guns would hope to cross the Suez in the face of the concentration of artillery and naval gunfire that the British could bring to bear at any threatened point.

The defenders on the western side of the canal had the additional advantage of railway communication running along the entire canal from Suez to Port Said, and connecting with interior bases.

There were five points from which, once having conquered the desert and reached the canal, the invaders could advantageously launch an attack or attacks upon the canal defenses. The first is just south of El Kantara, where the old sea road crosses the Suez. Just south of Ismailia a group of heights on the east bank provides a second opportunity. The third is found at the point called the Plateau of Hyena. The fourth is just north of the Bitter Lake, and the fifth is to the south of the same body of water.

Late in December, 1914, Djemel Pasha began active preparations for an advance upon the canal. This campaign the Turks later called a reconnaissance in force and as, of their total strength of 50,000 men, only 12,000 at the outside and possibly less were used, the limited term seems justified. Although the southern route was used by the main force, a small force eluded the watchfulness of the Anglo-French naval patrol operating along the shore commanding the first day's march of the northern, or sea road, and ultimately struck at El Kantara. Furthermore, sometime before one of these two forces—the larger, or southern—reached the vicinity of the canal, it split and conducted an independent attack at Suez.

There had been much speculation among military writers all over the world as to the possibility or probability of the construction by the Turks of a light railway running a part of the distance across the Sinai Desert and linking up with the line to Mecca. It was realized that such a railway would be an enormous help to Djemel Pasha and his army, especially in the transport of supplies, ammunitions, and artillery. Indeed, it was held that only by the construction of such a railway, extending almost to the canal, could the absolutely essential artillery be brought into action. There was serious doubt of the ability of the Turks to build such a line. The strength of the German "stiffening" in the army based upon Damascus was believed to be slight. Djemel Pasha is said to have seriously opposed any great number of Teuton officers, especially in the higher commands. Thus the assistance the Turks could expect from the Germans in the organization and construction of such a railway would be small. Whether or not the scheme was feasible at that time it is impossible to say. At any rate the Turks, for reasons best known to themselves, did not put it to a test.

The British force in Egypt was well supplied with aeroplanes and kept the Turkish army under constant observation. With the exception of the use of the first section of the road, covering a couple of days of time, there was probably no element of surprise in the Turkish attack upon the canal. Realizing the limited possibilities of attack from the east shore, the British, taking their lesson from experience in France, had constructed an elaborate system of trenches to the east of the canal at the five points where attacks would possess some likelihood of successful conclusion.

It was the end of January, 1915, before the Turkish army, marching in easy stages across the desert reached the vicinity of the canal. Their German mentors had constructed for them elaborate carriages with the wheels of enormous width to carry the artillery and the heavy supplies across the soft sands. Also, in preparation of a crossing of the canal, the Turks brought a supply of ready-assembled pontoon bridges, running on wheels and similar to those used by the German army in Europe, except that they were much lighter.

In the transport of all this material the Turks were dependent upon camels, suited as are no other animals for work in the desert. In thousands, they had been collected at Hadj, the cooperation of the Arab Bedouins being specially valuable in this work. The consideration of these events in the campaign which begins in February, 1915, will be found in Volume III of this work.



One of the most interesting of the various phases of the war, so far as the participation of Turkey was concerned, was the religious development. Countless pages of learned speculation had been written for years before the struggle in an attempt to forecast the outcome of exactly the conditions that had arisen. It must be said at once that in the first six months of the war reality failed to live up to prophecy. The cataclysm that was expected by many to involve the revolt of millions and a vast change in the political color of much of the earth's surface did not appear. Any change that took place operated so quietly and on so comparatively small a scale that it was lost to view beside the greater interest of the struggle on the battle fields of France and Poland.

It is desirable, however, that the situation be examined. Abbas II, Khedive of Egypt, had early in the war openly shown his lack of sympathy with the British in Egypt. By his actions he left no doubt regarding his attitude. He not only vehemently expressed his adherence to Constantinople but left Cairo, and journeyed to Turkey, safe from British official pressure or persuasion. Whereupon the British Government called upon him to return, threatened him with deposition, and finally took that extreme step, setting up another in his place on December 18, 1914.

Furthermore, the day before, Great Britain declared Egypt a British protectorate independent of Constantinople. In this action Great Britain relied not upon any legal right to take such action, but merely upon the right of actual possession. Since Great Britain had taken over the government of Egypt in 1883, she had acknowledged the sultan's rights of suzerainty and had countenanced the payment to that ruler of certain considerable yearly sums from the Egyptian exchequer.

Indeed, Great Britain was in Egypt merely by virtue of an international understanding and on a definite agreement to release her control of the country when certain conditions of political and financial stability had been restored. The other nations had, willingly, or unwillingly, become resigned to her possession of this strategically important land. Great Britain a decade before the war, at the beginning of that rapprochement with France which led up to the Entente and which had so many fateful consequences for the whole world, sought to legalize her position in Egypt—at least so far as the other great north African power was concerned. A bargain was struck with France by which the English occupation of Egypt for an indefinite period was recognized in exchange for a free hand in Morocco. Great Britain could now urge that the coming of war, and especially the entry of Turkey into the struggle, placed her administration in Egypt in a position impossible to maintain. In theory she was, so long as she acknowledged the suzerainty of the sultan, in the country merely on that ruler's sufferance. She admitted his ultimate authority and especially the loyalty and duty of the Egyptian army and khedive to him. Strictly she could make no move to prevent an armed occupation of the country by the sultan's troops nor could she call upon the khedive and his cabinet to repudiate Constantinople's sway. To put an end to this condition of affairs was the most legitimate reason for England's action.

