Volume One of the War with Turkey during the Great War
This two-volume history, never before published in its own right, was written by the famous John Buchan, author of The 39 Steps, Greenmantle and others, and was originally included in a multi-volume work which covered the entire First World War. While the text appears unchanged the large number of excellent campaign maps have been significantly enlarged and numerous photographs and illustrations which were not included in the multi-volume edition have been added. Structured chronologically, the first volume principally covers the war in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), as the allies fought their way towards Baghdad, together with the ill-fated expedition to invade the Dardanelles and strike towards the heart of the Ottoman empire in Turkey itself. The second volume chronicles a mobile fast-moving war in stark contrast to the stalemate of the Western Front. This Leonaur exclusive book is a fascinating account of the last war of its kind recounted by an erudite author.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
The great effort was made on Thursday, 18th March. It was a bright, clear day, with a light wind and a calm sea. At a quarter to eleven in the forenoon the Queen Elizabeth, Inflexible Agamemnon, Lord Nelson, Triumph, and Prince George steamed up the Straits towards the Narrows. The first four ships engaged the forts of Chanak and the battery on the point opposite, while the Triumph and Prince George kept the batteries lower down occupied by firing at Soghandere, Dardanos, and Kephez Point. After the bombardment had lasted for an hour and a half, during which the ships were fired upon not only by the forts but by howitzers and field guns on the heights, the French squadron, Bouvet, Charlemagne, Gaulois, and Suffren, came into action, steaming in to attack the forts at short range. Under the combined fire of the ten ships the forts once more ceased firing.
A third squadron then entered the Straits to push the attack further. This was made up of six British battleships, the Albion, Irresistible, Majestic, Ocean, Swiftsure, (a sister ship of the Triumph—11,980 tons, four 10-inch, fourteen 7.5-inch guns), and Vengeance. As they steered towards Chanak the four French ships were withdrawn in order to make room for them in the narrow waters. But in the process of this change all the forts suddenly began to fire again, which showed that none of them were seriously damaged. According to Turkish accounts, only one big gun had been dismounted.
Then came the first disaster of the day. The French squadron was moving down to the open water inside the Straits, being still under fire from the inner forts. An officer on a British destroyer, who was watching its movements, reported that he saw three large shells strike the Bouvet almost simultaneously, and that immediately after there was a loud explosion, and she was hidden in a cloud of smoke. The first impression was that she had been seriously damaged by shell-fire, but her real wound was got from one of the mines which the Turks were now sending down with the current. They had waited to begin this new attack till the narrow waterway was full of ships. As the smoke cleared, the Bouvet was seen to be heeling over. She sank in three minutes, in thirty-six fathoms of water, carrying with her most of her crew.
The attack on the forts continued as long as the light lasted. The mine-sweepers had been brought up the Straits in order to clear the passage in front, and to look out for drift-mines. An hour and a half after the Bouvet sank, the Irresistible turned out of the fighting line with a heavy list. She also had been struck by a mine, but she floated for more than an hour, and the destroyers took off nearly all her crew—a dangerous task, for they were the target all the time for Turkish fire. She sank at ten minutes to six, and a quarter of an hour later another drift-mine struck the Ocean. The latter sank almost as quickly as the Bouvet, but the destroyers were on the alert, and saved most of her crew. Several of the other ships had suffered damage and loss of life from the Turkish guns. The Gaulois had been repeatedly hit, her upper works were seriously injured, and a huge rent had been torn in her bows. The Inflexible had been struck by a heavy shell, which killed and wounded the majority of the men and officers in her fire-control station, and set her on fire forward.
As the sun set most of the forts were still in action, and during the short twilight the Allied fleet slipped out of the Dardanelles. The great attack on the Narrows had failed—failed, with the loss of three battleships and more than 2,000 men.
For more than a month the sea attack languished. Almost every day one or more ships entered the Straits and opened fire to prevent the Turks repairing the entrance forts, or establishing themselves in new positions. Mine-sweepers were also constantly at work, and had to be protected. On 28th March there was some activity at the other end of the passage, the Russian Black Sea fleet having bombarded the outer forts of the Bosphorus. On 6th April we again bombarded the Smyrna forts. Meantime our submarines had been busy, and on Saturday, 17th April, E15 had the misfortune to ground in the Straits near Kephez Point. There was some danger of her falling into the enemy’s hands in a serviceable condition, so on the Sunday night two picket-boats of the Triumph and the Majestic, under Lieutenant-Commander Eric Robinson, carried through a brilliant “cutting-out” expedition.
The boats were under heavy fire from the forts 200 yards off, and from numerous small guns at close range. Notwithstanding this, the submarine was torpedoed and destroyed. The Majestic picket-boat was sunk, but the crew were saved by the other boat, and the only casualty was one man, who died of his wounds. During these weeks the naval attack was not pushed because the Allies had decided upon a different strategy. The events of 18th March had convinced the most optimistic that ships alone could never force the passage, and a combined movement by sea and land was now in train.