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A History of Sea Power by Stevens and Westcott

The verdict of the Dardanelles Commission was that


[Footnote

1: NINETEENTH CENTURY AND AFTER, March, 1919, p. 486.]

Feeling in Constantinople during the month from February 19th to March 19th has already been suggested; it was nervous in the extreme. Neither Turks nor Germans felt assured that the Dardanelles could withstand British naval power. Plans were made for a general exit to Asia Minor, and there was a conviction that in a few days Allied ships would be in the Golden Horn. At the forts, if we may believe evidence not as yet definitely disproved, affairs were still more desperate. The guns, though manned largely by Germans, were not of the latest type, and for a month had been engaged in almost daily bombardment. Ammunition was running short. "Fort Hamadie, the most powerful defense on the Asiatic side, had just 17 armor-piercing projectiles left, while at Killid-ul-Bahr, the main defense on the European side, there were precisely 10."[2] To this evidence may be added the statement of Enver Pasha: "If the English had only had the courage to rush more ships through the Dardanelles they could have got to Constantinople, but their delay enabled us to fortify the peninsula, and in 6 weeks' time we had taken down there over 200 Austrian Skoda guns."

[Footnote 2: AMBASSADOR MORGENTHAU'S STORY, _World's Work_, September, 1918, p. 433, corroborating the statement of the correspondent G. A. Schreiner, in FROM BERLIN TO BAGDAD.]

If Mr.

Churchill was chiefly responsible for undertaking the campaign, he was not responsible for the delay after March 18. "It never occurred to me," he states, "that we should not go on." Admiral de Robeck in his first despatches appeared to share this view. On March 26, however, he telegraphed: "The check on March 18 is not, in my opinion, decisive, but on March 22 I met General Hamilton and heard his views, and I now think that, to obtain important results and to achieve the object of the campaign, a combined operation will be essential." This despatch, Mr. Churchill says, "involved a complete change of plan and was a vital decision. I regretted it very much. I believed then, as I believe now, that we were separated by very little from complete success." He proposed that the Admiral should be directed to renew the attack; but the First Sea Lord did not agree, nor did Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson, nor Admiral Sir Henry Jackson. So it was decided to wait for the army, and some satire has been directed at Mr. Churchill and those other "acknowledged experts in the technicalities of amphibious warfare," Mr. Balfour and Mr. Asquith, who were inclined to share his views. The verdict of the Dardanelles Commission was that, "Had the attack been renewed within a day or two there is no reason to suppose that the proportion of casualties would have been less; and, if so, even had the second attack succeeded, a very weak force would have been left for subsequent naval operations."

Once decided upon, it was highly essential that the combined operation should begin without further delay. But it was now found that the army transports had been loaded, so to speak, up-side-down, with guns and munitions buried under tents and supplies. Sending them back to Alexandria for reloading involved a six weeks' delay, though Lord Kitchener wired, "I think you had better know at once that I regard such postponement as far too long." The landing on the tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula, which was nearest the forts in the Straits and said to be the only feasible place, actually began on April 25, and was achieved under the guns of the fleet, and by almost unexampled feats of heroism by boats' crews and the first parties on shore.


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