Although the native Egyptian is in religion allied to the Turk, his religious fervor was not great enough to induce him to rise against British control. Among the better educated of the Egyptians and especially among those who had traveled, there was a strong "Nationalist" movement. At times, even in the period of peace, this movement had threatened to make matters extremely unpleasant for the British rulers. For some years before the war, German and Turkish agents had been working among these ardent Egyptian patriots, encouraging and advising them, and when war with Turkey came England was seriously alarmed. Using the country as a central base for her Turkish, Persian, and Balkan operations, Great Britain imported thousands upon thousands of troops into Egypt. Just how many hundreds of thousands of armed men passed in and out of the country from first to last only the records of the British war office would show, but it can be said that England never had a force of less than 90,000 trained men in Egypt at any one time.

Any chance of effective action that the Egyptian nationalists might have had was neutralized by the indifference and lack of interest in the vast body of their countrymen. There were more than 10,000,000 Mohammedans in Egypt, but only a small minority of them, under the most promising of circumstances, could have been counted upon to pay the least heed to the call of Constantinople. The Egyptian fellah is anything but a fighter. Lazy, unlearned, unambitious, he is content to accept his daily lot, perhaps conscious that the British rule has brought a certain amount of comparative prosperity even to him.

On the other hand, there were in Egypt something like 600,000 nomads, a very large proportion of whom could be depended upon to follow the lead of Constantinople. The males of these wild tribespeople were remarkable fighters, subject to no control, hating the English sway, and so independent of roads and transport that they could keep busy an even larger force of less mobile troops. Their chief weakness was their lack of cohesion and the impossibility of any concerted action on their part.

This, then, was the native situation in Egypt. In other parts of the world, where Great Britain maintained sway over large numbers of Mohammedans, the situation was equally complicated. With the issue of a call for a Holy War by the Sheik-ul-Islam, the religious ruler of the Mohammedan world, many well-informed observers looked for a large measure of trouble in India. So many were the elements of dissatisfaction, and even open revolt, in India that it was believed the Sheik-ul-Islam's call would be the match applied to the powder magazine.

The attitude of the various Indian potentates was uncertain. Some of them were known to be only outwardly loyal to the British authority. The now famous incident at the visit of King George to India, some years before the war, when one of the richest and most important of the native princes refused to bend the knee, was indicative of very widespread dissatisfaction. Innumerable cases of individual and even concerted violence against British rule immediately preceded the war, and several of these were openly encouraged by native princes.

So far as definite action was concerned, the opening of the war with Turkey and the months that immediately followed falsified all these predictions of disaster to British rule in India. Many of the native princes were effusive in their professions of loyalty to the British Empire, and several offered personal service at the front or financial contributions to the huge cost of the struggle.

Notable, and perhaps decisive, was the open adherence to Britain of the Agar Khan, the immensely powerful ruler of millions of Indian Mohammedans. The Agar Khan had spent many of the years previous to the war in England in daily association with English high society and official circles. At the outbreak of the war with Turkey, in October, 1914, at the request of the British Government, he visited Egypt, and it was largely upon his advice that the former khedive was deposed and the new one elevated to the post. Indeed, at one time there were strong rumors, afterward energetically denied by the British Government, that the Agar Khan had advised a Mohammedan repudiation of the authority of the caliph and the elevation of another to his place under a British guarantee. In support of this plan it was pointed out that Great Britain, judged by the number of adherents under her rule, was the world's greatest Mohammedan power. It was intolerable to many English people, especially to those of strong imperialistic tendencies, that the real control, even in theory, of so large and important a section of the people of the British Empire should be in Constantinople, safe from the "influence" and "persuasion" of the British Government. By these people it was held that the sultan's lineal claim was weak, and that an even better claim to the headship of the Moslems could be established for any one of several other men who might have been named. However, the plan was never achieved.



What was the situation as a whole, so far as Turkey and her military actions against the Allies were concerned, as to the outcome of these various operations in three fields—the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, and Egypt—during the first six months of the war? The military narrative is recorded in the chapter following. It will be seen that all of them were inconclusive. Indeed, from what we knew of the circumstances surrounding them, all we are justified in saying is that none of them was serious in the sense that they were not intended to have any decisive effect, directly, upon the progress of the war. Of them all it might be urged by a military authority that they were subsidiary operations, dangerous and wasteful in that they withdrew valuable men, munitions, brains, and energy from the decisive fronts. Their only justification is that they imposed similar action on the part of both armies, and so, in just that degree, scattered their forces. For the Turk it can be urged that at least two of the campaigns were forced upon him by his German mentors, while the third was imposed upon him by a British offensive. Furthermore, the Turk was entirely cut off from his Austro-German allies, and there was no possibility of his bringing his weight to bear in one of the main fields. From that point of view it is possible to justify the Turkish offensives as sound strategy.

Aside from a desire to protect the oil supply in Persia, it is hardly as easy to justify the British offensive in Mesopotamia. As events subsequently demonstrated, it was possible for the Turks to throw an overwhelming number of troops into Bagdad and to the south, and, furthermore, they were fighting under vastly more advantageous conditions than were the invaders. Only on the assumption that the Turks were hopelessly demoralized and disorganized, and that as fighting men they would belie all their past history, was it possible to visualize success for the British operations in Mesopotamia.

