The Attack Is Planned

The Allies were keen to open an effective supply route to Russia: efforts on the Eastern Front relieved pressure on the Western Front. Germany and Austria-Hungary blocked Russia's land trade routes to Europe, while no easy sea route existed. The White Sea in the north and the Sea of Okhotsk in the Far East were distant from the Eastern Front and often icebound. The Baltic Sea was blocked by Germany's formidable Kaiserliche Marine. The Black Sea's only entrance was through the Bosphorus, which was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. When the Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers in October 1914, Russia could no longer be supplied from the Mediterranean Sea.

By late 1914, the Western Front, in France and Belgium, had effectively become fixed. A new front was desperately needed. Also, the Allies hoped that an attack on the Ottomans would draw Bulgaria and Greece into the war on the Allied side. However, an early proposal to use Greek troops to invade the Gallipoli peninsula was vetoed by Russia as its South Slavic allies would feel threatened by an expansion of Greek power and influence.

A first proposal to attack Turkey had already been suggested by French Minister of Justice Aristide Briand in November 1914, but it was not supported. A suggestion by British Naval Intelligence (Room 39) to bribe the Turks over to the Allied side was not taken up.

Later in November 1914, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill put forward his first plans for a naval attack on the Dardanelles, based at least in part on what turned out to be erroneous reports regarding Turkish troop strength, as prepared by Lieut. T. E. Lawrence. He reasoned that the Royal Navy had a large number of obsolete battleships which could not be used against the German High Seas Fleet in the North Sea, but which might well be made useful in another theatre. Initially, the attack was to be made by the Royal Navy alone, with only token forces from the army being required for routine occupation tasks.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.