Turkey had definitely come to grips with England and with Russia. She had in none of these fields measured swords with France, although she was equally at war with that country. The exact apportionment of the actual work to be done by the individual powers of the Entente seems to have led to considerable disagreement, and resulted at times in serious delay. Such arrangements depend, of course, upon each country's idea of its spheres of influence. Obviously, no country, if it can help it, is going to waste its men or its efforts in a field in which it has only a minor political or commercial interest. So far as France was concerned, the Caucasus, Egypt—aside from the possibility of the closing of the canal—and Mesopotamia were not of enough importance to justify her in participating in the struggle with the Turks even were it physically possible. All these remarks, of course, are subject to modifications imposed by considerations of the larger strategy of the Entente Powers; but for many months of the war the agreement of the Entente Powers in the matter of general strategy was conspicuous by its absence.

With her neighbors in the Balkans Turkey had maintained remarkably good relations considering the bitterness engendered, not only by centuries of strife, but by the recent events of the two Balkan wars. Bulgaria, smarting under the loss of territory through the attack upon her by Serbia, Greece, and Rumania in the Second Balkan War, was openly conducting friendly negotiations with Turkey for the acquisition of valuable territory—a compact that could mean only one thing. Greece, frightened by the menace of the German power, had resisted up to the moment all the blandishments of the Entente Powers, who urged her to active participation in the struggle. Rumania, largely isolated from the Entente Powers, menaced on the north by Austro-German forces, on the south by a revengeful Bulgaria, borrowed heavily from Britain, the universal money bag, but straddled the fence.

Thus Turkey, which in different circumstances might have been in a precarious military situation, felt reasonably secure, despite her isolation. In the early part of the war, however, events moved rapidly and not exactly to her liking. For they threatened to sweep the whole Balkans into the whirl of war, and no man could tell exactly how the various petty states, under the stress of sympathy, military and naval considerations and dynastic control, would align themselves. With these events came, too, the first participation of France in the war against Turkey in the campaign in the Dardanelles, now to be described.



The beginning of the bombardments in the Dardanelles opens a remarkable chapter in military and naval warfare. The desperate campaign to batter down the fortifications which lead to Constantinople and the disastrous attempt to conquer the most strongly barricaded city in the world, probably excited more world-wide interest or put to the test more theories of warfare than did the Dardanelles campaign undertaken by Great Britain with the assistance of France. It was fiercely attacked by military critics almost from the start. It was, however, a boldly conceived operation, calculated to have a most important effect upon the war as a whole—certainly upon the war in the southeast corner of Europe.

The Dardanelles campaign was largely conceived and controlled by the Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Churchill, the remarkable and able British Secretary of the Admiralty. He has been widely condemned for his share of the operation, but revelations that have been made would appear to clear him of a great measure of the blame.

What were the considerations that weighed with the British admiralty in deciding to undertake one of the most difficult operations in the whole world? Primarily it seems to have had the idea of relieving the pressure on Russia. The Turkish offensive in the Caucasus had come to grief about the end of December but a resumption was momentarily expected and feared. Hindenburg's victory at Tannenberg in East Prussia had been a terrible blow to Russia and she had no troops to spare for defense in the Caucasus.

Furthermore, Constantinople, besides being one of the objectives of the war, was Russia's only warm sea gate into Europe. It must have been apparent to the Russian military authorities that the existing supplies of munition and guns of the czar's army would not suffice to withstand a hard German-Austrian drive. In other words the condition that resulted in the defeat of the Russian army in Galicia and Poland in the summer of 1915 were foreseen. Russia called upon England and France to force the Dardanelles. One can find it easy to condemn the operation but few can be found who will deny that it was a glorious failure. One that added luster to the glory of the British army, navy, and many unmatched pages to the story of their bravery. And no less credit and glory did it bring to the Turkish armies.

In addition to the question of war supplies there were other reasons for opening the Dardanelles as soon as possible. Russia's ability to finance a war of the magnitude of the one there being fought, especially where large foreign purchases were made, depended very largely upon the maintenance of foreign commerce. Russia was buying from all the neutral world as well as from her Entente partners. England, for instance, was not only making for her millions of dollars' worth of war supplies, but she was, for the moment, financing many of Russia's purchases abroad.

In return for all this it was important that Russia should export as freely as possible. Now one of her most valuable commodities and one in high demand not only in England, but in other countries, was wheat. Millions upon millions of bushels of Russian wheat were stored in her great Black Sea ports waiting to be shipped through Constantinople when the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles were commanded by Entente guns and ships. Greece, under the leadership of Premier Venizelos was hesitating on the brink of a plunge into the struggle as an ally of the Entente and not only agreed to the use of Greek islands but actually considered a proposal to send a Greek force of not less than 20,000 and possibly as many as 40,000 over to the Dardanelles. Bulgaria was in that state where a striking victory in the Turkish peninsula would have swept her off her feet. Italy was at loggerheads with Austria, her ally, and about to break.

Then from the English point of view there was the possible effect upon the Mohammedan throughout the British Empire. Possibly not for many years, if ever, will the world know the truth of the conditions in India during the war. One thing is certain. In one way and another there was much disaffection, much open rebellion and much fear of an even wider spread of revolt. The need for the maintenance and even strengthening of British prestige must have been constantly before the British ruler and no other campaign could possibly serve this end so efficaciously as a successful assault upon Constantinople and the temporal power of the sultan. It would clinch probably for generations to come Britain's claim to be the great Mohammedan power of the world and would destroy the one condition that for years before and at that time especially had contained the seeds of rebellion against the British yoke.

In beginning the campaign which Great Britain and France carried on in the Dardanelles there reappeared a very old problem of war—the question of Warships versus Forts or land fortifications. It appears to have been the consensus of opinion among all except the more extreme exponents of battleships that land fortifications would possess an undoubted advantage in a contest against purely naval forces.

This it seems had been the opinion of the American naval authorities in the Spanish-American War, when the American commander, Admiral Sampson, was expressly warned not to risk his ships against the shore defenses of Santiago Harbor. It also appears to have been the opinion of many British admirals who have placed their views on record. Indeed, there was in existence the views of several competent naval authorities as to the possibilities of a purely naval attack upon this very system of defenses.

It was not by any means the first time that an attempt had been made to force the Dardanelles. Many such attempts had proved this narrow neck of water running between high banks to be one of the great natural defensive spots of the world. The realization of that obvious and oft-proved fact had made Constantinople through the ages one of the most fought for and schemed for cities of the whole world.

It is necessary to study these attempts in order to understand clearly the difficulties which faced the British and French Allies in 1914. Of the previous attacks that had been made to force a way through the Dardanelles and so up to the city of Constantinople, that of the famous Admiral Hornby in 1877 was one of the most interesting as well as one of the most instructive. Ordered by the British Government to take his fleet past the forts that lined the approaching banks, he proceeded to carry out his orders, but wrote a warning in which he pointed out that, while it might be possible for his fleet to make its way into the Sea of Marmora, once there it would be helpless if the land defenses were controlled by the enemy. Out of coal, ammunition, and food, the ships would be at the mercy of the Turks. "Although the forts might not prevent a strong fleet passing through the Dardanelles, they certainly," wrote Admiral Hornby, "could sink armed and unarmed transports and supply ships." In view of these considerations, Hornby urged the British Government to provide a land force of sufficient strength to carry and hold the land defenses. His superiors, however, did not agree with him, for they told him to go ahead with a purely naval operation. His ideas were never put to a real test because the Turks offered no resistance to his passage of the straits.

The situation in the Great War of 1914 presented Constantinople as the same perplexing military problem. If we go back another three-quarters of a century to 1807, the experience of Admiral Duckworth throws some light on the subject, although conditions had changed radically. Duckworth, with his sailing ships, ran past the forts in the Dardanelles and anchored in front of Constantinople. It was hoped that a threat of bombardment would bring the Turks to their knees, but the latter refused to be intimidated. In the end, the British admiral ran out of food and water and was compelled to leave without accomplishing anything.

The student of the War of 1914 also must consider that during the war between Italy and Turkey, the Italian General Staff is known to have worked out an elaborate plan for an attack upon the Dardanelles. However, at the critical moment, the European powers interfered and forced upon Italy an agreement that the war should not be extended to the mainland of Europe. In the Balkan War, the Bulgarians threatened the lines of Bulair, the narrow neck which connects the Gallipoli peninsula to the mainland, but never launched the attack.

When in 1914 the British and French determined to press a purely naval attack upon the Dardanelles, they appear to have been influenced by two major considerations. At the time there was not ready a sufficient number of troops to make a land campaign successful and, at the last moment, King Constantine of Greece repudiated a personal agreement made by Venizelos, the Greek Premier, with the Allies by which Greece was to provide at least 20,000 troops to assist the France-British fleet. Even after the fall of Venizelos it was still determined to push the naval attack because of the second consideration. In the opinion of the British admiralty the full power of modern naval guns of 11-and 12-inch had never been tested and in their opinion they would suffice to reduce the Dardanelles defenses in a comparatively short time. Furthermore, the British authorities appear to have relied largely upon the new 15-inch guns of the Queen Elizabeth and her sister vessels, then nearing completion in British yards. So tremendous was the power of these new guns and so great their range that it was believed the Queen Elizabeth and her sister ships could stand miles out of range of the heaviest of the Dardanelles guns and quickly smash them to an unrecognizable mass of ruins.

It was evident that the British naval command held these views even in spite of the experience of British warships off the coast of Belgium earlier in the war. For a while in 1914 British monitors and battleships bombarded almost at will the German troops posted along the coast running from the Dutch frontier line almost to Nieuport. Finally, however, the Germans brought up heavy army and naval guns and, mounting them in concealed spots among the sand dunes, soon drove off the British naval force.

But Turkish guns were not German guns, Turkish gunners were not German gunners, and above all, the munition supply of the Turkish army was not fed by factories able to turn out a quarter of a million shells a day. Some such considerations as these appear to have convinced the British higher command that there was a difference in the two tasks.

The command of the Dardanelles forts at the entrance to Constantinople and the Black Sea is similar, except that it is perhaps more sure as to the command of the entrance to the Baltic by Copenhagen, the Mediterranean by Gibraltar, and, in a lesser degree, of the North Sea by Dover.

The narrow passage of water called the Dardanelles separates the peninsula of Gallipoli and the Asiatic shore of Turkey. It connects the AEgean Sea and the Sea of Marmora, which in turn, through the Bosphorus, connects with the Black Sea. Curiously enough this tremendously important waterway, the only warm sea outlet of Russia, had been closed against that country by the action of the very powers now fighting desperately to smash it open. The Black Sea was a Turkish lake in the seventeenth century but in the century following the growth of Russia in that part of Europe made the question of the control of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles one of supreme importance to her. Thus we find, in the so-called "will" of Peter the Great, among other injunctions he lays upon his successors, an admonition never to rest until Constantinople had been wrested from the Turk. But whether this "will" is authentic or not, Russian policy has steadily kept that object in view.

The Crimean War was an attempt by France and England to stem the almost resistless tide of Russian expanse toward the southwest. Russian control of Constantinople was regarded as the chief danger that threatened the western powers and, in 1856, by the Treaty of Paris, not only was the strength of the Russian Black Sea fleet expressly limited, but the Dardanelles were closed against the passage of Russia's warships into the Mediterranean. France and England revived what they called "an ancient rule of the Ottoman Empire, in virtue of which it has at all times been prohibited for ships of war of foreign powers to enter the Straits of the Dardanelles and of the Bosphorus."

Turkey was of no mind to leave the enforcement of this "ancient rule" to the powers. She began the construction of more elaborate fortifications commanding both the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. German advice, especially after the Franco-Prussian War, was asked and obtained and Krupp sent some of his gigantic pieces for the defense of the narrow waters. This German cooperation with the Turks in the strengthening of those positions through all the years that have intervened is significant.



Let us inspect the fortifications in the Dardanelles at the beginning of the war in 1914. The Dardanelles, from end to end, have a length of forty-seven miles. From the town of Gallipoli to the AEgean, however, the full distance of the narrow section of the waterway, is a matter of thirty-three miles. At one point the passage is less than 1,400 yards wide and at no point is it more than 7,000. Although there is a good depth in much of the channel, shallows are to be met with in most unexpected places. To make navigation even more difficult, there is a swift and powerful surface current running through the Narrows, on some occasions at a speed of eight knots an hour. In addition there is not only a strong undercurrent, but, as well, many cross currents. At certain seasons of the year the wind and weather make navigation of large vessels almost impossible.

Both sides of the Dardanelles offered natural positions of enormous advantage to a defending force. On the Gallipoli side were a tangled mass of rocks and hills, almost devoid of vegetation except for stubby yellow bushes. In a few of the little valleys, stray clusters of olive trees relieved the monotony of the view. Heights rose upon heights and along the shores of the peninsula nearly perpendicular cliffs made landings almost out of the question.

This whole peninsula was a difficult country to traverse even in times of peace. No large maps existed of its intricate paths, there were few roads, and those that did exist were so commanded by heights and concealed positions for guns and infantry that the progress of an attacking force would inevitably be most difficult and costly.

Water was almost nonexistent. Most of the available supply was so protected that an attacking force would in no case be able to use it until its task of conquest was complete. As such a force advanced inland, these difficulties as well as those of the country would constantly and rapidly increase. From Cape Hellas, at the tip of the peninsula where a sandy beach made a landing possible, if difficult, the ground rapidly rose to a height of 140 feet. Hill country then led to ridges standing 600 feet, while a mile and a half beyond stood 600 feet in the air the commanding peak of Achi Baba, destined to play so large and so tragic a part in the struggle for the peninsula of Gallipoli. At the narrowest part of the Narrows, the real key position to the straits, stood the Kilid Bahr plateau, 700 feet, while to the northwest, almost 300 feet higher, stood the precipitous eminence of Sari Bair, a dense mass of trackless ravines and thickets.

Where the peninsula of Gallipoli joined the mainland is, comparatively speaking, a narrow neck of land. Even this, however, presented tremendous potential difficulties to any force. A hill almost 500 feet in height rose in the center and marshes on either side prevented a turning movement. Furthermore, the difficulties of landing a force in the face of an enemy strongly intrenched on the heights were not lessened by the circumstance that the cliffs rose to a height of 300 feet, almost straight from the water's edge. In short nature seems to have designed the country in every way as a protection against an armed force seeking to force its way either in or out of the Black Sea. To just what extent these natural advantages had been utilized by the Turks it is impossible to say. It is not likely, however, that they, or their German mentors, had been idle, in view of the importance the Allies were known to attach to the straits.

In September, 1914, and probably for some time before, the Turks were known to be busy strengthening the forts. Subsequent events led to the conclusion that they, or their German advisers, were alive to the lessons of the early days of the war in France and Belgium and had made elaborate arrangements for the placing of heavy guns in concealed positions. In addition they perfected the mobility of even the heaviest of pieces, so that it became impossible for observation from the Franco-British ships or from aeroplanes to locate them with any certitude.

The Turks also seem to have secured a plentiful supply of sea mines, with which the waters approaching the Dardanelles and the actual passage of the straits were strewn along the shores. Toward the Narrows were constructed shore batteries for the launching of torpedoes, as well as for the launching of floating mines. The strong current of the straits could be depended upon to carry these latter engines of destruction among the allied ships of war should they venture within the narrow, confined waters of the Dardanelles.

This was the condition of affairs, then, on November 3, 1914, when a joint Anglo-French squadron sailed in close to the tip of the Gallipoli peninsula and opened a bombardment of the outer defenses of the Dardanelles. For this and subsequent naval operations against the Turkish position, England was able to detach from her main theatre of naval activity—the North Sea—a considerable number of old, but still extremely powerful, battleships and battle cruisers. These boats, with the exception of the Queen Elizabeth, which later appeared on the scene, were all built previous to the introduction of the dreadnought and were to a considerable extent made obsolete by that vessel. At any rate they could not engage the more modern ships of the German navy and could not be attached to the grand fleet of England because of their lack of high speed and the heaviest of guns. For these reasons, although their loss in any engagement against the Turkish defenses would not be relished by the British authorities, still such a disaster would not be decisive in any war. As Winston Churchill subsequently pointed out, many of them would have, in the ordinary course of events, but a few more years of life in the British navy, so rapidly were modern battleships deteriorating under the rapid advance of naval science.

At the entrance to the straits the Turks had erected two major positions and several minor ones. On the Asiatic shore stood the Kum Kale Fort, known as the "New Castle of Asia." There the main battery consisted of four 10.2-inch guns. A short distance down the coast stood Yeni Shehr, where a main battery of two 9.2-inch guns and a short battery of smaller pieces had been erected. On the European side, opposite Kum Kale, stood Sedd-el-Bahr, with six 10-inch and two 5.9-inch guns. At Cape Hellas, the extreme point of the Gallipoli Peninsula, was the Erteghrul Battery, mounting two 9.2-inch guns and some minor pieces.

Each of the attacking warships fired about a score of shells at these forts and an attempt was made to determine just how much damage had been done. None of the forts were silenced, however, and it was finally decided by the commander of the Anglo-French naval force, Vice Admiral Carden, that conditions were not propitious for pushing home the attack and the vessels retired out to sea, where they maintained a tight blockade of the Dardanelles. Then there followed a long period of naval inactivity, at least so far as the larger vessels were concerned.

About a month later, however, on December 13, 1914, the commander of a British submarine accomplished a feat in the Sea of Marmora that not only aroused his countrymen to enthusiasm but as well won for him the coveted Victoria Cross, the first instance of the winning of that decoration by a naval officer since the beginning of the war.

Lieutenant Holbrook was in command of the B-11, a 316-ton submarine launched as far back as 1906. It was in no sense to be compared to the giant underwater crafts that were being launched and used at the outbreak of the war, some of them measuring 800 feet. The B-11 carried only sixteen men in all—two officers and fourteen men.

Early in the morning of December 13, 1914, she started through the straits. Evidently her commander had knowledge of the disposition of the Turkish mine field, for Lieutenant Holbrook successfully navigated his ship through it, dived under five rows of mines, any one of which would have blown his frail craft into a thousand pieces, and came up under the side of the Turkish battleship Messudiyeh. The Messudiyeh, in any other navy, would have been retired long before, but Turkey had none too many ships and probably had been saving her to fight against the equally ancient vessels of some other minor power. Launched as far back as 1874, she had been reconstructed and rearmed in 1901. She was lying in the Sea of Marmora, guarding the very mine field under which Holbrook had dived his craft.

Holbrook observed the Messudiyeh through the periscope of the B-11, maneuvered for position, dived, came up again and launched his torpedo. It struck home and the ancient sides of the Messudiyeh gaped wide. Slowly she sank while Holbrook dived to safety. For nine and a half hours the latter felt his way out of the straits and when he returned to the fleet his little vessel and its daring crew received an enthusiastic demonstration from the soldiers of the larger warships. Besides the Victoria Cross, received by Holbrook himself, his second in command, Lieutenant Sydney T. Winn, received the Distinguished Service Order, and each of the fourteen members of the crew received the Distinguished Service Medal.

On the next day, December 14, 1914, the British submarine B-9 attempted to repeat the feat, but the Turks were prepared. When she came to the surface mines were exploded all around her, and she had all she could do to make good her escape.

On January 15, 1915, not content that the British should have all the danger, or the glory, the French submarine, Saphir, entered the straits. Near Nagara Point she struck the bottom in one of those shallow spots that abound in the Dardanelles, was compelled to come to the surface in a disabled condition and was quickly shot to pieces by the Turkish shore batteries.

The movement against the forts in the Dardanelles was now begun. This campaign, which was begun with so much confidence of ultimate success, was destined to become one of the greatest repulses that the Allies had encountered thus far during the war.




The battle lines of the Great War on land and sea were now beginning to encircle the earth. While the gigantic armies on the battle grounds of Europe were engaged in the greatest test of "the survival of the fittest" that the world had ever witnessed, while the sharp encounters on the seas were carrying the war around the globe, the outbreaks in the Far East were bringing the Orient and the Occident—the two competitive systems of civilization—into a strange alignment. The Moslem world was dividing against itself as had the Christian world. The followers of Buddha and the Brahmins were in direct conflict.

It is important, therefore, to consider in this chapter the development of events in the Far East, which have been only outlined in the preceding narratives. Of all the powers that joined the coalition against Germany in August, 1914, none could state a clearer cause of action than Japan. From the first outbreak of hostilities there was never any question of whether the "England of the East" would enter the war, and on which side she would be aligned. Japan decided promptly and, having decided, acted with characteristic energy.

For a casus belli the Japanese statesmen had only to hold up to the eyes of the world the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, which had been signed on August 12, 1905. The object of this agreement was the maintenance of the general peace in eastern Asia and India, the preservation of the common interests of all powers in China, by insuring the independence and integrity of the Chinese Empire and the principle of equal opportunities for the commerce and industry of all nations in China, the maintenance of the territorial rights of the high contracting parties in the regions of eastern Asia and of India, and the defense of their special interests in the said regions. If these rights and interests were jeopardized, Japan and Great Britain agreed to discuss fully and frankly what measures should be pursued for defense, and to act in common in case of unprovoked attack or aggressive action wherever arising on the part of any other power or powers.

Thus, in those critical days of August, 1914, one of the first acts of the British Government, when war was declared on Germany, and the empire was reaching out for every possible means of defense and aggression, was to ask Japan for assistance under the terms of this alliance. And Japan did not hesitate—she threw herself vigorously into the Great War. The Japanese Emperor in his declaration of war against Germany did not suggest that Japan acted in response to her ally's direct request for assistance, but the Japanese Foreign Minister, Baron Kato, in his speech explaining the situation to the Diet, laid emphasis upon the treaty as the most important factor in the situation.

"German warships and armed vessels," said the foreign minister, "are prowling around the seas of eastern Asia, menacing our commerce and that of our ally, while Kiao-chau was carrying out operations apparently for the purpose of constituting a base for warlike operations in eastern Asia. Grave anxiety was thus felt for the maintenance of peace in the Far East.

"As all are aware," he continued, "the agreement and alliance between Japan and Great Britain has for its object the consolidation and maintenance of general peace in eastern Asia, and the maintenance of the independence and integrity of China, as well as the principle of equal opportunities for commerce and industry for all nations in that country, and the maintenance and defense respectively of territorial rights and special interests of contracting parties in eastern Asia. Therefore, inasmuch as we are asked by our ally for assistance at a time when commerce in eastern Asia, which Japan and Great Britain regard alike as one of their special interests, is subjected to a constant menace, Japan, who regards that alliance as a guiding principle of her foreign policy, could not but comply to the respect to do her part."

The Japanese statesman offered this explanation to his people: "Germany's possession of a base for powerful activities in one corner of the Far East was not only a serious obstacle to the maintenance of a permanent peace, but also threatened the immediate interests of the Japanese Empire. The Japanese Government, therefore, resolved to comply with the British request, and, if necessary, to open hostilities against Germany."

Baron Kato's speech was delivered after Japan had declared war. The Western world, when it found time to turn its attention from the absorbing drama already being enacted in Belgium to the minor crisis in the Far East, was not left long in doubt regarding the intentions of Great Britain's ally. War was declared on August 24, 1914, nine days after Japan had dispatched to Germany an ultimatum, which Germany scornfully ignored.

The text of the ultimatum was as follows: "We consider it highly important and necessary in the present situation to take measures to remove the causes of all disturbance of peace in the Far East, and to safeguard general interests as contemplated in the agreement of alliance between Japan and Great Britain.

"In order to secure firm and enduring peace in eastern Asia, the establishment of which is the aim of the agreement, the Japanese Government sincerely believes it to be its duty to give advice to the German Government to carry out the following two propositions:

"(1) To withdraw immediately from Japanese and Chinese waters the German warships and armed vessels of all kinds, and to disarm those which cannot be withdrawn.

"(2) To deliver on a date not later than September 15 to the Japanese authorities, without condition or compensation, the entire leased territory of Kiao-chau, with a view to the eventual restoration of the same to China.

"The Japanese Government announces at the same time that in the event of its not receiving by noon on August 23, 1914, an answer from the German Government signifying unconditional acceptance of the above advice offered by the Japanese Government, Japan will be compelled to take such action as it may deem necessary to meet the situation."

The intervention of Japan in the war, welcome as it was to Great Britain, created special problems for that empire. The British in China, and the people of Australia, New Zealand, and western North America had long been uneasy regarding the commercial and political policy of Japan. On the Pacific Coast of the United States and Canada a strong anti-Japanese sentiment had developed. British statesmen were apprehensive lest the entry of Japan into the war might be used to alienate American sympathy from the Allies and diminish the zeal of the Canadian and Australasian colonies for the war.

To meet this situation, the British Government issued a formal statement which said: "It is understood that the action of Japan shall not extend to the Pacific Ocean beyond the China Sea, except in so far as it may be necessary to protect Japanese shipping lines in the Pacific, nor beyond Asiatic waters westward of the China Seas, nor to any foreign territory except territory in German occupation on the continent of eastern Asia." This declaration went far toward allaying uneasiness, especially in the United States.

The Japanese people accepted the situation calmly. There were few noisy demonstrations. Germans living in Japan were not molested, notwithstanding the action of Germany, which immediately after the ultimatum was issued arrested every Japanese subject in Germany and seized funds of the Japanese Government deposited in the Deutsche Bank of Berlin. In Tokyo the chief of police told the people that although the two Governments had entered into hostilities, the people individually were not to cultivate hostility. The German Ambassador remained at the Japanese capital until August 30, 1914. A number of Germans who decided to stay in Japan were allowed to continue their regular occupations.

When no answer came from Germany up to the time of the expiration of Japan's ultimatum, the imperial rescript declaring the existence of a state of war was issued next day.

The emperor said: "We hereby declare war against Germany and we command our army and navy to carry on hostilities against that empire with all their strength, and we also command all our competent authorities to make every effort in pursuance of their respective duties to attain the national aim within the limit of the law of nations.

"Since the outbreak of the present war in Europe, the calamitous effect of which we view with grave concern, we, on our part, have entertained hopes of preserving the peace of the Far East by the maintenance of strict neutrality, but the action of Germany has at length compelled Great Britain, our ally, to open hostilities against that country, and Germany is at Kiao-chau, its leased territory in China, busy with warlike preparations, while her armed vessels, cruising the seas of eastern Asia, are threatening our commerce and that of our ally. The peace of the Far East is thus in jeopardy.

"Accordingly, our Government and that of his Britannic Majesty, after a full and frank communication with each other, agreed to take such measures as may be necessary for the protection of the general interests contemplated in the agreement of alliance, and we on our part, being desirous to attain that object by peaceful means, commanded our Government to offer, with sincerity, an advice to the Imperial German Government. By the last day appointed for the purpose, however, our Government failed to receive an answer accepting their advice.

"It is with profound regret that we, in spite of our ardent devotion to the cause of peace, are thus compelled to declare war, especially at this early period of our reign, and while we are still in mourning for our lamented mother.

"It is our earnest wish that, by the loyalty and valor of our faithful subjects, peace may soon be restored and the glory of the empire enhanced."



We now pass to the first fighting ground in the Far East. Unlike the campaigns in the west, the war in eastern Asia developed along lines which any observer, possessing the least knowledge of history and international politics and military strategy, could foresee. From both military and commercial standpoints none of Germany's possessions in the Far East could compare in importance with the little tip of the Shantung Peninsula leased for a term of ninety-nine years from China in 1898. This concession, about fifteen miles long and ten miles across, was designated Kiao-chau. In the sixteen years since their tenure began, the Germans had laid out at Tsing-tau, situated at the extreme southern end of the peninsula, a city which was rapidly growing to foremost importance among the ports of the Chinese coast. A large part of the native population was induced to migrate, hills were leveled, roads constructed, trees planted, and waterworks and sewers laid out along the most up-to-date lines.

The Great War found Tsing-tau a modern city, almost European in appearance, with a magnificent harbor, where natural advantages had been enhanced by the construction of immense piers and breakwaters. One line of railway connected the port with Chi-nan, capital of Shantung Province, and Germany held concessions for the construction of two new lines. The census of 1913 showed a total population of 58,000, of which Germans, exclusive of the garrison, numbered 2,500. Non-German Europeans, Americans, and Japanese numbered but 630. The European quarter was distinctly Teutonic.

The attack on Tsing-tau was a foregone conclusion. As a naval base and a seat of menace to the commerce of hostile nations, Tsing-tau occupied an unexcelled situation, almost equidistant from Nagasaki and Shanghai, in virtually the same latitude as Tokyo, San Francisco, and Gibraltar. Its defenses were second in strength only to those of Port Arthur and Hongkong.

Kiao-chau was under the administration of the German admiralty. The German fleet seized it in 1897 ostensibly to secure reparation for the murder of two German missionaries in Shantung. The ninety-nine-year lease subsequently arranged gave Germany the right to fortify the new concession, and the thoroughness with which this privilege was exercised was proved by the stout resistance the garrison was able to make against far superior forces of besiegers. The whole concession occupied 117 square miles.

Although Kiao-chau was the kaiser's only continental colony in Asia the outbreak of the war found Germany in possession of several islands and groups of islands in the Pacific. These included German New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Caroline, Pelew Marrana, Solomon and Marshall Islands and a portion of the Samoan group. But the strongly fortified port on the Shantung Peninsula was the naval base for the protection of all these ocean possessions; and the Japanese statesmen rightly concluded that with Tsing-tau in their grasp the reduction of the other German colonies would be only a formal task of seizure. Therefore the 27th of August, 1914, four days after the declaration of war, saw a Japanese fleet blockading Tsing-tau and Japanese transports carrying troops for landing expeditions in cooperation with the warships.

Germany began the concentration of all available forces inside the Tsing-tau fortifications on August 8, 1914. But she was able to gather there when the siege began only 5,000 men, a handful compared with the great force Japan could muster for the reduction of the fortress. The garrison of peace times was augmented by reservists, who came from treaty ports along the Chinese coast, from Japan, Siberia, and from every part of the Far East near enough to enable German veterans to reach the city before communication was cut off.

The crew of the Austrian cruiser Kaiserin Elizabeth, more than 300 men, who had left Tsing-tau by railroad before Austria decided to join her ally in the Far East as well as in Europe, hurried back in small groups and in civilian clothes to escape detection. Squads of the Landsturm, the last reserve, middle-aged men who had left their families and their business in all parts of China joined the ranks and went to drilling in preparation for the hard fighting expected as soon as the invading fleet passed the outer defenses of the harbor. Altogether the defenders mustered three artillery and infantry regiments and four troops of cavalry. They had three aeroplanes and a few machine guns and in the harbor were four small gunboats in addition to the Kaiserin Elizabeth.

Tsing-tau's principal points of defense were Mount Moltke, Mount Bismarck and Mount Iltis. The rugged slopes of these positions commanded the plain. Beyond the plain the important outer line of defense was along the Litsum River, which flows into Kiao-chau Bay and then through the mountains to the sea, a line about eight miles long and about ten miles distant from the city. Preparations to oppose a landing of hostile troops were made at points along the coast of the leased territory for a distance of twenty miles. At the entrance of the bay shore batteries and mines made a bombardment by the Japanese fleet impracticable, except with the support of land forces.

The first line of defense comprised five forts connected by trenches and barbed wire entanglements. The shore defenses consisted of five forts, called respectively: "The Kaiser's," armed with two large guns mounted upon unsheltered platforms and two cannon of medium caliber sheltered; "August Point," a square closed fort with unsheltered gun platforms, and two guns of large medium caliber; "Taisichen," unsheltered with four large cannon; "Kaiser Northeast," unsheltered four cannon; "Yunuisan Point," two cannon of medium caliber. The main line of defense was for both land and sea work; "Fort Moltke" at the base of the German left wing had a shelter trench and guns of medium caliber; "Fort Bismarck" had three heavy gun platforms in addition to a platform for rapid fire guns of large caliber. From this the guns could be turned in any direction. "Fort Iltis" mounted four heavy guns of large and medium caliber besides mitrailleuse of large size. Two heavy guns were mounted in the summit of Mount Iltis.

In command of the German forces was the Governor General of Kiao-chau, Admiral Meyer-Waldeck, a naval officer of experience and reputation. The defenses of both land and sea were under his control.

This entrance of Japan into the war introduced a factor fraught with unknown possibilities. Unlike the other enemies of the Teutonic alliance, Japan had nothing to fear for her home territory or her possessions. Secure from attack, she was able to devote all her energies to the task of driving the Germans out of the Far East. By this accomplishment she not only fulfilled the terms of her alliance with Great Britain, but strengthened her own supremacy in that quarter of the globe.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12     Next Part
Home - Random Browse